Let’s not succumb to envy; economies need to create wealth


Most progressives, socialists I know subscribe to the Scrooge McDuck theory of economics.

It’s an appealing theory inasmuch as it portrays the wealthy to be niggardly hoarders who would rather swim in a pool full of cash than share their wealth.

So appealing is this Disney vision of wealth that politicians in North America are pushing one form or another of a wealth tax.


In the United States, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is campaigning on a wealth tax that she estimates would bring in $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years.


In Canada, Jagmeet Singh is predicating his support of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government on the introduction of a wealth tax that would bring in $6.8 billion annually by fiscal year 2023/2024.

The motive, of course, is growing inequality.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, fewer than 100 families in Canada with net worth exceeding $1 billion have accumulated more wealth since 1999 than bottom 12 million Canadians.

In the United States, Warren says that the richest 130,000 American families hold as much wealth as the bottom 117 million families.

Progressives argue that this growth inequality is the result of the inherent unfairness of capitalism and needs to be addressed through taxation policy.

Raise taxes, in other words, and then redistribute the proceeds to the afflicted.

It’s little wonder these tax the rich schemes are so popular. Who wouldn’t like getting money for doing nothing?

Of course, progressives argue that the wealthy have built their fortunes on the backs of workers, so the workers are merely getting their due.

For those of us less motivated by envy, the proposition is not quite so clear cut. Those of us interested in having an economy that generates the greatest good for the greatest number have our doubts.

First of all, the wealth that the continent’s rich families possess is not resting in vaults. It resides in stocks, bonds, houses, planes, cars, businesses, etc… I’m sure that the very wealthy no doubt have a few hundred thousand in cash tucked away in wall safes, ready for a quick get-a-way.

In other words, the money – capital – is productively employed doing what all capital is meant to do – generate wealth.

Those billions and trillions are invested in the production of goods and services and, thus, create millions of jobs.

Think about it. Every house, yacht, limousine has to be built and maintained. It’s what we call an economy.

Now, there is no doubt wages have not kept up with inflation. Real wages have been declining for quite some time. But why is that?

In a word, competition. Labor is not immune from the law of supply and demand. More and more workers mean increased competition for jobs and, as a consequence, lower wages.

Ironically, that is a direct consequence of increased immigration. You cannot add millions of new workers to an economy and truly expect wages to rise.

Monetary policy that discourages saving, of course, doesn’t help.

The second problem with a wealth tax is the power that it gives to bureaucrats. Governments would have trillions to spend as they see fit.

It’s a frightening proposition given the failure of bureaucrats to invest wisely. After all, it’s not their money, so what do they care if an investment succeeds or not?

With trillions of dollars at their disposal, I can see hundreds of wasteful renewable energy projects and one boondoggle after another.

The third objection to this transfer of wealth is the effect it would have on people. Most people would rather have a well-paying job than a meager handout. There is pride in work; there is none in stealing from others.

Trudeau’s carbon tax takes aim at Alberta, Saskatchewan

In a few short months, Canadians will begin paying a highly contentious carbon tax that is being sold as a price on pollution with the promise of rebates.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the details of the carbon tax and rebates at Toronto’s Humber College last week.

trudeau humber
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to students at Toronto’s Humber College.

“Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada.” Trudeau told the students he is not willing to pass the burden of climate change on to the nation’s children and grandchildren.

The announcement, of course, comes as no surprise. The PM told provinces two years ago that the federal government would be levying the tax nationally and called on them to devise their own climate change plans.

In the ensuing two years, however, opposition to the carbon tax has been growing, with a number of provinces challenging the constitutionality of the tax in court. The court challenge reflects the voters’ disenchantment with Ottawa’s policies.

In fact, the Trudeau government’s climate change policies are rich in irony.

For one thing, Canada is not a major emitter of CO2. Its share of global emissions is a trifling 1.5 per cent. Even the prime minister himself recognizes that fact. As he told Tour Le Monde Parle, “Even if Canada stopped everything tomorrow, and the other countries didn’t have any solutions, it wouldn’t make a big difference.”

Exactly. Opponents of the carbon tax have pointed this out for years. A carbon tax in Canada makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for the simple reason that the costs will be incredibly high with no benefit to the goal lowering global emissions. Canada could disappear tomorrow and it would not make one bit of difference to global emissions.

There is, however, a more sinister aspect of the carbon tax that is going unrecognized in the mainstream media. The tax will disproportionately hit Alberta and Saskatchewan for the simple reason that the majority of CO2 emissions come from these two provinces, primarily Alberta.

ghg emissions map
Map shows locations of facilities reporting GHG emissions.

In other words, the real goal of the carbon tax is to gut the country’s energy industry.

Proponents of the tax, of course, will argue that isn’t unfair and is merely the consequence of pricing pollution.

Two examples of how this so-called pricing of pollution is being unfairly applied will show that is a disingenuous argument.

Take Energy East. The proposal to build a pipeline to carry Alberta crude oil east should have been a no-brainer. It would have allowed Canada to supplant foreign oil in favor of domestic oil. Ottawa opposed it because it now requires consideration of downstream CO2 emissions in project applications. So while the pipeline in and of itself would emit negligible amounts of CO2, the end product would be refined and burnt and, hence, produce CO2.

That consideration of downstream emissions, however, is not being made in other industries. The automotive sector, after all, produces products – cars and trucks – that will produce copious amounts of CO2 when they are eventually driven, yet Ottawa will do just about anything to keep the automotive manufacturers happy up to and including writing off billions of dollars in loans to Chrysler.

GHG by sector
GHG emissions by sectors.

Or what about Quebec’s new government supported cement plant which is not only receiving taxpayer dollars but will be exempt from the carbon tax? Cement production is one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions, yet it is given a pass.

Why is that? Politics. The Trudeau government needs votes in Ontario and Quebec and it’s not about to destroy industries that produce jobs even if they produce CO2 emissions as well. The Liberals, on the other hand, do not need Alberta and Saskatchewan to win elections, so the jobs there can be sacrificed without a tear being shed.

Little wonder that anger and alienation are growing in the West. The carbon tax is just another reminder that the Laurentian elite which govern Canada cares nothing for Canadians outside of Central Canada.




Press treats Bernier unfairly when disputing his CO2 argument

Maxime Bernier

Ever notice that whenever a politician strays from the accepted climate narrative, the media are quick to point out the “errors” of his ways?

Case in point Maxime Bernier, leader of the nascent People’s Party of Canada who took issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau planned carbon tax.

Bernier had the temerity to point out that CO2 emissions were not pollution and that the proposed tax would accomplish nothing save raising costs for Canadians:

“CO2 is NOT pollution. It’s what comes out of your mouth when you breathe and what nourishes plants,” he wrote.

“We can debate the effects of too much CO2 in the atmosphere on climate. That doesn’t make CO2 a form of ‘pollution.’”.

Incroyable. You could almost hear the gasps in newsrooms across the country. Mon dieu, Mad Max is truly crazy.

Columnists and reporters lined up their “fact check” articles and opinion pieces and proceeded to chastise the party leader, claiming he knew nothing and was, in fact, very thing wrong with conservatives when it comes to climate policy.

Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason, for example, tore a strip off Bernier and sought to belittle him:

“This is a man who came within a whisker of becoming leader of the federal Conservative Party. Think about that. Now he’s making a comparison between greenhouse gases generated by oil projects and cars to the air we expunge with each breath.”

In other words, what does Bernier know?

Then there was Global News’s so-called fact check of Bernier in which they quoted professors who argued CO2 was pollution:

“Myrna Simpson, a professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Toronto, said the fact that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are “beyond natural levels,” and that these “increases in concentrations are fundamentally altering climate patterns” justifies calling CO2 a pollutant.

“Pollutants are everywhere in the environment but it is the concentration of the pollutant and not their presence that is more important,” she explained.”

Now, there are scientists who would argue that CO2 is pollution. Of that there is no doubt. But there are many scientists, with impressive degrees, who would argue just the opposite.

Dr. Will Happer, for example, says:

“I keep hearing about the ‘pollutant CO2,’ or about ‘poisoning the atmosphere’ with CO2, or about minimizing our ‘carbon footprint.’ This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: ‘But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.’ CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving ‘pollutant’ and ‘poison’ of their original meaning….CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth.”

Nor is Happer some wild eyed climate denier. He was until recently a professor of physics at Princeton University and is now serving as Science Adviser to President Donald Trump.

Then, too, there is Dr. Murry Salby, literally the author of textbooks on atmospheric physics, who argues that the rise in CO2 is natural and that human emissions are insignificant.

The point is that Bernier’s position is not unreasonable, nor ill-informed. In fact, it is clear he knows more about the subject than most journalists.

Today, however, most journalists have lost sight of what it actually means to be a journalist. Gone is the requirement we present both sides. In its place is the false notion that there are false equivalencies.

It is patent nonsense. We present both sides because we know that objectivity is impossible to achieve. We are all biased. By presenting both sides we provide fairness and a free press should at least be fair.

Is the internal combustion engine doomed?

eletric car
Electric automobiles are just toys.

It’s hard to believe that a raft of countries have decided to ban vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, yet Britain, France, Germany, India, China and few others have decreed that there shall be no sales of IC powered automobiles by 2040.

What are they thinking?

The charitable explanation is that the technocrats of these nations have decided that there is no other way to wean their populaces off IC vehicles and, thus, reduce CO2 emissions.

The uncharitable explanation is that the true goal is to reduce the mobility of the average person, thus ending a century of freedom and mobility.

Electric vehicles are a joke. They are little more than toys for rich people. They are horrendously expensive. They have limited range. They take too long to recharge.

The driving public understands all that. That is why sales of electric vehicles have been so poor. Even with hefty subsidies paid for by the taxpayer, few people want them. If they were a good alternative to IC vehicles, EVs would be selling like hotcakes. That is how markets work.

So instead of accepting the verdict of the markets, governments have decided to intervene. If no one is buying them, we will give people no choice – IC automobiles will be banned.

It’s madness.

Can you imagine what the evacuation of Houston or Florida would have been like with 3 million electric vehicles on the road? The death toll would have been in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. After all, you simply can’t have 3 million cars and trucks charging their batteries at the same time. No grid could take it.

The technocrats haven’t thought this through. They’re pushing unreliable renewable energy and electric vehicles at the same time without any consideration as to how all this will be integrated into existing grids.

All of which leads one to the conclusion that the real goal is to end the era of personal mobility.

The future, in other words, will be going back to the past – the 19th Century when travel was arduous and mostly the preserve of the rich and powerful.

I have a hard time believing that voters will endorse these changes. Cars and trucks are not just essential to our economies; they are part of our culture. People will not give them up without a fight.

A world without work

Editor’s Note: Came across this piece in the Atlantic by Derek Thompson. It’s excellent.

1. Youngstown, U.S.A.

The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977.

For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War  II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.

Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade. The city built four prisons in the mid-1990s—a rare growth industry. One of the few downtown construction projects of that period was a museum dedicated to the defunct steel industry.

This winter, I traveled to Ohio to consider what would happen if technology permanently replaced a great deal of human work. I wasn’t seeking a tour of our automated future. I went because Youngstown has become a national metaphor for the decline of labor, a place where the middle class of the 20th century has become a museum exhibit.

“Youngstown’s story is America’s story, because it shows that when jobs go away, the cultural cohesion of a place is destroyed,” says John Russo, a professor of labor studies at Youngstown State University. “The cultural breakdown matters even more than the economic breakdown.”
In the past few years, even as the United States has pulled itself partway out of the jobs hole created by the Great Recession, some economists and technologists have warned that the economy is near a tipping point. When they peer deeply into labor-market data, they see troubling signs, masked for now by a cyclical recovery. And when they look up from their spreadsheets, they see automation high and low—robots in the operating room and behind the fast-food counter. They imagine self-driving cars snaking through the streets and Amazon drones dotting the sky, replacing millions of drivers, warehouse stockers, and retail workers. They observe that the capabilities of machines—already formidable—continue to expand exponentially, while our own remain the same. And they wonder: Is any job truly safe?

Read more: Derek Thompson, Atlanticfactory man


What Camille Paglia understands about the Trump era

Camille Paglia

On the day I met Camille Paglia for lunch, I arrived early at the Greek restaurant she had selected and let the hostess guide me to a table in the back. To me this seemed like a perfectly fine table. Paglia, who arrived a few minutes later, disagreed.

It was a booth. And there were people right beside us. There was a table near the front, Paglia said, where she had taken meetings before; perhaps we could sit there. Accompanied by the hostess, we walked to the new table and considered it. Paglia allowed that probably the hostess could not grant the two of us this six-top. We needed a smaller table — but one that was quiet, and private. A second restaurant employee had joined us. Another booth was proposed, another booth rejected. Paglia felt it imperative that we have real chairs. Sitting on a booth’s cushions might lull us into a state of haremlike drowsiness, she felt. We needed to be alert.

I found myself swept along by her willingness to be difficult, which did not manifest itself as rudeness or a sense of entitlement but as a perfect, inviolable comfort in pursuing exactly what she wanted. She was going to get the right table. And what was I going to do, apologize for Camille Paglia? If it is possible to possess immunity to the unspoken expectations of female behavior — to be impervious, on a cellular level, to the will of the patriarchy (to use one of her least favorite terms) — then Paglia possesses that immunity.

At last we were seated at a small table a few yards from the first. We would remain there for the next 4 hours and 45 minutes. In the grand scheme of Paglia interviews, mine was brief. When Francesca Stanfill profiled her for a New York cover story, in 1991, their conversation lasted ten hours, long enough for Paglia to consume two steaks: one for lunch and a second for dinner.

“Normally I would order meat, but I think it’s going to interfere,” Paglia explained, as we considered the menu. “Because I’ll be talking nonstop.” She selected moussaka and a Corona, and began.

Here are some things of which Camille Paglia — perhaps the most famous alleged anti-feminist feminist in American history — approves: football, Bernie Sanders, Katharine Hepburn, Rihanna, the Real Housewives franchise, taramasalata. (It tastes like lox, not like nova, which is good, because nova is too refined; it’s missing all the fish taste.) Here are some things Camille Paglia scorns, and should you have a problem with her scorn, know that she enjoys a fight: Michel Foucault, Doris Day, Lena Dunham, Elena Ferrante, college students who are always whining about date rape. Here are some things of which Camille Paglia used to approve, but has since exiled from her esteem: Bill Clinton, Madonna. She continues to believe in both the ’60s and rock and roll.

Paglia’s new book, out this month, is called Free Women, Free Men, and it compiles writings from throughout her career addressing sex, gender, and feminism — in other words, her most cherished and contentious themes. Paglia first came to prominence with the 1990 release of Sexual Personae. It was a 700-page book based on her Yale Ph.D. thesis, and the rare academic volume that might be described as swashbuckling. Sexual Personae cut an eccentric, interdisciplinary path across Western culture from antiquity onward, recounting what Paglia viewed as the ceaseless battle of nature (which is violent, irrational, untamable, and female) versus culture (aesthetic, logical, ever struggling and failing to tame nature, and, yes, male).

Amid the culture wars of the early ’90s, she presented a seductive alternative to liberal pieties, and to an academy in thrall to deconstructionism and multiculturalism. A self-described libertarian advocate of sexual freedom and free speech, she thought that second-wave feminism had become a homogenized, repressive force for ill (also, that it was intellectually bankrupt). What if, she demanded, Western civilization and the white men who built it deserved some credit? What if feminists were ignoring everything that was important not just about art but about sex? What if she, Camille Paglia, was the true feminist, because she believed women shouldn’t be asking some sexual-harassment grievance board to protect them from the world’s dangers? In her pop-culture-friendly tastes and in her noisy, splashy flair for performance, she offered herself as the populist foil to the liberal elite — she was, for a time, irresistible to the press, winning airtime and magazine covers, and claiming the throne of anti-PC provocateur par excellence. She made her name scorning all that the left held sacrosanct. “Her calling herself a feminist,” Gloria Steinem said back then, “is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.”

Read more: New York Magazine http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/03/what-camille-paglia-understands-about-the-trump-era.html

CIA: Who watches the watchers?

198115_5_With each day the ghost of Juvenal looms larger. This famed Roman satirist sought to capture the Emperor Domitian’s vice-infested culture, in the gloomy years ending the first century. The more people tried to censor him the more merciless his tongue became.

Trump’s America should study his incisive texts, including this famous passage often translated as “who is watching the watcher?” See:


Hey there, you

Who do you think you’re fooling [with] this masquerade…
I know the advice my old friends would give—“Lock her up

And bar the doors.” But who is to keep guard

Over the guards themselves? They get paid in common coin

To forget their mistress’s randy little adventures;

Both sides have something to hide. Any sensible wife,

Planning ahead, will first turn the heat on them.

–Juvenal’s Sixth Satire

(Trans. Peter Green. In Juvenal, Sixteen Satires (New York: Viking Penguin, 1985), 140.)

Through laughter he taught readers about fake news and kangaroo courts. The simple message in Satire VI, known as his diatribe on women, is this: See who’s paying the investigator, and you’ll know what general falsehoods the investigator is likely to come up with. Caveat Priebus.

Culture in the third phase

Three periods of the Roman Empire’s culture stand out. Just before and after the birth of Christ, Virgil’s Aeneid and Horace’s gentle satires trumpeted an Augustan “Romanitas” (or “Roman virtue”) for jittery citizens who survived decades of civil war to become the most powerful people in the whole world. Call this the “winsome phase.”

Mid-century, just after the end of Paul’s ministry, a generation of writers including Petronius (Satyricon) and Lucan (Pharsalia) reacted to the excesses of Nero’s reign by penning epic-length narratives full of viscera and gore. Call this the “gross phase.”

Over a century after Virgil’s Aeneid, in a third phase, Juvenal emerged as a new voice of satire. He felt neither inspired to offer virtuous stories nor compelled to use grotesquerie to mourn virtues lost. Call this the “crass phase.”

For Juvenal’s generation, all that remained was sarcastic exposés on the utter crudeness of a self-righteous but decadent society. He was perhaps like Bill Maher, only a social conservative. (His second satire, on sodomy, has already gotten him banned from Classics syllabi on politically correct campuses!)

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/03/juvenals_ghost_asks_who_is_watching_the_watcher.html#ixzz4b4DyD9lo
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Told You Testosterone Would Make Women’s Sports More Interesting

Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs.

To be fair—given the perverse transgender agenda of the modern left—my idea was that men (such as Bruce Jenner) would compete as “women.” My idea was not that female athletes who want to pretend that they are men (or boys)—and thus take athletic performance-enhancing drugs such as testosterone to help live such a deluded fantasy—would compete as females. I did not imagine this because (I thought) virtually every female athletic association would not allow such an advantage.

Of course, in most athletic associations this is the case, but at the high school level in the state of Texas, it seems there are exceptions. As has been widely reported recently, a female wrestler in Texas—Mack Beggs—has won the state championship in her division largely due to the fact that she has a significant competitive advantage: she’s taking steroids (testosterone).

Once upon a time, such behavior was widely considered cheating. In fact, some of the biggest scandals in sports history involve behavior virtually identical to that of Mack Beggs. (Alex Rodriguez took testosterone.) In fact, due to the widespread problem of “doping” (taking performance-enhancing drugs) in the world of athletics, in 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency was created. Clearly (and always) on the list of banned substances: testosterone. In spite of being an endogenous (naturally occurring) anabolic androgenic (promotes male characteristics) steroid, testosterone use among athletes is prohibited if administered from outside the body.

In the modern era of sports, scandals involving performance-enhancing drugs are numerous. One of the largest examples (in terms of sheer volume of athletes and length of time) involves the Olympians of East Germany. In a tragic attempt to hide the real devastating effects of a communist government and a socialist economy, and instead to present itself as a strong, healthy nation, during the Cold War, the East German government began doping its athletes.

AI learns to write its own code by stealing from other programs | New Scientist

OUT of the way, human, I’ve got this covered. A machine learning system has gained the ability to write its own code.

Created by researchers at Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, the system, called DeepCoder, solved basic challenges of the kind set by programming competitions. This kind of approach could make it much easier for people to build simple programs without knowing how to write code.

“All of a sudden people could be so much more productive,” says Armando Solar-Lezama at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the work. “They could build systems that it [would be] impossible to build before.”

Ultimately, the approach could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it, says Marc Brockschmidt, one of DeepCoder’s creators at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK.

DeepCoder uses a technique called program synthesis: creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software – just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall.

Source: AI learns to write its own code by stealing from other programs | New Scientist

The Mainstream Media Have Forfeited All Respect


The inevitable conflict between the mainstream media and Donald Trump has come to boil just four weeks into his presidency.  The media are beside themselves that someone would castigate them at every opportunity and use hyperbole such as “enemy of the American people” and purveyors of “very fake news” to get under their skin, as their narcissism and sense of self-importance knows no bounds.  They fail to understand why they are held in such disregard — polling has revealed only 32% of Americans trust the media (down from 55% in 2000) and why so many cheer Trump’s visceral attacks.

Over the past half-century, the mainstream media in the United States have evolved into interloculars for and the Praetorian Guard of the Ruling Class.  They constitute a segment of society which is overwhelmingly Liberal, wealthy, self-centered, isolated, and brimming with disdain for the rabble that lives in fly-over country.   Thus, what passes for journalism by the mass media is essentially a defense of the ideology, lifestyle and supremacy of their fellow travelers in the Ruling Class.

Nothing more reflects this mindset than the coverage of the Obama years.  While anger with the media has been gradually building for the past fifty years, the Obama presidency more than amply explains why the current overwhelming level of disgust and mistrust of the media exists.  And why a Donald Trump was elected President.

In January of 2009 the national debt of the United States stood at $10.6 Trillion, today it is $20.0 Trillion — an increase of 90% (and projected to reach $29.0 Trillion by 2026).  On the other hand, despite the global recession of 2008-09, the debt of all the rest of nations on earth expanded by only 54% since 2008. Meanwhile the nation’s Gross Domestic Product grew by an anemic average of 1.4% per year (inflation adjusted) since 2008 the worst 8-year performance since the Great Depression.  Yet Obama was given an eight-year pass, as the media chose to not question the administration’s blaming George W. Bush for all the economic ills of Obama’s two terms. Further, they willfully ignored or glossed over why the economy was not growing, while nearly every year of the Obama presidency claiming that the economy was on an significant upswing, and that mountainous budget deficits were not a concern.  In essence they assumed the American people were gullible dupes when many were not.