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Big Government Bureaucracy Conservatarians Politics Science Self reliance

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, that is the question….

July 30, 2015

Dave 07Flu season is coming up in a few months; governments are stockpiling vaccine, and many of us are deciding whether or not to get our flu shots.

Hamlet’s, “To be or not to be” is unquestionably a more portentous decision than whether or not to get a flu shot, but you wouldn’t always realize it judging from the ferociousness of the debate.

On one side are those who insist that vaccinations are useless and cause all manner of serious side effects; on the other side are those who believe that if your doctor, or better yet, the government, recommends vaccination, then it must be good. I’d like to suggest that both might be wrong, and right.

Let’s take the example of measles vaccinations. Data would seem to bear out that measles vaccinations over the decades have almost eradicated the disease, which is good. There may be cases where the measles vaccine causes problems – sometimes very serious – for some children, but on balance measles vaccinations have worked, and have clearly been a good thing.

On the other hand, studies show that while the flu vaccine may have some value for small segments of the population, on the whole it has a very limited effect. Every year, there are articles that bear this out.

Here’s how a Maclean’s article, April 9, 2014, starts out: “Tamiflu™ might be the most heavily scrutinized drug in the world and one that governments have poured some $9 billion globally to stockpile in case of a pandemic. However, authors of a new study, published in the British Medical Journal this week, suggest the influenza antiviral probably works no better than aspirin and possibly causes harm.” (Italics mine)

An Australian study found that researchers that were paid by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to recommend antiviral drugs for flu. Adam Dunn who was the lead author of one Australian study, and who is a health informatics expert at the University of New South Wales, said: “We found reviewers with ties to Pharma introduced bias, as we found a disconnect between what the results showed and what they went on to recommend.”

The study found that 80% of reviews written by researchers with financial ties to the drug companies were favourable towards the drugs, while 17% of independent reviews were positive.

So much for unbiased science!  Yet governments spend billions stockpiling flu vaccine and buying advertising advising you to get vaccinated, apparently for no better reason than tradition. A far better defence against the flu seems to be to eat healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Swine-Vaccination-WaitRay Moynihan, a senior research fellow at Bond University said: “It is clear we have likely been misled about the benefits and harms of these drugs because so much of the evidence is tainted by a pro-industry or pro-drug bias. What we have in medicine is unfortunately a lot of marketing disguised as science…”   (In another field, most of the climate change/global warming industry is driven by politics and ideology, disguised as science.)

As someone with a strong libertarian bias, I believe that the final decision of whether or not to vaccinate is up to the well informed individual, or the parents.

Scientists are humans, and almost every area of science is tainted by biases, so being well-informed is key. As you know, a number of us are working together on an online community called Let’s Do It Ourselves, or LDIO™. (Pronounced el-DEE-o)

Our purpose is twofold.

  1. To provide a community where individuals and organizations who believe in limited government can unite to push back against ballooning (and bungling) bureaucracies; and foster an ethos of self-reliance.
  2. To use social media as a tool to reach out to and inform those of all ages who rely on their smart device for information.

If you haven’t already done so, please join us. http://www.ldio.org/join-ldio/  By working together, our efforts become more cost effective. And by developing a well-informed citizenry, we can begin to see some much-needed cultural change.

Thanks for your support!

Dave Reesor

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Big Government Bullies Bureaucracy Canadian Politics Conservatarians US Politics

Ignorant, Arrogant and Dangerous

Dave 07

July 24, 2015

Ezra Levant is in trouble again. This time it’s for suggesting that the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is “crazy” for ordering Alberta’s engineering profession to lower its standards so that a wannabe Alberta engineer could pass its qualifying test.

Apparently a Czech immigrant failed the Alberta engineering exam three times, so he complained to the AHRC that he was being discriminated against. They agreed, and according to Levant, ordered that engineering standards be lowered. Ezra opined that the AHRC was crazy.

Ezra was wrong; the AHRC isn’t crazy. Humans can be crazy, the rules they make can be absurd, ill-conceived, and dangerous, but they can’t be crazy. And if Levant was implying that the humans that made the ruling are crazy, I think he’s still wrong. Imputing actual craziness to the people at the AHRC would suggest that they had a valid excuse for making the ruling.

If in fact they actually did rule that the Alberta engineering profession must lower its standards of admission, on their say-so, then I’d suggest that what they are is ignorant of the importance of standards in the engineering profession, and consequently, they made a dangerous ruling.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (great organization at www.theccf.ca ) is currently fighting a battle on behalf of a sheep farmer in Ontario whose flock the provincial authorities suspected of having a disease. The owner disagreed as the sheep exhibited none of the symptoms. Nevertheless the authorities ordered that the flock be seized and slaughtered, but before that could happen, the flock disappeared. Eventually it was found, 35 miles away at another farm.

The authorities moved in, slaughtered the flock, and found that, as the farmer had insisted, there was no disease present. Nevertheless the bureaucrats have charged the owner with obstructing the actions of a government agency. Now, addition to loss of her flock, she faces jail time. This is example of bureaucracy run completely amok, and if you’re in their way, it’s got to be frightening.

One of the most outrageous examples of bureaucratic overreach that we now have in Canada, is the supply management system for dairy and poultry products.

Supply management as it applies to the dairy industry means that a farmer must buy a license for each cow that he or she wishes to milk. The current price for the license, per cow, is over $30,000. Farmers then have to buy the cows, the machinery, the land and the buildings before they are in business.

So a farmer that wishes to set up relatively small dairy with just 100 cows will spend over $3 million just to buy the pieces of paper that give them permission to milk the cows and sell the milk. Of course this drives the price of milk through the roof. Today, July 24, 2015, in Calgary, a litre of whole milk costs an average of $2.54. In Denver Colorado it’s $1.07. Adjusting for currency differences, that’s still nearly double. And the politicians all say they want to do something for young families?

This bureaucratic boondoggle is clearly just a left over from an decades ago exercise in vote buying. But now it poses a clear danger to the economic security of low income Canadians. Unfortunately, supply management is supported by all federal parties, even the Conservative government.

The Canadian Wheat Board was a federal bureaucracy established in the 1930s, a time when you had to take whatever the local elevator would pay you for your grain. Now of course, you can get on your smart phone and sell your grain to whoever in the world offers the best price.

I am personally acquainted with an Alberta grain farmer who has spent time in jail, and up until a few years ago had a criminal record.  His crime? About 20 years ago he and a number of other farmers hauled wheat to the United States, and sold it there, rather than selling it to the Canadian Wheat Board. They were charged, and eventually handcuffed and jailed.

A few years ago the Canadian government ended the Wheat Board monopoly – over the strong objections of the left wing parties – and pardoned those evil farmers who had the nerve to sell their own product. The Week Board was a clear danger to freedom, yet many left-wing Canadian politicians will still defend it.

lemonade115There are endless examples of ignorance in bureaucracies being dangerous, but sometimes they are simply absurd. A recent article in the Economist magazine reported on Texas entrepreneurs, Zoe and Andria Greene who went into business selling lemonade and popcorn. They were only in business about an hour when the bureaucrats moved in and shut them down. It turns out they needed a $150 “peddler’s permit”, a kitchen inspection, refrigeration etc., and being severely undercapitalized, they could afford none of it.

But the sisters are smart as well as entrepreneurial, and they discovered that they could set out a jar for tips, give away their product, make even more money, and it would all be perfectly legal. Zoe and Andria are seven and eight years old and were raising money for a Father’s Day gift. Good thing the little criminals were caught before they became hardened!

Examples of bureaucracy run amok would fill a library, and while bureaucracies are rarely staffed by genuine crazies, many are run by those that are ignorant and arrogant, and therefore, potentially dangerous. Doesn’t that describe far too many bureaucracies across Western societies, at all levels of government?

It’s time to get organized and push back strongly against this nonsense. You can do that at http://www.ldio.org/join-ldio  Conservative individuals and organizations need to come together and work as one.

Otherwise bureaucracies will continue to grow; freedoms will disappear; and our lives will increasingly be run by the… well, maybe Ezra’s right – the crazies.

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Uncategorized

Canada’s Waitcare System

Dave 07We just had a harrowing week with a happy outcome. A Reesor family tradition is that the males usually have open heart surgery once they reach their 60’s. This week it was my brother’s turn, and he came to a hospital in the city to have it done. The surgery was a bit more complicated than usual, but everything went “routinely.” He is on the road to recovery, and is being discharged, just five days after being sawed open, having some new piping installed, and a valve job. Open heart surgery is routine in the sense that running Alaska’s Iditarod or climbing Mount Everest is routine.

Once he was diagnosed, surgery was done reasonably expeditiously; the consensus is that hospital staff is exceptional; doctors and nurses were totally professional, yet concerned, informative and available; and my brother even says the hospital food was not bad!

On the other hand, my sister-in-law will be looking after him on crutches. She has non-functioning and extremely painful knee, which almost certainly needs surgery, but last month she was told that she must have an MRI first. The surgeon said he would put a rush on it – and got a date in November. Over five months in our Waitcare System!Woman with crutch

In the meantime, she will have constant pain, loss of sleep, etc., and multiple doctor’s visits, every one of which adds to the cost of the cure. In fact, long wait times cost the system– more correctly, costs taxpayers like you and me – and the economy, a horrendous but often ignored pile of money!

My question is: “How does this make sense?” Why, of all the developed countries in the world, does Canada insist on maintaining an noncompetitive, single-payer, (the government), single provider, (the government), single manager, (the government), system? Every developed country in the world except Canada has a combination of public and privately funded and delivered healthcare which introduces a healthy (pun intended) element of competition into healthcare.

I can hear the self-styled, Friends of Medicare, and their ilk, shrieking: “We don’t want an American style healthcare system!” I completely agree. During the 1990s, I had a salesman from Oklahoma City with whom I traveled the United States from corner to corner. His wife was employed in the US healthcare system, so we discussed the pros and cons of our separate systems for thousands of miles. Our conclusion was that both fall woefully short of what they should be in a pair of modern democracies.

A relatively recent study by the Fraser Institute reached the same conclusion. They looked at overall costs, wait times, accessibility to the best technology, and of course the results in terms of reduction of pain and suffering, and mortality. Overall, Canada and the United States ranked last, and second last, out of more than 30 developed countries. And we are arguing about which system is better than the other?

According to the Fraser Institute study, Canada does not rank first in any of the seven health care outcome categories that they examined, nor in any of the comparisons of access to care or modern technologies. Yet we spend more on health care than any OECD nations with universal access healthcare systems, except for Iceland and Switzerland.

Left-wing ideologues in this country insist that we have the best healthcare system in the world. That is plainly nonsense, yet American left-wing ideologues point to Canada as the country they want to emulate. And to a significant extent that’s what they’ve done with the Affordable Health Care Act, better known as, Obamacare.

Are they insane? No, they are just typical socialist fundamentalists who value ideology over reality or practicality or even, – and here is pure irony given that leftists are always bloviating about sustainability – sustainability. On its current track, our healthcare system will go broke.

Canada is the only country in the industrialized world that outlaws a parallel private healthcare system for their citizens. For instance, the biggest hospital in Malmo Sweden is privately owned. But the closest parallels to the Canadian system, in the world, are Cuba and North Korea. If our healthcare system is known by the company it keeps, we are in extremely deep trouble.

To counter the backward and unsustainable agenda of Friends of Medicare, (Friends of Unionized Healthcare), how about an alternate organization called: Support Modern Affordable Health Care, or SMAHC? (pronounced smock) Let’s work towards making expensive, painful, six-month waits for an MRI a bad memory from the past.

Here are some insights (in blue) directly from Friends of Medicare’s (FOM) website. www.friendsofmedicare.org    FOM is a powerful lobby group, with extremely close ties to the NDP and Liberal parties of Alberta.

Friends of Medicare (FOM) is opposed to the development of a parallel private for-profit health care delivery system.

FOM supports free collective bargaining between all health care workers and their employers.

FOM opposes the contracting out of health care services.

So FOM opposes Canada having a parallel private healthcare delivery system – unlike every other developed country in the world, Do they prefer that our system remains like North Korea’s?. They want collective bargaining for all health care workers. They oppose anyone except union members providing health care. Is that because the majority of their board and supporters are former union activists?

Alberta’s new government is made up of devotees of the exact same ideology, and they have inherited Canada’s most costly healthcare system – per capita – in Canada. This in spite of the fact that Alberta has Canada’s youngest population. But do you think that crawling even farther under the covers with the unions is going to improve our system, or bring costs under control? 

IWUZ is a personal blog, but we support the initiatives of Let’s Do It Ourselves, the online community at http://www.ldio.org/join-ldio/. Please become a member! If we work together, we can push back against the complete unionization of Alberta’s governance.

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Big Government Bullies Bureaucracy Politics Social Issues The left Uncategorized

Pursuing Tolerance, or, Why I believe in the Niqab

July 1, 2015

Dave 07Today is Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day. Many people from around the world choose July 1 to take the oath of Canadian citizenship. I thought it might be appropriate to rerun and expand a bit on the following Facebook post from last February.

A story that’s been in the news a lot lately is about the Muslim woman who wishes to wear a Niqab during the citizenship swearing-in ceremony. The Niqab covers the face completely, leaving only a slit for the eyes. The Burqa goes even further and puts the woman behind a fine mesh screen so that she is in semidarkness all the time.

The Hijab on the other hand, is a simple scarf similar to the one worn by Hutterites or by my Mennonite ancestors, and it leaves the face exposed.

I have to confess I’m torn on this one. I do find it offensive that someone would insist on covering their face during a citizenship ceremony. As a Canadian I even find it offensive when I see women wearing the Niqab or Burqa on the street. It is antithetical to the open Canadian culture where we look at each other’s face when we speak. The Hijab on the other hand doesn’t bother me at all – some are very beautiful – nor do Hutterite women wearing their scarves.

NiqabBut if those who wish to have their faces covered during the ceremony are prepared to prove their identity in a private room before the ceremony, then I have to come down on the side of letting them offend me, and even offend Canada. Because if giving offense is sufficient reason to ban something, then it certainly won’t be long until things that we do or believe in are going to offend someone else. In fact we’re already there, and doing or saying some of those things can get you taken before a human rights commission, or worse. That is what totalitarianism looks like, and it has happened here.

As a Christian, I am deeply offended by some of the comments or articles we read in the papers, or art that’s denigrates my faith. But I am entirely prepared to tolerate it. We’ve gone way too far down the road toward having the rights of selected individuals or groups to not be offended, becoming enshrined in law. That road ends in totalitarianism.

I actually got a lot of positive response to that blog. But here’s the problem. Our society is becoming more totalitarian day by day, and unless we do something about it, the trend will continue.

It’s not just universal free speech that’s a thing of the past.

Property rights are opposed by most politicians and most bureaucrats. You might think you own property and have an exclusive right to it, but if the government, or an environmental group, or some other favoured group needs access to it, or decides that some species need saving, kiss your rights goodbye. You’ll be lucky if they even discuss it with you before they walk over you. And if you oppose what they do, you will be accused of being a selfish, wealthy, not in my back yard-ist. “Toe the line!”

A bureaucrat in India recently made the comment that the big story of the 20th century was not the nationalization of industry, but the nationalization of the family. Children used to be the right and responsibility of the parent. Now, bureaucrats – appointed by politicians we elected, either actively by voting for them, or passively by not getting involved – have decided that they are “co-parents.” (That’s a new word, coined in the last couple of years by an Ontario bureaucrat.)

And the nanny statists are extremely intolerant of any opposition to what they are teaching your children. Depending on the subject, if you voice an objection you will be labelled a racist, a homophobe, intolerant, bigoted, or some other pejorative suitable to their purpose, which is to silence you.

To the nanny-statists, if you own a gun you are potentially a danger to society. Any day now, you might go out and kill someone, so your guns should be taken away. If you object you are obviously a gun nut, and have just proved their point.

If you oppose spending billions to combat climate change because you know from history that the climate has always changed, you are called a DENIER, which puts you in the same class as a contemptible Holocaust denier.

If you say out loud that Canada should have some sort of regulation on abortion – in surveys, most Canadians do – you are branded a woman hater and anti-choice. Is it possible to be pro-choice; just not unlimited choice?

The radical left has an agenda, and since the 1930s it’s been perfectly clear what it is, because they have stated what it is. Their agenda was to take “a long slow march through the institutions of the West”, and completely change those institutions so that Marxism / Socialism could achieve peacefully what was done through violence in Russia, China, and elsewhere during the 20 century.

So that’s why I’m concerned about fighting for tolerance. Because when the long slow march is complete, tolerance for those who don’t subscribe to what the state prescribes will become nonexistent. Think Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Communist China.

Think I’m exaggerating? Dr. David Suzuki who some Canadians regard as St. Suzuki, said in 2008 that politicians who do not believe in climate change the way he does should be put in jail. And he has refused to repudiate that comment. That’s not the spirit of scientific inquiry; that’s the spirit of Totalitarianism.

In the Afterword to his excellent book: “The Great Divide” William Gairdner says: “I hope it is not vain or overly optimistic to think that the quality of the divisive cultural climate in which we now live, might one day improve and rise, instead of continuing downward.”

I hope so too, because if we continue on this road to selective intolerance, a couple of generations from now I’m not sure Canada will be the kind of country to which people will want to emigrate, or in which to celebrate Canada Day.