Prometheus Unbound

I just stumbled upon The Prometheus Institute, which closely mirrored a dream I had for a Web 2.0 liberate meeting place. Though it often tries too hard to be hip, the site does employ the sophisticated web design necessary to communicate libertarian ideas legitimately. But guys, not to be unappreciative, but where the heck are the interactive elements? The site doesn’t even have a forum.

I don’t know how many radical liberals have heard of a site called Ravelry, but it is a good example of a Web 2.0 site that serves its niche well. It’s niche happens to be knitters/crocheters, but the fundamentals are the same. Users each have a profile; they can share information in myriad ways; they can create projects and keep other people abreast of their progress; users have spontaneously created phenomena such as ‘testers’ which give feedback on other people strategies and finished works. A libertarian version could allow people to create pages for their local classical liberal societies. We could finally abandon the egregious fees of! Or at the very least get people talking on a pride-inducing, flashy website.

On this point, I propose cross-pollination between The Prometheus Institute and Bureaucrash. Both are energetic, insurgent organizations run by youths (if funded by adults). Bureaucrash had the ingredients of the site I envision, with their innovative ‘cell’-based network and fostering of online user identities. They, however, didn’t have the organization, programming aptitude, and critical mass of users to keep the project going. Bureaucrash seems to have lapsed now into an RSS syndicator with periodical original content.

I’m not slamming Prometheus or Crash. Doing something is better than nothing, and both of these players have had a huge impact. I met many libertarian friends in college through Bureaucrash, and they supplied me with my favorite clothing. It was an outlet, and a home, especially because in New Orleans it was hard enough finding the politically interested, much less politically principled. The Prometheus Institute I don’t know personally, but I’ve read that their youthful spirit has caught the eye of major media. Kudos to both organizations, and thank you for existing. But, please, look at each other, and deliver unto me that killer app which spreads liberty like wildfire.

Save Mackies!

The Ontario Libertarian Party condemns Niagara Escarpment Commission for its threat to close Mackies Mountain Archery. Their charge is that Mr. Mackie failed to obtain a ‘development permit application’ before building his archery. Yet again, we see how bureaucrats with a little power can ruin lives. In this case, it’s not just Mr. Mackie’s property at risk, but also the opportunities he creates for children with brain injuries.

The following is an open letter from David Honey of the Niagara Landowners Association:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to request your assistance with an issue affecting numerous children, teens and people with acquired brain injuries in this community–the potential shutdown of Mackies Mountain Archery. Robert Mackie purchased nine acres of land on Zimmerman Road in Beamsville in 1999, then created Mackies Mountain Archery there in 2002. This small archery range provides specialized training, mentoring and recreation for people with acquired brain injuries and other handicaps, plus boy scouts, beavers groups and hundreds of youth in the community. Mr. Mackie has also planted 3,300 trees on this property since purchasing it, repairing the damage inflicted on this greenbelt land by previous owners.

The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) informed Mr. Mackie in 2006 that he had to shut down his archery range since he had not completed a development permit application. As requested, he completed the appropriate paperwork. The NEC then changed its mind and said he needed to shut down his archery range because he had not proven that the land had been used commercially before he purchased it. As requested. he researched previous records and proved that this land had been used commercially for 42 years–the previous owner had run a logging, lumber and firewood business. The NEC then changed its mind, again, and said he needed to shut down his archery range since his business had not commenced immediately from the date of purchase (he could not run his business full-time until 2002 because he was recovering from corrective heart surgery). Even the Town of Lincoln has sent a letter to the NEC stating that they have no objection to Mr. Mackie’s facility. The NEC has ignored this letter.

Mr. Mackie now runs the very real risk that his livelihood will be shut down by the NEC as early as November 15, 2007. It’s heartbreaking to see a business so important to the youth and handicapped people in this community being slowly driven into the ground by government bureaucrats who seem determined to stick with their original decision, despite all evidence that this decision was unnecessarily harsh. Mr. Mackie’s archery facility is wanted and needed in this community, and I would appreciate any help you could provide to resolve this matter promptly. I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your time and attention to this very important local issue.


David Honey, President
Niagara Landowners Association

As you have read, time is short: the NEC may strike as early as November 15th. The Ontario Libertarian Party is deadset against this decision, and all attempts to abrogate the rights of property owners. Private property is the cornerstone of practical liberty. Mr. Mackie should not be required to get permission from the state every time he wants to modify his property – that’s why it’s his. Even if he wanted to comply with the law, as is, it would be virtually impossible considering the multiple overlapping jurisdictions of government agencies. His own town has sent a letter in his defense, and yet their democratic mandate will be overruled by an obscure provincial bureaucracy.

The Ontario Libertarian Party appeals to the Commission to reconsider its ruling. Further, the party advocates a return to full ownership of land. That means an end to zoning, ‘protected lands,’ ‘public lands,’ and all other forms of regulation alien to our tradition of liberty. Many justifications have been put forward for these impositions, the most often an invocation of the ‘communal good,’ but as we can see with the Mackies Mountain Archery case, regulations often hurt those who are most vulnerable.