On Jan. 17, the CBC National aired a mini-documentary on the rise of white nationalism in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, and I just had to watch. I wanted to see what research the MotherCorp had done. What was going to be the angle?
As it turned out, there was virtually no research. There were no statistics presented. There were no membership numbers. There was hardly any substantial presentation. This was basically a story about Richard Spencer.
Now, most people do not know who Richard Spencer or what the alt-right is, but he is the head of the National Policy Institute, which is “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”
In other words, Richard Spencer is a white nationalist.
What drew media attention to Spencer was his support of Donald Trump and a video in which Spencer gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Trump.”
That meeting drew a lot media attention because the news media like to either characterize Trump as a racist or someone who enables racists.
Spencer and his beliefs seem made to measure.
The thing is Trump has denounced Spencer and racism repeatedly.
“I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn,” Trump said in a New York Times interview in New York on Nov 21, adding “I don’t want to energize the group. I’m not looking to energize them. I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”
Trump said his goal was “to bring the country together.”
The president-elect reiterated his objections to the group and again disavowed them in an ABC interview with Lesley Stahl.
And he’s disavowed them in numerous speeches during the campaign.
In fact, Trump’s forceful denunciations have disappointed Spencer and his few followers, leaving them feeling dejected and abandoned.
This is all old news. It was a tempest in a teapot in November and it is absolutely pointless today.
Trump has no more control over those who support him than outgoing President Barack Obama does.
I have yet to see a documentary from the CBC on Obama’s role in encouraging violence against police officers.
So why bring up Spencer two days before Trump’s inauguration?
Spencer is irrelevant. He has very few supporters. There were a mere 14 commentators on his Reddit channel.
All the CBC succeeded in doing was falsely linking Spencer to Trump when no such link has been shown or proven.
It was just more fake news and yet another sad day for television journalism.
The federal Liberal government plans to impose a national coal phase-out, based on the same faulty arguments used in Ontario — namely that such a move will yield significant environmental benefits and reduce health-care costs. One problem: those arguments never made sense, and now with the Ontario phase-out complete, we can verify not only that they were invalid but that the Ontario government knew it.
Together with Fraser Institute economist Elmira Aliakbari, I just published a study on the coal phase-out in Ontario and its effects on air pollution over the 2002–14 interval. Our expectation was that we would find very little evidence for pollution reductions associated with eliminating coal. This expectation arose from two considerations.
First, ample data at the time showed that coal use had little effect on Ontario air quality. Environment Canada’s emissions inventories showed that the Ontario power generation sector was responsible for only a tiny fraction (about one per cent) of provincial particulate emissions, a common measure of air pollution.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
That quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, but apparently that’s a tenuous connection and there is actually a fairly fierce debate as to who actually coined it.
It doesn’t really matter who said it first. What does matter is that it so accurately sums up what is wrong with so much of government thinking on CO2 emissions.
Let’s leave aside the issue of whether CO2 is actually good or bad for the climate. The United Nations and a large number of governments have concluded that it is. So let’s assume they’re right for the moment.
If CO2 is bad for the environment, then clearly we must do everything we can to reduce its emission and, perhaps, even eliminate emissions altogether.
That is the rationale behind the push for renewable energy. Wind and the sun, the argument goes, can eventually supply all the energy we’ll ever need and reduce CO2 emissions.
This is actually a testable assertion. Enough countries have been trying to reduce CO2 emissions for decades now, so we can see how they have fared.
Germany has been the leading European country behind the push to reduce emissions and has spent more than anyone on reducing CO2 emissions by developing renewable energy resources. If any country should have seen gains in this area, it is surely Germany. So how has well has it fared?
Germany’s renewable energy program, as the Environmental Progress website shows, has been an abysmal failure. CO2 emissions actually increased from 2015 to 2016., despite the fact that it added 10 per cent more wind turbine capacity and 2.5 per cent more solar panels over the same time period. It generated less than one per cent more electricity from wind and one per cent less from solar.
This is the second year in a row that emissions have increased and the reasons are two-fold. One, the country closed one of its nuclear plants. Two, the country received less sunshine and wind in 2015 and 2016.
As climate skeptics are fond of saying, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. The erratic nature of wind and solar power means that you cannot reasonably expect turbines and panels to produce on a consistent basis.
In other words, you can increase your wind and solar capacity by 100 per cent and still only get a marginal increase in electrical output. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.
The trouble is that the cost of renewable energy development is staggering. Billions and billions of Euros have been spent by Germany and CO2 emissions have increased.
Not only that, but German consumers are now paying more for electricity than they did before. Prices have risen by close to 50 per cent over the course of the past decade.
Now, most people would not mind paying more for electricity if the additional costs actually accomplished the stated purpose – reduce CO2 emissions. But I can’t imagine anyone is happy to be paying more while CO2 emissions are going up.
This is where the insanity quote comes into play. We have the example of Germany’s failure at hand and what are we doing in Canada? Unbelievably we are proposing to do exactly the same thing, but are expecting different results.
Mr. Garfinkle of Garfinkle’s New Method Hebrew School in Milwaukee used to frequently echo King Solomon’s admonition; “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I was reminded of that this week when the rapidly unfolding “scandal” of Trump’s purported dealings with Russia hit the news. It has more than a few similarities with the Dan Rather faked-up story of GW Bush’s National Guard service where an anonymous, never-found source supposedly gave Bill Burkett a demonstrably fake report and Dan Rather ran with it. This time a Bush (Jeb) is involved but as an instigator of the story, not a victim. John McCain acts as the intermediary passing the junk on to the Intelligence Community, which makes sure it is published.
If you’re confused about it, let me put it in the context of the most reliable information I’ve been able to put together, noting that I think the story is likely to become even more clear over the next few days. As you will see, the dossier is so ridiculous, if anyone in the Intelligence Community fell for it, he’s too stupid to allow in place, and if no one did but they still played a role in publicizing it, everyone involved needs to be fired
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has never been a friend of Alberta.
In fact, he downright hates us.
Back in 2010, the son of Pierre Trudeau offered up this observation to Patrick Legace on Tele-Quebec’s show Les francs-tireurs:
“Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work,” Trudeau said.
When Lagace asked whether Trudeau believed Canada was better off “when there are more Quebecers in charge than Albertans,” Trudeau replied in the affirmative.
“I’m a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. Certainly when we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th century, those that really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec … This country — Canada — it belongs to us.”
Trudeau later apologized, but that was only because the comments had gotten out into English speaking Canada and Albertans – most Westerners – were rightfully angered.
This week, Albertans found out that the apology was hardly heartfelt and that he really doesn’t give a damn about the province.
Speaking to a hastily convened town hall in Peterborough, Ontario, Trudeau told the crowd that
“We can’t shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels but it’s going to take time and in the meantime we have to manage that transition.”
All right-thinking Albertans were fuming, with angry posters blasting the prime minister in social media.
What Westerners were remembering was his father’s disastrous National Energy Program that decimated oil-producing provinces in the 1980s and bankrupted many companies.
It’s the arrogance of Trudeau that most critics find so annoying.
It’s not his decision to phase out the oilsands. The country is a federation of provinces which have specific responsibilities. Energy and resource development are provincial, not federal, responsibilities.
Then there is sheer stupidity of Trudeau.
Alberta’s oilsands contain 166 billion barrels of oil and are currently producing 2.4 million barrels per day.
In other words, at current rates of production, the oilsands could be in operation for close to 200 years.
Double production and we’d still have 100 years of operation.
In dollar terms, there is more than $7 trillion worth of oil sitting there.
Who in their right mind is going to turn their nose up at $7 trillion?
The world is not about to give up on fossil fuels. Renewable energy has failed to grow appreciably in the past three decades because it doesn’t work as promised. It is unreliable and it is uneconomic.
If anything demand for Canadian oil will grow whether Trudeau and the ecofanatics like it or not.
It would be madness to let that oil and the wealth it represents remain in the ground, particularly when other countries have no intention of giving up fossil fuels.
Even a socialist like Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is coming to understand that the oilsands are a valuable resource. She’s still holding her nose when she tries to defend their development, but she is on the defense.
So Trudeau can forget his plans to phase out oilsands. It is not going to happen. And if he tries, the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan will demand a referendum on separation and we will leave Canada. Make no mistake about that.
When Sir Thomas More finally got Utopia published in 1516, I wonder if he knew just how much trouble it would cause.
More, of course, was writing about the ills of Medieval Europe, with all its attendant warfare, poverty and illness. Utopia needs to be seen in the context of the humanist revival of the time. But there is something about the novel that has resonated with philosophers and do-gooders for centuries.
The world that More describes in Utopia is not all that unfamiliar to the modern reader.
Utopia is a land somewhere in the New World, according to More, and draws its name from the island community’s founder King Utopos.
There are 54 cities on the island, with each city inhabited by 6,000 households. The cities, in turn, are divided into groupings of 30 households and elected a leader. Those 200 leaders elect a Prince through secret ballot who rules for life unless deposed for one reason or another, but primarily for tyranny.
Utopia’s people are living in a sort of commune. There is no private property. Everybody dresses the same. Everyone is required to do a stint working the fields, but they must also learn at least one other essential skill to meet the needs of fellow Utopians. Everyone must work, but everyone can draw upon needed goods which are stored in a central warehouse.
This being Medieval Europe, everybody in Utopia has two slaves who are either criminals or persons captured from other countries. The slave work in gold chains which form the wealth of the country, which More explains this keeps thievery down because the gold is in plain sight.
Life in Utopia is ordered. People just can’t move around freely. They must seek permission to travel and if they do not obtain it, well, they become slaves. Every household, too, takes turns feeding the community.
One last thing, there is no privacy in Utopia. There are no pubs or places for private gatherings. Everybody is under the watchful eye of leaders and fellow citizens.
Now, let’s fast forward to a vision of 2030 Europe from Ida Auken, Member of Parliament for Denmark.
“Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, “our city”. I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.
It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.”
In the new city, no one pays rent because someone who is using our free space when they aren’t using it.
The foundation of the new city is Artificial Intelligence and robots which do all of the heavy lifting that an economy needs:
“When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people. The concept of rush hour makes no sense anymore, since the work that we do can be done at any time. I don’t really know if I would call it work anymore. It is more like thinking-time, creation-time and development-time.”
With everything being free and no need to work, people at first just kind of lazed about and concentrated on entertainment, but then they came to their senses and started doing productive, creative things with their lives.
And as in More’s Utopia, there is no privacy, because the government keeps tabs on everyone:
“Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.”
Auken hasn’t worked out all the details on life in the City of the Future. She says her missive was just to get us thinking about how good life could be for everyone.
Now, there are some stark differences between More’s Utopia and Auken’s utopia. In the former, scarcity is obviously an issue, as is the distribution of goods and services. In Utopia, everyone is required to work, but slaves are there to make it more bearable. In Auken’s utopia, there is obviously no scarcity and everyone has what they need and, presumably, what they want thanks to A.I. and robots (and bountiful free renewable energy.) But the goal is the same: an ordered society where there is little to no disagreement over what everyone thinks is important.
Auken’s utopia puts me in mind of Star Trek. No one really has to work, has everything they need and if they are feeling maladjusted, there’s the holodeck and its attendant pleasures. Worse comes to worse, there’s always the Betazoid counselors who can really get into your head.
Is this future possible? I doubt it.
I don’t doubt that A.I. and robots aren’t going to be doing a lot of work in the near future. They’re already doing the work of a lot of people now. More, they have the potential to do a lot more in the future. I’ve see papers that forecast fully 40 per cent of all current jobs will be done by robots by 2030 and the majority of jobs by mid-century.
All of which means, of course, that millions upon millions of people in the developed world will have to find something to do with this enforced leisure time.
How will people earn a living? Already close to 36 per cent of Americans receive federal welfare benefits. If most jobs are lost to automation, that percentage will climb – 50 per cent, 60 per cent, 70 per cent? Who knows? Some jurisdictions are already experimenting with guaranteed annual incomes.
How does a society fund such largesse? Some economists argue we need to do away with money and with private property. The cashless society will be one where the value of money is determined not by the market, but by government decree.
I have trouble wrapping my mind around such a world. Economics, after all, is founded on scarcity. The scarcity of a good or service determines its value. Gold is harder to come by than tin, so the former is more expensive than the latter. A nuclear engineer’s skills are in short supply and are more valuable than those of a common laborer.
In Star Trek, their abundance is founded on incredibly cheap energy. They have basically harnessed elusive zero point energy – energy from nothing. That has created so much wealth that everything is free.
In the real world, energy is not free. If anything, it keeps getting more expensive and there is real scarcity which explains why all governments are deeply in debt.
But if governments the world over decided in unison to abolish cash and print whatever money they needed, would that solve all our problems?
That is the socialist, globalist dream. I don’t know how many times I’ve read some proponent of a clearly uneconomic renewable energy project argue that government should just print money to get the project off the ground.
Utopian thinkers also believe human nature is malleable. More believed that. Auken clearly does as well. Given enough coercion people will do as they are told if it promises a life free of meeting basic needs and if they’re free to indulge their fantasies.
We’re certainly moving in that direction. Rules abound in modern society. We are told what we are allowed to say, think and, above all, do. At the same time, we are also allowed to indulge our fantasies about gender, sex and drugs.
For conservatives, the socialist utopia is a dystopia. We see human nature as immutable. People will want and should be free to pursue those wants so long as they do not harm others in the process.
It goes beyond that, though. Conservatives also believe in the dignity of work, in the notion that we provide goods and services for each other and are rewarded in turn for providing the self same. Work, in other words, gives life meaning.
For a lot of us, a world where there is no work or where work is a privilege is literally out of this world – just like Star Trek.
Despite government recommendations, there is little evidence that flu vaccines help individuals older than 65 or younger than two
Every year around this time, 120 million Americans roll up their sleeves to get their annual flu shots. Since 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended yearly jabs for every healthy American over the age of six months. The goal is to curb the spread of infection and minimize the risk for potentially dangerous complications such as pneumonia, particularly among the elderly and the very young. But science on the vaccine’s efficacy is scant among those two vulnerable groups. And although healthy adults do get some protection, it may not be as robust as they expect.
One oft-cited claim, based on several large meta-analyses published more than a decade ago, is that seasonal flu shots cut the risk of winter death among older people by half. But the research behind that claim has been largely debunked. A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine noted that influenza only causes about 5 percent of all excess winter deaths among the elderly—which works out to one death from flu per 1,000 older people each season—so it’s impossible for the shot to prevent half of all their winter deaths. The following year, a study reported that as vaccine coverage increased among the elderly in Italy in the late 1980s, there was no corresponding drop in excess deaths. In another 2006 paper, Lisa Jackson, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, and her colleagues showed that although vaccinated seniors were 44 percent less likely to die during flu season than unvaccinated seniors were, the vaccinated ones were also 61 percent less likely to die before flu season even started. “Naturally, you would not expect the vaccine to work before the thing it protects against is going around,” says Lone Simonsen, a research professor in global health at George Washington University and a co-author of the 2005 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The continuing campaign to discredit President-Elect Trump is increasing in intensity. It is based on allegations that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election. It is suggested that Hillary Clinton would have won the election if the Russians had not interfered. The establishment media echo accounts by the administration’s anonymous sources frequently neglecting to include the word “alleged.” In spite of their damaged credibility, they have demonstrated that they can still be influential. In addition to anonymous sources, the media are relying on academics and retired intelligence personnel.
The New York Times has reported, “The assessment by American intelligence agencies that the Russian government stole and leaked Clinton campaign emails has been accepted across the political spectrum, with the notable exception of Mr. Trump.” Apparently, the Times searched for people who supported Trump, but they were unable to locate them. Trump’s critics are everywhere.
It cannot have escaped the attention of many that Ontario is most unsettled these days. That its industries are anxious, its debt colossal, its citizens not in a pleasant mood. Ontario is in a lot of pain. But let me assure readers outside Ontario that it has not all been for nothing. There are rewards. They are subtle, intangible, but they are real. Let me explain.
Those who share the faith and endorse the morality of global warming derive very much the same satisfactions that attended fidelity to the less demanding dogmas of earlier and less ambitious creeds. The carbon regime, tax hikes on gasoline, failed or failing long-term contracts, fear and trembling in the manufacturing sector, the gnashing of teeth in poorer (and now colder) households, Ontario Hydro’s ever-swelling levies, the despoliation of rural vistas by towers of whirling, bird-bashing windmills: These, each in itself, and all in combination are the acknowledged costs of the Great Greening.
Those outside the faith, and mere loitering agnostics, see nothing here but a catalogue of burdens. Shackles of an alien god. But to those within the covenant, they are the way stations on the hard and stony path to delicious rewards reserved for the elect. This is the true chemistry of belief. What appear as obstacles to heretics, appear to believers as smooth escalators to a higher state. Accepting, embracing what must be done supplies them with a sense of inner sanction, endows them with that peace of mind which a lesser scripture records, rather churlishly, as passing all understanding.
When Alberta’s Environment Minister Shannon Phillips proudly proclaimed the province was still standing on the second day after the carbon tax took effect, she probably thought she was exuding confidence.
In poker, that’s the “tell” – the sign something is amiss.
Make no mistake about it, the NDP government of Premier Rachel Notley is gambling – big time.
It’s betting that the carbon tax is going to be something Albertans are going to come to accept because ultimately the money raised is going to be put to good use creating so-called green jobs.
That’s always the promise – jobs. We’ve heard it time and time again. Renewable energy creates good, clean jobs.
The thing is that it never really seems to work that way. Europe’s been at it for more than two decades and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
What the proponents of “green” growth forget is that the value of any project is in the end result.
In other words, the goal ought to be in producing a good or delivering a service that is inexpensive and creates value for the greatest number of consumers.
For example, hand-built cars are labor intensive, but the cars produced are out of the reach of the vast majority of people.
We could employ a veritable army of people shoveling snow, but again the cost would be exorbitant.
So touting green jobs, in and of itself, is meaningless. If the labor costs render the final project uneconomic, it is uneconomic regardless of the number of jobs created.
That is why harnessing fossil fuels created so much prosperity. The amount of energy contained in barrel of oil or a cartload of coal is phenomenal. It was a good investment, no ifs, ands or buts.
The same can’t be said of renewable energy – wind or solar. It is simply too unreliable to be of much use.
Spending capital on building wind turbines and solar arrays just to create jobs is pointless if the end product – electricity – is too expensive when it is available.
Proponents, of course, argue that wind and solar are cheap.
That’s not true. Every single megawatt of electricity produced by wind or solar has to be backed up by a fossil fuel powered plant. There is just no getting round that hard reality. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.
So if the NDP think that they can get to the point where renewable energy is producing 30 per cent of the province’s electricity, it’s a bad bet. It’s going all-in on a pair of deuces.