Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Reisman fisks 'The Times'

The New York Times has made George Reisman angry -- and an angry Reisman is an eloquent Reisman.

Read George fisking an entire newspaper. Where the Times offers bleating and ignorance about global warming, death duties and estate taxes, minimum wage laws and the welfare state and the shackling of production ... where they offer hatred of success and of the American way of life, Reisman offers analysis of and answers to their sneers.
The [New York] Times doesn’t care to know any of this [he says of his answers]. Instead, it prefers what it considers to be the “moral high ground” of everyday contemptuously looking down its long, supercilious nose and sneering at the capitalist economic system, those who make it work, and those who enjoy its benefits.
Read it here.

LINKS: The New York Times: It just can't stop hating success and the American way of life - George Reisman's blog

TAGS: Politics-US, Economics

Towards a moral policy of self-defence

Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute offers a serious challenge to the ethics of US Defence policy and of 'just war' theory. It's long, but well worth printing out and pondering. Read it here.

LINK: 'Just war theory' vs. American self-defence - Objective Standard

TAGS: War, Ethics, Politics-US, Objectivism

Laughter out of pain

My belly laugh for the morning comes from this Kiwi Herald headline:

Graham Capill has joined the chorus of politicians and celebrities describing child abuse as a Maori problem.
Read on here.

UPDATE: Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was clear this was good satire. Hmmm.

LINK: Capill says child abuse a maori problem - Kiwi Herald

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Humour

Jargon -- muddying the waters to make themselves appear profitable

Maybe there's a point to bullshit and 'MBA-speak' (but perhaps I repeat myself?) The Goodness points out a new study written up in The Age with an unsurprising finding:
Apparently there's a simple reason why annual reports are hard to read: managers, in many cases, are trying to hide something.

The study, Annual Report Readability, Earnings and Stock Returns, found that the annual reports of underperforming companies are harder to read than those of companies that are performing well. . .

How 'bout that, huh? The Goodness has a good comment from George Orwell that this brings to mind. Nietszche nailed it with a certain type of poet and academic, and perhaps it applies too to MBAs and managers: They muddy the waters to make themselves appear deep.

LINKS: Optimisation of cliché synergies - The Age
Performance and obfuscation correlation framework analysis - The Goodness

TAGS: Nonsense, Economics

"CDs have taken the ageism out of music"

The other day I was yapping on about some of the differences betwen CDs and records. Hugh Cornwell mentioned the other night an observation about CDs made my Malcolm McLaren:
The great thing about CDs is that they make all music the same age: they re-release all these old records and a new generation hears them for the first time... CDs have taken the ageism out of music.

TAGS: Music

Casa Las Pircas - Marcelo Cortés

The Casa Las Pircas -- the Pircas House - by Chilean architect Marcelo Cortés. A well-crafted 'solar hemicycle' that embraces its landscape. The material of which it is built is a sort of industrial adobe, or 'earth ferrocemento.'

LINK: Marcelo Cortés - Earth Architecture - official website

TAGS: Architecture, Building

Monday, 26 June 2006

Bullshit Bingo

If you've never played Bullshit Bingo then you've been missing out. If you spend too much time in too many meetings where phrases like the following are used, then you need Bullshit Bingo to help keep you sane.
  • in a nutshell
  • moving forward
  • in the fullness of time
  • thinking outside the square (only ever used in my experience by people resolutely within their particular square)
  • vision statement
  • win/win situation
  • scenario
  • segment
  • sector
  • skill set
  • value added
  • team player
If you were playing Bullshit Bingo and you heard all or even some of those phrases in a seminar, phone call or meeting, then you could be on to a winner! Just download your Bullshit Bingo cards from here, print them out, and when you or your colleagues score a line, leap to your feet and shout Bullshit!

Turn your next meeting into a Bullshit Bingo game. It's probably the most productive thing you can be doing.

LINK: Bullshit Bingo - home page
Bullshit Bingo commercial - iFilm Shorts

TAGS: Games, Humour

I'm an Autonomous Rebel

No Right Turn has linked to a barmy Canadian piece of marketing tripe "which classifies participants into tribes based on age cohort and shared social values."

However, since so many of you lot like doing quizzes and being told where you fit in, feel free to go here and find out if you're an Autonomous Rebel/Autonomous Post-Materialist like I am.


Quizzes, Nonsense

How not to skewer modernism

Here's an example of bad writing: a rant on modernist architecture by a chap too dim to see that he hasn't a point to make. To celebrate British architecture week, his "contribution to this joyous occasion [is] a brief meditation on the links between modernist architecture and totalitarianism."
The great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century were all suckers for the cool, clean lines of modernist architecture... At first sight, [he says] this might seem grotesquely unfair.
In fact, even after finishing his piece -- in The Guardian no less -- it seems more than unfair. In fact, it's just it's wrong. The Nazis liked bad classicism. The Soviets liked bad classicism.

In fact, not only were the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century NOT suckers for the "cool, clean lines of modernist architecture," they were almost completely opposed to it.

There were certainly modernist architects sympathetic to both regimes -- and much work that should have been right down their strasse, such as the Nazi Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe (above) -- but neither regime really gave a rats for what the modernists were offering architecturally.

Many of those rejected modernists ended up in America (for better or worse), spreading modernist architecture to willing capitalists rather than to uniformed dictators -- and irony Tom Wolfe makes much of in his hilarious From Bauhaus to Our House. ("Row after Mies van der Rohe of worker housing pitched up fifty stories high" in the downtown commercial capitals of America's greatest cities.)

So as a serious piece, this one fails at the very first hurdle. His point then? It seems he just wants attention. And he does manage to gratuitously smear Ayn Rand in there somehow, which no doubt earns him some points in the Guardian's lunch room,but it's not really awfully clear what his point is there either, except perhaps to link Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler and Ayn Rand together in the same article. What a moron.

If his point really is that some modernists' work was totalitarian, that has been done better elsewhere -- including by Ayn Rand herself, and also here, by me.

If his point is that some modernists such as Philip Johnson were fascists, then that point has also been better made elsewhere -- including here, by me.

If his point is that he's an ignorant blowhard who courts controversy without the evidence to back it up, then that's a point that he's made all too well.
LINKS: Why fascism is a glass house - Peter Franklin, The Grauniad
From Bauhaus to Our House -
Tom Wolfe's site
Modernism: How Bad Was It? - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Architect Philip Johnson dies at 98
- Not PC (Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Architecture, Politics, Politics-UK

Privatise the TAB

Does anyone know any good reason why the TAB should enjoy a coercive monopoly? Any reason at all why the government should own it? Any good reason local bookies shouldn't be legalised? I can't think of any.

And neither can our friend at Write Ups.
Contrast this absurd situation with the UK: they have Ladbrokes, Bet365, Willhill, Cantor Index. The UK punter can bet on so much more than his Kiwi counterpart.
Why can't we have this choice? Answer: Because Nanny says you can't. That's why.

LINK: Gambling regulation has got to go - Write Ups

Politics-NZ, Privatisation

Sketch - Michael Newberry

In the early hours,
I met a hooded figure,
It was death and he said:
"I have not come for you."
A very powerful mourning piece tonight from artist Michael Newberry. This is what truly great art looks like when it confronts the death of a partner.

LINKS: Michael Newberry, artist


Sunday, 25 June 2006

Hugh Cornwell's ten best

In honour of Hugh Cornwell's memorable gig on Friday at Auckland's Transmission Room, here's my list of ten favourite, most played, Stranglers songs.
10. Don't Bring Harry
9. Something Better Change
8. Goodbye Toulouse
7. No More Heroes
6. Walk On By
5. Toilers on the Sea
4. Nice n' Sleazy
3. Hangin' Around
2. Always the Sun
1. European Female
A great gig, a great night, and very strange to be talking afterwards (albeit briefly) with someone who's 'lived in my head' for so long. As a special treat, here's an MP3 clip from his new album Beyond Elysian Fields, a tribute to Bob Dylan called 24/7.

LINK: Hugh Cornwell's website

TAGS: Music

My favourite conspiracy theory

I've been asked to share my favourite conspiracy theory. Alright, I invited it: I suggested in a post below that everyone has their own favourite conspiracy theory; everyone likes to speculate about events in history for which conventional explanations seem insufficient -- including me. I'll tell you below what my own favourite conspiracy theory is, but first, some conjecture.

Not all conspiracy theories are the province of moonbats and tin-foil hat wearers. But there are too many to count that are. Bizarre theories about the moon landings; who shot JFK; who killed Diana; what the CIA are doing to our heads/water/radio waves; that Noam Chomsky is a captured asset of the New World Order; and about what the Bush family are after/have done/will do/are doing. And as Jack Wheeler observes, many of you conservatives are equally prone to moonbatism:
For some weird reason which has to do with psychology rather than reality, a small but loud subset of conservatives easily falls prey to conspiracy theories about cabals of powerful people meeting in secret to take over the world: the Bilderbergers, the Trilaterialists, the Council on Foreign Relations, or some such.

The world headquarters of this subset of conservatives is on a grassy knoll in downtown Dallas.
So there are nutters about. As All Embracing but Underwhelming says, "Fact: conspiracies have occurred, are occurring and will occur again in the future. The question is whether it is rational to believe in them." That is, some conspiracy theories are more rational than others: ie., rather than being cherry-picked, off-the-wall and at odd with everything else that we know these theories are evidence-based, reasonable, and integrated with the entire context of all existing knowledge. It's just that there are some facts we'll probably never know, and about which we have to make inferences.

Real conspiracies do exist, but not as often as conspiracy theorists think. The danger perhaps is thinking that conspiracies are the only thing that moves the world, and thinking that in unearthing a genuine conspiracy -- in finding out who did it -- we are also explaining why they did it, which in the study of history is infinitely more important, but frequently less clear without sober philosophical analysis and proper historical inquiry.

Conspiracy theories too frequently ignore the why of history, and the importance of looking at the whole context. Exploring conspiracies is very different to exploring theories about how ideas have moved the world: theories about abstract ideas and their effect on history which can be discussed, argued and considered with evidence that is easily available, but with some abstract thinking that is required to put things together. By contrast, conspiracy theories eschew abstract thinking and are generally relentlessly concrete -- one reason perhaps for their appeal to so many concrete-bound minds -- and rely for their coherence on evidence that is either unavailable, likely never to be available, or simply dreamed up, arbitrary and uncheckable, and will all too often remain unresolvable -- surely part of the charm for the conspiracy theorist.

So what's my favourite conspiracy theory then?

So, now that I've blathered for so long, let me reveal my own favourite conspiracy theory about which I occasionally like to speculate, and which I like to think is entirely rational. And for that you have to go all the way back to 1938, when US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in a hole and desperate to get out.

Elected two years before in a landslide after 'fixing' the depression with four years of motivating, meddling, and pouring historically unprecedented amounts of money -- huge gobs of cash! -- into make-work programmes, bizarre schemes and outright vote-buying, FDR found in 1938 that his party was almost completely set against him, and the depression was even worse than it was when his meddling and taxing and spending and crop-burning began.

His budget was blowing out, his schemes and nostrums were being struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and unemployment, 11,586,000 in 1932 when he took power, was now back up at 11,369,000 with a further 19,648,000 on relief -- a figure 3 million more than what Franklin found when he took power. Worse, he was totally out of answers, and becoming petulant about it. It was everybody else's fault for the hole he was in. All the quack remedies had been tried, and all had failed him and had served only to make the depression worse. In an unguarded moment he threw a tantrum at his Cabinet, shouting: "I am sick and tired of being told by Henry [Morgenthau, the Secrtary of the Treasury] and everybody else what's the matter with the country while no one suggests what to do!" The great conjurer had no tricks left up his sleeve, and he was looking at a richly deserved place in history as a flake and an abject bloody failure.

He resolved right then and there to get himself out of the hole the way that statists throughout history have got themselves out of such holes at such a time: he resolved to take advantage of the storm clouds brewing internationally and go to war -- at one stroke to unite the country and its propaganda services behind him, and to flood the country with government-printed money to spend his way out of the hole he had spent his way into.

His problem was this: 1) Americans didn't want to go to war; and 2) he had promised voters over and over again "on several stacks of bibles" that "he would not send American boys to die in foreign wars." If Franklin was to get American into the war it would have to be dragged in -- and so it was. And here's where agreed facts are left behind and conjecture and inference really begin: it was dragged in with the full and enthusiastic planning and support of US President Franklin Roosevelt, who had done his very best to get America entangled in the war, even as he told voters the exact opposite.

For at least two-and-a-half years FDR tried to provoke either Germany or Japan into "firing the first shot" and declaring war on the US, and for at least two-and-a-half years he failed. As Secretary of War Henry Stimson confided to his diary on November 25 1941,
The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.
Finally, on 7 December 1941, after years of provocation including US blockades, US oil and steel embargoes (on a country with neither), the total freeze of Japanese assets in the US, 'small boats' placed in harm's way in the hope they'd start an incident, and the placing of the US Pacific Fleet like a sitting target at Pearl Harbor, after all of this and more he succeeded in provoking Japan into a surprise attack that was less a surprise to some in FDR's Administration for its timing than for its ferocity. After the attack, Stimson confessed that "my first feeling was of relief . . . that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people."

That's the conspiracy theory, in which there is a reasonable degree of inference, yet in my view it is inference well justified by the facts. In my view, FDR wasn't directly complicit in planning the attack (how could he be? -- that was done by the Japanese) but he and his aides did have a pretty fair idea it was coming, and he and his Administration did conceal important information from the commander of the Pacific Fleet Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and the Hawaiian army commander Lt Gen Walter Short, who were to become the scapegoats for the unpreparedness of the defence.

What genuinely suprised Roosevelt and others I think, was not the attack itself but its ferocity and the destructiveness. Patrician America had seriously underestimated the 'yellow race' they had been baiting for so long, and the results of their frank underestimation, the sea of death and destruction did shock them. You can hear that shock in FDR's famous 'Day of Infamy' speech to Congress, responding on the day of the attack, but his Cabinet colleagues report he was nowhere near as shocked privately as he was in public.

So there it is. That's my own favourite conspiracy theory. The very infamy he condemned so eloquently is something which Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself deserved to share.

The good thing about such theories for the theorist is that there's always more to know: there's always more to find out and and another book to buy in order to track down the ever-elusive facts. In fact, I'm just going through another bout of reading the various histories of the time and the man, including a new book, Conrad Black's incomprehensibly titled Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom that I figured I needed to read to challenge myself. It hasn't so far.

To that I'm comparing again the accounts given in some of my favourite and frequently re-read titles such as John Flynn's The Roosevelt Myth (highly recommended), Gerald Johnson's Roosevelt, William Leuchtenburg's Franklin Roosevelt and the the New Deal, Robert Higgs's Crisis and Leviathan, Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression, Mark Skousen's 'Saving the Depression: A New Look at World War II,' Gene Smiley's Rethinking the Great Depression, Thomas Fleming's The New Dealers' War, Gordon Prager's At Dawn We Slept, Robert Stinnett's Day of Deceit, Robert Nesbit's Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship, Nikoloai Tolstoy's Victims of Yalta, John Denson's The Costs of War, and Paul Johnson's Modern Times to help put it all in context. That's a big stack to have beside the bed, but great fun to plough through, consider and mull over.

So there you go. Shoot me down.

TAGS: History, History-Twentieth_Century, Nonsense, Politics-US

Saturday, 24 June 2006

Horrifying global warming news!

Shocking news from around the world about the impending global warming catastrophe.
Polar bears are "dropping like flies" from heat exhaustion say hunters, who find it too unsporting to track and kill these behemoths "when they're already suffering."

Global warming is making the planet more of an asteroid target "due to expansion of the atmosphere outward into space making the Earth a bigger 'target'."

Dolphins have been discovered fleeing north -- due north! these guys ain't stupid -- in search of cooler waters as their tropical home warms up.

A pristine Alaskan glacier has been turned into a tropical wasteland.

And "in a bold move long anticipated by industry insiders, The Weather Channel is launching a new channel devoted entirely to the coverage of natural disasters called 'The Disaster Channel'." Long overdue in my opinion.
Shocking, frightful, stunning, earth-shattering and entertaining stuff respectively, and all this and more -- including the news that Jeb Bush's Texas National Guard jets might have helped set off Hurricane Katrina -- all brought to you by the good people at the Eco Enquirer, who refuse to settle for the truth when the next best thing is really all you need.

UPDATE: I'm disappointed to see that some of you don't recognise satire when you see it. Shame on you. I blame the parents.

LINKS: The eco enquirer: Where mankind meets mother nature

TAGS: Environment, Global_Warming, Humour

Worst and cheesiest album covers ever

The CD revolution has been almost complete, threatened only by the iPOd revolution it helped make possible. For those of use who still collect vinyl, the digital revoution that iPods and CDs represent hasnt been all bad -- and that's not just the sheer amount of stuff available that wan't previously -- it's also meant that second-hand vinyl offloaded by the more digitally-fixated has been out there and able to be snapped up at bargain prices, filling the collections of turntable-owners with legal music that has never been so cheap.

One major advantage that LPs retain over CDs is their size -- where CD covers are too often merely utilitarian, the size of record covers meant they were all too often astonishing. And by 'astonishing' I don't mean they were always good.

Some were just horrible. And here, for those of you with Powerpoint, is a collection of the very worst. The Worst Album Covers Ever. Guaranteed. [Those without Powerpoint can seek them here, though you do miss the full effect.] For those of you who like cheese, here's some of the cheesiest.

I'd like to show you some of the best. Maybe later, eh?

LINKS: The worst album covers yet - Powerpoint file
Dana Countryman's virtual museum of unusual LP cover art - Dan Countryman

TAGS: Music, Art

'Surfside' - Ron Sanders

'Surfside,' by Ron Sanders. Ron Sanders is a working artist who asks for your help. Says the Quent Cordair Gallery, who sells his work:
Ron Sanders has recently suffered unforeseen financial setbacks due to health issues, and he has three young children to support. He has asked us to consider any reasonable offers on his available work, in order to raise additional income as soon as possible. For the present, all reasonable offers will be considered on ALL RON SANDERS PAINTINGS. Thanks for your consideration during this difficult situation. While it may seem awkward to purchase at lower prices under these circumstances, please know that the artist will be very appreciative if you can do so. You’ll be receiving his marvellous art at an excellent price, in return for much needed financial assistance this month. `Thanks in advance for any purchases which can be made at this time. `Please contact the gallery to discuss possible offers.
LINK: Ron Sanders work at Quent Cordair Gallery

TAG: Art

Friday, 23 June 2006

Beer O’Clock – 3 Monts

Too chilly for chilled beer? Never. The colder it is, the easier it is to chill your beer. For the chilly weather, the Beer O'Clock team recommend a good beer and a good fire - just leave your bottle outside for a minute or two until it's ready to consume. You can pick it up when you go out to get your firewood. The good beer recommended this week comes courtesy of Neil at Real Beer, and doesn't it look gorgeous.

After a brief foray into the bus stop with my last Beer O’Clock where I covered Skol Super [to little acclaim, Ed.], it is time get to classy again. After all, I am a classy kind of guy.

This week I have been thinking a lot about France. Now, I am not well known as a big fan of the French, but I must say I am tremendously proud of their soccer team. Mainly this is because I bet on Switzerland to finish top of that World Cup group.

At odds of $4.50 to 1 that looks like it might happen, and I will need something with which to celebrate. I don’t know much about football but when someone said that the World Cup “was like a war” I knew France’s over whelming favouritism in the group was suspect. Yay for stereotypes!

Anyway, this week’s beer is 3 Monts (pronounced “Tray Mons”) which is my absolute favourite French beer.

Regular and observant readers of my work ["hello Mum"] will know that when I use that phrasing it usually means I’ve only tried one beer from the country in question (see for instance: Tsingtao, my favourite Chinese beer).

However, in this case I have tried about half a dozen French beers, and it is my considered opinion 3 Monts is the best. I consider 3 Monts regularly (when available). It can be a little hard to find.

This is a bottle-conditioned ale in the old farm style (biere de garde) in a corked bottle. It pours a pleasant cloudy gold with a strong, finely bubbled head. It has a pungent, astringent nose followed by a full, fruity and yeasty flavour and lingering bitterness which never seems to surrender.

It is complex, strong and funky - a fine and interesting drop. Perhaps it is so good because it is heavily influenced by the brewing traditions nearby Belgium rather than influenced by French Euro-Lager Juggernaut (see: Kronenbourg, it’s French for terrible beer).

The name 3 Monts literally translates as “three mountains.” This is apparently French humour -- the area where it is made is notoriously flat. The three mountains are apparently three hillocks. This is only the second recorded French joke. The first one was letting Britain into the EU and then making them pay for everything.

Bon drinking!

LINKS: 3 Monts - St Sylvestre Brewery
What People think of Tres Monts - Rate Beer

TAGS: Beer_&_elsewhere

Destruction of GE crops is not a victimless crime

New Zealand has been mercifully free of crop vandalism since Nandor Tanczos's Wild Greens broke into Lincoln Univerity's GE crop research lab and destroyed about a million or so dollars of scientific research, despite the boasts of the "sandalled vandals" of 'Green Gloves' in the wake of the Royal Commission Report on GE going against their hopes and wishes.

Not so in Europe however, and Dr. Ferdinand Schmitz of the Federated Association of German Plant Breeders is saying enough is enough. "Field destruction is not a victimless crime," says Dr Schmitz in a recent press release (in German unfortunately -- translation below). "The losses to breeders and farmers cost millions."
The destruction of field trials of genetically modified plants by militant opponents of green biotechnology is creating great distress among scientists and plant breeders. After careful scientific and official assessment of ecological and agronomic variables, the field trials take place outdoors where their protection from criminal trespass is scarcely possible. . .

    The damage caused by the destruction of the field trials is considerable. Uprooted and destroyed plants do not represent the loss of ordinary crops, but rather the loss of valuable breeding material which contributes to the development of new varieties and new technologies. The immediate physical damages inflicted by the destruction of outdoor field trials amounts to EU250,000 to EU300,000. The value of the research imperiled by destruction of any individual field trial runs into the millions.
Things are little different for seed certification tests. . .
    Before a new plant variety -- whether developed through biotechnology or traditional methods -- is released to the market, it is evaluated over several years under agricultural conditions. . .
    If an evaluation for the certification of a new variety is lost, damages ranging into the millions result for the seed developer and with it, an entire year of market opportunity.
Still greater is the loss to agriculture in general. For example, the development of new corn [maize] varieties annually increases productivity by 1.5 decitonnes per hectare. If farmers were to go without this amount of progress for one year, that damage alone is considerable.
    Civil courage required "We cannot test our innovations in secured, isolated areas. We work in and with nature and that leaves us vulnerable to attacks," Schmitz said of the problem. A broad support of the state for the optimum protection of field trial integrity alone is not enough, in the opinion the BDP. "We appeal to attentive citizens who understand injustice, and who share our rejection of the use of force against persons and property to press a political argument. We are very grateful for the civil courage of vigilant residents near the location of the recent raid in Baden-Wuerttemberg, who reported the destruction to police. With support of the public, hopefully expressed by the press, television and politicians, it will become clear to the opponents that this form of argumentation will be ineffective."
Anti-GE activists say they object to GE crops being 'released' before they're researched, about which nobody disagrees. But then the same activists defend vandalism against the research they say needs to be carried out.

Not for the first time, and just like the small children their actions so often resemble, the vandals want it every way, just so long as its their way.  

LINKS: NZ and Korean activists take direct action against GE crops - Organic Consumers Association (March 16, 1999)
Libz declares war on activists - Libertarianz, Scoop
Eco-Terrorism - Editorial, The Press (Jan 14, 2002)
Field destruction is not a victimless crime (in German) - BDP Lebensbasis Planze

Environment, Politics-Europe, GE, Libz, Politics-Greens

Minimum wage increase killed by US Senate

WASHINGTON POST -- GOP-run senate kills minimum wage increase
The Republican-controlled Senate smothered a proposed election-year increase in the minimum wage Wednesday, rejecting Democratic claims that it was past time to boost the $5.15 hourly pay floor that has been in effect for nearly a decade. . . "Americans believe that no one who works hard for a living should have to live in poverty. A job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. He said a worker paid $5.15 an hour would earn $10,700 a year, "almost $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three."

Unsurprisingly, not everybody agrees with Senator Edward Kennedy -- who in the course his interminable career has been on the wrong side of just about every issue in American politics. What Kennedy ignores here is that raising the minimum wage by law above what the market will bear makes it virtually impossible for hard workers who are worth less than that minimum to earn a toe-hold in the job market they're trying so hard to enter. And he ignores too that agreements freely made between employers and employees are none of his damn business. David Holberg at the ARI sums it up:
The Senate did well to vote against an increase in the minimum wage--and would have done even better if it had repealed it altogether.

The minimum wage constitutes government coercion against both employers and employees. By mandating a certain level of wages, the government violates the rights of both employers and employees to reach a voluntary agreement based on their own independent judgment of what is in their best interest.

Those who provide jobs have a right to set the wages they are willing to pay. And those who are willing and eager to work for relatively low wages--either because they are unskilled, inexperienced or would rather have a low-paying job than no job--have a right to do so.

In a capitalist system, the price of labor (i.e., wages) is determined in the same way as all other prices and as it should be: by the individual judgments and voluntary decisions of buyers and sellers.
LINKS: GOP-run Senate kills minimum wage increase - Washington Post
Minimum wage should be razed, not raised - David Holcberg, Ayn Rand Institute

TAGS: Politics-US, Economics, Minimum_Wage

Examining conspiracy theories

We've all got our favourite conspiracy theories -- ask nicely and I'll even tell you mine -- the question is whether such interest is rational, and whether beliefs are evidence-based and integrated with all existing knowledge. A new philosophical blog intends to examine Conspiracy Theories as part of a PhD dissertation. "The author," explains a colleague, "is working on a research project on whether belief in conspiracy theories is warranted, and he plans to throw a lot of the raw meat of the project on to the number one home of Conspiracy Theories, the Internet." From the blog's Pithy Introduction to the un-pithily named 'All Embracing but Underwhelming':
Fact: conspiracies have occurred, are occurring and will occur again in the future.

The question is whether it is rational to believe in them.
LINK: Pithy introduction - All Embracing but Underwhelming [Hat tip Brain Stab]

TAGS: Nonsense, Science, Philosophy

Envy -- socialism's fuel

There are two ways to make people equal, Ayn Rand pointed out. Either raise everyone to the mountain tops, or you can raze the mountain tops altogether. The envious would rather do the latter -- better no one be richer, better off or more talented than have some stand out above the common herd. The word that describes such an emotional state is 'envy.'

Envy is an ugly thing. Envy is socialism's fuel. Envy is the subject of a study by Andrew Oswald and Daniel Zizzo at Oxford University which found that subjects will give up a lot themselves in order to either hurt those who are better off, or to maintain their own place in the pecking order. It seems subjects would rather make themselves poor, rather than allow another person to be rich. Bizarre, but true. As Reason magazine summarises:
Socialists often claim that capitalism is based on humanity's worst impulses, greed and selfishness, despite the fact that people who live in societies that participate in markets tend to be more generous and cooperative than those who don't. Oswald and Zizzo's research suggests that socialists who believe that their ideology appeals to humanity's better instincts have it backwards. Envy is behind the leveling spirit of socialism. A truly generous and rational soul would wish others well, especially if they have done no one any harm.
Read the whole piece here. [Hat tip Julian Pistorius]

LINK: Burn the rich: A new study suggests envy comes naturally - Reason Online

TAGS: Socialism, Ethics, Politics, Science

Looking for a Democratic golden age

Maia has an interesting post (and subsequent discussion) inquiring essentially why today's left liberal should give a monkey's for the US Democrats.
I'm going to start by looking at a myth I find quite common among any discussion of the Democrats - the myth of the good old days. Apparently there was some time in the past where Democrats were better than they are today, where they stood for something. I just don't buy it, and so I'm going to have a quick jaunt through the history of recent recent Democrat US Presidents in an effort to find out when this golden age could have occured.
Oddly, she only goes back as far as the duplicitous FDR in her investigation of a political history that today's left liberal could be proud of -- I guess she does say "recent Democrat US Presidents" - but at least she gives the old dissembler a richly deserved slagging, before concluding that there's nothing in recent Democratic history for a left liberal to enthuse over.

That's an odd approach to take. There's nothing much in recent US Presidents of either persuasion for a libertarian to enthuse over, but you might have thought FDR's NRA, New Deal and enormous expansion of both government and government waste would have been enough to sway Maia's left liberal enthusiasm. Nope. Maybe he didn't grow government enough for her? Her summary of the man who would be king: "It's not just the many things he didn't do that make Roosevelt a bad president. He was the man who ordered that Japanese-Americans be rounded up and put into camps." And of course he did do that, amongst very many other things -- like for example delivering half of post-war Europe and much of post-war Asia into communism. Not something I think for which even Maia would venerate somebody.

But if you're looking for a Democratic golden age, why not go further back. Look perhaps at Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat who took America into the First World War "to make the world safe for democracy" after promising American voters he wouldn't (a feat repeated by FDR in World War II) and whose treaty-mongering at the subsequent Peace Conference did much to bring on the next World War; or at old Andy Jackson, whose opposition to central baning and Indian-killing exploits are maybe considered just a little outré even by today's Democrats; or James Buchanan, who won in 1856 by opposing measures that would have stopped the extension of slave-holding to border states, and was elected only by the majority afforced him by Democrat-voting pro-slavery states.

Ah, those were the days. The good old golden days of the Democrats.

But there were at least two god Democrats, to my mind. One of the good guys was Grover Cleveland, a committed classical liberal who opposed the dispensing of political favours, who stood against protective tariffs and entangling alliances, and who once told a group of importuning Texan farmers after welfare from the Federal treasury to "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character..." There's a Democrat after whom the party could model itself.

Or of course there is the 'original Democrat' to whom both JFK and FDR paid lip service, and after whom the most recent Democratic President William Jefferson Clinton was named. If today's Democrats could find inspiration from Thomas Jefferson, president from 1800 to 1808 under the Democrat-Republican ticket (as the Democratic party was then called), the US and the world would be a better place. That really was a golden age for politics. Jefferson's presidential platform on which he ran in 1800, as summed up in a letter to a friend, went like this:
I shall make to you a profession of my political faith; in confidence that you will consider every future imputation on me of a contrary complexion, as bearing on its front the mark of falsehood and calumny.

I do then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the States, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended, who therefore became its enemies; and I am opposed to the monarchising its features by the forms of its administration, with a view to conciliate a first transition to a President and Senate for life, and from that to a hereditary tenure of these offices, and thus to worm out the elective principle.

I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers. And I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, nor all those of that government to the Executive branch.

I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it's being a public blessing.

I am for relying, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy, which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, grind us with public burthens, and sink us under them.

I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe; entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty.

I am for freedom of religion,
and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.
If Maia's looking for Democratic inspiration, then she should look past the political pygmies of this century and the one just past to giants such as this. That's a political platform for any age. The shame of it is that both Democrat and Republican presidents have done their best to undermine almost every part of such a platform. As a libertarian, that's just one reason I generally hold both those parties in contempt.

LINKS: I don't understand why anyone cares about the Democrats - Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty
Thomas Jefferson: Letter to Elbridge Gerry - Positive Atheism

TAGS: Politics-US, History

Still life with apples and oranges - Cezanne

Not just a stunning painting, this Cezanne still life features in another of painter Michael Newberry's Mini Tutorials. This latest minu-tutorial is on composition, and here Newberry shares something he's discovered in all great painters from Rembrandt to Picasso. Find out what it is here. Read and digest all Newberry's mini-tutorials, and you'll never see a painting the same way again.

LINK: Mini-tutorial: Composition in one easy lesson - Michael Newberry


Thursday, 22 June 2006

Moenui's unemployed dog figures plummet

Good satire on the microchipping of dogs from the Kiwi Herald. I look forward to getting to know seasoned Moenui commentators Melodie-Ann Lewis and Frank Lush on future visits -- :
KIWI HERALD: Dogs look for work
The number of dogs seeking work has risen sharply following the passing legislation which makes micro-chipping of dogs compulsory except in cases where they are working. ...
Read on here.

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Humour

Bin those bootlegs!

Kaiwai has "gone legit." He's thrown out $20,000 of bootleg software he was running, and his iPod has been reduced from 5GB of bootleg music to 500MB of purchased music ... and he's very happy about it.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I know that the music and software I am running, I actually paid for; I feel like I'm doing the moral thing by purchasing the music and software rather than downloading it, I don't have to constantly back up my music collection, I already have masters, I'm not worried as to the reliability of the software, as I have the software direction from the company rather than praying that the provider hasn't hacked and added in a virus or Trojan to one of the cd images.

Ultimately, I think it also comes to do good old fashioned decency; if you were a software company or a music artist, how would you feel if your livelihood was cut short because people decided that you were 'too rich' and thus, justified the bootlegging of IP along those lines? Sure, Adobe and Microsoft have massive boat loads of money, but what about the small companies who provide software, such as Panic Software, who aren't multi-billion, let alone multi-million dollar companies.

There are a number of companies out there, like Panic, who provide top notch software at a reasonable price to the public, and yet are done over by those who wish to destroy the very providers of the software they use; complaining on one hand that there aren't enough software titles out there, and on the other hand [they're] pirating rather than purchasing, thus making software development unsustainable.

For me, the choice was simple, get legit, get on the right side of the law, and live happily ever after . . .
Good for him. As he says, "Ultimately I think as people we need to realise is that yes, intellectual property does matter." Yes. It does.

LINK: I'm going legit! - Kaiwai's Blog

TAGS: Property_Rights, Geek_Stuff

Economics for kids

Here's an economics book for kids, as recommended (and sold) by the Mises Institute, who describe it thus:
For years, people have approached the Mises Institute about publishing a book on economics for kids. But why reinvent the wheel?

Richard Maybury's wonderful little book, Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, is a fast, fascinating, and easy-to-understand introduction to economic topics like inflation, prices, trade, and business. It comes with a helpful study guide that is just right for a classroom setting.

The author put this book together under the influence of Murray Rothbard and Henry Hazlitt. He sought to make their insights understandable to junior high kids. The book is now in its fifth edition, and the author has responded well to many comments from teachers and parents along the way.

If you have read Rothbard's What Has Government Done to Our Money? or any of the larger treatises in the Austrian library, this book is not for you. However, if you know a young person who needs a kick start to economic thinking, or if you want to set someone straight who carries around crazy illusions about fundamentals, this book can do a world of good.

It's true that economic theory is a subject for adults — you don't want to assign Human Action to an 11-year old — but kids can be taught plenty too. They don't need details about epistemology or exchange rates. But by enticing them into the subject matter of money and how it gains and loses value, you plant important seeds for future study.

That is precisely what Maybury's book does. He has a knack for clean expression and simple word choices. He helps people think through what causes prices to rise, the trials that businesses face, the motive force behind entrepreneurship, where wealth comes from, what prosperity and poverty mean, and what kinds of intervention harm business.

He also covers some of the most exciting if financially devastating periods of economic history from the German hyperinflation of the 1920s to the Great Depression to the 1970s inflation in the United States.

The study guide, by Jane Williams, is also an essential tool for students. We made it part of the package since this book is best used in a home school or private school setting.

Sounds worth investigating for those young 'uns, right?

LINKS: Whatever happened to Penny Candy? - Mises Institute

TAGS: Economics, Books


Many of us have expressed the hope that Islam can refom itself, that it can effect its own Renaissance from within. One important ingredient of such a renaissance would be the ebracing of economic liberalism, in other words: capitalism. Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol asks if such a thing is possible -- could Islamic culture really embrace capitalism? It's sorely in need of capitalism's results, but could it support the values that capitalism needs to flourish?

Akyol's answer is a guarded yes.
Most Islamists would reply to this question with a resounding "no!" Since they perceive Islam as an all-encompassing socio-political system, they regard capitalism as a rival and an enemy. The struggle against both communism and capitalism has been one of the standard themes in Islamist literature. Sayyid Qutb, the prominent ideologue of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, wrote a book titled Ma'arakat al-Islam wa'l-Ra's Maliyya (The Battle Between Islam and Capitalism) in 1951. At an Islamic conference held in the Spanish city of Granada on July 2003, attended by about 2,000 Muslims, a call was made to "bring about the end of the capitalist system."

However such radical rejections of the capitalist economy don't seem well-suited to the theological attitude and the historical experience of Islam towards business and profit-making. As a religion founded by a businessman -- Prophet Muhammad was a successful merchant for the greater part of his life -- and one that has cherished trade from its very beginning, Islam can in fact be very compatible with a capitalist economy . . .
Read the whole piece here. [Hat tip Joe Duarte]

LINK: Islamocapitalism - TechCentralStation

TAGS: Religion, Multiculturalism

Schminke House - Hans Scharoun

The Schminke House, by German organic architect Hans Scharoun. 1933. You can view a 3d CAD tour of the house here. TAGS: Architecture

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

GP's fees: Politburo gets its way

The latest tussle between GPs and government about the fees GPs may charge has ended with abject defeat for the GPs, and spin from everyone. Southern Gent cuts through all the spin:
Chairman of the NZMA Ross Boswell claims they have “protected the rights of GP’s to set and charge a fee.” NZMA's GP Council, chairman Dr Peter Foley says that the fees “will not be approved but will be reviewed.”

Well call me naive, but if your fees are “subject to review” then they are not “YOUR fees.” So the Politburo has got their way and a GP’s private practice has lost another bastion of privacy.
That's pretty much the whole story right there, isn't it.

LINKS: GPs bend over for hollow victory - Southern Gent
Some GPs unhappy at fees deal - The Press

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Health

Zoning and 'Smart Growth': The New Segregation?

Is zoning and urban planning racist? Are environmentalists guilty of racial injustice? Are planners the new segregationists? Randal O'Toole of the Thoreau Institute has this to say:
In 2002 the National Center for Public Policy Research put out a report calling smart growth (the current urban planning fad) "The New Segregation." The report, written by Portland economist Randall Pozdena, estimated that if all U.S. cities had Portland-style planning, more than a million families would not have been able to purchase their first homes in the last decade. [That report is presently being downloaded at the rate of four-hundred per week.]

In 1999, an Oregon planning group called Coalition for a Livable Future (closely associated with 1000 Friends of Oregon) did a study documenting how high housing prices had caused the dispersal of Portland's African-American population from the historically black neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland to the suburbs. The report indicated this was a bad thing (more integration is bad?) but failed to acknowledge that the same land-use policies that the group
was supporting was causing housing prices to go up. The report, "Displacement: The Dismantling of a Community," is no longer available on line [but can be purchased here].

What is really happening, of course, is that poor black families are displaced from rental housing (often single-family homes) into section 8 housing (usually apartments built in response to subsidies for "New Urban" high-density housing) elsewhere in the region. The families may lose easy access to churches, community centers, and other support services, although I haven't seen this documented.

Nationally, nearly three out of four white families own their own homes while less than half of black and Hispanic families do. (You can download state-by-state and metro-area-by-metro-area figures from here.) Since 95 percent of the country is rural open space, it seems like people who regard themselves as "progressive" should be more interested in boosting minority homeownership rates than saving open space.
"Is is fair to blame these attitudes on environmentalists?" asks O'Toole. "I blame them,' he concludes, "on urban planners." Urban planners whose policies are strangling land use, and as a result are making housing even more unaffordable for first-home buyers than it would otherwise need to be.

LINKS: The New Segregation - US National Center for Public Policy Research, [PDF report, 2002]
How Smart Growth makes housing unaffordable - American Dream Coalition [PDF download]

TAGS: Racism, Urban_Design

Microchipping Nanny

In recent times, politicians have either legislated or shown interest in intruding in all these personal matters:
  • 'marrying' people who've lived together for more than two years;
  • where -- and whether -- you smoke;
  • what you put in school lunchboxes and you find in food-vending machines;
  • what you can and can't plant or cut down in your own garden;
  • who gets to renovate your house, and how;
  • who gets to walk across your farm;
And now, today, they're considering:
  • how to keep track of your dog.
First they entered the bedroom; then they came for your lunchboxes and your simple pleasures; then they came for your land; now they're coming for your pets.

Do Nanny's interests extend into everything? Where will it end? Those will of course remain rhetorical questions just as long as you lot continue to allow that lot to meddle in your affairs. As long as you remain compliant, then they'll just keep right on coming.

Maybe it's time to tell them to rack off. One place you might begin telling them is on the issue currently before the house: microchipping your dogs. It needs barely half-a-dozen MPs to change their mind for this legislation to fall. Why not email every one of the 120 MPs today to tell them to throw out the microchipping for dogs legislation. Here are their contact details. Tell them enough is enough. Tell them that Government is intended to be chained up to be our servants, not the other way around. Tell them to throw it out, and tell them today.

First they came for the dogs . . .

UPDATE: A small victory tonight -- perhaps better called a successful rearguard action:
NZPA: Farm dogs exempt from microchipping

Tonight Parliament voted, by the slimmest of margins, to exempt working farm dogs.

The bid had been expected to fail but in a surprise move tonight four of the Green Party's six MPs voted to exempt farm dogs.

The four MPs were Keith Locke, Sue Kedgley, Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos.

If any of you contacted any of those four, you may have had more effect than you know.

UPDATE: I've been sent some responses that some of you have received from the pollies. Here's one opf interest. Jim Anderton concedes that the purpose of this legislation is NOT to stop dogs biting people -- how could it? "As I understand it," he says, "the purpose of this initiative is to build a database which will enable the better management and control of the dog population in New Zealand, not to stop dogs from biting." So there you go.

LINKS: Parliament breaks without dog vote - TVNZ
Microchips look a doggone cert - Dominion Post


Would you like a smile with that JAFA?

HERALD: Small businesses in Auckland have come out tops in a global survey of politeness. The Reader's Digest global courtesy survey of 35 cities around the world showed a 100 per cent strike rate in a selection of small shops in Auckland that thanked customers for making their purchase. The global average was 75 per cent.

By jillikers, we Aucklanders are polite -- or at least our small businessmen are. Big surprise here, I would have thought, was the city that came first in the "overall courtesy category": New York. Not exactly a city known worldwide for courtesy. Even Newsday was surprised.
In a city with a reputation for being rough 'n ready _ and, frankly, my dear, in-your-face residents seem to be expressing themselves with a new one-finger salute: a raised pinkie.
And the least courteous? The Asian continent apparently, with Mumbai, India, dead last. Anyway, perhaps the key words here are really "admittedly unscientific." File under 'interesting' and 'anecotal.'

LINK: Auckland stars in survey of politeness - NZ Herald
New Yorkers politest people in the world? Yes, says magazine - Newsday

TAGS: Auckland

333 Wacker Drive - Kohn, Pedersen & Fox

333 Wacker Drive, Chicago, the building that in 1983 inspired amost on its own an urban renewal around inner Chicago -- and it wasnt so bad for the career of Eugene Kohh, William Pedersen and Sheldon Fox either. Twenty-three years later the building has been so widely emulated that it might be difficult to see it with fresh eyes, but in its day this building was a word-beater in the way it integrated its site context, and wrapped it up so elegantly.

To some eyes, mine for instance, it still is.

LINKS: Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects

TAGS: Architecture

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Cutting off your nose to ...

Let's talk nose jobs. As you might expect from my photo over there on the left, I find that -- just occasionally -- people try and offer a new nose joke, one that perhaps that Edmond Rostand's character Cyrano (on the right) might have missed. They always fail. Apparently David Slack gets the same jokes, but he's about to go under the knife to remove the world of some much-needed humour. You have only two more days to take the piss out of his nose:
Unless you are planning to get yourself smacked in the face with a piece of four by two this Thursday, I predict that I will be waking up on Friday morning feeling less comfortable than you. Elective surgery; upon the nose.

I have broken it twice, but being broken is only half the story. Huge, it is. In all but the fiercest storm, a small family could huddle safely in its shelter.

... From time to time I would come across an article about rhinoplasty and wonder if it might be for me. I would say to friends : I've been thinking about getting my nose done. And without exception they would say in the polite way people do: no, no, it's fine, you don't need to do that, and I would say No, really. I want them to make it bigger. That would pierce their diplomatic guard; they couldn't help themselves. Embarrassed laughter.

But I would never act on it.
He is now. He's giving up. Thursday morning, he goes under the knife. Not me. If I did, I'd have to abandon my favourite way of explaining libertarianism (one, ironically enough, I pinched from Jim McLay, another chap with a decent hooter). When asked about limits to freedom under libertarianism, I usually reply that under libertarianism, my freedom ends where your nose begins ... which means that some people get more freedom than others.

David Slack has just chosen less freedom for himself. Poor chap. I hope it really hurts. ;^)

LINKS: Twenty ways to insult a nose, Cyrano de Bergerac - Edmond Rostand, via Rice University
Think of the children - David Slack

TAGS: Blog, Humour

Censorship by stealth

Today’s guest commentary comes from an investment banker who must remain anonymous lest he jeopardise his firm’s position and, consequently, his career.

From the NBR: Air NZ slapped with $600,000 fine

Air New Zealand has been ordered to pay $600,000 in fines and nearly $65,000 in costs by the Comm[unist] Commission. The airline was prosecuted for misleading customers about the real price of its airfares. The Commission says the penalty is one of the highest ever imposed under the Fair Trading Act for misleading advertising and follows Air New Zealand's conviction on a total of 112 charges brought by the Commission.
Oh but they are full of themselves.

What they don’t say, however, is that Air NZ did tell consumers the full cost of their airfares (you could hardly book a ticket without having to consent to government charges being booked against your credit card). What’s more, it's only proper for Air NZ to compete on prices which they could control – and other airlines were doing the same.

So why else would the government’s bully boys go after Air NZ, and why Air NZ first?

One explanation is that in advertising their fares and govt levies separately, Air NZ exposed just how cheap airfares could be if we didn't have to pay unnecessary govt taxes along with them. But that’s not all that’s worrying in this news article.

In an agreement with the Commission, the airline has undertaken to move to using all-inclusive prices for both its international and domestic airfares.

In her book The God of The Machine, Isabel Paterson pointed out that a state education system would necessarily have to be supportive of the current government structure under which it operated because the bureaucrats in charge would not tolerate dissent from the teachers they controlled.

That same principle applies here. As an 80% govt owned company, Air NZ are hardly likely to stand up for their right to free speech to show how wasteful government is, are they? I scarcely think the largest shareholder would be happy for Air NZ to lambast a department for whom a fellow minister is responsible.

So if this case is now used as a precedent to prosecute other companies (as this other article suggests), we will have one government department able to prosecute private companies based on a precedent contested by what amounts to, well, a prosecution against another government department. And thus we will have seen another pernicious example of what happens when government owns businesses they shouldn't.

Update: And they're already at it: ComCom on the warpath

Kathmandu and Etop accused of false advertising

Kathmandu and Auckland Parallel importer Etop are the latest companies caught up in the Commerce Commission's blitz on false advertising.

I went to the Communist Commission's website to find out what they advertise themselves as doing. Here's what:

The Commerce Commission enforces legislation that promotes competition in New Zealand markets and prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct by traders. The Commission also enforces a number of pieces of legislation specific to the telecommunications, dairy and electricity industries. In ensuring compliance with the legislation it enforces, the Commission undertakes investigation and where appropriate takes court action; considers applications for authorisation in relation to anti-competitive behaviour and mergers; and makes regulatory decisions relating to access to telecommunications networks and assessing compliance with performance thresholds by electricity lines businesses.

We should prosecute them for false advertising:

  • They fail to break up government monopolies or call for their divestiture (where they would face the same capital costs as their competitors);
  • They fail to recommend the abolition of legislation that prevents small companies being able to compete with big companies (the RMA, the OSHA, corporate taxes);
  • In telecommunications and other industries, they penalise the most competitive company and keep less competitive companies alive (and their vocal - or, more accurately, nasal – CEOs in employment) through advocating corporate pork policies;
  • They delay mergers from which operational synergies can be gained, thereby raising costs, lowering wages and profits and thus capital accumulation and wages again; and
  • They raise investment uncertainty and thus capital costs and investment hurdle rates, such that new services that might benefit consumers are still born, never to see the light of day.

Quite simply, they are the legislative manifestation of the tall-poppy-syndrome - they attack any big private business and do nothing meaningful to the protected positions of bloated, wasteful, bullying government organisations.

TAGS: Economics, Politics-NZ