Thursday, April 12, 2012
Minimum alcohol pricing: Better England free than England sober
Sean Gabb might also have mentioned below the inevitable result of all price control: Blackmarkets. And blackmarket goods can be inferior or even dangerous. So again the poor will take a hit
The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals to make it harder for poor people to buy alcohol. The proposals include higher taxes, compulsory minimum prices for drink, further controls on advertising, and power to close down retailers. The only disagreement between the three main parities is how far they wish to go. Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments:
"These measures, if adopted, amount to an attack on the poor. The ruling class politicians who continually whine about alcohol will not be affected by minimum pricing or the abolition of special offers. I might add that none of them can be affected by such laws. Income aside, anyone who lies his way into Parliament can look forward to round the clock drinking in the Palace of Westminster of untaxed alcohol.
"But the measures will hurt poor people, for whom alcohol will become cripplingly expensive and hard to find. They have the same right to drink as the rest of us. Bearing in mind the problems willed on them by our exploitative ruling class, they often have a greater need to drink.
"The claim that drinking 'causes' public disorder is nonsense. Alcohol does not run about the streets. People do. If people are making nuisances of themselves, the police should be instructed to stop behaving like some equivalent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and to start protecting life and property again.
"The claim that drinking makes people unhealthy is irrelevant, where not a lie. People must be regarded as responsible for their own mistakes. Anyone who bleats about increased cost to the National Health Service should consider that drinkers already pay more in taxes than the alleged cost of treating their specific illnesses.
"We oppose all controls on the availability of alcohol to adults. Better England free than England sober."
The Libertarian Alliance believes:
* That all the licensing laws should be repealed;
* That all controls on the marketing of alcohol should be repealed;
* That alcohol taxes should be reduced to the same level as the lowest in the European Union, and that there should be no increase in other taxes;
* That not a penny of the taxpayers' money should be given to any organisation arguing against the above.
Stupid women think they can "have it all"
They can't. Feminism has deceived them
Many women do not fully appreciate the consequences of delaying motherhood, and expect that assisted reproductive technologies can reverse their aged ovarian function, Yale researchers reported in a study published in a recent issue of Fertility and Sterility.
"There is an alarming misconception about fertility among women," said Dr. Pasquale Patrizio, professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Yale Fertility Center. "We also found a lack of knowledge about steps women can take early in their reproductive years to preserve the possibility of conception later in life."
The report stemmed from the observations Patrizio and colleagues made that more women are coming to the fertility clinic at age 43 or older expecting that pregnancy can be instantly achieved, and they're disappointed to learn that it can't be done easily. "We are really seeing more and more patients 'upset' after failing in having their own biological child after age 43 so we had to report on this," said Patrizio. "Their typical reaction is, 'what do you mean you cannot help me? I am healthy, I exercise, and I cannot have my own baby?'"
These women delay pregnancies in their most fertile years for a variety of reasons, such as focusing on careers, lack of financial stability, or not having a partner. They are vaguely aware that fertility decreases with age, but it is only when they experience age-related infertility firsthand that they begin to understand the reality of their situation, note the researchers.
The growing popularity of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has given women the impression that female fertility may be manipulated at any stage in life, notes Patrizio, who says the problem is exacerbated due to images of celebrities who seem to effortlessly give birth at advanced ages.
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, the number of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles performed for women under age 35 increased by about 9% between 2003 and 2009. During this same time period, the number of IVF cycles performed for women aged 41 and older increased by 41%. But this procedure doesn't always result in success.
"Even though the number of women turning to ART has increased, the number of IVF cycles resulting in pregnancy in women above age 42 mostly remained static at 9% in 2009," said Patrizio. "If pregnancy is achieved at an older age, women then face higher risk of pregnancy loss, birth defects, and other complications."
Patrizio hopes to prevent age-related infertility by combating these misconceptions with education. "As clinicians, we should begin educating women more aggressively," Patrizio said. "Women should be given the appropriate information about postponing fertility, obstetric risks, and the limited success of ART in advanced age to allow them to make informed decisions about when, if at all, they hope to become pregnant."
Patrizio said that one of the techniques women should take advantage of is oocyte (egg) freezing, which appears to be the best strategy for women who want to postpone motherhood but really care about having a child with their own genetic material. Alternative options such as egg donation, which leads to the highest pregnancy rates reported for any ART method, are also available.
"There is an urgent need to educate women that reproductive aging is irreversible and, more importantly that there are options to safeguard against he risk of future infertility," said Patrizio. "These techniques are valid options for women and should not be viewed as experimental," he added. "Doctors and health professionals must begin the discussion about fertility preservation in their patients and make certain that young women truly understand all their options
The Left's Orwellian Censorship Campaign
The liberal theologian William Ellery Channing once observed, "The cry has been that when war is declared, all opposition should be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country could hardly be propagated."
War has indeed been declared. Channing's contemporary liberal counterparts have declared a war for our culture. But while Channing presumably held to the oft-bandied supposition that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism," today's secular-progressive has no choice but to endeavor that "all opposition should be hushed."
Liberals recognize that when arguing on the merits, they cannot prevail. Not only are their morally relative, redistributionist philosophies untenable and utopian, but they read the same polls demonstrating that reasonable people reject their ideas outright. In fact, Americans identify as conservative over liberal by a two-to-one margin. Even those who call themselves "moderate" lean conservative.
It makes sense. The "progressive" movement wars against natural law, pushes perpetually failed secular-socialist policies and places - above constitutionally safeguarded individual liberty - thickheaded tenets of postmodern political correctness. Liberal elites demand tolerance for all things perverse and find intolerable all things righteous.
And so, the final, desperate act of the left-wing, lemon-hocking charlatan is to marginalize, smear and ultimately shut down the competition. As a result, liberals obfuscate, propagandize and strive to silence all dissent. They no longer even try to hide it.
The evidence of this calculated assault on free speech is overwhelming, but the most recent and high-profile examples include carefully orchestrated campaigns by three well-funded, interconnected, George Soros-linked organizations: Media Matters for America (MMFA); the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
After years of trying to censor the conservative voice of Rush Limbaugh, for instance, the George Soros-funded Media Matters recently pulled out all the stops to get him booted from the airwaves.
The pretext was Limbaugh's unfortunate word choice in describing Georgetown "reproductive justice" radical Sandra Fluke's attempt to compel the Jesuit university to violate its own Catholic doctrine. Democrats held a mock hearing in the Capitol building wherein Fluke demanded that Georgetown underwrite her admitted fornication practices and fork out free birth control. Limbaugh said this made her sound like a "sl*t" and a "prostitute."
The hard-left Media Matters pounced, rolling out a pre-packaged campaign against Limbaugh. It has targeted radio stations with ads and continues a floundering crusade to get Limbaugh's radio sponsors to drop him. Ironically, this has resulted in a revenue increase for Limbaugh, and his already millions-strong listening audience has grown significantly.
Another example of this Orwellian censorship crusade involves the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, an outfit that, until recent years, was viewed as a relatively credible civil rights organization. Unfortunately, the SPLC has now cashed in most of its remaining political capital, taking the same cynical path as its fellow travelers over at Media Matters. The SPLC too has become little more than a mouthpiece for left-wing extremism.
In a "too cute by half" attempt to marginalize those who observe the traditional Judeo-Christian sexual ethic, or who embrace a constitutionalist view of government, the SPLC has moved from monitoring actual hate groups like the KKK and Neo-Nazis, to slandering mainstream Christian and tea party organizations with that very same "SPLC-certified hate group" label. Indeed, in its promotional materials and on its website, the SPLC indiscriminately lumps well-respected, highly influential Christian organizations like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association together with domestic terrorist and white supremacist groups.
But the SPLC's transparent guilt-by-false-association ploy has largely backfired. Whereas the strategy was intended to discourage media outlets from engaging these Christian groups, the scheme has, instead, had the unintended effect of significantly marginalizing the SPLC. You can only cry wolf so many times before people ignore you.
Finally, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has picked up where the SPLC left off. This radical homosexual pressure group recently ramped up its tried-and-true practice of employing the very outrage it purports to oppose: defamation.
One of the left's favorite pejoratives is "McCarthyism," yet liberals employ it - as they mean it - masterfully. In an effort to strong-arm mainstream media outlets - already sympathetic to their cause - into blacklisting, once and for all, conservative and Christian professionals who oppose liberal sexual identity politics, GLAAD has issued an enemies list of 36 top pro-family leaders and luminaries (a list upon which yours truly is most honored and humbled to be included).
Engaging a scheme eerily reminiscent of the former Soviet Union, GLAAD's euphemistically and paradoxically tagged "Commentator Accountability Project" enlists fellow progressives to dutifully report on a designated website anytime a pundit identified on the blacklist appears in media.
Because "hate is not an expert opinion," GLAAD then takes the reports and browbeats the offending media outlet into disengaging the "inappropriate" conservative pundit.
As feeble justification for its censorship efforts, GLAAD provides a list of out-of-context, cherry-picked quotes - some accurate, some not - the organization finds offensive. This is paint-by-numbers, Saul Alinsky style: Rule 12, "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it."
In their manuscript, "After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s" (1989, Doubleday/Bantam), Harvard-educated marketing experts Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen meticulously laid out GLAAD's approach - something they called "jamming."
"Jamming" refers to the public smearing of Christians, traditionalists or anyone else who opposes left-wing sexual identity politics. "Jam homo-hatred [i.e., the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic] by linking it to Nazi horror," wrote Kirk and Madsen (sound familiar, SPLC?). They go on to suggest that activists should try to associate all who oppose homosexuality with images of "Klansmen demanding that gays be slaughtered," "hysterical backwoods preachers," "menacing punks" and "Nazi concentration camps where homosexuals were tortured and gassed.'"
"In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector," they wrote. "The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable."
George Orwell famously said: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Today, conservative truth tellers are revolutionaries, fighting a guerilla war against an elitist establishment that blankets free speech with bunker-buster bombs.
Their motives are disgraceful, their tactics are cowardly and their actions are un-American. But these things rank high among the progressive "book of virtues."
Paraphrasing Voltaire, British author Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
It's little wonder that today's progressives reject this noble sentiment. The success of the left-wing socio-political agenda relies upon deliberate suppression of the reality-based conservative alternative.
Such is life for the pamphleteer of bad ideas.
Australia: Empty-headed Anglican archbishop
Ill-informed attack on miners and banks
There is a pattern to the media cycle that is as predictable as the seasons. Before Anzac Day the press will be looking for stories of sacrifice by those who have served in the defence forces. During Melbourne Cup week, the jockey - largely ignored for most of the year - finds he is king of the airwaves. And during the quiet news periods of Christmas and Easter, church leaders have the opportunity to make headlines with their sermons and pronouncements.
Of course, there are many churches and many leaders, so there is a bit of competition. This year that competition was easily won by the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, who published an opinion piece that inspired headlines such as: "An Easter roasting for banks and miners."
The archbishop began his Easter article with a mention of Christ and the obligatory mention of migrants and asylum seekers, but his real purpose was to call for a new social contract "about a sense of mutual obligation". Mutual obligation has been a buzzword in politics for some time and usually means that just as the state looks after those down on their luck, those receiving assistance should put back into society.
The archbishop was not making that point. He wanted to make the point that the government and opposition are failing us. Apparently they focus too much on the news cycle. And other institutions and corporations "need a reality check" - that is where the attack on the miners and banks came in.
The archbishop's gripe with miners is they are "reluctant to share a fair proportion of the wealth" which belongs to all Australians. Really? Did the miners say that?
What the miners did say is that after they have paid state royalties, payroll taxes and 30 per cent company tax, that is a fair share and - what is more - a fairer share than miners are paying in other comparable parts of the world.
I have heard the government say it isn't enough and they should pay an effective tax rate of 55 per cent. But it got its sums all wrong and had to back down on that proposal. It has now negotiated a more modest tax increase, which will affect junior miners but the big ones hardly at all.
Now, the archbishop might have strong views on the applicable mix of royalty rates and company taxes and, if so, he should argue them. But to characterise the debate as simply being about whether one industry should pay a "fair" share or not is to avoid the question, not to answer it. What is that share?
The archbishop also complained the banks have not made a case for increasing interest rates. He is referring to the February rises in home mortgage rates of between 0.06 and 0.1 per cent.
The banks argue they increased lending rates because their funding costs have risen. I am not usually in the business of defending banks but on this occasion they were right. As the Reserve Bank's February Statement of Monetary policy noted: "Bank funding costs have increased relative to the cash rate over the past six months."
So the archbishop was wrong to attack them on this issue. Banks did have a case for increasing rates. He may have been trying to say they did not explain their case adequately. But, if so, what is he complaining about? Some kind of PR failure?
The archbishop's Good Friday article seemed to echo the argument of another person who has been railing against the banks and the miners: the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan. He attacks miners and banks as a way of shoring up Labor's support base - a little bit of class warfare to get the faithful back into the fold. When your primary vote is about 30 per cent, there is some method in that madness.
But I don't think it is going to work for the archbishop. Are people going to flock to church to hear sermons against miners and banks? Bank-bashers are a dime a dozen. You don't have to wait until Sunday to get an earful of that.
When the church speaks of its unique message - the life, death and resurrection of Christ - it draws on centuries of Christian thought and theology. I doubt Christendom has done nearly as much work on the taxation of mining profits and modern banking policies. If the clergy want to get into that area, they had better do some deeper thinking. Archbishop Freier's Good Friday publication is not going to spark a new social contract any time soon. It might pay to work out the details before we decide to ditch the present one.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.