Thursday, 20 February 2020

"If politicians can be bought for [these] amounts ... it’s the politicians who are wrong not the threshold." #QotD

“Politicians having to justify their work to supporters, members, and donors is healthy. Public funding would give a huge advantage to the established political parties. It professionalises politics and stamps on the grass roots.
    “The vast majority of donations made to political parties are small. That is a good thing. It means politicians and party bosses are accountable to many.”

    "If politicians can be bought for the amounts under the threshold for disclosure, it’s the politicians who are wrong not the threshold."

~ Taxpayers Union (italicised) and Ele Ludemann, from her post 'Honest People Keep Rules'

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

How technology fixed inequality

"Everyone standing around wondering why the work hasn't disappeared is missing the point that it actually has, just not in the way they expected. Modern career women, gloriously, are off working on interesting things because they don't have to stay home to boil the washing then run it through a mangle like their grandmothers did.
    "This also gives away the lie of the supposed inequality of it all.
    "Almost every household, not just the rich, has enjoyed these technological innovations and the increase in leisure they’ve brought. Back then, the rich had servants to do this hard labor, and the poor had to do it themselves. Now all have washing machines. The replacement of that human work with machines has been one of the great reducers of inequality this past century."

~ Tim Worstall on how AOC's latest economic blooper actually stumbles upon a grain of truth 

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

A mugging that created a career

"The mugging caught me emotionally off guard, and I had a lot of flashbacks afterward. It got me interested in the question of why some kids would humiliate me over a small amount of money. And I started to think: Had they been able to sell me something or ask me to invest in a business deal, they could have gotten a lot more money and it would have been a win/win situation for everyone. And that really got me interested in a new career path in education, which turned out great." 
~ Steve Mariotti on the moment that changed his career path and, with it, many young lives...

Monday, 17 February 2020

"It’s really the case that looking out for number one, which we’ve been told as a society is selfish and that selfishness is a bad thing, actually puts you in a healthier frame of mind and makes you a better person to be around." #QotD

Image from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck 
"It’s really the case that looking out for number one, which we’ve been told as a society is selfish and that selfishness is a bad thing, actually puts you in a healthier frame of mind and makes you a better person to be around."
        ~ Sarah Knight on How to Declutter Your Life By Not Giving a Fuck.

Friday, 14 February 2020

"There is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned." #QotD

"There is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value.
    "The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice.
    "A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. He does not treat men as masters or slaves, but as independent equals. He deals with men by means of a free, voluntary, unforced, uncoerced exchange -- an exchange which benefits both parties by their own independent judgment. A trader does not expect to be paid for his defaults, only for his achievements. He does not switch to others the burden of his failures, and he does not mortgage his life into bondage to the failures of others.
    "In spiritual issues—(by 'spiritual' I mean: 'pertaining to man’s consciousness')—the currency or medium of exchange is different, but the principle is the same. Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character. Only a brute or an altruist would claim that the appreciation of another person’s virtues is an act of selflessness, that as far as one’s own selfish interest and pleasure are concerned, it makes no difference whether one deals with a genius or a fool, whether one meets a hero or a thug, whether one marries an ideal woman or a slut. In spiritual issues, a trader is a man who does not seek to be loved for his weaknesses or flaws, only for his virtues, and who does not grant his love to the weaknesses or the flaws of others, only to their virtues."

        ~ Ayn Rand on 'The Trader Principle'

Thursday, 13 February 2020

"You show me a tariff, and I’ll show you a domestic company that lobbied for it." #QotD

"Free trade is naturally what exists when government refrains from bestowing special privileges on domestic producers. A government no more 'imposes' free trade on its citizens by refraining from taxing and subsidising their commerce with foreigners than it imposes freedom of movement on its citizens by refraining from shackling them with leg irons...
    "You show me a tariff, and I’ll show you a domestic company that lobbied for it."

        ~ Don Boudreaux, from his post 'Free Trade Straw Men'

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

"If the Prime Minister's method for evaluating whether giant film subsidies are the best possible use of tax money is to go and ask the recipients of the subsidies whether they make a difference, well, I suppose we should all ratchet down our expectations for Budget 2020." Bonus #QotD

"If the Prime Minister's method for evaluating whether giant film subsidies are the best possible use of tax money is to go and ask the recipients of the subsidies whether they make a difference, well, I suppose we should all ratchet down our expectations for Budget 2020...
    "It makes for fun syllogisms though. If tax is love and 'Avatar' sequels are tax, are we required to love the 'Avatar' sequels? I hope not."

        ~ Eric Crampton: 'Jacinda Says I'm Wrong'

"Politics these days has become so much about the self -- your lifestyle, your identity, your virtue, your (real or imagined) oppression. It’s about me, me, me. No wonder, then, that the notoriously narcissistic Hollywood set finds it all so irresistible." #QotD

"A big part of the reason so many celebs are trying to do politics these days is that politics – particularly left-wing politics – has become so much about the self.
    "It’s about me, me, me. No wonder, then, that the notoriously narcissistic Hollywood set finds it all so irresistible."

    ~ Tom Slater, from his article ''Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscars speech was beyond a joke'

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The package deal of 'hate speech'

Today the lines between violence and speech are increasingly blurred. And as I explain in this excerpt from one of my chapters in the recent book 'Free Speech Under Attack,' the blurring of the lines between speech and violence (and speech and force) are precisely the lines at which both New Censors and old have been attacking free speech for decades...

Free Speech is Under Attack from All Sides

"Do you remember the politicians linking arms at the march, the op-eds and cartoons after the Charlie Hebdo attack, fervently declaring a commitment to freedom of expression and the right to offend? That seems like a long time ago."
        ~ Juliet Moses

In the last two years, arguments about “hate speech” came front and centre into New Zealand life. To “stop the hate,” Labour’s Louisa Wall called for the press to either be muzzled or be made an arm of the state; the Greens’ Golriz Ghahrahman called for "a global effort to shut down hate speech" and demanded a “conversation” about hate speech; and as I write this, Andrew Little is preparing to pass a law to ban something called “hate speech.” The beauty of it, for those writing this law, is that if this thing they call 'hate speech' is banned, and it is they who effectively define what “hate speech” is, then they may effectively ban whatever sort of speech and speakers they themselves dislike. For all the debates and “conversations” about what hate speech is, or might be, if Little’s bill becomes law then hate speech will either be whatever these guardians of loose talk say it is. And they will have it banned.
    It really is a beautiful thing, censorship, when you're the one who intends to hold the whip. 
But it’s no accident that this anti-concept defies easy definition. Free-speech campaigner Suzanne Nosell reckons this notion of “hate speech” is just a muddle, an "incoherent concept that confuses more than it clarifies":

These diverse phenomena cannot all be lumped together and, collectively, either permitted or prohibited. It does not make sense to have a single approach to Donald Trump’s proposals from the presidential campaign podium to discriminate against Muslims, pro-Trump messages written in chalk on university walkways, and the trolling of feminists on social media or anti-immigrant comments by Dutch politicians. [i]

The package deal of 'hate speech' wraps up three distinct things, she says:

1.     direct threats and incitements to violence;
2.     garden-variety insults directed at a particular gender, race or religion; and
3.     speech such as Holocaust denial.

Since truth is an absolute defence to defamation, then we can already see that 

    [the] law has for decades recognised a category of speech – incitement to imminent violence – that is unlawful because of its potential to catalyse crime. But calls and steps to prohibit speech that is merely hateful yet still nonviolent broaden this definition considerably in ways that [the law] has until now consistently rejected. [ii]

In many parts of the world not so fortunate as to have either inherited a tradition of speaking freely (Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia), or to have steadily abandoning that tradition (South Africa, Canada) Nosell observes that in all these otherwise diverse places "the umbrella term 'hate speech' increasingly criminalises expression." Even in Britain, once the home of free speech.
    The BBC podcast Philosopher’s Arms posits the hypothetical case of an arm-waving rant by Racist Brian in a packed pub in which there stand two coloured brothers; one deaf who can’t hear but is hit in the face by the arms, the other who can hear but who remains otherwise unharmed. And they ask the question: which one was harmed the most? The audience struggles to agree on the answer.[iii]
    This notion of “harm” comes from John Stuart Mill, from what is taken to be his famous defence of liberty and freedom, and is widely considered the limit of what speech should be allowed. I argue [later in the book] that Mill’s notion is flawed, and that while speech that harms is much wider than “hate speech” (libel, for instance), this loose notion of “harm” providing some sort of line of demarcation has done much to empower the muzzling. It has proved to be a notion very easily attacked.
    These attacks have not just been from the Left. While the political Right in New Zealand has most recently protested over cancellations of talks by various right-wing figures, it was National’s Judith Collins who introduced the ill-named Harmful Digital Communications Act with these words:

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online – time’s up… Cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, particularly young people. This Bill will protect victims and hold perpetrators to account. [iv]

Bookmark those words and come back to them when you finish this chapter. You will discover they have new resonance for you.
    Meanwhile, the political Right in the United States has been demonstrating that they have zero understanding of what censorship truly means, calling for the government to force private companies to carry their Right-wing messages.
    Misunderstandings of free speech, hate speech, and rights abound. The New Censors are adept at exploiting these misunderstandings. This chapter aims to clear up some of the most egregious.

What does your right to free speech look like?

A right protects your freedom of action in a social context. Protection of a right recognises your legitimate claim, keeping open the “moral space” in which you may pursue your right.
    Note that a right is not a claim to be given something; it is a right to pursue a thing. It is a right to take action in pursuit of that thing.
    Socially, your right to free speech protects your right to pursue speaking freely (but not to be given a microphone) – the value to society is a free and open contest of ideas. The value to you, individually, and fundamentally, is that your right to speak protects your freedom to think.   Fundamentally, violating that right to speak freely violates your ability to think freelyA gun can stop the expression of thought, but it cannot stop your thinking. It does however make formulating and integrating your thoughts much harder.
    Importantly, only physical force may violate a right. Simple speech does not. Violence and speech cannot mix.

The moment someone resorts to violence in response to speech is the moment that the issue is no longer about the merits of any side’s position or the character of the speakers but about whether we are going to have the freedom to take positions—that is, to think for ourselves—at all. If we fail to support those who are trying to speak, we necessarily end up condoning, and therefore supporting, those who are willing to resort to violence. There’s no middle ground in a dispute like this, because there’s no middle ground between speech and force. Free speech cannot exist when some people are willing to resort to force.[v]

[To be continued]

[i] Suzanne Nosell, ‘To fight ‘hate speech,’ stop talking about it,’ Washington Post, June 3, 2016
[ii] Ibid
[iii] Matthew Sweet et al, Philosopher’s Armspodcast: ‘Hate Speech,’ BBC Radio 4, 14 December 2018
[iv] Collins Calls Time on Cyberbullies,’ Press Release, NZ Government, 5 November, 2013, 
[v] Simpson, Steve. Defending Free Speech (p. 32). Kindle Edition.

"Our so-called economic recovery is actually a 'bubblecovery' based on the growth of dangerous new bubbles and another debt binge." #QotD

"I have been warning that we are experiencing another massive bubble for eight years now (starting in June 2011) and I am proud of it...  My belief is that our so-called economic recovery (both U.S. and global) is actually a 'bubblecovery' based on the growth of dangerous new bubbles and another debt binge. These bubbles are ballooning across the globe in numerous assets, industries, and countries such as U.S. equities and bonds, U.S. higher education, U.S. corporate debt, tech startups, shale energy, China and emerging markets, New Zealand, Australian and Canadian property, and more. The actual driver of these bubbles is the extremely aggressive central bank policies since the global financial crisis (i.e., record-low interest rates and quantitative easing).
    "While most of my trolls and critics assume that I’ve been calling to short the market for nearly a decade because of my bubble warnings (and have, therefore, been wrong all along), they couldn’t be further from the truth..."

~ Jesse Colombo, from his post 'Why Warning About A Bubble For A Decade Is Completely Rational'

Friday, 7 February 2020

"On average bushfires burn an amazing 50 million ha every year in Australia"

Mean annual area burned in Australia, Source Giglio et al 2013 (from Jo Nova)
"File this fact away: Satellite datasets show that in an average year 50 million hectares burn around Australia. In a quiet year, it’s only 20 million hectares, but in a busy year, it gets close to 100 million hectares. A lot of this land area is in the far north and western part of the continent, which is hot and often arid. It’s not the same as the cool wet corner of South-East Australia which has some of the tallest trees in the world. The fuel loads in the north are much lower (like the trees). Some parts of the top end burn nearly 100%, year after year.
     "So far this season the fires that gained so much attention around the world have burned around 10 million hectares, which is only a fifth of the usual area burnt... It’s no accident that the awful devastation this year was not in the red hot fire zone on the map above, but in the South-East corner where less than 5% of the area burns each year. The rarely burnt is the risky zone where there is a 20-year build-up of fuel..."
~ Jo Nova from her post 'On average bushfires burn an amazing 50 million ha every year in Australia'

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Getting rights right

The treaty signed at Waitangi offered to recognise in all Maori the rights of British citizens. But what are rights? Why were they considered so important? How are they under attack today -- and how can you help defend them? 

Here's an important new book that you need to know about, by our friends at the Rights Institute:
Liberty's torch is struggling to remain alight today. As a result, tragedy is looming large for what remains of Western civilisation. If Liberty's light is ever to regain its lustre, and Western civilisation to flourish again, then two important questions about her flame need to be answered: what is the fuel? and what is the oxygen?

The answer to the first question is: a wise and moral people.
The answer to the second question is: rights.
But, what are rights, and what do they protect? Why are rights needed? How are they gained and forfeited? Who has them, and why? A new booklet by Terry Verhoeven at the Rights Institute answers all these questions, and more. In as little as one sitting, with Rights: Rediscovering Our Means to Liberty you will learn all of the essentials of rights, and gain an exceptional insight into our means to and importance of liberty.

Never before has a book presented the argument for rights, and presented their roots in reason, so succinctly -- not with so many diagrams! There is even a test at the end of the 77-page read to bed in what you have learned.

The best place to purchase Rights in paperback is from Book Depository, who also offer free shipping. You can also purchase it as an e-book from Amazon. Alternatively,  you can read it free online simply by registering on the Rights Institute website, and logging in! 
Enjoy the intellectual adventure!

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

It's the chieftainship, stupid [updated]

The Government goes to Waitangi this week expecting to be challenged on water, on Ihumatao, and on Whanau Ora. That is to say, they expect tribal leaders to challenge them on the issues of tribal control of water, the tribal control of land, and the direction of government welfare payments and welfare services through Maori tribal hands.

Ever wondered why, in a world that's said to be about individuals and individual achievement, we still seem to have government support of a tribal system?

What happened?

Thousand of years ago Polynesian voyagers set out into the vast blue seas to explore and occupy the South-eastern Pacific. Several eventually discovered and settled in New Zealand. And then for just over five-hundred years, isolated from the rest of the world, they developed their own culture. They became Maori.
So in that great migration "out of Africa," New Zealand was the world's last great land-mass to be settled by human beings. And then almost the last to be brought back into the worldwide division-of-labour.

This should be something to celebrate, no? Yet if the headlines are to be believed, the descendants of these former adventurers see their own great conquest as creeping tribal capture of the government chequebook.

Tribal life

Those early New Zealanders were welcomed into the worldwide division-of-labour by whalers, sealers, timber-traders and assorted wanderers and adventurers who offered Maori things for their labour they's never seen before. And in return for tools, technology and new foods, they sold trees and flax and kumara, and crewed ships, built houses and travelled the world.

The treaty signed at Waitangi by tribal chiefs and a recently-arrived Royal Naval captain promised all these New Zealanders their own Emancipation Proclamation, and held out hope of liberating tribal serfs from tribalism. Instead, 180 years later, here we are barrelling down a path back to tribalism. Something Elizabeth Rata has called neo-tribalism: the intentional production of a neo-tribal elite who are busily "marching through the institutions," in which they play "a decisive and self-interested role in controlling shifts in the interpretation of the treaty of Waitangi." [1]

The result: the empowerment of a neo-tribal elite, in which tribal leaders have the upper hand again. And instead of the hope and optimism of those early adventurers, the predominant emotions now are shame and guilt -- shame as a necessary precursor to this tribal shakedown.

Something clearly went wrong.

One reason is the way that treaty was written: hastily. It was written in just a few days by folk wholly unqualified to write a thing that some erroneously call the country's "founding document." It's not that, and never has been. And nor does it contain enough to merit that description.

But what it does have is the material which the neotribalists have been able to exploit. One of which is the problem of 'chieftainship.'

The problem of chieftainship

The problem is this: that instead of the treaty being written to protect individual Maori, it promised instead to placate tribal chiefs. It's right there in the wording and in all the arguments today about rangatiratanga. It's understandable. After all, it was their signatures the British Colonial Office was after before allowing colonisation here to receive their imprimatur. "Alive to the record of native extinction that had come with settlement in Tasmania and the Caribbean, and was threatened in Australia," the treaty's aim was to "recognise the rights of the Maori as subject in the agreement, with rights and interests to protect." [2] But in placating those chiefs of the 1840s, instead of promoting individualism and recognising real individual rights, the document has helped promote the neotribalism of today.

It's been argued -- and I've been one of those doing the arguing -- that the Treaty of Waitangi liberates individual Maori. It should have done -- it should have treated all Maori as individuals instead of as members of a tribe. But it really does nothing of the sort except by implication.

Instead, as written, it cemented in and buttressed the tribal leadership and communal structures that already existed here -- encouraging the survival of this wreck of a system until it morphing, as it has today, into this mongrelised sub-group of pseudo-aristocracy: of Neotribal Cronyism.

The problem was there from the start. Maori in 1840 paid more attention to oral discussion than to written documents, and there's enough evidence to suggest those wily old chiefs knew what they were talking about;  what they discussed and what was read to them in 1840 was this [3]:
The treaty's preamble states the "concern to protect the chiefs and the subtribes of New Zealand" and the "desire to preserve their chieftainship." Nothing in that to promote or protect individualism. Everything to preserve "chieftainship" and to protect the chiefs in their rule.
  • In Clause 1 the chiefs grant the Queen governorship -- kawanatanga -- over these islands. Non-chiefs, i.e., individual Maori, are neither asked nor recognised. Because they are not part of this agreement. 
  • In Clause 2 it's there again: protecting chiefs in their land, forests and fisheries. Specifically, protecting "the chiefs, the subtribes and all the people of New Zealand in the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship [their tino rangatiratanga]" over all their various treasures -- while prohibiting their sale to anyone but the government. (Note that this does not protect or recognise full ownership or real property rights except by implication: after all, Maori of 1840 had no such concept, except perhaps for small personal possessions; no words for "owner," so difficult for a translator to find one. But they could express ownership for these small things at least -- the preposition na for example (or sometimes no), meaning 'belonging to.' [4] But this was not used. Instead, the agreement promised to protect only the unqualified exercise of chieftainship, something not available to "all the people of New Zealand," even if they do get a mention, but only to those of that status. Only chiefs
  • Clause 3, however, does promise to "protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand," and to "give them" the "same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England." Not recognise rights, which is how it should have been written, but give them, which makes them a political gift -- the gift of those who do exercise sovereignty by this treaty: the governor and the chiefs. So by then, the damage is done -- and those with "a decisive and self-interested role in controlling shifts in the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi" are now able to interpret this not as a promise of individual rights (since earlier clauses and the preamble take precedence), but instead as the chiefs essentially holding the rights of their people in trust, with the governor "being or becoming a 'father' for the Māori people." And "this attitude has been held towards the person of the Crown down to the present day, shaping (according to the self-interested neotribalists who now interpret these things) "the continued expectations and commitments entailed in the Treaty." [2] 

It's evident from documents of the time that the Colonial Office in London had not intended to lock Maori up into that pre-existing tribal structure. Their intention was, as that last clause almost says, to recognise the same rights in every Maori as were enjoyed by all British citizens. But the treaty's wording and practice has essentially limited those rights while elevating chiefly status. It's the chieftainship, stupid. In other words: the problem is failing to properly recognise and to protect individual rights -- and instead to protect and nurture the status of those tribal leaders.

Is it any wonder today's tribal leaders favour the perpetuation of the tribal structure? Any surprise that the feudal structure continues? Or that today's neotribalists wish to continue benefiting from their feudal privileges of the past? With the government as "father" and taxpayer as today's serf ...

Poor drafting, poor treatment

Without a doubt, government and settlers often treated Maori poorly in those early days. But the biggest structural harm was the failure to properly recognise them as individuals instead of as part of a tribe. By treating all Maori as part of a collective, there were few chances offered to change this trajectory. The poor draftsmanship of this treaty is reflected in the poor treatment of Maori in those early days.

As a rights-respecting commentator says of the treatment of native Americans in the United States of America, "it could have been done in a more rational way, a much more rights-respecting way, and in a way that would have led to a lot less violence at the end of the day." (Later quotes are from this same source.) It could have been done here in a way that recognised Maori as individuals, with individual lives, rights and choices. But for the most part, it didn't.

Yes, colonisation here was far less violent here than in Australia, or in the Americas. And thank goodness for that: It was still not entirely peaceful, but in the Americas and Australia it was savage -- particularly if you think of how the British treated the Aboriginals in Tasmania, or the Spaniards treated the natives of South America. And in the case of America itself, "the American government made treaties with the Indians and then reneged on them whenever it was convenient to do so." [5]

Not so much here, at least. The treaty signed here was offered with the best of intentions, but the poorest of drafting. It barely lived up to the intention, and the neotribalists now exploit the drafting.

But the biggest mistake, the biggest ongoing tragedy -- there, as here -- is that the respective governments did not treat either Indians or Maori as individuals possessing rights. They treated them instead just as members of a tribe. Of a collective. Not as individuals with their own individual rights demanding recognition and protection, but as members of a tribe whose chief no longer held the power fo life and death, but still held the power of property, and of making choices for them all.

And therefore [in the United States] all the deals, all the negotiations, were between the U.S. Government and a tribe -- a tribe who was fundamentally a collectivistic unit that was oppressing its individual members. And what the American government in my view should have done was in a sense annex the Indians into America, recognised their innate individual rights (the fact that every Indian like every human being on the planet has individual rights), protected those individual rights under the law, divvied up the property of the tribe among individuals (let American Indians own their own land, not just give it and have the tribes own reservations; the whole idea of reservations was a horrific idea). 
They should have basically integrated Indians into American society: by treating them as individuals, by endorsing individualism among the Indians.
And then, if the Indians then wanted to get together and live in a commune, then so be it.  But the American government's position should have been: "We are dealing with you as individuals. Here is your land; here is John Smith's land; here is somebody else's land... If you want to now unite those lands and do some collective-type stuff then that's your problem. But here's the benchmark: 'We're a country of individuals. That's the principle'." 
And instead, they didn't do that. There was a lot of racism and there was a lot of just treating them as a collective and, as a consequence, slaughtering whole villages and so on. 
Now, that is not to say that there weren't a lot of American Indians (and a lot of indigenous people around the Americas) who were very violent and needed to be dealt with violently. I'm not criticizing violence when it was motivated by self-defense.
    I am however criticizing violence when it was not necessary for the defense of the European immigrants or settlers, and there was basically an attempt just to you know annihilate certain indigenous peoples. 
And again that happened more in Latin America than it did in the United States America. But it happened here as well. So you know it's a tragic part of history and to some extent inevitable because it seems to happen whenever a kind of a civilization encounters barbaric tribes, barbaric peoples, that inevitably lands up in a physical violent struggle.
    I think that particularly in the United States of America it could have been done in a more rational way, a much more rights-respecting way, and in a way that would have led to a lot less violence at the end of the day. [5]

Same here.

Could it have been different? Yes. Yes, of course it could. But shaming today's New Zealanders by the actions of people in the past is not primarily about history -- the shaming of New Zealanders today is intended simply to precede and encourage their ongoing shakedown tomorrow. That's the effect of today's neotribalism: to put taxpayers on the hook for the perpetuation of this chiefly privilege.

In this new postmodern neo-tribal age, history doesn't provide lessons from the past so much as an arsenal full of weapons. The neotribalists, and their enablers, are happy to pick them up and use them.
1. Elizabeth Rata, '‘Marching through the Institutions’: The Neotribal Elite and the Treaty of Waitangi,' Sites (December 2005)
2. James Heartfield, The Aborigines' Protection Society: Humanitarian Imperialism in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, South Africa, and the Congo, 1836-1909 (London, 2011) p. 126
3. Te Tiriti: Translation of the te reo Māori text by Hugh Kawharu
4. Raymond Firth, Economics of the New Zealand Maori (Wellington 1972), pp. 338-366 passim
5. Yaron Brook, 'Q: To what extent was the European treatment of the indigenous peoples of America immoral?' www. Peikoff.Com (3 August 2015)

Peter Winsley has a different view, arguing that "Article Two transfers Magna Carta and English common law property rights to Māori. "
These tino rangitaranga rights over land and other properties (taonga) were given explicitly to individuals and whanau as well as chiefs and tribes...
Treaty of Waitangi settlements have so far focused on iwi or hapu on the assumption that these collectives will act for all their members. What is lost sight of is that individuals are specifically mentioned in Treaty Article Two, yet Treaty settlements have not been made to individuals. In a future post, this issue will be discussed...

Creativity Cannot be Planned

The humble pencil tells many stories. As this guest post by Don Boudreaux reminds us, each of the countless steps in making pencils abundant is the product of human creativity – creativity that cannot be planned or even foreseen and, hence, that always disrupts some plans, and makes possible countless new ones!

The Driving Force of the Market is Creativity

No story in economics is as powerful as is Leonard Read’s 1958 “I, Pencil.” Encountering this story can completely change your understanding of society. Just as Adam Smith did 182 years earlier when contemplating an ordinary woolen coat, Read marveled at the vast amount of human knowledge, effort, and cooperation that are daily harnessed to make available an inexpensive and mundane product.

Ordinary commercial-grade pencils – pencils of the sort that today are so abundant that they are often given away free of charge and found routinely in the back of junk drawers and beneath couch cushions – are the result of the labour of literally hundreds of millions of highly specialised workers spread across the globe. Nearly all of these workers are strangers both to each other and to persons who use pencils.

No One Knows How to Make a Pencil

Almost none of the workers who help produce pencils are aware that among the many results of their efforts will be pencils. More amazingly, the amount of knowledge that must be acted upon to produce each pencil is so vast that it is impossible for any one person or committee of geniuses to possess that knowledge. If you doubt this claim, ponder the amount of knowledge required to produce only the pencil’s wooden casing. This casing is produced from a cedar tree the felling of which requires a saw the manufacturing of which requires steel the production of which requires iron ore the extraction of which requires specialised knowledge of mining and the processing of which requires specialized knowledge of smelting. This list of required bits of specialised knowledge would have to be extended enormously before covering all the productive steps necessary to produce even a pencil’s wooden casing.

All of us use pencils regularly, yet almost none of us has any idea where to find the iron ore that is necessary to fell cedar trees. And even the few of us who do have this particular knowledge are utterly ignorant of how to fashion iron ore into steel and steel into saw blades. Yet somehow the hundreds of millions of specialised workers, each of whom has access to a small portion of the necessary knowledge for making pencils, are led to cooperate with each other in ways that make pencils available in abundance.

It’s worth repeating: the production of each pencil requires the knowledge and effort of literally hundreds of millions of people. And, of course, what’s true for the lowly pencil is true, and even more impressively so, for far more complex goods such as smart phones, light bulbs, automobiles, and antibacterial ointments.

To grasp the reality of the astonishing degree of unplanned – and unplannable – cooperation that makes the likes of pencils plentiful is to appreciate the stupendous productive power of free markets. Our world is one of astounding human cooperation, unplanned and unplannable yet remarkably productive. Keep this reality in mind when you next encounter someone using a microphone or computer or smartphone – or pencil – while proclaiming that “capitalism isn’t working.”

Don’t Ignore Human Creativity

But there’s yet another slice of reality that is revealed by pondering pencils. This other slice was given no prominence by either Leonard Read or Adam Smith, but this other slice is no less remarkable than is the extensive and unplanned web of productive cooperation that each man did successfully highlight.

This other slice of economic reality is the immense amount of human creativity necessary to make possible not only modern marvels such as commercial air travel, music and movie streaming, and science-based health care, but even apparently humdrum items such as pencils.

Gaze at a pencil. Someone deep in the mists of history had the creative idea of using such a handheld tool to sketch marks on a surface. As banal as such a discovery sounds, there was a time in human history when it hadn’t yet been made.

Someone else had the creative idea of mixing graphite with clay to produce the (misnamed) “lead” that is at the core of each modern pencil. A different person creatively figured out the usefulness of encasing the “lead” inside of wood, while yet another individual’s creativity gave us erasers attached to each pencil’s top.

Literally every aspect of a pencil is the result of human creativity. The materials out of which the pencil is made, each of the many processes for fashioning those materials into a pencil, and the financing that makes those processes feasible first had to be thought of by a human mind. Without human creativity there is no paint to cover the pencil and no dyes to color that paint yellow, no rubber used as an eraser and no aluminium for making the ferrule that attaches the eraser to the pencil, no tires and internal-combustion engines and diesel fuel for transporting inputs to pencil factories and pencils to office-supply stores, no saw blades for felling trees, no liability insurance and commercial credit for making the operation of mining and manufacturing firms feasible; there’s no anything. Each and every one of these products and processes exists only because individuals were led to creatively think each one up and to figure out how to apply the idea in reality.

Each pencil, seemingly so simple and obvious, is a monument not only to human cooperation coordinated by the price system, but also to human creativity and innovation.

This creativity and innovation are indispensable to our way of life. Without them, most of us would be dead, and the few of us alive would be mired in poverty unimaginable. As Deirdre McCloskey emphasises, the great triumph of capitalism – what she appropriately calls “innovism” – is the unleashing of human creativity, and the testing of this creativity in competitive markets in which individuals spend their own money as they choose. Only in the past 300 years has human creativity been tapped in a way that has turned it from a slow trickle into a gushing torrent. It’s no coincidence that only in the past 300 years have human living standards skyrocketed.

Creativity Cannot be Planned

But here’s another fact about creativity: by its nature it is unpredictable. It cannot be planned. While this observation, so stated, sounds trite, it is a fact ignored by those who call for the government to superintend commerce.

Because economic growth is overwhelmingly a process of entrepreneurial creativity, economic growth is overwhelmingly a process of unpredictable and unplannable change. Proponents of using protectionism and industrial policy to channel economic growth along some pre-conceived path do not understand the source of economic growth. They do not understand that their schemes for consciously directing growth according to their bureaucratic blueprints and academic fancies will unavoidably, by reducing creativity, reduce economic growth and over the long run harm the very people whom they wish to help.

Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with American Institute for Economic Research and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He is the author of the books 'The Essential Hayek,' 'Globalization, Hypocrites and Half-Wits,' and his articles appear in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, US News & World Report as well as numerous scholarly journals. Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
He writes a blog called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
Pic by Success. This column first appeared at the AIER blog.

Monday, 3 February 2020

"For we do have rather a lot of evidence that the State itself is worse at protecting children from abuse than families." #QotD

Given what Oranga Tamariki is accused of -- abuse of power, racial profiling, armed police uplifting a baby --  Tim Worstall's latest (from the UK) is directly topical:
"GUARDIAN: 'Vulnerable children are being left at risk of sexual abuse from within their family by the failings of state agencies tasked with keeping them safe, according to a damning report into child protection.'
    "For we do have rather a lot of evidence that the State itself – the evidence from all those Northern cities and the grooming gangs – is worse at protecting children from abuse than families.
    "It’s a rather nice example of the larger point about market failures. Sure, they exist, as does evil. But to say that market failures exist is not to conclude the argument for state intervention. It still has to be proven that the state intervention leads to a better outcome."