Monday, 2 May 2005

Treaty Principles

Treaty Principles

Nick Kim cartoon, courtesy of The Free Radical magazine.

Rangatiratanga - at whose expense?

Tariana Turia’s Maori Party wants to end Maori dependence on welfare, she says in this week’s Listener. Great. So do I.

“We’re saying these are the groups of people [whanau, extended whanau, hapu, iwi] that have to start taking back responsibility and obligation. Don’t rely on the state because the state makes mistakes.” Marvellous stuff!

The party has been careful to promise nothing, Turia tells the Listener. “Instead it is telling people they have to stop allowing the state to take over their lives.” Just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it.

And it does: “Labour has always believed the state will provide,” continues Turia. “Labour has kept our people trapped in dependence. This so-called welfare state has not done us any favours. We didn’t want welfare. We wanted independence.”

Wow! A libertarian reading this should probably be standing and applauding right now – the rhetoric almost echoes that of great libertarians like Isabel Paterson who warned half-a-century-ago in her God of the Machine that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

If only Tariana truly understood that. If only that was what she was really saying.

Sadly, she’s not. Her idea of ‘independence’ is one that is funded by taxpayers. She still wants Maori to suck off the state tit, she just thinks the manner of the suckling needs to change: "[W]e believe we have a right to rangatiratanga, as guaranteed under Article Two.” What exactly does she mean by that? “It’s our firm belief that money being spent on Maori needs to be unbundled. It is being spent on them, on behalf of them, but not effectively. It’s a waste of public money… We’re just tired of it. We also think there is a more effective way of spending that money.”

Well, she’s partly right. It is a waste. As Charles Murray pointed out in 1984, from the late sixties to the early eighties the so-called War on Poverty in the US spent almost the equivalent of the country’s entire Gross National Product on ‘relieving poverty’ and it didn’t. “That’s $3,800,000,000,000 – enough to give every poor person in America $117,000 [in 1984 dollars] to start his own war on poverty.” It didn’t. A similar calculation here would I’m sure show a similar result. Said PJ O’Rourke of the lesson learnt: “You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.”

And you can’t pretend it’s not welfare just by calling it rangatiratanga. Whatever 'unbundling' might mean it's clear she's not calling for welfare spending on Maori to end.

So the Maori Party is in favour of race-based funding, then? “For sure. Unabashed, upfront,” says her co-leader Pita Sharples. So it's clear what the Maori Party wants is independence and ‘rangatiratanga’, and they want someone else to pay for it. So much for independence. Rongo Wetere has recently given a master-class in what this kind of independence means. So what's new?

And why do the views of Turia and Sharples even matter? At just 2% or so in general polling they’re not even getting traction in the general electorate, despite all their publicity. Naturally however, it’s not the general electorate they’re targeting. A recent and much discussed Marae-Digipoll of just over 100 voters in each of the seven Maori seats gave them a real sniff of success in five of them. These are seats of course that are firmly based on an apartheid gerrymander – a by-product of colonial paternalism that a true claimant of rangatiratanga would firmly reject.

But not this lot. Because when it comes to standing on their own two feet, they really want someone else to do it for them.

God defend NZ from politicians' false promises

As Rodney Hide points out, Labour's promise to spend $3billion extra on defence over ten years is just empty nonsense. It's apparent they do see such a promise as being something the electorate will like - which is a good thing - but they figure the electorate and the press gallery can't count, which is bad - and sadly true.

The truth is that the Air Force will still need to run a cake stall just to keep its Orions in the air, and shouldn't even think about having enough to get its strike force back.

Basically, Labour's promises are the typically empty blatherings of politicians lapped up by headline-writing journalists short of a critical faculty. And the country still only has an National Anthem to defend us.

Personally, I believe that this country is worth defending, and that doing so is a legitimate task of government. Oddly enough, so do the Libertarianz, and they're quite specific as to what is needed - more specific even than is our present Government. Other opposition parties do at least realise something must be done: Check out what they're promising - National, ACT, and Winston First. Note that conscription has thankfully disappeared from Winston's policy proposal - expect it to reappear however if his poll rise reverses.

Polls raise balance of power problems again

This morning's Herald poll differs a little from the weekend's Sunday Star-Times-BRC poll, but both show Winston First clearly above the 5% threshold. I'm not a Winston fan, but this is surely due reward for being a proper opposition party leader - the only one for instance who's been supporting the Berrymans in parliament instead of making irrelevant hay over a silly interview. I commented on the lack of real opposition here a few weeks ago - looks like more than a few voters feel the same way.

Winston's not talking coalitions this election, whatever the polls say. At least, not yet. Asked if he believed his party could again hold the balance of power, he said: "We don’t use that phrase. We’ve moved on from there." And well he might, he's been burned before - and so have we. And so have the major parties; both are likely to look somewhat askance at doing a deal with parliament's devil.

And in any case, every coalition party in the MMP era has either been burnt by being too close to power (think Alliance), or is simply irrelevant (think Progressive). Which raises the question: How exactly should a minor party act when confronted by holding the balance of power? If they're principled and in favour of more freedom and less government, then they have no problem: they can simply say "We will support every measure that advances freedom without introducing any new coercion." And then they would do so. Such support would be reliable (as long as freedom is advanced) and consistent. Such a policy is that followed by the Costa Rican libertarian party Movimiento Libertario, who hold 5 of Costa Rica's 57 Congressional seats, and it's worked fine for them.

I explain here how the studious application of this principle would suggest that killing the entire front bench of Government in their beds would be unprincipled; and here (scroll down to 'We'll get our fair share of abuse') how this principle would rule out support for a flat tax, for educational vouchers, and for state welfare being a 'hand-up and not a hand-out.'

Sunday, 1 May 2005

Saturn and two moons, from the Cassini spacecraft

Saturn and two moons, from the Cassini spacecraft

Space: still the final frontier

I've just got in from a fascinating lecture by Bob Mitchell of NASA. Bob Mitchell is the "Programme Manager for the highly successful Cassini Space Project, whose spacecraft arrived at Saturn near the end of last year, and is still there, sending back a multitude of beautiful and interesting images of Saturn, its rings and moons." Those images are highly detailed, and of subjects for which we previously had no more than very blurry images if at all.

The knowledge gained is immense; in the case of Titan it now seems it is knowledge of an Earthlike planet which has been 'deep-frozen' for several billion years - studying Titan is like studying Earth before life developed. And the engineering prowess involved in putting such a successful mission together is simply mind-blowing - just think for example of the mathematics needed to calculate the trajectory of a 7m by 11m object in order for it to orbit the sun twice, meeting with Venus each time, and then have it 'slingshot' off Venus out to Saturn - meeting Jupiter on the way for another 'slingshot' off its gravity - and then knowing just precisely how much 'burn' is required to brake that object so that it stays in Saturn's orbit. An account of this process is here. Such a calculation, or series of calculations, is but meat and drink to minds such as those of Mr Mitchell and his team.

The website for the mission where mission info, raw data and unprocessed pictures can be seen is here. Processed pictures from all NASA's missions, including many composite pictures, are here. The mission has upwards of three-and-a-half years still to run, so images and data are still flooding in.

Mission costs are expected to run to US$3.3billion, something a libertarian would be expect to take an interest in. Here's two gentlemen who have, and two ladies:
Robert Garmong discusses free-market space exploration here; Ronald Pisaturo discusses here how property rights in space might transform space exploration; Anita Campbell talks here about the entrepreneurisation of space; and Ayn Rand pays tribute to the Apollo 11 mission here.

DPF's April NZ blog stats

Woh, looks like I need a life. See here for details.

Vietnam, thirty years on

Thirty years ago Saigon fell to advancing communist Vietcong troops, and the Vietnam War was over. America, and the South Vietnamese, had lost.

Unlike the situation in Lebanon and Iraq today, the South Vietnamese were neither free to succeed nor to make their own mistakes - the mistakes were forced upon them by their own regime. The 'liberation' of Vietnam was to leave a trail of corpses and the stultification of life for those remaining alive. As a piece in a recent LA Times explains,
The first postwar decade was marked by a continuation of the wartime subsidy system, the regimentation of daily living and the same hard-line ideology that had reigned during the war. In the South, people were imprisoned, property was seized, intellectuals were purged. Careers — and lives — were ended. This period was also marked by military conflict on the western border with Cambodia and on the northern border with China. Our newly achieved national independence turned into international isolation and transformed our recently unified country into a territory riddled with poverty, backwardness and repression.
That situation is only now beginning to lift, explains the Vietnamese author:
Thirty years after the war, all of our foundational cultural values have lost their validity, and the noblest ideas of communist ideology have become a joke. No space has emerged for basic Western democratic values or for the positive dimensions of modern globalization. Instead, we face corruption, violation of the rule of law, perversion of morality and dignity, the collapse of our medical and educational systems, dizzyingly rapid increases in social inequality, the time bomb of ethnic and religious conflict, a destroyed and polluted environment, the impoverishment of spiritual life, a crisis of belief and of hope. Vietnam's totalitarian system long ago showed that it does not have the authority to solve these problems.
Thirty years of catastrophe are the price of Ho Chi Minh's victory. Are those clouds now beginning to lift?

Free to make their own mistakes

"Every country has the right to liberate a slave pen," Ayn Rand argued. A right, but not a duty. Naturally, there is no guarantee of success when a slave pen is liberated, and the act of liberating one slave pen may in fact encourage by example the removal of similar shackles elsewhere.

Such is the case with the liberation of Iraq. There is no guarantee of success in the difficult task of building a stable, peaceful democracy in Iraq, nor is there in its newly liberated near-neighbour Lebanon. But there is much cause for hope.

The citizens of both Iraq and Lebanon are now free to succeeed in this endeavour or to fail. As this article on Beirut's immediate future says of the Lebanese, they are now free make their own mistakes.

Saturday, 30 April 2005

Holiday House, by Organon Architecture

Holiday House, by Organon Architecture

Italian Idol

A man sits on the battlements of a prison, deep in thought. In the distance the sound of shepherd boys can be heard, their clear voices filling the starlit sky. Dawn is imminent. In less than an hour the man will be shot.

What thoughts go through a man’s mind at such a time?

If the man is Mario Cavaradossi and the opera is Tosca, the memories he is filled with and overwhelmed by are those of lost love in fragrant gardens, of soft kisses and tender caresses … of the despair he feels at his imminent demise, yet the poignancy that never - at this moment of death - has he loved life so much!

Such is the material of Puccini’s much-loved aria ‘E Lucevan le Stelle’ (‘And the Stars were Shining’); such a song demands a singer who not only knows his stuff, but one who can deliver to the listener in one performance both that despair and the love of life. Last Sunday night a judging panel of two convened in my lounge to explore every singer in our collection to judge what they made of such a moment. I give you here the fruits of our survey – the finalists of ‘Italian Idol.’

The contenders were many: ‘E Lucevan’ is amongst the most recorded of all Italian arias, every top tenor worth his salt has a version in his repertoire, and most were entered in our contest. Pavarotti was tried: the voice was gorgeous, but as my fellow judge suggested, “Why does he not do more with it?” Perhaps, I thought, he was saving it for something – maybe for a long career?

Next we tried Guiseppe di Stefano in two different recordings, one with Maria Callas and the orchestra of La Scala and the other with Leontyne Price conducted by the brilliance of Herbert von Karajan. A truly luminous voice and beautifully tender, the first of these quickly made itself a contender and became the standard by which other contenders were judged. The second, sorry to say, was too tired to score well - the singer had clearly suffered a long night himself, but the conductor was first rate! This version immediately became the standard by which other conductors were judged; Karajan’s orchestra had captured in music the drama and poignancy of the moment – there would be no other to touch him.

Benjamino Gigli was played. Lyrical and gorgeous he was, but the judges declared it too delicate for our stalwart prisoner. Mario del Monaco had strength, but was a little stentorian in passages. Josef Schmidt was pleasant but too light. Placido Domingo in two slightly nasal performances touched heights of beauty that had one judge enthused, but for this judge neither performance could beat de Stefano’s at La Scala for lyrical power.

On came Jussi Bjoerling to sing Mario’s last. A wonderful natural voice and achingly expressive, he very nearly had the judges in tears.

Wiping our faces, we examined which contestants were left to perform? There were two: Jose Carreras singing Tosca with Monserrat Caballe under Colin Davis, and Mario Lanza singing the aria in 1950 as part of a session for his Great Caruso album.

Jose’s singing was tremendous; he made one feel as if you were on those battlements with him. Or he would have, but for one thing: an appalling production decision has left echo all over his voice – as if we are hearing him from several miles away. Galt knows why such decisions are made, but it removed Carreras from the contest.

So with di Stefano still holding the lead, Mario Lanza entered the field. Wow! From the first few notes all other tenor contestants were in the shade. Here was power, beauty, lyricism and a wonderfully natural voice that seemed to just surge forth – what stupendous control just to restrain such an instrument. And what emotion! Mario Cavaradossi is a man still burning with life, but singing here of his last hour before dying; Mario Lanza alone of all the world’s great tenors makes us feel as if – truly – we are hearing a man sing each note as if it was his last one on earth.

This is an absolutely breathtaking performance. The tragedy is that we can never hear the man in a complete opera; all we have to savour are gems such as these. I bow to each of the performers, but to Lanza goes the prize.

Bush was right - but I wasn't

You know, I'm flabbergasted. Truly bowled over. Over the last day or two I've posted a number of pieces, but based on recent experience there were two in particular which I'd assumed would create some controversy and some debate: one saying GE is great, and one saying George Bush was right.

The post on GE and its subsequent follow-ups here and here have generated twenty-two comments to date - for the most part all reasonably argued, even if in my estimation often greatly misguided; the post arguing that George Bush was right to invade Irag has generated just one comment - and that from a nutbar. Even publishing the latter post in my weekly column on Scoop has failed to generate any outrage.

That's NO outrage. None. For a post on Scoop. Arguing that George Bush was right to invade Iraq. None so far, at least. :^)

What that suggests to me - so far at least - is that many people have now accepted however reluctantly that Bush was right to invade Iraq, and the "long-frozen political order ... cracking all over the Middle East" is due to GWB's own foreign policy; and also that despite my own observations on the matter, feelings on the GE issue still run high, and are highest among those I would least expect.

So as I said, I'm flabbergasted. Fortunately my brain-cells were sufficiently regenerated last night that I'm able to think about this phenomenon properly this morning. You'll be the first to know when I've got an answer.

Friday, 29 April 2005

'Slipper', by Michael Newberry

'Slipper', by Michael Newberry

Success of Waterways well-deserved

Hopper Brothers' Waterways projects have been wildly successful - and for very good reason - with only politicians and busybodies finding anything about them to object to. Bob Dey explains here today many of the very good reasons why they've been so successful, and what's up with the Hoppers' latest project at Marsden Cove.

Reading Bob's excellent summary reminds me again of those busybodies who object to the transformation of the landscape for human pleasure and wellbeing. One of the things about which I am most proud in my campaigning in the Coromandel electorate last election was helping to squash Sandra Lee's appalling decision to stymie the superb Whitianga Waterways project.

I explain here who was really to blame for trying to squelch the project. Fortunately, public pressure got it back on the rails, and naturally ever since I've been enjoying the subsequent success of the project, and of the Waterways concept itself.

I hope they make a pile of money at Marsden Cove. They've earned it.

Alcohol: The real health tonic

Friday afternoon is a good time to reflect that the best tonic for the brain is alcohol, and as we all know there's no better time to start taking that tonic than a Friday afternoon.

Let me paint a picture for you to tell the full story. Imagine a herd of buffalo stampeding across the prairy - or, if you're a 'Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy' fan you can imagine a herd of Perfectly Normal Beasts intead. That herd will only run as fast as the slowest buffalo in the herd; in order to speed up the herd, those slow buffalo need to be killed off.

Such is the case with our brain cells. The neural wiring of our brains is so complex that most of the brain is used for most of our thinking, so as with the herd of stampeding beasts, the brain only functions as fast as the slowest of our brain cells. The best thing to improve our thinking, therefore, is to ruthlessly cull those slow brain cells - which is exactly what alcohol does for us!

Now, I first heard that story in a bar some years, and as we know stories confided in such a place are invariably found to be true - right? To make sure, I've subjected the theory to a great deal of empirical research since, research that has proved the theory's soundness - to me at least. But don't just take my word for it: today on Scoop comes news of research from impeccable sources backing it up.

I look forward to the new Government health campaign: Sharpen up: Drink more!

NEXT WEEK: How beer built civilisation.
Tags: Economics Education

Stop taxing families

It's truly a hold-the-phone day when a National Party press release is found to be talking sense, but that day is now here.

Judith Collins points out today that the Labour Government's Working for Families package is an election bribe paid being paid for with voters' own money, and furthermore it's a bribe that is damaging to both families and the economy. She's a little less succinct than that of course, but that's her essential point and one with which I can only agree.

Stop stealing from people and give then their money back, she (almost) says - unusual stuff from a National Party who was once pretty good at election bribes themselves: "Keeping families functioning and healthy is a tough business," she correctly concludes. "It is certainly too tough for a bunch of politically correct 'experts.' I say, give the money back to the families that are functioning, looking after their own children, paying their way and raising responsible adults."

Quite right. The only thing I might add to this is that all the money stolen from them by government should be given back, not just the billions wasted on the Families Commission and on turning the middle classes into welfare beneficiaries.

In this respect I invite Ms Collins and her readers to reflect that when the total tax-take is getting on for 47% of the country's GDP, then one parent from each working family is going out to work just to pay that family's tax bill.

If Ms Collins or Mr Maharey really would like to build stronger families, then perhaps they might consider advocating stealing from them a lot less. If taxes were just a fraction of what they are now, then both parents going out to work would be a choice for families to make for themselves, and not a necessity.
Tags: Economics Education

Q&A: Why are Libertarians for genetically modified food?

In response to yesterday's Celebration of Ten Years of Commercial GE here at Not PC, Lucyna asks on the Sir Humphrey blog: "Why are Libertarians for genetically modified food?" A fair question.

It's true that many libertarians (small 'l') are in favour of capitalism, technology and genetically modified food, but as a political party Libertarianz (big 'l' and an 'NZ' on the end) is neither for nor against GE. What Libertarianz is for is laws protecting against force and fraud. What we are against is busybody politicians inflicting force and fraud on us. In this respect, under 'Force and Fraud' and 'Busybody Politicians' please see 'The GE Debate,' particularly under Fitzsimplesimons, Jeanette and Hager, Nicky.

The Libertarianz position is that the issue of GE food is not one for politicians who know nothing - who should butt out - but for scientists, consumers, farmers, manufacturers and the like; the only political issue is a legal one, that there should be laws that protect against fraudulent labelling and objectively proven damages. I answered the particular question about legal protection some years ago here, and gave a speech to students on the subject some more years ago here. (Dates have been changed on the hosting site for some reason; these two were delivered some three to five years ago as I recall.)

The Royal Commission made a similar point in its report when discussing common law. In fact, the Royal Commission went much further than this:
"Technology is integral to the advancement of the world [they said]. Fire, the wheel, steam power, electricity, radio transmission, air and space travel, nuclear power, the microchip, DNA: the human race has ever been on the cusp of innovation. Currently, biotechnology is the new frontier. Continuation of research is critical to New Zealand's future." 

Not my words, or those of Ayn Rand, but those of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, which I would be proud to have written. The Commission adds, "As in the past we should go forward but with care." And as Lindsay Perigo clarified at the time: "The only "care" that needs to be exercised here is that at no stage are the rights to life, liberty & property violated. Otherwise, I say to the geneticists, tamper away - from your work will come more & better food, new medicines, & the unlocking of more of life's secrets. I hope you make bucket-loads of money from it."

A tribute to Dover's bladder

A tribute to Dover Samuels this morning, who in a regression to childhood normally typical of a Cabinet Minister pissed in a hotel corridor when the Duty Manager couldn't get Dover's electronic door-key to work - possibly because Dover had already wet the key.

Ten great moments in pissing history:

10. Pissy Neville Chamberlain. "Peace in Our Time!" Arse.

9. President Lyndon Johnson, who said of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover that he would "rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."

8. American/Australian/UK/NZ Idol – surely this over-hyped non-talent quest was taking the piss. In any case, Chris Knox’s 'Listener' column saying he was a fan of the show definitely had to be a piss-take.

7. All Black fullback Mils Muliaina, who was suspended from playing for Auckland for two weeks in 2002 after urinating on the floor of a bar, and Auckland cricketer of the year Tama Canning, who allegedly pissed on the floor of a club called ‘Boogie Wonderland,’ which is surely all a club with such a name deserves.
Rumours that a tribute pub crawl around Auckland centred around 'Boogie Wonderland,' the Heritage Hotel and the Parnell establishments favoured by the Auckland Blues were said by a spokesman to be "only speculation at this stage."

6. Napoleon – too much of a pissant to get to Moscow.

5. Paris Hilton, who is apparently a huge fan of water sports ...

4. The late alcoholic Oliver Reed, who made something of a career of publicly pissing his pants on every continent.

3. Twelve car movies to make Ralph Nader wet his pants.

2. When deposed Italian Fascist Dictator Mussolini was captured and killed trying to flee to Switzerland, his body was hung upside down by partisans before being torn down to allow "several screaming women to spread their skirts and urinate on his battered face."

1. The very greatest moment in pissing history, the conquering of Everest: On the summit after reaching their goal, Tensing Norgay knelt and paid tribute to the four winds, offered tribute to the spirits of the air that had allowed their journey, and gave thanks to the gods who had favoured them with success. Edmund Hilary unzipped his fly and took a leak.
Tags: Economics Education

Smoking bans and GE Labelling

Much nonsense spoken around the place yesterday over a poll that purported to show that most people like having smoking banned in bars. (I refuse to soil the word 'free' by applying it to to a ban.) Jordan Carter for instance was suggesting that the polls showed that banning smoking on bar-owners' property was "a simple step in line with public opinion."

Well, if that's true and public opinion really was in line with banning smoking on other peoples' property, then there wouldn't have needed to be a law passed to that effect, now would there? And if public opinion now really does favour bars in which the patrons don't smoke, then there is no need for the law and it can swiftly be removed, can't it. The law is either redundant - because people feel that way anyway - or it is a nannying intrusion, because people don't feel that way and are forced by Nanny's agents to behave as Nanny wishes.

In the case of that stupid cow Steve Chadwick, she's both redundant and a Nanny. (Photo here. It carries a Public Health Warning.)

Anyway, once you've grasped the contrast between redundancy and nannying, you might realise that the same argument that applies to smoking bans also applies to the issue of food labelling, something that was discussed around here yesterday (see here and subsequent comments.)

If there is huge public supprt for labelling food as either GE or not, then food manufacturers and suppliers will be doing their darndest to cover their packaging with labels in order to satisfy that demand - and as long as laws on fraud still exist, those labels will need to be accurate. By contrast, if there is little or no public demand for such labels, then equally there is no justification for laws making them mandatory - there is no mandate for such a law, just as there is no principled justification for one.

The situation at present is that many people who favour specialist foods such as soymilk, organic foods and the like do like GE-Free labelling, and this market has responded appropriately. But the wider market? It doesn't give a damn, and - I submit - nor should it.

As I said yesterday, GE is a technology to celebrate, not one to hand-wring about.

Thursday, 28 April 2005

Anatomy of a latter day troglodyte

Not PC's tribute to ten years successful commercial production of GE crops. Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy of The Free Radical magazine.

Cave Creek: Still unfinished business

Much has been said about the commemorations today of the Cave Creek tragedy.

The one thing I haven't heard in the ten years since the disaster is a good reason why those responsible for the death of fourteen people have not been prosecuted.

The subsequent inquiry found that the reason the Department of Conservation built a death-trap was not in fact blind incompetence, but was instead an example of 'systemic failure' - a clear illustration if one were needed that sheer blithering incompetence is not confined to the Department of Conservation, but is also alive and kicking in the Department of Justice.

Andrew McCarthy, whose daughter Kathy died when the viewing platform collapsed, said the lessons had been learnt from the tragedy, "almost over learnt", and there was no point dwelling on the past. Hmmm.

"I think it was a great shame that Cave Creek has been used as an excuse by the bureaucrats to over-regulate our lives," says McCarthy. On that we agree.

Celebrating ten years of GE

Commercial genetically-engineered crops are now ten years old, and it's high time this wonderful technology was properly celebrated Michael Fumento is celebrating in the Washington Times:
Globally, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, biotech acres planted have grown almost 50-fold since 1996. They now cover the equivalent of 40 percent of the U.S. land area. An increasing percentage of these crops are in places with hungry populations such as China and South Africa. In the United States, three-fourths of the cotton, almost half the corn and 85 percent of the soybeans planted are biotech. Considering the massive variety of foods we consume containing corn and soy and cottonseed oil, almost all of us eat biotech food daily.
And evidence continues to grow that the food is healthier than 'health foods', a godsend for third-world farmers who can be productive without expensive fertilisers and pesticides, and in the case of crops like the soon-to-be-rolled-out golden rice 2, able to provide highly nutritious food where at the moment there is very little. This stuff feeds the world better than a song by Sting or Bob Geldof ever could.

And, despite the many warnings by activists that GE food 'could,' 'might' or 'may' lead to unspecified disasters, it hasn't. Not one single person has died in that time due to food being genetically engineered. 

On the other hand, food that hasn't been genetically enginered has continued to cause problems, some of which genetic engineering may have helped with. The onset of birth defects from fumonisins caused by mouldy organic corn, mentioned by Fumento, is just one example.

Ironically, as no news of problems with GE foods continues not to flood in, we continue to see reports such as these from The Times about organic foods: There is evidence "that organic farms may act as reservoirs for fungi which generate dangerous food mycotoxins - two such (fumonisin and patulin) are both reported to have a higher incidence in organic food. There have been cases of contamination of organic food worldwide -botulism in tins of organic soup, listeria in organic cheese, salmonella in organic sprouts, E. coli in organic apple juice..." Etc.

So do I expect the opponents of GE to get over themselves any time soon? Well, the Greens are now banging on about Peak Oil instead of GE in a desperate attempt to get themselves an election hook, and their FrogBlog hasn't even mentioned GE since the blog began. See.

So you tell me? Maybe I was wrong back in 1999? Maybe they have got it now. Maybe I was wrong in 2001? Robert Bidinotto doesn't think so.

What do you think?

The voices of mainstream mediocrity are tipping

Sir Humphrey rightly slags off the pretentious twats at the clearly mis-named Fighting Talk blog for bitching about not being noticed.

The poor dears are giving up, and they're having a swipe at the whole blogosphere on the way - according to these blowhards, blogs are "only water wings for playing in the shallow end of the media pool. To plagurise [sic] a radio station whose attitude sums up the pigheaded arrogance out here; all blogs are shit." To plagiarise a well-known ad: Yeah right.

But as the boys pack up and jump from the well-deserved anonymity of their blog ('If you write as good as you talk no-one reads you' - Lou Reed) to the well-deserved mediocrity of the mainstream, we bloggers who can write continue to be read. Seems to me there are just two things to be said on this topic:

The first is a personal comment. As a good friend would say in moments like this: You're not being read, I am. Bite me.

The second is that mediocrity is not enough. The boys might be a bit premature in their jump into mainstream media punditry, but at least their mediocrity will be at home there. In an irony that is hopefully not least even on these would-be pundits, some commentators are begining to notice that the mediocre Big Media organisations are losing their audiences to the very alternatives Un-Fighting Talk are so condescendingly dismissing. "Big Media have their faults -- chiefly laziness, political groupthink, and a tendency to condescend to their audiences -- and those are starting to cost them," says one commentator here, and he suggests that we might be near a media 'tipping point' in which blogs and alternative media come out on top.

The reason? Says columnist Jim Bennett, "What is going on with journalism today is akin to what happened to the Church during the Reformation. Thanks to a technological revolution (movable type then, the Internet and talk radio now), power once concentrated in the hands of a few has been redistributed into the hands of the many." Perhaps that's what really annoys the non-fighting Fighting Talkers, just as it did the Church - with power in many more hands it's much, much harder to manufacture consent.

The lesson for the voices of mediocrity is that they should never take the status quo for granted. Now that is fighting talk.

Bush was right!

The Syrian army has left Lebanon, after popular protests forcing them out. Muammar Gaddafi is desperately sucking up to the west. Free elections have been held in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are to be held soon in Egypt and in Lebanon. The Palestinian Authority held free elections, put together a cease-fire and called a so-far mostly successful moratorium against attacks on Israel.

Arab and Muslim absolutism is slowly being replaced with western ideas of freedom. Peace is breaking out in the Middle East - and I mean real peace: peace with freedom. It's almost like watching the Berlin Wall fall all over again and freedom take hold across Eastern Europe.

Who could possibly object to the latest developments in the Middle East? Well, there's Al-Qaeda’s Dr. Ayman Zawahiri of course; and (Abu Musab) al-Zarqawi and the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars. And Saddam’s remaining Baathists. And the entire unwashed anti-war movement across the west. And Robert Fisk.

Turns out, the critics - liberal and cynical and peacenik and 'realist' - were wrong, just as they were wrong about the Cold War. The critics got Reagan wrong and the Soviets wrong, and now they've got Bush wrong and the 'Arab street' wrong. Time for them to 'fess up on both.

When the Soviets fell it was chiefly due to the Reagan Doctrine which was crafted not to contain the Soviet Empire, but to destroy it. So too with the 'Bush Doctrine,' which seeks not to contain Islamic terrorism but to hunt it down and destroy it,and destroy those who support it.

When the Arab street finally got to speak and say what they thought about this doctrine, they called - not for American blood - but for freedom and dignity and prosperity. For something we take for granted called 'normality.' The 'Bush Doctrine offered them a chance at liberation, and they're grabbing it with both hands. As one commentator has suggested, "the two central propositions of the Bush doctrine have been vindicated: First, that the will to freedom is indeed universal and not the private preserve of Westerners. And second, that American intentions were sincere. Contrary to the cynics, Arab and European and American, the U.S. did not go into Iraq for oil or hegemony, after all, but for liberation--a truth that on Jan. 31 even al-Jazeera had to televise."

Back in March even the New York Times had to admit that maybe Bush's foreign policy was ... um, well.. probably justified by events, and things have only got better since then: "It's not even spring yet [in the Northern Hemisphere], but a long-frozen political order seems to be cracking all over the Middle East. Cautious hopes for something new and better are stirring along the Tigris and the Nile, the elegant boulevards of Beirut, and the impoverished towns of the Gaza Strip....

"[T]his has so far been a year of heartening surprises -- each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power."

If even the New York Times can almost admit the truth, then perhaps it's time we heard this from further afield: Bush was right.

My smoky car is okay. Phew!

The Herald reports this morning that the Government has decided against idle testing of vehicles to check for harmful emissions, saying such testing would have proved more expensive than first thought.

Phew. It's not like WoF tests don't already check for every bloody thing under the sun these days. So perhaps I can now get my car back on the road then?

Hollywood is anti-capitalist shock

Hollywood has an anti-capitalist bias. No, really?

From Citizen Kane to Jaws to Wall Street to Erin Brockovich, business and businessmen are always the bad guy in Hollywod's blockbuster fairy tales.

Law professor Larry Ribstein asks why here (thanks to Stephen Hicks for the link):
But this general condemnation of business seems an unlikely explanation for films’ anti-business tone. Capitalism has brought vast wealth to a broad segment of U.S society, including most moviegoers and films’ writers, directors and stars. One would not be surprised to see occasional criticism of capitalism, or to see moviemakers use the drama inherent in the oppression and eventual triumph of economic underdogs.

But why should capital always be the heavy? Why should filmmakers so rarely exploit the dramatic potential of business triumph, or of underdog businesspeople struggling against government tyrany? More importantly, films are the product of large companies. Why would they attack themselves?

This article seeks to explain films’ bias against capital. In brief, it is not business itself that filmmakers do not like, but the capitalists who control it. But this is not the classic view of the struggle between capital and labor. Filmmakers display little concern with workers' problems and only rarely blame firms' social irresponsibility on the fact that capital rather than labor is in control. Filmmakers’ main problem with capital being in control seems to be that the filmmakers are not.
[Emphasis mine.] Seems to be the same problem that opposition politicians have with the Government, don't it?

He sees no consiracy amongst filmmakers to demonise capitalism, however Ribstein does point out that in many modern day anti-capitalist fairy tales the bad business-guy is never shown - what he calls the 'phenomenon of the missing bad guy' - these academics, eh! - and puts it down in part to the enthusiasm for a good conspiracy.

Enthusiasm for a good conspiracy has provided many people with a good living - take our own Ian Wishart for example (pleeeease take Ian Wishart!). But why are conspiracy theories so seductive? Robert Bidinotto tries an explanation here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

'Ascendancy' by David Knowles

'Ascendancy' by David Knowles

The popular Mr Pistorius, and other stats

Here's my top ten search terms, popular pages and summary of my third week as a blogger. Once again, let me thank everyone who reads this and sends me comments - however acid - for making it the pleasure it is.

The sad news for bloggers around here is that Ruth has given up her blog at Freudian Slippers, which she says has been deleted due to there being too many arsehats. I'm sure I'm not the only one with arsehat problems who can relate, and I'm also sure I'm not the only who misses her acerbic wit.

Also this week, other blogs including mine have been experiencing access problems - I'll continue to explore Haloscan which might, I'm told, help with this problem.

Now for the top ten searches finding this site, (with this site's ranking for that search in brackets): Encouragingly for the Berrymans, this blog is no longer rating so highly for search terms involving their case, indicating a much wider interest in them than in previous weeks. Full credit in particular to Duncan Bayne and John Waterman for being amongst those doing their best to ensure that 'Moodie's 500,000' are getting out there. And I really, truly have no idea what Mr Goldsmith's sign has to do with breasts. I'm sure someone does, however. Perhaps they could tell us. (All are Google searches unless noted otherwise):

1. julian pistorius libertarian (2nd & 3rd)
2. rob moodie (not front page)
3. berrymans butcher report ('Yahoo' search: 5th)
4. berryman moodie (fifth)
5. doctor moodie and berryman bridge (7th)
6. breastfeeding goldsmith's sign
7. kyoto sceptic (6th)
8. antisocial 3yo (10th)
9. dame malvina major ('' search: 2nd)
10. Steven Ching ('My Google' search: 10th)

The top ten popular pages for the week will be appearing soon in the sidebar. A few suprises there too.

Butcher Report “all over New Zealand and all over the world” - Moodie

A defiant Dr Rob Moodie told Justice Wild during yesterday’s High Court contempt hearing that web pages carrying the suppressed Butcher Report had received more than 500,000 hits so far. No one mentioned King Canute, but it is apparent that suppression of such things is no longer possible, and the court appeared to accept that. Story here from The Dominion.

The hearing ended in indefinite adjournment, with the focus now on a Thursday hearing by the Manawatu District Law Society. Manawatu District Law Society president Gordon Paine said last night that tomorrow's hearing was only a preliminary one to decide what to do with the complaint. Help him decide – contact details for the Law Society are here.

And Don Brash has now entered the fray, putting pressure on Helen Clark to make good her promises of 1998. He’s twelve days late on picking up on this, but at least he’s saying something. But still nothing but silence from Rodney Hide, the leader of the party purportedly representing New Zealand’s battlers.

De-politicising the busybodies

There are busybody arsehats everywhere, as I’m sure you know, but perhaps none more so than out in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges.

It’s often said that an environmentalist is one who already has their bush cabin. Seeking to prove the truth of that saying and to push up their own property values by excluding others, a group calling itself the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society says they plan “to appeal a controversial decision by the Waitakere City Council that allows small-lot subdivision in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges to the Environment Court.”

“In spite of the best efforts by council officers, rogue decisions will always be made and loopholes in the rules exploited by determined developers,” says the Society. More power to those determined developers, I say. “The Resource Management Act process just doesn’t deliver the consistency and quality outcomes we need,” concludes Society President John Edgar. Now there, we agree. Perhaps he too should look at property rights and common law based protections for the environment rather than the blunt instrument he currently wields.

He might find it the best way to de-politicise the environment, instead of witch-doctoring it up with plans and planners.

Who'd be a builder?

Who would want to be a developer, or a buyer of a first home? Hard on the heels of news that interest rates are up to 9 per cent and the official cash rate is up 1.75 points since December 03 comes fee increases for building consents in the order of twenty to thirty percent, and higher prices for builders as their numbers dwindle following the introduction of the new Building Act.

The ironic thing about the new Building Act – beyond its banning of home maintenance and DIY for home-owners – is that the reason for the amendment of the Act was the hysteria about leaking homes.

Consider then that the higher profile leaking-homes cases were in the main designed by Registered Architects and built by Master Builders. The solution put in place by this Act is to add more red tape, and to make it mandatory to be a Registered Architect or a Master Builder. Top thinking.

As always, the more red tape the better it is for larger organisations, and the harder it is for smaller firms, especially one-man band operations. Look forward then to the number of builders leaving the industry, even as the market for builders divides itself up as it does in places such as the UK into ‘suits’ and ‘cowboys’ - hidebound suit-wearing larger firms who cost a lot, and smaller firms offering affordable work but on a ‘black-market’ basis, and often without consumer protection.

In any case, the cost and complexity of building is going to increase. Blame the Building Act 2004

Back on line

Had a few problems accessing my blog today - normal transmission will soon be resumed.

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Liberty is the breath of progress

New Freeland - something to be getting on with.
Courtesy The Free Radical magazine.

Petition for the Berrymans

News from Rob Moodie's contempt hearing that his laywer is asking for more time for Dr Moodie's defence to be properly prepared. Naturally, the Army is asking for the hearing to be done immediately. So much for their commitment to a fair trial.

In the meantime, a petition to get justice for the Berryman's is being circulated - a copy of which can be downloaded here.

The Wanganui Chronicle says the petition is "a repeat of the strategy that enabled him to get Wanganui Police Superintendent Alec Waugh reinstated last year with $1.5m in compensation after he was wrongfully dismissed in 1996 on fraud charges."

Turn off that telly

If you're sick of having televisions playing in your favourite bar or cafe when the sport isn't on, or you agree with architect Frank Lloyd Wright that television is just chewing gum for the eyes, then you might have already heard about a new device called the TVB-Gone which allows you to switch off errant idiot boxes within a seven-metre range, and the advent this week of Television Turnoff Week.

British group White Dot will happily sell you the TVB-Gone, a small device you can apparently attach to your key ring - story here. US group TV-Turnoff may not have such a device, but they do at least offer plenty of arguments to turn off the box and get yourself a life.

New Zealand does not appear to have amy similar groups, or at least none with any decent sense of humour. We do however have the two public broadcasting channels, which between them effectively constitute their own TV-Turnoff campaign ...

Selling the foreshore

If Don Brash was asking the Auditor-General to "put a dollar value" on the foreshore we would be hearing scare stories that he'd be trying to privatise the foreshore. Unfortunately he's not, and more's the pity, I say.

But Michael Cullen has asked the Auditor-General to do just that, not however as a prelude to privatisation but instead as an adjunct to his Government's high-handed nationalisation of the beach-front effected last year.

Personally, I think New Zealand's foreshore should have all existing property recognised and protected (no matter what colour the rightful beneficiaries of those rights) before selling what remains to buy secure annuities for New Zealand's pensioners. That's one very easy and very effective way to instantly de-politicise both the foreshore issue and the issue of the impending superannuation blowout.

And before you start howling about access to beaches being a Kiwi's birthright, well, there is no reason most of the foreshore can't be sold with access and use convenants attached where appropriate ao that existing access and use rights acquired by common law usage are protected.

And there's no reason to stop at the foreshore either, as economist Richard Rahn argues in an American context here; see also where he got the idea from here, and my own earlier comments on the foreshore debate here.

As Richard Rahn concludes: "Ask your family and friends if they would prefer the government to: (a) Increase their taxes; (b) cut their benefits; or (c) sell surplus government land."

Which would you prefer?

Warming in Antarctic glaciers shows media spin

First the bad news: A recent study has shown there is warming in Antarctica. Glaciers are retreating.

And now, the good news, as Dr. Patrick Michaels says on Tech Central Station: "By 'Antarctica' they actually meant the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises about 2% of the continent. It's warming there and has been for decades. But every scientist (or for that matter, everyone who has read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear") knows that the temperature averaged over the entire continent has been declining for decades."

Check out Dr. Patrick Michael's report on the science and the spin here (and a cool graphic - and I mean 'cool' quite literally); and the scare story as reported in New Zealand here. Read it before you hear the spin from Jeanette Fitzsimplesons.

And then reflect on why the media is so gullible, and why they want to tell such half-baked half-truths. JunkScience.Com has some suggested answers here. My own answer is that whatever the reason, if you have to lie to make your point then you don't really have one. Just ask Michael Moore. But I digress.

While you're reflecting, you might also give some thought to what this means for all the accepted global warming models, which predict that Antarctica should by rights be warming. But it isn't. And ask yourself why somebody like Ted Scambos from the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Centre would be saying that the study's results are a "warning to the world."

"It is a great bit of insight," blathers the appropriately named Scam-bos. "The Antarctic peninsular is in a state of transition due to warming and what is happening there is going to be a good indication of what will happen as the larger ice sheets - Greenland and Antarctica proper - begin to warm," he said.

As a great man once said: "Bollocks."

Contempt hearing this morning for Rob Moodie

As the Berrymans' lawyer Rob Moodie heads to a contempt of court hearing this morning for releasing the Butcher Report, and the Manawatu Law Society meets Thursday to discuss their complaint against Dr Moodie, David McLoughlin has a good summary in the Dominion summarising the history behind the collapse of the Berryman's bridge, and their subsequent legal and financial battles. Both Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark are fingered.

Meanwhile, Michael Cullen's offer to have the Solicitor-General consider grounds for a new inquest has been dismissed by both Rob Moodie and Winston Peters.

Dr Moodie's hearing this morning in Wellington's High COurt is to be held in closed session, but supporters of the heroic Dr Moodie may still be able to offer their support outside the court. I feel sure the media will take note of their presence, and their comments.
[UPDATE, 4:10pm, Tuesday April 26: Newstalk ZB reports that Justice Wild has adjourned the contempt hearing indefinitely, but allowed the continued suppression of the Butcher Report. Is there anyone yet who hasn't seen the Butcher Report? If so, check here.]
[[UPDATE, 4:20pm. Newstalk ZB report here.]

Eat your Greens - after all, you're paying for them

In their battle for the religionist vote - with environmentalism being the new religion - the Green Party released their party list on Earth Day, which Bob Bidinotto suggests should be a religious holiday. Meanwhile, most of the world ignored Earth Day, as they do the Green Party list.

Not PC suggests you don't ignore the Green Party list however. As a taxpayer, why not peruse the list and see if you can spot anyone on it whose lifestyle and activism you aren't paying for.

And what about the environmentalist arguments behind Earth Day? Not PC agrees with Capitalist Magazine that the earth is mankind's garden:
There is an alternative to the environmentalist argument. It is one that says the Earth is man's garden and that man's mind as fully competent to meet the challenges of living in his garden, whatever those challenges may be. It is an argument that recognizes that the ultimate resource is not oil, coal, caribou or even the energy of the atom. It is an argument that recognizes that the ultimate resource is a free, unfettered human mind.
Message to Green Party: Leave us alone.

Labour's new small business policy: Ignore the buggers

Labour's Minister of Small Business Rick Barker has demonstrated to Tauranga businessmen the contempt and lack of understanding that the Labour Government has for small businessmen. As small businessmen explain how they are strangled in bureaucrats and red tape, Rick Barker does his own impression of a disinterested bureaucrat by sitting back ignoring them and spending the meeting texting like a teenager.

To paraphrase Voltaire, it will be a great day when the last politician is strangled by the guts of the last bureaucrat.

Saturday, 23 April 2005

Libz Whangarei candidate Helen Hughes raises the roof

Libz Whangarei candidate Helen Hughes raises the roof

Libz Hamilton West candidate and Deregulation of Maori Affairs Spokesman Tim Wikiriwhi

Libz Hamilton West candidate and Deregulation of Maori Affairs Spokesman Tim Wikiriwhi

Libz leader Bernard Darnton

Libz leader Bernard Darnton

Libz Conference 4, The Business End

The afternoon session begins with Terry Verhoeven presenting ideas for a national campaign, and money is pledged. Webmaster Richard Goode introduced his plans for the website in election year.

Toastmistress ‘Susan the Libertarian’ – well-known to Leighton Smith’s listeners - told candidates how to ‘Enhance Your Communication Skills,’ and warned about being ‘too well-read’ for your audience – something libertarians and Objectivists are prone to – and need to ensure they present their ideas clearly and simply, and argue with passion. Package properly. Repetition and Alliteration/same phrases over and over: Comrade Clark; Socialist Sisterhood; That Silly Cow Steve Chadwick, Nanny Government, Get the Government out of your face, out of your wallet and out of your life. Feminazi. Heil Helen. Marxist Wilson. Helengrad. Ministries of Mis-education, Injustice. Government Slavery Tax, Child Molesters of the Mind. And introduced some ‘scare words.’ NCEA: National Communist Education Agenda.

Much interest in the candidate policy debates coming up – especially to watch candidates follow Susan’s tips.

How should we remove state welfare? What transitional policy is the best? Nik The Negative Income Tax (NIT) proposal was put by Nik Haden and team (the Nits). I confess the idea still leaves me mystified, but apparently it’s something both Milton Friedman and Sue Kedgley approve, so … Bernard, Sally O’Brien and team (The Nitpickers) argued that the idea is ‘bollocks’ – complicated and intrusive. Sally argued for the privatisation of welfare. As chairman, I tried to remain neutral. The audience disagreed, and the Nits voted down.

Luke and Philip Howison outlined what they’re up to with Libz on Campus at Victoria, and making it a marketplace of ideas for students coalescing under the Voluntary Student Membership(VSM) banner – the VSM argument is a ready-made one for radicalising young students for freedom. Even Young Nats and young ACT people are radicalised by the VSM argument, and many are realising that in areas of personal freedom such as recreational drug use and the like, both ACT and the Nats are just not up to it.

Sean Kimpton told us his experiences campaigning for VSM, and told us we need to get excited about being successful in a campaign. Auckland’s VSM campaign was successful, and Sean was and is a part of it. To win the VSM campaign, they engaged in guerrilla activism on the moral front. It was intellectual activism – eight-hundred word leaflets arguing the issues! And winning on it. High quality literature. Printed out the opposition’s lies in a series – people wanted to ‘collect the set’ from 1-12. But they told many more than twelve lies.

Compulsory Student Membership (CSM) ran a crap campaign. Leafletting from 6:30am every day by the VSM team outstripped the CSM campaign’s sloth. Chalking, postering, leafleting, and lecturing … Sean argued for freedom of association in ledcture theatres across campus. No more commies and jobsworths at Student Union. Student Union has to provide a service – and student attitude is different. Student polling shows students expect to pay for their own education now. Remember when campaigning that reality is on your side … and you can win.

Robin Thomsen blasted through the campaigning that Tim Wikiriwhi and he have been doing with their team in Hamilton. It’s hard campaigning when unlike the socialists and government employees you actually have jobs. But in the last council elections they planted the seed of liberty in numerous Hamiltonians, some already partial to it by the earlier efforts of the likes of Steve McClennan.
Dire Despot Yates is now being targeted by Robin; Tim is targeting MP Martin Gallagher who, according to Tim, is one of the best MPs since he generally does nothing.

Robin called for a National Day of Action for Budget Day, protesting against government theft on the steps of Parliament, and then concluded with stories from their New Freeland Show on 1206AM.

An inspiring afternoon, with another debate to come!

Libz Conference 3, Candidates to inspire

Libz electoral candidates are announced, and each spoke to great applause and tremendous enthusiasm. All candidates are incredibly committed, and hugely inspirational.

North Shore contingent spoke first:
Michael Murphy is standing in North Shore against Wayne Mapp. Wayne Who? And ‘Phil’ McCracken. And Deborah Coddington, who clearly stood down because she doesn’t want to stand against a Libertarian.
So why at my age do I want to do this, asked Micheal? Because we once took for granted the things that kids and their parents just don’t’ understand. Self-responsibility. Kids can’t climb trees without a safety harness – we now have a culture where the govt wants to think for you. Too many want laws, and regulations and to have the living shit taxed out of them. We’ve got to get back to being human beings again – being a sovereign human being once again. You could once buy Opium over the counter, now you need a prescription for Voltaren. The culture needs to change. That’s the reason I’m standing. I like a good scrap! The standard of politicians in this country is just appalling lobby fodder. I mean to change that.

Huge applause.

Peter Linton in Northcote: He’s spoiling for a fight! People must have the right to defend themselves. Sally O’Brien in Rodney intends the North Shore contingent to be a ‘centre of excellence.’

Julian Pistorius in Northland and Helen Hughes in Whangarei are inspired and inspiring. Julian is gong to give his opponents a big fright – incredible commitment! Their meeting with the Orauta School trustees inspired them, and us.

Tim Wikiriwhi and Robin Thomsen standing in the Hamilton’s are really looking forward to continuing their campaign, already begun with their local radio show ‘New Freeland.’ Dianne Yates is the point-woman for Hate Speech laws; Robin wants to target that hypocrisy. Tim spells out the message that he is presenting to Maori, that they need to stand on their own feet, and they can’t do that with other people’s money. End Waitangi Apartheid.

Peter Cresswell in Epsom: Seeks your vote on his blog in order to make his final decision. He really wants to help ensure ACT don’t get a seat for their sub-5% security, just as he helped make sure that Jeanette didn’t get a seat in Coromandel last time. Says ACT need to realise their mortality, and his candidacy should do that. Phil Howision. Hutt South. Standing against Mallard, and the only candidate young enough to have endured NCEA. But all the parties have the same educational policies, as all essentially support the status quo. Phil’s problem is that he is so articulate he makes the NCEA look good. Mallard’s problem will be that he just can’t be seen to bully

Scott Wilson pointed out that the standard of MPs is appallingly low; our candidates are simply inspiring. Huge applause again. Sitting MPs are not ten feet tall, they are pygmies. Our job is to advance our ideas – it’s a battle of ideas we’re in, and our job is to shift the debate.


Libz Conference, 2: Leader Bernard Darnton says it's a fight worth fighting

Leader Bernard Darnton said the campaign has already begun. It is a fight worth fighting. Libz is the only party principled and committed to freedom.

Most party conferences at theis point would see the leader stand up and explain the party’s policies. Not us. No need. That’s why we’re special. Our policies haven’t changed since 1996. They don’t need to: they are all based on principles.

Policies are not chosen by focus groups, but because they are RIGHT! And we MEAN THEM!

Went to a ‘public meeting’ about GE last election at which all parties’ candidates appeared – questions had been mailed out to candidates, the National Party candidate had an e-mail from Head Office telling him the answers to all the questions on the party line. He leaned over to congratulate Bernard on his answers “I couldn’t say that.” Who is the wasted vote.

Principles are not important to such parties – getting into power is.

There are 19 parties seeking power, but they are al saying the same thing. We want to run your life, and we want you to pay fro the privilege.

They each have a plan fro how you should run your life.

They want to have their cake, and eat yours too.

Libz the only party consistently in favour of personal liberty and economic freedom. The only one advocating freedom across the board.

Remember what inspired you to join Libz in the first place. It’s not what tax rate we should have or how much money to give to artists …. It was a desire to run your own life.

Only important question when judging a policy is: does this make me more free? Or does it make me less free?

We know running a party is difficult – a few new parties with ‘freedom’ in their name. We are painfully aware of the difficulty of running a party, and we all know the infamous electoral cock-up of 2002. When Bernard heard, he was gutted, as we all were. Felt his soul had been torn out.

A good show in 2005 will kill of that memory. We’ve fixed the mistakes, we have talented driven people that make huge contributions to the party, many never seen. We really have top-shelf officers.

The best thing about activism is that IT IS FUN. Arguments aren’t bad manners, THEY”RE FUN. Election time is perfect time to GET STUCK INTO THE BASTARDS! Even when there is no libertarian in the room, you never know who is listening when you debate.

During recent campaigning around Helengrad…in a Karaoke bar … at empty space at end of table, they said ‘you can’t sit here unless you sign here.’ We signed up a dozen members, and had a great chat with all of them. That’s how easy it is. You never know where your next supporter will come from. (Party Sec Robert Palmer later pointed out that he originally joined the party through one such conversation!)

If you’re not campaigning for fun or profit then you’re not doing it right. When Density Church stomped down Lambton Quay last year, Bernard rang his friends and ran downstairs with a ‘legalise gay marriage’ picket and quickly copied a few hundred ‘Legalise Gay Marriage’ flyers, and started talking to passers-by and the Density nutters and passers-by were queuing up to get them! Strike when the activism is hot! The Iranian Ambassador was visiting at the time, so Iranian flag was run up the flagpole – so Brian Tamaki was ranting against gay marriage while the Iranian flag flew proudly behind him! Some of us caught the irony. Hilariously, Brian didn’t.

When I see Libz news clippings and photos I always wish: I Wish I could have been there! The events are so much fun! The people you meet always hold plenty of interest. And you’re trying to effect the future you believe in.

We’ve got people no our list who have been Libz since 1996; we’ve got new people who only recently joined and are full of enthusiasm. We have a chance to make some noise. Ten years ago this party did not exist. In that time some hundred or so parties have come and gone. We Haven’t. We’ve staked our claim. This year we seek to expand that. This is a fight worth fighting, and one you will enjoy.

We know we’ve always had the right policies. We know we’ve got the right people. Let’s let everyone else know.

Libz Conference,1: The President speaks

Not PC is reporting today from the Libertarianz Party conferencein Auckland.

Pres Scott Wilson began the morning. Scott ran through the many supremely competent office holders now running the party – professional, accountable, and committed – stronger now than at any time in our history – 14 electorate camndidates already confirmed; 30 list candidates to be confirmed.

Same electoral funding as CHP, Destiny and Alliance, because of similar polling, and our excellent council election results.

One minute on TV1 at prime time gives every person in the country the chance to get our message.

So why do we bother? The Greens and ALCP are interested in issues of personal freedom. ACT is well-funded; Rodney is moderately libertarian; so why not just join them and radicalise them? We are an open party, we have members from all parties in Libz. But all parties change policies regularly.

I’ll take just three ACT policies at random to explain their problem:

DRUGS. At best they’re silent, at worst they want to lock up all drug users. The liberal party!

CIVIL UNIONS: They won’t confront that marriage should be liberalised, that the state should simply recognise people’s choice. They’re just conservatives, when even Catholic Spain allows gay marriage.

PROSTITUTION: They were against two adults being allowed to make choices for themselves.

Where they fail is they don’t believe in personal and social freedom. We believe you own your bank account, your life and your body. ACT agree with the first. They don ‘t even understand the second. [And they have no idea what to do about the disaster that is the RMA, Ed.]

We are not going to criminalise drug users. We will not be offering to lock them up. The ‘liberal party’ does!

The ALCP are dead in the water. And look what the Greens have done to their one member standing up for personal freedom! So much for their commitment for personal freedom.

We’re not a personality cult, as some entities have claimed, we are a serious party committed to getting Nanny government off your back, out of your pocket, and our of your life.

This election we are going to get that message across in spades.

Friday, 22 April 2005

The perfect martini does exist

After lengthy research, and many repetitions of that research, I have much pleasure in announcing that I can now reveal the recipe for the perfect martini. It exists, it is real, it can be yours!

The perfect martini is made with vodka, not gin, and is made with the best vodka you can buy/bludge/cadge from someone who has just come through Duty Free. Absolut and Stolichnaya are good. And yes, it must be shaken, not stirred (can I hear some mumbling at the back from the purists?)

Now take your shaker and fill it with crushed ice. Let it sit for a second as you get two glasses out (you just can't drink a martini alone) and put in each glass an olive, a cocktail onion and about a teaspoon of brine from either olive or onion.

Now, accuracy is important now: pour over the ice in the shaker six measures of vodka and three measures of extra dry vermouth. Shake vigorously, pour into the glassware and enjoy its clear oiliness as it fills the glass.

The ideal serving accompaniments are at least one friend, and the Benny Goodman Small Groups CD on your player. The Breakfast at Tiffany's soundtrack is an acceptable alternative.

See you in the morning. (Hic) And in the meantime, feel free to post your own perfect martini recipe below.

A weekend with the Libz

This weekend I’ll be hanging out at the Libertarianz conference here in Auckland. Read about it here.

I can’t promise to be as diligent a reporter as Aaron Bhatnagar was at last week's National conference, but I’ll do what I can.

Must away to get the drinks trolley ready. Do check in later.


RMA is permissive? Yeah, right.

"Property developers could face more hurdles in getting large new projects approved after a Supreme Court decision this week," says Resource Management Act (RMA) specialist Richard Brabant this morning.

Like they need more hurdles, right? And who pays when every new hurdle adds costs? You can answer that one yourself, can't you.

According to the RMA's cheerleaders, the RMA is en example of "permissive legislation." That's what ACT's Ken Shirley (then Labour MP) said at the time it was introduced. Further, the RMA does not allow anti-competitive behaviour - or so said the cheerleaders.

Well, tell that to Josephine Grierson and her tenants and customers at the Fox outlet shopping centre in Northcote; it is the Resource Consent for this project that the Supreme Court has just turned down. The Resource Consent was in the Supreme Court because shopping mall giant Westfield objected to another shopping centre down the road from their own.

The RMA is permissive. Really?

And it prohibits anti-competitive behaviour. Yeah, right.

Left? Right? A plague on you both

Greg Stephens at NZ Political Comments was asking recently about the usefulness and derivation of the left-right spectrum, and I suggested essentially that its usefulness is close to zero, except for those with minds as one-dimensional as the left-right spectrum itself.

As for its derivation, the terms derive from the seating arrangements of the Post-Revolutionary French Parliaments, one of the more venal and violent ruling bodies anywhere, anytime. The venality exposes the real truth of the terms: each post-revolutionary group wanted to plant its snout firmly in the trough of wealth opened looted and filled up by the Revolution’s executions and property seizures.

Those on the right-hand benches wanted to claim the loot for the already wealthy; those on the left claimed the loot for the poor (and then, like Rob Campbell and Ken Douglas, they moved to the right). And those in the centre? They just hoped to keep their heads on while all around them were losing theirs, courtesy of Madame Guillotine.
So that’s where it came from, and what it describes: Robin Hood at one end and the Sheriff of Nottingham at the other. So where do greens, fascists, communitarians, libertarians, Stalinists, Nazis and Helen Clark fit on the left-right spectrum? The correct answer is, ‘Uh, I don’t know.’

So is it any use then as a measure of political position? The answer is both yes and no. No, because government’s legitimate business is not looting from one group to enrich another (that is to say, it shouldn’t be), and thus terms coined only to delineate the snout in the trough should no longer be considered valid. Yes, because modern politics, unfortunately, continues to be an exercise in such venality. Modern politics is an exercise in getting the snout of one’s group firmly and permanently in said trough.

Self-appointed interest group representatives continue to clamour for special favours for their group at the expense of others. Lobbyists in Wellington pour arguments into the ears and alcohol down the throats of politicians in pursuit of these special favours. Politicians curry favour with their chosen groups - their ‘power bases’ - promising special favours bought at the expense of someone else in order to keep the politician momentarily above water before sinking under the weight of the group’s growing voraciousness, and the noise of the next group’s clamouring.

And the guy picking up the tab for all this is the one who’s completely forgotten about.

Such is modern politics – a disgusting, bruising process - and terms like “left” and “right” are used to mask the nature of it and to give it a veneer of respectability. This oft-used and archaic political ‘saw’ slices up the body politic into two kinds of thief, and helps give respectability to their thieving.

It is a saw that sees the “right” purportedly upholding the interests of business and existing wealth at the expense of others (as if wealth can only come at the expense of others), and the “left” purportedly upholding the claim of the poor and disadvantaged to their ‘fair share’ of the pie (as if wealth was a static and once-baked commodity). It sees the right upholding the censorship of personal, intellectual and moral values on the basis that “we know what is best for you," and the left extolling the regulation and emasculation of all wealth creation on the basis that it is “exploitative of the poor, and probably bad for the environment to boot." And it leaves the centre exposed as a “zero” i.e., Peter Dunne.

It is time to cry: “Enough! A plague on both your houses.” And on Peter Dunne. It is time to recognise that there is no ‘pie’ to be sliced ever more thinly and redistributed to ever hungrier groups, but only wealth created and owned by those individuals who created it; time to recognise that the saw’s slicing gives momentary succour only to the loudest and strongest of groups, with claims measured not on validity but on the size of the group and the volume of their voices.

For who misses out in this wolf-pack-ridden wasteland, this constant war of group against group? Who misses out is the smallest minority of all, that’s who: the individual.

When the two false alternatives of “left” and “right” are taken out for a drive, it is the engine of freedom that is left at the side of the road - an engine whose motive power is the thinking, creative power of the individual, and whose mainspring is the rights of all individuals to live their own lives in their own way, without fear of being forced against their will by others.

That’s why the seductive brandings of “left” and “right” continue to be used. Such groupings exclude all arguments for the rights and freedom of the individual from the debate in the same way as they were excluded from the Post-Revolutionary French Parliaments, and for the same reason. The left-right ‘political spectrum’ effectively excludes the two sides’ common enemy from the debate – individualism. That is the aim, and it is the measure of its advocates’ success that we continue to use such terms, meaningless, distortionary and antiquated as they are.

That is why I favour dropping the labels “left” and “right” as meaningless and divisive - they merely tell us which gang is making their illegitimate demands on us. I suggest instead making the spectrum two-dimensional instead of one by adopting the Nolan Chart (named after its inventor David Nolan) and its accompanying five labels Authoritarian, Libertarian, Left-Liberal, Right-Conservative and Centrist. You'll start to see those labels appearing on my sidebar as I start collecting responses to this quiz from fellow bloggers.

I have already been collecting over the last ten years the scores of MPs and their supporters, and I’ll shorrtly be posting many of them here as well. Two-dimensions and five labels do a much better job of explaining political positioning than one-dimensional thinking ever did, and most importantly two-dimensional thinking opens the door for the long-overdue inclusion of individualism in the political equation.

[DISCLOSURE: Recycled from a piece by myself originally published in the Herald, November 1997.]

Thursday, 21 April 2005

What's a woman to do?

‘'Big ups'’ as they say to the Auckland kick-boxer who pummelled a burglar last night found rummaging around his lounge after midnight. Well done, sir!

But what would you and I do when confronted with someone rummaging through our lounge uninvited? Or someone threatening violence against us or our family? What for instance could a women do, or a scrawny bloke, out alone after dark and set upon by thugs?

Despite police pronouncements at repeated arms inquiries that the thing to do when confronted with criminals is to ring the police, I think even George Hawkins now realises that the police are too busy to answer emergency calls when somebody is being set upon: too busy surfing for porn, collecting revenue or sorting out unassigned files. And we know that the 111 call system is a joke even if our victim could get to the phone.

So what can our victim do if she'’s set upon? She may be a kick-boxer who can do over a burglar with her bare hands, but if not there’s nothing she can do but allow herself to be done over, or to hope for a kick-boxer to stroll past.

Our Nanny Government bans women from carrying a gun to defend themselves or their families - bizarrely enough it even bans them carrying mace, tasers, or pepper spray - and it is still trying to enact gun control legislation to remove guns from the law-abiding citizens. Non-law-abiding citizens just can't wait!

So what’s a woman to do, then? Well, if she's Helen Clark or Rosie O'Donnell then she can have men with guns protect her, but if not you'll have to ask these guys about making a submission on the Firearms Bill– so you can too, and you might consider letting Ann Coulter help you with what to say.

Rob Moodie on The Wire

Rob Moodie is interviewed on 95bFM on The Wire at 1pm(ish), ie., in roughly five minutes!

Live feed is here.

From the bFM site:
Lawyer representing the Berrymans who has taken a principled but perhaps personally expensive stand in publishing the Butcher Report. The report lays the blame for the bridge accident at their farm at the Army's door, but by publishing it in defiance of a court order Moodie faces serious consequences. Who said Lawyers are always unprincipled.

Right to property = a place to stand

Yesterday I commented to Lucyna that you can't be sure that someone is actually on the same side as you if there is disagreement over what concepts such as property rights actually mean.

Today Tibor Machan writes here on the confusion over property rights, and some of the consequences of that confusion:
Now if it is clearly understood that the respect and protection of the right to private property facilitates not only the pursuit of one’s direct, immediate self-interest but also all those other projects that people so evidently and widely support, then the abrogation of that right can be seen in a different light from the usual.

Many who oppose private property rights do so on the grounds that ... it simply facilitates the pursuit of private goals. Thus it must neglect others and impersonal goals. But if we understand that private property rights facilitate much else besides taking good care of one’s immediate concerns, including many of those I have listed above, then attacking it takes on a very different coloration...

Putting it a bit differently, attacking the right to private property amounts to attacking the judgments of private individuals who would have the option to support various goals they believe in. Instead, government officials—politicians, bureaucrats and their advisors—get to confiscate private property in taxes and other takings and they get to say to what ends these will be contributed.
Note especially what Tibor says about confiscation, and remember that compensation for confiscation is what many still believe as being being the essence of property rights: ACT's 2002 manifesto for example offers the plank: "Improve the security of property rights by establishing a prima facie right of compensation for regulatory takings."

What can one say except, 'Marx help me!'

And he can. Remember that point one of Marx's Communist Manifesto - point one! - was the abolition of private property. Marx understand the importance of private property; he knew that as a bulwark of freedom it would need to be destroyed first so that the terrorism could commence forthwith.

The UN even understands the importance of property rights: Article 17 of the Universal Dclaration of Human Rights declares: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Ayn Rand understood the concept of private property rights and unlike the drafters of that declaration she knew how to defend it; she knew that this bulwark of freedom must be protected by being defended with the right ideas, and defend them she did. She understood that "the right to life is the source of all rights - and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights" - without a place to stand - "no other rights are possible."

Point that out to the drafters of the RMA Amendments when you get a chance.