Categories
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

Categories
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.

Categories
Big Government Bureaucracy Environmentalism Science

Sage Grouse revisited

Dave 07

Last week we were back in the tiny community of Manyberries Alberta. The beleaguered ranchers and oilmen of that area have put together a promising new organization called Sustainable Canada. Great name and mission, but here’s what they’re up against.

Ecojustice, a left-wing, richly financed offshoot of the Sierra Club, sued the Canadian government to place Sage Grouse on an endangered species list. Mainstream media cooperated by running headlines stating that Sage Grouse are in danger of extinction.

They’re not. There are at least 500,000 of them in the United States. They are only in danger of extinction, in Canada, but Canada is the extreme northern tip of their range. I’m quite sure that Sage Grouse have never recognized the Canadian/American border, and undoubtedly they have gone “extinct” in southern Alberta/Saskatchewan, several times since the peak of the last major Ice Age, 18,000 years ago. It’s certain that had moved much further south  when the area was under a mile of ice.

So what has caused the current decline in Canada? The most likely culprits are coyotes, foxes, and West Nile Virus. When I was a kid growing up near Consul, a village in extreme southwest Saskatchewan, we lived less than a half mile south of the community and an East/West railway line. About a mile west there was a branch line angling toward the southeast, and a municipal road that ran north and south on the east side of this small triangle.

Trains ran almost daily back then, and there were far more farmers, and more farming activity. But within that busy and noisy triangle, Sage Grouse mated and nested. In the 50s and 60s, I personally watched them strut and drum just west of our buildings.greater-sage-grouse2-brian-currie

Then, in the late 1960s, coyote fur went out of style, and coyote numbers skyrocketed. There had been sheep on our farm for nearly 60 years, and while coyotes always enjoyed an occasional easy meal, in the late 60s and early 70s our losses began to increase dramatically, until one year, nearly 140 sheep were destroyed by coyotes. (A few years later, after my brother had taken over the farm, he made the decision to quit raising sheep entirely. Coyotes were actually coming into the farmyard to make their kills.)

I’ll hazard a guess that coyotes like a varied diet, and Sage Grouse might be a nice change from mutton and gophers. But in addition to the natural increase in coyote numbers, and at about the time Sage Grouse numbers began to decline, Red Foxes also showed up in the area. More lately, raccoons have arrived, and now, West Nile virus. Raccoons love eggs, and across the border in Montana, one localized Sage Grouse population was nearly wiped out by West Nile.

The Sage Grouse population  began a rapid decline during the time all these natural factors came into play. Do you suppose there’s a clue here as to why the Canadian population is threatened?

But there’s more! Here’s a release from Alberta Environment. “Swift foxes were first officially released in Alberta in 1983. By 1996, 540 foxes had been released in the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and Milk River Ridge areas, parts of the species’ native range. Swift foxes depend heavily on mice, larks, insects, and ground squirrels,” and note this; “the eggs of ground-nesting birds are eaten in the spring, and many grasshoppers are eaten in the summer.” The Alberta Government did this when Sage Grouse were already under pressure!

Yet who is blamed for the near extinction of Sage Grouse in Canada? Why ranchers and oilmen of course. But the true culprit is simply, Nature; Nature, with an assist from misguided governments and radical environmentalists. Coerced by environmental groups, the Canadian government has introduced regulations that will have minimal effect on saving the Sage Grouse, but, if fully implemented, may lead to the extinction, -in that area – of ranching as we’ve known it.

During our visit to Manyberries, we spoke with ranchers who have to deal with regulations so absurd that you’d think they’d been dreamed up by City of Calgary bureaucrats. More about our visit next week.

We need come together as a community of concerned citizens, urban and rural, who are constantly forced to deal with a wide variety of similar issues, and fight back!

The Let’s Do It Ourselves (LDIO™) online community has been created to do exactly that.

You can become a member of the community today, and become part of a movement designed fight for property rights, and other essential freedoms; push back against foolish over-regulation, and educate our young people. It costs less than a cup of coffee a week. That’s a pretty modest investment in your children and grandchildren’s future.

The Let’s Do It Ourselves community website is at http://www.ldio.org/join-ldio/.

Categories
Alberta Politics Big Government Bureaucracy Environmentalism Politics Science Uncategorized

Springbank Dry Dam?? Nope. Wet Dam, Mud Hole, & Dust Bowl.

Dave 07

3 years ago I published a blog about the highly controversial  flood mitigation project, the Springbank Dry Dam. (SBD)

Here it is again, with some updates.

In the fall of 2014, to great fanfare and just before the Alberta provincial by-elections, the PC government announced the Springbank Dry Dam (SBD); an Elbow River flood mitigation project to be constructed a few kilometers west of Calgary. The announcement was in the papers and on television, and sadly, that’s where landowners who will lose their land, or the use of their land, found out about it. Talk about a callous and cynical disregard for property rights!

There is no question that some form of flood mitigation is required before we inevitably get hit by the next big one. After all, Calgary was subjected to two floods in the late 1800s, each bigger than the 2013 deluge. But it has to be the right project in the right place, and at the right cost.

Here are a few things for Calgarians, and anyone else who believes in property rights, to think about.

Is it right that people whose lives will be disrupted, livelihoods threatened, and property values greatly diminished are completely ignored in the planning stages of a project of this magnitude and impact?

Does it make sense to locate a flood mitigation dam where it will provide absolutely no protection to the communities of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, both of which suffered serious damage in 2013?

SpringbankRanching families in the area have ridden these foothills and valleys for generations, and know them intimately.  In fact, they have been ranching in the area since 1885; decades before people began building mansions on the Elbow River floodplains. Why was their counsel not sought in the lead up to the announcement of the SBD?

These people of the land point to a number of better locations for a flood mitigation project which would not only protect Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows but would also provide larger scale and safer protection for the City of Calgary.

Several upstream Elbow dam proposals actually have been discussed by Government bureaucrats.  One site that appeared to be viable was the McLean Creek area, but the government told us that “it was finding it too complicated to wade through all the government regulatory requirements, recreational aspects, and environmental concerns that would involve placing the dam on public lands.”

Think about that. Future infrastructure projects in Alberta must sometimes only be undertaken on private lands because it is too complicated to comply with government regulations, when putting them on on public (government) land. But if the land is privately held they can, apparently, simply announce the project through the media and, voilà!, problem solved.

In addition to being in the wrong place, the proposed SBD project is based on seriously flawed research. After they announced the SBD, representatives of the Government proudly told us that the project is to be based on a concept they discovered while on a recent trip to the mountain-less Netherlands.  It even has a catchy name: “Room for the River.”

As we know, when rivers flood their banks in fertile alluvial regions like those upstream from the Netherlands, the water carries rich organic sediment downstream and deposits it downstream along the river’s flood plains.  When the water subsides, the land can be farmed intensively. Does the government actually believe that this is what will happen in the Elbow River Valley?

Anyone who has witnessed flooding in an alpine setting will recognize this as complete nonsense.  The proposed “dry dam” will provide a shallow catchment basin for mountain sediment and rock grindings, and will turn thousands of hectares of pristine and carefully managed grazing land, into a vast, sterile, mud flat. Rock grindings are inorganic and will kill grass rather than fertilize it.

I was in High River several times after the 2013 flood, and the sediment was being hauled away because nothing will grow in it. How will you remove sterile muck from thousands of hectares?

You can’t, so as the sediment dries out the muck will turn to dust, and a once lush valley will become a dust bowl and westerly winds will carry the dust into homes west of Calgary, and into Calgary itself.

Has the government asked the folks in Springbank and West Calgary how they feel about rock dust? I haven’t heard about it. Because that’s government’s way. They come up with bright ideas to “help you”; insist that they’ve had the finest experts develop the solution, but tend to under-emphasize, or completely ignore, unintended consequences.

A few years ago, Travel Alberta came out with some great commercials telling you to: “Remember to Breathe.” Great advice, especially for West Calgarians, while you still can. Here’s a commercial I’d like to see, to be directed at governments, everywhere. “Your decisions – including their unintended consequences – affect real people. So, Remember to Think!”

I’m Dave Reesor

** Don’t Dam Springbank.org published this disturbing reminder. I don’t remember it being emphasized in government talking points, or by local media, but it should be a central part of the discussion.

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Categories
Climate Environmentalism Science Uncategorized

Za Terminator is baaack!

Dave 07“Ve got to westoah za climate!!”  That’s Arnold the Terminator, about ten years ago. At the time I remember asking someone: “Restore it to what exactly? Cold as The Little Ice Age? Farming in Greenland like during the Middle Ages?”

This year, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Montana, filming a documentary purporting to show that climate change is responsible for wildfires. Well of course he’s right. When it rains, forests grow; when it’s dry, forests burn. We learned that in Alberta in 2005. We had a dry March with lots of grassfires which is pretty normal. One of our local climate gurus, a Dr. Somebody, was interviewed and said: “If we don’t get rain, it will be a dry summer”. I realized immediately that I should have gone for that PhD because “rain = wet; no rain = dry!” would never have occurred to me. At any rate, in May and June it rained, and it got wet and we had floods; so I suppose he was right.

The fact is, climate change is normal.  Since the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago, the overall trend has been global warming, and thankfully, less ice. (Where I live just north of the Montana border, the ice was over a mile thick during the Ice Age; it’s chilly today; and I’m a bit nervous!) But there have been many ups and downs, temperature wise, and about 250 years ago it got almost as cold as it was during last Ice Age. So it is actually called, The Little Ice Age.

We are in the process of thawing out from that period of cold and misery and hardship. But unfortunately – according to the International Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC), which is the Vatican of the Church of Global Warming / Climate Change – there has been no warming for the past 17 years. Our thaw-out has stalled, and some scientists are worried. Let us hope that the climate doesn’t restore itself to what it was 250 years ago or we are in serious trouble. So buy that SUV! Arnold Schwarzenegger actually does drive a Hummer,so there is a bit more Hollywood hypocrisy.

Apparently, the IPCC is about to issue a report that essentially admits that all the alarmism, including theirs, was overdone. No kidding! According to the report, even if warming resumes it is likely to be significantly less than their last prediction, which was less than the one before that; all of which were less alarming than Al Gore’s predictions in his Fictionmentary called “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Here’s a link to The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), gives specific rebuttals to claims made by Al Gore. And don’t let those who say that SPPI is not legitimate, fool you. One claim is: “– SPPI had not been granted nonprofit status from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) 3+ years after it was formed”. Given the scandal unfolding around the IRS, I’d suggest that being stalled by them constitutes proof that SPPI is legitimate. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

Our twenty year pandemic of insanity on climate change, warming, disruption, and extremes, has cost the world a trillion plus in dollars; and many millions of jobs; but hey! it worked great for Big Al, and he got rich! So now the Terminator is going to try the same play, and make his own documentary.

But that game is running out of steam, and credibility. Arnold’s documentary is probably too late for the big money; unless he throws in a car chase or two, and maybe Jamie Lee Curtis. If he does that, I might even watch it.

Let’s do it ourselves; and let’s think for ourselves!

www.ldio.org

Dave