Thursday, June 21, 2018

A commentary on the Sandy Hill election debate, May 2018

In response to "Do we call that a debate?" in the June-July print edition of Image, and as the Ottawa-Vanier riding candidate for the Freedom Party of Ontario I have several comments.

The article starts off by applauding the technical organization of the debate but incorrectly says that only three candidates showed up. In fact, only four candidates were invited - the Freedom Party was not. I registered as a candidate about a week after the election campaign started and then immediately contacted the debate organizers. They had already determined who would be invited and did not wish to have other participants. While I expressed my reasons why I thought my participation would provide positions very different from all the others, they politely declined and since I totally respect their rights to hold a peaceful event, invite whoever they wish and their freedom to exclude any people or opinions from their event, I attended the event as a spectator only. I found the discussion uniform and a sad comment on the state of our culture.

I was invited and did participate in a debate in Beacon Hill and at Samuel Genest High School (in French and for students only). In these I consciously avoided attacking the individual representatives of the other parties (who I believe to be mostly good but misguided) and the often awful platforms they held and instead made statements demonstrating the correct principles of a civil society, pointed out the moral and economic flaws of several existing widely adopted and even popular policies and explained why all my answers to questions were unified and consistent with those correct principles. 

The PC, Liberal, NDP and Green parties do not share my respect for individual rights, as demonstrated clearly by their long standing actions in government and their election platforms that restrict many freedoms and infringe many rights of Ontario citizens. Ontario has been sliding into greater government power, more central command of our economic activity and a progressive violation of our human rights for many decades, accelerating in recent years. This is a predictable pattern as the errors and damages caused by central planning and the elimination of millions of minds from decisions compounds on itself. When a government makes a rule, one relating to wage controls for example, it deliberately prevents people from rational consideration of all options, blocks freedom to negotiate and find agreement and replaces it by the opinions, wishes and whims of whatever group holds the reins of political power. It says "obey me or face the wrath of the people with guns I have in my control."  It is precisely this type of power that inevitably must corrupt those who hold it, even relatively benignly.

The article refers to the three speakers as inhabiting the same part of the political spectrum. In fact, even the absent PC party (which sometimes makes statements sounding like it values true freedom) has more ideas in common with the other three than it does with the Freedom Party. Whereas all four of them agree on fundamental socialist principles and differ only in degree or style of implementation, the Freedom Party holds completely to the principles required for a sustainable, peaceful and stable society of rational and free people - one where the purpose of government is to clearly define and strongly protect your rights to life, liberty and property and takes no action except for these purposes. We believe government is essential for a civil society but in contrast to the four parties mentioned we believe it violates its most sacred trust when it uses force to override the will of a citizen acting in the peaceful pursuit of his or her goals in life. In start contrast to the others, we believe that all economic and other exchange of values is properly done only by the consent of both parties.

I see the big three as the parties of Kathleen Horvath, Doug Wynne and Andrea Ford. I dare you to find an area where they differ on a matter of fundamental principle. I particularly note that the explicit policy of the other parties is to use physical force and the threat of it to sacrifice the rights, reasoning, choice and thus important parts of the lives of some citizens in order to supposedly benefit others. Of the three speakers present, the NDP candidate was the most strident and explicit about this - speaking eloquently with the passion of a consistent follower of Marx and Kant. The world is already full of examples of the human and  societal terminus of these ideas and it has always been destruction. Unfortunately, these are the dominant ideas in our culture today and unless radical changes are made, we will see a continuation of cultural decline.

David McGruer
Sandy Hill
Ottawa-Vanier Freedom Party of Ontario Candidate

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A tragedy of the commons

In discussion with a Facebook friend we ventured into talking about communities where restrictive covenants are used to define specific property rights. My friend posted a link to a definition of the "tragedy of the commons" and my response follows.

So.. tragedy of the commons. I know the concept. I see this as a serious problem only for societies that do not have clear property rights. When there is property that "no one owns but everyone owns", i.e. state-owned property, there is no way to allocate resources, to determine priorities, to objectively resolve disputes, to coordinate economic activities.

The reference you provided refers to demand overwhelming supply. In a free market this is impossible except in the very short term because free people can expand the supply of any given resource. To many people this is counter-intuitive because they see resources as finite, as mere physical objects, when in fact resources are everything in reality that man's mind can conceive. Every single thing we see as a resource today has existed for millions of years - the difference is that humanity did not have the reasoning ability, the knowledge and the social structures of freedom and capitalism to realize the potential of these resources. Let me provide a few examples.

Until the minds of men were able to discover and exploit the principles of chemistry, that dark, gunky, toxic soil that was a blight for farming was worse than useless but today has become the most abundant, most economical, most life-supporting energy source yet discovered - oil and other fossil fuels.

Until the minds of men discovered certain principles of chemistry and physics, there was no such thing as steel, aluminum and a multitude of alloys that today support the structure of our homes, our offices, our factories, our bridges, cars, trains and planes.

Until the minds of men discovered and exploited certain principles of biology, the perpetual state of almost all mankind was starvation and malnutrition but today our supply of food has expanded so far obesity has become a problem in many advanced nations and risks becoming so for even poorer nations in just a few decades. I think most people would rather have the challenges of obesity than starvation.

Thanks to enlightenment thinkers, industrialists in relatively free countries discovered ways to mass produce goods and services in such vast quantities that supply not only exceeded what their contemporary populations could use, but can now provide supply for a vastly increased population with little difficulty.

Supply is not a function of a limited view of resources but rather one of human imagination and freedom. If one specific physical resource appears to be in short supply, a free economy sees its price rise, which then attracts additional attention from producers, who then work to discover new ways of producing or alternatives that may even make the earlier ways entirely obsolete. The energy field is a classic example. In the early part of this century there was a hue and cry about "peak oil" and forecasts of doom. Oil prices rose rapidly. Alternatives were sought and so quickly discovered and implemented that the USA, which was previously a huge oil importer, now is an exporter. If government and anti-human activists had seen this coming they would have had a decent shot at preventing such progress and this is evidenced by their strident opposition to shale oil, horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, oil pipelines, oil tankers, oil trains, and even the production of oil and other fossil fuel sources - they oppose every single economic source of energy. This advance happened so fast they were caught flat-footed. Today, the supply of oil and other fossil fuel energy is greater than at any time in human history, not because the raw material was not available, but because human minds had not yet identified it and found ways to make it a resource.

And what's next after fossil fuels? Likely fusion, which requires raw materials that are incredibly abundant and is a process that produces nothing humanity considers a pollutant. The potential supply of energy from fusion is so vast it is easily a thousand times more than that of fossil fuels, and we have centuries of supply of fossil fuels remaining. From a time less than two hundred years ago when whales were being killed for their oil to today when we can see unlimited energy resources in front of our noses, the raw materials found in nature did not change one iota. What changed was that men were largely left free to make the best use of the resources they had currently discovered and this enabled them to discover even more resources. it was not environmental activists who saved the whales but the geologists and engineers and venture capitalists who launched the age of oil that did so.

Now back to the tragedy of the commons. Imagine what would have happened if all property was owned by the state instead of by individual people and the voluntary relationship groups they form such as partnerships and corporations. Do you think we would have ever advanced to the stage of having industrial scale steel, aluminum, oil or anything else? Not a chance.These great leaps forward always occur in the more free society, where there is a degree of respect for the individual human being, where citizens have property rights and a government protects these rights, including intellectual property rights. While a country founded upon enlightenment principles leaped further forward than any country in all of history in just a hundred years from its founding, a multitude of other countries that remained collectivist, tribalist, fascist and otherwise did not protect the individual and his mind remained mired in primitive squalor.

The same is true today. What country, when it was relatively free for a while was formerly one of the wealthiest but now has in just a couple of decades fallen so low that all of the pets, all of the animals in the cities and even the zoo animals have been eaten by its people while formerly middle class citizens forage through garbage in search of food? Which country has the world's greatest known supply of oil, yet thanks to a true tragedy of the commons is pathologically unable to produce enough energy even for its own citizens to live as rational human beings and has gas prices at about $10 Cdn per liter? Which country once exported food all around its area and just a short time later depends on international aid to delay mass starvation? What country has an inflation rate of about thirteen thousand percent (80% per month) and and has seen GDP shrink by about 16% in the last year? What triggered this horrendous change? Was it the adoption of freedom, the protection of individual rights, the implementation of free trade, free markets, the limiting of the role of government to rights protection and the removal of rights-violating regulation - that is to say was it capitalism?

Or was it the antithesis of capitalism, meaning collectivism: the elevation of so-called group rights above the individual; the destruction of free association including the right to form corporations and seek economic production; the attack on objective law that protected citizens from those who would violate their rights, especially the state; the attempt to equalize all people's situations in defiance of their individual differences; the reversal of the proper role of the state from the protector of the right of citizens to pursue their own reasoned decisions to the agency that dictates how citizens must behave, organize their productive activities and even think? Did this country suffer from an excess of freedom and capitalism or the near total destruction of these?

Did socialism ride to the rescue of this formerly partially capitalist and wealthy country and make all its citizens happy, healthy and equally wealthy? Well, on the side of wealth they are in the process of becoming equal all right - equally poor, equally starving, equally desperate to escape the death-trap of socialism. And yet, do you think these same people, once they have thrown off the first layer of socialist shackles will advocate for ma truly free country, for pure freedom and capitalism, for a state that has as its sole duty the protection of individual rights? Not unless they have the intellectual and moral tools to do so - meaning they almost certainly will not. Rather, they will swing back towards enough freedom to improve their lives for a while and then again will lean towards statism and the cycle will continue.

Oh, and in case it wasn't evident, the country in question is Venezuela and it is currently in the grasp of a true tragedy of the commons.

Friday, April 13, 2018

James Hansen advocates fighting climate change by suing everyone in sight, including ourselves

As thousands of government representatives prepared to jet to Germany for the COP23 climate conference in the fall of 2017, the volume and stridence of proclamations from the leaders of the climate change alarmist movement rose quickly.

Former NASA scientist James Hansen was quoted several times in a Nov. 7, 2017 National Geographic interview, in which he recommended suing the world’s biggest oil, coal and gas, and cement companies for damages resulting from climate change. He says 100 companies have been the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. The article tells us “An enormous amount of money is urgently needed to dramatically slash emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), take existing CO2 out of the atmosphere, and for countries to cope with the impacts of climate change, Hansen argues. And that money should come from the companies that profited most from burning fossil fuels, Hansen will tell world leaders Tuesday in Bonn, Germany, at the annual United Nations climate negotiations.”

Later, the article says “Hansen is involved in a 2015 lawsuit against the U.S. federal government, brought by 21 kids under the age of 21, including his own granddaughter. The case argues that the government’s failure to curb CO2 emissions has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.”

If Hansen’s assertions are correct and all our lives are damaged by greenhouse gas emissions, then suing those who harm us might be one way to reduce the harm. But are his assertions true? How do we know? One good way to examine the validity of a statement is to follow it to its logical end and see if it makes sense. Let’s examine two aspects of Hansen’s assertions: that we have all been harmed by CO2 emissions and that suing big companies is a solution.

According to Hansen, all our lives should be much worse off because of greenhouse gas emissions and their supposed causal effect of increasing global temperature. We should have powerful measurable evidence of harm to humanity. Reality contradicts Hansen since by all objective measures our lives have become safer, longer, healthier and richer as humanity has created more energy from fossil fuels. As Indur Goklany says in Humanity Unbound - How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity “From 1750 to 2009, global life expectancy more than doubled, global population increased 8-fold, and incomes increased 11-fold. How did this happen? While there were many factors tracing their roots to the renaissance and enlightenment, the rapid industrialization of the West was made possible and supercharged by the discovery and exploitation of industrial scale energy production - energy that powers all other industries. As Goklany states, even today when other energy sources like hydro, nuclear, solar and wind have been discovered and industrialized, “...fossil fuels provide 80 percent of mankind’s energy and 60 percent of its food and clothing.” Clearly, civilization depends on fossil fuel energy and is likely to do so for quite some time.

But has our environment become more dangerous as we exploit this energy? Not at all, points out Goklany, in fact “Global death rates from extreme weather events declined by 98 percent since the 1920s, while economic damages corrected for population growth and wealth have not increased.”

What about Hansen’s assertion we should sue the very companies that have provided the energy and structure that powers the modern world? What would it mean to sue them? Who owns these companies? Well, in brief - we all do. The shares of these publicly traded companies are owned in our individual investment accounts, our group investment plans, our pension plans and the pension plans of our governments. Perhaps hundreds of millions of people own a part of companies like Exxon.

Following the lawsuit process to the end would mean suing ourselves and our neighbors and friends, our employers and our governments, even our children and our parents. Hansen would be suing his granddaughter and she him at the same time they would both be suing the companies that built and power their schools, hospital, roads, homes, and cell phones. They would be suing the creators of the internet and the content that rides on it like that produced by Disney, the artists who travel between cities for productions like Disney on ice, the builders of the ice rinks and power companies who enable the existence of ice rinks in the desert. Hansen would be suing all of human civilization and almost everyone alive today except the few primitives who remain isolated from modern society. In short, it would mean everyone attacking everyone at the same time. To borrow a term from the current movie scene, it would be Ragnarok! Hansen’s call to sue the top 100 producers of CO2 emissions is nothing less than a call for the end of civilization and the virtual elimination of humanity, his granddaughter included.

One of the many things Hansen does not understand is that companies are not people, they are owned by people - many people. The companies have not been the ones profiting from industrial scale energy production, people are. Not just those who own the company, but all those who are customers of the company or customers of their customers. It is the daily choices of all the people in the economic chain of activity that have directed money and profits towards those big companies, and it can be taken away at any time if consumer preferences shift. This is a much more powerful (and what’s more it is a fully moral) method of tuning and improving the marketplace for energy. Whereas the free market price mechanism provides an elegant and infinitely adaptable solution to potential economic challenges like the effects of climate change, Hansen would use a club and rock to smash our biggest and best energy producers to impose his radical personal views on the rest of us. I hope his granddaughter does not grow up to ever see the world in the state that Hansen’s ideas would take us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Corporations, Inequality and Amazon

I wrote this as a comment on an Ontario Liberal Party discussion platform leading to the 2018 Ontario election. I don't know how long the link will survive, so I am pasting the text of the posted idea and earlier comments below my text.

My long comment, responding to Jenny and to the main idea:
It is a mistake to think corporate tax is not paid by individuals - only individuals pay tax. Sometimes they pay directly and sometimes through their legal entities such as corporations, partnerships and trusts. The government taxes corporations as a way to hide the tax from immediate view by citizens and is totally counterproductive. All the assets and all the profits of a corporation are engaged 100% of the time in creating value for citizens and when you tax something you get less of it.  By taxing business production you get less production and society has a lower standard of living.

The fact that 10% of Canadian already pay 55% of the taxes is not irrelevant to this issue. In many and likely most cases, the most productive people are shareholders of a corporation and thus pay both personal and corporate income taxes already.

The idea's assertion that income inequality is bad and that corporations are totally about greed is a travesty. To better understand this, consider how you become one of the rich people in society. Let's say you come up with an idea to make life better for others - to keep things super simple, say you invent a better vegetable peeler. You must invest your brain power in creating the initial idea, building prototypes, testing them, researching manufacturing and distribution. You must make sure you are not running afoul of the thousands of regulations the province has that restrict trade. You must search for and hire staff to help you get things rolling. You must learn how to deal with the intricacies of trade barriers between countries and also their internal trade barriers such as those between provinces. You must finance the equipment, marketing and inventory of the business and pay staff while the product is being brought to market; you take significant financial risks and might lose it all. 

Now assume you start to have sales, but it may take many months or even years to recover what you have invested, with no guarantees at all that you will do so. All along the way your staff have been paid and have been happy to work for that level of pay, or else they would rationally work elsewhere. No one forced them to work for you and they took no risks except those inherent in working for a small business. Every day in the early life of the company the staff worked, they were making a profit for themselves while the business founder was not. They decided they were better off, that their lives were being improved, that they received more value through their pay than the time they dedicated to the work.

Now let's say the business starts to become profitable. How? Only because enough customers have decided that their lives will be better off for buying your veggie peeler than by holding onto the few dollars it costs them. Their lives are improved in a small measure, and the business owner and all employees are also better off. Trade is a win-win transaction when it is freely chosen - it must be, by definition. If only a modest number of people agree that their lives are improved by buying your peeler.

Now to the meat: how do you become rich? A really large number of people must agree that their lives are improved by trading their dollars for your peeler. Millions of people must agree that you are creating value for them. Not only that, you are competing against all other peelers made by all other companies, plus once your peeler hits the market it will give other people ideas about how to compete with you. To build a successful business you must not only achieve excellence, you must maintain it indefinitely or else another will earn the market share you once had.

Consider Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, apparently the wealthiest man in the world today. His business idea has become so loved by his customers and the company has so many millions of customers that his net worth (mostly Amazon shares that could lose 100% of their value if the company fails to maintain excellence) is over $100 billion dollars. Did his wealth come at the expense of others? Did he take their piece of the so-called "income pie"? Did he achieve this by forcing people to work for him at pay lower than they chose? No. No. NO! Amazon employees all work there because they have identified Amazon as a place they want to work and have accepted the pay offered. Many employees have likely become millionaires through ownership of shares in the business. Amazon customers are better off - why else would they shop through Amazon? Thousands of other businesses sell through the Amazon platform. Many other businesses sell services to Amazon. Jeff Bezos is fabulously wealthy because he has revolutionized a portion of the marketplace and created value for hundreds of millions of people and growing. All those people have chosen to trade a small amount of their value for that provided by Bezos and his company - and they can take away everything Amazon has and all its employees and all its share value, just by changing their minds about whether Amazon is creating value in their lives. 

The fact that income inequality rises when Jeff Bezos creates incredible value for millions of people all over the world is an outcome to be celebrated, lauded and recognized as a great moral achievement, not just an economic one.  Morality is our guidelines for surviving and thriving, and the creation of a new mountain of wealth in society is the pinnacle of morality successfully applied to improve human lives. Bezos is not Bernie Madoff - he has not stolen or defrauded anyone - that is the mindset of those who see wealth as a pie to be divided. Bezos has designed, tested, baked and continues to bake new and undreamed of pies that are beloved by hordes of his fellow men. To frame it another way, Bezos' wealth has been voted to him and bestowed upon him through consumer choices as recognition by his fellow men of the value he creates.

Yes, Bezos disrupts the economy, but to improve it, not to denigrate it.

Yes, this is a right and left issue. On the right stand people who wish to be free to choose their own path in life, to be free of coercion by others or their government. On the left stand those who are against individual rights, against human freedom, against reason and the human mind, against win-win trade and for the use of force to make others do their bidding. On the left stand people with guns pointed at citizens. On the right stand people who defend the right of citizens to choose. Which side acts as a bully?

My first, short comment:
This idea is so full of errors and contradictions entire books would be needed to fully address it. A basic course in economics and finance would be a start.

Who creates, operates, finances and owns the businesses, the corporations excoriated above? Who pays the corporate taxes? Who pays individual taxes? Who earns the profits of businesses and uses them to invest in greater future production or to improve their lives? Canadians, Ontarians, taxpayers - they are synonymous. With the most productive 10% among us already paying 55% of income taxes, is that enough? Not for everyone, apparently.

Comment from Jenny:
Hi, David, the 10% paying 55% of income taxes is irrelevant. The idea was the low corporate tax; it is not that the head of the corporate is paying low personal income tax.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Canadian government attacks the values of its own citizens

I wrote this to an Ottawa area MP when I learned of an upcoming "consultation" phone call.

I am writing to you as a financial advisor who lived in Orleans for a number of years when I first built my business and who has many clients living in Orleans to this day.  I urge and implore you to push the government to stop all action towards implementing the published proposed tax increases as they could be the most damaging tax increases in our lifetime so far.

When I learned of the proposed changes, my jaw dropped and I felt very angry too.  As a financial advisor for the last 24 years I have gained a very good knowledge of many parts of the Canadian income tax system, particularly individual income tax, as I am a registered eFiler and prepare about 130 returns per year for my clients. Over the years I have done over 2,000 tax returns. In addition, a crucial part of financial advice is understanding how income tax reduces the value of investments made by clients, thus reducing the wealth of Canada forever, and helping clients understand and plan to keep their tax burden to a legal minimum through proper planning.

I think it is crucial for you to clearly understand what it means when a person earns income. It means he has created something of value that another person is willing to exchange his own values for. Money is simply the medium of exchange – the underlying value represent a piece of each person’s life, their energy, their intellect, their physical effort, their personal property, their values. In a country that truly protects the rights of individuals, productive ability is celebrated, not punished. Individuals with prodigious ability to create value must be free to do so and the value they create should not be attacked by their own government. If a man can build a business and create value of $200,000 more than the cost inputs, then this is only possible because the people he trades with agreed that he had created this value – that is to say they willingly traded their own values in exchange and only because they thought they were better off for having traded.  If a man can produce excess value of $2 million then he has created much more benefit to his fellow members of society than the man who created $200,000 of value. Should the man who creates greater value be punished for it? Should his productive ability be stifled? Should his ability to allocate capital that is used to create even more value be impaired? Is it moral for him to have a greater portion of his production stripped from him by force the harder he works? This is exactly the regressive tax system we have today.

For many years I taught a financial planning seminar series for adults through the Ottawa Catholic School Board and in the class focused on income tax I listed thirteen different examples of situations where the tax system claws back income, over and above the basic income tax, leading to sometimes severe punishment for earning more income. I used an example drawn from my real life experience doing a client tax return, where a single parent earning $30,000 faced a 70% effective tax and clawback rate. This is not the only example, the system is riddled with complicated buttons and levers pulled by a series of governments over time.  I’m sad to say this has only become worse since the last Federal election and the punishment for daring to produce more value for fellow citizens has risen.

Consider the possible things a business can do with its earnings. Remember that dollar are simply place-holders for actual economic values such as tools, equipment, buildings, vehicles, clothing and all the other goods and services produced by people to improve their lives. First, it can hold them in a bank account and in this case the cash then is available for the bank to lend to others who may need capital to pursue their own goals in life. Second, the business may spend it on maintaining operations or invest in growing its productive capacity and in this case it also produces value. It may pay salaries or dividends to owners of the business, enabling them to pursue their personal values and improve their lives. The business may hold retained earnings and invest in other businesses, either small private businesses or larger, more liquid and secure businesses; again in both cases serving to maintain and increase the production of human values. All the actions a business may take with its earnings are positive, unless the business is not run well enough to be competitive and profitable and thus closes.

This is economics 101, but it is not well understood by many people, including Canadian elected officials of the last century. When production is taxed, the whole chain of wealth creation in society is slowed down, retarded, held back. Don’t forget, wealth is simply the values chosen by people, values such as homes, cars, communications, schools, hospitals, scientific discoveries, etc. Forcibly taking greater amounts away from those who are better at producing values - no matter what is done with it, no matter how well intentioned the takers may say they are, no matter their justifications - can only impair human progress. Taking ever-higher percentages from people as their productive abilities increase is an even greater harm to the producers and to society. Below is a table from my class slides, showing that a dollar doubled ten times is worth $1,024 but when taxed at 46% is only worth $75. In one case, society has $1,024 of homes, schools, hospitals, etc. and in the other it has only $75 of these. Which society has the greater health of citizens, greater education, greater communications, safer houses and cars, more ability to care for the small fraction of truly incapable individuals?

Note that when I referred to helping clients pay a minimum of tax, “minimum” does not by any means mean low or nil, as many of my clients pay far more than a fair share of tax already. The fact is that the people who are the most productive already pay taxes at a rate far greater than their fair share. As the table below shows, just 10% of our population pays 41% of taxes, four times their fair share. Even worse, the most productive 1% of our people are already forced to pay, despite spending vast amounts on tax and legal and financial advice, 24 times their per capita share of taxes. Twenty four times! Each of them carries on their backs twenty four fellow citizens, weighing down their ability to produce values, to improve civilization, to advance human knowledge, to improve the lives of those they trade with, to innovate, to hire people to help them in their productive efforts. Just imagine the progress that would be unleashed if the greatest producers among us were truly freed to use all their abilities to their fullest!

Actually, you don’t need to imagine it. Until the recognition of individual rights along with proper governments to protect them in the late 1700’s, the natural state of humanity through all history was poverty. Suddenly, an explosion of knowledge and production raised the quality of human life by more in 200 years than in the thousands of years prior.  Countries that adopted the principles of freedom have uniformly flourished beyond the imagination of 18th century Kings. Canada was one of these.  Even today, wherever and to the degree the right to life, liberty and property are cherished in law and in the culture, progress and flourishing occur. To the degree a country violates these three great rights by the force of central controls, regulations and taxation, human life suffers – witness Venezuela in recent years. 

Alas, Canadians have forgotten the philosophical roots of the enlightenment and are unaware of the causes of the industrial revolution and the great advances they see around them. They are moving away from expanding freedom and towards, and even accelerating towards, collectivism, socialism, statism and fascism, which are all essentially the same. The current proposals to raise taxes on private corporations represent a significant slide towards Venezuela and misery and suffering. Notice how there has been NO discussion of the possibility that some people are being taxed too much and their burden should be lowered to create a more level playing field. The only discussion by the Government is to increase taxes on some people to a level paid by some other people - people the government thinks it can persuade to vote for them to continue punishing high producers. The tall flowers are being cut down again. The logical progression of this is to cut a level lower and lower until all are equal in their suffering and the Marxist ideal is achieved, a la Venezuela, where you cannot find a dog, cat or bird in the city because the people have killed them all for food – even zoo animals.

The consequences of implementing this tax proposal will not be unintended, but fully intended. The government has been told, warned, notified of the pending damage to society. The assumptions behind the proposal are severely flawed in both moral and economic terms, so to seek ideas in a “consultation” on how to minimize unintended consequences is to entirely and deliberately miss the point. The proposal represents a willful and wanton destruction of real, tangible and deeply moral values like homes, food, education and health so cherished by so many Canadians. Instead of attacking our most productive people, isn’t it time Canada started to encourage them to ever greater heights and encouraged all others to emulate their success and help them in building an even wealthier society? Our entrepreneurs, business people and high producers should be our greatest role models, not the object of scorn, derision, insults and attacks via the force of taxation. While there is so, so much more than could be said on this, I will close with a quote from one of the great thinkers in the field of human freedom and progress.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.  You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. - Abraham Lincoln

I look forward to your thoughtful response to my letter.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Fossil Fuel Free Global Equity Fund? It's not right. It's not real.

In Canada, RBC funds has launched a mutual fund that uses an exclusion process to avoid companies involved in extracting, processing and transportation of fossil fuels.

They state this investment process leads to high conviction research driven portfolios and returns defined by stock-picking, not style, with a low correlation to peers.

I replied to the company's communication with the following message:

I think the concept behind the fund is incorrect, irrational, incoherent and immoral. The energy from fossil fuels has: 
a) powered the industrial revolution, 
b) advanced knowledge and society more in two hundred years than in all prior history, 
c) lifted billions of people from poverty, 
d) enabled the potential for a safe, healthy, long and productive life for all of humanity, 
e) eradicated almost all human deaths from the naturally dangerous climate, 
f) enabled us to wipe out the worst diseases of the past,
g) empowered women, minorities, former slaves and anyone with the mind and determination to do so to succeed beyond the wildest dreams of pre-industrial society,
h) much more.

To in any way promote the concept that fossil fuels, which presently provide 85% of all the power required to operate modern society, represent a meaningful threat to civilization instead of being the salvation of civilization is a monstrous distortion of reality and a disservice to all humanity. 

As a starting reference point, I have attached a fascinating article that studies the interaction between climate, human deaths and energy availability.

I note that every single holding in the fund relies utterly on fossil fuel energy to remain in existence. If fossil fuels were banned tomorrow, these companies would be instantly bankrupt and it would be the end of human civilization as we know it. With centuries of abundant, cheap, dense and portable fossil fuel energy available to us, not only is fossil fuel energy the fastest growing energy source in the world, but it is likely to remain by far the most important energy source for the next hundred years.

The company should be ashamed to be associated with the promotion of such a patently absurd concept as a fossil fuel free fund – it does not exist and should not exist.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ontario Liberals are in love with the ideas of Karl Marx

Below is my quick response to the current Ontario Liberal campaign. They sent me an email asking me to support them in their efforts.  I declined and opted instead to send them a brief response.


Unfortunately you have chosen to launch initiatives that are straight out of the ideology of Karl Marx. Each of the initiatives listed below requires a massive violation of the rights of Canadian citizens the government is elected to protect. I believe Sir Wilfred Laurier would recoil in horror at what the meaning of being a Liberal has become. In his lifetime he lived just long enough to see the ideas of Karl Marx start bloody revolutions that in the end resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people across the world. More die daily as a result of these same ideas in countries like Venezuela, while countries that are throwing away these ideas like China and India are advancing more rapidly that any country in history.  The Liberal party ideology needs to return to its roots and re-discover the ideas that made Canada a great country – individual rights and a government that protects them, not one that violates them.

While volumes have been written about all that is morally and economically wrong with these ideas, I will simply state here how they violate the rights of citizens, with government forcibly sacrificing a part of innocent lives to the whims, wishes and wants of other people. These actions are the exact opposite of fair.

The five initiatives are:
1. A $15 minimum wage - violates the right of employees and employers to negotiate terms of employment contract free of interference from parties who are not involved in the contract.

2. A basic income pilot - violates the rights of those who are working to create value and exchange it for wages by seizing some of their money and giving to others who are not or who have chosen not to work in support of their own lives.

3. Free pharmacare for youth and children - violates the rights of all those who work to support their own lives and those of their family, forcibly taking part of their hard work and giving it to those who did not earn it.

4. Free post-secondary education - violates the rights of all those people who work to pay for the education of themselves or their loved ones and all the rest of society's producers too, forcing them to pay for the education of strangers at the expense of their priorities in life. Such an action raises the expenses of education, stifles innovation and competition, and punishes those who work the hardest and whose work is the most productive.

5. Rent control - violates the rights of the people who have saved and invested their capital to provide rental accommodations for willing tenants. Such an action can only cause less rental properties to exist and to reduce the quality of such properties.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MP McGuinty's October 4 2016 statement in the House is replete with fundamental errors

On October 4, 2016 MPP for Ottawa South David McGuinty made a statement in the House of Commons that was so full of economic and scientific errors I felt it worthy of comment. To find his statement follow the link and then search for his name and go to the second occurrence of it.

1. The statement says the issue of climate change has nothing to do with ideology, yet the very essence of the topic is political control over people's decisions regarding energy and how they live their lives. If advocating for a massive interference in the governance of the nations of the world and the use of political force against all of humanity is not an ideology then I wonder what an ideology is?

2. The statement refers to 2,200 Nobel Peace Prize winners. Aside from the fact the Nobel Peace Prize has nothing to do with science but rather is ideological, only the IPCC organization was awarded the prize, not 2,200 scientists. The scientists referenced are those whose work is cited in support of the IPCC hypothesis of dangerous man-made climate change warranting a massive restriction of human rights, a hypothesis which is explicitly rejected by many of the scientists whose work is cited by the IPCC.  Dr. Frederick Seitz, in reference to the 1995 IPCC report: "I have never before witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer review process than the events that led to this IPCC report." Richard Lindzen, prof of meteorology at MIT, who at first participated in the IPCC process but then gave up: "There's little doubt that the IPCC process has become politicized to the point of uselessness." "They controlled who participated and who were the lead authors, especially of critical chapters."

3. The statement refers to IPCC scientists as if the IPCC was a scientific body, when in fact it is a political body composed of government representatives. A small number of scientists write chapters for the IPCC reports and an even smaller number review the full content.

4. The statement states that we have droughts and floods. While no doubt true, this statement is meaningless since it ignores all context. Are such weather events similar to the past or not? Do they represent a greater or lesser danger to mankind due to our use of fossil fuel energy? There is massive evidence that humanity is safer from nature and nature is safer from humanity due to our use of fossil fuels. Global death rates from extreme weather events declined by 98 percent since the 1920s, while economic damages corrected for population growth and wealth have not increased. Similarly, the incidence of droughts and famines in history is well documented and has declined massively since the advent of fossil fuel energy.

And what about the IPCC itself? In the 2013 IPCC Technical Summary, under Key Uncertainties, there are a few interesting statements.

"There is only medium to low confidence in the rate of change of tropospheric warming and its vertical structure."

"Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the global average and for some geographical regions. Multi-model results for precipitation indicate a generally low predictability. Short-term climate projection is also limited by the uncertainty in projections of natural forcing."

"In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and volume)."

"There is low confidence in an observed global-scale trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), due to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and choice and geographical inconsistencies in the trends."

"There is low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone characteristics are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities."

5. The statement references the Stern report, which is an economic paper referenced to give support for the use of massive political power over citizens' activities. Economic analysis of the Stern report, however, shows that Stern chose to use an extremely low, near-zero discount rate (0.1%) instead of a normal rate such as 3.5%, thus essentially Stern equates cost and value today with that in the distant future, when we know that economic growth has made us many times wealthier today than a hundred years ago and that this trend continues. To highlight this, at 3.5% growth we would have 31.2 times more wealth in 100 years whereas at 0.1% growth we will be 1.1 times wealthier. This is not a trivial difference and reveals the uselessness of the Stern report.

6. The statement references the carrying capacity of the planet and the need to live within it. The notion of a planetary carrying capacity is an anti-concept that uses non-essential characteristics to make us think there is a problem. An essential characteristic of man is that he creates resources from raw materials found in nature. The raw materials have always been there and they only become resources through the application of human reasoning to make them valuable for human life. The concept of value is a moral one and not a scientific one, thus no scientist can identify a threshold for the excess creation of value, since there is no measurable limit to value creation. The entire physical matter of the planet is a potential resource for humans, as are other planets and stars.

The challenge of human food supply provides one illustration of the limitless ability of humans to create value. Before the discovery, commercialization and industrialization of fossil fuel energy, the basic condition of humans was to be hungry, weak and sick. With fossil fuel energy we live longer, healthier lives with abundant food. Only in the shrinking portion of the world that has yet to adopt a greater degree of capitalism and industrialization is widespread hunger a problem. 150 years ago, 25 men working all day harvested and threshed a ton of grain. Today with a combine harvester it takes… six minutes. Farm productivity is up 2,500-fold by this measure. In just the last 25 years 2 billion people have emerged out of a condition of hunger and only a single country's population gets less than 2,000 calories per day: Zambia. In just 25 years (1990-2015) extreme poverty was reduced by 138,000 people per day, for a total of 1.25 billion.

How does a reasoning being, faced with the incredible improvements in the human condition due to the use of fossil fuel energy that provides 85% of world energy not see the wonders we have accomplished? Only an ideology that sees humanity as a blight upon the face of the planet - a philosophy that is fundamentally anti-human - can oppose human freedom to produce more energy and progress naturally towards the discovery of even more abundant, more concentrated and even more powerful energy sources we will no doubt find. To quote Amory Lovins, one of the leaders of just such an ideology that has become known as environmentalism, "Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it." Oh, the horrors of clean, cheap, abundant energy!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Data used to promote "sustainable" mutual fund shows a big economic problem

The promotional piece for a mutual fund based on “sustainability” shows the graphic in Figure 1 below. I thought it would be interesting to parse this claim a bit to see what I could learn.

Figure 1

I note that this figure makes a claim about the number of jobs and not about economic reasoning or “sustainability”, whatever that actually means.  Since the subject of the day is investment, clearly economic reasoning should play the crucial role in assessing the merits of any claims made about the mutual fund’s mandate.

What might an analysis of the data for jobs and energy use tell us about the productivity of investments made in solar and wind energy projects when compared to fossil fuel energy production? How would workers in the wind and solar sector compare to the output of people working in coal, oil and gas energy production?  Given that wind and solar are intermittent, dilute and non-portable energy sources that have not been adopted by producers and consumers until recent huge taxpayer subsidies, one would suspect the traditional energy worker to be more productive than the newer ones in wind and solar, but by how much?  Would there be a small gap in favour of fossil fuel energy workers? Would the wind and solar workers be able to take advantage of the “sustainability” and “renewability” of wind and solar to leverage these innovation in energy production and perhaps be even more productive than the old-fashioned workers toiling in “dirty” oil, gas and coal companies?  

To determine this, we need to know what percentage of energy is produced by these different sources, then combine this with the number of workers in each energy sector. Every year a report titled “BP Statistical Review of World Energy” is published and provides great depth of information on trends in energy consumption by geographical distribution and by energy type. The report lumps wind and solar together with other alternative energies under the category of “Renewables” energy, so the data will somewhat overstate the true amount of wind and solar energy, but since other renewables such as biofuels are much smaller, this is not very important for our discussion.  Figure 2 shows the world consumption of energy. I note that the thin but growing upper orange slice is the renewable energy category and that it only represents 2.8% of global energy production.

Figure 2. World energy consumption in 2015, BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016, p.42

However, the United States is far more advanced technologically than most countries, and one would expect that after a few decades of massive taxpayer subsidization of wind and solar that it would be a larger percentage of energy than for the world, and so it is. In fact, in the United States renewables account for 3.1% of total energy consumption, about one tenth more than for the world average. Not too impressive an accomplishment, as measured by promoters of renewable energy, is it?

Now to the heart of the matter - the integration of jobs data (which I will refer to as workers instead of jobs because I find it to be a more human term and it focuses our attention on the essential characteristic of work done instead of position held) with energy production data (which must be equal to energy consumption as shown in the research source). So, which of the following are you betting on?
  1. Fossil fuel workers are somewhat more productive than wind and solar workers.
  2. Workers in both categories are about equally productive.
  3. Wind and solar workers are somewhat more productive than fossil fuel workers.
  4. None of the above

Figure 3 combines the energy data from the 2016 edition of the BP statistical review of world energy with jobs data from the U.S. Energy and employment report of January 2017.  It turns out that in 2016 fully 86.0% of all U.S. energy came from fossil fuel sources, while as previously stated only 3.1% came from all renewables, including wind and solar. Given the number of workers in each sector, it takes 95.4 fossil fuel energy workers per million tonnes of oil equivalent energy whereas it takes 6,632.4 workers in renewables to produce the same amount of energy.

Figure 3. Energy production per worker in the United States in 2016

In other words, the average fossil fuel worker produces 69.5 times more energy than one in the renewable energy sector and the multiple choice answer is d) None of the above.  When advocates for renewable energy are promoting investment because it creates jobs, they really, really mean it.  A company that produces renewable energy needs to hire about seventy workers for every one worker needed by a fossil fuel company, but is this a virtue?  Does this mean the renewable company is more deserving of receiving an investment?

If the key criterion for making an investment is the number of jobs created then the motivation is to make the worker as unproductive, as inefficient, as regressive as possible.  In the fossil fuel business this would mean giving up trucks in favour of wheelbarrows, sacrificing excavating machines in favour of pick-axes, eliminating tanker ships in favour of wooden barrels. Sure, many more jobs would be created, but the cost of energy would skyrocket back to the level it was before industrialization and the entire world, not just the non-industrialized countries, would be back in an era of energy poverty. In fact the world would be in total poverty since it is energy that enables production of all other good than support our civilization.

The problem is that advocates of renewable energy use the wrong standard of value. They use standards like “nature as untouched by man” or “climate stability” or “bio-diversity.” By their standards, value is detached from human lives and thus actually loses all meaning, since without humans to value it there is, by definition, no reasoning being to assign value by choosing from the alternatives.

When human flourishing is the standard of value then decisions are focused on what promotes human well-being, human life and human happiness. By adopting a standard of value that is in keeping with the ideas of the best enlightenment thinkers, and more recently as elaborated by philosopher Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels,” humanity can accelerate the pace of progress and continue to make our environment safer, cleaner and more enjoyable for future generations.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The economics of air and an anti-human ideology

I was engaged in an online discussion about climate change when another writer challenged my comments. When he asked "Perhaps you could start with why you believe you are not responsible to pay Market rent for fossil waste disposal by use of other people's air?" multiple times I thought a good response was in order and I have copied it below.
I get the strong impression that no matter how many highly intelligent, experienced, published and distinguished scientists from a range of fields identified factual contradictions and errors in your ideology it would not matter, so I will switch to the evidently hyper-important question that you have stated ad-nauseum above. It is evident you have no concept of the meaning of economics or freedom or capitalism, or else you would not ask such an irrational question. You might as well ask why you do not pay me for the use of the oxygen that you consume when you breathe. First, there is no such thing as a market rent for what you refer to. Second, what you refer to is not waste disposal but a natural by-product of human civilization and progress, a very mild side effect in exchange for an incalculable benefit, like an occasional headache in exchange for a cure for cancer. Third, other people do not own the air as it does not meet the criteria for private property. More broadly, it is the energy from fossil fuels that has enabled all of the advances of the industrial revolution, enabled your birth, being fed, clothed, housed, educated, your health care, your communications, your transportation and your leisure time. Until the discovery of a commercial means of mass producing energy from fossil fuels, you would have lived a short, diseased, starving, laboring, painful, cold and hot and extremely local life - if you lived at all. The energy from fossil fuels is the industry that underlies and enables all other industries and has been an incalculable good for humanity and has vastly improved your own life, yet you oppose it, perhaps even despise it like many catastrophists. To be fully consistent then, you would have to loathe yourself for owing so much to fossil fuel energy and the intelligent people who produce it. You appear to have an ideology based on looking only at potential harm in the distant future as predicted by computer models. This reduces to a base antagonism against human life and that which it depends upon. My philosophy is based on the irreplaceable value of human life and my standard of value is that which advances human life. I love fossil fuels, but not because they are fossil fuels, but for the wonders they have enabled humanity to achieve and continue to accomplish. As we speak, hundreds of millions of lives are being raised out of poverty and despair through fossil fuel energy. Fossil fuel energy has already solved the problem of world hunger, essentially eliminated the risk to human life from a naturally dangerous climate (deaths due to extreme climate conditions have decreased about 96% in the last 80 years, a period in which most of the fossil fuel in history has been used), enabled a vast division of labour and incredible specialization that has led to incredible wealth for the average person that was unimaginable to kings a hundred years ago. Yet this is what you are against and what you would have us give up - for what and in the name of what? For a life much shorter, poorer and filled with wretchedness where self-declared people who know better than we do dictate to us how we must live our lives. This in the name of the prophets of doom and their dis-proven computer models whose predictions are all over the map and have all over-predicted factual measurements - all in the same direction, because they contain the same false premises. Let the models and their true believers compete on an open betting market for accuracy and let the catastrophists place their bets on the accuracy of their predictions and let's see who loses all their money and who takes it all away. Now THAT would be a real type of market rent - a market for forecasting ability that rewards success and punishes irrationality. My money and the smart money is on the null hypothesis. I have no doubt that thanks to fossil fuels we will discover even better and more abundant sources of energy, but until then coal, gas and oil are the very best we have - and we are getting ever better at discovering sources of them, extracting them and converting them into usable energy that has lower and lower negative effects and greater and greater positive benefits. We now know of enough sources to last about a thousand years and we have just begun to discover how much energy is truly available to minds left free to search, discover, experiment and create. I believe that thanks to fossil fuel powered science we will soon have the use of essentially unlimited fusion power with a density a million times that of oil, that will replace almost all other sources of energy and will advance human progress as much as fossil fuels have already done. Until then, we owe it to ourselves, our lives, our children and those whose societies are still way behind ours to make the best use of fossil fuel energy we can and to continue to improve its use in every way possible.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ottawa-Vanier climate consultation was a setup

Note: I posted this on the Ecology Ottawa site yesterday and today it has been removed after just a few hours.  I tried to re-post it but they seem to have blocked me. This time I edited a few remarks they may have considered inflammatory and wrote a preamble asking them to treat this as a reasoned, thoughtful argument and let readers make up their own minds by allowing them to read it.  We'll see if they allow it.

The Federal Government wants to hear ideas from everyday Canadians about climate change. In many communities in Canada there are consultations going on that are supposed to enable us members of the public to have a voice in policy making.  I attended one of these in Vanier (Ottawa) in July 2016 and can tell you the entire event appeared to attract mostly people with a certain view, funnel them into discussion on topics that were pre-selected, have group notes taken by people whose minds are made up and have full-group statements made only by those same note takers with no opportunity given for individuals to address the full audience or speak up to the municipal politicians in attendance.

The event was hosted by Ecology Ottawa, whose website report on the event can be read here.  On the way into the event the reception table had literature about stopping energy pipelines such as the proposed Energy East, which would allow the product of Alberta and Saskatchewan to be shipped to refineries in eastern Canada with less wasted energy and much more safely than by using trucks and rail. This immediately made it obvious the town hall was not to be a full and reasoned discussion but a directed lobbying effort with foregone conclusions.

At the start of the session there was no initial presentation of facts upon which the discussion was supposed to be based. Rather, there were pre-written questions written on cards that were placed on tables - questions that presume to summarize a vast scientific data set that in fact remains under great debate and dispute, never mind the extrapolated implications that can be dis-proven with a little knowledge of economics. It was perfectly clear to me that the presumptions of the evening included the idea chain known as dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW), namely that:

  1. the planetary mean temperature is rising
  2. this rise is outside the historical range
  3. the rise is caused by atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)
  4. human activities are causing the rise of CO2
  5. the rise of CO2 and temperature represent a significant danger to human life
  6. human industrial society cannot easily adapt to the temperature change
  7. drastic measures to reduce then eliminate the use of energy sources that produce CO2 are warranted
  8. governments are morally correct to initiate force against energy producers and consumers (everyone) to coerce them into taking these drastic measures.
In a chain of reasoning if one link is erroneous then the conclusion cannot be supported. When I first began to study these issues in the early 2000s I accepted some of these assumptions as true but I quickly learned there was a great deal of contradictory evidence and that much of the information supporting DAGW was exaggerated, misleading or even falsified. I found that except for item 4 in the chain above, everything else in the list was either patently wrong or at least there was serious concern about its validity and/or significance.  Eventually I realized that the whole concept of DAGW was so fundamentally flawed that it could be safely rejected as irrational but that it would likely take humanity many years to purge the errors from the realm of public discussion. As the weight of scientific evidence de-bunking DAGW continues to grow, its advocates are doubling down on their rhetoric and lobbying effort to gain political power before the scheme is exposed as delusional.

Now back to the town hall event. As I said, the discussion questions were pre-selected and presumed all of the eight statements above are true. Participants were asked to discuss topics such as innovation to reduce CO2 production, ways to reduce CO2 production in daily life and the like. I chose to sit at a table where innovation was the main topic.  Realizing the group leader (an Ecology Ottawa representative) and the group itself would likely stop listening and become hostile to further ideas if I voiced my direct opposition to their DAGW assumptions, I chose to actively listen and to try and inject an element of rationality into the discussion. For example, when others advocated for massive use of government force against citizens in the areas of housing and transportation I suggested that all proposed measures should be tested against a vital standard - the harm they might do to our most vulnerable citizens if the measures were enforced, absent such distorting side-measures such as subsidies and wealth confiscation and redistribution, which mask the true and intended policy effects. If a policy makes energy more expensive and thus makes life harder for citizens, the damage to their lives must be considered, not to mention the more important moral propriety of causing them harm in the first place. Taking one person's wealth and giving it to the damaged person does not solve the problem, it only expands the scope of damage.

I tried to get our group talking about energy innovation and to show that while fossil fuel energy is currently the best source of dense, abundant, safe, cheap and portable energy, that it was not likely to remain so as nuclear fission energy could be unshackled and replace much fossil fuel energy with far less CO2 production, never mind the exciting potential of nuclear fusion in the near future that has unlimited potential to produce safe, distributed, cheap and abundant energy to all of humanity, improving human life by an enormous measure without CO2 emissions. To my dismay but not my surprise, one group member spoke strongly against fusion energy by saying that abundant cheap energy would release heat and cause the planet to warm dangerously.  He apparently has no idea that the amount of heat itself is not a dangerous issue and that the Earth's climate system has a number of auto-regulatory mechanisms that prevent large changes in temperature, absent external changes in energy from the Sun. The fact that he saw what could be the greatest source of energy ever discovered, that could advance the quality of human life beyond measure and lift entire civilizations out of poverty, starvation and disease if allowed to progress as to be avoided at all costs was a scary testament to the philosophy of those who believe in DAGW. Maybe he thinks solar panels and windmills do not produce heat as a by product or that society should stop progressing or even regress to pre-industrial times.

At another point I tried to help the group see that cooperation (persuasion by means of reason, a part of the political-economic system known as capitalism) was the proper and moral path to energy policy and that coercion (use of force to override the free will of individuals) was to be avoided as improper for a free, human, reasoning society. While there were a couple of faces that appeared sympathetic to the idea, I sensed a lack of understanding of what political force really means and a young man beside me stated clearly that while persuasion and cooperation are good, that at a certain point force must be used.  In this context I did not dare to point out to him and the group that his was the political ideology of Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Pot, Chavez, Castro and many others whose policies led to the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of human beings. I did not point out that his idea was contrary to the discovery of political freedom in the enlightenment, the advance of humanity in the consequent industrial revolution and the founding principles of the country he lives in. Such statements would have certainly provoked strong emotions and blocked any modest, reasonable ideas I was trying to get on the table.

I must give credit to our group leader dutifully and quite fairly recorded comments and did not override the discussion. During the summary session he actually mentioned my idea of having a "harm test" for every policy initiative. However, the entire event was structured so that no participant had any opportunity to speak to the whole group since only Ecology Ottawa group leaders were given the floor, and they generally spoke from the very same perspective, having likely had only participants from that same perspective.  I think most people like me, who have opposing views based on considered research and reasoning, would not consider attending an event positioned like this as they would see it as a waste of time and they would not be listened to.  That was my expectation yet I chose to use the event as an opportunity to look inside the minds of those who have opinions different from my own, to see if I could learn more about them, how they came to hold these ideas, how well reasoned they are and if they are open to discussion. 

I am sad to say my impression is that they are not at all open on this subject. When have you heard of a public debate on the science of climate change? When has such an event been held by your political representatives to help them understand the related issues? Why do people like Al Gore steadfastly refuse to engage in a public debate? Why are people with differing opinions being prosecuted for holding these ideas? Why does David Suzuki advocate for jailing people who produce life-promoting fossil fuel energy and those who advocate for its continued use? Why do so many people ignore the basic science done by hundreds of researchers all over the world that contradicts and even disproves all aspects of the DAGW hypothesis chain of ideas and instead continue to advocate for massive political force against innocent citizens?  These questions and many more will need to be answered and understood if humanity and our life-promoting industrial civilization is to survive long into the future. Such crucial topics will very likely not be discussed at climate change town halls across Canada.