Depression of public servants a ‘public health crisis’ in Canada?

Posted on January 11th, 2010 by bile
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‘It’s the most transient, fluid, unsettling work environment on the planet,’ expert says

Depression among Canada’s public servants is the country’s biggest “public health crisis,” says a leading mental health expert.

It’s an affliction among the country’s nurses, teachers, police, military and bureaucrats at all levels of government, undermining innovation, productivity, quality of service, policy-making and even the relevance of our democratic institutions, said Bill Wilkerson, founder of Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health.

Stress, burnout and depression is evident in all workplaces, especially in times of economic turmoil. But few employers have as profound a problem as the federal public service where the health effects of mental distress has been termed an epidemic.

“The public service is a tsunami of distractions — meetings, everything questioned, delegated, people moving … and no one is really in charge,” said Wilkerson. “It’s the most transient, fluid, unsettling work environment on the planet, so why wouldn’t people be anxious and in distress? They are human beings.”

Disability claims in Canada are climbing and between 30 to 40 per cent of them are for depression. In the public service, mental health claims doubled between 1991 and 2007 and now account for 45 per cent of all claims. Meanwhile, the number of other health claims has dropped.

Wilkerson argues paralysis has gripped the public service that’s compounded by an “ambiguity” around who is in charge. Such an environment takes its toll on people, many whom leave work every day feeling they have accomplished nothing.

forgive me if i fail to give a shit. stop stealing the wealth of others to fund your activities and compete in the market place. i can assure you that your life as well as the life of those you leach off of will be better for it.

The New Deal all over again: US government buying milk products to keep up prices

Posted on June 8th, 2009 by bile
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Nothing like the classic MO of gubment taking peoples’ tax money to buy something the people aren’t buying ‘enough of” in the eyes of the politicians. Since there is an abundance of milk products out there compared to the demand, the price should be going DOWN for consumers. In a free market, such low demand forces suppliers to change their production levels, decreasing the supply to better reflect the demand, and allowing the farmers’ resources in time and labor, etc., to be better applied to other endeavors. In the end, the price and supply, and the application of effort, will reach a sustainable level both for producers and consumers, leaving not only extra time and resourcs for the farmer, but extra monetary resources for the consumer to devote to other products even while getting their milk products.

Here is a quote:

“The government has bought 238 million pounds of nonfat dry milk powder to help dairy farmers. In the spirit of wanting to help dairy farmers I bought a container of powdered milk. It doesn’t say whether it is imported or domestic!”

With the government stepping in, all that happens is that the politicians act as new bidders, raising the prices of the item, and forcing consumers to have to spend more on something, leaving them with LESS left over to spend on other products! This is backwards, a cave-man mentality that does not recognize productivity as beneficial.

Read the meandering thoughts of this Daily KOS writer (obviously, the site is hard-core socialist), and see how the writer even forces HIMSELF/HERSELF to pay more for something due to the mistaken belief that buying from foreign producers is destructive to the US economy as a whole.

One more note: If one follows the writer’s so-called logic, then perhaps one should only buy local, rather than buying products from over state lines. So if your state is a bad place for growing peaches, and they cost a lot more due to that, and you could get them from Georgia for less, you should NOT do so, pay more, have less left over, and enjoy that… expanding economy you have in your state? Hmmm… That’s right, it won’t expand, because you continue to devote resources to non-productive endeavors and dont’ haev anything left over to spend on new products. You have to work HARDER to get what you want, limting your ability to expand your economy. Ohhhh, yeah, you could also just hit yourself in the foot! That would be just as good.

This story was covered by FOX News on Sunday, June 7, and the reporter said that the federal govenment was “helping” farmers. Never mentioned the feds were HURTING consumers and making them work harder for the things they need.

Here are two articles that need dissectin’. Be Seeing You!…

Another, before the legislation passed. What a surprise that Tom Harkin would be involved! Hark! We hear the sound of socialism!…

It didn’t work in the 30′s under Hoover and Roosevelt. It’s not going to work now.

Anarcho-capitalism vs. Agorism?

Posted on May 25th, 2009 by bile
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A couple of people have asked me:

FSK frequently criticizes anarcho-capitalists as pro-State trolls. Aren’t anarcho-capitalism and agorism the same thing?

I consider “agorism” and “free market anarchism” to be equivalent. Agorism and real free markets are the “One True Version of Anarchy”.

The fallacy of “anarcho-capitalists” is that they fail to answer “How will the State be eliminated?” They assume that the State will gradually shrink and then voluntarily shut itself down. This will occur by voting, which is the usual (L)libertarian fantasy.

How is a failure to answer “How will the State be eliminated?” make it fallacious? There is no assumption, just no explicit component to the philosophy. Perhaps because to claim any one method is the surest or only way is highly suspect and limiting. Agorism provides a set of steps which if carried out could bring about a the State’s destruction. Little more than libertarian black market, Fabian strategy style. Agorism is more then anything a tactic. One of many theoretical means to ending the State. An explicit means to an preexisting end.

And to lump Libertarianism and libertarianism into a single basket is just as fallacious as claiming the “usual” fantasy of those isms is to vote away the State. Lowercase ‘l’ libertarianism applies to a rather large range of philosophies. Both anarchist and not. Propertarian and not. Besides a belief in the non-aggression principle (ignoring consequentialist vs. deontological differences) there is nothing more to libertarianism.

Anarcho-capitalists sometimes defend large corporations as a natural free market occurrence. Large corporations cannot exist without State subsidies.

How can the author possibly know that? We can say they won’t have the State subsidies to make them that big, we can say that they won’t be corporations in the way they are now due to state intervention but how can anyone claim to know to what size a business can or can not get to in a freemarket? How can one claim that a business would be unable to provide for their customers so well, through efficiencies of scale and division of labor, as to be as large as some businesses now? They obviously wouldn’t exist in the same capacity or for the same reasons.

Anarcho-capitalists defend the current State. They say “We should obey State regulations for now. In the present, the State has legitimacy. The State is evil, but we need it right now.” Anarcho-capitalism is a pro-State philosophy of anarchy.

I’m glad the author know what all ancaps everywhere think and defend. As an ancap and a friend of ancaps… I have never made such statements or hear such statements as above. Anyone who would is not a libertarian ancap.

An agorist says “The State has zero legitimacy *STARTING NOW*.

As mentioned before an proclaimed ancap isn’t an ancap if they claim the State has legitimacy.

We will ignore all the stupid taxes and laws that restrict our productivity. We will boycott the State as much as possible, but a perfect 100% boycott is not feasible in the present.”

All? Doubtful. It is improbable to get 100% outside the taxation of the state. The second sentence admits as such and therefore the first sentence is negated by it. And what does “as much as possible” mean? A rugged individualist anarcho-primitivist is likely to tell the agorist that using State built and controlled roads is completely avoidable.

An agorist wants the State to get bigger and more inefficient and then collapse, instead of gradually shrinking and disappearing.

I’ve never read that as the explicit goal of agorism. The point of grey and black market agorist action is multifacited. To undermine the state’s “business” by providing alternatives (leading to shrinkage of the State hopefully) and grow successful enough as to provide free market defense against those who would  still call themselves the State. It would seem that wanting the State to grow before collapsing is akin to desiring people to get harmed. You can say that such a situation would work in favor of free market anarchism but to want it is anti-libertarian if we agree that the growing of the State would lead to more infringement of liberties.

If you call yourself an anarcho-capitalist and aren’t a fool, your beliefs will be similar to those of agorists. However, the people who call themselves anarcho-capitalists tend to fall into the usual (L)libertarian intellectual trap.

If you advocate the State you aren’t an ancap. If you are an ancap then of course your beliefs are similar to an agorist. Many, including Konkin, consider agorism to be an evolution of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist philosophy. Konkin describes agorists as “strict Rothbardians… and even more Rothbardian than Rothbard [himself].”1

This is the problem with using labels over descriptions. I prefer to substitute definitions for what they actually mean, especially when there could be confusion.

While I don’t completely disagree… labels exist for a reason. They are a shortcut to having to explain everything every time you discuss a topic. When diving deeper into a topic one must always lay down specific definitions otherewise you end up arguing semantics endlessly.

If you aren’t an idiot, when you refer to “anarchy” or “market anarchism”, you mean what I call “agorism” or “really free markets”. I frequently see people calling themselves anarcho-capitalists with pro-State troll false beliefs. Whenever possible, substitute labels for what you actually mean, to avoid confusing.

If you call yourself an anarcho-capitalist and you aren’t an idiot, you’re beliefs will be the same as what I call “agorism”. However, I see a lot of pro-State trolls calling themselves anarcho-capitalists.

Gets a little ad hominem and repetitive here.

Agorism is the only philosophy that answers “How can the State be eliminated?” and “What will the replacement look like?”

I doubt that’s true. I’m sure some Fabian socialists were anarchists. However, even if true I fail to see why a means should to be married to the end or what benefit it provides. It is difficult enough to maintain an idea of an end with changing understandings of life and economy (mutualism for example). Adding to that the need to justify a means seems excessive and unnecessary.

If lots of pro-State trolls start calling themselves agorists, then do I have to find a new name for my philosophy?

If you want to dilute the waters I suppose. Those who wish to minimize your impact and undermine your message will attempt to steal words and redefine them. It’s a great tactics that has been use for hundreds of years if not longer. It is a way to keep you on the run. To make you waste your time with semantics and definitions. There is little that can be done about this tactic but running away from definitions does not seem to me a reasonable attempt at a solution. If a word is misused then make a point to correct that person who does so. I have found it far easier to point out the true meaning of a word and explain that it has been usurped by those who either don’t understand it or are out to discredit it rather then dispel the misunderstanding and introduce a new work in addition to describing it.

The attacks on HR1207 are starting

Posted on May 13th, 2009 by bile
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Extraordinary times require extraordinary actions. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the bold policy moves undertaken by the Federal Reserve over the past two years. The financial crisis forced the Fed to be aggressive and creative in its attempts to provide liquidity to credit markets that had frozen up. These were necessary steps, and mostly applauded.

But the very boldness of its actions has put the independence of the Fed at risk. Congress is now clamoring to audit the Fed, and some of the policy proposals currently under discussion at the Federal Reserve will only increase the threat to its independence.

Without independence, the political cycle would subject the central bank to political pressures that, in turn, would impart an inflationary bias to monetary policy.

On this view, politicians in a democratic society are short-sighted because they are driven by the need to win their next election. This is borne out by empirical evidence. A politically insulated central bank is more likely to be concerned with long-run objectives.A variant of the argument for central bank independence is that control of monetary policy is far too important to put in the hands of politicians. As a group, they have repeatedly demonstrated the lack of political will power to make difficult economic decisions. But now they want to assert control over the Fed. The bill, HR 1207, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (who brought you the “Employ Americans First Act”) and Rep. Ron Paul, would assert greater control over the Fed. As Ron Paul writes on his Web site: “Auditing the Fed is only the first step towards exposing this antiquated insider-run creature to the powerful forces of free-market competition. Once there are viable alternatives to the monopolistic fiat dollar, the Federal Reserve will have to become honest and transparent if it wants to remain in business.”

Great! Obviously, monetary policy is so falling-off-a-log simple that your elected representatives can insert themselves via the demand for transparency into decisions of true complexity and subtlety. Why am I not feeling reassured?

I believe cy_cy says it all:

Quoth Cooley- “Without independence, the political cycle would subject the central bank to political pressures that, in turn, would impart an inflationary bias to monetary policy.”

Is this sentence for real? Perhaps you could summon a grad student to investigate the “inflationary bias” pre-Fed and post-Fed. (I realize you’re too busy.)

Since the Fed’s inception, the dollar has lost over 98% of its value. Before the Fed, the dollar would actually GAIN value as time passed (thanks to productivity gains.) Are you implying that the so-called “independent fed” should be patting itself on the back for (so far) preventing hyper inflation?

You clearly imply that Ron Paul wishes to bring transparency to monetary policy so that he himself can make macro monetary calls (manipulating interest rates, reserve rates, etc.) You imply that he is not qualified to be making these decisions. I am sure he would agree: his entire point is that no individual or small group can centrally determine interest rates.

The fact that you would so horribly misstate Paul’s monetary thesis suggests you either have not bothered to research his thesis (yet have the audacity to write an article about it anyway), or you do know what he is trying to say, but you grossly misconstrued his message so that you could shout it down. Either option is an overwhelming suggestion of both intellectual bankruptcy and, in light of your career choices as a writer and an educator, severe moral bankruptcy as well.

Tags: The Fed, HR 1207, Intellectual Cowardice

Despite the economic turmoil the Fort Lee Police Department keeps on trucking

Posted on February 5th, 2009 by bile
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Apparently, the arbitrator handling the Fort Lee police contract did not get the state memo counseling fairness in his award.

I HAVE read with great interest recent articles relating to binding arbitration and the rewards of arbitrators.

In these days of reduced state aid, crashing stock markets, plummeting real estate values and record levels of unemployment, we who govern municipalities feel quite alone. Fort Lee has imposed hiring freezes, instituted novel income-generating programs, amended billing methodology of various vendors of the borough, adopted a “zero balance” budget protocol and have done everything possible to avoid layoffs. Our responsibility is to our taxpayers. However, human nature dictates we depart from ledger sheets and calculators to consider the lives and families affected if layoffs were to occur.

I believe that most people understand the deplorable circumstances we face. Accordingly, employees, department heads, contract vendors and most union leaders have worked with government to negotiate fair contracts that balance reasonable compensation with a recognition of the already excessive burden on taxpayers. They are sophisticated and considerate enough to recognize that “beating the hell” out of us for an excessive raise or costly benefits may potentially trigger that “four-letter” word: layoffs.

There is a glaring exception to this culture of cooperation: Arbitrators who render determinations on police contracts apparently have not gotten the memorandum and exist in a vacuum. The recent arbitrator’s award concerning the Fort Lee police contract disregarded economic conditions, the government’s fair and, by most accounts, generous offer to settle and the significant burden placed on our taxpayers.

I cannot blame our local police representatives. It is human nature to ask for as much as possible and achieve the most for their organization. Were it not for the economic turmoil, I would have enthusiastically supported a generous contract. I can, however, blame the arbitrator for the complete disregard of the current economic climate.

State officials have told me that arbitrators have been counseled to be fair with their awards and remain cognizant of the economic climate and the fragile financial state of municipalities. Apparently, the arbitrator handling the Fort Lee arbitration did not get that memo either.

The borough is now compelled to spend tens of thousands of dollars processing an appeal in the hopes of avoiding the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars. If, after exhausting every alternative, layoffs are unavoidable, I can look back with certainty and precision in identifying which straw broke the camel’s back.

The arbitrator’s actions in Fort Lee – and the actions of arbitrators across the state for that matter – leave municipal officials feeling abandoned and worried about what lies ahead. With the arbitration award for Fort Lee police, I now sit behind my desk staring at a list that I hoped I would never be required to look at. I know each of the young men and women on the list. I grew up with many of them and in many cases was instrumental in their hiring. If we have to lay off personnel, I intend to deliver this essay to the arbitrator, personally.

Mark J. Sokolich is mayor of Fort Lee.

He’s right in that it’s natural to ask for as much as possible. What is not however is monopoly and that’s ultimately the cause behind this issue. The FLPD has a monopoly on the use of aggression in the geographic area which is known as Fort Lee, New Jersey. The town does not take bids from a range of defense providers. They have a single group of people who are paid by funds taken through the threat of force who have been given their aura of legitimacy by the entity called Fort Lee. There is no true accountability to a customer. All market signals are at best distorted if not outright blocked.

They are given immense powers and a monopoly. What do you expect to happen? They are given the ability to do things the public is not. They are allowed to aggress against individuals who have not infringed on the rights of others. They are allowed to get away with actions which others in the community can not. They are held up as idols without the corresponding expectation of more perfect morals. A man like Johannes Mehserle can murder a man and he’s defended both by his department and many in the public. His defense is ultimately paid by taxpayers and even if found guilty he’ll likely be given a less severe penalty. If the roles were reversed and that young man murdered a cop by shooting him in the back police all across the country would be calling for this mans death as would most of the public. There would be a huge, paid by taxpayers, funeral with pomp and circumstance. Does anyone really believe that such treatment would not lead to large heads and a feeling of superiority?

If Mark J. Sokolich wants to correctly respond to the current economic crisis he will work to marketize the many aspects of the Fort Lee government and allow the market decide who and what are most needed.  By definition any government action, any employment they provide, is less efficient than the market’s. Otherwise the money would not have to be taken but would voluntarily be exchanged. I’d like to say too that layoffs in a time of economic difficulty is a good thing. Jobs are not a cause of a sound economic environment but the result of one. They represent efficiently allocated labor resources.

On another topic… I’d really like to know what these “novel income-generating programs” are. Often that means they are increasing random fees and tickets given to people for victimless crimes. Fortunately for the government, unfortunately for the average serf, most people are too busy to deal with such fees and tickets. The government has individuals who’s jobs are to go to court. The rest of us, the productive ones, have real jobs which often don’t allow us to take a whole day or more off to fight the ticket. If even just a small percentage of those who received tickets and such fought them the courts would jam up. While it’s possible the bureaucrats could further grow government in order to deal with the increase it is more likely they will continue to function at current capacity and at some point they’d need to reduce the enforcement of such statutes. At least one can hope.

FLPD, things are tough right now as I’m sure you know. Those of us who ultimately pay for your salaries and for everything that goes along with protection you are supposed to provide are having to tighten their belts and make sacrifices. You need to also. Besides the moral reasons for doing so there are economic reasons. By not downsizing, by keeping salaries and spending artificially high, you are keeping resources from the economy which need to be saved and put toward more productive uses. It is the same as with the bailouts. Taking resources from productive members of the economy and putting them in the hands of the less productive or negatively productive members. I’d suggest reading Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression for a better description of what Hoover and FDR did wrong and how things are repeating themselves and how you are contributing to that.