The Reserve Bank says measures should be introduced to make New Zealanders understand more about the economy.The first NZers to be so introduced should be the governor of the Reserve Bank and his employer Michael Cullen. Their first lesson should be that "price stability" isn't working.
Monday, 2 July 2007
You can be sure after the last year of demonisation by police for the crime of defending themselves, the Carvells would have thought several times before putting themselves through that again. In an interview for the next Free Radical Ray Carvell said the earlier ordeal has affected his son Greg.
"It has changed him, there’s no question about that. He’ll never be the same man again. It takes a lot of guts to pull a trigger on somebody. You ask anybody who’s had to do it; it’s not an easy choice to make... The end result of this prosecution is what they do every time somebody defends himself. He is criminalised and punished even if he gets off; he is punished by remuneration. The kind of pressure that goes on to you --where you are made to feel like a criminal -- this is the real thing that takes a toll on you: the whole thing is not clear cut, and I can swear that with everything going on, the criminal has had better treatment than us.""The kind of pressure" the Carvells disgracefully had to endure undoubtedly led them to risk their own lives for ten minutes this morning by calling the police and waiting rather than responding as they did before. Thank goodness there are no reported casualties.
There's much confusion abroad about structures of government, and too little understanding of the difference between democracy and constitutional government.
Many people mistakenly believe that democracy is synonymous with freedom, so if you're saddled with that delusion yourself then you're not alone. It isn't. As Bill Weddell used to say, democracy is not freedom, it is simply the counting of heads regardless of content. And as Yaron Brook points out in The Forward Strategy for Failure, democratic elections across the Middle East that seemed to promise so much have demonstrated instead that the result of counting empty heads will often deliver the opposite of freedom. It's a lesson that we should all ponder.
Iraq has had not just one, but several popular elections, as well as a referendum on a new constitution written by Iraqi leaders; with U.S. endorsement and prompting, the Palestinians held what international monitors declared were fair elections; and Egypt’s authoritarian regime, under pressure from Washington, allowed the first contested parliamentary elections in more than a decade. Elections were held as well in Lebanon (parliamentary) and Saudi Arabia (municipal). In sum, these developments seemed to indicate a salutary political awakening. The forward march toward “liberty in other nations” seemed irresistible ...It all looked so promising, didn't it, and - let's face it - we all got excited at the sight of so many so eager to vote in places for which any idea of free and fair elections seemed just a few years ago so unbelievable. I confess, I did too. The Bush Administration's "forward strategy for freedom" seemed to be working, it seemed to be worthy of celebration - but the strategy had and has a fatal flaw. It was and is based solely on the introduction of democracy, and democracy is no guarantee of freedom. A majority can just as easily to vote away its own freedoms and those of minorities as it will to have them protected. Recent history offers no exception. "Has the democracy crusade moved us toward peace and freedom in the Middle East—and greater security at home?" asks Brook. Answer, NO! Emphatically not.
The elections in Iraq were touted as an outstanding success for America, but the new Iraqi government is far from friendly. It is dominated by a Shiite alliance led by the Islamic Daawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)... Teheran is thought to have a firm grip on the levers of power within Iraq’s government, and it actively arms and funds anti-American insurgents. The fundamental principle of Iraq’s new constitution—as of Iran’s totalitarian regime—is that Islam is inviolable. Instead of embracing pro-Western leaders, Iraqis have made a vicious Islamic warlord, Moqtada al-Sadr, one of the most powerful men in Iraqi politics...How about the elections in the Palestinian territories, then? Any more success there?
For years, Bush had asked Palestinians “to elect new leaders, . . . not compromised by terror.” And, finally, in the U.S.-endorsed elections of January 2006, the Palestinians did turn their backs on the cronies of Yasser Arafat; they rejected the incumbent leadership of Fatah—and elected the even more militant killers of Hamas: an Islamist group notorious for suicide bombings. Hamas won by a landslide and now rules the Palestinian territories. Refusing to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, Hamas is committed to annihilating that state and establishing a totalitarian Islamic regime.Since writing that, as you probably know, Palestine has collapsed in what is essentially a civil war between Fatah and Hamas, with the price of war being paid in Palestinian bodies and an increased threat to the territories' neighbours, rather than a reduced one. No increase in freedom here either, then, or security.
How about Lebanon, where great hopes were held for a rebirth in peace and freedom after elections that followed the drumming out of Syrian-controlled puppets? Sadly, the results there offer little cause for hope either.
Hezbollah took part in the U.S.-endorsed elections in Lebanon, formed part of that country’s cabinet for the first time, and won control of two ministries.11 In the summer of 2006, the Iranian-backed Hamas and Hezbollah killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers—and precipitated a month-long war in the region. Since the ceasefire that ended the war, Hezbollah has continued to amass weapons and foment terrorism, emboldened by its popular electoral support.So no success with recent democracies in Iraq, Lebanon or the Palestinian territories then - majorities have simply voted in totalitarians and killers who've acted to snuff out whatever shoots of freedom that we all fervently believed were beginning to appear.
Perhaps elections in Egypt provide more hope? Sadly, the biggest beneficiary of the 2005 election was the Muslim Brotherhood, which as Brook points out represent "the intellectual origin of the Islamist movement, whose offshoots include Hamas and parts of Al Qaeda. The Brotherhood’s founding credo is 'Allah is our goal; the Koran is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; Struggle is our way; and death in the path of Allah is our highest aspiration'” !
It seems that the "forward strategy of freedom" of implementing democracy in the Middle East is an abject failure - a failure made inevitable by the pathetic faith in democracy to deliver that freedom. As Brook summarises, what democracy in the Middle East actually delivered was the very opposite of freedom: it delivered more power to those enemies of freedom that the Bush strategy was supposed to snuff out.
And worse too for the Middle East. Without a culture that values freedom and a constitutional structure that protects life and liberty, any nascent democracy is simply a hostage to whatever outrageous fortunes may sweep across a country, just as they did in the Weimar Germany of the 1930s. It seems clear enough that democracy alone is not enough to either preserve or introduce liberty and freedom, and it now seems abundantly clear that the strategists of the Bush Administration are entirely ignorant of that point - but it's also clear that they're not alone in that ignorance.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Islamist regime in Iran, the Mahdi Army, Al Qaeda—these are all part of an ideological movement: Islamic Totalitarianism. Although differing on some details and in tactics, all of these groups share the movement’s basic goal of enslaving the entire Middle East, and then the rest of the world, under a totalitarian regime ruled by Islamic law.
The totalitarians will use any means to achieve their goal—terrorism, if it proves effective; all-out war, if they can win; and politics, if it can bring them power over whole countries.
Bush’s forward strategy has helped usher in a new era in the Middle East: By its promotion of elections, it has paved the road for Islamists to grab political power and to ease into office with the air of legitimacy and without the cost of bombs or bullets. Naturally, totalitarians across the region are encouraged. They exhibit a renewed sense of confidence. The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah war against Israel last summer is one major symptom of that confidence; another is Iran’s naked belligerence through insurgent proxies in Iraq, and its righteously defiant pursuit of nuclear technology.
The situation in the Middle East is worse for America today than it was in the wake of 9/11...
Americans themselves will mostly tell you they live in a democracy, but in saying that they'd be wrong. The model of government introduced to America by its founding fathers was the most successful historic example of constitutional protections of liberty. America is not a democracy, it's a constitutional republic. For nearly one-hundred and fifty years the constitution introduced by the founding fathers and the enlightenment culture derived largely from sixteenth-century Britain provided the best protector for freedom the world in all its dark history had yet seen. It was a model introduced successfully in part to Japan after WWII, but all too sadly forgotten in the recent Middle East forays.
No matter what you've heard, and no matter how many American strategists insist upon it, America's model of government is not a democracy. In fact, the founding fathers were assiduous in protecting liberty from the threat of unlimited majority rule that democracy delivers. What they did was put the things of importance beyond the vote, delivering to the world not a democracy but a constitutional republic. (Yes, I've repeated the point. It bears repeating.) The system of checks and balances of the United States Constitution was described by Ayn Rand as "the great American achievement." It is an achievement richly deserving of study, and (with some few modifications) of emulating.
A nice summary of the workings of that successful Constitution is provided by a new course offered by the Ayn Rand Institute:
Simple but effective. Not democracy then but constitutional government - a constitution protecting essential liberties through a government constrained only to those protections. It's a model that failed states and would-be freedom fighters around the world would do well to understand and to emulate, as should those who unthinkingly parrot the idea that democracy alone is a saviour.
A Constitution is "[t]he system or body of fundamental principles according to
which a nation, state, or body politic is constituted and governed."
Paraphrasing Ayn Rand, a proper government protects men from criminals and
foreign invaders and provides for the settlement of disputes according to objective laws. A government, therefore, does three things: it makes laws (the legislative function), enforces them (the executive function) and runs law courts (the judicial function).
The United States Constitution divides these functions into separate departments; this is the doctrine of separation of powers. It also divides governmental powers between the state and federal governments by enumerating the powers of the latter and by specific limitations on both. Thus, both the federal and the state governments have sufficient powers to secure rights and are limited in their ability to violate them.
UPDATE: All that said, sometimes the results of elections can surprise you. East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta, voted to the position in May in elections protected by Australian and NZ troops, has just "unveiled his plans to use his new position to push for a largely tax-free East Timor. Dr Ramos Horta says he wants to base the country's economy on a tax-free Hong Kong model." See ABC: Ramos Horta pushes for tax-free East Timor.
I confess, I'm flabbergasted. That will surely leave Helen Clark and Keith Locke wondering whether they've backed the right horse; and as a colleague of mine says, once tax-free status is confirmed NZ troops should be home by lunchtime.
"Leftist lickspittle" Finlay McDonald gives an object lesson here in how Nanny State has got so powerful: because "cool kids" like him just don't give a shit. Who cares about boring stuff like free speech, right? How uncool. How yesterday.
Sunday, 1 July 2007
UPDATE: Link fixed.
But it seems lessons that big have to be relearned every generation: the tragedy of Venezuela should be this generation’s object lesson that socialism sucks. Socialism has come to Venezuela, and in its inevitable wake has come poverty, penury and oppressive totalitarian rule. This issue of The Free Radical challenges young socialists to watch, and to learn – and to reject this ideological harbinger of misery.
Let freedom reign! Let freedom reign in boardrooms, bedrooms and smoko rooms. Green MP Metiria Turei wants to let freedom reign in New Zealand’s hospital treatment rooms, allowing medical practitioners to prescribe a drug once used by Queen Victoria – a drug that Lancet has confirmed is less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco. Turei’s Medical Marijuana Bill comes before the House in August, challenging old conservatives to rethink their opposition to marijuana, and instead to cast a vote for freedom. The Free Radical strongly suggests they do, and has the ammunition to encourage them – to encourage you – to do so.
There’s much, much more in this issue including a lament at the rise and rise of Nanny State, that disgusting "hybrid of gargoyle and dominatrix"; an explanation of the mess that’s being made of our money by what seems to be economic illiterates; and an obituary for the woman who’s left several generations of NZ students functionally illiterate … all this and much more in this latest issue, including the reappearance of the letters page! Your opinions, contributions and criticisms are always welcome.
Cheers, Peter Cresswell
Saturday, 30 June 2007
Coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression
As we head for the abyss in our brand new automobile
Cellphone to the ear, a shirt that reads “no fear”
I have only one last wish, one last impression
give me coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression
Regardless of your hairstyle, and the clothing that you dress in
give us coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression
And if the dailies read correctly, and we believe all that we read
indeed the time has come for fear, be very scared indeed
So I feel the wind ablowing from the new depression
Give me coffee cigarettes and freedom from oppression
So now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep
And should I die before I wake
My last request and no mistake
Give me coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression.
© B.Bold Music, 2000
Friday, 29 June 2007
Just as it makes sense for a café menu to change from light summer salads and rolls to hearty soups and stews when the weather turns cold, it is sensible for brewers to produce richer, darker warming beers when the temperature drops.
Indeed, winter beers, or “winter warmers” as they are sometimes known, are usually dark, strong and often spicy and are a well established part of brewing.
Their growing popularity in New Zealand sees this edition of Beer O’Clock look at the winter offerings from three big brewers.
The first out was the Speight’s Fireside Ale. It is not being bottled, but it is now available on tap at Speight’s Ale House’s all around the nation. It is described as a limited release Strong Winter Warmer (5.5% alcohol by volume).
It does not seem to exist on the Speight’s website at all. I found the (limited) information above on the website for the Bealey’s Ale House in Christchurch. Personally, I came across this beer quite by accident at my local Speight’s Ale House on the mean streets of Thorndon, Wellington.
I saw the sign outside proclaiming “Fireside Ale” and so I popped in an asked what kind of beer it was. The staff member looked delightfully blank, paused and said “probably easiest if you just tasted it” and poured me a free sample. Outstanding!
Currently pouring in the 19 Monteith’s concept bars and available in bottles from 2 July, Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is a retooled version of their popular 2003 Doppelbock specialty release. Now 6%, Monteith’s are predicting strong sales.
The Doppelbock is a six malt brew using a blend of five dark malts (Munich, Vienna, Crystal, Amber and Chocolate) together with Pilsner malt. Monteith’s say it is moderately hopped with local varieties of the German Hallertauer hop and I certainly think it is encouraging to see a big brewery talking about ingredients rather than brand images.
Next off the rank is Mac’s limited release Log Burner Winter Ale, launching next week at a “centrally heated” launch party. I’m expecting this beer will be available at Mac’s bars round the nation but is unlikely to appear in bottles any time soon. I’m looking forward to trying it.
All three beers give you a perfect reason to head out to a cozy pub and settle in with a good winter warmer.
[Pinched from Shades of Grey, who pinched it from the Adam Smith Institute]
Good on them for refusing to sanction Chavez's theft.
UPDATE 1: News you couldn't make up from another irrational collectivist hell-hole: Oil rich Iran is rationing petrol, and irrational Iranians are responding by torching petrol stations! Story here. Talk about 'just burning' to get to the front of the queue!
But the country is awash with oil, so why is it rationing petrol, you ask? Two reasons:
- Because petrol in Iran is heavily subsidised to keep the price down (it's about 11 US cents a litre, if you can get it). And when prices are set well below market rates, well, I'll let your twelve-year-old (or a would-be Iranian petrol purchaser) explain to you what happens to demand, and to supply, and just how long the queues get. Shame no twelve-year-olds were around to explain it to Ahmedinejad.
- Iran is short of petrol. For years the world's fourth-largest exporter of oil has been importing petrol ! It has to import the stuff because it lacks refining capacity. It lacks refining capacity now because back in 1951 when the Iranian parliament under Mohammed Mossadegh nationalised the oil industry (taking what western oil companies had produced on those empty desert sands and stealing the new-found riches for themselves) the oil refiners either left or were expelled, and the would-be builders of new refineries haven't wanted to risk money building many more. Who would? Iranian Oil Minister Vaziri-Hamaneh conceded recently that the "oil refining industry" of the country -- that is, Iran's Ministry of Petroleum -- urgently needs a 15-billion-dollar investment for its development, and the Iranian oil industry itself needs "93 billion dollars in foreign investments and more than 43 billion dollars in domestic resources by 2014 to boost oil and gas output." In other words, the Iranian government has the begging bowl out because few rational investors want to be seen throwing away their own money, and the Iranian government is spending its ill-gotten oil money on arming the Middle East.
UPDATE 2: News from Moscow, from Novosti [hat tip Trevor Loudon]
MOSCOW, June 27 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will arrive in the Russian capital Wednesday. Russian experts said contracts on supplies of new armaments to Venezuela could be signed during the visit... The value of the contracts, depending on the final size of the order, is estimated at $1-2 billion, the paper said, citing its own sources in the defense industry... Venezuela is the world's second-largest importer of Russian military hardware after Algeria. In 2005-2006, it ordered $3.4 billion worth of hardware and weaponry from Russia, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters, and 100,000 AK-103 Kalashnikov assault rifles.Meanwhile, Venezuelan grocery stores are no longer stocking basic food stuffs.
Sadly, it's not simple enough for politicians .
Ban drugs, whatever the drug, whatever the reason, and the people who celebrate loudest are the dealers. Every time an American president declares a War on Drugs (TM), cocaine suppliers in Medellin celebrate because their prices go through the roof. Every time an American president bombs Medellin and takes out a supplier, the other dealers in Medelling celebrate because they have one less competitor ... and their prices go through the roof.
With Jim Neanderton's announcement today of a "ban" on BZP-based party pills, honest suppliers of party pills will be lamenting, but dishonest suppliers won't be. Those bastards will be rubbing their hands with glee: Neanderton has just restricted their competition, and given those who remain in the business a license to print dirty money. Neanderton has made himself their benefactor. Here's why:
- Prohibition doesn't get drugs off the street. The government can't even get rid of drugs in the controlled environment of a prison, so they certainly can't get rid of them from the relative freedom of our streets -- and in trying to get rid if them they only succeed in curtailing that freedom in the process.
- Outlawing drugs doesn't make them go away; it simply puts them in the hands of outlaws, and in the hands of the soft targets on whom the outlaws focus.
- Prohibition limits demand a little, but it limits supply a lot -- as every economics student knows, this pushes up prices a lot, and gives remaining dealers a profit on a plate.
- Prohibition means people don't stop consuming drugs they just change the drugs they're consuming. BZP-based party pills are safer than both alcohol and tobacco. The drugs party pill users will replace them with won't be.
- Prohibition makes buyers less interested in quality, and more interested in "the high"; it makes dealers less interested in quality and safety, and more interested in making as much as they can to make up for the risk. Hence Milton Friedman's Iron Law of Prohibition: "Prohibition encourages dealers to produce and provide the stronger, more harmful product. If you are a drug dealer in Hackney, you can use the kilo of cocaine you own to sell to casual coke users who will snort it and come back a month later – or you can microwave it into crack, which is far more addictive, and you will have your customer coming back for more in a few hours. Prohibition encourages you to produce and provide the more harmful drug."
- Prohibition puts the quality and safety of the drugs your children are consuming (your children are the dealers' soft targets) in the hands of criminals and corrupt police. These people don't care who their consumers are, or what they're consuming.
You'd think he would learn from history, that prohibition achieves precisely the opposite result to that intended. (Yes, it's our old friend the Law of Unintended Consequences yet again.)
Prohibition: Learning from historyAs always, The Onion makes learning from history easy by making the lesson itself so blindingly obvious. (Click on the page to read.)
You'd think the message would be sufficiently obvious enough even for the likes of Jacqui Dean and Jim Neanderton, wouldn't you? The message is simple enough even for the likes of them:
Read the full press release here.SOLO Press Release:The Socialist Republic of Aotearoa-New Zealand's descent into full-blown tyranny, fresh from its straitjacketing of journalists, cameramen and photographers covering proceedings in the Republic's Reichstag, accelerated further today with the announcement by Associate Health Minister Adolf Anderton that BZP, the active ingredient in party pills, will be made illegal from next year...
It's Not Your Body, Adolf Anderton!
"What people put in their own bodies is their own affair. The ingestion of truly harmful substances should be a matter of rational dissuasion, not criminal sanction. Herr Anderton, however, is interested only in indulging his own congenital control-freakery to ensure that everyone is as miserable as he is. He ought to get out more, though it's understandable that no one invites him anywhere.
"I would urge Adolf's physician to place him on a course of Euphoria, to counter his natural misery hormones," Perigo concludes.
UPDATE 2: Mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Julian Pistorius is: "This is bullshit. Let's organise a protest march in Auckland and Wellington, before the bill goes ahead. Who's with me? If you want to help, join this group:
Who's with him? How mad are you?
UPDATE 3: Says Lindsay Mitchell, "It's richly ironic that at a time when worries about gang culture are foremost the government has gifted them party pills. And let's not forget who nagged them into it."
UPDATE 4: Jameson has an obvious point that needs making: This is less about well thought-out policy, and more about Anderton trying to assuage his own guilt
[Anderton] abjectly failed as a father to rationally dissuade his own daughter from becoming a drug addict, and I imagine he's still suffering the guilt of her eventual suicide. Once again, a politician’s own inadequacies have become our problem that needs to be fixed. Totalitarian cunt.That won't stop him becomeing guilty twice over when former party pill consumers prohibited from their relatively harmless pleasure turn instead to something more harmful. Let him add what Russell Brown points out to his guilt trip:
Party people will not suddenly start going to bed early. Some might soldier on with alcohol as a social lubricant, others will seek illegal drugs. Patterns of methamphetamine use may change, with P -- smoked methamphetamine -- retaining its social stigma, but snorting seen (with some justification) as a less risky means of consumption.Well done Jim.
UPDATE 5: Liberty Scott weighs on on the side of the angels:
UPDATE 6:As do the Greens: Prohibition is Not the Answer - Metiria TureiYou Don't Own Your Body, the Government Does: Jim Anderton's proud announcement, like big daddy telling off all the children - that it's good for them and they wont be allowed party pills anymore, is utterly sickening. It is immoral and it wont work. You see the point to me is simple.I own my body because I am an adult. As a result of that, I have the right to ingest whatever the hell I like.I hope the families and friends of those who get ruined because the quality of BZP plummets and becomes more poisonous, or those who fear admitting to doctors they take it for fear of being prosecuted, or those prosecuted for the crime of putting something into their own bodies, go and thank Anderton, Jacqui Dean and the other fascists against personal freedom for repeating a failed policy. Can't the likes of them (and the MPs who will support it like the robots they are) leave peaceful people alone?
UPDATE 7: Blair Anderson, the chap who brought out Ex-Scotland Yard drug boss Eddie Ellison to talk sense a couple of years ago, says Anderton Should be Embarrased:
Elevating BZP into an illicit drug rather than improve a legally regulated regime abrogates his own duty 'of care'. Passing control to criminal networks looses not only controlled manufacture and distribution chains, it entrenches failure. The guy is an idiot, and those who serve under him are afflicted by his moral hysteria.He has a lenthy post highlighting "our erroneous ABC drug classifications system" that is worth reading. The graph below from the Lancet, relating a Mean Harm Rating to summarises just one part of the folly of the ABC system. Do you see the nonsense that drug policy caused by moral panic has become?
RELATED: Victimless Crimes, Politics-NZ
Thursday, 28 June 2007
Despite him being a complete flake on the threat from totalitarian Islamists (his policy consists of being nice to them in the hope they go away), these videos by "libertarian hottie" Rachel Mills have changed my mind.
As she says, it's great that everyone thinks her ideas about Ron are really hot, but doesn't she have a great chest too. I can't argue with that.
Fair enough; it's entirely his decision -- even if it does remove one of the most useful parts of blogging, which is the ability to be apprised of and to correct mistakes (something demonstrated on that very thread that offended him). For myself, it's worth recalling that free speech doesn't require that you provide your attackers with a microphone, and I have to say that in the main I've been very lucky with my commenters here. Most of you do need a lot of work, though. :-)
* A ban on using material from "official" parliamentary telecasts to "satirise, ridicule or denigrate" the denizens of parliament is expected to be voted in this afternoon.
* Meanwhile, the police want the power to fingerprint people without the need to arrest or lay charges against them [hat tip KG].
And there are people who laugh at what's happening in Fiji!
NB: You don't need to look to Fiji to get outraged at heavy-handed authoritarianism; but Stephen Franks suggests you might look for better law to a recent decision by the US Supreme Court, which "has just held unconstitutional aspects of campaign finance laws restricting third party-funded television ads close to elections." Do you think we could learn something from both?
UPDATE: Whale Oil quotes barrister and media law lecturer Steven Price saying it was difficult to see how the proposed restrictions on election advertising "can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society [a reference from the Bill of Rights Act] ... I'm also astonished to see that it doesn't permit the use of material for election campaigning." Says Oil,
So, for example, if the Prime Minister could be shown to have lied in the House, and there is sure to be plenty of that footage available, the Opposition couldn't use footage of that in its election campaign.
Yep, this is supression of freedom of expression for sure. Bloggers must unite and show the pollies what a bunch of cocks they are.
British Labour will be happy -- with Blair gone they can now have less Bush, less Cherie, less Iraq, more government, more spending and more Brussells (which means much more government and much more spending). UK Tories will be happy -- Brown is not a patch on Blair for either presentation or principle (although they are faced with the problems that with Blair gone, Cameron will now have no one to emulate). There's no doubt that the legacy of Blair will cast a long shadow over both of them, though less so perhaps than Thatcher's still does.
Liberty Scott has a fair summary of the positives and negatives of the Blair years with which I largely concur. Here's some snippets from a few months back giving my own assessment , one from the archives, beginning with this observation:
Tony Blair is an odd combination of two characters from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead: principled bu pragmatic Gail Wynand and Peter Keating, the man with a second-hand soul. Like Keating (and like Clinton), Blair sought to be all things to all people, pursuing a compromising "Third Way" policy. Like Wynand, however, what brought him down was his one semi-principled act: his support for the Iraq War, an act that could not be made consistent with his overall character and history.And:
Blair stole what once made the Tories worth anything at all, and it's clear they still don't want it back.And:
Blair is unashamedly willing to confront those who oppose him and argue out of principle.And:
"Mr Blair said the struggle facing the world today was not just about security. It was also "a struggle about values and modernity, whether to be at ease with it or enraged at it." It certainly is. Remarkable to hear that from a politician.In the end, he reformed the British Labour Party, expelling (hopefully for good) the Trotskyites and Bolsheviks with which it was then infested, making it once again electable. For Britain, he largely preserved the results of the Thatcher Revolution -- something the Tories were not going to do. And as he said last night, he did as Prime Minister "what he thought was right" rather than just what was expedient -- something few politicians can say.
But after ten years in power? He first came to prominence as shadow Home Secretary with his promise to be "tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime." He wasn't. Instead he was tough on gun control (leading to an explosion of armed crime) and tough on Big Brother intrusions such as email invasion and the proposed introduction of ID cards. And he leaves power with the 'cash for honours' scandal ringing in his ears -- a scandal mirroring in many respects Labour's pledge card scandal here at home -- and with his egregious Stern Report and the ignominious capitulation of himself and 15 marines in the Gulf still ringing in some of ours.
So his legacy is mixed -- both Gail Wynand and Peter Keating. Sadly, it was the principled part of the Wynand half for which he became least popular, not the second-handedness of the Peter Keating. But fear not fans of second-handers, Peter Keating is still alive and well in British politics: he's now leading the Tories.
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum.
I hear that Melbourne's Eureka Tower opens today.
Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, and located on Melbourne's South Bank, it's the Southern Hemisphere's tallest building, and the world's tallest residential tower.
I would love to have been involved with a project like that, and to experience The Edge.
Some facts about the tower.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
And whoever hired old Russell Coutts to commentate for TVNZ on the America's Cup has earned their salary. It's a masterstroke. There's no one who knows more about everything there is to know, no one who's won the cup as many times as Russell and who knows these teams as he does. It's as good as it was having John Hart and Grant Fox commenting on the last Rugby World Cup -- you just know that whatever they say you can take to the bank.
I suspect that those bitching about Coutts and the decision to give Coutts the commentary chair are the same blackhearted harridans bitching a few days backs about Fay and Richwhite. Envy -- hatred of success for being success -- really is an ugly emotion, isn't it.
UPDATE: Radio Sport have just suggested that Coutts has other commitments, and last night was his last commentary for TVNZ in this cup. James Spithill is said to be his replacement.
Speculation too, including from Coutts himself, that Coutts will be some place in the next America's Cup. Where would you like that place to be?
Press Gallery Chairman Vernon Small, a wimpish, whining pommie commie sympathetic to the Clark Government, has made whimpering noises in lieu of a kick-ass protest. The Press Gallery as a whole is comprised of leftie lickspittles whose only objection to the Clark Government is that it's not Stalinist enough. With these new rules, that objection no longer stands—and it's to the abiding disgrace of the other parties that their MPs on the Standing Orders Committee have acquiesced to this outrage. Among the media, only TV3 has risen above its usual socialist predilections and fearlessly ridiculed politicians in response to the Standing Orders Committee's fatwa.Read it here: Lindsay Perigo: NZ's Politicians - United in Fascism.
Politicians with a conscience, journalists with integrity, and members of the public with an awareness of the sacred status of freedom of speech must rise up in unison against this cross-party commitment to fascism.
UPDATE 1: I like Whale Oil's reaction to this news:
Never fear, this blogger will stand up and continually use Satire, Ridicule and Denigration of MP's and I will use any footage that I can get my hands on. In fact I am setting up a video server for just such a purpose.If there was ever a corruption* of MPs so richly deserving of Satire, Ridicule and Denigration then it's this lot.
UPDATE 2: "We need protection," say MPs. There's no one who deserves it less, and nothing as chilling for free speech as a parliament that demands it. Remember that this is the same parliament that has seriously discussed rationing free speech over election periods, of banning "third party" criticism of politicians in election year! They really mean it! This parliament is still headed by the same government that has created "an atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming pretty hazardous." Do we want to see people jailed for offending these corrupt morons?
UPDATE 3: Good on the Dominion's Tracy Watkins:
THIS PICTURE IS BANNED: MPs think we should not be allowed to show you one half of this picture because it "may not be representative" of what was actually happening at the time.Should Tracy and her editor be jailed for publishing this on the front page?
UPDATE 4: Make sure you visit the Herald website and vote on their poll on this. [Scroll down to the right]. Early days, but so far the results are very encouraging.
Reading Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's superbly argued book Hitler's Willing Executioners, he points out in a nutshell the genesis of nearly two millennia of European anti-Semitism from which that genocide sprang. Yes, that pun there is intentional: "European anti-Semitism," he points out, "is a corollary of Christianity."
From the earliest days of Christianity's consolidation of its hold over the Roman Empire, its leaders preached against Jews, employing explicit, powerfully worded, emotionally charged condemnations. The psychological and theological need impelling Christians to differentiate themselves from the bearers of the religion from which their own had broken off was born anew with each generation, because as long as Jews rejected the revelation of Jesus, they unwittingly challenged the Christians' certitude in that revelation.I think that's as unanswerable a point today as it was when I first read it several years ago, and indeed the point is reinforced for us by the various pronouncements throughout those two millennia by Christian thinkers such as Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas and Peter the Venerable of Cluny, all of whom viewed anti-Semitism as an essential part of their Christian faith; the fourth century comments of John Chysostom, "a pivotal Church Father," will serve here to stand for all of them: that the Jewish faith is a direct and ongoing challenge to the Christian faith, and therefore may not be allowed to survive. Said Chrysostom,
If the Jews, the people of God, shunned the messiah that God had promised them, then something was awry. Either the Messiah was false, or the people had gone profoundly astray, perhaps tempted by the Devil himself. Or Christians could not countenance contemplation of the former, so they opted heart and soul for the latter: The Jews were religiously wayward in a world where religion and the moral order were conterminous, and where deviation from it was a grievous transgression. [...]
Bernard Glassman, a historian of Christian attitudes towards Jews, writes:The clerics believed that if Christianity was indeed the true faith and its followers were were the new Israel, then Judaism had to be discredited in the eyes of the faithful. In medieval sermons, plays, and religious literature, the Jews were often portrayed as adversaries of the church who from the time of of the Crucifixion threatened good Christians.Thus the Jews can to represent much that was antithetical to the moral order of the Christian world.
Where Christ-killers gather, the cross is ridiculed, God blasphemed, the father unacknowledged, the son insulted, the grace of the Spirit rejected... If the Jewish rites are holy and venerable, our way of life must be false. But if our way of life is true, as indeed it is, theirs is fraudulent. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. far from it! For they lead one to Christ. I am speaking of their present impiety and madness.Notes Goldhagen of this "early example of the Christian world's essential relationship to Jews," it illustrates that Christian hostility towards Jews is not merely one of "unflattering stereotypes and prejudices," but one irrevocably "interwoven into the constitution of the moral order of the Christian cosmos and society."
Now, this thoroughgoing almost metaphysical hatred can be seen in one other obvious place in today's modern world, and it seems to me that Goldhagen's point throws a profound light too on our present-day troubles; on a world in which Christians, Jews and atheists alike are under threat from murderous Islamic totalitarians inspired by a hatred born of a similar source.
Can't you just see the same nasty, hate-filled corollary in action over Islam's double dismissal of both Judaism (for whom both Islam and Judaism share the pre-Jesus prophets) and of what they see as the 'Christian' west (who in their minds have embraced a prophet as a messiah, and who have rejected the true, later prophet Mohammed) ? It's as insane as the hatred that impelled two millennia of anti-Semitism, and it derives from a similar source.
As Christopher Hitchens affirms in the subtitle of his new book, religion really does poison everything! Seems you either take your religious nonsense seriously and as a consequence hate everyone who has a different imaginary friend to you, or you take your religion with a grain of salt and keep your head down when the hatred starts flying -- and in two millennia it still hasn't. Or better still you can reject the whole field as the hate-filled superstitious nonsense that it is, and seek your answers here on earth.
It's what a rational man would do.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
A high-level Iranian cleric said Friday that the religious edict calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked, and he warned Britain was defying the Islamic world by granting the author knighthood.Death to all those who offend the religion of peace! Nick Provenzo says it better than I can:
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reminded worshippers of the 1989 fatwa during a sermon at Tehran University, aired live on state radio. Thousands of worshippers chanted "Death to the English."
The continued existence of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is more than just a threat against one man and his publisher; it is a threat against a fundamental tenant our civilization, which is that each individual is free to express himself and his ideas without fear of threats or physical coercion. That Iran's clerics continue to attack the very cornerstone of our civilization reveals yet again that Iran itself continues to be uncivilized. No one had the right to coercively edit Salman Rushdie or any citizen of the West. No government cleric had the right to call for any free man's murder...UPDATE: Watch Christopher Hitchens on BBC's Question Time programme, magnificent once again in defending -- defending? nay, praising to the skies -- the decision to knight Rushdie. And the inimitable Cox and Forkum have their say below... [Hat tip Jameson for the link, and the cartoon]
Rather than continue to sit idly by while Iran's clerics boast of their savage edict, it's high time that the West respond in kind.
The picture above shows Cameron Diaz* swanning through Peru, a country that was ripped apart by communist terrorists, wearing a fucking Chairman Mao bag round her scrawny damn neck! The picture at right shows her laughing. One would hope the two things are not connected, since as Peruvian human rights activist Pablo Rojas explains:
[the bag] alludes to a concept that did so much damage to Peru, that brought about so many victims. I don't think she should have used that bag where the followers of that ideology did so much damage.Says the Independent on Sunday, this is like "wandering up to the Wailing Wall with a swastika printed on your handbag." Would you do that, Cameron? You'd say "what was she thinking," except thinking is the last thing anyone's doing when they wander anywhere with a totalitarian talisman hanging around their neck. Dimwit Diaz, by the way, is "one of the eco-friendly stars offering advice on how to live responsibly in a new publication called The Green Book, out in the US this week." [Hat tip Jameson]
Message to dumb blondes and dimwits who think commy chic and totalitarian tat is cool -- who think hanging out in the Lenin Bar with your Che T-shirts and your Mao bags is hip: You're not "cool." You're just glorifying totalitarians and making yourself look as stupid as you are. You wouldn't wear a Hitler shirt, would you?
* She's an actress, apparently. That is to say, she's famous for appearing in films.
Apparently I get the "No one under 17 admitted rating" because there's too much fucking going on around here (5x too much) some dominatrix action (2x) and even the occasional stab (1x). No worries; I always do say that libertarianism is for consenting adults. :-)
Find out your blog rating if the Censor's Office was watching, and see how you'd be censored. [Hat tip Lucyna].
The Right of Revolution: In Praise of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
- It is just to impose equality upon an unwilling/barbarous population by force to keep their prejudice in check.
- It is just to crush socialist uprisings.
- It is just to overthrow racist democracies.
- It is just to hunt down religious terror groups who seek religious tyranny.
- It is just to go to war to liberate a slave pen, and to occupy foreign lands wherein the threat of ideological evil dwells.
Tim Wikiriwhi is a Hamilton engineer, and a self-described Independent Libertarian.
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Monday, 25 June 2007
So fucking what if she did?
KiwiSaver should reinforce Labour's economic management credentials [says Armstrong, stretching his own]. The boost in household savings and the surge in investment capital should drive the kind of growth needed to substantially lift personal incomes – and, in the process, lift New Zealand up those dismal OECD rankings with which National currently flays Labour.The best one-word response to this drivel comes from Roger Kerr: "Really?" Wherefrom this newfound "surge" in investment capital of which Armstrong speaks, and Cullen presumably expects? As Roger Kerr points out in 'Will KiwiSaver Boost Economic Growth?', "Mr Armstrong is clearly thinking of a link between domestic savings, investment and growth," but New Zealand already has access to a whole "vast international pool of capital for investment at a price that is set in world markets."
KiwiSaver cannot stimulate investment by reducing the world cost of capital. If it increased domestic savings, firms would simply use less foreign savings.So not for the first time, both Cullen and Armstrong emerge looking less than credible. And again, and not for the first time, it's necessary to make the point that all the government programmes in the world can't boost productivity -- the only thing they can do help is to get the hell out of the way.
Moreover, much of any additional saving would not be invested in New Zealand. In the interests of prudent diversification, fund managers are likely to place more than 50 percent of the inflows offshore, as the New Zealand Superannuation Fund does. Domestically, they will have to put most of their equity funds into listed companies. The diversion of savings from other vehicles into KiwiSaver might reduce local funding for sectors like small business and farming. These are amongst the most innovative and productive in the economy....
Even if the funds going into KiwiSaver translated fully into additional investment and were manna from heaven, the impact on GDP would be small... The contribution of KiwiSaver to GDP is thus looking very small at best, and could easily be negative, having regard to deadweight losses and distortionary effects on savings and investment decisions. Its contribution is clearly negative compared with equivalent tax reductions.
And on the issue of encouraging savings, the basic point to make is this: if you truly want NZers to save, then stop taking so much of their hard-earned money.
Frankly, my dears, I do give a damn: At a time when Nanny State has Gone Berserk, it's time to bury her, not to sing her praises.