Saturday, December 17, 2005

Capitalism is cleaner

Capitalist societies are cleaner, less polluted and environmentally 'better' than non-capitalist societies -- just remember for example the ordure-strewn environmental basket-cases of Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall came down, and compare them to where yo're living now -- yet still the notion persists that capitalism somehow doesn't deal successfully with environmental issues.
Often the worry is put in terms of "What about all the negative externalities that capitalism would create?" [says Tibor Machan] Which means, what about such things as pollution of the air mass, water ways, and so forth. The idea that's put forth in criticism of capitalism is that if we had full scale private property rights respected and protected, people could do whatever they wanted with what belongs to them and this would involve dumping all kinds of harmful stuff around their property-thus, negative externalities.
Tibor Machan considers this notion, and finds it "utterly misconceived," as I do. As he explains,
"Precisely because private property rights would have to be respected and would gain full, uncompromising legal protection, negative or harmful externalities would be prohibited.... As Aristotle already knew, when people need to heed their own stuff, they are more careful than when they deal with commonly owned resources." And when our neighbour dumps one of those "negative externalities" over our fence, if our property rights are properly protected we've got a clear motivation to clean it up, and to ensure our neighbour is legaly required to take responsibility. As Tibor points out,
history bears out these reflections-near-enough-to-capitalist societies are cleaner, preserve and conserve resources more vigilantly than do near-enough-to-socialist ones where-like in the old USSR and even contemporary China-pollution and waste have been immense. So both on the basis of history and careful reflection, it makes much better sense of trust a free market, private property rights based political economy when it comes to environmental values than those that let the state manage it all.
Read all of Capitalism and Environmentalism here. And feel free to explore my sidebar categories on Common_Law, Conservation, Property_Rights, and Environment to see my own contributions to this topic.

Linked Article: Capitalism and Environmentalism - Tibor Machan
Related Topics: Common_Law, Conservation, Property_Rights, Environment, Libertarianism

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I am a bloke

(Reciprocally Stolen from DPF) The BBC's 'Brain sex' survey purports to show the 'sex ID profile' of your brain, if you have one.

My brain apparently is 50% male.... My results below. (NB, if you plan to do the test yourself, you might want to do the test first before reading my own results.)

Angles
This task tested your ability to identify the angle of a line by matching it with its twin. This is a spatial task, which looks at how you picture space.
Your score: 20 out of 20
Average score for men: 15.1 out of 20
Average score for women: 13.3 out of 20
If you scored 18 - 20: You have more of a male brain. On average, men outperform women in this task and those with more mathematical knowledge tend to score quite high as well. In past studies, 60 per cent of the people in this range were men.

Spot the difference
This task tested your ability to identify which objects changed position. You lost points, if you incorrectly identified objects.
Your score: 57%
Average score for men: 39%
Average score for women: 46%
If you scored between 34 - 66%: You may have a balanced female-male brain.

Hands
You said your right thumb was on top when you clasped your hands together.
This suggests the left half of your brain is dominant. Many studies have tried to establish whether there is a relationship between handedness and brain dominance. Some scientists believe that if you are left brain dominant, you would be more verbal and analytical.
Empathising
Your empathy score is: 7 out of 20
Average score for men: 7.9 out of 20
Average score for women: 10.6 out of 20
Empathisers are better at accurately judging other people's emotions and responding appropriately. If you scored 15 and above, you are very empathic and would be an ideal person to comfort people in a time of crisis. Women in general are better at empathising.

Systemising
Your systemising score is: 15 out of 20
Average score for men: 12.5 out of 20
Average score for women: 8.0 out of 20
A score of 15 and above suggests you're good at analysing or building systems. Men in general are better at systemising.

Eyes
This task tested your ability to judge people's emotions.
Your score: 8 out of 10
Average score for men: 6.6 out of 10
Average score for women: 6.6 out of 10
If you scored 7 - 10: Your result suggests you are a good empathiser, sensitive to other people's emotions. Women generally fall into this category.

Fingers
We asked you to measure your ring and index fingers. Your ratios came to:
Right Hand: 1.02
Left Hand: 0.88
Average ratio for men: 0.982
Average ratio for women: 0.991

Faces
This task looked at how you rate the attractiveness of a series of faces. The images you looked at were digitally altered to create slight differences in masculinity.
Your choices suggest you prefer more feminine faces.

3D shapes
This task tested your ability to mentally rotate 3D shapes.
Your score: 12 out of 12
Average score for men: 8.2 out of 12
Average score for women: 7.1 out of 12
If you scored 10 - 12: Are you an engineer or do you have a science background? People with these skills tend to score in this range. Past studies have concluded that people in this range have a more male brain.

Words
This task looked at your verbal fluency.
Your score: you associated 14 word(s) with grey and you named 5 word(s) that mean happy. We are assuming that all the words you entered are correct.
Average score for men: 11.4 words total
Average score for women: 12.4 words total
If you produced 6 - 10 words: Most people in this range have a female-type brain.

Ultimatum
This task asked you how you would divide money.
If you had to split £50 with someone, you said you would demand £35
So far on the Sex ID test, men have demanded 51.6% (£25.80) of the pot and women have demanded 51.0% (£25.50), on average.

Linked Survey: BBC What sex is your brain test

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nightclubbing, we're nightclubbing...

Buying beer in a Swedish nightclub is amongst the most expensive purchases on the planet, whereas a Newcastle Brown at a nightclub in Newcastle is dirt cheap. However, Swedish nightclubs do have other significant advantages...

Compare nightclubs in Sweden here, and Newcastle here. [Powerpoint needed.] Where would you rather spend the night, and with whom?

Related: Beer & Elsewhere, Humour

Sprawl has always been good

My recent posts on sprawl and how good it is have offended people. Good. 'Sprawl' is simply a reflection of letting people live free, in the manner of their own choosing. Allowing cities to sprawl does not preclude those who wish to live in higher densities from doing so, it simply removes restrictions on all those who don't.

The manner of the sprawl will naturally differ from city to city and from country to country depending upon differing geographies, cultures, architectural talents, the period in which sprawl happened, and how much everyone has to spend. But as a new book points out, "sprawl isn't recent... Rich people have always wanted to sprawl:"
Ancient, medieval, and early modern literature is filled with stories of the elegant life of a privileged aristocracy living for large parts of the year in villas and hunting lodges at the periphery of large cities. . . . High density, from the time of Babylon until recently, was the great urban evil, and many of the wealthiest or most powerful citizens found ways to escape it at least temporarily...

He also notes, in reports that remind me of similar discussions in James Scott's 'Seeing Like A State,' that most efforts on the part of urban planners to reduce sprawl seem to make things worse, and to enrich incumbent landowners at the expense of the poor and the middle class.
The book is called Sprawl, a Compact History, and it points out that "sprawl didn't become a problem until the wealthy and powerful were joined by the hoi polloi." You might say that those opposed to sprawl are often those who already have their own country house -- it's not they and their friends who can afford them they're excluding, it's just 'all the other riff raff' cluttering up the place. Glenn Reynolds reviews the book at TechCentralStation. [Hat tip Commons Blog.] He concludes:
"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we do know that just ain't so." Bruegmann's book makes a strong case that a lot of the things we think we know about sprawl just ain't so. I hope that it gets the attention it deserves.
Sprawl is good -- it's just the recognition of choice, and letting people exercise it. There are some still not convinced of course. Here's one of the less, ahem, reasonable objectors giving his predictions for the future if sprawl is allowed to continue. File under humour:
Feudal middle age style villages will begin emerging in rural areas, heavily protected and defended by those that heed the warnings early. Hoards of people will blame the government, totalitarianism will begin to emerge in place of democracy, law and order will become the primary occupation of the Government. Military coups are entirely possible.

Civil disorder, confusion, crime, rape, looting and fear will reign over wide sectors of society. . . unless we begin preparing now this is what life in NZ will be like in 15 years - and that's probably an optimistic view.
Hilarious. He should write for The Onion, who have the report of "A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association [that] reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others."

"With traffic congestion, pollution, and oil shortages all getting worse, now is the time to shift to affordable, efficient public transportation," APTA director Howard Collier said. "Fortunately, as this report shows, Americans have finally recognized the need for everyone else to do exactly that."

Of the study's 5,200 participants, 44 percent cited faster commutes as the primary reason to expand public transportation, followed closely by shorter lines at the gas station. Environmental and energy concerns ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.

Linked Review: Learning to Love Sprawl
Book Excerpt from Sprawl - A Compact History
Linked Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others
Related: Urban_Design, History, Politics

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Not PC: This week's best

Here's some of the best pieces from 'Not PC' this week -- and you KNOW you haven't read them all. Bad reader. Here's your chance to catch up, and to send this link of the week's best to everyone you've ever met.

Poverty of imagination for Bradford
If you feel poor, you are poor. That's the message of Sue (Governments can do Everything) Bradford, who is re-defining what poverty means in an effort to get more government into more lives...
Thu, Dec 15, 2005

Global Warming? Just ignore it.
There are some whose politics behooves them to take a position on the science of Global Warming -- even if they really don't understand it -- and to insist that despite the science (or because of it) Global Warming is either happening and is real (or else is not happening and is a scam). Choose your politics and, it seems, have your position on Global Warming chosen for you...
Wed, Dec 14

Google in the antitrust cross-hairs
Guest commentary this afternoon from a new 'Not PC' guest writer, Barry Paul: Some libertarian commentators in the US are concerned that as Google has become extremely successful in its varied businesses, the company may become the inevitable target of an antitrust suit
Wed, Dec 14

The parents of Orauta have lost their school
Sad news that the parents and children of Orauta school have now been evicted, and the school is boarded up...
Wed, Dec 14

The news is out: Governments kill
And now the bad news: Democide researcher RJ Rummel has re-calculated the number of people killed by their government across the ravaged twentieth-century. The number is a staggering 262,000,000. Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government...
Wed, Dec 14

How good is the WTO really?
I'm a big fan of free trade, as I said just yesterday. However, I'm not a fan of the WTO. Free trade does not involve diplomatic negotiations, screeds of regulations, and buildings full of bureaucrats...
Wed, Dec 14

Windfall profits are good.
'Oil companies make too much money.' 'Every time we fill up, they're ripping us off!' How many dinner party guests and talk-back callers have you heard that from? Everyone knows it's true, don't they? Well, no they don't...
Tue, Dec 13

Trade versus conquest
Here's something to think about on the subject of trade and conquest: Pre-1940 Japan was a country in desperate recession, with strict trade barriers, no natural resources, and a desperate desire for them.
Tue, Dec 13

How to survive the Christmas party season
From the 'Not PC Public Service Department' comes this helpful link on How to Survive Christmas Parties, including essential tips on what to do when: you forget the name of the co-worker with whom you're making out in the supply cabinet...
Mon, Dec 12

Post-Kyoto talks at Montreal ends with more talk
The Post-Kyoto Montreal 'save-the-planet' 'we're-all-going-to-die' Global Warming conference has come to an end. Below is a round-up of the outcome and some related stories from various sources...
Mon, Dec 12

A skeptical eye on wind energy
National Wind Watch is a new site "casting a skeptical eye at wind energy." Visual pollution by enormous bird guillotines that produce bugger all power for all the effort involved...
Mon, Dec 12

Preservation without property rights
There's a political and architectural battle erupting in my very own street...
Sun, Dec 11

Frank film
Now here's a film that I will be queuing up for on the first night - and quite likely the second and third nights as well: Academy Award winner Robert Duvall has been approached to portray famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright...
Sat, Dec 10

The FBI were 'on to' Ayn Rand
An FBI probe into Ayn Rand concluded that Rand the arch-capitalist could actually have been a communist...
Sat, Dec 10

The perfect martini...

Mencken declared the Martini to be ""the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet."
Fri, Dec 9

Iraqi Dinar does better than US dollar

If you'd taken a punt on the Iraqi currency back in August when I mentioned it here, you'd find that your Post-Saddam dinars would have held their value better than American dollars over that period
Fri, Dec 9

Frog shows red underbelly
Advice from the Green Party on appropriate heroes to learn from. Included in this bloodstained list: Valerie Solanis - famous for attempting to murder Andy Warhol, and founder of the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM); Baader and Meinhof - trained by the PLO and the founders and leaders of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist organisation, Baader and Meinhof were serial killers...
Fri, Dec 9

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Taliesin East - Frank Lloyd Wright


Frank Lloyd Wright's own house, Tailesin East, Wisconsin.
Related: Architecture

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Poverty of imagination for Bradford

If you feel poor, you are poor. That's the message of Sue (Governments can do Everything) Bradford, who is re-defining what poverty means in an effort to get more government into more lives.

The poverty she is now highlighting is a poverty of experience. You might even call it a poverty brought about by a culture of dependency. Poverty, she argues, includes "children who have never travelled on the motorway they live next to, or who had never been over the Harbour Bridge, or who didn't know when their birthdays were..."

What Bradford describes is not the poverty you have when you can't pay your bills, it's a poverty of imagination, and poverty of imagination is one thing the parts of South Auckland she talks about is not short of -- that is, the parts in which state housing, state welfare, and the state's factory schools dominate. Otara and Mangere were planned, designed, built, and are still dominated by the state: As I argued in The Warrior Culture of South Auckland (Part 1 & Part2) it has produced a culture of dependence that can only be fixed by less meddling by the state, not more.

Bradford thinks governments can fix poverty in South Auckland. They can't. You can't fix a poverty of imagination with money; you can only solve it by encouraging independence.

She thinks governments can fix everything. She thinks, for example, that governments can fix housing. "South Auckland continues to suffer a critical shortage of adequate housing for low-income families. The Government should accelerate its state housing program," says Bradford.

Has she never considered that it is excessive government regulation of buildings and land that has caused the housing problem for low-income families by putting the price of decent housing beyond their reach? No, I don't suspect she has. But it has. As I've argued here recently, "The reason buying a first home is getting beyond many first-home buyers is not the fault of banks, real estate agents or 'greedy developers' ... it is the fault of a political market that has locked up land and over-regulated its use." As I've also mentioned a few times (here for instance), the Building Act and other associated meddling has helped building costs themselves double in only a few short years. And does she really want the government to be building slums while banning growth?

Perhaps, if she reflects, Bradford might join me in seeking to remove the government's meddling, so that low-income earners can once again afford to buy their own home. Or does she too suffer from a poverty of imagination, just like the people of South Auckland she criticises?

Says Bradford: "I call on this Labour-led Government to find the political will to transform and lift up the communities that these children live in." Bradford's been a busybody from birth, but surely even she can see that the government has done enough in South Auckland. It's time to pull back and let people get on with their own lives, and to learn from their own mistakes. I wonder when she will?

Linked Articles: The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 1
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2
Sprawl is good; regulation is not
A fairy tale of a leaky house or two
The 'deregulated' building industry...
Building slums while banning growth

Related:
Auckland, Urban_Design, Environment, Politics-NZ, Building, Politics, Architecture , Politics-Greens

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King Kong: Spoiler alert

Do you know how King Kong ends? Spoiler alert: click here and find out.

Yes, that's a link to the 1933 version. But have no fear, you'll soon be able to save yourself sitting through the entire thing just to find out how it ends by going to Moviepooper -- a whole site full of spoiler alerts. You can already impress your friends around the water cooler by finding out how Serenity, Sin City, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin end without having to sit through them, and that can't be bad.

The site's creators describe it as "a resource to 'poop' or spoil the endings to classic, near-classic, recent and new movies." Why would you want to do that? There's a whole list of reasons, incuding the following:
  • Because sometimes, the surprise "spoiler" ending is the only reason you'd pay $8 to see what is otherwise a turkey of a film.
  • Because sometimes, you vaguely remember an old movie that had some sort of plot twist at the end of it, but can't remember what it was.
  • Because sometimes, you're not interested in seeing that movie everyone's talking about but are dying to know what the hubbub is about anyway...
  • To read on, or find out how that classic movie ends, click here.

    Linked Site: Moviepooper [Hat Tip PimpWiz.Com]
    Related: Films, Geek_stuff,

    'Malcolm Willey House' - Frank Lloyd Wright


    Here's a wonderful site put together by two owners of a Frank Lloyd Wright house presently being restored: the 1933 Malcolm Willey House. Plans, history, walk-throughs ... it's all there.

    Wright on the Web describes the Willey House -- or 'The Garden Wall' as Wright called it, as "the 'bridge' between Wright's earlier prairie houses, and his later Usonian houses, the first of which was erected in 1937 near Madison, Wisconsin.

    There's all the usual Flash plugin stuff that too many architectural sites have (and that can slow your browser right down) but on my computer at least it all works swimmingly. Whatever you do, try not to miss the 'tour' -- a 36 step 'walk-through the design and construction of the house. [Hat tip Wright in Minnesota]

    Linked Site: MalcomWilleyHouse.Com
    Related: Architecture

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Google in the antitrust cross-hairs

    Guest commentary this afternoon from a new 'Not PC' guest writer, Barry Paul:
        Some libertarian commentators in the US are concerned that as Google has become extremely successful in its varied businesses, the company may become the inevitable target of an antitrust suit.
        William Anderson for example, writing at the Mises Blog, considers there may be political pressure by the Republican administration to punish Google -- now a publicly-listed company -- for becoming "too big," for which read "too successful."
        Google has become big due to innovative products that include its indispensable search engine, and the very blog platform on which you read this post. "Its success," notes Anderson, "is driven entirely by customers' positive evaluation of its quality -- Google innovates, but it is the market that renders the verdict." The market, so far, has been very happy thank you very much with what it has seen from Google, and it is this success that some are now saying needs to be punished with an antitrust action. Political pressure to bring an antitrust suit against any corporation is not based on anything even halfway clear or obvious.
        In fact, antitrust law does not even constitute good law: the "violations of the law" with which antrust concerns itself -- non-concepts such as "restraint of trade" or "monopolising a market" -- are not readily defined. As no real legal proof is needed for the courts to act against the alleged "monopolist", the vagueness of antitrust law makes it easy for government to heap abuse upon those firms that are out of favour at any given time; all that is needed for prosecutors to begin proceedings is an allegation and a friendly judge, and prosecutors and the all-too-predictable media frenzy will perform the rest of the job. Remember Microsoft?
        If all this seems rather distant from little 'ol New Zealand, consider that as recently as today Communications Minister David Cunliffe was still resisting industry pressure on him to force Telecom to 'unbundle' its local loop network despite strong lobbying by Telstra-Clear and telecommunications groups. However some agreement has been reached that Telecom will offer wholesale broadband services to rivals on the local loop to foster competition. Telecom must provide wholesale bit-stream services at viable rates otherwise the minister will "refer the matter back to the Telecommunications Commissioner. "
        Yes, Virginia, that is a threat.
        Kiwis generally like to give others a "fair go", but only until they believe that some large corporation or (horror) multi-national is controlling the market to the detriment of the public. The Telecom case above is our NZ version of antitrust action, political interference in the marketing policies of private companies.  

    Linked Article: Target: Google  
     Related topics: Economics, Politics-NZ, Politics-US

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    Global Warming? Just ignore it.

    There are some whose politics behooves them to take a position on the science of Global Warming -- even if they really don't understand it -- and to insist that despite the science (or because of it) Global Warming is either happening and is real (or else is not happening and is a scam). Choose your politics and, it seems, have your position on Global Warming chosen for you. Neither good science, nor good politics it seems to me.

    The libertarian position on Global Warming is somewhat different. It was well summed up by George Reisman at the end of his 1990 article 'The Toxicity of Environmentalism,' and his position on Global Warming is reprised today by Cafe Hayek:

    Let’s assume that global warming is happening and that it’s caused by modern human industry and commerce. Is there a case to be made for the United States government to continue to avoid signing the Kyoto Protocol? More generally, is there a case to be made to shrug our shoulders and say “best not to do anything through government about global warming”?

    I think so.

    Read on here for the argument that the best way to treat all claims about Global Warming is benign political neglect.

    Linked Article: A note on Global Warming
    Related:
    Environment, Global_Warming, Economics, Libertarianism, Science

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    The parents of Orauta have lost their school

    Sad news that the parents and children of Orauta school have now been evicted, and the school is boarded up. Clearly, parent choice is not high on the agenda of this, or any government. Julian has the news.

    Background here in a post at 'Not PC' when eviction was previously planned, but avoided.

    Linked Article: Orauta School Closed, Orauta eviction this afternoon?
    Related: Education, Politics-NZ, Libz, Labour

    The news is out: Governments kill

    And now the bad news: Democide researcher RJ Rummel has re-calculated the number of people killed by their government across the ravaged twentieth-century. The number is a staggering 262,000,000.
    Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.
    As Ayn Rand once said, war is the second worst thing on earth. Totalitarian government is without question the very worst.

    Linked Article: New Estimate of 20th Century Democide as 262,000,000
    Related: History-Twentieth_Century, Socialism, Politics-World

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    What's a pragmatist? Let Richard tell you...

    Which political sterotype are you? Well, I imagine you know where I would score on that particular quiz. Like Richard, I'd be scoring Libertarian. What do you score?

    There are no doubt some who would score Pragmatist. What's a pragmatist? Let Richard tell you:
    Pragmatist - You believe that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities. You maintain that the proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities. However, if you think that you will lose votes by saying so, you will let your principles be sidelined in favour of populism. Your role model is Suzanne Wright.
    Who's Suzanne Wright? I'm glad you asked. "Over at The Whig, new contributor Suzanne Wright has a bone to pick with libertarians." Richard gently tosses back the bone. I was just as gentle with her when I commented on her post.

    Linked Quiz: Which political sterotype are you?
    Linked Article: Which political stereotype is she?
    Linked Pragmatism: Definition of a Libertarian
    Related: Libertarianism, Libz, ACT

    How good is the WTO really?

    I'm a big fan of free trade, as I said just yesterday. However, I'm not a fan of the WTO. Free trade does not involve diplomatic negotiations, screeds of regulations, and buildings full of bureaucrats -- it's simply capitalist acts between consenting adults taking place in the public arena.

    Free trade does however require the rule of law and the removal of harmful trade barriers, which is why despite my own objections, LibertyScott is a fan of the WTO. But LibertyScott is a bureaucrat himself, so he would be, wouldn't he. :-)

    Linked article: The WTO is good!
    Related: Economics, Politics-World

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    'Glad Day' - William Blake

    "This above all," Polonius advised his son in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."

    Good advice. Advice that might be an encouragement to look within and find our own spark that makes us who we are; that "divine presence within" of which William Blake once spoke. It is the very beginning of becoming an individual who values their liberty.

    Related Posts: Art, Libertarianism

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Windfall profits are good.

    'Oil companies make too much money.' 'Every time we fill up, they're ripping us off!' How many dinner party guests and talk-back callers have you heard that from? Everyone knows it's true, don't they?

    Well, no they don't. "America's oil companies have earned every penny of their profits," says Alex Epstein.
    To characterize any portion of them as an unearned "windfall"--like manna dropped from heaven--is a vicious smear. It is to evade what is truly responsible for their profits this and every quarter: the great value they create and the tremendous thought, effort, and risk-taking that goes into creating it.

    Virtually forgotten in the condemnation of oil profits is that the great--and growing--global demand for oil reflects its great value. Producers and consumers have been willing to pay $70 a barrel for oil because it is worth that much to us. Oil is used by us to get quickly from point A to point B by car, train, or jet. It is used by efficient factories overseas to produce the ever-cheaper goods we get at Wal-Mart. In the event of a natural disaster, it allows us to drive to a safer place or to generate power to begin a recovery.

    The critics of oil profits take all the benefits of free-flowing oil for granted--with not a word of acknowledgement to those who sell it to them at agreeable prices. They treat oil production as an effortless, risk-less task that requires little more of oil executives than shuffling paper and watching their coffers fill up with mega-profits.

    But the continuous mass-production of oil, under all economic conditions, is a tremendous achievement.
    So it is. 'But the oil companies are making huge profits,' you say? Good. They have earned them.

    Linked Article: The 'Windfall Profits' Smear
    Related topics: Economics, Politics-US, Politics

    Which M*A*S*H* character are you?

    Blimey! And I don't even have a moustache.

    Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!

    Which M*A*S*H* character are you?

    Trade versus conquest

    Here's something to think about on the subject of trade and conquest:
    • Pre-1940 Japan was a country in desperate recession, with strict trade barriers, no natural resources, and a desperate desire for them. They wanted to secure Malaya's tin and rubber, the Dutch East Indies' oil, and Manchuria's iron ore, coal and agricultural land. To get them, they produced bombs, guns, planes, and they militarised the whole population. Within fifteen years Japan was in ruins, the countries of South East Asia and the South Pacific had been subjected to war and violence and slavery, and millions had been killed. Japan's policy of militarism and conquest had failed, and the whole Eastern hemisphere had paid the price.
    • Post-1940 Japan was a country in ruins, its population in shock, with two major cities destroyed by atom bombs and its capital flattened by fire-bombing -- and still with no natural resources, and an even more desperate desire for them. Within fifteen years however, Japan was thriving, millions were enjoying the fruits of trade and prosperity, and the countries of South East Asia, the South Pacific -- and indeed all the rest of the world -- were enjoying the fruits of Japanese production: cameras, transistor radios and stereos, automobiles and motorcycles, and truly world-class tourists. Japan had found free trade, and the whole world was reaping the benefits.
    Trade works. As Frederic Bastiat observed, "when goods don't cross border, armies will." Countries that trade with each other don't go to war with each other: there's too much to lose.

    Further, free trade helps quell government's passion for war. "It creates powerful lobbying groups on all sides that demand the preservation of peace and the triumph of diplomacy over hostility. International trade networks create intermediating structures of business relations that work as a barrier to bombs and belligerence."

    Trade trumps conquest. Rather than seeing trade itself as a conflict, as something involving embargoes, sanctions and agressive 'trade wars,' we should realise that peace and free trade are mutually dependent. Ludwig Von Mises explained how trade works when he pointed out that the easiest way for Canadians to get watches is to grow grain; the easiest way for the Swiss to get grain is to make watches. This is the harmony of interests given reality by trade. The unfortunate thing is that this lesson took a World War and the death of millions for Japan to learn. After sixty years of peace and prosperity, we may all be glad the lesson has -- for the most part -- been learned. It is one that needs to be re-learned every generation.

    With trade, everyone wins. With conquest, no one does. With a policy of trade, the primary reason for production is the production of things that make people happy, keep them housed and fed and generally make their lives better. With a policy of conquest, the primary reason for production is the production of things that destroy, that kill, and that once used are spent.

    Trade is good. With trade, everyone wins. Trade is a tool of liberation. It is also a powerful weapon for peace.

    Related topics: Economics, War, History-Twentieth_Century, Politics

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    'Evening, Fall of Day' - William Rimmer

    More on Rimmer here, including a brief story:
    He wished to paint Eve as God made her, but since his picture was intended for paid show in Boston and the year was 1839, she was draped. Someone remarked her drapery looked like a doormat. `It ought to,' growled Rimmer, `it was painted from one.'
    Another Rimmer piece, posted at 'Not PC' some months ago, is here.

    More: Art

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Vote Cox and Forkum NOW!

    Regular 'Not PC' readers will by now be familiar with Cox and Forkum's wonderfully pointed cartoons -- that's one of their's over there on the right (related story here).

    Now's your chance to tell the world how much you like their cartoons: Vote for them in the 2005 Weblog Awards. You can vote each day if you like. Go and do it now! NOW, I tell you!

    Linked Sites: Cox and Forkum
    2005 Weblog Awards

    Related topics: Cartoons Libertarianism Politics

    How to survive the Christmas party season

    From the 'Not PC Public Service Department' comes this helpful link on How to Survive Christmas Parties, including essential tips on what to do when:
    • you forget the name of the co-worker with whom you're making out in the supply cabinet;
    • you realise you're still wearing the same clothes you first put on three days ago the last time you were at home; and
    • someone -- ie., you -- throws up.
    Linked Advice: How to survive the season [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]
    Related topics: Beer&Elsewhere Humour

    Post-Kyoto talks at Montreal ends with more talk

    The Post-Kyoto Montreal 'save-the-planet' 'we're-all-going-to-die' Global Warming conference has come to an end. (I blogged about the conference last week if you recall). Below is a round-up of the outcome and some related stories from various sources. Many of the sources are disappointed at the lack of a result: I'm not. Oddly enough, the only one happy at the result seems to be the reality-free zone of the Greens's Frog Blog. "Fantastic news that the climate talks struck a deal of sorts," says the Frog linking to a carefully spun piece from the Herald.

    "National and other Kyoto skeptics in the NZ political scene are now going to have to live with the fact that the Protocol is not going away," concludes the Frog. 'Not so,' is apparently the actual news:

    Nations to pursue limits on emissions
    Washington Post, Dec 11, 2005
    Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R., Okla.) was skeptical of yesterday's pact, saying it would lead only to "a dead end economically." "Two weeks of costly deliberation only resulted in an agreement to deliberate some more, so Montreal was essentially a meeting about the next meeting," Inhofe said in a statement issued by his office. "The Kyoto Protocol... is a complete failure."

    Global warming of a global village
    Newsday, December 11, 2005
    The 156 signers of the Kyoto global warming treaty ended their meetings in Montreal on Friday with China and India, the two giants of the developing world, still refusing to accept limits on greenhouse gas emissions after the treaty expires in 2012. Kyoto's curbs apply only to industrialized countries, with the hope that developing nations will be covered later. It's unclear now if or how that will ever happen...


    Trail Goes Cold in Search for Climate Deal
    The Times, December 9, 2005
    The Montreal conference on global warming looks like ending tonight with no big agreement: nothing approaching the status of the Kyoto Protocol, and possibly nothing at all. That is not a tragedy. It is more like a success.
    One of the fortnight’s achievements is to have drawn attention to the difficulty of enforcing the Kyoto Protocol itself, never mind drafting a successor, given that so many countries are on course to breach it by an extravagant margin...

    "Blair Deserts Kyoto" - "After years as an environmentalist champion, the British PM has admitted no one will negotiate 'another major treaty like Kyoto'" (Benny Peiser, Financial Post)

    Australia: Forget Climate Target, Timetables
    Reuters, December 9, 2005
    Short-term targets and tight timetables are no solution to fighting climate change, Australia's environment minister said on Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference. The talks have struggled to make headway on advancing the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012...

    "U.S. said to be deeply angered by Martin's comments at climate conference" - "MONTREAL - With one day of talks to go at the UN climate conference, desperate efforts to draw the United States into the global effort to curb greenhouse emissions appear to have hit a brick wall, and [Canadian] Prime Minister Paul Martin is being blamed...

    "Brazil won't bow to pressure for emissions cuts" - "MONTREAL, Dec 8 - Brazil does not intend to adopt mandatory curbs on emissions of heat-trapping gases, and industrialized countries must bear the main burden, Environment Minister Marina Silva said in an interview on Thursday." (Reuters)

    "No Emissions Cuts for Developing Nations – Saudis" - "MONTREAL - Saudi Arabia said Thursday that the world's developing nations, including those that depend on oil revenues, should not be bound in the future by greenhouse gas emissions limits." (Reuters)

    "Italian Environment Minister Won't Risk Damaging Businesses" - "Environment minister Altero Matteoli arriving in Montreal to take part in the UN conference on the climate said: "We cannot damage our businesses that must become competitive again" (AGI Online)

    TCS COP 11 Coverage: Culture Shock in Montreal - As one of the very few scientists at the UN's climate meeting, I feel like an outsider. That's because I am...
    .

    "A shady deal from the climate-change charmers " - "IF A shifty salesman in a blue suit adorned with yellow stars appeared on your doorstep flogging a life insurance policy with “high, high costs and low, low returns”, would you turn over your hard-earned cash? Most probably you would shut the door in his face. But this is effectively what some nongovernmental organisations and governments are asking us to do when they call for drastic restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in the name of saving us from climate change. " ( Kendra Okonski, Business Day)

    "Work to take heat off" - "The Kyoto Protocol — an international treaty aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouse gases that are heating the planet — is on its deathbed. But even critics of the admittedly flawed agreement don't believe the treaty should merely be buried and forgotten." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    "Climate change theory barks up wrong tree, study shows" - "Climate scientists could be about to give oak, ash and maple a bad name. They warn today that expanding forests in the temperate zones of Europe, the US and Asia could add to global warming." (The Guardian)

    TCS COP 11 Coverage: Nuclear Explosion at Montreal - Nuclear power shouldn't be pre-judged and excluded by international treaties dealing with climate change...

    Nuclear Energy Debate Turns Radioactive at Climate Conference
    CNSNews, December 8, 2005
    Nuclear energy would reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels and help cut greenhouse gas emissions, said advocates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. "Expanding nuclear energy is one way that we can actually [reduce] reliance on fossil fuels in a big way," said Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace..

    Former Greenpeace Co-Founder Praises US for Rejecting Kyoto
    CNSNews, December 8, 2005
    A founding member of Greenpeace, who left the organization because he viewed it as too radical, praised the United States for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol...

    Freezing their globes off in Montreal - when warming meets cooling
    If you've been wondering why the UN's Montreal mega-conference on Global Warming has received little coverage -- "what f'ing conference?" I hear you cry -- Rex Murphy has the answer. "Probably because of the cold weather," he says half seriously...


    Related topics: Environment Global_Warming Politics-Greens Politics-World

    Labels:

    A skeptical eye on wind energy

    National Wind Watch is a new site "casting a skeptical eye at wind energy."

    Visual pollution by enormous bird guillotines that produce bugger all power for all the effort involved may excite people opposed in principle to power generation -- the lifeblood of industry and modern civilisation -- but they don't do it for me. This site shares my own skepticism.

    The site does have an Australian/New Zealand section, so feel free to keep them informed of local developments.

    Linked Site: National Wind Watch [Hat tip Commons Blog]
    Related topics: Energy Environment

    Interventionism

    At the bottom of the interventionist argument there is always the idea that the government or the state is an entity outside and above the social process of production, that it owns something which is not derived from taxing its subjects, and that it can spend this mythical something for definite purposes. This is the Santa Claus fable raised by Lord Keynes to the dignity of an economic doctrine and enthusiastically endorsed by all those who expect personal advantage from government spending. As against these popular fallacies there is need to emphasize the truism that a government can spend or invest only what it takes away from its citizens and that its additional spending and investment curtails the citizens' spending and investment to the full extent of its quantity.
    -- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

    Related: Politics Economics Quotes Budget_&_Taxation

    Labels:

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Preservation without property rights

    There's a political and architectural battle erupting in my very own street. From the Herald:
    Architects are rallying to protect a 1964 Epsom home designed by two members of Group Architects, who set the characteristics for the modern New Zealand house...

    The family sold the largely original home last month at auction for just over $2 million to crown prosecutor Mark Woolford, who said he was considering his options for the property...

    Auckland City Council heritage manager George Farrant has commissioned research on the house and received "hundreds of emails, mostly from the architectural community about the possible loss of this Group house" after it featured in the Weekend Herald's Heraldhomes section.

    Mr Farrant expects to know in the next few days whether the house has enough points to be considered for heritage protection in the district plan.

    Ivan Juriss, who is 81, said he was not bothered what the new owner planned to do with the house.
    Frankly, the house is nothing special. A box. Houses by Auckland's Group Architects were radical enough in New Zealand in the forties -- open plan living; raw materials with exposed structure and often creosote-stained cladding; simple mono-pitches-- but by the standards of today are little more than inelegant sheds. And if architecture by The Group is your thing, there's plenty of it about owned and preserved by people who like that sort of thing without the bossyboot busybodies enforcing protection on the owner of a house who may have no interest in such protection.

    Perhaps if 'Auckland's architectural community' are really up in arms, they can club together with like-minded others and buy the place off Mr Woolford, ether in situ or for relocation. And if they don't value it enough to do do, it would suggest they don't value it quite as much as they say they do, and should cease imposing their own values on others.

    Linked Article: Architects fight to preserve classic home
    Heritage postcards celebrate local architecture

    Labels: ,

    Promotion

    G-Man is on probation. He's upset to be in the 'Off the Radar' part of my sidebar and wants promotion to the libertarian section. So, I've put him in there and have him on probation. Any lapses into statism and he's out. :-)