Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just Saw This on Twitter - Socialism for Dummies

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cobalt atoms on graphene: a low-cost catalyst for producing hydrogen from water

Rice University catalyst may lead to clean, inexpensive hydrogen production for fuel cells 
 A new catalyst just 15 microns thick has proven nearly as effective as platinum-based catalysts but at a much lower cost, according to scientists at Rice University. The catalyst is made of nitrogen-doped graphene with individual cobalt atoms that activate the process. (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Cost-effective replacement for platinum
“What’s unique about this paper is that we show … the use of atoms,” Tour said, instead of the conventional use of metal particles or nanoparticles. “The particles doing this chemistry are as small as you can possibly get.”
Even particles on the nanoscale work only at the surface, he explained. “There are so many atoms inside the nanoparticle that never do anything. But in our process, the atoms driving catalysis have no metal atoms next to them. We’re getting away with very little cobalt to make a catalyst that nearly matches the best platinum catalysts.” He said that in comparison tests, the new material nearly matched platinum’s efficiency to begin reacting at a low onset voltage (the amount of electricity it needs to begin separating water into hydrogen and oxygen).

Read more here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Case for Legalization of Freedom

Let me get this straight right off the bat, I am no fan of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and I will not be voting for him in this election. His government would increase spending & by necessity our taxes. They will erode our traditions & deemphasize the achievements of our history that occurred beyond the last 50 years. They will debase our culture under the guise of multi-culturalism and throw open our borders to anyone no matter the cost. They would promote a globalist agenda that is subservient to the United Nations at the expense of the interests of Canadians. So when I make the case for legalization of Marijuana it is not in support of Mr. Trudeau and his cynical ploy to woo the younger demographic to his big government Liberal cause. Phew!
I write this in the hope that our Prime Minister will once again return to his Libertarian roots and conclude that ending the Prohibition of drugs is the morally and economically correct thing to do. Mr. Harper has done a masterful job at keeping Canada united and prosperous. Ending prohibition is not a compelling issue that should lead to his defeat. The truth is, there isn't another party in the country that is closer to the goal of individual liberty than the Tories. (that has a chance of winning). I am promoting a process with stated goals that will evolve over time to enhance our freedom.

The case against legalization of marijuana was made recently by Ken Robertson, a former police chief and parent, in the Toronto Sun. The thrust of his argument was that legalization would lead to increased impaired driving accidents, an escalation in the addiction rate and the real concern about the health consequences of using marijuana. Mr. Robertson seemed to be advocating decriminalization as the correct course to take since it would emphasize treatment over the police arresting users for possession.  He believed that this would free up badly needed police resources for more urgent duties. His most compelling argument however comes as parent who does not want his children to be seduced into using drugs. I strongly believe his heart is in the right place, but his prescription will not get him where he wants to go.

 I start from the premise that “man must be free” to choose his destiny and by extension be responsible for the consequences of his actions. The law should support this concept by punishing activities that inflict provable damages against the life or property of others. Once a person reaches the age of reason they become an adult and have earned the right to be treated as such. Our legal tradition enshrines the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” necessitating the punishment of crimes committed, not restrictions on those who may, in the future, commit a crime. The paternalistic view that government is the guardian of our welfare is anathema to the historic evolution of common law.

The economic case for legalization is clear and undeniable. The free market decides how to meet the demand for goods by setting a price somewhere between what will provide a profit and what consumers are willing to pay. Any interference with these transactions will cause distortions that will result in costs imposed by Adam Smith’s invisible hand. If the supply is restricted the price of the product will by necessity rise. If the demand remains steady and the supply is outlawed then a black-market is created to meet the demand with the cost of circumventing the law built into the price. It is the prohibition of products that enables exorbitant profits that finance the viability of criminal organizations. The unintended consequence of government regulations lead directly to the correlation between the outlawing of products and the existence of organized crime.

For what appears to be mainly emotional reasons we have gone down a road that obliges the government to impose regulations upon us in the hope of re-engineering our behavior. The result has been an unmitigated disaster. Our best intentions have empowered a criminal class operating outside the constraints of the law. They profit by corrupting our politicians & law enforcement, unethically market to our young people, lure young men away from traditional responsible lives for the easy rewards of crime and violently defend their territory against all comers. Consider the fact that organized crime formerly controlled the distribution of alcohol with results that are well documented. Once alcohol was legalized, organized crime was forced to find new sources of revenue. The social ills caused by the abuse of alcohol are still with us, but the criminal element has been reduced to insignificance and the taxes collected help to mitigate the damage. Isn’t it time to start learning from our mistakes and stop enabling criminality?

Sometimes legal prohibition of products or services promotes the growth of vested interests that purport to exist for the greater good and enforcement of the law. Police budgets are inflated and defended by the need to fight the violent activities of organized crime. Social agencies fund-raise to help the addicted, abused mothers who were abandoned by criminal spouses.  It is suspected that Intelligence Agencies around the world have funded black operations by facilitating illegal drug deals. These groups would be in favour of a status quo solution such as greater funding to fight the contrived menace. Little thought is given to undermining unlawful profits by making the criminals compete with the likes of Molsons or Seagrams. In fact many view this as simply a transfer of money from law enforcement to greedy corporations.

The health issue is a legitimate concern that should be addressed by scientific study and conclusions. The disease caused by abuse of alcohol and the smoking of cigarettes is well documented. One would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the perils of these legally sold products. Cigarettes have been controlled, regulated, restricted and taxed to the point that there is now a profitable business case to be made by selling them illegally.  So even here we are enabling the black-market. The solution of course is to treat people like the adults they are and let them decide their own destiny.  

With products like Cannabis the danger is not yet fully understood. It has been claimed that smoking pot can lower one’s IQ, that it can lead to lung cancer or it can bring on deadly consequences if mixed with other drugs. It has also been called a gateway drug because its lower cost helps build a relationship with the drug salesman who can then up-sell the customer to something stronger. Studies that show the exact opposite have also been published. As with other little understood threats to humanity, opponents will invoke the “precautionary principle” which justifies a ban in their minds. Our legal tradition passed down from the Magna Carta tends to let the individual decide what risks they would like to assume.

The argument against legalization that resonates with most people is the fear of impaired drivers causing havoc and carnage on our roadways. With alcohol it is well known that most DUI accidents causing death involve a chronic drunk with multiple offenses who is vastly over the legal limit. The answer is tougher punitive sentences for those who kill on our roadways. The lowering of the legal limit from .08 to .05 BAL is sadly a PR tactic to inflate the argument for more regulation. It does not address the problem. With Cannabis the same logic must be used. Those who kill while driving under the influence of any substance should punished and taken off the road with the full force of the law. Will legalization increase the number of impaired or drugged driving offenses? In Colorado we have a precedent, according to official state statistics the number of drugged drivers involved in fatal crashes has remained constant or declined over the past 10 years.  

The moral foundations of our legal tradition, where “arbitrary measures” by government should be vigorously opposed in order to protect our cherished freedom, are the basis in law for legalization. The invisible hand of the market where regulations distort the commercial viability of supply and demand offer a strong economic case in favour of legalization. The corruption and violence caused by empowering organized crime support legalization. The freedom to study long term health effects demands legalization. The decisions we make while operating a motor vehicle remain the same and the responsibility remains the same.
I have not come in contact with pot since high school many years ago. My concern is not to make pot more accessible to young people – it already is. The control of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol would reduce the profits of crime, add revenue to government coffers, promote legal business, reduce police budgets and end the incarceration of people for possessing a weed.  The solution is freedom.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Prohibition & The Freedom Agenda

This summer Toronto is welcoming athletes from all over the Americas to participate in something called the Pan Am Games. Most Canadians have very little knowledge or understanding of the many Latin countries which are outside the winter vacation spots they like to escape to. Most importantly they are unaware of the destabilizing effect our (and the USA war on drugs) policy of prohibition is wreaking on both Americas.

Western governments seem to have learned little from history and once again they are doomed to repeat their mistakes. The conviction that government sanctions will protect our children from dealers of addictive self-destruction has had the depressing effect of exacerbating the problem on every front. The finest intentions have realized our greatest fears.

It is time we were appraised of the consequences of our actions and begin to empathize with the victims of our rectitude. In the late Nineteenth Century the crusading zeal of militant Christianity had imposed upon the world a rigid morality which endorsed a style of political correctness where the appearance of respectability was valued above all else. In an unregulated society this expectation of self-moderation had many beneficial effects and was an impetus for the great social and economic achievements of the Victorian era. At the time there was a strong belief that mankind was existentially evolving into a more perfect society. The great institutions that were built during this time were the edifices of confidence. But, behind the veneer of decorum existed an underworld of human frailty. It is instructive to note that during this period of morality nascent industries of vice were happily and profitably operating out of view.  The brothels, opium dens and myriad drinking establishments served as pressure relief values for many who desired respite from the culture’s overbearing expectations. 

As we know vice can lead to many social and physical ills. The destruction wrought by participating in the forbidden world of debauchery (mainly men) repulsed the guardians of respectability (mainly women) and they demanded that something be done. Good people took up their crusade with the moral equivalence of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. They demanded the institutions of government step in and save the population from itself. Thus the legal prohibition of drink, drugs and sex was imposed for the greater good.    

Safe from the distractions of vice, humanity could at last achieve another evolutionary step on the road to perfection. Yet, something peculiar happened almost immediately after the “Greater Good” was served. The demand for forbidden fruit strengthened and the revenue netted by those supplying it increased. Attempts by authorities to stop the trade in contraband only seemed to produce a more creative entrepreneurial response. Average citizens were being rounded up and charged with criminal offences simply for possession of something they chose to consume. Suppliers operating in the Black Market meant that product quality control was hit and miss – without legal recourse many customers were cheated or poisoned. Colossal profits financed sophisticated criminal organizations that could bribe or extort government officials and prosecute a relentless public relations battle in the press. Operating outside the law required an armed security infrastructure that would not only ward off the police, but also other criminal competitors. They were well armed and would defend their source of revenue by any means possible – killing both themselves and innocent bystanders. Taxes had to be raised and fines increased to pay for the ever increasing demands for police resources to combat the threat. Young men were enticed to forgo the traditional path of fatherhood in order to chase after the riches promised by the dangerous Black Market adventure. Within a short span of years the majority of people had had enough, at least when it came to booze.

The end of prohibition was a great reprieve which forced the engorged criminal organizations to look elsewhere for profitable opportunities created by laws that would restrain legitimate competition.  

Today many people cannot even comprehend a world where self-moderation is not accompanied by volumes of rules and regulations that govern every aspect of their lives. As in the past we have chosen to outlaw certain vices for the “greater good” and not surprisingly we are enduring the same results. A critical difference is that the world is a much smaller place. If prohibition is enacted in one country the black-market demand will be supplied by resources that could come from anywhere around the globe.

Contraband is produced and delivered by ruthless criminal gangs in South America and the Far East.  Prohibition laws in North America are enabling these lawless organizations to operate off-shore and reap obscene profits.  Our laws are once again enriching criminals. They are still bribing and extorting officials and in some countries have become so strong that they control the entire government. High profits mandate that markets have to be defended from other criminals as well as the police. This has led to turf wars where hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America have been slaughtered. Our very civilization is being challenged by enriched warlords who are terrorizing entire populations in countries like Mexico and Columbia.

Banning products or services simply to protect citizens from themselves will only empower those who seek to subvert our purpose. Prohibition corrupts our government by providing a reason to bribe, extort or terrorize those who operate our institutions. The cost of maintaining police resources to counter the lawbreakers escalates year upon year as the futility of their mission puts them at odds with the personal freedom enjoyed by the citizenry.

The work ethic of our young people is undermined by temptation to reap a higher income within the Black Market. It degrades their respect for legitimate authority and encourages them to shun the responsibly of a traditional lifestyle. In effect they become the pawns within vast criminal organizations.

So what can we do?

Do we double down by increasing the power of the state? Do we treat every human being as a potential criminal by watching and cataloging their every move? Or, do we adopt a Freedom Agenda that is based on the respect of each individual?

Foundational documents like the Magna Carta sought to prevent the damage that cascades as a result of laws enacted to protect society from “potential” injury. A man should be judged by his peers and not subject to regulation without just cause.  Re-adopting respect for the freedom of individuals would have the wonderful effect of defunding and disarming criminals, lowering the cost of government and the police, promoting a responsible lifestyle for our youth, reducing the subversion of many third world nations by criminal elites and ending a major source of corruption within our own government. It will give us a chance to demonstrate the true compassion that grows out of our principled empathy for our fellow man.
Those who benefit from the status quo will fight the Freedom Agenda tooth and nail. Fear, uncertainty and doubt will be broadcast from every organization or institution that stands to lose funding, status or most of all control. Yet at the end of the day it is we people working for our personal self-interest who hold the power. We must expose the Prohibitionists for the paper tiger they are simply by demanding our legitimate right to freedom.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Michael Coren

Many of us in our search for truth and justice will change our point of view and that is admirable if the reasons are valid. If they are not we are doomed to bounce from whim to whim never being certain of our motives.
In order to insulate one’s self from vacillating on your core beliefs, one must make a commitment to principled consistency. Over the years I have detected a capricious view of the world from Mr. Coren. He would make exceptions that in many cases were at odds with the principles of freedom. Unless he makes a commitment to non-contradictory thought he will soon devolve into a zealous authoritarian collectivist. Very sad.