Monday, 16 October 2006

Good cause. Bad defence.

Frederic Bastiat observed many years ago that, "The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended." That quote comes to mind at the news of so-called free-market economist Edmund Phelps receiving the 2006 Nobel Prize for economics. Phelps is to the free market what Robert Nozick is to libertarianism: a willing straw man for opponents to engage and too easily rebut.

Phelps's 'free market' is not mine, and it turns that nor is it truly free.

A piece Phelps wrote for the Wall Street Journal is instructive. Unusually, Phelps does attempt a moral defence of capitalism, but it is so wringing wet as to be worse than useless. Described by Instapundit as "a strong defense of capitalism" it is anything but. As Ed Hudgins points out in a letter to the WSJ, “Phelps advocates economic individualism but moral collectivism," as poor a basis for defending capitalism as it's possible to have.

"Hayek and Ayn Rand went too far in taking ... freedom to be an absolute," writes Phelps, who is more than happy to sacrifice liberty for a little egalitairian tinkering in the name of 'social justice.' "But," as Hudgins points out, "if the individual rather than a statistical group is the ultimate subject of justice, then freedom is the highest good in the only truly just society – a capitalist one!”

Paul Hsieh at Noodle Food points out that Phelps gives away almost every fundamental point that a principled opponent of the free market would wish him to. It is a defence, explains Hsieh, that"rests on two pillars":
[T]he fact that it is the best system for helping the poorest amongst us, and that it helps maximize "self-expression" of creative people. Although these are incidentally true, they are so far removed from what Objectivists would regard as the fundamental moral defense of capitalism, namely man's need to think in order to live, and the corresponding need for freedom from initiation of force in order to use his mind. So if this is a "strong defense of capitalism," I'd hate to see a weak one!

But it's always interesting to see what is portrayed as a moral defense of capitalism in the mainstream culture (from a well-respected Nobel laureate in economics no less), because this is an area where Objectivists have a critically important and unique contribution of ideas relative to the libertarians and conservatives.
And so they do. The explicitly Objectivist 'Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism' will give you an idea of what a moral defence of capitalism truly looks like. The introductory essay 'The Moral Basis of Capitalism' is a good place to dive in and compare a truly moral defence with Phelp's apologia. It begins:
Capitalism is the only moral social system because it is the only system that respects the freedom of the producers to think and the right of the individual to set his own goals and pursue his own happiness.
Read on...

LINKS: Defender of capitalism? - Paul Hsieh at Noodle Food
Comments at Noodle Food
Hudgins in the Wall Street Journal - Ed Hudgins, SOLO
The moral basis of capitalism - Robert Tracinscki, Center for the Advancement of Capitalism

Libertarianism, Objectivism, Ethics

"Right wing bloggers" are to blame!

If her interview with Paul Holmes this morning is any guide, Helen Clark is not at all happy with what she calls "right-wing bloggers," mentioning them at least four times in the short interview and even at one stage seeming to confuse Herald journalist Fran O'Sullivan for a "right-wing blogger" for having dared to suggest the days of the Clark Leadership are numbered-- "creative writing by right-wing blog writers" she calls any idea of a challenge to her leadership.

If Our Glorious Leader wasn't quite frothing at the mouth it was perhaps only because she wasn't asked about the hilarious news that Labour's pledge card on Trade Me attracted less than one-fifteenth the sum attracted on Bernard Darnton's still-ongoing and increasingly hilarious auction of the same card, and about one-twentieth of the interest.

Alas poor Labour. So much to pay. So little support.

UPDATE: Bernard Darnton discusses the auction and the latest increasingly surreal events around the pledge card misappropriation with ZB's Larry Williams. Audio here.

LINKS: PM rejects Brash's call for snap election - Newstalk ZB [audio]
H1 & H2: Shot by Kevin Brady's gun? - Not PC
Labour Party Pledge Card on Trade Me - Darnton on Trade Me

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

Free speech under attack with threat to tax-exempt charities

Free speech isn't just under attack in the manner of so-called 'campaign finance reform' (which as I explain in the post below is more accurately characterised as speech rationing), it's also under attack on another front. As the Dominion explains this morning:
Charities that indulge in too much political activity could be stripped of their tax-free status under new Government rules.
Amazing. Charities that attack and offend the government are threatened with removal of their tax-free status. As Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust says in the Dominion, "the new rules were aimed at organisations that "rock the political boat", but such groups were essential in a democracy. 'It's absolutely pathetic that political agenda is trying to stifle the public voice. It has the potential to be catastrophic'."

It certainly does. This brings to mind Thomas Jefferson's dictum that a government with the ability to give you everything you want is just as able to take it all away again. As long as rights and privileges are granted by government as a favour rather than held by right, then such things are open to political abuse. Good on Garth McVicar, Sandra Goudie, Sue Bradford and SAFE's Hans Kriek for realising the danger inherent in the proposal, and coming out an opposing it.

With the sedition trial, the proposal for speech rationing during elections and now this, it's clear this lame-duck Government has become so sensitive to the criticism it has brought upon itself it would rather kill free speech than sustain one of the few freedoms the liberal left once claimed to value and to stand for. It's rapidly becoming apparent just how barren that claim actually is.

UPDATE: This issue really is a litmus test for which Parliamentary parties do actually value free speech. Good for the Greens, who with this press release [hat tip Whale Oil] show that they are one of the few, even if they're a little confused. "The Government is trying to force charities into a 19th century mould of voluntary work," they say, Force aside, that might be a good thing, no?

LINKS: Tax-free charity shake up - Dominion

RELATED: Politics-NZ,Free Speech

'Campaign finance reform' = speech rationing

"Campaign finance reform" is being put on the table by a Labour Party that's so short of the readies they want to take your money by force to pay for their next election campaign, while stopping you giving your money voluntarily in large amounts to fund campaigns that you might wish to.

That's as basically venal as this proposal is. Caught with their hands in the till, they want to change the law to leave the till open. Too few people want to support them financially, so they want to force you to pay for their election campaigns instead. Too many people criticise the Government during the election campaign, so they want to forbid third-party criticisms of Government during an election campaign.

Taken together, these are what Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author George H. Will describes in the American context as "speech rationing," of which he said recently "there is no greater threat to liberty."
It is commonly called "campaign finance reform," but it's nothing of the sort. It is simply the assertion by the government of a new, audacious 'right': the right to determine the timing, content, and amount of political advocacy about the government. It is the most astonishing slow-motion repeal of the First Amendment [protecting free speech that] anyone could imagine.
This is as dangerous as an attack on free speech gets. Make no mistake, "campaign finance reform" is just a euphemism for speech rationing. It should be fought by everyone who values free speech with everything they can bring to bear against it.

LINKS: Upholding the idea of liberty - speech by George H. Will to 2006 Milton Friedman dinner, Cato Institute [8-page PDF]

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

Saturday, 14 October 2006

H1 & H2: Shot by Kevin Brady's gun

That roar you hear is the "roar from the courageous journalists, bloggers, National Party MPs, gutsy public servants, and lawyers who dug deep into the electoral-spending scandal," and as Fran O'Sullivan notes this morning have already achieved a victory, and this even before Darnton's case gets to court to have the spending declared illegal.

And hasn't Whale Oil's picture (right) become more prescient by the day. Now that the cycle is well past spin and set firmly at 'Hang Out To Dry,' the current favourites to get the treatment according to the Herald's Fran O'Sullivan are the two H's: either H1 or H2, or both.

Clark is now "damaged goods after the battle of Helengrad," notes O'Sullivan, and as I noted on Wednesday and O'Sullivan reports today Clark herself "basically hung Simpson out to dry in Parliament earlier in the week." In short, "resentment in some caucus quarters at the way Heather Simpson and Helen Clark have handled the issue" and at the size of the cheques they're going to have to write out to cover up the blunder might suggest either one or both might be going down, shot (in the words of the song) "by Kevin Brady's gun."
No longer will my country take this fraud from you
I so could foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into your fading run
I see it ending with Kevin Brady's gun

I see a red card and they gotta pay it back
They stole from public funds they gotta pay it back
I see MPs walk by dressed in their emperors' clothes.
They have to turf their head 'cos she caused all their woes.

Hmm, hmm, hmm, ...
What odds then on Phil Goff leading the Labour Party into the next election? Anybody like to bet against it?

LINKS: Labour MPs told to pay Brady bill? - Audrey Young, NZ Herald
Clark damaged goods after battle of Helengrad - Fran O'Sullivan, NZ Herald
Pay It Back! - VRWC, You Tube
Government changes tack on pledge card defence - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

A site for a Rugby World Cup Stadium?

It's not often I praise a councillor, in fact I don't think I've had the pleasure before, but I have to say that Cr. Richard Simpson's suggestion posted on Russell Brown's blog that any money spent redeveloping stadiums for the Rugby World Cup be spent at Carlaw Park is an idea that has legs. [See Simpson's Powerpoint presentation here.] If you're going to do it (which is certainly another argument I'm happy to argue against) then at least do it right.

A stadium on the waterfront is just a nonsense. And continuing to pour money into the white elephant that Eden Park becoming is just foolishness built upon stupidity. Building it at the foot of the domain at the site above can do so much for the city, as Simpson explains, that any other alternative just looks flawed.

Now I must confess, I do have a weakness for cities with good sports stadiums -- Melbourne for example does it so well with Olympic Park/MCG/Laver Arena/Telstra Dome and all the transport connections that connect these so easily to the city that (Wellington's 'Cake Tin' and its own connections with the city excluded) it makes our own facilities seem decidely third-rate. Having a beer in a downtown pub just fifteen minutes before a game starts and then shooting out easily and comfotably to the MCG or Telstra Dome to watch a titanic sporting struggle is one of the world's great pleasures, but it's not something you're ever going to manage with a stadium sitting out at Eden Park.

As Simpson points out, redeveloping the carpark of Carlaw Park has enormous potential for beautifully re-linking Parnell to the domain and and renovating the Waipapa stream (right) and domain edge into something gorgeous:
This backyard of Parnell facing the Domain (left) could become its front lawn. Cafes could be set up in this sheltered valley where people could sit by the stream - with the Domain, Stadium and a sleek new Domain/Museum/Stadium station could serve as backdrop.
Furthermore, the site already has superb motorway transport links, and with the railway running straight past it's as simple as placing a station (or two) right there.
A stadium on this Carlaw Park site would catalyse the use of public transport and transform Auckland into a world class city. Carlaw Park could be serviced by a new Musuem/Domain/Parnell Station on the Southern line, at the same time as a temporary Kingdon St Station on the Western line. Run concurrently this is more than twice the capacity offered by Britomart. For road transport Carlaw Park is serviced by SH16 at its front door.

This site is very near Auckland hospital for rapidly addressing serious injuries. In situations of major emergencies, the stadium at this site would serve as strategic assembly point (eg. as New Orleans Super Dome served during Katrina).

In wet weather, a covered stadium on this site could serve as a standby contingency for major events in the Domain. The Museum steps could serve a podium for the opening of the RWC and for prize giving etc. where hundreds of thousands of people could attend and participate. Auckland would shine at its best for international eyes.

There are many benefits a Stadium on this site could serve for better connecting Parnell, the University, Domain, and CBD together for pedestrians and cyclists. A stadium on this site could also provide car parking for these areas [perhaps even under the stadium?], and could enable the car parking in the Domain to be greatly reduced.
I have to say, I do think the idea has merit. Eden Park is a dinosaur both in terms of access and facilities, and the site's many restrictions make these hindrances major ones and more difficult. Time in my view to bite the bullet, get rid of Eden Park and (if the money's going to be spent anyway) build a proper world class stadium in a way that develop and enhance what is presently only an 'armpit' of the city to become something great

And after all, with sites in that part of town going for between $300-500,000, bowling Eden Park and selling off the land would net something approaching half what any new stadium would cost anyway.

LINKS: Hang on, what about Carlaw Park? - Richard Simpson, Public Address
Carlaw Park: Rugby World Cup Stadium [Powerpoint presentation] - Richard Simpson, Public Address

Auckland, Sports

Friday, 13 October 2006

Beer O'Clock: Oude Reserve

The mother of all craft beers this afternoon, reviewed by Stu from Real Beer.

Some beers are made for session drinking. These beers are designed to be quenching and interesting, without being so thought provoking that they take your mind away from important matter such as conversation and conjecture. Other beers are more for savouring - sharing with special friends on special occasions.

Oude Reserve is in the latter category. Try a session on this and all you'll be savouring will be waking up three days later face down in a strange city with your memory gone, your wallet empty, and dressed like a pantomime donkey. No, this beer is definitely one for savouring. A very special strong beer (known as ‘barley wine’) from one of New Zealand’s little giants, the Limburg brewery in Hawkes Bay. At 10.5% it is, before you even taste it, a unique beer in our steadily growing local stable of excellent craft beers.

I first tried Oude Reserve at BrewNZ 2005, where it was already close to a year old. Back then I found it suitably interesting but a little unbalanced, with the individual hop and malt components still standing out alone and not fully intertwining. I must have been a harsh critic because the beer had just picked up a gold medal as the best BrewNZ festive brew (to the theme of "The Magnificence of Malt").

It's not an easy beer to get a hold of, especially for those of us that don't find a box of free beer sitting on your doorstep each evening when we arrive home (yes, I'm talking about our good friend Neil Miller here). This meant that I didn't get around to re-tasting the beer until BrewNZ 2006. Boy, was it worth the wait...

Pouring a bright burnished copper, without the usual foamy head you'd expect from a beer, it resembles a sherry more than your average beer. Sweet malts and an underlying fruitiness dominate the nose, reminiscent of barley sugars and orange marmalade. A slight meatiness and definite oxidised character, that is also very sherry-like, give away the fact that the beer is two years old. My brother is reminded of barley being toasted for haggis at the family home we grew up in. It's overwhelmingly thought provoking.

The flavour is no less demanding of your attention. More malt sweetness in the mouth; toffee and liquorice in the middle; a warming alcohol and spicy hop finish, which borders on hot; and a late lingering bitterness. More meatiness and sweet toasty malts linger on the palate. Challenging but so rewarding (we opened a Chimay Bleu after this, which almost seemed bland and lightweight on comparison).

The beer also won a gold medal and the best-in-class trophy for the Strong Beer category at BrewNZ 2006 (trumping Sam Adam’s 26% Utopia on the way). I wholeheartedly agree with the judges this year. For me it was the standout beer of BrewNZ 2006.

Oude Reserve is a beer that will win notoriety and media attention rather than a massive surge in profits. It’s a special treat for beer lovers such as myself and a real eye-opener for anyone dipping their toe into the wonderful pool of craft beers we now have available in New Zealand. Contact the brewery if you’d like to get your hands on some.

Pantomime donkey suits aside, you won't regret it.

LINKS: Limburg
Barley Wine style guide

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

"Give the bomb to Iran" says senior UK Tory

"Give the bomb to Iran." That's the call of the UK Tory's Shadow Minister for Higher Education Boris Johnson, who's been described as a porky funster in a urine-coloured wig; the male equivalent of a blonde with big tits; a plummy-voiced nincompoop; the only dumb blonde in Westminster village; a man who has only just learned to dress himself; and a shrewd and calculating prick.

Having such a man as Shadow Minister for Higher Education is clear and present proof that Conservatives do have a sense of humour. And Johnson's call to "give the bomb to Iran" shows once again that the natural state of a conservative is on his knees. Neville Chamberlain is not dead, he's just wearing a urine-coloured wig and representing Henley in the House.

Shrewd and calculating he may be (let's give him the benefit of the doubt) but his latest calculated clarion call for crawling appeasement is the dumbest idea since leaving the US Pacific Fleet out there at Pearl Harbor with everything but a big 'Kick Me' sign pasted to their bows.

"Give Iran the nuclear bomb," he says, and as we see he does quite literally mean "give."
Perhaps the Americans could actually assist with the technology, as they assist the United Kingdom, in return for certain conditions: that the Iranian leadership stops raving about attacking Israel, for instance, and that progress is made towards democracy and so on. The Iranian public might feel grateful, and engaged, and not demonised.
If you feel like issuing a warning about a tridal wave of wetness. now is the time. Because it's all-engulfing.
The tragedy of growing up is that human beings acquire the means of killing themselves and others. The human race now collectively has that power. The Iranians will join in soon enough. It might be sensible if they did so in an atmosphere of co-operation and understanding, and not amid intensifying threats and hysteria...
Woosh. There it goes. I shall now leave you some space to ponder those words of wisdom (but not perhaps as much space as Iran's near neighbours might like to leave between them and Tehran's missile launch sites).
So what do you think. Does it seem any more sensible after some thought? No? Bear in mind, now that this is not Keith Locke or Chris Trotter or Oliver Stone saying this, it's offered by a senior British Conservative as a serious piece of RealPolitik.

And speaking of Oliver Stone, his own advice that "we" should just learn to live with terrorism is not just well-skewered by the cartoon above, as a colleague of mine said it is also "proof that common sense is something else you can't get out of a Stone."

It's bloody hard getting it out of a Tory as well.

UPDATE: It's an anti-Democrat ad timed for US mid-term elections, but this Madeleine Albright video spoof mocks the same 'let's just be nice' appeasement that Johnson is calling for, and that Madeleine was in her time as Secretary of State all but ready to acquiesce to. See Madeleine sing Kumaya with Jim Jong Il. See her change a flat for Al Qaeda. See it now. "Nice' is not enough.

LINKS: Give Iran the nuclear bomb - Boris Johnson, Gulf News
The only dumb blonde in Westminster village - Daily Torygraph
Boris gaffe as he says 'Give nuclear bomb to Iran' - This London
Stone cold - cartoon by Cox and Forkum
The David Zucker Albright ad - You Tube

RELATED: War, Politics-World, Cartoons

One pledge card. Slightly used.

Oh look: You can now buy your very own Labour Party Pledge Card on Trade Me:
Mint condition original 2005 Labour Party pledge card, nicely framed - just like the New Zealand taxpayer.
Never to be repeated (hopefully). This item is one in a million. Well, one OF a million.
You've already paid for it once, why not pay for it again?
Why the hell not, eh? Make an offer.

UPDATE: Make sure you check out the hilarious Questions and answer for this auction. Sample:
Is it a quality frame? posted by: dutjo (19 ) 1:22 pm, Fri 13 Oct
No. It's worthless and transparent, much like the pledges it contains.
I guess this is the free market in action. posted by: dutjo (19 ) 1:26 pm, Fri 13 Oct
That's right. It's the invisible hand giving Labour a slapping. 1:29 pm, Fri 13 Oct
Will you consider delivery of the card by high-speed motorcade? posted by: inventory1 (8 ) 1:08 pm, Fri 13 Oct
I would, but my driver's in jail.
I smell a rat with this. posted by: dutjo (19 ) 1:07 pm, Fri 13 Oct
The card does smell a bit odd but I just thought that was the whiff of corruption.
Is this the special edition pledge card with the secret 8th pledge: That she pledges to "move on"? posted by: suzyq7 (13 ) 12:38 pm, Fri 13 Oct
There are lots of extra pledges. For a half-mill donation you can choose what the next seven are.
I'm a politician and I'd like to buy the card. I'm in the habit of spending other people's money but obviously can't do so in this case. What can I do? Where can I get some money that doesn't belong to somebody else??? posted by: asco (30 ) 12:57 pm, Fri 13 Oct
You need to produce goods or services that other people actually want using the skills that ... oh, I see your point. You may be beyond help.
Brilliant! Go visit. Go bid. And do it soon. As Luke says over at Pacific Empire, "I just hope this story doesn’t end with 'This auction was pulled because user hc1 complained that it was seditious' …"

LINK: Labour Party Pledge Card - Trade Me
Darnton V Clark website

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

Carmen case power abuse still on the books

Carmen's recent re-visit to Parliament -- a 'return to the scene of the crime' so to speak -- caused blogger Idiot/Savant to reflect that the 'crime' of "bringing Parliament into disrepute" for which she was famously hauled before Parliament's Privileges Committee all those years ago is still on the books. Hauling her in, notes I/S, "was an outrageous abuse of power, akin to a prosecution for lese majeste - and the scary thing is that there is absolutely nothing stopping it from happening again."

He's right you know. As he says,
the "right" to police public opinion of politicians is neither necessary or desirable. While the era of such abuses seems to have passed (OTOH, they forced TV3 to apologise for showing footage of the Minister of Forty Winks), the power should be removed permanently, just to be on the safe side.
It should be. Only recently we were caught thinking that that the era of prosecutions for sedition was over. How wrong that proved to be. To paraphrase what I said when Tim Selwyn was convicted for the 'crime' of sedition, "to have 'crimes' such as this on the books is chilling for free speech. If political commentators aren't bringing this Parliament into disrepute, then they're just not doing their job."

LINK: The problem of privilege - No Right Turn (Idiot/Savant)
Sedition verdict gives new meaning to 'Helengrad' - Not PC (June, 2006)

RELATED: Free speech, Politics-NZ

What would Darnton say?

If you're wondering about the impact of yesterday's grudging 'Payback' announcement on the Darnton V Clark case, then the answer in a word is: "nothing." The case is still on. As Bernard Darnton clarified yesterday:

Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton this afternoon welcomed Labour's promise to repay the money they misappropriated for their election spending but noted that paying it back isn't enough.

"As the Speaker points out in her report on the matter, paying the money back doesn't make the spending any less illegal," said Darnton.

"The real problem here is not really the amount of money misspent. It's the fact that the Government thinks it is above the law."
Read all of Bernard's press release here.

LINKS: Paying it back isn't enough, says Darnton - press release, Bernard Darnton, Libertarianz

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

What would a libertarian do about global warming?

Let's say for a moment, and just for the sake of argument, that human-induced global warming is both proven and a clear menace -- in other words that all the alarmists' claims are correct. What would be the libertarian solution to such a threat?

That's the question being considered in a revealing roundtable at the Reason Foundation's website. The three papers kicking off debate are:

Property Rights Approaches to Global Warming: Scope and Limits
Shikha Dalmia, Editor of Reason Roundtable

The Missing Elements in the "Science" of Global Warming
Donald J. Boudreaux, Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University

The Role of Market Institutions in Enabling Adaptation to Climate, Change
Julian Morris, Director of International Policy Network

As the convenor of the roundtable, Shakia Dalmia says:
While it is difficult to use property rights to protect the global commons and avert climate change, it does not follow that government regulations are therefore the answer.
So what would be the answer? You can read the debate (and join in yourself) at the main roundtable page here, or at Ronald Bailey's summary and follow-up here.

LINKS: Global warming and potential policy solutions - Reason Foundation
Libertarians Debate What (If Anything) To Do About Global Warming - Ronald Bailey, Hit and Run

RELATED: Global Warming, Libertarianism, Environment

It's a pleasure to support property rights

While a different kind of political activity was going on up the road yesterday, I'm happy to say that my submission on Gordon Copeland's bill to incorporate property rights in NZ's Bill of Rights was presented to the Select Committee considering the Bill. As I said when Copeland's Private Members Bill was first announced:
"When property rights are under attack both here in New Zealand and around the world, it's a pleasure for once to support a move in a direction that protects property rights."

"I've long argued that the Resource Management Act is a disaster for the property rights of New Zealanders -- that the only solution is a stake through its heart. The RMA would not have been able to have property rights buried in the manner it did if property rights were included at the heart of our Bill of Rights, particularly if that Bill of Rights were to be given real teeth."

"Copeland can't do much about the latter, but he is at least trying on the former and I applaud him for that. Our submission in support of his Bill argues in part that 'As time passes, it becomes more evident that private property rights are an omission from the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. They are among the most fundamental and most valuable rights. As Leon Trotsky long ago pointed out with glee, where there is no private ownership, individuals can be easily bent to the will of the state. It is high time that individuals were given proper legal protection against the abuses of the state. This Private Members Bill is a start."
You can read the entire submission here.

LINKS: Something being done about property rights - "Bravo, Gordon Copeland" - Peter Cresswell, Libertarianz press release
Libertarianz Submission on the New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill - complete submission, Libertarianz

RELATED: Property Rights, Politics-NZ, Politics-United

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Time for some chains.

So it's now confirmed that the Government did steal the last election. But is there any remedy? Any at all?

In Thailand in such circumstances they tend to look to military action to punish such corruption. In the US there are remedies within the Constitution. Not here.

What's still to confirm is whether in fact there are any constitutional chains on government at all down here in this banana republic of the South Pacific. Darnton V Clark will confirm whether or not the few that do exist have any teeth, but you might like to set your mind to considering whether or not it's time to think about some formal constitutional safeguards to put some real chains on government.

After all, if a government can steal an election and get away with it, what else can they do? It's time for some chains.

LINKS: Cue Card Libertarianism - Constitution - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED: Constitution, Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

Liar, liar.

I must say it's instructive listening to Parliament. Calling someone a "liar" is considered un-Parliamentary behaviour. Lying, however, is not.

Perhaps that tells you all you need to know about the behaviour of Parliamentarians.

NEWSFLASH: Paying it back

Michael Cullen, answering questions in the House right now, has just confirmed the Prime Minister has now read the report and "intends to pay the money back." To repeat, as Cullen did, "The Labour Party will be paying the money back."

Tolling Auckland's 'ring road'

Liberty Scott has chapter and verse on the proposals released today to toll Auckland's 'western ring road' motorway extensions. Now, Scott is generally a supporter of toll roads, but he has six questions that need to be answered before he'll become a supporter of the present proposal. It is, he suggests, more about politics than user-pays.

LINK: Tolling Auckland not user pays - Liberty Scott

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Auckland

"...the party is dominated by libertarians."

Here's some good news. A board member of the ACT Party has just resigned because the party, he says, is being "dominated" by its libertarian wing.

My congratulations to that libertarian wing.

Just four more parties to dominate and the job is done.

UPDATE: Hold it! Call off the festivities. ACT member Lindsay Mitchell isn't so sure about that domination, and to be fair if it's true it's still not reflected in policy...

LINKS: ACT and board member part company - NZ Herald [Hat tip David Farrar]

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-ACT

Tax cuts

Here's two reasons why we need tax cuts:
Reason the first: Leaving money in the hands of the productive allows us to be even more productive with it. Give a dollar to the government and they turn it into thirty cents. Keep that dollar with the people who produced it they'll turn it into two dollars, then four, then ...
Here's the second reason: IT'S OUR BLOODY MONEY! Give it back.
As I heard Rodney Hide explaining the point on the radio yesterday, tax cuts are good when the economy is shrinking because the cuts stimulate growth and let people keep their own money; tax cuts are good when the economy is shrinking because the cuts stimulate growth and let people keep their own money; and tax cuts are good when the economy is growing because the cuts stimulate growth and let people keep their own money.

You see the point? It's your money, not theirs! You should demand it back.

LINK: It's Your Money! - Fulton Huxtable, Free Radical (1999)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Economics

Rich dad author podcast

I'm pretty sure some of you reading this are fans of Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, so you might be interested to know that 'Learn Out Loud' has a new podcast featuring audio lectures and videos from Robert T. Kiyosaki.

And you can listen here to a free sample of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad audio book.

LINKS: Rich Dad's podcast - Learn Out Loud
Rich Dad, Poor Dad audio book - Learn Out Loud

RELATED: Books, Economics

High and higher regulation. High and higher house prices.

Think house prices are high? Owen McShane points out two reasons below. Reason One: land supply is being strangled by regulation, specifically by artificial city boundaries imposed by regional governments such as the Auckland Regional Council (ARC). Reason Two: a rise in construction costs for new houses brought about by new "gold-plated" building regulation is already feeding through to the prices of existing houses.

Explains Owen:
The data [in 1996] showed that the cost of actually building a house had been falling over the previous few years because of a deregulated market which reduced material and equipment costs. Furthermore the cost of "constructing" residential subdivisions had fallen too, in spite of increased environmental standards. The competitive electricity supply market [for example] had dramatically reduced the price of supplying cables to sections compared to the old monopoly days.

However, recent data now reveals that house building prices have been rising for some years mainly because the restraints on land supply mean that all our house builders are now "Cottage builders". Our home builders can no longer access long term supplies of land. One surveyor took me to look at a major development outside of Wellington and pointed out that "Everyone of those trucks distributed around the development is a cottage builder's head office." This has a major impact on bulk purchasing and management of supply, and overall efficiency.

Then of course the addiction to Smart Growth density has led to a wave of leaky buildings which has now generated a new wave of "gold plated" building codes. And everyone seems to believe we can promote "sustainability" (whatever that means) by adding up front costs with proposals for more insulation, solar water heating and double glazing and anything else which seems like a good idea at the time.

The impact of the building codes hits earlier than you might think. Real Estate agents are now of the view that the existing housing stock is undervalued because existing houses cost so much more to replace. Hence even as land prices fall the price of the total package may hold up for a while.

This will be described as "a strong housing market" rather than the last gasp of a dreadful set of policies which have done, and will continue to do, extraordinary damage to the economy and those struggling to make ends meet.
And oddly enough, the problem with strangulation of land supply has been recognised even by the Environment Court. Included in the recent decision to allow Living Earth to build a composting plant outside the 'Metropolitan Urban Limit' imposed by the ARC was this comment:
In cross-examination, Mr Walker [for the ARC] agreed that in the Auckland region there is a shortage of industrial land generally available, with the effect that prices are pushed up because of scarcity, and that many of the sites he had identified are outside the metropolitan urban limits.
As Owen summarises, "This decision acknowledges the connection between land scarcity, inflated land prices and (by general inference) the impact of the Metropolitan Urban Limit in creating this scarcity."

LINK: Court decision rubbishes council - NZ Herald

RELATED: Urban Design, Auckland

Socialism hurts the poor

Socialism is intended to make everyone equal, say socialists. But they can't even get that right. The suffering that socialism inflicts upon people is not evenly distributed. And as Thomas Sowell points out here, it's not the rich who suffer most under socialism, it's the poor:
Although socialism has long claimed to be for the poor, it has probably done more damage, on net balance, to the poor than to the rich.
The primary reason:
The rich have learned to adapt socialist policies to their own benefit.
And the poor don't get the chance. Read on.

LINK: Socialism for the rich - Thomas Sowell [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

RELATED: Socialism, Politics

Popular posts. Popular searches.

Listed here are popular posts presently here at 'Not PC.' Evenly distributed between art, architecture, politics, humour and sex.
  1. Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
  2. Counterfeit Korea?
  3. Government changes tack in pledge card defence
  4. 'Evening, Fall of Day' - William Rimmer
  5. Becky wants to knock her school down
  6. UK libertarian Chris Tame passes away
  7. Futuna Chapel - John Scott (Karori, Wellington)
  8. 'Price Tower,' by Frank Lloyd Wright
  9. Female soldiers
  10. More "enormous" trade deficits
Popular searches:

broadacre city
structure twa terminal 3d
art of female soldiers
empire state building portrait construction eating
evening, fall of day
frank lloyd wright's environmental concepts
annette presley
the scream found
does budvar contain yeast
peter cresswell
frank lloyd wright broadacre city
price tower architectural
evening fall of day
warning fascism
broadacre wright
exclusive brethren - gadsden
becky from dublin
adam hamilton university of colorado
leighton smith news talk
mark inglis
prduction point in a perfect competitive market
christina's world history
new zealand bill of rights 1688
bruce goff bavinger layout
geoffrey howe savaged lettuce


Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Counterfeit Korea?

Reason Express summarises my own reservations about North Korea's nuke, whose explosion nuke-wise was in the 'bloody small' category:

Did North Korea really explode a nuclear device? Or just several tons of TNT spiked with radioactive material? The Hermit Kingdom is one of the few places on earth where you might be able to gather that much conventional explosive in one place, in secret, and have a leader crazy enough to set it all off.

The possibility of an elaborate fake has to be considered given the fact that North Korea called the world's attention to its nuclear test ahead of time. India and Pakistan, in contrast, just did it; there was no confusion about what they did once it was over. The entire rationale of the North Korean nuke program is to win stuff from the rest of the world with its nuclear bargaining chip. For that purpose, a counterfeit chip would do just as well.

DPRK 'industry,' such as it is, would have to be at full stretch to produce even one nuke, let alone several. And seismic data suggest that at just 0.55 kilotons this 'nuke' is so small, (almost thirty-six times smaller than the first ever nuke, 'Trinity,' and a pimple against the former Soviet Union's 50 Megaton monster) that you really do need proof before you bet the farm.

The DPRK have every reason to lie, to bluff and to bluster, and none whatsoever to tell the truth.

So I'd like to see this thing authenticated before I start worrying in earnest, but the reaction so far has been interesting. North Korea is so bad that even the moral relativists who see no problem with a theocratic Iran having nukes have pulled out their 'Oh Shit!' cards at the North Korean news and waved them around.

So even in bad news there's something good.

LINK: Boom goes the dynamite - Reason Express
Trinity - Wikipedia
Nuclear weapon yield - Wikipedia

RELATED: Politics-World, War, Cartoons

Government changes tack in pledge card defence

Yesterday in Parliament Helen Clark refused to answer questions on the pledge card, on election overspending, on the misappropriation of taxpayer money, on who is responsible for the PM's Chief of Staff Heather Simpson's actions, on Pete Hodgson confirmation over the Parliamentary break that the pledge card was indeed election spending ("if it wasn't," he said, "we would have released it a day after the election") ...

Andrew Falloon has an only slightly stylised summary of yesterday in the House here. Excerpt:
Don to Helen- Going to pay it back now Helen??
Helen to Don- I don't have to answer that.
Don to Helen- Pay it back Helen.
Helen to Don- I have no Ministerial responsibility for this. Pay your $250k back.
Don to House- I seek leave to allow National to pay back what we owe.
Speaker- Any objection??
Labour Party lackey- Yes!!

Don to Helen- Did Heather Simpson approve the pledge card??
Helen to Don- I have no Ministerial responsibility for this.
Gerry to Helen- She's a Ministerial staffer!!
Speaker- She has no Ministerial responsibility for this.
Far cry from the previous vigorous defence of every single one of those points, and the refusal even to take responsibility for Chief of Staff Heather Simpson, who "approved for payment" the pledge card spending on the taxpayers' account.

Does that mean the Auditor-General's report leaves the Government with nowhere else to turn? Does it mean the spin cycle (right) has now reached the 'Hung Out To Dry' stage, and H2 will be the one chosen to twist in the wind? Keep watching.

And (parenthetically) just what was Winston up to yesterday with all that ridiculous umbrage-taking when the serious issue of North Korean sabre-rattling was being addressed? Was it just the usual Winston dog-and-pony show, or was he endeavouring to ensure Parliamentary headlines ensued for his pathetic grandstanding rather than his Glorious Leaderene's graphic change of direction. Does his fawning really know no depths.

LINKS: Yesterday in creche - Andrew Falloon
Questions & Answers - Tuesday 10 October - Scoop
Picture from Whale Oil Be Hooked

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

It's Verdi's birthday!

Today is the birthday of opera composer Guiseppe Verdi. Here's a nice link to visit to celebrate this operatic titan, this master of melody. [Hat tip, ironically, Patti Smith.]

If you can't find something in Verdi to add joy to your life then it's too late, you're already dead.

LINK: Viva Verdi!

Music, Heroes

Futuna Chapel - John Scott (Karori, Wellington)

I've mentioned this building before, but blogger Well Urban sent me to a new site with photographer Gavin Woodward's superb (but small) pics so you lot can get some idea of why it is so special. Given its enclosure these days by townhouses (and worse ignominies just a few short years ago), it's difficult to imagine it now as the spiritual retreat it was when built.

It's one of the most delightful small buildings in the country -- in fact it's probably one of the most delightful buildings in the country full stop -- and I say that as someone who is not a religious person (in case you hadn't already guessed) but this building gives perhaps a sense of the religious feeling at its best. Peaceful. Contemplative. Worldly.

Its simply-developed but suitably mysterious roof geometry shelters a perfectly scaled space inside, and allows light (beautifully modulated by the stained glass) to paint the thick, roughcast protecting walls. It is a space in which one feels protected, and can feel reborn. It is a masterpiece.

Now, I should also tell you that the website that hosts these photos, the Friends of Futuna, is trying to raise money to buy it.
The intention of the Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust is to conserve the building, and to make it available on a regulated basis to the public now and into the future.

Essentially, the Friends Trust sees the Chapel as a spiritual and architectural retreat, and a home and display place for the John Scott architectural archive. In addition, the building can become a place for lectures and exhibitions, musical and artistic performances and other events in keeping with the nature of the building.

If you have the money to help, this really is a good cause: you will be helping to preserve a work of genius. John Scott was one of New Zealand's very best architects (though often inconsistent) , and this building is without a doubt his greatest achievement -- it is genuinely world class. Think about it.

And if you're in Karori pay a visit, and do try and stay a while.

Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust
Chapel of Futuna - John Scott Architect
Inside Job - Well Urban

Architecture, New Zealand, Wellington

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

"Get your hand off it, Daryl"

If your hand slips while seeking spiritual sustenance here at, if your finger slips while typing the URL, you could end up somewhere vastly different, with spiritual sustenance of a very different kind.

Seems someone's registered the 'alternative' address for this site:, for those with shaky hands and suggestive minds. I'd really hoped for a better class of stalker.

More "enormous" trade deficits

New Zealand's "monstrous" trade deficits were in the news here recently if you recall, and much of the reporting was itself monstrous. George Reisman offers a master class in 'economic detection' as he exposes the paucity of analysis offered by Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in scaremongering recently about American trade deficits. "Enormous," Stiglitz calls them.
Stiglitz appears to believe [says Reisman] that the main problem of the global economy is ”global financial imbalances.” By this, he means “America’s enormous trade deficits,” which he states are close to $3 billion a day, and “China’s growing trade surplus of almost $500 million a day.”
The crux of Reisman's critique, which shows his fundamental disagreement with Stiglitz, is here: One of Stiglitz's proposals to "fix" this trade imbalance is "an increase in taxes on upper-income Americans" which he says will flush out the savings of upper-income Americans and allow the Government to reduce its own deficit. These savings, Stiglitz seems to be saying, would otherwise be "hoarded," and otherwise unavailable to production.

But this is absurd. "In typical Keynesian fashion,"says Reisman, "Stiglitz confuses saving with hoarding." For some reason (read Keynes) this fallacy still exists, even among Nobel-Prize winning economists, even though it was debunked by John Stuart Mill more than a hundred years ago. Saving is not hoarding: saving one's income does not take it out of production; rather, it makes 'seed capital' available to build and grow productivity.
The fact is, of course, as John Stuart Mill pointed out in the middle of the 19th Century, that what is saved, i.e., not spent in purchasing consumers’ goods, is spent. But it is spent productively, i.e., in buying capital goods and in paying the wages of workers employed by business firms. These workers, of course, then consume their wages.
In any case, concludes Reisman, the primary "problem" with trade deficits only exists to the extent that it finances the government's own deficit, which itself serves to keep capital froim being used productively by growing businesses. So is there a problem with global "trade imbalances"? "No!" says Reisman, "global “trade imbalances” are not a problem."
They are a profoundly important means of preventing problems. What will cause a problem is allowing wreckers, devoid of serious knowledge of economics, to “fix” things.
Ain't that the truth.

LINKS: Stiglitz in The Times: A study in confusion - George Reisman's blog
Monster deficits and economic nationalism - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED: Politics-US, Economics


I have to apologise to those hoping to see the promised conclusion this morning of the series on Conservatism. Time pressures have meant that it's more likely to appear here tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

Pages and 'public choice'

Pages and their treatment at the US Congress are in the news (just as interns at the White House were in a previous administration). Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek points out how pages and interns at the centre of American power have a unique opportunity to see what Stephen Hicks describes as "public choice economics in action."

(For those unfamiliar with public choice theory, here's a primer.)

LINK: Paging through Congress - Cafe Hayek
Public choice theory - Concise Encyclopaedia of Economics

RELATED: Politics-US, Economics

Not that I'm boasting...

Now, I'm not one to boast -- quiet at the back! -- but I just thought I'd let you know I've been invited to participate in something pretty exciting.

Edward Schatz is an archivist and photographer who travels the world documenting what he describes as Modern Masters of Art and Organic Architecture from around the world. His recent round of interviewees includes Douglas Cardinal, Gregory Burgess, Laurie Virr, Bart Prince, Robert Crumb, Daniel Lieberman and Eric Lloyd Wright ... and me!

I'd better start tidying up the place.

LINK: 'The Legacy Series: Organic Architecture' - Edward Schatz at Architettura Organica

RELATED: Architecture

If you're mad, visit Berry

New local libertarian blog added to my blogroll has been put together by former Libertarianz deputy for his tilt at the Auckland mayoralty as an Independent.

As the man, says, "If You're Mad, Vote Berry." His most recent post points out how council can save $106 million.

LINK: Berry Mad - Stephen Berry's mayoral campaign blog

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Auckland

A very scary way to get noticed

Cartoon and commentary from Cox and Forkum: Attention Deficit Disorder

And you might find this backgrounder at Pacific Empire useful, as I did: North Korean Nuclear Test?

RELATED: Politics-World, War, Cartoons

Monday, 9 October 2006

A bit sparse ... but a good excuse

I've been putting the finishing touches on the new 'Free Radical' magazine, which is why posting today has been sparse. Keep an eye out for some exciting 'Free Radical' related news shortly, which will explain why this latest issue has been delayed until now ...

CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY, Part 6 - The consequences of conservatism

On Friday we looked at neoconservativism in practice. Today we see just how dire the consequences of conservative practices have been for liberty and small government, and why bigger government is an inevitable consequence of conservative dominance.

Given that everything about today's conservatives screams "big government," it's little wonder that bigger and bigger government has been the result of years of conservative dominance of the American political machinery. Government under Republican domination has exploded. "Since it took control of both the White House and Capitol Hill," summarises Thompson, "the Republican Party has presided over the biggest explosion in federal spending and the greatest extension of the welfare state since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s."

So much for the Republican Revolution. So much for conservative restraint. That sort of explosion does not happen unintentionally, but perhaps even worse than the explosion of spending is the sort of drains down which the flood money is being sluiced.
  • "Take for example the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which Ted Kennedy virtually wrote for President Bush and which represents the greatest expansion of the federal government in education since the creation of the Department of Education in 1979. As a result of this one Act, federal education spending has grown by 100 percent since Bush took office. This is all the more remarkable given that just several years earlier the Gingrich “revolutionaries” of 1994 promised to abolish the Department of Education."
  • "Under George Bush and the Republicans, the welfare state that Bill Clinton began to dismantle has been given a second life. The Bush administration and their Republican allies in Congress have, for instance, offered a tax “refund” to 6.5 million low-income people who do not pay taxes, passed a $180 billion farm subsidy bill (welfare for farmers), supported tariffs on steel imports (welfare for the American steel industry), and extended the American welfare state to Africa by offering the people of that continent $15 billion in AIDS relief."
  • "Then, of course, there’s President Bush’s signature welfare program administered by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives..."
  • "Even more ominous, the Bush administration enthusiastically signed into law a multi-billion dollar prescription drug bill, which represents the largest expansion of the federal government in over thirty years."
The faith-based initiative and the enormous expansion of the prescription drug programme are quintessential modern conservatism.
Like the faith-based initiative, the GOP prescription drug plan uses ostensibly “private” middlemen (i.e., semi-private insurance companies) to administer a brand new welfare program. Republicans defended this new program as an example of how “private ownership,” “choice,” and “competition” can reform the social insurance programs of the Left. The Republican position was captured by Newt Gingrich in a story in The New York Times: “‘Choice creates competition, and competition drives down price,’ Mr. Gingrich said, in a pithy statement of the philosophy that inspires most of the Republican proposals.”59 Only a Republican could view the expansion of a government program as a free-market reform.
Watch now, warns Thompson, "as the tentacles of government regulators quietly and slowly strangle the private health-care and insurance industries, and as the “privatized” system begins to collapse (as it surely will), liberals will blame the system’s failure on the “free-market” reforms and then demand ever-greater command and controls over the health-care system."

And there in a nutshell is the conservative strategy in microcosm. Ten years ago Republicans violently (and properly) opposed the Bill & Hilary Clinton health-care plans as "socialising American health-care." "Ten years later, Republicans launched a variation on Clinton’s plan by partially socializing drug benefits for seniors. This is a classic model of the Republican approach to welfare." And its inevitable failure will result in calls for more, much more of the same!
The Republican position on government spending comes down to this: We can spend the government’s money more prudently than Democrats. Whereas the liberal welfare state created a culture of dependence, perpetual poverty, and various forms of deviant social behavior, our welfare state will foster virtue and the public good.
The point on which they agree is on the existence of the welfare state itself, and the size of government needed to administer it. Little wonder that libertarians find no hope in either conservatives or from liberals.

Even conservatives who do oppose such an expansion are morally disarmed when they come to argue against it, since their most fundamental moral premises are all in favour of it. Little wonder that liberals win every substantive debate on the expansion of the welfare state.

Every time Democrats and liberals launch a moral counterattack against the “mean-spiritedness” of even the most modest conservative reforms, Republicans cower, turn, then flee and surrender the moral high ground. When faced with the charge repeated time and again that they represent big business, the rich, and the “greedy”—and that their “cold-hearted” policies hurt poor women, children, and the elderly—Republican resolve collapses.

The process typically works like this. Day one: Republicans denounce, with nervous indignation, the growth of welfare and regulations. Day two: They concede that people in need have a right to government assistance. Day three: They propose to save particular welfare programs through pragmatic reform. Day four: They shake hands with their Democratic partners and declare that a new era of bipartisanship and consensus has finally arrived.

What the mandarins of the conservative establishment do not and cannot understand, given their philosophy, is that conservatives—to the extent that they ever had any interest in defending individual rights and limited government—lost the fight because they never engaged the enemy with the only kind of weapon that could win: a moral argument against the claim that those in “need” have a moral claim on one’s life, liberty, and property. More importantly, mainstream conservatives have never made a philosophic argument for individual rights, limited government, and capitalism on explicitly moral grounds. Ultimately, they are embarrassed by, and have always worked very hard to hide, the fact that capitalism can only be justified if each and every man has a moral right to live and work for his own sake and not as a sacrificial beast of burden to the “needs” of society.

Stripped bare of "the folksy rhetoric, the hollow bromides, and the patriotic slogans, the conservative position comes down to this: The free-enterprise system is good because it “works” better than any other system, because it produces more wealth that can be subsequently “shared” with the less fortunate." In other words capitalism shackled is, at best, what you can hope for from conservatives. Capitalism with the reins of production controlled by politicians, redistributed by

Not even Goldwater conservatives can offer an alternative to the welfare state, because they too accept its moral premises. Why? Why do all conservatives accept the moral premises of the liberals? The answer, in a word, is religion.

The crucial moral problem here is that capitalism is the only political system that recognises man's right not to sacrifice for others, but to exist for his own sake. The crucial political problem is that neither liberals nor conservatives recognise this right, the morality of altruism which they share is opposed: human beings in their view are simply duty-laden beasts of burden, and the monstrous and teetering edifice of the welfare state they have between them built up is the supreme political expression of that view. Your life and the products of it are not your own, says altruism, and on that both liberals and conservatives agree.
Liberalism invokes the altruism of Marx; conservatism invokes the altruism of Jesus; and both camps are indebted to Rousseau for his emphasis on compassion. With respect to individual rights, there is and can be no fundamental difference between a secular-liberal welfare state and a religious-conservative welfare state. It matters not one whit to me whether my earned wealth is forcibly redistributed by a Hillary Clinton or a George Bush government; either way, my money is seized. The political subjugation of the individual in the name of the morality of sacrifice is the essence of both.
Both compassionate conservatives and neoconservatives have seized with both hands liberalism's two basic principles, atruism and pragmatism, and made themselves indistinguishable from the redistributionist left. Whatever noises are made in opposition by conservatives, when in power the result of conservative rule has always the promotion of redistributionist policies, and the expansion of the powers and size of the state.

As we have seen, the policies of compassionate conservatives and neoconservatives merge to promote a shared common end: the violation of individual rights for the sake of “general welfare” and for the “needs” of the “less fortunate.” Not only have conservatives and Republicans abandoned any semblance of a principled moral opposition to the welfare state, they now fully embrace it morally and politically.

Thus there is no meaningful difference between the Christian sentimentalism of the New Right and the moral relativism of the New Left. They both treat emotions and feelings as their means of knowing what is true and good—and what they “know” to be true and good is that self-sacrifice is moral and self-interest is immoral. Thus there is no meaningful difference between the aims of today’s conservatives and those of today’s liberals. They share the same moral premises and political ends; they differ only marginally in the means they choose to achieve their shared goal: the welfare state.

The ultimate meaning of big-government conservatism was captured recently in the Christian Science Monitor, by Patrick Chisholm, who reported that the compassionate- and neo-conservative policies of the Bush administration have served to advance the long-term ideological and political agenda of the redistributionist Left. Chisholm writes:

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government’s budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government’s main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.65

The redistributionist state that began with the New Deal, and that was radicalized by the Great Society, has now been saved, reborn, and advanced by the Conservative Revolution.

Conservatives and conservative parties bear the greatest guilt for dragging all the semi-free countries down the road to statism, and have done more even than the liberals and the socialists to take it there. If you had trouble understanding that apparent paradox, you now have it explained. "Conservatives may posture as supporters of individual rights, limited government, and capitalism; but, in reality, they are morally opposed to these values, and their history is one of actively betraying them."

If individual rights, limited government, and capitalism are to be saved, it is clear enough that conservatives and their bankrupt moral code are not about to do it. What is needed, says Thompson, is a new moral code. "This means that proponents of these principles must find a philosophic alternative to the conservatives’ stale bromides and folksy speeches. It is not enough to defend limited government on the grounds that it works in practice; one must also defend it on the more fundamental grounds that it is moral in theory." Come back tomorrow for the conclusion to this series, to see on what such a moral defence must be based.

'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY,' THE SERIES SO FAR: LINKS: The Objective Standard, a journal of culture and politics.
Cue Card Libertarianism: Altruism - Not PC
Cartoons by Cox and Forkum

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century