Sunday, April 27, 2014

Child care is a matter of economic freedom

Brynna Leslie's April 24th "Universal childcare is an economic issue” is a collection of contradictory statements and economically flawed assumptions.  

She begins reasonably by stating how much she values the care only she, as the mother, could provide to her children, and I completely agree there is no one on Earth more suited to raising her children. When parents plan to have children they must decide how they will handle the time and financial responsibilities of giving birth and two decades of financial support.

A decade later, however, she decides that her children are no longer the top priority and that her job is more important, so third-party child care would be better. The problem is that “affordable” is just a euphemism for using the force of the government so she wants to make someone else pay. This would absolve her of the responsibility she took on voluntarily as a parent, making anyone except her responsible for her choices.

Leslie incorrectly states that parents are often forced to make a choice between family and their careers. This is a clear misuse of the term “force”, which means the initiation or threat of physical harm to another person. If force was defined according to Leslie’s usage, it would mean force is applied in any situation where a human being is required to choose between alternative actions. In this situation Leslie clearly made a completely voluntary choice before having children, knowing that as parents priorities must be set and that you cannot have something just by wishing for it. No one forced her to have a child, much less three of them. Babies do not simply “arrive” as she states, but are planned.

The fact she had very little net take-home pay after working at home and making child care arrangements is a direct consequence of her choice to have three children and wanting to work at the same time. It is also a consequence of the fact that a large portion of her family earnings are taken by force and used to pay for the wishes of others, often on things Leslie’s family would neither want or need, never mind agree to voluntarily. Since almost half her household income is taken in taxes of myriad types, she is prevented, by force, from being able to select from among the various priorities she may have in life, including parenting. She is forced to pay for water and bus monopolies at the municipal level and electricity, education and food monopolies at the provincial level. These are but a few examples of the thousands of interventions by government force that prevent free choice by citizens, prevent costs from being lower and prevent the proper functioning of the economy. Leslie is in this sense partially correct that her choices are restricted (parenting versus employment) but it is the very concept she wishes to use against others that is the cause of the problem. She does not realize it, but she has met the enemy and it is her own ideology.

The worst statement in the column is when she says “we need all working age people to stay in the workforce, to continue to build our economy and pay taxes to support social programs”. The direct implication here is that the purpose of having children and of people living and working is to support the collective, the lives of others, specifically the elderly who are not working. What a demeaning vision of the purpose of human life, to work so that others may enjoy social programs they have not paid for. There is no reason why people who are working cannot choose how to spend their own money on whatever services they wish and save for the time when they do not wish or are unable to work. That is what a free country looks like. It is only when services are run by the use of force that children become slaves to the pensions and benefits of prior generations - generations who have voted to spend on themselves the money their children and grandchildren have not yet earned.

Brynna Leslie’s vision of universal childcare is not proper in a free society. It is a vision suitable for a country run by the ideas of Karl Marx. We have seen such societies and are moving in the direction of becoming one - a society where individual rights are erased and groups struggle for the levers of political power until one of them achieves total power.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Responding to the CO2 scaremongers

A friend posted a link to the picture below and I just had to respond. My first post was "we've been here before" and I added a graph of temperature and CO2 over the last 600,000 years taken from Vostok ice core data.

That garnered two responses:

1. "David, but previously the irradiance of the sun was significantly lower. There is more to the equation than just carbon. We also have to consider the strength of the sun (which is continually increasing as it matures) and the strength of our protective magnetic fields (which are decreasing as the mantle cools). In the past, large amounts of carbon were a good thing. They no longer are."


2. "We've seen David McGruer's lies and nonsense before. He's a typical cut-and-paste global warming denier despite nearly 30-years of increasing global temperatures and unprecedented levels of CO2. There will come a day when this nonsense is criminalized and its propagators hung in the public square, a day after a catastrophe never before seen by humanity. And that will be the end of it. It doesn't matter what he or anyone else believes. Nature is the final judge."

There could be no rational response to the second posting, but the first writer is a friend and I decided to go deep on my response.  I elected not to address the non-issue of CO2 directly, and instead show the logical case for a solar and cloud caused modulation of Earth's temperature.  This will be a bit long, so be prepared to read a few pages.
Thank you for bringing the sun into the discussion. Recent discoveries of a matching pattern in astrophysics and geological records of climate have revealed a mechanism that correlates very highly over all time frames from years to centuries to millennia and even billions of years. Here is the simple logic of it:

Fact 1. Our planetary atmosphere is a balanced equation unless an external energy source is introduced.

Fact 2. The Earth is bathed constantly by a combination of solar radiation and cosmic rays. These are external energy sources, both of which fluctuate. Cosmic ray density varies with the position of our solar system as it oscillates above and below the plane of the Milky Way galaxy in 100,000 year cycles, and as the galaxy rotates and our proximity to the spiral arms changes over much longer time frames.

Fact 3. The Sun has cycles of intensity and when it is hotter, Earth feels it too.

Fact 4. The solar wind acts as a shield around the solar system, deflecting cosmic rays. When the Sun is cooler, more cosmic rays reach our atmosphere. Thus, the cycles of the Sun and our position in the galaxy create a two-variable system that determines the density of cosmic rays reaching Earth.

Fact 5. When cosmic rays hit our troposphere they ionize particles and promote cloud formation. When the atmosphere is more cloudy sunlight is reflected back from Earth and so our climate cools.

Thus, we see a two variable system wherein the sun may intensify and warm the Earth, creating a positive feedback loop by also deflecting cosmic rays and leading to fewer clouds. When the Sun cools, more cosmic rays reach the atmosphere and create more clouds. Clouds are the magnifier here. The graphic below shows the interaction visually.

Here is a graph demonstrating the extremely strong relationship between cloud cover and cosmic ray penetration of the troposphere. The data covers the last few decades as I believe it is satellite data for cloud cover. This is the scientific validation of Fact 5 above. Next I will show a much longer time frame, and thus a much more robust evidence of validity.

This study shows the level of atmospheric CO2, cosmic ray flux and planetary temperature over the last 500 million years. Note the regular fluctuations of cosmic rays as our solar system changes position among the spiral arms of the galaxy. Cosmic ray intensity is of course higher in the arms than in the more sparse areas in between. Note the very high relationship between temperature and cosmic ray flux. These researchers have calculated that knowing just one variable - cosmic rays intensity reaching the Earth, predicts about 80% of the change in Earth's temperature over all of planetary history. Note also that there is no significant correlation between CO2 and temperature. One variable is a nearly perfect predictor (cosmic rays) while the other is useless (CO2). 

I realize I skipped the medium term (since the industrial revolution, during which almost all man-made CO2 has been produced. I will put it in the next post.

This study covers the time between 1860 and the present. In this case, sunspot cycle length is used because over such time frames the intensity of cosmic rays changes very little, but the solar wind does change significantly. More sunspots indicate more solar wind, which heats the Earth and also reduces cosmic ray flux in the troposphere and thus reduces cloud cover. Note the extremely strong relationship between temperature and sun spots, while there is almost no relationship between temperature and CO2. In particular, the period 1940-1970 was marked by planetary cooling, coinciding closely with lower solar activity, yet CO2 was rising throughout this interval.

So we have now seen a logical, testable, and verified cause and effect relationship that can be demonstrated over the last 30, 150 and 500 million years (and other intervals too, as short as seasons). A very objective measure that is far more accurate than CO2 over all time measures.

I want to show you one more graphic - the one that I consider to be so elegant that I feel it is poetic in its beauty and ability to explain Earth's temperature cycles. I will make the picture large so you can enjoy its full impact.

Imagine our solar system as a dolphin swimming through the plane of the Milky Way. As it swims, the dolphin jumps above the plane, comes back down into the plane and then dives under the plane. With each full cycle, our Sun and Earth alternate between the sparse and lower cosmic ray area above or below the plane and the denser are of the plane. When we are inside one of the spiral arms the cosmic ray intensity is greatest. In between the arms space is relatively empty and cosmic rays diminish. Once you spend some time imagining this, you can see vast spans of both history and the future unfold before you and you can see back to the great warm periods when life of all forms flourished, dinosaurs roamed the north pole and the times when Earth was a block of ice and our cities were buried under thousands of feet of glaciers that lasted tens of millions of years.

It is the warm periods when life creeps out as glaciers retreat, oceans liquify, carbon dioxide is liberated from ice and decayed matter and is dispersed into the atmosphere to fertilize and feed the great plant explosion that comes with the warm sun and feeds all the animal life. In truth, carbon dioxide is the very fuel of life on Earth, and when it is more abundant, life in all its forms flourishes.

Now, does any of this seem like the thinking of a person with no regard for science, who is closed to new discoveries, who is not capable of discerning facts from among a broad data set? In fact, it is a skill I worked hard for and am proud of.

A word for the fellow who wishes to kill people who disagree with his CO2 faith. I am over 50 years old and have been studying this subject with a passion for over a decade. In my earlier years I completed a college degree in sciences, including physics, chemistry, math and some biology. I then went on to do a degree in Education at McGill University and followed that with a research Masters degree in exercise physiology, during which I studied statistics, experimental design, how to critique published research and how to synthesize the essence from the academic literature. I then taught for one year at Concordia University in Montreal in the department of Exercise Science and one year in the faculty of Education at McGill University. Next I taught in the arctic for four years. For the last 21 years I have been a professional financial advisor, with thousands of hours of study of economics, politics, philosophy and finance. If you are able to engage in peaceful, reasoned discussion then I welcome it. If all you have is hate-filled ravings such as you have demonstrated above, then I will not address you again.

To the first writer, I love exchanging ideas with you. I find you have a broad interest and strong intellect and I believe you too are fueled by ideas. If you ever find my writing to be insulting then please tell me as I value our chats very much and that is never my intent.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why do so many politicians support the global warming scare?

This is a short letter written to Canadian MPs and Senators, asking them an apparently simple question.

As you can see in this article, literally billions of dollars are being wasted in Canada on trying "to stop climate change" even though the science no longer supports the scare. Why do almost all Senators support this incredible waste of our scarce resources?
My reply to the questioner was as follows.

The very end of the article contains the answer to the question. The answer can be found in the philosophy that dominates the culture. The philosophy of a culture is set by its intellectuals in areas such as science, education, literature and politics. For decades now the dominant philosophy has been that of Emmanuel Kant, who created the philosophical system of nihilism - the denial that principles exist, that knowledge can be certain, that there is a right and wrong and that reason is useful in dealing with the world.

Thus, in science we see claims that there are infinite parallel universes in which anything and everything happens and nothing is certain, even measurements; in literature we see novels about depravity and nothingness in a book without heroes, clear themes or plots (Seinfeldian literature); in education we see fragmented curricula without integration and courses about minutiae producing graduates unable to think in terms of essential concepts, integrate broad concepts, identify truth; and in politics we see the rule or pragmatism, where no principles tie together different laws and the rule of whatever seems to work for the moment is dominant (see Obama's, McGuinty's, etc. policies).

An aspect of of Kant's philosophy is egalitarianism, which sees everything as equal, without regard for principles such as validity, correctness, truth, or value to human life.  The environmental movement is based on the elevation of non-life above life, the valuing of nothing instead of something, and the consequent destruction of the values necessary for human life.

Since the enemy's power is based on ideology and morality, no matter how wrong or corrupt, and people are told that the ideas are moral, people will follow the ideology until death, in defiance of facts, unless they are presented with a better ideology and morality.  Facts, to an egalitarian, do not exist or can be re-defined into the opposite of their true meaning.  To this mentality, terminology is fluid, definitions are subjective, anything can be rationalized away. Facts alone cannot combat an entire morality that is consistently applied in all disciplines, especially now that a generation or two have been raised in an education system where this morality is thoroughly entrenched and almost unchallenged. People are rarely conscious of their moral foundations and so they are easy victims of those who profess to offer strong moral beliefs, especially when shrouded in the credibility of science.  

Tom, the battle is truly one of entire belief systems.  To win decisively and not simply see the battle shift to a slightly different terrain (such as the shift from pollution to species extinction to ozone depletion to global warming), we must attack the root philosophy with the power of moral certainty. The philosophy of Ayn Rand, based on Aristotle's work and the knowledge that has come since the enlightenment and industrial revolution, known as Objectivism, offers all the intellectual and moral tools needed to combat nihilism and I am an avid reader in this field. As a fellow opponent of environmentalism, I encourage you to do likewise.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Discussion arising from "To curse machines is to curse the mind"

In April 2014 I posted a link to an article on Facebook. This prompted a response by a friend as follows:

Machines are good because they decrease the amount of human labor necessary to perform certain tasks, sometimes by a factor of 100 or more. However, they do tend to exacerbate the problems already inherent in Capitalism, namely that anyone born without capital is dependent on others for their employment, and thus, their living. It is very difficult to get out of this position since within a Capitalist economy, a person with no capital has no leverage with which to raise themselves up. They must take what is offered or starve. 

The most faulty premise of Capitalism is the idea that a person is paid what they are worth. No, they are paid as little as the employer can get away with paying them. When a person has nothing to fall back on and must eat, that can be precious little. When a worker is paid so little that they can only afford the most basic necessities, then they cannot save, and if they cannot save money, then they will remain in a situation where they must take the low wages they are offered or starve.

Naturally, I could not let such an attack on freedom go unanswered, so I composed the following:

Capitalism does not have inherent problems. The problems come from deviations from capitalism and to the degree of the deviations. This is not to say a free country under capitalism is a utopia since our survival and thriving require us to overcome the thousands of obstacles nature places in our way. 

Under capitalism every individual is responsible for his own life and cannot use force against others. Further, no group, no matter how large or how many votes they can obtain, can initiate force against individuals who have not violated the rights of others. Nature is metaphysically difficult to overcome - that is the challenge of survival we all face. To do it more effectively we think, create, innovate, build and produce, most often in cooperation with others via the division of labour. 

In a state of pure nature, man is a simple beast who fights for his life every minute of every day, killing and dying like other animals. Using his unique faculty of reason, man has learned to re-shape nature to make it more hospitable to his life. The re-shaping of his environment is man's most basic means of survival. A man in a capitalist society has an infinite advantage over one in a pre-capitalist society, since all the wonderful benefits of capitalism are already surrounding him and ready for him to leverage. All he requires is the use of his mind and he will be successful to the degree he applies reason to the challenges he faces. Capitalism abounds with stories of self-made men who started from nothing and reached the top of their field. 

The financial success of a man under capitalism is a pure function of how many of his fellow men are willing to trade values with him, and how much they value his product. It is not the man who produces a product who sets the price and value, it is his customers, who will use their own reasoning to decide what they are willing to pay, whose product offers them the highest value, and who they prefer to buy from. Under capitalism a producer has absolutely no power to compel anyone to buy from him at any price.

It is both logical and moral for an employer to pay the lowest wages the market will bear, since there is no other objective means of determining a price but by the market system. In a free market every consumer weighs all the alternative ways he could spend his money and prioritizes according to his individual preferences. The price system integrates all the preferences of all participants into a price hierarchy that is constantly adapting to men's shifting preferences. Producers who fail to offer buyers what they prefer are quickly run out of business while those who serve customer preferences are more likely to succeed. No one is guaranteed anything except the right to produce as rationally as possible and to spend as he sees fit for his own life.

If a worker is only paid subsistence wages, in a capitalist economy he is still infinitely better off than a subsistence worker in a pre-capitalist economy, where he would likely do physical labour from sunup to sundown yet still starve, suffer from horrible diseases, have little shelter or clothing, be disposed of by any random criminal who has no fear of justice, and die by the age of 25, having never had any of the rights protection enjoyed under capitalism.

The only solution offered by nature for a man who earns a low wage is to improve his value through the application of reason applied to the challenges of production - the same as we all must do. A capitalist society offers this man the very best opportunity to advance his goals since he benefits from the enormous knowledge capitalism has accumulated, benefits from the progress of all those who have come before, and gets to keep the product of his mind and labour. Until the discovery of capitalism, no society in history had accomplished even a fraction of what we have seen in just a couple of hundred years. A man who starts with nothing is not entitled to the product of others, not entitled to force others to pay him more than they wish and not entitled to steal from others (this is three ways of saying the same thing). Freedom and its corollaries are his only rights and capitalism is the system that fully recognizes this.