Saturday, September 15, 2007

What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - PART 3: Small Consents

Continuing this serialisation based on my 'Free Radical' article 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state without any new coercion

No serious environmental policy can avoid the elephant in the room that is the Resource Management Act (RMA). For all the high-profile RMA horror stories that hit the news, as Federated Farmers president Charlie Pederson says, "it's little, not large, that suffers most RMA pain."

Today, I present for your consideration a simple solution for removing RMA pain from the little guy, and a step towards making more affordable housing.


3. Small Consents Tribunals “When the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce,” said Ayn Rand, “then you may know that your culture is doomed.”

That’s true.

Just ask anyone who has waited in line for a resource consent.

But although it’s practical to remove the RMA overnight, it’s not yet politically possible. Here’s one way to get that particular ball rolling.

First, enact a codification of basic common law principles such as the Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine and rights to light and air and the like.

Second, register on all land titles (as voluntary restrictive covenants) the basic “no bullshit” provisions of District Plans (stuff like height-to-boundary rules, density requirements and the like).

Next, and this will take a little more time, insist that councils set up a ‘Small Consents Tribunals’ for projects of a value less than $300,000 to consider issues presently covered by the RMA.

This would mean that instead of sitting around the table with pimply-faced graduates of Bruce Hucker’s planning school discussing whether or not your new carport “promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources” – which is what happens now under the RMA – and instead of cluttering up the Environment Court with minor projects that only add to the already lengthy delays there, these Consents Tribunal should function in a similarly informal fashion as Small Claims Tribunals do now.

The Consents Tribunals would consider your small project on the basis of the codified common law principles and the voluntary restrictive covenants on your title. Simple really. You should be able to reach agreement in an afternoon. 

I think setting up such tribunals should be sensible, relatively simple, and politically achievable. And at some point it should become clear to most land owners that these restrictive covenants on their titles are not vague prescriptions coercively mandated by statute, but instead are ‘voluntary’ in the sense that (as with basic common law principles) they are covenants in favour of neighbouring landowners–covenants that protect your neighbours’ legitimate rights, over which you may negotiate with them to add, subtract, amend or otherwise revise these covenants, making any reciprocal deals you may negotiate with people whose business it really is.

If for example you like my tree, and I like my view over that corner of your section, then we can negotiate at our leisure and have these interests registered on our titles as a covenant and an easement respectively. Over time we should slowly see emerging a network built up of reciprocal covenants between neighbouring properties reflecting the voluntary agreements over land that neighbours have freely negotiated. In time, it is these voluntary agreements on which the Small Consents Tribunals will be adjudicating.

Now at a stroke these Small Consents Tribunals will make affordable housing more affordable, and encourage more interest in projects at this end of the market.

At a stroke too it should free up the Environment Court and council offices for more important projects than these small ones, and depoliticise many neighbourhood disputes. Everyone kicks a goal.

As the success of these Small Consents Tribunals becomes more evident, as I'm confident they would be, and as their own sophistication in common law increases, then public pressure should build up to raise the financial value of projects accepted by the Tribunal first to $400k, then to $500k and beyond, and eventually there should be sufficient public pressure and political will built up to abolish the RMA altogether in favour of common law protections.

That’s the secret of good judo: using simple means to rid yourself of a large opponent.


[Tune in Monday for policy proposal number four: Iwi then Kiwi - a unique privatisation.]

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THE SERIES SO FAR: INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?' PART 1: 'Eco Untaxes.' Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.' THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE: 'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Beer O'Clock: A week of it!

In this week's Beer O'Clock our irregular correspondent Stu from SOBA sums up this year's BrewNZ: one week, one liver, 184 beers...

BREWNZ 2007 HAS JUST WOUND UP with the realisation that the New Zealand craft beer scene has just come of age.

The last few years have been dominated by Lion Nathan, Emerson's and Steam Brewing (of Cock & Bull, Limburg and Epic fame). This year the spread of medals and 'Best in Class' trophies was spread as far and wide as were my eager eyes on Day One, and by my at liver by week's end.
  • Sunshine Brewery - best known for Gisborne Gold - had their Black Magic judged best 'Dark or Amber Lager'.
  • Hawkes Bay's K.E.A. brewing, one of New Zealand's youngest breweries, picked up trophy as best 'Wheat and other grain beer' for their outstandingly fresh German-style Admiral's Weisse Bier.
  • The Christchurch-brewed Three Boy's Oyster Stout took out 'Stouts and Porters.'
  • And Wellington's only microbrewery - Tuatara - was awarded best 'UK or European-style ale' for their well-known Tuatara IPA.
  • Meanwhile Blenheim's Renaissance scored another big coup with their Stonecutter Strong Scotch Ale being judged best in the 'Strong ales and lagers' class.
These little guys are now hitting the benchmarks set by our very best breweries. All in all, it's a great sign for NZ beer fans. The quality, consistency and stylistic range of your local brewery just gets better and better.

In amongst it all, the usual suspects still managed to shine.
  • Emerson's limited-edition JP won best in class for 'French & Belgian-styles.'
  • Steam's Cock & Bull Monk's Habit was the best 'New world / American-style ale.'
  • Limburg's Czechmate won in the 'International-style golden lager' class.
  • And the ever consistent Mac's Gold beat off the bulk standard kiwi brown's and golds to become the best 'Classic hybrid New Zealand style beer.'
Amongst all this excitement, however, the biggest individual highlight for me had to be Invercargill Brewery receiving the the trophy in a very hotly contested 'Fruit, Spiced, Herbed beer' class for the delightfully named Smokin' Bishop. A 6.5% strong, malty German-style lager described by one friend as "a beautiful beer full of smoky bacon bits." We're not just making great interpretations of well known styles, we're starting to become a little more adventurous too! Limited stock of this seasonal beer can still be found at Regional Wines and Spirits and The Malthouse. Steve Nally, the Invercargill Brewery owner and brewer, has flown himself to Wellington for each of the last three years where he's volunteered as a BrewNZ steward. Once again his beers are all the better for the experience he's been gaining here (he also received gold for his flagship Pitch Black Stout). If you're ever in Invercargill pop into the brewery, buy a few beers and give the man a great big hug.

Meanwhile... A final call to all SOBA members to get yourself down to Bar Edward at 11am tomorrow 9Saturday) and have your say at our 2007 AGM. There will be a couple of special surprises for the members attending (hint: one of them is a 26% special surprise!). If you're not already a member, then come along and join up.

Slainte mhath, Stu

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Harder than Play School for whacky Jacqui Dean

The all-too easily fooled National MP and shadow Drugs Czar Jacqui Dean reveals this morning in another deluded revelation that it was "left wing bloggers" who exposed her idiocy in wanting to ban water -- a surprise I'm sure to the mostly ACT Party activists who pulled off the hoax.

If you missed this before, then co-hoaxer MikeE has the whole story on his blog. Scoop has Whacky Jacqui's letter to Banderton seeking "a view on the banning" of dihydrogen monoxide, ie., water. And Radio Live's website now has the audio of this morning's interview in which poor Dean says mean left-wingers are after her [scroll down to "LUSH talks to Jacqui Dean..."].

Can someone please send the deluded fool a tinfoil hat for the weekend?

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Whatever happened to the "smokestack socialist"?

I asked yesterday if readers could identify the author of this remarkably vigorous piece of prose in praise of human production:
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all the preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents or cultivation, canalisation or rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground - what earlier century had even an inkling that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?
These words, as I said, were written in the mid-nineteenth century - its author achieved worldwide popularity in the twentieth. How rare to hear such a hymn to human industry in the twenty-first.

I'm delighted that several knowledgeable readers identified the author as one Karl Marx -- a surprise perhaps to some who know the bearded apostle of "scientific socialism" only as the god of today's braindead man-haters. How come, you might ask, we so rarely hear such hairy-chested sentiments from socialists these days? The answer is quite simple: the abject failure of socialism to live up to the promise implied in the old fool's wee hymn to human production.

The old style hairy-chested, smokestack socialist was a fan of production -- of colossal productive forces, of the steam-driven subjection of nature by productive forces, forces that in earlier centuries had "slumbered in the lap of social labour" and had now erupted out of the feudal past in the promise of a glorious socialist future! Communism, said Lenin, is "socialism plus electricity"! Communism, Nikita Kruschev told Richard Nixon, will "bury the west." For many a socialist, the optimistic voice of socialism did sounded like the voice of the sunlit future.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of every socialist experiment ever tried, however, put paid to that dream.

The revelation when the Berlin Wall fell that socialist Eastern Europe was an economic, environmental and humanitarian basket case brought on a crisis for socialists worldwide that made it clear for all time that it was impossible to be an honest socialist. Socialism could not produce. Capitalism does. At this revelation, the smokestack socialist had three fundamental choices: either abandon support for socialism, or production, or of reason.
  • He could continue to revere production and human fecundity by abandoning socialism altogether (Christopher Hitchens is one of this honest breed), or he could try and shackle capitalist producers to his own socialist ends (Tony Blair, Jim Anderton and most of the Third Way 'social democrat' types adopted this approach).
  • Or: he could retain his socialism but abandon instead his praise of production and wealth. The environmental movement beckoned. In damning production he could continue the promotion of socialism as if nothing ever happened. If you've ever wondered at the take-over of the environmental movement worldwide by assorted Trotskyites, Maoists and Leninists, or by the number of Jim Anderton's former colleagues now at home in the 'Watermelon Party,' then this is your explanation.
  • Or: as Stephen Hicks so eloquently explains, he could abandon reason, science, and optimism altogether, and embrace instead the postmodern promotion of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism. As Hicks says in the thesis of his superb book Explaining Postmodernism, "the failure of [philosophy] made postmodernism possible; the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary."
The fall of the Berlin Wall was the crisis that created this mostly misbegotten diaspora, and it's the reason now that to be an honest socialist is no less impossible than it is to find an honest lawyer.

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Under-regulation on naked streets

Speaking of rolling back the state -- or at least, beginning the process of getting nanny state off your back and out of your face -- submissions are now being heard on Rodney Hide's Regulatory Responsibility Bill, which surprisingly has the support of the two major parties. So far.

Making her own submission on the Bill, Lindsay Mitchell has a good analogy on what the Dutch call “Naked streets":
In a nutshell the naked streets policy, originated in the Netherlands but adopted in some parts of Britain, involves removing road-markings, street signs, traffic signals etc. Counter-intuitively this has reduced speeds and accidents. Why? Simply because people become more careful and cautious when they aren’t being told what to do.

The ‘naked streets’ policy is a great analogy for remedying over–regulation in all sorts of areas.
It rather reminds me of a story used by the head of (I think) Chrysler to demonstrate the counter-intuitiveness of safety regulation.

Which car would be driven in the safest, most cautious manner, he asked: Car A which has air bags, ABS brakes, ride control, a roll cage, a crumple zone and every other safety feature known to man to ensure driver and passengers can pass through everything short of the second coming without harm? Or Car B, which has drum brakes, poor suspension and a steel spike directed at the driver's forehead?

Do you get the point?

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What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR'

Continuing this serialisation based on my 'Free Radical' article 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state without any new coercion. This morning, two solutions for promoting property rights towards the heart of New Zealand life:

2. Putting Property Rights in the Bill of Rights Act
Regular readers of The Free Radical and this blog should already be aware of the sophistication of seven-hundred years of common law protection of the environment brought about by protecting property rights.

Protecting the right to peaceful enjoyment of property . . . enshrining that protection in law . . . historically and in principle that’s the best protection the environment ever had – both for the natural environment and for the human environment. Property rights in streams and rivers for example coupled with common law systems of protection would at a stroke solve the ‘dirty dairying’ problem about which so much is said, but so little achieved. Property rights in flora and fauna and land is the best means of ensuring a genuinely sustainable nation.

We know that common law protection of property rights has been buried by statute and regulation and the Foreshore and Seabed Act--but it’s not too late to resurrect it, and placing property rights in the Bill of Rights Act would be a start. In fact, this policy very nearly happened. Proposed by Gordon Copeland, things were looking hopeful, until this week the bill had its throat cut by National's disgraceful about-turn.

Copeland's proposal was to simply insert property rights in the Bill of Rights, repairing an omission that Bill of Rights architect Geoffrey Palmer has publicly conceded was a mistake. I would add pressure to make the Bill of Rights, or at least this proposed new clause, superior to all other law. The explicit rejection by NZ's two main parties of even the relatively tepid proposal suggested by Copeland, however, underscores how far we are from even getting the principle of property rights on the table.

Continuing pressure to place property rights in the Bill of Rights is one means by which to get it there.

After all, the principle of property rights simply promises the protection of the right to peacefully enjoy that in which one has property. What reasonable objection can be brought to law that protects an individual’s right to peaceful enjoyment? Let me stress the word "reasonable." Let’s place on the back foot those who object to that right by challenging them to say for what reasons the right to peaceful enjoyment shouldn’t be made superior to all other law.

We may not be immediately successful in our goal, but at least we can try and flush out the bastards who oppose such peaceful rights, and expose the reasons they do.

In the meantime, you might like to consider what would happen if property rights were placed at the heart of the likes of the Resource Management Act . . .

2a. Coming to the Nuisance
The principle of Coming to the Nuisance is a powerful antidote to the zoning that the RMA has entrenched -- perhaps the strongest possible antidote to zoning. Supplementary to proposal 2 above, then, promotion of the Coming to Nuisance doctrine for use as an absolute in neighbourhood disputes is something worth advocating for.

The Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine is an enormously powerful principle protecting pre-existing rights, and quickly establishing rights in situations of apparent neighbourhood conflict. Move next door to a clean and well-run chicken farm or a pig farm for example (even if the place has been re-zoned since the farm opened), and under this doctrine you have no right to have them thrown out. Move next door to a speedway track, and you have no right to complain about excessive noise.

I assume you see the difference with how things presently work.

If the farm or the speedway or whatever it is was there before you chose to buy next door, and if it’s well and properly run, then those pre-existing rights should and can be protected in law; and if they were you then have a strong incentive to either make a more careful choice in future (whereas now the incentive is there to move in and force them out), or to buy out the speedway or the farm, or buy easements or covenants over the neighbouring land.

Either way, when the coercion is removed and bargaining is all that’s allowed, the tendency is for property to end up in its highest value use. This is not something planners can ever claim to have achieved.

What this principle will demonstrate over long use is that zoning is not only coercive, but unnecessary. Coming To The Nuisance is THE antidote to zoning. Not only that, at the same time as undercutting the zoning law established under the RMA, it would ensure that if neighbours of Western Springs speedway aren’t prepared to stump up more than speedway organisers would like to go elsewhere, then the noise of fast cars and motorbikes will continue to annoy wankers like Peter Williams QC for some years to come.

You can’t do better than that.

[Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number three: Small Consents Tribunals.]

* * * * *

THE SERIES SO FAR:
INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
PART 1: 'Eco Untaxes.'

THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE:
'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

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Hand of God - Rodin


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I love Rodins' figures emerging from the stone of which they're made -- as if the very rocks he works with are alive.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Census protest ends in fine

As you've probably heard, libertarian Nik Haden was fined severely for burning his census form in protest at the imposition on his privacy, and unilaterally promoted by TV3 to party leader. (You just can't trust these journalists, can you.)

Two decades ago, local Objectivist Bill Weddell ( a mentor of many present day Objectivists including Lindsay Perigo) took a similar principled stand against the census, although without the benefit of a warming fire. His statement to the court is worth studying by any student of freedom:

"In failing to comply with a government order to disclose private information concerning my private life and private property, my intention is not to flout the Law as such, but to lodge formal protest against the Statistics Act, and to register my rejection, on moral grounds, of the widespread practice of State expropriation of private property and related information under threat of forcible punishment.

"I hold, as a moral absolute, the conviction that in a civilised society all relationships between men must be voluntary; that compulsion abolishes morality altogether, and must be outlawed; that no man shall gain a value from another by the use or the threat of force; and that it is the only proper function of the Law to protect men against those who do.

"I have declined to plead or to offer any legal defence since the very existence of the Statistics Act abolishes objective justice, the only legal principle that could defend me. The Law as it stands arbitrarily declares the contradiction that guilt defined by Law can co-exist with and overrule provable innocence in objective reality.

"I do not regard my actions as a crime, but as an act of self-defence...
Read on here for Bill's full statement.

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Freedom fetishism?

Don't look now -- you might be a freedom fetishist too. [Hat tip LP]

UPDATE: Gus Van Horn explains why the article shouldn't be taken seriously, and (once again) why Objectivists and US libertarians do never the twain meet: "anti-intellectual" libertarians allow braindead fools like the article's author to "channel their inner five-year-old" to damn liberty, damn capitalism and damn Ayn Rand. Ouch!

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What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 1: 'Un'taxes

Continuing the serialisation of my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state without any new coercion. (Intro is here.) This morning, Untaxes:

1. Not Eco Taxes or Subsidies, but Untaxes,
Helen Clark says she wants a sustainable nation. Jeanette Fitzsimons says she wants a really and truly sustainable nation. And Nick Smith says he wants what they’re having with a side order of bullshit thrown in.

All of them blather on about the need for grass roots eco businesses and sustainable alternative technologies, yet between them they make it near impossible for alternative technologies and grass roots businesses to thrive. All of them waffle on about subsidies for this and grants for that and assistance with the other, and at the same time they talk about “sin” taxes to discourage so called polluters like the energy companies who produce the power that keeps our lights on.

I say that’s bullshit. The only thing that’s truly sustainable is stuff that stands on its own two feet. Stuff that’s economically sustainable. If a profit can't be turned on all these schemes for solar panels and wind farms and for turning banana skins into biofuel, then those schemes shouldn’t exist. If they can’t turn a profit, then they’re a waste of the resources that Helen Clark and Jeanette Fitzsimons and Nick Smith say are so scarce.

But what new business gets a chance to turn a profit when they’re buried under tax and compliance costs? We know that tax is theft. We know that how you run your company is your business. Why not let at least some companies be free of the burden and show just how their profits rise when they’re not being taxed to hell and when they’re not burdened by paperwork and by bureaucrats.

And why not let the current fad for green shit help drive this unburdening, and let the eco warriors themselves learn at first hand that free trade and profits are always superior to subsidies and socialism.

What I suggest is that eco industries, eco businesses and eco products be made totally tax free, and that all these eco industries be freed as much as possible from the regulations and compliance costs imposed by the likes of the Resource Management Act (RMA), collecting and calculating GST and minimum wage laws.

Let’s say for example you’re doing research and development on micro-power producers or wave turbines, or trying to erect and bring on stream small and economically viable hydro stations or domestic wind turbines. All are potentially viable and small alternatives to the Big Thinking state-owned and state-controlled power producers (the state always Things Big, doesn’t it), but not when burdened by Kafka-esque problems with resource consents (for which the large producers maintain a large staff to make opposing submissions), by the compliance costs that weigh down every business, and by taxes on research and development and production, and on any profits that might be made down the line.

I say let’s help out. Let’s help out every business we can.

Let’s free up “eco” businesses, and at once we liberate at least some businesses from the shackles of the grey ones (and perhaps help kick start some fashionable export industries selling to the gullible overseas, and initiate the partial removal of the RMA and other onerous laws and regulations). At the same time we demonstrate the power to produce when the shackles of statism are removed, we lay down a serious challenge to the prophets of sustainability that requires them to objectively define what they mean by sustainability so that investors and the grey ones know clearly and in advance what an eco industry actually looks like.

Sure, this don’t give every business a break, but with eco untaxes, at least there’s more freedom and no new coercion, and nothing here that the eco warriors shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to sign up to.

It’s a start, right.
[Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number two: Coming to the Nuisance.]

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In praise of industry and human production ...

Any historians in the audience? Without Googling to find out, have you any idea who wrote this remarkable piece of prose? I assure you, the answer will be both surprising and enlightening -- and will be posted here at lunchtime if no-one has it by then. [Words have been changed only slightly in order to deter would-be queue jumpers, and because I can.]
Across the span of scarce one hundred years, entrepreneurs and industrialists have created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents or cultivation, canalisation or rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground - what earlier century had even an inkling that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of human endeavour?
It makes one almost proud to be a bourgeois, doesn't it.

These words were written in the mid-nineteenth century - its author achieved worldwide popularity in the twentieth. How rare to hear such a hymn to human industry in the twenty-first.

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Transitions to freedom: Shall we kill them in their beds?

Two bakers are talking politics. "How do you roll back the state?" asks the first. "One roll at a time," answers the second.

A poor joke, but good advice. If you're serious about rolling back the state, then you set your compass in the direction of more freedom and less coercion, and you start hacking a path in that direction through the overgrown thickets of the overbearing state one hard-fought step after another.

You might start by preparing 'transitional policies' - policies that introduce more freedom and reduce coercion one machete stroke at at a time.

Writing in the Intellectual Activist (July 1995), Robert Tracinski gives the necessary principle for formulating all such policies:
In judging a measure, one cannot hold it responsible for all aspects of a mixed economy - only for those aspects it changes. These changes can be evaluated by a straightforward application of the principle of individual rights: Does the reform remove some aspect of government control or does it add more control?...It is not a compromise to advocate reduced government control in one sphere even if controls in other spheres are left standing. It is a compromise, on the other hand, if one seeks to purchase increased freedom in one area at the price of increased control in another.
Ayn Rand explains Tracinski's point about the error of compromise: “When a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture. There can be no justification for choosing any part of that which one knows to be evil."

Clear enough: Start with what you find, and design the means to work step by step towards your goal, without ever purchasing increased freedom at the expensed of increased coercion. This is what is meant by the phrase ‘ratchet for freedom.’

A principled opposition -- call them 'Party X' -- would promote such policies. An intelligent opposition would design such policies to be picked up and passed around. To be picked up and passed around (and to be worth passing around) the policy should pass The Test of the Three Ps: it should be Practical, Principled, and arse-grabbingly Provocative. Provocative enough to be passed around; Practical enough to be work; Principled enough to move the game in the right direction. The principle with each policy must be clear: More freedom with no new coercion. Below are some examples of some policies that pass the test, but first, here's four proposals that fail:
  • Shall we kill them in their beds? How about this: presently, a strong case can be made for the proposal to kill the entire front bench of Government in their beds, along with the Leaders of all Opposition Parties and all the various Human Wrongs Commissars. Practical, and easily done (although I'd expect difficulties coordinating the overabundance of volunteers.) Certainly provocative – and strongly based on the principle of self-defence. A proposal I’m sure we could all live with, so to speak.
    But as Tracinscki says, we activists must beware of purchasing freedom in one sphere at the expense of increased controls in another - the subsequent police crackdown on the assassins would undoubtedly remove all the freedoms gained by such a move, and for that reason it should be shunned -- and I say that with obvious sadness.

  • Flat Tax: Here’s another example of this same error. A “low flat tax” would reduce taxes for some, true, but this reduction would be purchased at the expense of increased sacrifice by those whose present tax rates are below the chosen flat rate. Far preferable is the Libertarianz transitional proposal (and Green policy) to offer a threshold below which no tax at all is paid, along with the slow and gradual increase in the level of this threshold.

  • School Vouchers: The idea of school vouchers is popular (not least with the purveyors of twilight golf and the owners of Wananga o Aoteaora). Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but only at the expense of either bringing private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early childhood sector now understands), or of throwing the taxpayer’s money away on bullshit. Best just to give the schools back and be done with it.

  • Cap & Trade & Fishing Quotas: For some reason these two are currently fashionable with some US free-marketeers, but it doesn't take much examination to realise both measures purchase the very minimum of freedom, if at all, and do so at the expense of increased bureaucracy and the effective nationalisation of industry and of fish stocks respectively – and in the case of ‘cap and trade’ sets a finite limit on industrial production. Even carbon taxes would be better than this. Tax credits even better.
So those are some failures. By contrast, here’s two measures that do pass our test:
  • A Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would increase freedom and, far from requiring more controls and more regulation, would actively promote and engender their removal. Here's how it could work: The Conscientious Objection Tax Policy should allow an individual to opt out of paying for and using the government’s die-while-you-wait Health system, its factory schools, and its featherbedded welfare – to conscientiously object to the theft required to pay for these multiple disasters, to agree to make his own arrangements for these (thank you very much), and in return to pay only 10% income tax!
    At a stroke the objector is better off (and with no new government controls introduced), and like all good policies, the Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would have a flow-on effect, kickstarting an explosion of freedom in the currently stagnant Health, Education and Welfare pools.

  • Here’s another intelligent transitional measure, the Transitional Drugs Policy proposed by my colleague Dr Richard Goode.
    Why not make drug law both more rational and more free by legalising all drugs less harmful to health than tobacco and alcohol? Who could object, right? Even Jim Anderton and Jacqui Dean don’t want to ban alcohol. Yet. (Although Jacqui isn't too sure about water). According to Britain’s Lancet journal of medicine, under this standard we could immediately legalise for recreational use (in decreasing order of harm): Buprenoprhine, Cannabis, Solvents, LSD, Methylphenidate, Anabolic steroids, GHB, Ecstacy, Alkyl Nitrites, Khat, and di-hydrogen monoxide.
    On what rational basis could anybody object? More freedom, less government, safer drugs, less money going into gang leaders’ pockets – and the apostles of moral panic challenged to explain the rational basis of their War on Drugs. Everybody except Jacqui Dean kicks a goal.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Petraeus reports

Gen Petraeus' testimony to Congress on the state of play in Iraq had a lot riding on it. As they so often do, cartoonists Cox and Forkum go straight to the heart of the issue:

Couple that with the point made by Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker that any withdrawal plan could spark Iraqi 'street fight'.
Announcing a plan for rapid troop withdrawals in Iraq would signal Iraqis to start "building the walls, stocking ammunition and getting ready for a big nasty street fight" rather than working toward reconciliation, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Tuesday.

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Dawkins on Hitchens on the Big Guy

Those, like me, who find great value in either Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens -- or both -- will appreciate Dawkins' review of Hitchens' book (in many ways a companion to his own) God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

And if that's enough to get you twitching, then you'll enjoy Hitchens' account of taking his book on tour through the bible states of the US -- a sort of literary equivalent of the frightening tour through Alabama that Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear boys did with their cars daubed with slogans such as 'Man Love Rules, OK' and 'Country Music is Rubbish.' Dawkins describes Hitchens' tour, which went off with far less threat to life and limb than did that of Clarkson and the lads:
With characteristic effrontery, [Hitchens] took his tour through the Bible Belt states – the reptilian brain of southern and middle America, rather than the easier pickings of the country’s cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts. The plaudits he received were all the more gratifying. Something is stirring in that great country. America is far from the know-nothing theocracy that two terms of Bush, and various misleading polls, had led us to fear. Does the buckle of the Bible Belt conceal some real guts? Are the ranks of the thoughtful coming out of the closet and standing up to be counted? Yes, and Hitchens’s atheist colleagues on the American bestseller list have equally encouraging tales to tell.
It's worth reading both pieces:

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Evidence please, says the skeptic

"Evidence is all," said the skeptic. "So tell me," he said, staring at the pellucid liquid in his ice cold martini, "given that there's been no warming now for nearly a decade, what do you suggest are the four strongest pieces of evidence supporting your hypothesis of man-made global warming? And what are the four strongest pieces of evidence that any warming, whether man-made or natural, would be catastrophic?"

What's your answer? Keep it brief.

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Wake up New Zealand

New blog on the blogroll is Lance Davey's Back Off, "A temporary organization formed for the express purpose of uniting likeminded freedom lovers under one pro-freedom banner to march on parliament and deliver a message to the incumbent and future governments of New Zealand... One day, one protest, every freedom loving New Zealander, outside parliament, telling that bitch Nanny State to "Back Off!"

Commy Kids Commissar 'Surveillance' Cindy Kiro reminds us once again why such a march might be necessary. Head over to Back Off! and get involved. That's an order.

UPDATE: Lance has a downloadable flyer to copy, print and distribute. It's good, and it's here.

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What would Party X do about the environment?

- Rolling back the state with environmental judo (Intro)

Starting this morning, I'm serialising my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state. This morning, the introduction:

Wouldn’t it be good if there were a real opposition party, one that really represented genuine opposition? Thinking of John Key’s National Party in that manner stretches the imagination a bit too far, but how about a “Party X” that did genuinely fit that bill. Ayn Rand offers the prescription for such a party:
Party X would oppose statism and would advocate free enterprise. But it would know that one cannot win anybody’s support by repeating that slogan until it turns into a stale, hypocritical platitude—while simultaneously accepting and endorsing every step in the growth of government controls.

Party X would know that opposition does not consist of declaring to the voters: “The Administration plans to tighten the leash around your throats until you choke—but we’re lovers of freedom and we’re opposed to it, so we’ll tighten it only a couple of inches.”

Party X would not act as Exhibit A for its enemies, when they charge that it is passive, stagnant, “me-tooing” and has no solutions for the country’s problems. It would offer the voters concrete solutions and specific proposals, based on the principles of free enterprise. The opportunities to do so are countless, and Party X would not miss them.
As New Zealand opposition parties are slowly recognising, a local Party X would need to recognise the MMP environment – but that’s no reason to withdraw from a commitment to removing the leash from around our throats. Quite the opposite in fact, as it offers opportunities to use other party’s strengths in the same way that a judo master recognises opportunity in the strength of his adversary: a way to use his opponent’s strength against them.

Let’s suppose you wished to formulate concrete solutions and specific proposals to deregulate the environment along the principles of free enterprise — an area which I’m sure readers will agree is one of increasing urgency. You wish to ensure that the leash is loosened without introducing any further tightening; to achieve specific and concrete gains in freedom, with no new elements of coercion.

I can suggest at least seven specific proposals that will fit the bill. For instance . . .

[Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number one: Eco Untaxes.]

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

World Trade Center (1973-2001) - Minoru Yamasaki


Six years and one day ago, these towers stood as proud and soaring things in downtown Manhattan.

One day later, war was declared, and barbarians brought them to the ground with 3,000 souls trapped inside.

Above you see the towers at sunset, as they were in all their stark glory.

At right is architect Minoru Yamasaki with his towers.

And here is what I wrote as I watched the horror unfold as (in the words of Christopher Hitchens)
from Afghanistan the holy order was given to annex two famous achievements of modernism -- the high-rise building and the jet aircraft -- and use them for immolation and human sacrifice... Faith-based fanatics could not design anything as useful or as beautiful as a skyscraper or a passenger aircraft. But, continuing their long history of plagiarism, they could borrow and steal these things and use them as a negation.

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'Ban BZP Bill' still puts 'P' into BZP

I just heard a tremendous speech in Parliament from the Greens' Nandor Tanczos opposing Jim Neanderton's Ban BZP Bill. He began by saying, "This bill, as the Libertarianz have said, is about putting the P into BZP."

And that's just what it does.

UPDATE 1: Fair play to him, Rodney Hide's speech was also a corker. 'Big ups' to both of them, as the youngsters say. Two beacons of light, however, in a vast sea of darkness.

UPDATE 2: Nandor's speech is online here at Scoop.

UPDATE 3: And here's Rodney's.

UPDATE 4: Unfortunately, as we're all aware, these two fine expressions of liberty (so rarely heard in this or any parliament) were delivered on the losing side of the debate. Lindsay Mitchell posts an example showing the quality of 'argument' needed to be on the winning side: a recognition by the National Socialists' Jacqui Dean that prohibition will drive this industry underground used as evidence of the need for prohibition. There are Miss Teen USA contestants with greater smarts than this.

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No property rights thanks, we're Tories


I recently challenged National Party supporters who swear their party is principled to tell readers the top ten ways in which Labour-Lite will roll back the state and promote freedom. I received a predictably tepid response.

So what are their principles worth? Are there any they'll stand up for? Any at all?

You can now definitely rule out property rights.

Their response to Gordon Copeland, promoter of a private members bill to include property rights in the Bill of Rights, demonstrates that property rights are still of no interest whatsoever to the party that introduced the Resource Management Act: Under Don Brash National supported the bill on its first reading, but under the mealy-mouthed flip-flopper they've now told Copeland they've changed their mind. Says Copeland, whose stand on this is worthy of respect and support:
“Even Sir Geoffrey Palmer, known as the father of the New Zealand Bill of Rights, has publicly stated that the omission of private property rights from the NZBOR was a mistake.”

“Until I was advised to the contrary this morning, I had repeatedly been assured by the National Party that they would be supporting the Bill. I am therefore very disappointed that they have whimped out in this way.”

“To rub salt into the wounds, they have the audacity to continue to claim that their Party ‘strongly support property rights’. Yeah right! Where is that Tui billboard ad?”
Comfirming then that John Key is happy to lend his support to enact Sue Bradford's private member's bill to ban smacking, "would not oppose" Cindy Kiro's proposal that the state monitor all children, but is not interested in any way at all in offering to back a private member's bill asserting the importance of property rights protection.

Roll back the state? Promote freedom? Don't make me laugh.

And how many of you reading this will still lend your support to the spineless, pink, pathetic Tory bastards. If you see a National MP today then spit in their face. It's all the bastards deserve.

REF: Copeland's original bill is here. The report from the Justice and Electoral select committee is here [pdf]. No friend of property rights, Idiot/Savant summarises what he somewhat broadly calls "Copeland's attempt to establish Libertarianism by stealth," and what Copeland calls more accurately "an issue of ... central important to the functioning of western civilisation":
The bill would have inserted two clauses into the BORA - one affirming a right to own property, and the other that no-one was to be deprived of the "use or enjoyment" of their property without just compensation. While being supportive of the idea behind the bill, the committee thought that it was vague, would have a profound impact on existing legislation, and impose unknown costs on central and local government. Which was of course the point...
UPDATE: What respect is there for property rights from NZ's two leading parties? Answer: zero. The National Socialists' backdown shows they have none. And Copeland demonstrates that in refusing their support, neither does the Clark Government.
Some of the Government’s opposition to my Bill stems from the belief that it could complicate the legal interpretation of property rights in relation to the Resource Management Act 1991.” [He sure got that right]

All of this represents a fundamental repositioning of the Labour Party which should concern all New Zealanders. Their interest now is in protecting the Crown against litigation rather than protecting the private property rights of the citizens of New Zealand against the intrusion of the State.
See Copeland's statement here at Scoop: Disappointment at Govt Stance on Property Rights - Copeland.

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Fairy dust, fraud and eco-slavery -- all part of the world's new carbon market

While state-owned Meridian Energy touts feel-good carbon credits on Trade Me, another punter has offered up something no less useful: Carbon Zero Rated Fairy Dust. As the seller tells a punter down in the entertaining questions section, "as with other Carbon Zero Rated entities, in this case the Fairy CEO simply says its carbon zero rated so it is." [Hat tip Elliot Who?]

Actually, Fairy Credits seem far less toxic and far more honest than the other carbon credits so widely touted elsewhere. At least you get a laugh for your money with a Fairy Credit, but as a Financial Times investigation uncovered "widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases," suggest some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not even begin to take place.

Widespread fraud is the very least of the worries with carbon zero rated fairy dust carbon credits; Brendan O'Neill points out at Sp!ked Online that European carbon credits are funding something out of a darker age: eco-slavery. "In offsetting his flights by sponsoring ‘eco-friendly’ hard labour in India," says O'Neill, David Cameron and his fellow wets have "exposed the essence of environmentalism."

"Welcome to the era of eco-enslavement," says O'Neill. Commenting on this vicious contemporary cocktail of eco-slavery and "guilt offsets," Luboš comments:
Do you feel guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset it by sponsoring eco-friendly child labor in the third world!

O'Neill mentions that some people call the retailers of these extreme techniques "climate cowboys" but it is a misnomer because these methods are no exceptional excesses: they are a realization of the very essence of mainstream environmentalism, namely contempt for human dignity and technological progress.

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The full Honiss

A good referee should barely be noticed. Not so Paul Honiss. Referee Paul Honiss is always noticed -- every damn game he's in. He enjoys the authority. He's the Cindy Kiro of referees. Rugby writer Chris Hewett at The (UK) Idependent noticed him and his bloody whistle in the W. Samoa v South Africa game, and he wasn't impressed. His performance, says Hewett,
plumbed depths previously unvisited by officials at a World Cup, including his good self. And he has a fair bit of history in this regard, does Honiss.
He does. He's a sawdust Caesar with a whistle. It's a pity he still disgraces the game.

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War on ...

Six years to the day after war was declared on the west by means of terror and murder in Manhattan and Washington, Yaron Brook argues at The Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center that calling the present war in which the west is engaged a "War on Terror" is as foolish as calling the Second World War a War against Kamikazes, or a War on U-Boats. This is not a war against a tactic, he says; the west is at war with an ideological enemy and the conflict should be called what it actually is: a war on Islamic Totalitarianism.

See his short argument here:

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The A-Team aren't

Back before it was renamed Libertarianz, founder Ian Fraser called the party The A Team; that is, 'A' for abolish. Now a young student team at Wellington's Victoria University have picked up the name and look worthy of your attentions [Alas not, see below]. Victoria's A-Team promises all students a $25 rebate, and says that
Given the embarrassing antics by the incompetent Muppets of recent years, the A-Team offers Victoria students a real, unified alternative. The A-Team offers an end to irresponsible financial practices, to the vandalising of student property, to 0900 scandals and to unfounded attacks on Salient magazine.
Perhaps one of them can explain, however, why they don't have a platform of voluntary student membership? If they're going to do the job properly, then why not get rid of compulsion?

UPDATE 1: I've yet to receive or see any worthwhile explanation of this A-Team's explanation of their apparently pathetic position on voluntary student membership (VSM). Would it be unfair, do you think, to suggest that they might be little different to the muppets they would like to replace?

UPDATE 2: Ah FFS, here's confirmation at the Salient site that the A-Team are no different to the other muppets. Removing the compulsion to join the student union should be a litmus test issue for any freedom-loving student politician, yet A-Teamer Ann Duggan confirms that
The A-Team is not an advocate of VSM. While we aim to improve the degree of
choice available to students in the services provided by VUWSA, we aim to do so within existing frameworks.
Fuck 'em. And if you're at VUW, don't vote for them. If at their tender age the A-Team doesn't understand that compulsion is wrong and freedom of association worth promoting, then they don't understand anything that's worth a damn. Barely twenty and already sold out. Pathetic.

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Oh drought!

Al Gore told a US Senate committee and then anyone else who would listen that "droughts are becoming longer and more intense."

That's inconveniently untrue.
US researchers, led by Gemma Narisma, have now shown that, far from becoming more frequent in recent decades, serious droughts have in fact become rarer than they were a century ago... they identified the 30 most "severe and persistent" drought episodes of the 20th century. Seven of these occurred before 1920, seven between 1921 and 1940 and eight between 1941 and 1960, dropping to five between 1961 and 1980...
You'd wonder what he had to gain by making this stuff up, wouldn't you.

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Howard or Costello?

Tim Blair offers a summary of the "civil war in right-wing [Australian] punditland" over whether or not John Howard should quickly step down in favour of Treasurer Peter Costello.
Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen believe John Howard - currently being mauled in opinion polls - should cede the Prime Ministership to Peter Costello ahead of the next election; Piers Akerman and Christopher Pearson think Howard should stay.

Put me in the Howard camp ... not just because I believe he can win, but because the argument that installing Costello would reduce post-election chaos among the Liberals presumes too much will remain static between now and whenever the election is held. It’s also defeatist and excessively tactical; you fight the battle in front of you, not the battle beyond. Besides, the debate is largely irrelevant. John Howard isn’t inclined to quit, and that extends to matters beyond domestic politics.
UPDATE: The Australian raises the possibility that today is the day. "Unconfirmed rumours have swept parliament house that two of John Howard's colleagues believe he should step down." And “something is on in parliament house.” [Hat tip Tim Blair again]

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Brunnhilde's Immolation - Arthur Rackham


Brunnhilde's Immolation in the classic illustration by Arthur Rackham -- posted here in tribute to Margaret Medlyn's valiant performance of the piece with the NZSO in Wellington on Friday night.

The piece depicts Brunnhilde's immolation of the Gods (and herself) by fire, freeing the earth of the Gods' in the only way she can -- a somewhat Tuetonic form of the Prometheus myth: sending a flaming torch to tear down Valhalla's vaults, and bring on the Twilight of the Gods.

Musically, coming at the end and culmination of the four-day Ring cycle (four days of opera!) it feels as if a great cleansing wind is sweeping away the malignance of superstition and other-wordly darkness, leaving the beneficence of love and nature of the bounty of earth's promise -- an earth free for what humans can make of it. Heil der Sonne!

Thus ends a creation myth in which the Gods create humans to do their bidding, but human free will proves resistant to their meddling, eventually rendering them impotent and ultimately meaningless.

You might get some sense of it all from this 1982 Bayreuth production at YouTube. Turn your speakers up to eleven!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Michael Jackson has died.

Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter, has died. Gus Van Horn pays tribute to the man who did more than most to introduce the world to great beer.
Beer ... is not, as it turns out, simply a cheap way for numbskulls to get drunk. It is an endless adventure for the senses, a proud Western tradition, a gift produced by the happy union of art and science, a pleasant accompaniment to good conversation, and many other things besides. I have Michael Jackson to thank for making me properly acquainted with a drink that is both the product of the efforts of thinking men and a fitting reward...

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Issues

It's telling, isn't it, that when the media belatedly discover Commisar Kiro's plan to nationalise NZ's children, they prefer to spend their time instead asking questions about a bloke who plays in the parliamentary rugby team. Does this say everything we need to know about NZ's media?

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"Giving the Devil the benefit of law"

I'm impressed to see the Greens' Russel Norman enjoying a very good standard of film on the weekend, and plucking out of it the very best exchange. There's probably hope for him yet. ;^)

UPDATE: I've have had loads of emails (well, one) asking me about film versions of Robert Bolt's great play. My very favourite is this one with Roy Kinnear, which makes it as plain as possible who the "man for all seasons" is. Here's a clue: It's not Thomas More.

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Postmodern Osama

Doesn't Osama Bin Laden's latest message to the world look familiar. Railing against capitalism, multinationals, global warming; praising Chomsky and talking about 'blood for oil'...

He could be another post-modern academic, couldn't he -- one that embraces death as we embrace life.

UPDATE: I've been told I should have posted a link to a postmodern academic who embraces death instead of Osama's own putrid expression of wish fulfilment, so here's a link to one poxy professor I posted here last year, the Ebola loving Dr Eric Pianka, who wishes for a dose of his favourite virus to be visited upon ninety percent of the human population.

Makes Osama look positively benevolent by comparison, doesn't he. "We're no better than bacteria," says the pustulent Pianks. Speak for yourself, buddy.

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What a weekend

What a huge weekend of top sport! World Cup and NPC rugby, US Open tennis, a new world record for the 100m, the first week of AFL finals, and even rumours and controversy about Stephen Fleming's captaincy. (And I believe the five-tackles-and-a-kick game had some finals as well.)

So many highlights, so little time. Best for me was Justin Henin's clinical US Open victory -- achieved without dropping a set -- and of course Geelong's record thrashing of North Melbourne. On to the preliminary final!

And wasn't it great to see the All Blacks start strongly and win without (further) injury, and England struggle against the US. With Wales, Ireland and France also struggling (the first two against against poor opposition), it's going to be a long month for northern hemisphere teams.

A long month ahead too for TV3 viewers with Hamish McKay's braindead rugby commentary inflicted upon us -- an insightful expert comments team is left chained to a grinning moron.

UPDATE 1: I understand that some fans and coaches of the five-tackles-and-a-kick game are suggesting they use the AFL finals system for their own sport. Conveniently, the AFL have a succinct summary here of their present system and the reasons for adopting it.

UPDATE 2: Real Footy's assessment of the Geelong-Kangaroos game is enough to warm the cockles of a Geelong fan's heart: Cats' Demolition Job Widens Gap to Rest to a Gulf.
GEELONG was too good. More ominously for its remaining finals competitors, it is too good. At this stage, it appears that nothing less than an injury disaster or an epidemic of some description will stop the Cats from claiming their first flag in 44 years.

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Stalinist Cindy's promise: An apparatchik in every home

A surveillance system of New Zealand parents proposed by 'Surveillance Cindy' -- the Stalinist Children's Commissar -- will see clipboard wielding Stasis examining every family in the country against criteria set by Cindy Kiro and her children's commissariat.

This is fully consistent with the mentality that "we" are to blame for parents who kill their kids. According to this view it takes a village to kill a child, and it takes 'Surveillance Cindy' and her fellow Commissars to ignore the killers and instead unleash upon good families an avalanche of apparatchiks bearing a presumption of guilt and a clipboard -- delivering a welfare cheque on every plate, and an apparatchik in every home.

The apparatchiks would assume you're mistreating your children, unless you could prove otherwise. Show them the "wrong" video games, the "wrong" books, or discipline them the "wrong" way, and you go on report.

As Liberty Scott reports it's disgraceful that it's taken the mainstream media all of eleven months to notice Surveillance Cindy's Orwellian plan. Says Scott,
I reported on this atrocious proposal in October LAST YEAR. It's not NEWs, it's just that the standards of journalism in NZ are often shockingly low.
^
And what's the headline in the Dominion Post? "$5m-a-year to save our our children" [sic]. I don't care if it is $5 million, $50 million, $5 billion or $50 - THAT isn't the story Keri Welham.
The headline should be "Shades of Orwell in plan to cut child abuse."
I was heartened to see yesterday's response from Mitch Lees, the organiser of last year's anti-anti-smacking rally, and now the CEO of Lindsay Perigo's Sense of Life Objectivists:

SOLO Slams Commie Kids Commissioner: "The suggestion that EVERY baby's home must be checked is an indication that Commie Kiro has no idea – or is willfully ignoring – where the real problem lies. Monitoring every home ... promises to be a gigantic waste of taxpayer funds. Funds that would be far better spent on preventing, punishing and sterilising the Kahui twin killers of this world," says Lees.

"Child abuse in New Zealand is not 'our' problem, it is the problem of the few unspeakable trash who commit and permit the abuse. Focusing on the whole population only serves to muddy the waters as to who is responsible for these disgraceful actions, allowing more innocent children to be killed in the meantime..

How can you hope to solve a problem, if you can't (or won't) even identify its cause?

"Instead of unjustly assuming that every parent is a criminal in a desperate attempt to not call a spade a spade, authorities need to concentrate their resources on preventing the real threats to children. Taking $5million of taxpayer's money and using it to brazenly intrude on our privacy serves as a strong indication that it is time for Nanny to accompany the child killers to the gallows."
Given that Plunket have been doing for years Kiro claims to be doing with her Stasi scheme, but doing it efficiently and voluntarily and largely on a user-pays basis, it now becomes obvious why the Clark Government's have chosen to have Plunket gutted.

This isn't about good parenting, it's once again about increased state control. I reminded you before that Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill was about more than just smacking; as Cindy Kiro has indicated clearly enough, their programme hass always been about nationalising children.

When will you wake up?

UPDATE 1: Who's coming out swinging on this? Bob McCoskrie, who says Children's Commissioner Promotes Nanny State. Leighton Smith. Whale Oil. Crusader Rabbit. Lindsay Mitchell:
Can we have some perspective here. Most mothers already willingly let Plunket into their homes. Forcing those who don't to accept state interference is enough to make them go underground.
And here's Libertarianz' Peter Osborne:
"Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro has again shown that her position exists not to defend child wellbeing, but as a mere political tool," proclaimed Peter Osborne, Libertarianz Social Welfare Spokesman.... "

"As with the anti-smacking bill, this recommendation will do nothing to stop people from abusing their children. People must ask, 'why have such abusive or apathetic adults given birth in the first place? And why in such large numbers?' The reason is because Nanny State forces us all to subsidise such families. She has also regulated our everyday lives to such an extent that opportunities to provide the means for self-sufficiency have become almost impossible to find. Unbelievably, New Zealand keeps voting for the status quo!"
Spineless appeasers John Key and David Farrar, meanwhile, both have a bob each way.

UPDATE 2: I'm pleased to hear Willie Jackson and John Tamihere come out in their afternoon show against Surveillance Cindy's proposal for universal monitoring, albeit somewhat tepidly. Rather than the one-size-kicks-all nannying proposed by Commissar Kiro, Willie and JT suggest "targeting" the nannying. A caller to the show points out the reason neither Cindy nor the Clark Government would go near the idea of targeting: it's the brown question again, isn't it; the knowledge that the child abuse that Cindy claims to be countering is overwhelmingly happening in brown households (as Lindsay Mitchell reports, "the rate of abuse for Maori children is around three times higher," while pointing out that "child deaths due to maltreatment are decreasing.")

So that is the real elephant in the room that Cindy and her supporters and most of maoridom refuse to recognise, and that targeting would highlight.

UPDATE 3: Cactus Kate proposes some targeting of her own:
It makes far more sense to visit the homes of beneficiaries to make sure they aren't having sex.
UPDATE 4: An important new announcement from Dr Zen Tiger:
The NZ Government today signed off sponsorship for a $30 million dollar NGO titled the CFC. The Commission for Commissioners is charged with maintaining the well being of all people serving as Commissioners in this country. The Director of this newly funded organisation, Dr Zen Tiger, said:
"New Zealand has taken a major step forward in human rights by ensuring advocacy for Commissioners. It is a fact that some Commissioners do not have the same advantages as others, but this is not always obvious. Therefore, I have launched a plan that will ensure EVERY commissioner has a lifetime plan, with life time monitoring."
Dr Tiger's full plan is detailed here: Leave No Commissioner Behind.

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