Vote Libertarian in Ontario!

This newspaper urges every eligible voter in Ontario to vote libertarian this October in his or her riding. Voting libertarian will send a message to the four main parties that they have been found out. What do we mean by ‘found out?’ The Liberal, Progressive Concervative, New Democratic, and Green Parties all share one thing in common, a secret that they cloak with their incessant bickering: they are all socialist. None of them respect your right, as an adult, to make decisions with your money, your time, and your life. The Libertarian Party believes that government should focus on its proper role, to defend the liberties of those within its territory. That means effective police, effective military, effective courts, representative government, and nothing else. Anything more would begin to infringe on the very liberties government is supposed to defend.

If the Libertarian Party leader were asked to form the next Ontario government, it would work to end the ‘downloading’ of social services to our cities, the use of provincial police if necessary to end harassment by ‘street people’ on the streets of Toronto, the pursuit of further decentralization within the Canadian Confederation, an end to excessive taxation, the reduction of economically suffocating border controls, and separation of health/church/school and state. Freedom, peace, law, and order would be high priorities of an Ontario Libertarian Party government.

What the party needs is the active support of these who believe in freedom. The party has a dedicated core of activists, but growth is a high priority. As of this point, even if the OLP won every riding they are contesting, they would not have enough MPPs to form a government. But there is still time. Contact the Ontario Libertarian Party and offer to run in your riding, or campaign for a candidate. And, for the love of freedom, vote! This isn’t the States. The libertarian movement can have a voice here. There are already four enfranchised parties in Ontario, but they all represent the same old Canadian socialism that has kept the Confederation a little cousin of the States. Ontario, give the OLP just one seat, and you will see the most principled MPP ever to grace Queen’s Park.

Hope, Yet, For American Footy

Association football (aka football aka soccer) in North America is a shambles. Half-hearted attempts have been made to create leagues based on the fake, commercialized American model of franchising. Those of us known as Eurosnobs on MLS forums realize that the governance of football is as important as the game itself. Football is interesting because it is a contest between autonomous clubs, with deep histories and local connections, that compete within a pyramid of leagues – within which they are constantly facing the free-market prospect of promotion or relegation. This system promotes fans actually playing the game which they love (because you never know if your pub team could rise to the premiership); it makes every game count; it creates honorable clubs with historic crests and colors and representative names, quite unlike the New Orleans Hornets with their cartoon bee; and also, it works best at a smaller scale so that even small towns get a chance to compete. In fact, many people say that America’s large expanse predisposes it to franchise models.

Well, there is hope, yet. The National Premier Soccer League has taken one giant leap toward proper football in the States. It is, by its own admission, “a league run by teams instead of teams run by a league.” Autonomous clubs, ladies and gentlemen! And it’s working too. For the first time, I’m seeing clubs with real community roots, real names, real crests, and real passion. One stands out to me: Queen City Football Club of Buffalo, NY. They truly seem intent on bringing the European football experience to their home city. They have youth training programs, embroidered replica kits, and best of all, they’re financially independent of their league. In their short existence, they have been quite successful – winning the Eastern Division this past season and coming in second in the National Final.

Now, if you can tell by my last sentence, there are remnants of the franchise model in this upstart league. It still aims to be “national.” It still runs playoffs instead of operating single-league tables with promotion/relegation. But autonomous clubs are a start. My wish is that a state/province Soccer Association has the balls to break with the federalist mentality and foster its own league pyramid. In football as in politics, governance is best kept local. It seems that football supporters in the States and Canada are so tied to the idea of a confederation/federation-wide league system that they cannot see that the costs are too great. What you end up with is fuddy-duddy leagues like the NFL, with mascots and cheerleaders but no substance. The Ontario Soccer Association could support a league system like England’s in a second. In fact, Ontario is fertile ground because of its polis-like character: local rivalries and connections are intense. With our large immigrant population, most people understand how football is supposed to be played. This future league would be everything the nascent CSL is not. It would be a framework to be filled in by the initiative of local clubs in existence and waiting to be created. Toronto would probably have several neighborhood teams in the top-flight, just like London: The Grange FC, Greektown FC, Little Italia Calcio, Harbourfront Lake SC, Oakville SC, the list could go on forever.

I digress. The NPSL is an evolution from the MLS and the NASL. It may well be hampered by its scope and franchise vestiges. Yet, what I’ve read is thus far promising. Many players are leaving the United Soccer Leagues, a franchise system, for the more meaningful play of NPSL. The clubs are legitimate in their attitude and independence. Hopefully, this league will allow them to grow until a future arrives in which each state/province sits on FIFA’s board separately, with their own league pyramids and local football culture. Kudos, NPSL!

Zoning Hurts The Poor

Zoning ordinances are sets of regulations detailing what, and how much, can be built on a given piece of real estate. They generally serve to cap the size of developments and to separate uses. Socialists usually favor them because they save the “community” from “big, nasty developers.” They oppose the shaping of their environment by propertied interests, believing that such shaping imposes on the “public sphere.” Yet, in almost the same breath, they will speak of the lack of affordable housing.

Now, I know that if socialists were better at math and logic, they would have taken economics and stopped being socialists. But here’s how it works: if you limit supply of a good, and demand persists, the price rises. All real property buyers have to deal with the reality of construction costs, land value, and infrastructure. But zoning prevents developers from increasing usable space and infrastructure even when economically feasible.

City planners always talk as if without their stoic guardianship, developers will turn the entire planet into rows of regular, brown rectangles that reach into space. This simply isn’t the case. There are many considerations that shape a development, including cost, aesthetic, scope, surrounding environment, and the product’s intended purpose. Planners’ true intention is to use the force of the government to impose their vision on the city.

Isn’t that what this is really all about? People support zoning because they don’t want a neighbor “stealing” their view, or changing the “character” of the neighborhood. Planners & city councils support zoning because it gives them control over the shape of “their” city, and the ability to extract politically-valuable goods from developers – like those godawful concrete ‘public spaces’ that front most corporate skyscrapers. Human beings require years of training in order to control their aggressive impulses; generally, they won’t even acknowledge that something is aggressive until that is the prevailing opinion (see The Atlantic Slave Trade). Most people don’t see telling neighbors what to do with their land as aggressive. Not only is it as wrong as telling your schoolmate that his lunch money must be spentin accordance with your Comprehensive Lunch Plan (only yogurt and grape jelly today), the first victims are often the poorest. You see, when less goods are provided by a stunted market, the wealthy can make do with less while the impoverished must reduce themselves to nothing.

That, my friends, is why it’s so hard for most of us to find a decent-sized, well-maintained, good location place to live. And why families, by necessity, fly to the suburbs. Just in the past few years, the Toronto City Council killed the Sapphire Tower. It was planned as a 90+ story, mixed-use building with apartments described as ‘house-like.’ The City Council slashed the building by 30 stories, and forced a hideous redesign, because it ‘may have cast a shadow over Nathan Phillips Square.’ That, or maybe their campaigns were funded by competitor Donald Trump to make way for his 90+ story a few blocks south. Now, no one will have the opportunity to enjoy house-sized living in a beautiful downtown skyscraper; due to the City’s demand, Sapphire Tower is now bankrupt, several investors have lost their life-savings, and the Globe and Mail is busy villifying Harry Stinson for his selfish dealings.

Many socialists will hear the preceding anecdote and say, “so what? Those apartments would have housed the rich.” Again, we return to economics: only authoritarians think in zero-sum terms, the rest of us know that the more usable real property available, the lower prices are for everyone. Socialism calls for “social housing” as the only possible solution (to a problem they created). Now, if you’re worried about brown rectangles soaring into the sky, look no further than social housing projects. Not only are they ugly, they are crime-infested, isolating, and paid for with stolen money. Worse still, they breed the ‘socialist man,’ who simultaneous loathes his own pointless existence but is completely disempowered to improve it. He will not work because subsistence comes free. By not working, he knows nothing of self-actualization – and he is empty. Social housing is utterly unnecessary and proves a serious drain on any neighborhood forced to support it. The only saving grace for the aristocracy is that the projects are NIMBY.

Zoning is the greatest tyranny of municipal government. It is an afront to the right of property – a primary foundation of civilized existence. It punishes us all by forcing us to sardine into apartments that are smaller than our lifestyles, families, and dreams. For the most destitute, it forces them out of the market and into the treacherous arms of socialists. Scrambling for resources is a common symptom of interventionist economic policies. Next time you hear complaints about overburdened streets, schools, parks or mass transit as arguments against a new development, think of what all those services have in common – government ownership. Yimbys speak out! Our only enemy is apathy. Human psychology would have it that opposition is a stronger emotion that support. The development industry believes it has lost this struggle. I know that, like slavery, zoning is an social construct that will one day be seen as profoundly wrong. The next day, mankind will grow arcologically, and reach the stars.

Open The Valve

I’m anxious, damnit. I’m anxious to regain freedom where it was lost, and gain it wherever it may be found. I’m anxious because life is short and there is so much work to be done.

Liberty, true liberty, is across the Earth suffocated by governments at every level, and of every kind. They are like valves, and depending on how much freedom they ‘allow’ us, that is the amount of energy that will then pour through the valves. Each step toward good governance and a limited state, each salvo against aggressors from the streetcorner to the halls of the legislature pays us back in spades: airline deregulation paid us JetBlue and WestJet, quality-of-life enforcement paid us a safe and prosperous New York City, liberty paid us the American dream.

Too many examples don’t pay us at all; they steal from us. Government education steals our youth, social security steals our retirement, zoning steals our living space. Nanny statists tell us that opposing ‘social’ programs like ‘social’ housing and ‘social’ services makes us greedy. Let us ignore for a moment moral arguments about taxation, and focus on the utilitarian: socialism suffocates societies. A ‘social-market’ economy is like a badly polluted city; communism is a plastic bag over your head. Look around you. By mechanisms best explained through the philosophy of meaning and the reality of human individuality, rights yield rewards. I know I may speak in grand terms, but the empirical evidence abounds. Would you rather spend a night in a private building or a ‘social housing project?’

That said, I want to focus not on bringing you toward true liberalism, but on explaining my anxiousness about getting reform accomplished. Canadians, Americans, Western Europeans, and Australians rest on their laurels that they lead the world in freedom and development. But that’s all relative. I see us as a primitive species, locked in political turmoil, unable to sustain peace for any significant length of time. We impoverish everyone to spite the rich; we destroy civilization to be crowned King of the Rubble. Do you, the most intellectual, truly think that Americans are living in the best of all possible worlds? Have you visited the Deep South? Are people still forgoing their dreams to provide for their families? Do you, the most intellectual, believe that is how life must be?

It’s not true. The truth is that human beings are the most powerful organisms to grow on this Earth. Our manifest destiny is to travel the stars, to farm the oceans, to have lives of plenty, and to self-actualize. Stupid, stupid, trade unions think they’re imporving their members’ lot by staging strikes and winning concessions. All of these squabbles are small potatoes. By my estimation, we have a lot of work to do to achieve a level of sophistication necessary to survive the next great catastrophe. Humanity is stuck on one miniscule planet in a galaxy full of planets, in a universe full of galaxies. Hurricanes still kill thousands in the Carribean every year, even though we know they’re coming. Economics is not a zero-sum game. Africa does not need to be poor. Everyone should be ‘living American’ as a baseline, and then onwards and upwards.

Now, if I was your typical utopian social-engineer, I’d be calling for the G8 to pledge billions in aid to help the Third World. I want the opposite. Cut off aid, end the era of big government. Even if we can realize the libertarian dream the American Forefathers envisioned two centuries ago, there will still be practical constraints to forward progress. Please, please, let those be the only contraints. Stop the war-mongering, at home and abroad. Stop the envy and talk of the ‘increasing gap between the rich and poor.’ The gap doesn’t matter, as long as we are all moving forward. We move forward when the valve of government is opened, and the vital energy of free men and women released. Open the valve; we have work to do.