Monday 15 April 2024

"The RMA’s starting position is that you need permission. It is going to be dumped." But ...

"Did you know it costs 50% more to build a house here than it does in Australia? ...
    "We [sic] have successfully regulated our housing market so tightly that only the children of existing homeowners can obtain the financing to purchase property. We [sic] have created a landed gentry. ...
    "There are two reasons for this; land use restrictions and building regulations.
    "Let’s start with land use. The Resource Management Act, or RMA, began life in 1991 as a blueprint for preventing Kiwis doing anything with their land unless it complied with a national environmental plan and had the consent of the local council. ...
     Again. ...
    "Simon Court, the Act MP and Undersecretary with the responsibility for drafting the replacement, has a different outlook. You can do whatever you want with your land, so long as it does not interfere with someone else’s property or rights.
[Not true. See below.* - Ed.]
    "[But] this reform is 18 months away and will be in place for less than a year before the next election. ... National and Act have had six years to draft their RMA replacement. [And they haven't. - Ed.]
    "There are plenty of interested parties who would have contributed to this effort and a bill should have been ready to present to a select committee in the first hundred days. [Yes, it damn well should have been. - Ed.]
    "The longer any RMA replacement has to gain acceptance the more durability it will enjoy upon a return to a Labour-led government, and Labour have their RMA bill already drafted and ready to go; that being the one Court and his mates deleted on Christmas Eve. [Not to mention the not-insignificant regime uncertainty in the market until the replacement Act filters down to council's 'planners.' - Ed.]
~ Damien Grant, from his over-optimistic column 'Housing market so tightly regulated we’ve created landed gentry'
* Court's most-developed explanation of his proposed 'Urban Development Act' begins this way:
"Under ACT’s Urban Development Act, limits for urban development would continue to be based on locally-decided [council] plans."
So rather than a plethora of sackings of the unproductive, Court — a 'planner' himself by profession — proposes instead to keep his colleagues hard at work.
"These plans [his 'reform' plan continues] have democratic mandates [sic] and protect the legitimate expectations of property owners, while allowing councils to plan for infrastructure delivery."
Translation: Our party's two leading MPs represent home-owners in the country's leafiest suburbs, pledge to protect the unreasonable expectations of those suburbs' home-owners about what can be built next door.
"Councils [says Court] will not be permitted to restrict housing density more than the Auckland Mixed Housing Suburban zone."
Auckland's MHS "zone," by the way, essentially mandates for more of the same tightly restricted suburbia. And this confirms that zoning will still be with us, as well as planners. (How this reflects, as Grant says, 'doing what you want on your land as long as it doesn't affect someone else's property right,' Court alone knows. I suggest they both read Bernard Siegan.) 
"These zoning rules [Court says] have already been validated [sic] through extensive litigation in the Environmental Court ..."
One would have expected to see the back of that meddling court damned soon. Sadly, it seems however, we have a Court who refuses to meddle enough in his 'reforms,' and is doing it so damn slowly we will have years of uncertainty in what folk can plan to build on their own land.


"Whenever there is a proposal for a tax cut ... "

"Whenever there is a proposal for a tax cut, media pundits demand to know how you are going to pay for it. But when there are proposals for more spending on social programmes, those same pundits are strangely silent."
~ Thomas Sowell, from his 1999 book, Barbarians Inside the Gates [hat tip Cafe Hayek]


Friday 12 April 2024

" definition, good people don't want to control other people's lives.”

“Some leftists believe that the communist world would work if 'good people' were in control. But they don't realise that, by definition, good people don't want to control other people's lives.”
~ attrib. Ludwig von Mises [hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Thursday 11 April 2024

The Governor who printed $50 billion of inflation ...

"Yesterday the Reserve Bank ... released a statement saying, 'The NZ economy continues to evolve as anticipated by the Monetary Policy Committee.' What a line coming from a Governor who told 'Bloomberg News' in the US in 2021, whilst he was busy printing $50 billion in cash, which is the primary cause of our current high inflation, that "The fear of the 70s, the 80s, stagflation, it is such a different world [now]." How amusing, given that stagnation, recession & inflation is exactly what we are now experiencing. How amusing that the RBNZ says our economy continues to evolve as anticipated when its forecasts could not have been proved more wrong.
    "It gets worse. ..."

"By any measure, the 'School Strike for Climate' was a disaster" [update]

"On Friday, March 15 2019, an estimated 170,000 New Zealand secondary school students took to the nation’s streets. RNZ still ranks that turnout as the 'second-largest' protest in New Zealand history. ... [Last] Friday morning (5 April 2024) RNZ was carrying the School Strike for Climate protest organisers’ predictions of a turnout in excess of 100,000. Protest rallies were scheduled from Whangarei to Invercargill. ...
    "By the end of the day, however, it was clear that something very serious had gone wrong with the plan to unite the Left’s fragmented movements by, in effect, piggy-backing on the huge numbers formerly responsive to the SS4C’s summonses. Rather than a turnout in the range of 100,000: across the whole country, and by the most generous estimate, the organisers of the 'Strike' turned out a derisory 5,000 people.
    "By any measure, the 'Strike' was a disaster ...
    "Certainly, the dismal turnout must have given Green co-leader, Chloe Swarbrick, considerable pause. After all, she has staked a great deal of her political credibility on the proposition that she and her party can mobilise, electorally, the young, the alienated, and the disenfranchised. After Friday, however, transforming the 2026 general election into a people’s crusade would appear to be a much taller order.
    "Contrariwise, the failure of the 'Strike' offers Messers Luxon, Seymour and Peters considerable cause for celebration. Their coalition is described on the SS4C website as: 'the most conservative government in our history' – a claim that would doubtless bring a wry smile to the lips of Bill Massey, Sid Holland, and Rob Muldoon. Still, if Friday’s flop is the best the New Zealand Left can set against the Great Strike of 1913, the 1951 Waterfront Lockout, and the 1981 Springbok Tour protests, then our Coalition Government can breathe a huge sigh of relief."
UPDATE: This chimes with news from the States "that just 3% of 18-to-34-year-old voters named climate change as their top issue, with most citing the economy, inflation or immigration." (Not that the latter is anything about which to be concerned either.)
"Let’s not forget, [notes Jo Nova] all these surveys are done on people who never see a skeptical expert on TV or a real documentary ... They don’t hear that carbon dioxide was higher for most of the last half billion years, or that 'climate change' causes record grain yields, and saves 166,000 lives a year. Most of the 18 to 35 year olds have been fed the climate diatribe from school — but even they don’t believe it. ...
"So the good news that the young can see through this, despite the wall of propaganda.."

Wednesday 10 April 2024

It all started going wrong when they started calling themselves 'journalists' instead of reporters.

It's not like it's my job to fix the failing media's many problems, but here's where I reckon the problems started — and they were always about more than just disruptive technology ...

Here's my more detailed advice, which I first offered way back in 2009 (back when blogging was the latest next-big-thing):

Deborah Hill-Cone suggests in today's Business Herald that "bitter bloggers" who lambast the mainstream media for its manifest failings are duty bound to solve old media's problems for them, i.e., to shed some light on "how the [mainstream] media might turn a buck so we [the royal "we"?] can fund quality journalism." Ironically, her column is not online, so her audience have to rely on bloggers to retype it all for her, but here's her main beef, that 

"all this old versus new media aggro is just a distraction from the fact that neither [bloggers nor] Rupert Murdoch . . . have an answer for the future of journalism." 

Well, it's not like I'm duty bound to solve all the problems for the profession of journalism (there's more than enough problems in my own profession of architecture, thanks very much), but here's a simple enough solution for the old media to adopt -- so simple that even a journalist might understand.  Here it is:: 

            Recognise the division of labour, boys and girls, and just report the news!

We, the bloggers, can get on with commenting on the news, since that's what we do best; and you get on with finding and reporting the news, since that's what you're supposed to do best. In other words: 

  • don't editorialise; 
  • don't pontificate; 
  • don't ask how people feel, ask instead what they saw
  • don't report events as if people are outraged, just report the events themselves;
  • don't report what everyone knows is transparent science fiction; report real science fact instead;
  • don't report what "celebrities" do as if it matters a damn;
  • don't report puff pieces about actors/musicians/writers as if they're not just puff-pieces for their new film/album/book; 
  • don't report what everyone knows is just spin -- report instead what's being spun, and the news that someone is spinning, and who; 
  • don't assume the whole world has the same values as your friends; 
  • don't just rewrite press releases as if they were news; 
  • and don't create the news yourself.
  • In short, just report the news. All of it. Report it as if the truth actually mattered. 

Your role model in this new endeavour should not be Woman's Day, which your front pages and the Six O'Clock News more and more resemble, but the classic private detective whose motto should be hung over your desk in copperplate lettering: "Just the facts, ma'am." 

This week offers the perfect example of why people are switching off the mainstream. With 400,000 Americans taking up pro-freedom signs against their government, the mainstream media has either pretended they don't exist -- preferring instead to focus on the tough issues like the new White House dog -- or tried to suggest that all the protesters are insane. Meanwhile, the issue of the week in New Zealand, according to every news report every time I switch on the local media, is the latest in the Tony Veitch saga -— giving numb-nut so-called journalists the opportunity to interview each other over how well they did (or didn't) handle the story, and Mark Sainsbury and John Campbell the chance to wring their hands over the courage/bravery/pluckiness [delete one] of the two protagonists. 

No wonder no one can take mainstream "journalism" seriously any more. Instead of Philip Marlowe, we have to endure endless re-runs of Barbara Cartland. 


Tax cuts without spending cuts are not tax cuts

“Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only: how much government is spending, because that’s the true tax … If you’re not paying for it in the form of explicit taxes, you’re paying for it indirectly in the form of inflation or in the form of borrowing. The thing you should keep your eye on is what government spends, and the real problem is to hold down government spending as a fraction of our income, and if you do that, you can stop worrying about the debt.”
~ Milton Friedman, from his 'Q+A on Money and Inflation' [hat tip Patrick Phelps]

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Nailing those targets

A target

It's nice to have a target. If you don't aim, you won't hit. 

Or that's the argument coming from the Blue Team about their just-announced targets.

But when their aims are all calibrated towards a date of 2030 — just far enough away not to be politically challenging — can we really take them seriously?

And even if you do aim, doesn't it matter what you aim at?  The Soviets knew all about setting (and meeting) production targets, didn't they. Set a target for a large number of nails, for example, and you'd get many, many very small useless nails. Set the target by weight, by contrast, and you get many fewer much heavier nails. Or one very, very big one.

Manager of a Soviet nail factory being awarded
the Order of Lenin for exceeding his tonnage
There's something that Christopher Luxon could learn there about his own targets: that their very specific focus look to be just as easy to get around.
  • "95 per cent of patients to be admitted, discharged, or transferred from an emergency department within six hours," says the target. How easy would it be to "triage" patients before they officially arrive at ED to reduce the number appearing there.
  • "95 per cent of people wait less than four months for elective treatment," says Luxon's target. Again, easy to reduce the number permitted elective treatment.
  • "15 per cent reduction in the total number of children and young people with serious and persistent offending behaviour," says the naive target. Yet how easy it will be to simply redefine what "serious" and "persistent" look like.
  • "20,000 fewer people who are victims of an assault, robbery, or sexual assault," says the wish list — and you'd damn well hope it were achieved. But aren't we already seeing the word "victim" politically redefined?
  • "50,000 fewer people on Jobseeker Support Benefit," says the hopeful headline. Hard to "create jobs." Easy to simply create a new benefit for which those 50,000 might be "entitled."
I'll leave the remaining four for you to do as an exercise. You already get the point. Despite Luxon's comical business-speak about "chunking down" and "laddering up," even in their relative modesty these are pious hopes, not real targets. (Since he's so focused on business-speak perhaps he could read about Goodhart's Law while he's chunking up, often stated as: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure".) And in their specificity they (like Building Minister Chris Penk's naive hope for quicker Building Consents simply because he's set a new target) could even make their targeted problems worse.

So perhaps it's a good thing that we have to wait until 2030 before any rubber really hits the road.

BREAKING: Pacific islands not disappearing

"An amount of land equivalent to the Isle of Wight has been added to the shorelines of 13,000 islands around the world in just the last 20 years. ... a net increase of 157.21 km2.
    "[T]he finding blows holes in the poster scare run by alarmists suggesting that rising sea levels caused by humans using hydrocarbons will condemn many islands to disappear shortly beneath rising sea levels. ...
    "The scientists observed that despite rising sea levels, many shorelines in Tuvalu and neighbouring Pacific atolls have maintained relative stability, “without significant alteration”. [The 101 islands of clilmate poster-child Tuvalu had grown in land mass by 2.9%, they said.] A comprehensive re-examination of data on 30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls with 709 islands found that none of them had lost any land. Furthermore, the scientists added, there are data that indicate 47 reef islands expanded in size or remained stable over the last 50 years, “despite experiencing a rate of sea-level rise that exceeds the global average” ....
    "Of the 13,000 islands examined, the researchers found that only around 12% had experienced a significant shoreline shift, with almost equal numbers experiencing either landward (loss) or seaward (gain) movement. ...
    "The ... findings are important in helping destroy the claim that many low-lying islands will simply disappear beneath the waves in the near future due to human-induced climate change. They show how shoreline changes are a persistent and ongoing process that is subject to many natural and human influences. Most of the poster islands used for climate scares such as Tuvalu and the Maldives have increased in size of late, and are hardly suitable to whip up fear of a claimed climate ‘emergency’. Sea level rise is not a 'predominant' cause of the changing coasts, the scientists note."

~ Chris Morrison, from his article 'Islands That Climate Alarmists Said Would Soon “Disappear” Due to Rising Sea Found to Have Grown in Size'

Monday 8 April 2024

"What stupendously depressing words, declaring the only way a human can be fulfilled is dependence on politicians."

"Although Ardern tried hard to divide Kiwis along every imaginable line for her own political benefit, an inescapable fact is that a profound cultural factor, way bigger than her, unites us all together. We have our roots in making our way through our own industry. 
    "When people started to migrate to NZ, whether indigenous or not, they had to depend on themselves, friends and family for survival. There was no welfare state back then. Out of this history, an important part of our culture became the 'can-do' attitude — Kiwi ingenuity, the number 8 fencing-wire, practicality —the taking calculated risks that many in the Old World had lost. Cut to modern times however, and this is the current philosophy of the NZ Labour Party, as espoused by its current and former leaders:
Ardern: 'People ... look for light, hope, a fulfilment of their own ambition and they will either find that in political leadership or they will seek out reasons why they have been failed.'

Hipkins: 'Governing is about choices — choosing subsidies ... '
"What stupendously depressing words, declaring the only way a human can be fulfilled - can achieve their dreams & ambitions - is dependence on politicians..."

~ Robert MacCulloch, from his post 'A brighter Future for NZ'ers involves the outright rejection of Labour's Make-the-People-Dependent Doctrine

Friday 5 April 2024

More news from the War on Drugs™

"When President Nixon declared drug addiction Public Enemy Number One in 1971, it was with his 1969 declaration to Congress that the full forces of government must be marshalled “to cope with this growing menace to the general welfare of the United States.” Again, the nation was told, we would reduce crime and poverty, lower the scope and costs of incarceration, and stamp out a danger to the American family.
    "It is a vast understatement to say that these assurances were wrong ...
    "As of 2015, the rate of prisoners as a function of the population has grown from 100 per 100,000 in the period before Nixonian drug policy to over 500 per 100,000. As a result, the United States has become the world’s largest jailer, both in absolute terms and in rate. ...
    "Between 1973 and 2013, over $1 trillion was spent on drug enforcement in the U.S. alone. Yet, in 2016, Americans spent $150 billion on heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana, which doesn’t even factor in other classes of illicit drugs. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of these sunk opportunity costs is that despite a regime of increasing funding for supply-side enforcement, drug prices have continued to decline over the last four decades. This isn’t to say that they exist in cost parity with legal substances; their prices are still higher. What it does say is that current policy does little to abate demand.
    "Moreover, instead of reducing crime, prohibition simply creates more criminals. Everyone involved in the drug market, from supplier to distributor to consumer, is automatically a criminal. Absent the property rights protections and dispute resolution apparatus available via normal legal channels, interested parties must resolve their own conflicts, often leading to violent means. ...
    "Just as it was with alcohol during Prohibition, quality control is an issue with illegal drugs. As we discussed earlier, prohibitory laws create incentives to minimise the costs of production and transport while maximising profit, which in turn trends towards potency as the major concern. Because the product is manufactured by local entrepreneurs, however organised, there are no industry-wide safety standards. Hence, the current issue of heroin laced with fentanyl, for example. This leads to an increase in drug-related overdoses, and other related problems.
    "These are just a few of the more obvious social costs related to the War on Drugs™."

Thursday 4 April 2024

"The politician is ... the pestilence of modern times."

“The men whom the people ought to choose to represent them are too busy to take the jobs. But the politician is waiting for it. He’s the pestilence of modern times. What we should try to do is make politics as local as possible. Keep the politicians near enough to kick them. The villagers who met under the village tree could also hang their politicians to the tree. It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”
~ G.K. Chesterton, from a 1921 interview given to the Cleveland Press

Wednesday 3 April 2024

More than half of all New Zealanders are on the mooch.


We're getting there ...
[cartoon by Nick Kim]

Great news everyone! We're not just over-lawyered here, turns out we're also now over-endowed with moochers.

I just knew you'd be overjoyed to hear that.

A new Treasury "working paper" just released shows that we're getting ever closer to the situation satirised above.

In 2016 more than 40 per cent of the population here were revealed to be on the mooch — 40 per cent of households paying less tax than they receive in cash benefits, 3 per cent paying around a quarter all the income tax that supported them.

And now, in 2024, that Treasury "working paper" tells us that we've now officially passed an important milestone, which is this: More than half of all New Zealanders are on the mooch. 

More than half. Mooching off the other half.

More than half of this country's population is now receiving more in government largesse than they pay in taxes, while an ever-diminishing percentage of the population if forced to pay for them.

What a welfare state to be in!

Nett tax take/contributions of all NZers, measured across deciles.
(Chart from Treasury working paper 'Fiscal incidence in NZ: The effects of taxes and 

Specifically, Treasury's figures (summarised in "deciles" above) show that households bringing in the higher forty per cent of household income are nett taxpayers (those on the right, above), while those bringing in lower amounts (on the left, above) are, as a group, nett tax-takers.

This is actually what inequality looks like — the productive being forced to fund the unproductive, unequally.

Measured this way however, it does obviously undeservedly impugn some honest folk on lower incomes, and many moochers and parasites on higher incomes because they're sucking down government cash.

And at the same time it also fails to measure the various bureaucrats, bloodsuckers and parasites who work directly for government, or indirectly as a consultant or the like to help business-folk avoid being done over by government.

Yet it does show us that we're ever closer to the day arriving that the poor bastard in the cartoon above becomes reality.

NB: David Farrar and MT_Tinman also comment, as do several folk on Eric's original tweet ...

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Overlawyered [updated]


Lawyers are a proxy for regulation. To get a feel for how destructive regulation is, you could maybe look at the number of lawmakers. Compared with the combined average of Denmark, Singapore, Norway, Ireland and Finland, New Zealand has 50% more Ministers, 156% more departments, and 280% more portfolios.* 

Or you could simply measure the exploding number of pages of regulations and statute law over the years and guess at how that strangles enterprise. But that would barely do full justice to its stultifying effect either. 

But just measuring lawmakers or the number of pages of legislation they produce doesn't fully measure the destructiveness of what's on those pages. A far better proxy measure is to look at the number of parasites who live off the law -- i..e, the lawyers who write, enact and feed off it. Way back in 1924 H.L. Mencken observed:

“All the extravagance and incompetence of ... Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we’d be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.”
He was right then. He's even more right now.

We don't have the rule of law any more, but rule by lawyers. When Mencken wrote that in 1924, New Zealand had roughly one lawyer per 1,000 people. We now have nearly three times that number — and we're less free, less safe, and our taxes have increased at least tenfold.

The number of lawyers in the country is a proxy for our level of (over)regulation, of the extent to which we're being strangled by the grey ones. And look at how the blood suckers have grown, especially post-WWII. And they keep growing, with around 3% more of the bastards every year.

It's frightening.

* 'Too complex,' Max Salmon

UPDATE: "The 54th Parliament ... has proportionately more lawyers (17), managers (44) and analysts (22) than are found in ordinary life. Almost 14% of MPs have legal work experience, compared to 0.5% of the public. The construction sector is the least represented in Parliament...." [SOURCE: 'A Parliament of office workers']

Friday 29 March 2024

It's Easter, so ...

Cartoon by Nick Kim

... so to save you searching for them, here are links to a few of my favourite Easter posts over the years here at NOT PC:

"What's the theme of Easter, and of Easter art? In a word, it's sacrifice: specifically human sacrifice. And more specifically, the sacrifice of the good to the appalling.
    "That's the Easter theme we're asked to respond to every year."

    Easter through art 

"Let’s summarise. In Pagan times, Easter was the time in the Northern calendar when the coming of spring was celebrated -- the celebration of new life, of coming fecundity. Hence the eggs and rabbits and celebrations of fertility. Indeed, the very word  'Easter' comes from Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, and means, symbolically, the festival celebrating the rebirth of light after the darkness of winter.
    "But with the coming of Christianity, the celebration was hijacked to become a veneration of torture and sacrifice ..."

    Easter Week, Part 4: Surely There Are Better Stories to Tell? 

"AND MAN MADE GODS in his own image, and that of the animals he saw around him, and he saw these stories were sometimes helpful psychologically in a a pre-philosophical age. But one of these gods was a jealous god. For this god was so angry at the world he sent one-third of himself to die to expiate the sins of those with whom he was angry, for sins that (in his omniscience) he would have always known they would commit.
    "It’s not just history the christian story challenges, is it. It’s logic."

    Easter Week, Part 3: The Holy Art of Sacrifice 

"Christianity didn’t start with Jesus, any more than the Easter story did. Paul, who never even met Jesus but who played the largest part in explaining his life, and his death, had a big hand in both.
    "Jesus’s death was a secular event his followers struggled to explain."

    Easter Week, Part 2: Enter Hercules…

"IT’S EASTER WEEK – a time, since human cultural life began up in the northern hemisphere, when men and women and their families came together to celebrate.
    "To celebrate what?
    "Why, to celebrate spring, of course. ..."

    Hey, hey, it’s Easter Week! 

Thursday 28 March 2024

"Politicians are not the cause of a culture’s trend, only its consequence."

"Politicians are not the cause of a culture’s trend, only its consequence. They get their notions from the cultural atmosphere, particularly from newspapers, magazines, and TV commentaries; they speak as these media teach them to speak. Who teaches the media? And now we come down to the root: of all our institutions, it is the universities that are primarily responsible for this country losing its way—and of all the university departments, it is the departments of philosophy." ~ Ayn Rand, from her 1972 essay 'How to Read (and Not to Write)'

"If you observe that for decades past the universities have been indoctrinating people with the modern philosophies, irrationality with epistemological irrationalism, moral subjectivism, with the whole complex of ideas, all tending to prove only one thing, that we can know nothing, nothing can be specific, definitions do not matter or do not exist, words and concepts are only a matter of public or social convention. When men come out with that intellectual equipment, they are helpless to deal with political abstractions, with abstract ideas." ~ Ayn Rand, from her 1964 interview 'Enemies of Extremism'

"Walk into any college classroom and you will hear your professors teaching your children that man can be certain of nothing, that his consciousness has no validity whatever, that he can learn no facts and no laws of existence, that he’s incapable of knowing an objective reality. What, then, is his standard of knowledge and truth? Whatever others believe, is their answer. There is no knowledge, they teach, there’s only faith . . . . " ~ Ayn Rand, from her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged

"Ladies and gentlemen, higher education today has a remarkable press. We hear over and over about the value of our colleges and universities, their importance to the nation, and our need to contribute financially to their survival and growth. In regard to many professional and scientific schools, this is true. But in regard to the arts, the humanities, the social sciences, the opposite is true. In those areas, with some rare exceptions, our colleges and universities are a national menace, and the better the university ... the worse it is. Today’s college faculties are hostile to every idea on which this country was founded, they are corrupting an entire generation of students." ~ Leonard Peikoff from his 1983 article 'Assault from the Ivory Tower'

[hat tip Tal Tsafany

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Public 'service' cuts


"It sure would be great if news outlets appalled at 7% cuts to Ministry rosters could remind folks that that would still generally be a substantial increase on pre-Covid staffing."
~ Eric Crampton, from his post 'Public service cuts and context'


The 'Success Sequence' for young adults

"The 'Success Sequence' [is] a formula to help young adults succeed ... The formula involves three steps: get at least a high school education, work full time, and marry before having children. Among Millennials who followed this sequence, 97% are not poor when they reach adulthood."
~ W. Bradford Wilcox + Wendy Wang, from their post ' Power of the Success Sequence'

Tuesday 26 March 2024

“Many hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide now depend on the climate crisis.”

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
~ Upton Sinclair
“Many hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide now depend on the climate crisis.” 

• Dr. @RossMcKitrick, 50:18: - “You start building this enormous population whose job is to ‘manage the crisis,’ and also explicitly, to make sure that people are alarmed about the crisis, because this whole industry depends on the existence of the crisis.” 
• Dr. @MatthewWielicki50:51 - “If CO₂ isn’t having the huge negative impacts that we claimed it was having originally, how are we going to stay in business? How do we justify our existence if climate change isn’t this existential threat that we claimed it was over the last four decades or so?” 
• Also, at 51:38 - “The IPCC has a self-preservation instinct to show that climate change is an existential threat, otherwise there is no reason for them to be collecting the money and doing the work in the first place.” 
• Dr. Roy Spencer, 51:06 - “People like me, our careers depend on funding of climate research. This is what I’ve been doing just about my whole career; this is what the other climate researchers are doing with their whole careers. They don’t want this to end.” • Tony Heller (@TonyClimate) - “If NASA said ‘global warming is not a problem,’ their funding disappears. So, they can’t say that. I mean, you got the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. If they said the climate isn’t changing, they’d have no reason to exist.”

Watch the FULL “Climate the Movie” above or here — and let us know what you think! [Hat tip Chris Martz]

Monday 25 March 2024

New Left vs the Masses

"There is one line by [New Left hero Herbert] Marcuse that is quite telling about the essence of the New Left:
"‘If the worker and his boss enjoy the same television programme and visit the same resort places, if the typist is as attractively made up as the daughter of her employer, if the Negro owns a Cadillac, if they all read the same newspaper, then this assimilation indicates not the disappearance of classes, but the extent to which the needs and satisfactions that serve the preservation of the Establishment are shared by the underlying population. (…) The people recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment’. (One-Dimensional Man, pp. 10-11). 
"For Marcuse, a worker who can afford a resort place, a working-class girl having access to amenities that were previously only available to the elites, and a person of colour owning a car, are all problematic. People escaping the drudgery of millennia means they can’t anymore play the convenient role of the victim in the intellectual’s schemes of class warfare. Which is why Marcuse gives up on ordinary people as political agents, and looks instead to the ‘lumpenproletariat’ for his new revolutionary subjects. 
    "The masses and their aspirations are a problem!
    "Notice also the anti-materialism: how dare these proles enjoy amenities! How dare they enjoy that split-level home! They’ve lost their souls, but I, Marcuse, can tell them what’s good for them - know your place proles! 
    "No one saw as clearly this shift of the Left, from promising abundance to problematising working class people having stuff, than Ayn Rand: 
'The old-line Marxists used to claim that a single modern factory could produce enough shoes to provide for the whole population of the world and that nothing but capitalism prevented it. When they discovered the facts of reality involved, they declared that going barefoot is superior to wearing shoes'."

Sunday 24 March 2024

"It's wanting to know that makes us matter."

"It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we're going out the way we came in."
~ Tom Stoppard, from his play Arcadia


Saturday 23 March 2024

"While Grant Robertson was talking himself up the result of his past six years as Finance Minister were clear for all to see."

"While Grant Robertson was talking himself up in Parliament [this week] about his wonderful political career and how proud he was of his achievements, the result of his past six years as Finance Minister were clear for all to see.
    "We've just fallen out of the world's top ten 'happiest' countries and are in recession, practically to the day he gave his farewell speech.
    "Our problems are largely due to Robertson's excessive fiscal expansion, done on borrowed money, during the pandemic, which amazingly was one of the largest in the world in spite of us having the least number of cases during that time of Covid compared to others. Why did Robertson not figure that our 2020 success in keeping the virus out meant that far less government borrowing & spending was required? ...
    "On top of one of the world's largest fiscal expansion, the Reserve Bank went mad & printed more money than virtually any other Central Bank. Those two decisions by Robertson & Orr threw NZ into the recession we are now experiencing today. By my account, we are one of only a tiny handful of nations on the planet in recession. Unbelievable. Robertson & Orr snatched economic defeat from the jaws of a Covid victory."

~ Robert MacCulloch, from his post 'The Day our Worst Finance Minister Ever Leaves Parliament, NZ falls into recession & drops out of the world's top 10 highest well-being countries.'

Friday 22 March 2024

CNN Is Wrong. "Deflation" Is a Good Thing.


This guest post by Soham Patil is for everyone who still thinks that falling prices are a bad thing, and that rising prices are, somehow, good...

CNN Is Wrong. "Deflation" Is a Good Thing.

by Soham Patil

A recent video by CNN states that lower prices are bad for the economy, and that consumers must get used to the newer, higher prices. The video goes so far as to say, “We’re never going to pay 2019 prices again.” The video claims that deflation is responsible for a long list of problems including layoffs, high unemployment, and falling incomes. Americans should simply get used to paying more and more each year, they say, and be happy about it. Except, so-called "deflation" -- falling prices, caused by rising productivity rather than by monetary collapse — is actually good for consumers despite the contentions of inflation-supporting economists.

The conclusion that inflation is a good thing is reached by the mishandling of economic terms. While Austrian economics accepts that "inflation" when used accurately is the expansion of the money supply, mainstream economics contends that inflation is simply an increase in the general price level in an economy however it is caused. This skewed definition allows one to erroneously conclude that inflation causes prosperity by raising profits and incomes through higher consumer prices. The problem with this is that “price inflation” (rising prices) is also often caused by real inflation: i..e, the increase of the money supply. An increase in the money supply comes from the creation of additional units of money. The wealth of savers is diluted by the expansion of the money supply, which leads to the hardships many Americans face.

Further, while the video contends that the pandemic may have caused rising prices, it cannot explain the continual growth of prices even after the effects of the pandemic have subsided. The pandemic is not responsible for the continual trend of increasing prices; the growth of the money supply is.

Figure 1: The M2 in the United States, 1959–2024

While the money supply of US dollars has increased steadily over the past few decades, a significant jump can be seen after 2019 when the Federal Reserve’s expansionary monetary policies caused a great rise in the money supply. This growth, uncompensated by additional production due to the pandemic, caused the price inflation that many now blame solely on the pandemic. The truth is that if the pandemic were the cause of prices rising a significant amount, the absence of the pandemic should account for a proportionally drastic deflationary period afterward. This never occurred, and thus the money supply paints a more honest picture of inflation than any index of a collection of prices ever could.

Rising prices are obviously troublesome for both consumers and producers (everyone faces rising costs). By contrast, deflation (falling prices) is often a good thing. "Deflation" in simple terms simply means that the same unit of money is worth more today than it was yesterday. Consumers thus can buy more today than they could yesterday. Instead of actively being impoverished during conditions of rising prices, during times of gently falling prices consumers would instead be made richer. There are two contrasting ways that we might see falling prices: when productivity increases faster than the money supply (a very good thing), or when the money supply collapses after a failed inflationary boom (almost always a bad thing). Unfortunately, both good and bad are tarred with the same semantic brush.

The reason many economists are quick to champion inflationary booms as somehow creating prosperity is because central banks have previously used expansionary monetary policies to temporarily boost the economy by increasing aggregate demand. Several of these policies, often specifically lowering interest rates, cause a boom-bust cycle. When the money supply is expanded and cheap credit is abundant, firms are able to take on ambitious projects that they may not have been able to previously. Malinvestment results from the unsustainable credit expansion created by extremely low interest rates. There is greater demand for the factors of production, and an increase is seen in conventional metrics of economic growth such as gross domestic product.

During the process of malinvestment, an increase in employment occurs due to the firms having access to cheap and easy credit, allowing for greater business spending. However, when firms lose access to cheap and easy credit due to the central banks having to prioritise cutting inflation, jobs are lost. These job losses are not the fault of the deflation but rather of the malinvestment during the false economic booms. Without malinvestment and inflation, resources would have been invested in more-profitable endeavours, making better use of these resources.

Artificially cheap credit causes a misallocation of resources by skewing price information. Eventually, a bust must follow the boom. In this period, deflation often occurs due to market actors coming to more-realistic valuations of the factors of production. After these realistic valuations come about, consumers are able to pay less for their goods and services . . . at least until the central bank causes the next boom-bust cycle.

In conclusion, it would be wrong to pinpoint deflation as a potential issue for the economy. To do so would be to conflate the cause and effect of how money supply affects an economy. Contrary to CNN’s video, the Federal Reserve throughout its history has not helped the cause of consumers, evidenced by the exponential growth of prices since its foundation.

* * * * 

Soham Patil is a high school senior at Symbiosis International School. He is passionate about Austrian Economics and Philosophy.
His post first appeared at the Mises Wire.

Thursday 21 March 2024

"Hamas is perhaps the first regime in recorded history to fight a war designed to maximise casualties among their own population."

"Hamas is perhaps the first regime in recorded history to fight a war designed to maximise casualties among their own population. And that only works for them if there is a host of outsiders, 'progressives,' who will agonise over and blame Israel for that suffering. ...
    "ISIS and Hamas learned strategy from the same playbooks. ... Hamas ... develop[ed] a jihadist strategy based on ... theological justification for ... 'attention-grabbing' atrocities to attract recruits and sow fear in the enemy's hearts.' ...
    "Westerners clearly misperceive Hamas when they imagine that their actions on October 7 were spontaneous and opportunistic; rather, it appears that the strategy of atrocity was theoretically informed, well designed, and then executed to elicit an overwhelming Israeli response and to put the Gazans at peril."

~ Michael Hochberg & Leonard Hochberg, from their post 'The Strategy of Atrocity in the Gaza War'