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Ben Singer

The case of Ron Paul and the missing foreign policy

There aren’t many American politicians who are as uncompromising in their politics as Rep. Ron Paul, who is currently running for President of the United States. Libertarians adore him; his critics mostly focus on his “unelectability,” whatever that means. However, his short-sighted focus on principle rather than pragmatism doesn’t just make him unelectable; it also makes him dangerous, especially regarding US foreign policy in the Middle East.Although Rep. Paul is usually written off during campaigns (he’s run twice before), a Ron Paul presidency is far from impossible. His libertarian ideology is in line with the bulk of the Tea Party domestic agenda, and their support has been shifting quickly from potential nominee to nominee - it could land with Paul next. Even with his supposed “unelectability,” a sluggish enough economy, and lack of support for Obama from a left dissatisfied with his slow pace of reform, could conspire to put Paul in the Oval Office. Therefore, he ought to be taken as a serious contender, and his policies thoroughly vetted.On foreign policy, Ron Paul is an isolationist. His presidential foreign policy consists of promises to scale back national defense spending and engagement of American armed forces worldwide. While there is much to admire about this stance - no good Conservative should be able to resist cutting waste - even from the armed forces - two fundamental issues arise.The first is practical: Rep. Paul would severely limit the ability of the American military to act and react to global crises. If one were able to reverse globalization and do away with the interconnected nature of the global economy and politics, then Rep. Paul might be on to something, but this is a fundamentally impossible proposition. What little global stability we have is likely due to the threat of overwhelming American response… Read More

Three Cheers for Bill S-7

On February 8th, 2011, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews introduced Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, into the House of Commons for debate. Bill S-7, already passed by the Senate, represents a new horizon in the fight against international terrorism.Terrorism is not the last respite of the oppressed, nor is it the weapon of the weak, as so many moral relativists would like us to believe. Acts of terrorism are intentional assaults on civilians meant to inspire fear, panic and a sense of terror. They are the purest, most malicious example of cowardice in modern times. Radicals with causes lacking moral credibility use suicide attacks, human shields and even turn our transportation systems into deadly weapons in order to instil dread and attempt to grind the function of our free society to a halt. In doing so, they aim to force our hands and modify our values and way of life to suit their needs. When our conventional armies, the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting us, seek to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, they inevitably cause collateral damage, which terrorists of all stripes use as a cynical recruiting tool. All civilian death is deplorable and so, when terrorists murder civilians, we must seek a better answer than more death.Against those who would use unconventional means to attack us, we must be prepared to fight with the most unconventional tool of all – the courtroom. Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, will allow Canadian victims of terrorist attacks like the Air India bombing, 9/11 and 7/7 to sue those responsible. These include state sponsors of terror like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not only will this bring compensation and a well deserved sense of justice to the victims, but it will… Read More

Beer and the Free Market

On February 7th, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak made some off-hand remarks about the price of beer in Ontario. “I do hear from people who say, ‘Come on, I can’t even get a buck a beer in this province thanks to Dalton McGuinty’s policies,’” said Hudak. Pundits loved the story and ran with it. Newspaper articles proclaimed the return of the 24 for $24, and the Toronto Star ran an editorial entitled “Beer 1 – Health Care 0.” The editorial criticized Hudak’s comments in light of an absence of healthcare policy from the PC Party of Ontario.As usual, the mainstream media picked up on the most trivial parts of this story and ignored the bigger picture. Portraying Hudak’s comments as prioritizing the price of beer over healthcare policy is simply bad journalism. The PC Party does need a healthcare policy; however, this far from an election that has nothing to do with the price of tea in China or beer in Ontario. The story is, and should have always been, about the extremely simple principle that government intervention in the market is not a good thing.Mr. Hudak’s 24-for-$24 comment is the tip of the iceberg of what he should be saying: that the Ontario legislature should, and does, have better things to do than micromanage the price of consumer goods. Government regulation of alcohol, ostensibly to protect us from ourselves, is nothing but a cash cow. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) website boasts an absurdly high profit margin: 50%.Despite this, there have been over 2,000 deaths due to drunk driving alone in the past decade, which tells the casual observer that while high beer prices may be a deterrent to some alcohol-related fatalities, what we really need is better enforcement and harsher punishment for alcohol abuse. Even if the Pigovian… Read More