Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...

The February 1999 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

Niggardly. There. I said it.

Since you're at an on-line magazine I assume you enjoy reading or otherwise you wouldn't be putting up with reading text from a computer monitor. It also means you might have a grasp of the English language.

Some people in Washington, D.C. apparently do not. David Howard, who is white and an aide to the city's mayor, used the word "niggardly" in a staff meeting while referring to a fund that he administered.

According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1980) niggardly means refers to being "grudgingly mean about spending or granting" or "provided in meanly limited supply."

Hardly the stuff to launch protest marches about right?

It would appear that the other members of the mayor's staff, presumably educated people if chosen to serve the masses, were offended because they thought the word was racist. Perhaps an indication of the quality of public education in Washington, D.C.

Howard quickly apologized for the January 15 comment but in today's world of victimology, a world where you can take offense at anything and receive justification for it, it wasn't enough. His phone was flooded with angry phone calls from people who thought he made a racist remark. On January 26, he handed in his resignation.

"If, in fact, Mr. Howard did nothing wrong, the right thing to do is to put him back in the job. ... Mayor Williams should bring him back -- and order dictionaries issued to all staff who need them."-- The Washington Post, January 29, 1999

Mayor Anthony Williams, stand-up guy that he is, accepted the resignation saying he was "committed to representing all of the people of our city and making sure my administration truly reflects the city's diversity."

What? Only idiots allowed?

Since then, the criticism has come from all sides, including from a group of gay activists who supported the openly homosexual Howard.

"The facts have to count," the gay activists said in a letter to the mayor. "If we fail to distinguish between decent people and bigoted people, if we acquiesce in treating the former like the latter, then we sent a poisonous message to the people of this city, not to mention an illiterate message to our schoolchildren."

Even Julian Bond, chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (colored people? Thank god for Howard he didn't said that) and a student of the English language, was outraged and publicly blasted Williams for accepting Howard's resignation.

"Seems to me the mayor has been niggardly in his judgment on this issue," Bond said.

Thank god Bond didn't say Williams was being "niggling" (spending too much time on minor details) on the issue. I'd hate to see what would have happened then.

So who does this award go to? Anyone offended by the words niggardly and niggling, and morons who live in Washington, D.C. I suppose.

"For me, capitalism hasn't come up with all the answers."

That profound statement was uttered by none other than Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in Davos, Switzerland on January 29 during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum.

The topic of discussion?

"Global Capitalism Delivering the Goods?"

Chrétien suggested the forum might better ask if capitalism can do more to improve people's lives, to ensure that the profits of the free market economy are better distributed among the various economic classes.

During the panel discussion, Chrétien expressed concern about the victims of the implosion of the Asian economies and those countries, such as Ukraine, that are struggling to make the transition from a communist state to the free market.

Unless the gains of capitalism are shared more equitably, there might be a backlash against the system among those not benefiting from it, said Chrétien.

And perhaps most terrifying of all, the private sector must be more disciplined or governments will have to act, he said.

I have to applaud him, in one discussion he managed to push three different -- but related -- concepts as his core beliefs: socialism; the use of violence; and increased government control over the economy.

The only thing more terrifying than this egomaniacal central planner is the fact that Canadians think he's doing a good job and only want more of the same. Who is the fool?

The February 1999 Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

Americans -- as well as most Canadians -- don't know that it is illegal for a Canadian farmer to sell their own wheat to whom they please.

I know, it's fact that amazes me as well. A supposedly free society which practices at least a bastardized version of capitalism does not allow a profession to market their own product. As ESR has stated several times, the Canadian government reasoned and the British Privy Council agreed a few decades ago that if Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War could be locked them up in camps and have their property stolen, then it is also legal to steal the property of Canadian farmers.

The government, for the edification of those who do not know, runs a socialist grain pool. All farmers within a designated area -- all of Western Canada really -- must give up their grain so that the government run agency called the Canada Wheat Board can sell the wheat to whom it wishes.

The government argues that a majority of farmers want to be in the Canada Wheat Board and support this socialist way of doing things. Perhaps, but the rights of farmers or anyone else does not exist at the whim of the majority. You can take my rights through force, but you can never vote them out of existence. A majority of farmers may support the CWB -- no one really knows -- but that does not give them the right to force their system on anyone else.

David Bryan agrees with that notion. In 1997, he drove two trailers full of grain across the Canada - U.S. border without a customs permit.

This is illegal, because under the Canadian Wheat Board Act, Western farmers who want to export wheat or barley must sell it to the board, which pays a uniform per-bushel price to all farmers. If a farmer wants to export or market grain himself, as Bryan tried to do, he must buy his own wheat back from the board -- at market prices -- first. In 1997, Bryan refused to do so.

As a result, he was arrested spent five days in jail, was fined $9 000, and given a two-year suspended sentence.

Bryan has appealed that conviction in the belief that in a free society he has the right to deal with whomever he wishes. Either farmers own their means of production or they do not. Either they have the right to private property or they do not. According to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he does not.

Bryan may well lose because of that fact but he deserves our praise for fighting for individual, political and economic rights. The tragedy is that most Canadians don't know and fewer even care.

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