Thursday, 1 June 2023

The Big Problem With the Traditional 'Political Spectrum' Children Are Taught in Schools

Instead of deploying the flawed and simplistic "left-right" political spectrum -- two ends of a spectrum that depict similars instead of opposites -- Lawrence Reed argues in this guest post that we should judge political and economic systems by whom they empower: the State, or the individual.

The Big Problem With the Traditional 'Political Spectrum' Children Are Taught in Schools

guest post by Lawrence Reed

In classes on Government and Political Science, with few exceptions, students in both high school and university are taught that the so-called “political spectrum” (or “political/economic” spectrum) looks like this: Communism and Socialism reside on the Left, Capitalism and Fascism dwell on the Right. Various mixtures of those things lie somewhere in between:

This is not only false and misleading, it is also idiocy. Toss it into the trash bin and demand a refund from the teacher who presented it as fact, or as any kind of insightful educational tool.

At the very least, a spectrum that looks like that should raise some tough questions. Why should socialists and fascists be depicted as virtual opposites when they share so much in common—from their fundamental, intellectual principles to their methods of implementation? If a political spectrum is supposed to illustrate a range of relationships between the individual and the State, or the very size and scope of the State, then why are systems of Big State/Small Individuals present at both ends of it?

On any other topic, the two ends of a spectrum would depict opposites. Let’s say you wanted to illustrate a range for stupidity. It would look like this:

How much sense would it make for “Extremely Stupid” to appear at both the far Left and the far Right ends of the range?

For the same reason, you would create only confusion with a spectrum that looks like this:

If you wanted to depict a range of options regarding the size of government, a more meaningful range would be this one:

Let us get back to that first sketch above, the spectrum that is most often presented to students as gospel. It is a big reason why so many people think that the communism of Lenin and Stalin was diametrically opposed to the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini (even if people who lived under those systems could not tell much difference).

I must say that in the first place, I am not a fan of one-dimensional spectra as a device for understanding politics, especially when those who construct them insert terms along the range that are not all compatible with what the range is supposed to depict. (Capitalism, for example, is not a political system; it is an economic one. It is entirely possible (though uncommon and ultimately unstable) for a one-party political monopoly to allow a considerable degree of economic freedom. And the spectra shown here are literally one-dimensional, when it would take at least two dimensions, if not three, to truly show the complexity of political positioning.) But my purpose here is not to go that broad, but to deal only with the defective one-dimensional political/economic spectrum that most students learn.

My contention is that if Communism, Socialism, Fascism and Capitalism all appear on the same range line it is terribly misleading and utterly useless, to place the first two on the left and the second two on the right. 

If we were to place opposites at each end, then, the placement that makes the most sense is probably this one:

I can already hear the spluttering from the cheap (communist-leaning seasts!) The perspective represented in that last sketch, just above, immediately arouses dispute because its implications are quite different from what students are typically taught. The inevitable objections include these three:

1. Communism and fascism cannot be close together because communists and fascists fought each other bitterly. Hitler attacked Stalin, for example!

This objection is equivalent to claiming, “Al Capone and Bugs Moran hated and fought each other so they can’t both be considered gangsters.” Or, “Since Argentina and Brazil compete so fiercely in football, both teams cannot be composed of footballers.”

Both communism and fascism demonstrate in actual practice an extremely low regard for the lives and rights of their subject peoples. Why should anyone expect their practitioners to be nice to each other, especially when they are rivals for territory and influence on the world stage?

We should remember that Hitler and Stalin were allies before they were enemies. They secretly agreed to carve up Poland in August 1939, leading directly to World War II. The fact that Hitler turned on Stalin two years later is nothing more than proof of the proverb, “There’s no honour among thieves.” Thieves are still thieves even if they steal from each other.

2. Under communism as Karl Marx defined it, government “withers away.” So it cannot be aligned closely with socialism because socialism involves lots of government.

Marx’s conception of communism is worse than purely hypothetical. It is sheer lunacy. The idea that the absolutist despots of the all-powerful “proletarian dictatorship” would one day simply walk away from power has no precedent to point to and no logic behind it. Even as a prophecy, it strains credulity to the breaking point.

Communism is my Sketch 5 appears where it does because in actual practice, it is just a little more radical than the worst socialism. It is the difference between the murderous, totalitarian Khmer Rouge of Cambodia and, say, the socialism of Castro’s Cuba.

3. Communism and Fascism are radically different because in focus, one is internationalist and the other is nationalist (as in Hitler’s “national socialism”).

Big deal. Again, chocolate and vanilla are two different flavors of ice cream, but they’re both ice cream. Was it any consolation to the French or the Norwegians or the Poles that Hitler was a national socialist instead of an international socialist? Did it make any difference to the Ethiopians that Mussolini was an Italian nationalist instead of a Soviet internationalist?

Endless confusion persists in political analysis because of the false dichotomy the conventional spectrum (Sketch 1) suggests. People are taught to think that fascists Mussolini and Hitler were polar opposites of communists Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. In fact, however, they were all peas in the same collectivist pod. They all claimed to be socialists. They all sought to concentrate power in the State and to glorify the State. They all stomped on individuals who wanted nothing more than to pursue their own ambitions in peaceful commerce. They all denigrated private property, either by outright seizure or regulating it to serve the purposes of the State.

Don’t take my word for it. Consider these remarks of the two principal Fascist kingpins, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Ask yourself, “Are these remarks materially different from what Lenin, Stalin and Mao—or even Marx—believed and said?”

In a February 24, 1920 speech outlining the Nazi 25-Point Program, Hitler proclaimed, “The common good before the individual good!”

In a speech to Italy’s Chamber of Deputies on December 9, 1928, Mussolini declared, “All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State!”

“To put it quite clearly,” said Hitler in a 1931 interview with journalist Richard Breitling, a core program of his Party was “the nationalisation of all public companies, in other words socialisation, or what is known here as socialism…the principle of authority. The good of the community takes priority over that of the individual. But the State should retain control; every owner should feel himself to be an agent of the State; it is his duty not to misuse his possessions to the detriment of the State or the interests of his fellow countrymen. That is the overriding point. The Third Reich will always retain the right to control property owners.”

“This is what we propose now to the Treasury,” announced Mussolini on June 19, 1919. “Either the property owners expropriate themselves, or we summon the masses of war veterans to march against these obstacles and overthrow them.”

Less than two weeks before (on June 6, 1919), the future Il Duce virtually plagiarised The Communist Manifesto when he said, “We want an extraordinary heavy taxation, with a progressive character, on capital, that will represent an authentic partial expropriation of all wealth; seizures of all assets of religious congregations and suppression of all the ecclesiastic Episcopal revenues.”

This line from Hitler’s May Day speech at Templehof Air Field in 1934 could have come straight from Lenin: “The hammer will once more become the symbol of the German worker and the sickle the sign of the German peasant.”

That’s the same socialist fanatic who declared in an October 5, 1937 speech, “There is a difference between the theoretical knowledge of socialism and the practical life of socialism. People are not born socialists but must first be taught how to become them.” (Please note: communists and fascists share a common hostility to private and home schooling.)

Mussolini asserted that “there are plenty of intellectual affinities between us” (socialists of the communist variety and socialists of the fascist flavour). In the same interview in 1921, he said, “Tomorrow, Fascists and Communists, both persecuted by the police, may arrive at an agreement, sinking their differences until the time comes to share the spoils…Like them, we believe in the necessity for a centralized and unitary state, imposing an iron discipline on everyone, but with the difference that they reach this conclusion through the idea of class, we through the idea of the nation.”

Hitler once declared, “National Socialism is the determination to create a new man. There will no longer exist any individual arbitrary will, nor realms in which the individual belongs to himself. The time of happiness as a private matter is over.” In 1932 his fascist soul mate Mussolini echoed the most doctrinaire Bolshevik when he stated, “It was inevitable that I should become a Socialist ultra, a Blanquist, indeed a communist. I carried about a medallion with Marx’s head on it in my pocket. I think I regarded it as a sort of talisman… [Marx] had a profound critical intelligence and was in some sense even a prophet.”

The same Mussolini advised the American businessman and politician Grover Whalen in 1939, “You want to know what fascism is like? It is like your New Deal!” He was referring to the central planning, anti-capitalist mandates and sky-high taxes of Franklin Roosevelt.

On and on it goes. Based on what they said and what they did, it is ludicrous to separate Fascism from the Left and make it out to be just a purified form of classical liberal Capitalism. If you insist on using the conventional spectrum as depicted in Sketch 1, you are deceiving yourself as to the differences between Communism and Fascism. They both belong firmly on the socialist Left. Actual differences amounted to minimalist window-dressing. Even their primary implementers said so.

Instead of deploying flawed and simplistic spectrum charts, let us judge political and economic systems by whom they empower—the State or the individual. That makes things a lot clearer.

* * * * * 

Lawrence Read is the President Emeritus io the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). This article was adapted from an issue of the FEE Daily email newsletter, and then appeared at the FEE blog

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

NIMBYs are economically illiterate

cartoon from Bryan Caplan's forthcoming
housing-economics comic book 'Build Baby Build'

"What ideology urges us to make housing as expensive as possible?! ...
    "My top explanation is sheer economic illiteracy. Much of the public flatly denies that housing deregulation would make housing more affordable. For them, supply-and-demand is the 'ideology' - and popular complaints about the downsides of new construction are 'common sense.' 
    "I have ... evidence that economic illiteracy is the foundation of draconian housing regulation.... When Clayton Nall, Chris Elmendorf, and Stan Oklondzija test[ed] for economic illiteracy in other markets, they detect[ed] it. But the economic illiteracy is especially egregious for housing...
    "[I]t’s good news ... If the problem is economic illiteracy, however, at least we don’t have to change human nature to dramatically change policy. Perhaps we can just repeatedly hit the public over the head with a friendly sledgehammer of economic education.
    "A friendly sledgehammer like… a non-fiction graphic novel on housing regulation."
~ Bryan Caplan, from his post 'NIMBY is economic illiteracy'

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Another highly-paid beneficiary

John Tamihere shares a joke at taxpayers' expense

"The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites." 
~ Thomas Sowell, from his column 'Human Livestock'
"[John Tamihere's] Waipareira Trust has grown significantly and become a key service provider for Whānau Ora.
    "Whānau Ora was created in 2010 under the oversight of Dame Tariana Turia ... In essence, Whānau Ora is described as a Māori approach to delivering social and health services to whānau ... commissioning agencies that would invest [sic] directly in their communities....
    "There are only three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies in the country.... For the North Island, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is actually the trading name of a company called Te Pou Matakana Limited. The Patrons of that entity include Dame Tariana Turia, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and John Tamihere’s father-in-law, Sir Mason Durie. The chief executive is John Tamihere and the chief operating officer is his wife, Awerangi Tamihere....
    "The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, NUMA [John Tamihere's so-called National Urban Māori Authority] and the Waipareira Trust are all located at the same Henderson commercial address and share administrative and back office support....
    "[U]nder the current Labour government, the Waipareira Trust has had a golden run.... In its most recent accounts for the year ended 30 June 2022, the trust had revenue from services [i.e., money doled out from government] of $69,544,616, and had cash or term deposits of $50,379,806.... Over [the last] six year period ... remuneration and benefits for senior management have increased from $2,013,194 to $4,390,413 ... [and] annual management fees [to] $6,000,000...
    "The management fee alone is an eye-watering amount and seems difficult to justify ...
    "[M]any Māori believe that not enough funding from Whānau Ora is making its way to those in need. Their concerns seem to be justified."

~ Thomas Cranmer, from his post 'John Tamihere and the Waipareira Trust'
"If stimulus and bailouts are welfare for bankers-who’ve-failed, and Kiwisaver is welfare for suits-with-nothing-in-them, then surely the new politically-correct Whānau Ora scheme is just welfare for 'welfare providers,' isn’t it? Welfare that is primarily to keep the likes of John Tamihere and Rongo Wetere in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed. Welfare for a Browntable of well-heeled ambulance chasers. Welfare that will end up costing us all more in the long run than the current welfare bill."
'Welfare for Everyone' - NOT PC, April, 2010


"[W]hat Whanau Ora is, as I said when it was announced, is simply welfare for separatist welfare providers.
    "In short, a scam.
    "That much is fairly clear even from the Auditor General’s findings on funding, to whit: 'During the first four years, total spending on Whānau Ora was $137.6 million…. Nearly a third of the total spending was on administration…' 
    "You see? A very well-paying scamif you’re inside that tent clipping the ticket.
    "What Whanau Ora is primarily, is welfare for separatist welfare providers....
    "So what has the scam achieved?
    "It has achieved a great deal indeed … for all those inside the tent.
    "What it achieved for the Maori Party was to buy them the backing of welfare providers – and as you can see I mean 'buy' in the very literal sense. Sure, it’s been hard to keep the backers inside the tent as bigger game seemed to appear elsewhere, but for a while at least it bought support for the new party.
    "And what it achieved for the Key Government was to buy the backing of the Maori Party – 'buy' here being used in the very political sense of buying the Maori Party’s votes, with which it was able to stay in power.
    "So quite a great deal indeed was achieved, if you’re one of the ones in power."

'The Whānau Ora Scam' - NOT PC, May 2015


Monday, 29 May 2023

National promises more housing uncertainty [updated]


DESPITE RISING INTEREST RATES and falling housing demand, New Zealand remains in the grip of its decades-long housing affordability crisis. 

“New Zealand is not short of land," said National's Chris Bishop yesterday, "but restrictive planning rules and a broken funding system have driven up the price of land and housing, creating a social and economic disaster."

He said this while announcing National would backtrack on its own bi-partisan policy to free up restrictive planning rules just a little bit in New Zealand's most unaffordable cities -- a policy that has already been successfully introduced, in association with the Labour govt, and operating for nearly a year. Those new "3-storey" density standards (called MRDS) are a blunt instrument, sure, but they allow city property owners to build taller housing in greater densities in larger numbers than ever before. They have been the only relaxation of restrictive planning rules since ... anyone can remember. And Bishop wants to overturn that.

What a fuckwit.

The MRDS standards were finally introduced only last year -- and more houses and apartments are already being planned and built and lived in under those new standards -- building up instead of out -- buyers seeing large falls in prices for entry-level dwellings, consistent with increased supply enabled by the MDRS and related changes. 

In the way of these things however, with the uncertainty this policy announcement will now make, almost all that planning will now stop while everyone waits to see what happens now -- with all the further implications for housing unaffordability.

What a complete fuckwit.

Christopher Bishop is backed up in this fuckwittery by both his leader, Christopher Luxon, who signalled the backtrack last week ("I think we've got the MRDS wrong," said the fuckwit), and by the leader of the opposition David Seymour, who on this issue abandons his pseudo-liberalism and becomes instead the "Minister for More Rules and Restrictions" -- and by Seymour's thoroughly confused deputy Brooke van Velden who says "The right answer is to leave planning to councils."

What a pack of total fuckwits. NIMBYs to a man and woman.

No news yet on how National's deputy thinks about all this, who's just been thoroughly undermined, i..e., Nicola Willis, who co-sponsored these relaxed density standards with Labour's Megan Woods -- a rare dose of bipartisanship and possibly the only good move on housing any politician has made in at least half a century. So good that all politicians bar those from ACT's illiberal wing could support it.

Oh yes, Bishop couched his announcement of backtracking on relaxing restrictions within cities with a policy to have planners "release" some land on green fields outside them*. Building more out instead of up. Eventually. (And probably easily averted by the planners' art.) But he's hanging his hat on the headline writer's spin that something is being done.**

National has form on this. Before he was elected as Prime Minister, National's John Key announced he would "improve housing affordability by ... changing the building regulatory regime ... and [fix] the Resource Management Act." And voters believed him. Of course, once appointed, that fuckwit did no such thing, watching instead as house prices soared, and planning and building restrictions mounted -- and he was heard to declare that the house price inflation he had helped create would "fix" the leaky homes crisis by inflating it all away.

Who cared what that did for first-home buyers. Certainly not the Prime Minister.

SO WITH HOUSING ONCE again a political football, we await an election to sort out which fuckwits where get to tell us where and how we're allowed to build, planning rules in and around our city are once again completely up in the air -- as they were while we awaited certainty around the MRDS. And without that certainty, it's impossible for developers and builders to make real plans, uncertain as they are as to how council's planners might be allowed to curtail them.

Sure, freeing up any land or planning restrictions anywhere will help housing affordability eventually. But it's not clear that the Christophers' city-edge botch-up is the solution, even if it were to free up anything at all.

Up or out? Why not both.

And why give those planners any bloody power at all?

* * * * 

* Bishop's policy is to require planners "to zone land for 30 years’ worth of housing demand." Those measuring whether this is achieved will be the same planners who wrote the rezoning rules - making it easy for planners to avoid. And he ignores that simply "releasing" land on its own does not necessarily make land cheaper.

The RMA's requirement for planners to undertake a cost-benefit analysis before writing new rules, easily fudged, and Auckland Council's continued fudging over the MRDS requirements demonstrates on their own how easy it is for planners to wriggle around these kind of requirements, and how willing councils will be to back them up.


** And Auckland Councillors are already "confirming" that no new land will be rezoned as a result of this -- the Auckland Unitary Plan, they say, already has all that Bishop asks for.

Saturday, 27 May 2023

"If you need to know the colour of the speaker before you know if you are offended, then the hate is coming from you"

"My view has always been ... that if you need to know the colour (or demographic trait in general) of the speaker before you know if you are offended or not, then the hate is coming from you – not from the speaker. What you hate is not what was said but the person saying it."
~ commenter 'Ferox' on the blog post 'People use the weapons they are given'


Friday, 26 May 2023

"For the first time men could conceive a social order in which the ancient moral aspiration for liberty, equality, and fraternity was consistent with the abolition of poverty and the increase of wealth."


"[T]he development of [classical] liberal ideas ... augmented by the division of labour in widening markets ... changed the condition in which men lived....
    "It was no accident that the century which followed the intensified application of the principle of the division of labour was the great century of human emancipation. In that period chattel slavery and serfdom, the subjection of women, the patriarchal domination of children, caste and legalised class privileges, the exploitation of backward peoples, autocracy in government, the disfranchisement of the masses and their compulsory illiteracy, official intolerance and legalised bigotry, were outlawed in the human conscience, and in a very substantial degree they were abolished in fact.
    "During this same period petty principalities coalesced voluntarily into larger national unions, at peace within their borders; in this period, too, the interdependence of the peoples became so evident a fact that the older empires went through a spectacular transformation into federations of self-governing states, and among all civilised nations peace became the avowed aim, even if it was not always the real aim, of foreign policy.
    "All of this did not happen by some sort of spontaneous enlightenment and upsurge of good will. The characters of men were not suddenly altered. We can be certain of that, now that we live in an epoch of reaction where ... there is so much bad will in all the nations. What did change in the nineteenth century was the condition in which men lived, and the liberal enlightenment reflected it. The new mode of production, since it was based on the profitable exchange of specialised labor, envisaged a social order based on the harmony of interest among widely separated but collaborating men and communities.
    "We have become insensitive and forgetful about the revolutionary change in human life. But to our great-grandfathers it was an intoxicating promise that had suddenly been revealed to mankind, and only by recapturing the original insight of the pioneer [classical] liberals can we fully appreciate the evangelical fervour with which they preached that the freedom of trade was a new dispensation for all mankind.
    "For the first time in human history men had come upon a way of producing wealth in which the good fortune of others multiplied their own. It was a great moment, for example, in the long history of conquest, rapine, and oppression when David Hume could say (1742) at the conclusion of his essay, "Of the Jealousy of Trade":
'I shall therefore venture to acknowledge, that, not only as a man, but as a British subject, I pray for the flourishing commerce of Germany, Spain, Italy, and even France itself. I am at least certain that Great Britain, and all those nations, would flourish more, did their sovereigns and ministers adopt such enlarged and benevolent sympathies toward each other.'
"It had not occurred to many men before that the Golden Rule was economically sound. Thus the enlarged and benevolent sympathies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had a material foundation in the self-interest of men who were growing richer by exchanging the products of specialised labor in wide markets.
    "They [understood] it to be true that an enlightened self-interest promoted the common good. For the first time men could conceive a social order in which the ancient moral aspiration for liberty, equality, and fraternity was consistent with the abolition of poverty and the increase of wealth."

Walter Lippmann, from his 1938 book The Good Society [p. 192-3]


Thursday, 25 May 2023

“The consequences for human welfare involved in questions [of economic growth] are simply staggering" - Vale Robert Lucas

“The consequences for human welfare involved in questions [of economic growth] are simply staggering: Once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.”
~ the most-quoted line from the just-deceased Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Lucas [hat tip Roots of Progress]

"It is commerce which is rapidly rendering war obsolete..."

“Finally, commerce first taught nations to see with good will the wealth and prosperity of one another. Before, the patriot, unless sufficiently advanced in culture to feel the world his country, wished all countries weak, poor, and ill-governed, but his own: he now sees in their wealth and progress a direct source of wealth and progress to his own country. It is commerce which is rapidly rendering war obsolete, by strengthening and multiplying the personal interests which are in natural opposition to it. And it may be said without exaggeration that the great extent and rapid increase of international trade, in being the principal guarantee of the peace of the world, is the great permanent security for the uninterrupted progress of the ideas, the institutions, and the character of the human race.”
~ John Stuart Mill, from his Principles of Political Economy (Book III, Chapter XVII, Section 14).
  • Hat tip Stephen Hicks, who contrasts the pre-war German intellectual Werner Sombart, who believed "the German way of war will cleanse humanity and raise it to a sacred height."
  • And 'shout out' to Richard Fulmer, who contrasts the sentiment with the "thinking" of some contemporary maggots:

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

"Relying on weather-dependent energy sources for an energy transition, ostensibly needed to fix the weather…"

"1. In a world that is apparently getting both warmer and colder because of global warming, how is it that we can increasingly rely on non-dispatchable (i.e., intermittent, usually unavailable), weather-dependent electricity from wind and solar plants to displace, not just supplement, dspatchable (i.e., baseload, almost always available) coal, gas, and nuclear power? In other words, if our weather is becoming less predictable, how is it that a consuming economy like ours can, or should even try, predictably rely on weather-dependent resources?


"2. Climate change is a global issue, so how is it that we can claim [local] climate benefits for unilateral climate policy. For example, [James Shaw claims that his gift of taxpayers' money to the owners of NZ steel will save one percent of NZ's total emission, which constitute just 0.17% of global CO2 emissions'] and that this will somehow impact climate change? But this dose of real science doesn’t stop [politicians like him] from telling us that this will stop the global emissions [that caused our local storms].


"3. Back to electric vehicles. Green-tinted but surely practical Bloomberg admits that more than 85% of Americans can’t afford an electric car, since they are well more than double the price of oil-based cars. [So just ask yourself how many NZers can?]


"4. How on Earth could anybody expect those in Africa and the other horrifically poor nations to 'get off fossil fuels' when the rich countries haven’t come close to doing it."
~ energy researcher Jude Clemente, from his article 'Five Things I Don 't Understand About the 'Energy Transition''


Life Expectancy: Our World in Data
Energy Consumption: Bjorn Lomborg, LinkedIn

"There has never been an energy transition.
    "Nor will there ever be an energy 'transition' before we harness nuclear fusion power… And that’s a good thing.
    "On a per-capita basis, we consume as much 'traditional biomass' for energy as we did when we started burning coal. We have just piled new forms of energy on top of older ones. Now, we have changed the way we consume energy sources. In the 1800’s the biomass came from whale oil and clear-cutting forests. Today’s biomass is less harmful to whales and forests.
    "From 1800 to 1900, per-capita energy consumption, primarily from biomass, remained relatively flat; as did the average life expectancy. From 1900 to 1978, per-capita energy consumption roughly tripled with the rapid growth in fossil fuel production (coal, oil & gas). This was accompanied by a doubling of average life expectancy. While I can’t say that fossil fuels caused the increase in life expectancy, I can unequivocally state that everything that enabled the increase in life expectancy wouldn’t have existed or happened without fossil fuels, particularly petroleum."
~ David Middleton from his reposting of Jude Clemente's article [emphasis in the original]


What's on "the news," Virginia?

"[T]he way news is conveyed to you is rapidly changing, but the fundamental principles of what it should be are timeless. We no longer live in a world where the six o’clock news and the morning paper provide certainty and universal truth, but through the wonders of the digital age and by using our own common sense, we can discern a true picture of the world we live in and make up our own minds of how we react to and exist in it."
~ Sean Plunket, from his post 'How to fix a broken media'

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Taxpayers Union: "Fatuous as a fart"

Cartoon by Nick Kim, from The Free Radical

The so-called Taxpayers Union/Free Speech Union folk should be doing good work. They oppose the theft of taxpayers (they say) and support free speech (they claim). But they repeatedly demonstrate that they ain't got an f'ing clue about the very thing(s) which they are allegedly set up to oppose or support.

Take for example their latest campaign: "[to] highlight the concerns of ratepayers and councils threatened by the Government’s proposed replacement to the Resource Management Act."
New Zealanders are rightly frustrated with the cumbersome Resource Management Act [they say], which restricts how we use our land and has fuelled a serious infrastructure and housing shortage [and so it has], but this proposed replacement will make the situation much worse [and so it will].
Sounds good, right? Because -- hard as it it to believe it -- the government's proposed replacement to the RMA really is even worse than the original! And that ain't easy to do.

So, good on them for their organised opposition.

But -- and here's the problem -- they have absolutely no idea what's wrong with the proposed replacement.

Are they against the replacement because it makes property law even more amorphous and misunderstandable than it is now? Not a bit of it.

Are they opposed because it puts racism right at the centre of environmental and property law? No, no mention of that.

Are they raising their banners against it because if further immiserates property rights -- stripping away from you even more control over your own land, and giving that power to clipboard-wielding planners? No, not at all. 

Instead, it appears they're just outraged that those planners will no longer be employed by your local council, but instead by regional councils. And that's the extent of their stated opposition. See what I mean:
Not content with seizing water assets from local communities [they say], the Government is now proposing to grab planning powers from local councils and transfer them to fifteen unaccountable, undemocratic, so-called Regional Planning Committees. At this rate there won’t be much left for your council to do.
As if that would be a bad thing.

The Taxpayers Union/Free Speech Union folk need a lesson in the things they claim to be about. Because at the moment, their opposition is about as confused and as fatuous as a fart.

"What MMP does is to transfer the power to the Party elites"

"MMP was sold to the electorate on the promise that both votes, the electorate vote for the candidate and the Party vote would be of equal value.
    "That, of course, was never the case. In reality there is only one vote the matters and that is the Party vote....
    "What MMP does is to transfer the power away from the electorates (the people) to the Party elite who effectively control the Party List rankings.
    "To my mind this is highly undemocratic."

~ Graham Reeves from his post 'Calling Time on a Failed Experiment'

Monday, 22 May 2023

"We are at the dawn of a new age..." [updated

"'The project is forecast to have an abatement cost of $16.20 per tonne.'
"Well that's it then. Everyone should stop investing in abatement projects that are massively cost effective. Instead, beg government for a subsidy to do it. Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund [GIDI] will pay for it."
~ Eric Crampton


"Every time I read or hear anything about carbon offsetting or emissions trading I smell tulips.
    "Why? Because it reminds me of the tulip mania in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
    "We can’t see emissions, we can’t smell them and in spite of the exhortations to follow the science, a lot of the business offsetting them appears to be anything but scientific....
    "The smell of tulips gets stronger when a large multinational company which made billions of dollars in profit last year gets money from the government to reduce its emissions ..."
~ Ele Ludemann, from her post 'Does anyone see smell tulips?'

'Conquering' the rubble


Cartoon by Peter B. Brookes

Friday, 19 May 2023

We are seeing the effects of industrialisation...


More climate scaremongering this morning on news channels, suggesting temperatures in the next five years could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius more than they were in pre-industrial levels. 

Let's say they're right. Let's say we are seeing the effects of industrialised climate change. If so, these are some of the impacts since the industrial era ...

Looks disastrous, doesn't it.

[Hat tip Patrick Moore & Mindsmith]

Thursday, 18 May 2023

The govt debt blowout


"Sobering to realise net govt debt was $5.4bn in Jun 2019 & is set to be $95bn by Jun 2025."

The true nature of taxation - some quotable quotes for Budget Day


Another Budget Day, another advance auction of stolen goods. Here, specially for Budget Day, some thoughts and quotes on the nature of taxation:

"To steal from one person is theft. To steal from many is taxation." - Jeff Daiell

"See, when the Government spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of Taxpayers, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs." - Dave Barry

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.” - Jean Baptiste Colbert

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." – Alexis De Tocqueville

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves. - Bertrand de Jouvenel

'We shall tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.' - 'New Deal' luminary Harry Hopkins

"Most of the presidential candidates' economic packages involve 'tax breaks,' which is when the government, amid great fanfare, generously decides not to take quite so much of your income. In other words, these candidates are trying to buy your votes with your own money." - Dave Barry

“Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.” - Terry Pratchett

“For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It's sad to realise that most citizens do not even notice the irony of being bribed with their own money." - Anon.

"[There are dangers in] the disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts." - Winston Churchill

"When Barbary Pirates demand a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'tribute money.' When the Mafia demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'the protection racket.' When the state demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called "sales tax." - Jeff Daiell

"Taxation is far greater an evil than theft. It is a form of slavery. If you cannot choose the disposition of your property, you are a slave. If you must ask permission to work, and/or pay involuntary tribute to anyone from your wages, you are a slave. If you are not allowed to dispose of your life (another way of defining money, since it represents portions of your time and effort, which is what your life is composed of) in the time, manner and amount of your choosing, you are a slave." - Libertarian writer Rick Tompkins

"The man who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave." - Ayn Rand

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle” - Winston Churchill

"Taxation without representation is tyranny." - James Otis

"Taxation WITH representation ain't so hot either." - Gerald Barzan

"Our forefathers made one mistake. What they should have fought for was representation without taxation." - Fletcher Knebel

"When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before." - HL Mencken

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin." - Mark Twain

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it." - Ronald Reagan

"Death and taxes are inevitable; at least death doesn't get worse every year." - Unknown

"When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of free government." - former US President Grover Cleveland

"Rulers do not reduce taxes to be kind. Expediency and greed create high taxation, and normally it takes an impending catastrophe to bring it down." - Charles Adams

"The mounting burden of taxation not only undermines individual incentives to increased work and earnings, but in a score of ways discourages capital accumulation and distorts, unbalances, and shrinks production. Total real wealth and income is made smaller than it would otherwise be. On net balance there is more poverty rather than less." - Henry Hazlitt

"The poor of the world cannot be made rich by redistribution of wealth. Poverty can't be eliminated by punishing people who've escaped poverty, taking their money and giving it as a reward to people who have failed to escape." - PJ O'Rourke

"A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul." -  George Bernard Shaw

"Freedom is the quality of being free from the control of regulators and tax collectors. If I want to be free their control, I must not impose controls on others." - Hans F. Sennholz

"There's only one way to kill capitalism--by taxes, taxes, and more taxes." - Karl Marx

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation." - Vladimir Lenin

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - PJ O'Rourke

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." - Bertrand de Jouvenel

"The power to tax involves the power to destroy." - former US Supreme Court Justice John Marshall

"Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed." - Robert Heinlein

"Taxes are the sinews of the state." - Cicero

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors, and miss." - Robert Heinlein