The Historian Of Decline

Monday, March 21, 2005

Leave your country if it's not perfect

I have to weigh in on the controversy over the CBC host who told a conservative blogger to "leave Canada" if he did not like government decisions.

Deliberative democracy is the idea that a political system is legitimate if it involves enough thought and discussion of the issues by the people, and representation of their views in government. The majority win, but there is a theory of justice so the majority cannot abuse other people (mind you they can steal and redistribute property, but the democratic deliberation sanctions this).

The "left wing" journalist said, "I didn't want to pay for the Viet Nam war, so I left. Consider it a fair trade." So the conservative blogger can just shut up now, he went through the process of deliberative democracy, the people spoke, and what was decided must be right. Right?

At the Conservative Party of Canada policy convention last weekend, delegates engaged in deliberative democracy. They watered down some policies, threw others out, and kept the ones they calculated would help them seize power.

Wikipedia explainsthat deliberative democracy is usually associated with the left. Conservatives explain that the media is usually associated with the left. The whole left/right analogy is flawed, even though we all use it. Canadian 'Conservatives' are just as confident that deliberative democracy can work as the left is. Yet they think there is somehow a difference in how they govern, and that the media are left for not recognizing this.

Most members of the mainstream media understand, as most voters do, that they should be skeptical about politics. Politicians claim they want power so they expropriate property that was earned by others, and distribute it according to principles of 'justice' and their well-nigh infallible system of democracy.

I sense decline.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Family Flicks!?

In an earlier post I wrote about some so-called "family films" beating r-rated films at the ticket office. All day I was troubled with the nagging feeling that I had gotten something wrong. This special intuition is no doubt a by-product of being The Historian Of Decline; a mystical gift awarded to me.

As I re-read the article more carefully, I realized my mistake. Look at the hit PG films that drove up revenue:



First, we have The Incredibles. This movie presents a wicked social darwinist agenda, which, as we can tell from the name "darwin" stands for evolution. Hollywood can't seem to stop stuffing their godless culture down the throats of children using teddy bear dads and stretchy moms (and force field projecting girls and hyperactive boys. What, are they trying to promote ritalin too?)




Second, we have Shrek 2, which features transgenderism and crossdressing themes. Instead of denying that such things exist, Shrek 2 recognizes them, which will no doubt confuse your children and even you, assuming you have been brought up in the proper environment.




Last, and worst, we have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Watching this movie is just the same as putting on a pointy black hat and riding around on a broomstick killing people with a magic wand. You can read more about that here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

So much for these "family flicks." This has been another fine expose of the mainstream media brought to you by The Historian Of Decline.

Iraq



The Iraqi parliament held their first meeting since the election, after the obligatory mortar assault. No one was hurt, though the sheen on the invasion that has been glimmering ever since the election was slightly scratched.

The Historian Of Decline maintains that our warm fuzzy feelings toward democracy are not enough to bring peace and unity to Iraq, and so whatever we may feel after reading the latest report on democracy in Iraq, it is still far too early to say mission accomplished. In fact, we are so far from that point that all foreign troops should pack up and get home while they still can, and not by going through Iran.

The Italians are pulling out, the fiasco with Guilana Sgrena at last forcing the government to go with public opinon. There are times when the public are unschooled in the issues, and do not make informed decisions. War is not one of those times, so politicians had better listen up if they want to keep abusing their offices for another term.

DrudgeReport linked to a story suggesting that Britain would be asked to help make up for the 3000 withdrawing Italians. But with Tony Blair facing an election and fending off anger over his widely opposed decision to join the war, that may not be an option.

The Kurds are pushing for more autonomy, the fighting continues, the soldiers are dying by the thousands and being wounded by the tens of thousands. Behind the panacea of democracy, many problems lurk--too many to start saying that the war was the right thing to do.

The People Have Spoken

Through the market naturally.


Family Flicks Beat R-Rated Titles

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Abortion

Tony Blair has announced that abortion should be a matter of conscience for his MPs. The issue came to prominence after opposition leader Michael Howard announced that abortions should be limited after the 20th week of pregnancy. The Archbishop of Westminster jumped into the fray to support Howard. Does this situation sound familiar?

Canadian opposition leader Stephen Harper tried to cut off policy debate on abortion so that he could pass a resolution to make abortion a matter of conscience for MPs. After a sound shellacking from the press and social conservatives, it was decided the debate could go ahead.

In American the conservative Republican party has a strong pro-life base, but like its relatives tends to do nothing more than talk about the issue and occasionally deny the UN money for abortion programs. Lifesite is already rumbling about the 2008 presidential election, insisting that the next candidate be pro-life.

It is good to see politicians and political parties stand for something, but when it comes to issues as divisive as abortion, it is probably a better strategy if political parties don't make them high profile positions. Let's face it, the average person thinks more about making a living than abortion.

The Times wrote:
  • "The Tories have imported the “wedge issue” tactic from the US Republicans, who ensured that George Bush campaigned hard on a succession of carefully selected fringe issues that small numbers of voters cared passionately about.

    As well as securing their votes, the tactic was designed to present Mr Bush as a man of principle with a clear view on the moral issues of the day. Mr Howard’s advisers believe that the tactic will do the same for the Tory leader.

    They were thrilled with the response of the Roman Catholic Church this week, when it immediately praised the Tory leader for taking a stand on abortion."

Don't be too thrilled. When these political geniuses import tactics from the Republicans, they don't adapt them for their own nations. George W. can use gay marriage and abortion as wedge issues, Stephen Harper and Michael Howard cannot. When a position loses more supporters than it gains, it's a failure. Take principled stands, communicate them clearly, but try to focus on more than social wedge issues.

The Simpsons in China



In the latest Simpsons's episode, the character Selma wanted to adopt a baby, but could not in America. So the family raced off to China hoping for an easier time, unaware that they would run into a bureaucracy that is 46 million strong.

The Simpsons spent their entire trip jumping over bureaucratic hurdles. Selma tried to reason with them; "Madam, I too work for a cruel and faceless empire,the Department Of Motor Vehicles! We both love the enforcement of pointless rules."

Homer had the best line when he said, "Huh? You guys are Commies? Then why am I seeing rudimentary free markets!?" How does Homer Simpson manage to know more than these people?

The episode also made fun of China's government with a big monument that said: "Tienanmen Square: On this site, in 1989, Nothing Happened"

This Dog Don't Hunt



Tories are in a tizzy over this photo of their leader, Stephen Harper. After nearly three years as opposition leader, his "tacking in the wind" has not gone unnoticed. No leader can be all things to all people, as Paul Martin found out the hard way. Harper has got to make some changes to survive the brutal image game that is national politics, but he could be doing worse.

Lebanon



800 000 people in Lebanon marched against Syria on Monday. This follows the 500 000 pro-Syria demonstrators last week. The Lebanese government wants it all to stop, likely feeling its power threatened by these demonstrators who naively believe they should get to influence their own destiny. Even Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the head of the Maronite Church is intervening, trying to prevent the demonstrations from growing.

Some pundits and bloggers think the West should intervene and bring "freedom" to Lebanon. I would offer this warning, the people of Lebanon want foreign powers out of their country, including powers from the West. It is reminiscent of Iraq where the people exchanged a dictator for a foreign occupation force.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nazi Atomic Bomb?



What happend in Thuringia on March 3, 1945?

Eyewitnesses reported:

  1. "light so bright that for a second it was possible to read a newspaper, accompanied by a sudden blast of wind. The eyewitnesses, who were interviewed on the subject by the East German authorities in the early 1960s, also said they suffered nose-bleeds, headaches, and nausea for days afterwards.
  2. "One witness said he helped burn heaps of corpses inside the military area the next day. They were hairless and some had blisters and “raw, red flesh.”
Was it a miniscule nuclear device, a dirty bomb, or something else?

Paul Cellucci



Paul Cellucci is good at what he does. Remember how quickly he grasped Canadian fears over soveriegnty and announced that Canada must sign the missile defence treaty or its sovereignty would erode?

Canadians were actually afraid that signing onto the treaty would jeapordize a measure of sovereignty, but Celluci quickly spun that to gain support, and a lot of media coverage.

Now he's putting his skills to use again, saying Canada needs to get tougher and find more funds for its military. In his two-pronged message, he's playing on public sympathy for the military and hurting Canadian pride to try to further the agenda of the Bush regime. Building a stronger military (capable of fighting for America) and being "tougher"(willing to fight for America) would make Canada a great ally of the empire. But what's good for these governing elites is hardly what's helpful to the average Canadian citizen. The games these elites play for power have no relevence to the common man, and are a destructive force in the world.

Political Parties

WHAT!!? Political parties are the same?

Read Liberal, Tory, same old story

War on Terror Backfires

From occasional American satellite, Canada, comes a report slamming the War on Terror. George W. might consider it a violation of his "with us or against us" stance, but the facts must come out.

  • TORONTO (CP) - The U.S.-led war on terrorism has made al-Qaida an even more dangerous organization, a senior Canadian intelligence official said Monday.

    The blunt assessment of the group's increased "lethal effectiveness" came during a bail hearing for an Egyptian national detained as a threat to Canada's national security.

    U.S. action in Afghanistan that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "significantly degraded" al-Qaida's infrastructure and its ability to provide support for other extremist Islamic groups, said the official, identified only as J. P.

    However, that merely prompted terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to put out calls to like-minded groups "to take over the fight," said J. P., the deputy chief of counter-terrorism with the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.

    "That appeal has been effective,"

FDA Web Site

Despite a budget of only $1.7 billion, the FDA has somehow managed to win a silver award in a health information competition! My hat is off to them for this great accomplishment. I would guess their budget is a lot larger than any of the competitions, but they didn't let that stop them from constructing the 2nd best health information site on the web. As their website cheers, "The FDA Web site previously has received a "Bronze" award four times in the competition. This is the site's first "Silver" award." Way to go guys!

Tattoo Ink

Tattoo ink may contain heavy metal! Yahoo reveals the shocking news: Tattoo ink manufacturing is not, I repeat NOT, overseen by the FDA. Thanks Yahoo News for offering the other alternative to FDA regulation; a voluntary association which could monitor the tattoo industry. Similar organizations already exist here and here. A lot of people don't stop to think about what they are putting in their bodies, they just expect products to be safe in a world full of big governments. And when the FDA recalls drugs that it approved as "safe?" Well let's not think about their failures.

Immigration to Nova Scotia

The Toronto Star has explained how immigration to Nova Scotia works. The Conservative government has arranged it so that an immigrant pays $130 500 and gets in. $30 000 goes to an immigration consultant who recruits the immigrant, and $100 000 goes to a private business! Then the immigrant gets to work for that business for six months and make $20 000 back.

Now I'm sure the provincial Conservatives think they are being amazingly innovative and showing far more initiative than other provinces. No doubt this program is born in desperation; despite the beauty and celebrated lifestyle of Nova Scotia, people are leaving in droves. They are stuck with a government that tries to do everything for them, and it takes a lot of money to try to do everything. Not only are even the middle and lower class people hit with taxes that are high even for Canada, a hefty amount is ripped out of businesses leaving the economy perpetually lagging behind the rest of North America.

Here we see the conundrum illustrated by the satirical farmer. The government keeps people from improving their lot in life, yet people expect the government to try to help them and fail anyway. At election time the people will vote for the party the promises to redistribute as much cash as reasonably possible, so the the downward spiral of government intervention 'because the people want it' continues unabated. Government budgets do not increase every year because of inflation, they increase because parties are trying to buy or at least influence voters.

Let's get back to the Nova Scotian immigration scheme. As an alternative, the "Conservatives" could cut back the size of government and collect less taxes. Less oppressive tax levels, less regulations, and less nanny state politics could allow Nova Scotia's potential to be unlocked. Instead of trying to recruit people to live under the rule of bad government (and taking $110 500 from them before they even get here) they could focus on making Nova Scotia a place that people from all over North America and the world would want to come to voluntarily. That's right, no $30 000 per head immigration consultant.

But on second thought, that would mean change and less government power, so forget it.

Move to the City



Canada's own blogger and journalist extraordinaire, Paul Wells, wrote an article about the tension between Ottawa and the provinces, and mentioned "three classic Liberal obsessions -- cities, immigration and federalism"

Leave it to The Hammer to satirize these obsessions. Get it done with, just move to the city.

The satirical farmer from The Hammer is sad commentary on our society. Are we still capable of doing anything without a crutch?

Farmer:
"Governments are intruding on our way of life, what with their 'laws' and 'regulations. I just want the government out of my life. Except for tax credits. And to fix the mad cow thing. And to compete with US and European agricultural subsidies," continued the firebrand farmer. "Something needs to be done. The government needs to do something. I don't know what, but something."

Mount Kilimanjaro



The snow from the tip of Mount Kilimanjaro has melted away. Was it global warming or part of earth's natural climate cycle?

My prediction: There will be snow on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro again one day.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Canada\America Relations

It was not long ago that Canadians were told they must join the American missile defence shield, or relations between the two countries would be terribly damaged. Canada went with public opinion, as if it were a sovereign country and not a satellite, chose to stay out of the shield, and look what happened to relations:

Canada Set To Participate In Full-Scale Counter-Terrorist Drill

Asbestos

Parliament's West Block is full of asbestos. Your humble historian of decline is not surprised however, having had the opportunity to work on government housing only to find asbestos in the walls. Thanks a lot for the advance warning, face masks, and protective suits. They prevented irrepairable damage to my lungs and....hack hack COUGH hack!

As Health Canada tells us, "Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe. When inhaled in significant quantities, asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which makes breathing difficult)." Or as Diane Ablonczy, formerly from the West Block, puts it, "How many buildings do you know where they have to test the air quality every day? Just the fact that they have to do that sets off the alarm bells, or should."

Health Canada also tells us, "Public and commercial building owners should keep an inventory of asbestos-containing materials to inform users, authorities and contractors." Way to follow your own rules (COUGH!). The Canadian government can't keep up with its own guidlines, but it expects everyone else too.

Canadian politicians seemed to be so proud of the large asbestos deposits discovered in Quebec in the 1870's that they had goverment buildings stuffed full of them. After the House of Commons burned in 1916, anything that could help the rest of the hill avoid the same fate was looked favourably upon, while evidence that asbestos could be harmful was ignored. It seems that no number of Health Canada branches can prevent these poor decisions.

Secession

"Secession." This word unites a disparrate elite, from 2896 people in the Chinese legislature, to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to the United States government. Secession strikes terror into the hearts of state officials because it carries the implication that people can, and would even want, to live their lives without them.

The world could fragment into tiny independent jurisdictions, the argument goes, and then where would we be? States arm themselves to the teeth and fight bloody wars to maintain their control over people. A jumble of fragmented mini-states could potentially bring trade to a crawl with their regulations. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Historians of Decline

I set out to be a reformer,” said Ludwig von Mises, “but only became the historian of decline.” It is hard to be a reformer. Marcus Cato tried by using his position in the Roman Senate to oppose the rise of Julius Caesar. For his trouble, his colleagues were spread across the empire, and then hunted down by Caesar. Cato considered his failure to reform the growing acceptance of corruption and totalitarianism within his society, and then took his own life.

The Roman Empire itself is the perfect subject for a study of decline. No empire lasted longer, or made such an impression in history. The empire stayed strong for hundreds of years, but could not escape the specter of decline. The west must face decline too. All that has happened before, the innovation, the advancements, even the wars and depravity cannot maintain its standing. Just like the Rome of old, decline does not happen in one compacted period. It is spread out over long years, and can be hard to see at first.

The west has seen its low points before, as its civilizations threatened to unravel and destabilize. Each time the west bounced back because the people dragged it upward, to heights never seen or even expected before. The west has now entered a long period of decline, but there is always hope that the citizenry will find it in themselves to turn things around, if not this generation, then maybe the next.

There is one obstacle in the way that we have yet to see surmounted: the state. Human civilizations go back thousands of years and government with them. But there has never been anything resembling the modern state, sucking the fruits of labour into its ravenous maw, stripping off anything good, and in its benevolence, spitting out the seeds to a cheering people. Can we use these leftover seeds to build a vibrant civilization, or do they represent the seeds of destruction?

When states absorb half of everything that is produced within their territory for redistribution—and outright waste—look for people to be changed. Adults will depend on the state as if it was a wealthy parent, initiative will be sapped, progress stultified. How long can a civilization last with a parasitical big government? To answer that, we, like Mises, must become historians of decline.