Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hide: Desperate & soon-to-be dateless

What's the definition of desperate? Let's say that just a week before the election a TVNZ Colmar-Brunton poll showed that your candidate was fourteen points south of the leader in the race for Epsom's electorate vote, and he was only ten percentage points north of the third-placed candidate. You'd express disappointment, right? Resolve, maybe? But desperation?

ACT Party president Catherine Judd has chosen the latter aproach, with a carefully worded email to everyone in her address book, incuding me, confessing how desperate her party is. Her evaluation of a fourteen point deficit? "The trend in both the public polls and our polling is clear - Rodney is on track to win the seat next Saturday," There you go. The poll showing Rodney well behind actually shows he is going to win. No surprise that in her day job Catherine is a professional spin merchant. Aaron got one of Catherine's emails, and he has the whole thing here.

"ACT on track to win Epsom but we need your help" is the headline. Half of it is true. They do need help. I wonder if this would work? Why won't National help? I explained why a few weeks ago: any further investment in ACT would be what economists call malinvestment, something ACT's Hayekians should at least understand.

Fun in the Whangarei electorate

Julian (who has gone from hippy scruff to a freshly shorn man with a mission) has the report from Hooch Helen's Whangarei meeting here. Some highlights
Helen was extremely articulate, as usual, and the crowd was responsive, with many shouts of "hear hear"...

Muriel was speaking for Act. She let herself down time and again by starting off with something libertarian in principle, and then saying that it could only happen if government did this or that for the people. So close... but not quite. Phil Heatley from National was following the new trend by stealing the Libertarianz economic principals, which was all good, but a bit suspicious....
Read on here.

Seven things before breakfast

The seven things meme, pinched from Ruth:

7 things I plan to do before I die:
  1. Write a novel. Or two.
  2. Visit every building by John Soane, Carlo Scarpa, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Thomas Jefferson, Bruce Goff, Louis Sullivan, Pier Luigi Nervi, Santiago Calatrava, Felix Candela and Frank Lloyd Wright--and then a) write a book about the link betweeen them all, and b) design a building at least as good as all of them.
  3. Attend Bayreuth's Wagner Festival and go to every single session; and then visit the Rodin Museum ... when it's open.
  4. Watch at least one AFL final live.
  5. Own an original Newberry, and an original David Knowles.
  6. Pass a law allowing capital punishment for spammers.
  7. Make it possible to introduce a Constitution for New Freeland.
  8. Drive an E-Type Jag across Europe.
  9. Change the rules of a meme once I've started. :0)
7 things I can do:
  1. Talk nonsense.
  2. Build a house.
  3. Design a house.
  4. Talk nonsense to planners, buiding inspectors, and arborists so someone can build a house.
  5. Edit.
  6. Cook.
  7. Drink.
7 things I cannot do:
  1. Hold a note.
  2. Vote for an authoritarian.
  3. Abide respectability worshippers, clever-dick hairsplitters, cynical nihilists, bigots, poseurs or fakes.
  4. Listen to the Bee Gees without feeling nauseous.
  5. Listen to Nick Smith without feeling nauseous.
  6. Listen to Fidel Castro at all.
  7. Swim to Australia.
7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:
  1. Intelligence
  2. Passion
  3. Energy
  4. A soul
  5. Wit and humour
  6. Insight
  7. Big tits
7 things that I say most often:
  1. Ooh. A Crownie, thanks.
  2. Hey, who stole my [insert object sitting right in front of me].
  3. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Property and Happiness.
  4. For fucks sake!
  5. Unprincipled arsewipe!
  6. As X said...
  7. Bugger.
7 celebrity crushes:
  1. Diana Rigg
  2. Ingrid Bergman
  3. Audrey Hepburn
  4. ?
7 people I want to do this:
LibertyScott, Julian Pistorius, TinCanMan, Beethoven Pleydenwald, Alan Howard, Richard Goode

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Friday, September 09, 2005

The compassion of statists

The compassion of statists is hogwash says Helen at Speakeasy. I can't disagree. Isn't compulsory charity an oxymoron? And aren't the bloody anti-Green Brethren leaflets just a shining example of free speech? Susan the Libertarian thinks so.

Some more questions

  • Does anyone genuinely give a fuck about the Exclusive Brethren's leaflets? Or is it all manufactured heat and spin? Have you actually seen them? Why is so much goddamn time being taken over how they were produced, rather than what they actually say?
  • What's really wrong with a leaflet attacking the government when we're in the middle of a fucking election?
  • Chris Trotter suggested yesterday that Helen Clark would win last night's TV debate just by staying on message and just avoid smirking. Did she?
  • Didn't Pita Sharples seem sensible on the debate? How long do you think that will last once he's in Parliament?
  • Will he be in Parliament? Will John Tamihere? Will Winston? Will Atareta?
  • Do you think Winston knows he's losing it? Does Rodney?
  • If Peter Dunne is just a doormat for both Big Old Parties, then is Rodney just a lapdog for Don? And what does that make Winston and Jeanette? An old dog that can't learn any new tricks, and the sort of dog that leaves hair all over your clothes? Are these metaphors really as pathetic as they sound?
  • Wasn't Helen's make-up simply splendid? Did she get the Woman's Day team in to do it?
  • Aren't the TV debates better without that shagging worm. And John Campbell.
  • Was Rodney talking to the country in last night's TV debate, or just to Epsom voters? Did anyone hear him say 'Party vote Act' more than once?
  • Have you noticed the frequency with which the words 'individual liberty,' 'freedom,' 'responsibility' and 'property rights' have appeared around the hustings? Shame none of the wankers using the words intend to do anything about them, but lip service is at least progress.
  • How many times did you hear the words 'family' and 'common sense' last night? Is there such a thing as word inflation by which the value of words diminishes with over-use?
  • What the fuck does Peter Dunce's Family's Commission do all day, and why should we keep paying them to do it?
  • Does anyone remember what Bill English looks like? Is that a bad thing?
  • The top ten bloggers (measured by number of posts) produced 1663 posts in August, roughly 390 per week. How many posts do you think these ten will produce the week after the election? The month after? Do you think Tim Selwyn could offer odds on some different combinations?
  • Has anyone actually availed themselves of Tim Selwyn's Election Book? Or is he just talking in the dark?
  • Does anyone actually understand what the fuck Tim Selwyn is on about, or is it just me?
  • Was the best headline about the Brash-Dunce meeting this one: "It's Rodney. Hide."
  • If the Epsom poll shows Hide in the lead, will Helen openly ask Labour voters to hold their nose and back Worthless? Will they listen?
  • If National lose another election, will their 'strategist' for three successive election defeats fall on his sword? And who the fuck ever decided Murray McCully to be a strategist?
  • How much do political scientists get paid to deliver wisdom that consists of either the bloody obvious, or the bloody stupid? Why are these people taken seriously? Are they?

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Candidate meetings at VUW and Karori

A report in from yesterday's VUW and Karori candidate meetings:

Another day, another (two) meeting(s).
The first, at the University at lunchtime was largely a waste of time. It was cold and damp and the audience consisted almost entirely of candidate fan clubs. Very few actual punters were apparent. The sound was atrocious and it was virtually impossible to hear what any of the candidates said.
Karori Rotary ran a much better meeting. The format was standard - five minutes from each candidate (thankfully down from ten) followed by questions, with the addition of a two minute close from each candidate when the questions ran dry. The audience were generally polite although many of the questions were quite abrasive.
The usual waffle was in evidence. United Future likes families. Families are groups of people. This was pretty convincing and as I'm often part of a group of people I'll probably change my vote now. One of the Greens' four main planks is "appropriate decision making", presumably in opposition to all the candidates who were promoting inappropriate decision making.
Highlight of the night was Marian Hobbs' closing address. Think about it. It's nine days until an election that's too close to call in an electorate that's too close to call. She only has one real opponent, so who does she go after? Li'l ole Libz! Ranting on about how "you can't privatise the air" and generally raising eyebrows all around the room. Except for "eyebrows" Blumsky himself who was too busy pissing himself laughing.
Onwards.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Forcible evacuation

  • The remaining citizens of New Orleans are to be forcibly evacuated say the headlines Much like the forcible exacuation of the Israeli citizens in Gaza. Or the forced deportation of Elian Gonzales. Is there another way? Maybe. Not everyone involved seems eager to carry out the order. "We personally will not force anyone out of their homes," said Art Jones, a senior official in the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Let us wait and see.
  • The Interdictor won't be dragged out at gunpoint. "Everyone keeps asking if we're going to comply with the mandatory evacuation order," says the site. "We're exempt."
  • "This is a disaster the likes of which we are only beginning to understand." Once again that leitmotif is heard, that the immensity of this disaster in the midst of a first world country is utterly unlike anything seen before, the likes of which, the causes of which, and th eblame for which (if any) we are only, perhaps, beginning to understand. This time it is heard in a plaintive email from one of the volunteers at the Houston Astrodome, trying to come to grips with the tragedy, heartbreak and just pure out-of-this-world abnormality of what he's seeing before him.
    I fear that my three day trip to Houston, Texas, to help in the early stages of this relief effort, is only a glimpse into what our nation faces next.
    Mark has the email.

  • Cox and Forkum, cartoon above, have some links on the blame game.

Best comment on Winston's announcement

I love this. Says Krimsonlake in a PS:
I recently proclaimed that the NZ politician I'd be most likely to shag would be Winston. I'm quite serious about this, if I was pushing 40 I'd find him kind of hot. It's just a pity that he wouldn't announce his preference until after the performance.

Is Rodney really going to win Epsom?

There is a new poll for Epsom announced tonight on TV One which might help resolve a problem.

We all know that politicians are economical with the truth, but doesn't it set your teeth on edge edge when a party runs a radio ad saying "It's safe to vote for us, because we're going to win electorate seat X" when not one independent poll shows anything remotely like that being the case. Tonight's poll might resolve that problem.

The only independent poll taken in Epsom to date is that performed by the Herald, which shows National's Richard Worthless on 55.6 per cent support, Labour candidate Stuart (call me Walter) Nash on 23.1 per cent and Rodney Hide on just 14.8 per cent. National and Labour internal polling in the electorate concurs with the Herald's numbers, as confirmed just yesterday on Radio Live. Not a good result if you're an ACT supporter or an ACT MP, because if you don't have Epsom on September 18th then you don't have a party.

But despite this abysmal poll result for them ACT now have a nationwide radio and on-campus campaign telling voters that it's now safe to vote for ACT because 'we know ACT are going to win Epsom.' Really?

Based on what exactly? Based wholly, solely and entirely on two internal tracking polls conducted by the ACT Party themselves, not exactly the expected sources of saintly independence and honesty one would like to rely on. The "Capitol Research Polling" that ACT cite is not independent polling, but as Mike Collins carefully said when first announcing it, "it has been controlled and verified by Capitol Research." So this is not polling run by Capitol Research or even "Capitol Research Polling" but polling "controlled and verified by Capitol Research." [Emphasis mine.]

Those are very different things, aren't they, and as Aaron commented at the time, "my pick is that the poll was run by ACT volunteers from a script that was authorised by the Australian company." Mine too, especially as that was not denied.

And when those same volunteers can so easily morph 362 respondents into "approximately 400" or even 500 as they do when talking about their poll, then I think there is a right to reasonably wonder just how relaxed those volunteers are about the truth, particularly when the actual question asked of respondents has not even been released.

That this dodgy internal polling run seemingly by ACT's own paid volunteers has within the space of eight days become the basis for calls of 'ACT is Back!', 'You can vote for us now!' and a national radio campaign trumpeting their results--calls and ads which are wildly at odds with both the Herald poll and the Labour and National internal polling--then this all gives a clue to ACT's desperation, and to their fickle hold on the truth.

So how about you: do you think it is dishonest to run nationwide radio ads saying 'Vote ACT because Hide is winning in Epsom' if the only independent poll in the electorate shows that he isn't? I do.

The Colmar-Brunton poll conducted for TV One and aired tonight will give the first independent clue since the Herald poll a fortnight ago just who might win Epsom. Might. The reaction to that poll will be demonstrative.

Keith Locke has already committed himself to running naked through Epsom if Hide wins. I think it only fair and honest that if tonight's TV One poll shows that Hide is not in the lead that he commits to pulling his party's somewhat duplicitous radio ads and on-campus campaign saying that he is?

If this poll tonight shows otherwise, then fine. But if not, then he would have a radio ad peddling a lie, despite what his 'internal polling' purports to show.

Would you be happy about that?

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Rod Donald a capitalist?

Did anybody else see Greens co-leader-person Rod Donald describe himself as a "radical capitalist" on Kim Hill's show last night? It's true, as he says, that he has run a business or two, but he's not exactly the "radical for capitalism" that Ayn Rand was when she described herself that way, or even the radical for capitalism the guy is over there on the right.

Still, politicians used to show lip service to socialism. These days, they're paying lip service to capitalism. Even Jim Anderton wants company tax cuts these days.

Maybe those Celebrate Capitalism guys are making progress (read their declaration here). Anyone want to sign up to be a coordinator for a New Zealand city next year? It can be fun as the Worldwide WalkForCapitalism showed, and the organisation for next year's event starts now.

The 'right' to a view

Someone asked me the other day about 'the right to a view' (see, I do come back and answer questions). The man who asked me is a property owner denied use of his own land because his various neighbours want their existing waterfront views protected, and his planned house would remove their view. These neighbours have political pull, you see. Their 'right' to that view takes away his right to use his own property.

A related issue is the 'arboreal killing' around Lake Manapouri, reported in this week's Listener (but sadly off-line). Seemingly, beech trees are being poisoned because some people would like their sites to get a better view of the lake. Says Jack Murrell, whose family have been there for 116 years and owner of a block of sites, "We had a valuer in...We've got a block worth $60,000 now, but if we could see through the trees, we'd have the best view in Fiordland. It would be worth$1.25m."

His 'right' to a view would add enormous value to the sites and the people who buy them, but that right can't be secured.

Does that mean property rights are a nonsense, and need at best to 'balanced'? No, because under the present regime those with political pull are the ones doing the balancing.

Does it mean that removing the present legislative regime would cause widespread damage to the environment as anarchy and chainsaws run riot? No. Enter, common law.

The protection of common law was once the guardian of both property owners and the environment, and could be once again if the present legislative regime was removed. Voluntary agreements and the use of easements and covenants is the key.

If, for example, I want to protect my existing view over your land, then I can negotiate with you to buy an easement over it for that purpose, and that easement would be registered on the title, and legally protected. It might be that my neighbour doesn't want money; it might be that he values very highly the stand of trees on my property. How highly? Highly enough perhaps to ask for a restrictive covenant over those trees to be registered on my title, in his favour. We shake hands. We have agreement. We each have want we want, we each have security over what we want, trees and view are both protected, and not a bureaucrat or resource consent was needed to do it--just common sense, the tools of common law, and respect for each other's property rights.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it.

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Comments reset

I've had to reset the comments section in order to get rid of the spammed comments, which is up to my arse like alligators in a swamp. Sorry to those for whom the verficication system doesn' t work, but the spam is too much.

Jobs for the boys at the New Orleans Levees Board

Everything is under investigation in New Orleans, Louisiana and Washington DC, not least the New Orleans Levee Board, directly responsible for the bursting levees and rampantly corrupt--apparently spending taxpayers money on a casino, a private airport for its planes, and a private dock for its boats. In this story at Canada Free Press "Congressman, now Senator David Vitter [says] "corrupt, good old boy" practices were apparent in the New Orleans Levee Board just one year before the collapse of regional levees."

More here in a radio presentation by Charles Goyette about the jobs for the boys, and the political plums awarded to the political hacks on the Levees Board--a reward for raising money and getting their friends elected.

Why is it that people still want government in charge of anything important?

[UPDATE 1: Story on the Levees Board is approx. halfway through.]
[UPDATE 2: Where the Levees are: the BBC have a graphic showing what and where.]

'Nice' candidates at the GABA

The Gay Auckland Business Association last night hosted a candidates meeting at Auckland's Birdcage Hotel. Unsurprisingly, no Density or United candidate put their heads into the lion's den, but seven other candidates did.

All seven came across as nice people, but all but one were selling snake oil. Actually, all but one were nice: the exception was sitting Auckland Central MP and Minister in Charge of Helen Clark's Hand-Bag Judith Tizard, who bared her teeth when I asked her when Labour were going to stop putting their hand in my pocket to pay for their social programmes. "I'm sick of that argument," she snarled, "that taxation is theft." Good. It's one she's going to keep hearing. Tax apparently is the price I'm paying to be in civilization, and my tax has paid for her cancer treatment, so I'm just being selfish. So there you go.

Winston First's Susan Baragwanath was nice, and sharp, and clearly in the wrong party. She undertook if elected to persuade NZ First's bigots of the error of their ways. Good luck. She did however buy a Free Radical, so she does at least have the ammunition to help her in that task.

Andrew Bates from the Libertarianz told the audience that government should stay out of the boardroom, and out of the bedroom--a message that was well received. Less well received was the message that Libz have eight pages worth of departments and ministries that should be gone by lunchtime. Oh well. He did sign up two new Libz members who they said "had never heard anything like it." As we often say, people are deluded en masse, and enlightened two at a time... or something like that.

National's Pansy Wong was feisty but evasive. The good: New Zealanders needs to get government out of their lives. Woh! The bad: The best answers apparently appear on a postcard, she said. Hmmm. Nandor didn't have answers that would fit on a postcard, and despite trying to bore for Britain got the biggest hand of the night. Oh well.

Rodney Hide didn't win the night, but he did have the two best moments. Regressive candidate Trevor Barnard claimed he "felt the odd one out, I suspect I'm the only gay candidate up here." Shot back Rodney: "I haven't made my mind up yet." Asked later if he's seen Don Brash recently, he said he sees him often. "Not on TV," challenged his interlocutor. "Said Rodney: "I bet you do lots of things too, Sir that don't appear on television." "Not for want of trying."

Rodney was less light-footed when asked how he could call his party 'socially liberal' and the 'freedom party' when so many of his MPs voted against the Civil Union Bill. No answer. Rodney left early.

Independent candidate Thomas Forde (that's him above) finished the night with a graphic demonstration of what gives Winston Peters pleasure: he brought the house down. Come along to his bar Forde's Frontbench ("Auckland's answer to Wellington's Backbencher Pub" he claims) at 3pm on Sunday for the next Auckland Central instalment, at which I'll be putting my hand up for Libz.

The undecided voter

Cartoon by Richard McGrail, from the latest Free Radical. Subscribe here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How would Libz handle coalition?

So Winston's going to sit on the fence about the coalition question, and trust that no-one notices the scars on his backside. Fortunately, the more he evades, the more irrelevant he becomes. The thing is, if he had principles he would be fine. How so? Let me explain by pointing out how I would see a Libertarianz caucus of six behaving in parliament. It would be unlike that of any other party, and something only a party of principle could manage.

First of all, we would declare that we would support every single measure of any party--every one--that advanced freedom by any degree, just AS LONG AS IT INVOLVED NO NEW COERCION. None. At all.

Simple. And who could be against that? This would offer certainty--absolute cast-iron assurance--to any politician themselves eager to take the state's foot off our throat, but too timid to go the whole way. And at the same time it would focus attention from politicians, media and commentators alike on what 'freedom' and 'coercion' actually look like.

Have a look yourself at those two links above defining 'freedom' and 'coercion'--if our support were needed, those definitions would become very well aired indeed, and once aired the question of why ANYONE would support any coercion would become a real one. Why would they? (More on this including more links here.)

Our support would not be bought by promises of paper tigers like a 'Freedom Commission' or a '2025 Office' whose recommendations would be ignored, but only by real, concrete gains in freedom and the inexorable, ratchet-like removal of state coercion.

This principled policy would over time bring about principled change.

Second, our caucus of six would not waste our time throwing mud in Parliament's chamber, asleep in Select Committees, or engaged in endless meetings in Bowen House and Bellamy's bar, none of which have done or can do any freedom movements any good at all.

We might open a shop-front MPs office on Lambton Quay, but of Bellamy's and Bowen House there'd be little seen.

We libertarians realise that if we are to effect any long-term change in New Zealand in the direction of freedom that cultural change is the real key to that change, and that being in parliament would simply offer another, higher-profile platform to help us effect that cultural change: A bully pulpit for the sort of revolution John Adams realised was the real revolution in the battle for America's independence, the one inside people's heads. “What do we mean by the Revolution?" asked Adams of Thomas Jefferson many years later. "The war? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an effect and consequence of it. The Revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775.”

The revolution our own country needs is the one inside people's heads, a revolution in which understanding of and a demand for liberty set brush fires in people's minds.

 How then would we use parliament to set the brush ablaze?

 By this means: What motivates libertarians across the country is the injustice and iniquity we see across the country. A property owner whose life's dream is taken away by bureaucrats and busybodies; a business owner ruined by Inland Revenue or red tape; a bar owner shut down for allowing people to smoke on his property; young people giving up and heading to Australia because of the suffocating nannyism that has taken wing in this formerly blessed country; a farmer whose farm is confiscated for having a hidden marijuana crop on it.

A caucus of libertarians would fan out across the country and put these people up on the steps of parliament and in front of the country's media and the faces of television viewers and say "LOOK!" "Look what your laws and regulations and bossiness and busybodying has done to this person. THIS is what your vote achieved: this person's ruin!"

 We wouldn't root out hidden scandals about what Cabinet Ministers did in a school room many years in the past, or about how fast a PM was driving, or about what the PM said to a journalist about a policeman... we'd highlight instead the scandals that are right out there in the open when these politicians go to work: the laws they pass, the coercion they empower, and the good people they are doing over. We'd highlight these iniquities, and we'd make sure everyone in the country knows that THEIR VOTE helped in the ruin of these people--YOUR vote--and we'd explain carefully and simply how the philosophy of libertarianism and the ideas of Jefferson, Rand, Mises, Locke (John), Blackstone et al would make such ruin by government a thing of history.

 All libertarian political activism is primarily about cultural change, not political change--as John Adams recognised, that is the real revolution.

 Are you up for it?

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Grey Power meeting in Kerikeri

Julian has the news on yesterday's Keri Grey Power meeting here, including this 'soundbite':
During question time [says Julian], I upset quite a few busybodies and environmentalists by saying that an individual's property rights should be inviolable by the majority or by government. I used an example of the planned 7-storey building in the middle of Kerikeri, opposed by many in the area. I asked them whether, if they really objected so much to it, why don't they club together and buy the land?
They could then put an easement on it and re-sell it. Why do they feel the need to use the government as a gun to tell other people what they can do with their property? Didn't they realise that this makes it possible for the government to tell them what they can and can't do with their own property as well? At this stage I could see the eyes of a few farmers in the audience light up...

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Have I got news for you

Have I got news for you? Sure have.

First, the good news. Angus Deayton's 'Have I Got News For You' (right) has been so sharp for so long that Touchdown's Julie Christie has just announced she is producing a local version of the news quiz for Prime TV, 'Out of the Question.' Now, the less good news: her top choices for panellist are Michael Laws, Paul Holmes and Mike Hosking (can anyone say "tired" and "witless"), hardly the cutting edge wit we got from Paul Merton, Ian Hislop and Deayton, which was sometimes so sharp they cut themselves.

Paul Holmes himself promises in the Dom a "lively, boisterous, honest exchange of wit and views"--presumably that will be on the evenings on which he is unavailable.

What does seem out of the question at this stage is using the razor wit oft produced by the cast of the local radio show 'Off the Wire,' itself loosely based on HIGNFY: Te Radar, Mike Loder, Russell Brown, Jo Cotton et al. Shame. Maybe they'll get themselves a slot if they promise to keep their humour confined to the ad breaks.

Aro Valley and Manukau candidates meetings

LibertyScott and Richard both have the run-down on the Aro Valley meeting--"THE candidates' meeting for Wellington Central every election"-- and I've got the report below of the Manukau meeting at which Susan the Libertarian had jaws dropping on the floor.

LibertyScott's summary of the Aro Valley evening (for which Richard has the pictures):
All in all a great evening out, a wonderful chance to heckle and hear some bloody quick witted remarks from an audience that was not QUITE as leftwing as at previous elections.
My correspondent's summation of Susan's presentation: "A riot."

[UPDATE: Gman has more pictures here of the Aro Valley meeting, with a report coming. DPF, Kakariki, and Keith Ng also have reports, although Keith's isn't exactly of the meeting itself, more about the aftermath.]
[UPDATE 2: Luke has more pictures of the Aro Valley meeting. You'd think that the thief would be on one of the photos, wouldn't you.]

New Poll: To whom do you send confidential emails

A new poll this morning over there on the sidebar (as always, vote early and vote often), and the results (below) of the last one. And let me just say that I can smell the uranium on the breath of all 143 of you, bless you. You make me proud to have you as my readers.

Pete Hodgson: Bully

Pete Hodgson (right) is facing police inquiries after apparently 'heavying' a woman protestor at Otago University today. Story here. She was apparently attempting to wave a "Speed Kills" sign behind Helen Clark when Hodgson grabbed her and "pinioned her arms" in order to keep the sign from the TV cameras.

ACT's Stephen Franks has already drawn parallels with Gerry Brownlee's heavyhandedness last election. Says Franks, who has promised to "help the woman in any court case":
On the basis of her statement to the police he's a goner. The law is simple. Any uninvited unwelcome and intentional touch can be an assault. Before the last election Labour wallowed in outrage when Gerry Brownlee shoved a man downstairs. My recollection is that the man had been abusive to Mr Brownlee. Mr Brownlee nevertheless apologised. The Hodgson incident is more sinister because it was done in cold blood to censor the protest and Hodgson refused to release her when asked. It seems that Mr Hodgson targeted the women after he was upset by the release of tennis balls alluding to his colleague Mr Benson-Pope.

The irony here is the name of the woman: Madeleine Flannagan (right). I look forward to ACT supporters now lionising one whom they demonised just a short while ago.

Postcard secrets

This is priceless: there is a site called Postsecret to which people mail postcards depicting their secret thoughts and obsessions.
The instructions [are] simple enough. 'You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession or childhood humiliation. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative.'
Story here. Site here. Sample over there to the right. [Hat tip here: The Goodness]

Susan the Libertarian gives her report...

Hi everybody .. Elliot's provided a very good precis (below) of what happened last night. Not having done this before I wasn't sure what to expect; but I had my suspicions, all of which were founded. The audience of 60-70 constituted the party faithful; I don't think there was a single member of the public there who wasn't associated with some party.

The Destiny Church were there in full along with one solitary Act candidate from Pakuranga (no. 10 on the list) who spoke very well. Most people there were Maori & Pacific Islanders, many of whom were bellyaching about poverty, Maori seats and the usual communist crap. Good, I thought. Bring it on! Let's flush out the racists. (Which never takes long!)

I had to do a wee bit of last-minute editing due to their strict timekeeping - as I wanted to end on my terms, not theirs. I thought it went really well and I certainly had their attention! (The old ploy: grab them at the beginning and you've got them whether they like it or not!)

I was watching their faces all the way through. They were listening. I didn't pull any punches, but as there's only so much you can say in 6 mins, I just wanted to distinguish ourselves from all the others. Freedom v Nanny.

Unfortunately, nobody asked me a question at the end directly; the racists went on about the right's 'travesty' in trying to do away with the Maori seats. They really are deluded and, I suspect, very worried as they sense their days are numbered, hence the increasing vitriol. I was dying for someone to ask me that. I'd have bloody shot them down with both barrels.

However, I could contain myself no longer when the young woman, obviously opposed to Sue Bradford's proposed anti-smacking bill, posed the question (as per Elliot's report) to the Filipina United Future candidate, the latter of whom couldn't answer.

I just barged in (being blessed with a louder voice than most women!) and told everybody that ''I'm not politically correct, never was and I'm sure as hell not starting now! Sue Bradford's bill will create a Hitler Youth situation where kids inform on parents. No legislation will stop a mongrel from brutalising a child with a bit of 4x2 and if you think that it will, you're sillier than I thought you were. If someone can't tell the difference between a smack on the hand and brute force, they should be kept as far away from kids as possible because they're patently clueless. We already have laws that prohibit brute force .. we don't need anymore. This bloody country has a history of throwing more laws on poor laws, all of which is a waste of time. If you can wipe your own bums, sort out your own insurance and raise your kids to be decent people, you can do anything. You do not need interfering bloody bureaucrats to tell you want to do!"

The Destiny Church, the Maori Party & assorted Pacific Islanders all applauded .. one bloke with full moko (who prior to this had only shown interest in retaining the racist seats) suggested I join the Maori Party (!) Even the huge Pacific Island lady who had gone on ad nauseum about poverty within the PI community in Manurewa and what was the National Party candidate going to do about it, was right into my rave.

The only two who were not cheering were the caucasian Alliance & Green women, two deliciously unlovely communists. I was very happy to irritate them!

All in all, I recognised from the outset that I was up against it, so I just went for it. If nothing else, those people know about the Libertarianz now. Speech attached.

Cheers
Sus

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At a candidates meeting with Susan the Libertarian

A report in from the Manukau National Council of Women candidates meeting:

If you get invited to a National Council of Women meeting, my advice is to go to it. It's like visiting your Auntie. Club sandwiches, grapes, cheese and biscuits, wine, cups of tea....mmmmm. Go especially if Susan the Libertarian is speaking. It's a riot.

The Winston First candidate didn't turn up, and the Hard-Labour candidate had a man as a stand in - he was told by the meeting chairwoman to put on a dress before he spoke - and then it was nothing more than the usual Labour blather that we all know and love so dearly.

The Alliance Retard lady looked like Santa, with green and red curly ribbons around her neck. She spouted on about the usual distribution of wealth, minimum wages, "fairness", exploitation... need I go on? [No, Ed. This was probably Alliance Leader Jill Ovens: Head Santa]

The Density church leader Richard Lewis chewed through 3 minutes of his allocated 6 by prattling on about "Family Values" - all jolly nice warming decent stuff, that we all probably respect and understand, but also a bit like being attacked by a rabid blancmange. Basically, he said nothing. Too nice, too fluffy. Nothing of substance. Well, yes there was the odd Socialist reference in there, but all too sleep-inducing to worry about. His swastika was well-hidden beneath his nice suit and tie--not even a black tee-shirt to be seen. Later on he showed his true racist colours, by attacking the ACT candidate about Maori seats.

He then handed over the next 3 minutes to Density's Tamaki Makaurau candidate, Tauwehe Hemahema-Tamati who began grovelling to the assorted Maori attendees with references to ancestors and gods. More time wasted on tribal fluff.

The Green candidate was pathetic. She spent 5 of her 6 minutes showing us a PowerPoint slide show of carefully orchestrated shots of pollution and plastic bags. The final 1 minute was spent talking about pollution and plastic bags. Oh, and" fairness" and "inclusion" and giving money away--ours of course. Very nice.

She certainly didn't like my 2 questions later on: firstly about Sue Bradford's policy from the previous election, about the taxpayer being forced to support the indolent and those who were not interested in working even when work is available-- she wormed out of that one by expressing no knowledge of previous campaigns. My second question asked was if the avowedly anti-American Keith Locke had expressed public sympathy for the victims of the hurricane in the Southern U.S. region. "Oh, of course he has", was the reply, then "it's all because of lack of funding."

I see no press release of the sort on the Green website, so consider her (Irene Bentley?) to be a big fat greenie liar. (But I repeat myself.)

The Maori party fielded a large transvestite - Mama Tere Strickland - who spouted the usual separatism and independence-with-other-people's-money. There were glimpses of humour, and more references to ancestors and gods. The tribal mentality is alive and well in Manukau. Very careful to say "superannuation at 60 for those who have a shorter life-span", rather that "superannuation at 60 for the Tangata Whenua."

The ALCP speaker I felt sorry for. Her points were good - the usual reasons for legalising cannabis, reducing victimless crime, industries that would spring from the crop - clothing, fibre, motor oil, however she unfortunately threw in the race card, the victimisation of Maori and how they always get busted for possession, whereas the white / white collar person did not. That sort of made my interest wain, but I still accept that the bulk of her speech had valid points.

The ACT Pakuranga candidate Bronny Jacobson spoke well, but was grilled by the largely Maori and Polynesians audience over the ACT Party's lack of Maori candidates. It didn't seem to matter to them that ACT have an Indian or a Chinese candidate. No Maori = Racist!

The National Candidate, Fepulea'i Ulua'ipou-O-Malo Aiono, (I admit, I did cut and paste the name--just like Don Brash does)) shuffled like a nervous school girl when asked if she backed the removal of the Maori seats. We could see she didn't personally, but she said she had to be a team player, and that as a National candidate, had to support their abolition. No principles in that area, obviously. However, she firmly believed in a hand up, not a hand out. She was very proud of her Samoan parents coming to NZ, seeking a better life for their family, and even more proud of them not receiving a benefit when they did it. A very experienced, articulate and well travelled lady. Her CV is quite a read. Go to the National website.

Hurricane Susie then stepped up to the plate - unfortunately the meeting organiser couldn't pronounce "Libertarianz," (how many can?) but nevertheless, Susie made it quite clear who she represented. Her opening line was followed by the sound of 60 jaws hitting the ground:
Hello, I'm Susan Ryder, and I'm representing the Libertarianz Party. Now, before we start, I'd like you all to give me your wallets please. Your wallets, please - Now! - give them to me!
Even I was gobsmacked. She made the pertinent points about government theft, taxation, regulation and interference. Susie basically spent six minutes saying "the Government can bugger off out of my life," and the applause at the end of her speech indicated that what she had said impressed people. Although with only six minutes to speak, I'm not sure they all fathomed just how far Susie wanted the Government to bugger off!

Six minutes sounds like a long time, especially if you're the speech writer, but when you have a great orator like Susie, those minutes just fly by.

As always Question Time provided the most fun. A young lady questioned the United Future candidate, Hannah Baral, about United's support of the anti-smacking legislation and her concerns that if she disciplined her child in a shopping mall she could end up in jail. Ms Baral obviously didn't have a clue. Susie then launched into the topic - "defending parent's rights! government busybodies! utter bullshit! if you can wipe your own bum, you can raise kids! bad laws, followed by stupid laws!" - it almost had me on the floor!

Susie received approving noises, and 'kia ora's' and light applause from around the room. The greenie candidate was looking at the floor - her taut mouth indicated she had been sucking on a lemon, and obviously did not like this one little bit. Oh dear! It might upset Ms Bradford!

Predictably, the Commie-Santa was a believer in the socialist mantra: "nanny state knows what's best for your children." During Mount Susie's small eruption, the Communist-Alliance Santa tried to butt in, however our Susie told her to "bloody well shut up - you've had your turn", and continued.

The Density Church people even approved of her speech. She even gave one of our Libz brochures to a Density church member. Cheeky. Love it.

[UPDATE: Susan's speech is online here. Make sure your jaw is safely wired shut before you read it.]

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Today in New Orleans

Some updates below on things in New Orleans:
  • Our own Herald has the story of some NZers who were caught in New Orleans. "Life has been horrible," one says, "I've seen so many things I've never seen before." She said the national guard had arrived the previous day and they had finally slept for more than a few minutes. "It was too dangerous before that." The friends said they had been forced to smash their way into stores for drinks.
  • The Boston Globe has "a list of famous spots in the city, and how they are faring, though the full extent of the damage won't be known for some time."
  • Updated aerial photographs of the the areas affected by Katrina have become available at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Katrina site and Sciponius.com has a Wiki map "intended for the use of people affected by Hurricane Katrina who have or are trying to find information about the status of specific locations affected by the storm and its aftermath." Try not to clog their bandwidth. [Hat tip Marginal Revolution]
  • "Under the hot Louisiana sun, the sweltering nights with no air conditioning and only the hope of a breeze,... and in a week in which the temperature topped 90 degrees day after brutal day... In the words of Algiers resident Nicholas Beninate, 'Ice is like gold.'" And ice is arriving according to the New Orleans Time Picayune; in some places there is a feast of it, in some places famine, but it is arriving.
  • And not just ice, there's power too. According to The Interdictor, "Various buildings in the CBD are getting power based on priority. The Pan Am building across the street from us just got power. The W has been powered up again. The Double Tree has power. The Dome has power. According to Brian, we're behind a couple of hospitals but we could be getting power in a matter of hours."
  • Alan Howard has a timeline comparing the New Orleans tragedy with the San Francisco earthquake, which doesn't look good. The only thing I might say is that the scale of the present disaster is unprecedented; this is not the Great Fires of San Francisco or London or Chicago, this is Pompeii or Carthage or the Great Plague. Equally, it is unprecedented and unexpected that rescuers would be fired upon by those intended to be rescued.
  • But it's not all anarchy. There are some police in New Orleans. It's just they're not all taking their job seriously, some have been 'shopping.' See the video here. That said, in an emergency it is entirely appropriate to acquire the necessaries of life by such means, provided one repay later what was taken--but not when on duty, if indeed they were. (Ayn Rand's argument for this here; scroll down to the end.)
  • Pumping the water back out of New Orleans might take longer than the eighty days claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers due to the state of the water, and objections from the EPA to that water going back into Lake Ponchartrain. It's got to go somewhere, and there's an awful lot of it...enough at its peak to cover the entire United Kingdom. Sig has posted pictures here (top of page) and here (bottom of page) of some of the water in the streets--it does, as The Interdictor says, look "disgusting."

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Degrees in everything at Unitec

How many more universities should New Zealand have? And who should decide? Auckland's Unitec wants to be awarded university status, but according to an expert panel appointed to assess their merits as a university, they don't apparently have any. Application refused.

Sione Palu argues here that UNITEC doesn't deserve university status, but neither does it need it. Good reading.

Message to Cullen: "Always bullshit from the truth"

An Irish QS at the London construction company at which I once worked was a fabulously bullish negotiator from whom I picked up a few tips. "Always bullshit from the truth," was one of his pieces of wisdom, one which Michael Cullen should perhaps take to heart. Cullen is laying bullshit upon bullshit with his whiteboards, slides, graphs and charts all purporting to show "National's promises do not stack up."

But it was all bullshit, and he knows it, and you don't need to be a genius to do the numbers.

Crikey, even David Farrar can do the numbers (Hi David), and he has. Gareth Morgan this morning pointed out too that both National and Labour propose to use the surplus for their respective cuts and spending promises: Labour's promised spending package would cost 2% of GDP, National's cuts 2.5%. So whatever criticisms Cullen makes of the affordability of National's cuts he must also make of his own, says Morgan.

Fact is, much, much more than National's meagre tax cuts are affordable. However, as DPF concludes, "[Cullen is] trying to twist the facts in a way which lacks credibility, especially in view of [his] own spending pledges. You can not start drinking like an alcoholic in a brewery and then start issuing warnings against excessive alcohol consumption."

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Perigo on the election: Statism or Selfhood?

So who are you voting for this election? Are you voting to get your life back from the Government, or will you be voting for more of the same--voting for selfhood, or voting for a greater menu of statism?

Lindsay Perigo makes clear in his Editorial for the latest Free Radical magazine (just out) which way he's going. He won't surprise anyone with who he's voting for, but you might appreciate his anaysis of why he's voting that way. How does he rate the other parties? What does he make of Rodney Hide and Don Brash? Read on here.

(And you can order your Free Radical from all good newsagents, or subscribe here.)

Beachhaven Candidates Meeting

A report from Libz Northcote candidate Peter Linton on last night's Beachhaven meeting:

Great meeting at Beachhaven last night with nine other candidates. Destiny, Winston First, ACT were non-entities.

Jonathan Coleman was your typical smarmy National politician, prepared to say all the right things to get your vote. If he keeps up the energy and the grease he could take the seat off Anne Hartley. The Maori Party candidate Frances Waaka had some passion for what she stood for & made a good attempt.

Nandor Tanczos was your typical Greenie--no surprise there--but a good public speaker & had some fire in his belly. Not his electorate, but the Greens don't have a candidate in Northcote. Perhaps Nandor is covering all Auckland electorates without a Green Man of their own? He was relieved to see I didn't turn up wearing a suit & tie as he didn't want to look like everyone else - fat chance with his hair.

I wore my Politically Incorrect T-shirt, black jeans & winkle pickers to make sure I didn't look the same as anyone else. It certainly made me stand out --particularly the winkle pickers: you could still smell the moth balls.

Grant Gillon was there saying vote for Anne Hartley, but give your party vote to him. He came across as just another tax & spend socialist who knows what's best for the masses. No surprise there either: he works with Jim Anderton.

Anne Hartley is another evil socialist who not only knows what's best, but would happily tell everyone that they're too stupid to know & they should be grateful that she's in Parliament. All hail Oh Great Sister Anne!

For myself, ran over time slightly, however I really enjoyed the question period with some great interjections. It was reassuring being able to say what you think because you're selling ideas not trying to buy votes.

A great night.

Punk's birthplace to close

The birthplace of punk is closing. Punk wasn't born in England, it was born in New York at CBGB's with bands like Television, the Ramones, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Blondie performing on its small plywood stage. Now CBGB's lease has expired and, despite the protestations and forward bookings of CBGB's owner, it is not being renewed. "I think we may be here into December," says owner Hilly Kristal, "with a little luck. It can go that long." The landlord disagrees: "A statement from [landlord] Muzzy Rosenblatt called for CBGB's to 'vacate the premises both voluntarily and expeditiously,' adding that the organisation which aids New York’s homeless now 'believes it is in the best interest of our clients – the homeless and neediest New Yorkers – to sever this relationship.'"

Visit the CGGB Shrine while you can.

Modern Enemies of Reason

A fabulous piece here from the unlikely source of Mike Moore, former prime minister of New Zealand and former director-general of the World Trade Organisation. [Hat tip Owen McShane]  

Modern enemies of reason - SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST,
September 2, 2005:
Proving that genetically modified foods are safe is a bit like proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster: it's hard to prove something is not there when fanatics want to believe.

It is embarrassing to see environmentalists being suckered into using dubious European slogans such as the "precautionary principle" - which the rest of the world realises is sophisticated protectionism for their privileged, subsidised farmers. This is just another example of Europe losing the plot.

What once gave Europe, and cultures of European extraction, the edge? What allowed their societies to flourish and expand, giving their economies the opportunity to explode with creativity and become the dominant global force for the past few centuries? The answers: the separation of church and state, freedom of religion and, more importantly, freedom from religion. Given freedom, enlightenment was sure to follow, philosophers argued. "Have the courage to use your own reason," was the motto of the Enlightenment. People began to refuse to outsource their consciences to clerics, or accept privileges conferred by a sovereign.

So who are the modern enemies of reason, tolerance and freedom? Fundamentalist religious fanatics rage against modernity: their most evil expression of powerlessness is terrorist attacks. But even in open societies, intolerant forces gather, march, and claim to know a truth that everyone else must live under.

These enemies of reason normally align themselves on the political right. There are, however, enemies of reason who pose as progressives and, like others, claim to be saving the world. The environment is their vehicle of power. Fundamentalists oppose stem-cell research, which offers ways to treat some of mankind's most devastating diseases and injuries. But pharmaceutical research is moving out of Britain due to rabid activists who last year were responsible for over 300 attacks on research facilities and staff.

The FBI, in a recent report to a US Senate committee, warned that eco -militants are the new terrorist threat: fire-bombing SUV dealers in opposition to gas-guzzlers; burning so-called insensitive housing developments, causing US$ 70 million in damage; and so forth. Yet, it is in the name of animal rights that the most violent exchanges have taken place in many countries. One animal-rights activist recently said that they were not bound by law, and their cause was like the anti-slavery campaign.

Where the fundamentalists and environmental militants join hands against science is in the arguments against GM foods and stem-cell research. Genetically modified foods offer us the opportunity to feed a hungry world. It is hard to see how we will provision the world and lower the use of dangerous insecticides and fertilisers without enlisting the new forces of science.

Of course we must be prudent, cautious and seek high standards, because science can move faster than our moral, ethical or legal capacity to cope. But those who wish to destroy science have as their forefathers those who burned so-called witches, not the heroes who freed the slaves. These small groups, which exaggerate the dangers to a gullible media, represent pre-Enlightenment thinking. It is, however, a good way to grab the headlines and raise funds.

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Carlo Scarpa: Casa Ottolenghi a Bardolino

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Ghost Town that is now New Orleans

"The news and opinion spin cycle is moving faster than the winds of a category 4 hurricane. Barely have we had the opportunity to feel denial about the terrible tragedy, feel sympathy for victims and begin lending our support than we've leapt to the stage of recrimination: Who's to blame? And the rush to judgment is running ahead of appropriate investigation and facts."

And so it is. Duane Freese's comments above gives the reason why I've been posting stuff here to try to get to grips with what's going on and what it means before leaping to judgement: aside from the obvious fact that living in lawlessness is as bad as living gets, the only thing emerging from the uncertainty of what is happening in New Orleans is that things are desperately uncertain, as an archived Fox News reports from Shep Smith and Geraldo Rivera shows (you'll need Quick Time for these), and as the confused blogged reports from The Interdictor continue to demonstrate. The New Orleans Times Picayune blog helps.

Irfan Khawaja says on his blog, "I’ve kept a discreet silence so far about events in New Orleans, in part because they’re too fluid to discuss, in part because they’re too horrible to contemplate." To me it's because they're so horrible that they must be contemplated in order to make some sense of them.

So it's in this spirit that I've previously posted links to articles and information that tries to make sense of what happened and why it did. Posts (in reverse chronological order) here, here, here, here, and here are examples. More tonight:
  • Duane Freese's Breaks in the Levee Logic offers plenty of background and links to help with informed judgement on the disaster response and the history of Louisiana's infrastructure.

  • Also at TechCentralStation, Jackson Kuhl considers how The City Below Sea Level was founded, and why, and on what geological base: answer a sinking one, founded "on swampland drained by pumps and canals."

  • There are nonetheless good reasons why New Orleans is such a Geopolitical Prize as to make its rebuilding inevitable, argues George Friedman. [Hat tip Sharon Ferguson at Tributaries.]

  • And more thoughts here from Rand Simberg on the unwelcome subject of 'price gouging' , to which he gives three cheers (even as the comments go wild at Druckenmiller's thoughts on the subject). Note that Simberg and many others specifically exclude from their analyses “the horrific situation in the worst-hit areas, in which first-worlders have been thrust into the third world literally overnight, many with no place to even sleep, let alone have access to food, water and other necessities or money with which to purchase them.”

    Advocating anything less than simple benevolence for those in the midst of the horror would be something less than human; however, to advocate anything other than market mechanisms to set prices once the immediate tragedy is past is to ask for the natural disaster to be compounded by a man-made one.

  • To conclude, it's worth remembering that New Orleans wasn't just a tourist mecca and a great industrial city of 1.3 million people: even as it endures its death throes we really should remember that New Orleans gave birth to something unique and special, as New Orleans-born jazzman Wynton Marsalis says in his own statement on the tragedy. My final words here tonight are his:

    New Orleans is the most unique of American cities because it is the only city in the world that created its own full culture - architecture, music and festive ceremonies. It's of singular importance to the United States of America because it was the original melting pot...]The collision of] cultures created jazz and jazz is important because it's the only art form that objectifies the fundamental principals of American democracy. That's why it swept the country and the world representing the best of the United States.

    New Orleanians are blues people. We are resilient, so we are sure that our city will come back. This tragedy, however, provides an opportunity for the American people to demonstrate to ourselves and to the world that we are one nation determined to overcome our legacies of injustices based on race and class. At this time all New Orleanians need the nation to unite in a deafening crescendo of affirmation to silence that desperate cry that is this disaster...

    We're only as civilized as our level of hospitality. Let's demonstrate to the world that what actually makes America the most powerful nation on earth is not guns, pornography and material wealth but transcendent and abiding soul, something perhaps we have lost a grip on, and this catastrophe gives us a great opportunity to handle up on.

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Survivors

Does anyone else remember a TV programme from times past called Survivors, which explored how comfortable, well-off Westerners would cope when worldwide disaster strikes and working infrastructure is ripped from under them. As I recall, it began as good drama and ended as melodrama, but it did highlight how difficult life would be for those who wouldn't have the skills needed to support themselves, nor the rule of law to protect them.

Apocalyptic drama was all the rage for a while, including one of my favourite films Quiet Earth starring Bruno Lawrence. If only disasters could be confined to celluloid, or at least the appropriate lessons learned from those disasters depicted on celluloid .

The coalition challenge

As Winston's third horse gets crushed in the two-horse race between Helen and Don, it seems he is finally going to come down off the fence and announce who he will go with if enough voters are stupid enough to give him the chance. Will it be Helen or Don? How big an office will he want? Can he be Treasurer again, and if so who will do the heavy lifting for the Member for Courtenay Place like Bill Birch did last time? And will Winston First even make the 5% threshold and be 'kingmaker' as he would like to be?

Whatever the answers to those questions, it once again raise two issues of crucial importance to small parties in the MMP environment:

1) How do you deal with coalition while maintaining your principles?
2) What can a minor party really do from the backbenches?

The first question is not something that bothers Winston since his stock in trade is populism rather than principles, but it is an important question for parties like Libertarianz whose raison d’être is the principled application of freedom. And the second question is equally important, and it is crucial that punters are aware that minor parties do actually have a strategy for effecting real change from the backbenches, rather than--as other parties do so often--stooping to scandal-mongering and mudslinging in order to maintain their profile and the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

Fortunately, the power of principle means that a libertarian caucus in Parliament would have a very real and unique way to effect real change in the direction of more freedom and less government, and doing it without either mudslinging or selling out. How would we do it? And would we go into coalition given the chance?

I'll tell you tomorrow -- I've already given you enough clues. :-)

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Questions for the day

1. So, do you think the Labour-Progressive-Green hacks and politicians really think Don Brash is a racist? Or is it that they want you to think that?

2. Would Rodney Hide endorse decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use? Ask him at the next Epsom meeting. LibertyScott gives some good reasons why he should. And while you're asking, find out when ACT's RMA Policy will hit the streets...if indeed it ever will.

3. Was the latest poll showing Labour eight percentage points behind really "a mistake" as Pete Hodgson tried to claim? Or was the "mistake" Hodgson's own by trying to spin the result. At least Jordan was more honest: "Nothing good one can say about this," he said.

4. What can Labour pull out of the bag now that their pledge card has already been produced? Any shots in the locker now their high-risk strategy of attacking Brash instead of the lightweights behind him seems to have backfired. Do they have a Plan B?

5. How much will ACT get for selling their principles? $11.50 will buy them at the moment, but watch out for the Auto-bid of Andrew Falloon, number thirty-four on ACT's list.

Privatising the land

This is what happens when you really value something: you don't ask for government help or ask them to get out the big stick, you just put you money where your mouth is.

A US conservationist has created a huge, private national park in Chile, to immense local opposition. It's a real-life example of what might happen if we sold NZ's national parks. I expect the land will be far better maintained than publicly owned parks, or what passes for New Zealand's conservation estate, and will include voluntary easements for access.

Speaking of NZ's 'conservation estate,' as the pamphlet says that upset Jeanette so much (how the truth hurts), the bureaucrats administering the estate have ensured:
  • Kiwi numbers are in serious decline due to ineffective predator control;
  • 77% of native species in decline;
  • 1080 operations have wiped out birdsong in many areas;
  • Millions of hectares of DoC-controlled land is going to ruin;
  • No possum or stoat control on 85% of the South Island estate;
  • And instead of private conservation initiatives the Greens wish to expand the conservation estate, push lease-hold farmers off the land, increase government control over conservation, and annul private property rights.
No wonder Jeanette got all septic at the chap who wrote the pamphlet. (Have a look at a video of Jeanette's attempt to 'confront' the pamphlet's author rather than argue the facts. It's hilarious.)

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Signs of freedom in Brooklyn?

A report back from last night's Brooklyn candidates' meeting in Wellington Central:

The room was packed; there weren't enough chairs, there were people lined up against the walls, and there were people outside the doorways peering in. The crowd of about 150 was feisty with a couple of party rent-a-crowds obvious but the heckling was reasonably good-natured. Best heckle was at Sue Kedgley, talking about alternative transport. She said she had a raft of policies and some wit noted that a raft policy was even worse than a bicycle policy.

Libertarianz' Bernard Darnton got a reasonable response and got his points across with minimum yelling from the audience and Marion Hobbs. The audience was talked over and Marion was corrected and she didn't respond further :-)

Surprise of the night was a question to National about tougher crime policies and their effect on prison overcrowding. Mark Blumsky said that he didn't mind paying to lock people up and build extra prisons. Darnton noted that you could increase sentences, limit parole, etc without increasing the prison population by repealing the Misuse of Drugs Act. There were a few gasps but the main response was applause, which surprised Danton as much as anyone.

Another 150 people heard the libertarian message, and a dozen or so candidates heard it for the nth time.

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Signs of freedom in Northland?

A busy weekend of campaigning in Northland has Julian both excited, and losing his hair. Maybe. What's getting him excited is hearing Blockwood Smith giving speeches like this, (as described by Julian):
Freedom this, freedom that, individual rights, getting rid of Nanny State, letting people live their lives without government interference by bureaucrats, etc. He threw in: "Government can give nothing that it has not taken away first, and if government is big enough to give you everything you want, then it is also big enough to take it all away." He ended with two words: "Freedom Matters."
Despite the fine words I counsel caution in Julian's excitement. Blockwood is of course the man that introduced the NCEA, and perhaps even more in danger of being delayed by a full-length mirror than Winston.

So what's getting Julian losing his hair? Your money, hopefully. He's offering to be 'de-scruffed', which should please Bob Jones, but de-scruffed at a price.

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A city evacuated

The evacuation of New Orleans, a city of 1.3 million, tells the scale of the destruction and the pettiness of some of the moaning about disaster relief. The Interdictor reports "It looks like their are more reporters on the street now than regular civilians... The city really does look like a ghost town." I can't think of a single evacuation of an entire modern city, nor debates about whether it is worth rehabilitating that city. The scale of destruction is that of Rome sacking Carthage, and as if salt were once again being spread on the fields...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Marines, Welfare, Gouging & Benevolence: More news & views on the tragedy in New Orleans

More news and opininion on the tragedy in New Orleans. Both news and opinion is that of others. First, The Marines are there, and Mark--in downtown New Orleans and reporting at The Interdictor LiveJournal--reports, "The city is starting to feel more secure now. Much larger military and Homeland Security presence and many fewer civilians left. Of course with this added security comes additional dangers like hyper-suspicious, armed authorities." Two steps forward, one step back.

Robert Tracinscki from The Intellectual Activist has a theory about what we have seen happen in New Orleans, and why the military presence is needed:
It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster....Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.
Read on here to see what he suggests caused it, or at least what perhaps exacerbated the natural disaster. Meanwhile, Julian Sanchez has got heartily sick and tired of "this spate of tiresome ruminations on how the hurricane is some sort of ultimate gotcha to deploy against the idea of small government."
This is all profoundly stupid. There is no deep overarching ideological point here, because for pretty much everyone short of the anarchists, preventing the collapse of civilization into a
huge Hobbesian clusterfuck makes the list—whether yours is short or long—of
things governments are supposed to do—state governments when feasible (assuming
adequate preparation on the ground is better than airlifts later), federal
government when it isn't...The real problem here sure looks like nothing more or less than a staggering display of ineptitude, which as the anti-matter doppelganger of mom, apple pie, and puppies, is pretty easy to oppose across ideological lines. By all means, let's hold officials at all levels accountable for how this has gone down, but spare us the pretended insights into the merits of mohair subsidies we're supposed to draw from all this.
And some more thoughts on price-gouging here from Steven Druckenmiller, to go with the thoughts I'd posted previously here in the discussions on petrol rationing. All make good economic sense -- Price Gouging Saves Lives argues David M. Brown for example, and so it can -- but sadly all fail to mention how the principle of benevolence might sometimes necessarily temper that hard sense, something Ruth argues for here. [Hat tip SOLO for some of these links.]

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Anarchy?

PJ O'Rourke once suggested that the best short argument against an anarchist would be to send them to Beirut. Pretty swiftly, suggests O'Rourke, the former anarchist would be saying, "Ah, more police please."

The last week in New Orleans might do the same thing for some anarchists and anarcho-capitalists...

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