Saturday, September 22, 2007

Capitalism is cleaner

Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, "countries whose property rights are best are those who pollute the least." That's the 'conclusion in reverse' one is invited to draw from this cross-country pollution survey, which finds of the all the dirtiest countries in the world, those with weak or non-existent property rights are the very dirtiest. [Hat tip Commons Blog]

Of the Dirty Thirty, not one western industrial economy even makes the list.

Capitalism pollutes the environment, you say? What nonsense. Time to check your premises.

UPDATE: Oops, forgot to give you the link. Fixed now.

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Cap-and-trade: No warming; no climate effect; no sense.

Lunacy of the week is the "ludicrous" cap-and-trade scheme announced this week by David Parker with the fatuous one-liner that "four cents extra a litre to save the planet is a good deal."

The man is a moron. You could turn off NZ permanently and no emission counter would even notice the loss. Hell, even if a country the size of Britain were to shut down for good, as Christopher Monckton points out the growth in carbon emissions in China would more than make up for the sacrifice long before the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012.

Far from "doing our bit" with this nonsensical sale of indulgences, all we're doing by raising power and fuel prices and shackling local industry is raising power and fuel prices and shackling local industry. That's the only result of the "deal" to which Clark, Key, Parker and Smith are all fatuously fawning over.

And it's not like there's even anything to fix. As the graphs above clearly show, it isn't even warming in NZ anyway. [Click image to enlarge]

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Beer O'Clock: Talking when drunk

Some thing to keep in mind should you be out and about tonight, (or else at home watching Geelong thump Collingwood in the first preliminary final, 9:30pm on Sky Sport 2, like I will be). [UPDATE: A close win, but a win. Phew! But Cats not premiers yet. ]

THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
  1. Innovative
  2. Preliminary
  3. Proliferation
  4. Cinnamon
THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
  1. Specificity
  2. Anti-constitutionalistically
  3. Passive-aggressive disorder
  4. Transubstantiate
  5. Antidisestablishmentarianism
THINGS THAT ARE DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
  1. Thanks, but I don't want to have sex.
  2. Thanks, but I don't want another drink.
  3. Sorry, but you're not really my type.
  4. Kebab? No thanks, I'm not hungry.
  5. Good evening, officer. Isn't it lovely out tonight?
  6. Oh, I couldn't! No one wants to hear me sing karaoke.
  7. I'm not interested in fighting you.
  8. Thank you, but I won't try to dance, I have no coordination. I'd hate to look like a fool!
  9. Where is the nearest bathroom? I refuse to pee in this parking lot or on the side of the road.
  10. I really must be going home now, as I have to work in the morning.

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Oops! NASA has lost Wellington

With their global temperature record coming under increasing scrutiny, a study of NASA's datasets reveals that according to their records, Wellington disappeared in 1988 -- but that hasn't stopped NASA's James Hansen going right on ahead and adjusting the unrecorded data anyway.

Naturally, he's adjusted the non-existent figures upwards, which is surprising given that NIWA's actual figures for the period adjusted are downwards. Story here at Climate Audit. Graph of temperature record above.

Just for the record, this is the same James Hansen who helped kick off the whole warmist farrago back in the early nineties; the same James Hansen who's on record as saying that warmists need to sex up their data; and the same James Hansen who had to concede recently that his organisation's data collection methods were flawed, requiring a readjustment of figures that saw 1934 pronounced the warmest year on record.

So losing Wellington is not out of character.

Nonetheless, maybe you can help James, and perhaps help Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts who are on the trail of James and his gaggle of government temperature collectors. Perhaps you could drive out to Wellington airport, find and photograph the temperature collection station, and post it at Climate Audit to pass on to Hansen and his colleagues. Tell them Wellington hasn't yet succumbed to either cyclones or earthquakes, and despite the local effect of too much hot air, it's getting colder not warmer.

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Christopher Monckton: Clark/Key cap-and-trade scheme "ludicrous"

He appeared in recent issues of 'The Free Radical' incinerating in turn Al Gore, Nicholas Stern and the IPCC, and, in ten minutes on Leighton Smith's radio show this morning, Christopher Monckton did more to incinerate the lunatic cross-party cap-and-trade scam and the whole emperor's new clothes warmist nonsense than anyone else anywhere in almost any amount of time.

Listen in here [audio] and realise why Al Gore steadfastly refuses to debate Monckton. Great radio.

[NB: Monckton interview starts about seventeen minutes in. Expect to see a file with just the Monckton interview here at this page shortly.]

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Central bankers agree: We don't need a central bank

Two comments from two central bankers give the lie to the need for central banks to control financial markets.

Defending the Reserve Bank's performance in setting interest rates over the last thirty years, RBNZ governor Alan Bollard told the finance and expenditure select committee: "It is quite conceivable - if there was such a thing as a free market setting all that - that we might have rates pretty much where they are." [Hat tip Nevil Gibson]

There is an obvious response to Bollard: if that's the best the central bankers can do, then why don't we have the free market setting "all that." If the very best the central bank can do is emulate the free market, then why not let the free market do what it does best, and without the cost of the Reserve Bank's galloping expansion of credit over recent years?

If your answer is that we need sharp-eyed central bankers to keep an eye on potential shocks, then former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan put paid to that thinking earlier this week when, in response to questions about "whether he was to blame for the sub-prime mortgage crisis by making credit too easy," he conceded on CBS' '60 Minutes' show that "he was aware at the time that questionable mortgage credit was being extended by banks, but he admitted he was unaware how pervasive it was or how impactful on the economy. He just didn't see the problem as it was developing."

The Galileo Blogger points out what Greenspan is conceding:
That is his argument against the Fed, whether he realizes it or not. No central banker, no matter how good, can possibly hold in his mind all relevant information to centrally manage the money supply and credit of an economy. Such is the fallacy of central planning. It doesn't work in banking, just as it has never worked in any other area of an economy. The collapse of Communism is proof of that... Greenspan is smart, but no single man or woman is smart enough to be a central planner.
So tell me again why we need a central bank? Remember if you will that it was all those sharp-eyed central bankers who delivered the Great Depression of the thirties, as current Fed chairman Ben Berbanke conceded a few years back.

I'll leave my final comment here to Larry Sechrest, who in a recent 'Free Radical' draws the obvious conclusion from all the evidence:
Mark this well. Central banks are the source of both inflation and business cycles. Tragically, many people seem to believe that both inflation and boom-bust cycles are somehow an intrinsic part of a market economy. They thus turn to the central bank to solve the problems that the central bank itself created. I might add that the very existence of a central bank introduces into all markets pervasive “regulatory risk” that would not otherwise exist. That is, market participants expend real resources in an attempt to forecast---and then cope with---the manipulations of money, credit, prices, and interest rates undertaken by the central bank. It all sounds frighteningly familiar.
That's the long-term solution then: Remove the Reserve Bank's monopoly powers, let the market set interest rates, and cut the govt's apron strings from the currency.

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Awakening in Anbar follows ejection of Al Qaeda

Independent reporter Michael Totten writes from the former Al Qaeda 'capital' in Iraq that peace is now breaking out there:
In early 2007 Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, was one of the most violent war-torn cities on Earth. By late spring it was the safest major city in Iraq outside Kurdistan... Combat operations are finished in Ramadi. The American military now acts as a peacekeeping force to protect the city from those who recently lost it and wish to return... “Al Qaeda lost their capital,” Major Lee Peters said, “and the one city that was called the worst in the world. It was their Stalingrad...

“All the tribes agreed to fight al Qaeda until the last child in Anbar,” the Sheikh’s brother Ahmed told a Reuters reporter. Whether Anbar Province is freshly christened pro-American ground or whether the newly founded Iraqi-American alliance is merely temporary and tactical is hard to say. Whatever the case, the region is no longer a breeding ground for violent anti-American and anti-Iraqi forces...

Violence has declined so sharply in Ramadi that few journalists bother to visit these days. It’s “boring,” most say, and it’s hard to get a story out there – especially for daily news reporters who need fresh scoops every day" ...
Says Totten:
I was greeted by friendly Iraqis in the streets of Baghdad every day, but the atmosphere in Ramadi was different. I am not exaggerating in the least when I describe their attitude toward Americans as euphoric. Grown Iraqi men hugged American Soldiers and Marines...

“Old school methods defeat insurgencies,” Captain McGee said, “not brute force or technology. The key is to kill existing terrorists and prevent additional recruitment. Al Qaeda must have a safe haven or they will barely be able to operate.”

That doesn’t mean they can’t operate at all, but it does mean they can’t control territory, work out in the open, or oppress others from above. They are hunted now and must spend an enormous amount of energy avoiding detection instead of stirring up trouble. The former would-be “liberators” [of Al Qaeda] have become hated fiends who lurk in the shadows and lash out in rage at the society that has rejected them. Victory for them, in this place, is all but impossible now.

“Having the Arabic press note that AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] is rejected by Sunni Arab Iraqis is better than any message we could ever put out,” Major Lee Peters said.

"Anbar Awakens: Hell is Over," says Totten. [Hat tip Lindsay Perigo]

Great news, you would have thought. Something worth celebrating. Sadly not. It's awakenings like this that, for some reason, cut and run advocates would like to call a halt to. Go figure.

"Whatever the situation when we went in, international terrorists have chosen to make this the place for a showdown battle. We can win or lose that battle but we cannot unilaterally end the war. It is the terrorists’ war, regardless of where it is fought."

UPDATE: Thomas Sowell states the obvious for cut-and-runners:
"Whatever the situation when we went in, international terrorists have chosen to make this the place for a showdown battle. We can win or lose that battle but we cannot unilaterally end the war.

It is the terrorists’ war, regardless of where it is fought."
And Gus van Horn points out some things even Sowell has missed.

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Time for the grand coalition

Given the cross-party political love-fest over yesterday's plans to shackle industry and raise fuel and power prices in order to make political obeisances to Gaia (a cap-and-trade plan that will have absolutely no effect on climate but a big effect on the cost of doing business and of staying alive, and about which I commented yesterday) it's clear that only the thickness of a spin doctor's smile now separates Labour and Labour-Lite, and nothing now stands in the way of a grand coalition but ego.

Lance Davey hails the prospect of the imminent amalgamation of the two main parties "as a clarifying move that [is] logically inevitable."
It was a matter of recognising the obvious, really," National's John Key told journalists. "National has long accepted that the Welfare State is ingrained in the Kiwi psyche; Labour has learned that it cannot strangle the goose that lays golden eggs; we both believe in squeezing hard...

Clark said, "We're especially thrilled that the new party's name so accurately captures the essence of the old parties."
Head to Lance's press release to see the new name. It's obvious really.

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Life as a blogger

Here's an oldie but goodie from the good blokes at Cox and Forkum.

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Jean-Léon Gérôme - The Pipelighter

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Medlyn in Turandot

I can't wait to see Margaret Medlyn in 'Turandot this weekend. If she's even half as good as she was in Wellington two weekends ago, and in 'Parsifal' last year, then this performance of Puccini's great opera is going to be a cracker.

I can't wait.

[Margaret's website is here. To book, go here.]

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'This is John Galt Speaking...'

This is a stunning presentation:


The centrepiece of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged -- which is currently rocketing up Amazon's ranks after the New York Times declared it "one of the most influential business books ever written" -- is the tour de force that is Galt's Speech. It took Rand two years to write the Speech (the effort of writing it, she once said, gave her at least ten more IQ points) and you can now see a four-minute video introduction to this incisive and powerful piece of writing here on YouTube.

Don't waste your lunch hour reading about the new taxes imposed upon you for the sin of offending Gaia; spend four minutes instead watching this YouTube presentation, and hearing words that cut through and explain all the crap:
"You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis... Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish...

Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. Yes, you are bearing punishment for your evil. But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature that will take the blame. It is your moral code that's through, this time. Your moral code has reached its climax, the blind alley at the end of its course. And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return to morality–you who have never known any–but to discover it."
Discover morality? What could that mean? The answer is here in this short article on 'Galt's morality' in New Statesman: Objectivism. A philosophy for living? - the first of a four part series by Onkar Ghate.
Part 2 is here: The Selfish Life.
Part 3 is The Roots of Objectivism.
Part 4: Objectivism's Appeal and Demands.
[Hat tip Noodle Food]

Do yourself a favour. Watch and read today. Do it not because it's your duty, but because it's selfishly important to you.

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What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - CONCLUSION: A Kyoto plan with a difference

Concluding 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 spontaneously shrinking the state, without any new coercion along the way.

Today, the conclusion: a Kyoto Plan that makes the whole thing plain:

7. The Kyoto Plan for Tax and Regulation
Here’s one last suggestion that sums up the aim of all seven policy planks. Here’s a plan to explicitly clean up the human environment, using the language of those who seek to shackle it in the name of the natural environment.

If you recall, the Kyoto Protocol which Simon Upton signed us up to requires carbon emissions to be cut to 1990 levels by 2010 in a bid to save earth’s environment from man-made, climate-changing pollution.

Whether or not you accept either the science or the politics behind that notion, what I propose quite seriously is a similar protocol to limit a far more serious and provably destructive pollution: one that restricts taxes and the emission of regulations to 1990 levels by 2010.

While the jury is still out on the possible destructive consequences of emissions of carbon dioxide, there is no doubt at all of the destructive consequences of the emission of new taxes and ever more intrusive regulations.

Time to put a stop to the explosive growth in these emissions. 2010 works for me. Now would be better.
* * * * *
ENVIRONMENTAL JUDO--THE SERIES:

INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
PART 1: 'Eco Un-taxes
.'
PART 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.'
PART 3: 'Small Consents Tribunals: Beating Back the RMA'
PART 4: 'Privatisation: Iwi then Kiwi'
PART 5: 'A Very Special Carbon Tax'
PART 6: 'A Fishy Story: How to Privatise the Oceans'

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

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On not giving up

Another reason why Sidney Poitier is one of my favourite actors:
After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting director, "Why don't you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?" It was at that moment, recalls Poitier, that he decided to devote his life to acting.
I like the attitude. [Another Great Moment in Never Giving Up from the Lifehacks Blog. Hat tip Gus Van Horn.]

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When Brian and Gordon got married, where was God?

Gordon Copeland announced this morning that the cross-sect Christian party announced by Density's Brian Tamaki earlier this week will not be going ahead as announced, and certainly not with Density's Richard Lewis as co-leader.

The communication breakdown is just too severe, said Copeland.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it.

You have to presume that all parties involved would have been talking to their God about their decision, so you have to wonder why God wasn't passing on their messages.

Can't you feel that omnipotence.

* * * * *
**Earlier posts on this topic: Destiny: You Have to Laugh.

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Clark's cap-and-trade indulgences

Today we've got the Clark Government's announcement of their cap and trade system to be imposed upon local producers, a system whereby a bureaucrat decides who can emit satanic gases and how much they can emit 'as of right,' after which producers must buy carbon indulgences from a supposedly developing market of such indulgences.

Catholics will recognise the system as being similar to the sale of indulgences as a church fund-raiser back in the days before Luther nailed his theses to the cathedral door at Wittenberg.

And it is, to put it mildly, somewhat premature, since as Brian Leyland of the Climate Science Coalition points out the sin of emitting carbon is still not provably Satanic.
Suddenly the debate is all about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and not about whether or not dangerous man-made warming is happening, or likely to happen in New Zealand or anywhere else.

Temperature records for New Zealand and for the world show that there has been no warming in this country since the El Nino peak of 1998, in spite of continuing rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The New Zealand experience is conclusive: in this country, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is not causing warming.

That being so, why is the country being saddled with disruption of our economy and increased costs for energy and fuel?
I think the answer, as if we didn't know, is 'politics.'

In their wisdom, the Clark Government figures they need a flagship policy on which to hang their 'sustainable nation' claptrap, meaning (it would appear) they intend to go into next year's election on a policy of shackling industry and raising food, fuel and power prices.

Sounds like a winner.

As I've said before, if you're going to shackle industry in the name of better weather, then a carbon tax that at least offers some certainty to producers is better than a system whereby production is capped by bureaucratic fiat-- and a carbon tax whose rate is linked to actual global temperatures and that is a substitute for another tax is even better.

Writing in the New York Times yesterday, economist Greg Mankiw argues that cap-and-trade systems are inherently flawed, not least because of the international dimension of the carbon indulgence market -- which Sp!ked's Brendan O'Neil characterises as a form of third world eco-enslavement -- and particularly once one factors in the emerging economies of China and India which will keep on emitting regardless, and which are going to be almost impossible to integrate with any system devised by NZ's bureaucrats.

Even if it were true that the highly priced indulgence market could change the weather in the way desired, the carbon indulgences paid for by long-suffering NZ consumers here and now may be entirely worthless once some other international system develops, and once the science on the subject is finally in.

But this doesn't bother a government in election mode who are blind to anything but electoral advantage -- even if that perceived advantage is based on nothing more sophisticated than rising prices, a shackled industry and a pipe dream.

And you can be damn sure it won't bother John Boy Walton and his Labour-Lite friends either, who if elected wouldn't lift a finger to change a thing.

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Coming to the Call - Frederick Remington


(Click to enlarge.)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Welcome home - but just one thing first

There's just one thing Ahmed Zaoui needs to do before we all sing "Welcome Home," says SOLO spokesman Sandra Ashworth, and that's this:
To publicly condemn terrorism and renounce terrorist activities, by publicly showing that he has given to the Security Intelligence Service a full and frank disclosure of all terrorist groups he has been involved with, including people, funding, locations and plans, says SOLO spokesman Sandra Ashworth. "Any declaration from Ahmed Zaoui must be made with direct reference that he has not used the Islamic deception of Taqiyya, a precedent which enables Muslims to deceive for the betterment of Islam. The SIS will be able to confirm that he has cooperated fully and completely.

"Only then can Ahmed Zaoui be rightly called a refugee and entitled to protection here in New Zealand, where any Kiwi should be proud to protect and defend someone who fights terrorism.
Sounds simple. Who could possibly object?

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What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - PART 6: A fishy story

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 spontaneously shrinking the state, without any new coercion along the way.

Today, de-politicising the oceans:

6. A Fishy Story
NZ’s fisheries are at present what’s known as a “managed commons,” a system in which the tragedy of the commons is limited only by bureaucratic management of property effectively held in common by all those who own quotas. The quota system is simply a system of rationing by bureaucrat, with no incentive for the bureaucrats who set the level of rationing to get it right, nor for quota holders to maintain the resource.

The result has been politicisation of the fisheries, short term thinking from fishermen (rational in the circumstances), and pressure for even more government control of local fisheries.

I suggest we need a rethink. The best way to protect fish stocks and to protect the legitimate interests of fishermen is not through rationing but through property rights.

We know that when property is secure that property owners tend to look to their longer term interests: no reasonable property owner wants to destroy the goose that lays his golden eggs. When property rights are insecure however the situation is reversed: the greatest incentive with the short-term horizons created by insecure property rights is to grab what you can while the going is good.

Such has been the recent experience in NZ’s fishing industry where property rights are rationed by bureaucratic fiat, and we see claims of increasing bottom trawling and bycatch, and scary reports of decreasing fish stocks and a decimated fishery.

The answer is not more politicisation, but less.

Think about it for a moment. There are extinct native birds; there are decreasing fish stocks; but there is no immediate likelihood of dairy or beef cows becoming extinct. There’s a crucial difference here isn’t there: the difference is that farmers’ property in their cattle is protected. That’s the whole difference.

Farmers have historically protected their property in their stock with methods such as barbed wire, brands and enclosed paddocks. Obviously, none of these methods of protecting farmer’s property in their stock works with fish at present (except perhaps with shellfish, for which water rights and seabed rights are necessary), but giving fishermen the opportunity to show reason WHY their ownership in a fishery should be recognised should be seriously considered.

We can use the power of good law to promote the technological means by which law good law can be brought to bear on the problem. Think about the development of property rights in cattle, and how technology helped:

The use of cattle brands was the first simple method enabling cattlemen to define ownership of their stock, which it was the law’s job to protect, allowing them to plan and to grow their herds ‘sustainably’ in the full knowledge that their investment in the herd was protected. The better the legal protection, the longer term the investment and the planning that could be done. This is the reason that cattle rustling was treated so severely in the days when cattle still roamed the plains, and before barbed wire was invented.

The invention of barbed wire revolutionised farming, allowing farmers to protect and define both their stock and their land across huge areas, allowing them to plan ahead and to protect both their herd and their land ‘sustainably’ in the full knowledge that their investment in herd and land was protected.

Both inventions enabled the legal technology of property rights to be brought to bear to protect first the resource (by means of identifiable brands) and then the environment (by means of barbed wire).

What’s needed now is the same thing to happen with the fisheries. If fishermen’s own interests in fisheries and fish stocks are safeguarded, then every incentive exists for them to take the long term view.

What’s needed with the fisheries is the maritime equivalent of brands and barbed wire so that fish stocks and fisheries are protected by those who have the most interest in protecting them: the fishermen themselves. What’s needed is technology.

Political parties don’t invent technology. They can’t. But what they can do is offer the protection of property rights to those who do.

I suggest the best way to obtain what we want here is to invite the fishermen themselves over, say, a three year period to present methods either technological or otherwise by which their own interests in fish and fisheries may be objectively recognised and protected in law, and then commit to enact that protection.

I predict an explosion in fish stocks, the depoliticisation of the fisheries, and a big export market in the technology produced.
[Tomorrow, Part 7: A Kyoto Plan with a difference]
* * * * *
THE SERIES SO FAR:

INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
PART 1: 'Eco Un-taxes
.'
Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.'
Part 3: 'Small Consents Tribunals'
Part 4: 'Privatisation: Iwi then Kiwi'
PART 5: 'A Very Special Carbon Tax'


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

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EFB: Put some chains on them

I've noticed that even the most virulent opponents of the Electoral Finance Bill still allow that caps on election spending are necessary. David Farrar quotes approvingly the unhinged Bomber Bradbury on this point this morning saying he's " all in favour of curbing the excesses of money influence in democracy, a plutocracy is a real fear and is a direct outcome from unrestricted electoral financing rules..."

It's true that when politicians and legislators have almost unlimited power to tax and spend and legislate everything that isn't nailed down, then allowing any special interest group access to the levers of political power that allow them to tax and spend and legislate with such gay abandon is inherently dangerous.

But isn't that an even greater argument that the levers of power should pull so much less weight? That there should be constitutional restrictions not on how much we can spend on our favoured party so it can gain power, but instead on how much parties can do once they have power. Isn't that infinitely more important, and far more supportive of genuine free speech?

As PJ O'Rourke says,
When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
Isn't that the point in a nutshell? Restrict the range of areas in which legislators can meddle, and you immediately lessen the interest in buying political power.

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Destiny: You have to laugh

The demise of the Destiny Party and the stumbling launch of a new Christian coalition has Paul at The Fundy Post rolling on the floor with mirth. Here's some of what's making him laugh so hard:
It seems only yesterday that Brian Tamaki, then but a lowly Pastor, was promising that his party would be ruling New Zealand within a few years.

1. And it came to pass that he was utterly wrong...

3. So Brian went forth and spoke with men of many flavours of Christianity, even with Anglicans. They spoke of forming a new party. And, although the Christians were followers of a man who, it is written, was born out of wedlock (and just out of Bethlehem) and whose earthly father was cuckolded by his real father, who was also Himself and some other guy called the Holy Ghost, and whose mother was conceived in Heaven, the party would be based on Family Values...

So we have a new Party, its Co-Leaders being one, Gordon Copeland, who clearly thinks the other, Richard Lewis, is an idiot. He is, of course, right...

It all makes about as much sense as the Trinity.
If the library of His Grace the Bishop of Mt Wellington contains anything other than colouring-in books, then one might speculate that he's been studying his Tertullian in preparation for this 'launch.' “I believe it because it is absurd,” theologian Tertullian was supposed to have said. "It is certain because it is impossible." One can hear the "Amen"s all the way from South Auckland.

Read all of Paul's post: 'One Door Closes, Another One Shuts.'

UPDATE: Stuff blogger Colin Espiner nails two chief problems for the new party:
  1. "Most of the mainstream churches maintain strictly apolitical stances, and many New Zealanders have long believed religion and politics shouldn’t mix."
  2. "Too many egos, not enough party."

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Greenspan on war and oil

One sentence from Alan Greenspan's forthcoming book has the chatterati all aflutter: ""I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." He clarified what he meant by that in a Saturday interview with Bob Woodward:
In the interview, he clarified that sentence in his 531-page book, saying that while securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," he had presented the White House with the case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," Greenspan said in an interview Saturday, "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential."

He said that in his discussions with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, "I have never heard them basically say, 'We've got to protect the oil supplies of the world,' but that would have been my motive." Greenspan said that he made his economic argument to White House officials and that one lower-level official, whom he declined to identify, told him, "Well, unfortunately, we can't talk about oil." Asked if he had made his point to Cheney specifically, Greenspan said yes, then added, "I talked to everybody about that."

Greenspan said he had backed Hussein's ouster, either through war or covert action. "I wasn't arguing for war per se," he said. But "to take [Hussein] out, in my judgment, it was something important for the West to do and essential, but I never saw Plan B" -- an alternative to war.
As Bill Visconti points out at SOLO, if Greenspan's motive was to protect the oil supplies of the world, it's a pity that in all his eighteen years as chairmen of the Fed he didn't once attack the environmental and taxation restrictions on American oil production. Given that, as George Reisman points out, "Middle Eastern terrorism rests on a foundation of financial support in the form of revenues derived from the sale of oil by the members of the OPEC cartel," then if he hadn't gone to Washington and "gone native," then freeing up domestic production should have been a serious security issue about which Greenspan might have been expected to raise some concerns. As Reisman explains, the issue is central to the security issue, and one about which some environmentalists might want to do some hard thinking:
Every barrel of oil that the environmentalists have succeeded in getting the U.S. government not to allow to be produced, every ton of coal that they have prevented from being mined, every atomic power plant whose construction they have stopped, has served to make oil scarcer and more expensive and subsequently to enrich OPEC and increase the funds available for the support of terrorism...

Today, after thousands of needless deaths and major destruction of property of symbolic as well as economic value, the supporters of environmentalism are among those who must make a choice. Which do they value more: indulging their exaggerated fear of oil spills on beaches and their boundless desire for nature untouched by man, or the lives and property of innocent victims of terrorism and, as now seems likely, the lives of hundreds and possibly thousands of young servicemen and women and the potentially enormous economic costs of a war?

True enough, decades of policies serving to enrich the supporters of terrorism have made it impossible for a policy of freedom for energy production in the United States all by itself to now strip the terrorists of financial support. But it would certainly very substantially help in reducing such support. And it would show up in lives and property saved. The environmentalists must choose.
UPDATE: Greenspan talks to 60 Minutes about his life story, and about the importance of taking out Saddam. [Hat tip Julian D.]

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Just a clown. Still no climate refugees.

Tim Blair proposes a new title. Warmist isn't enough. For people like this, only "climate clown" will do. Who?

Jane McAdam - senior lecturer and director of international law at the University of New South Wales, director of the Climate Changes ‘Refugees’ and International Law Project, associate rapporteur of the Convention Refugee Status and Subsidiary Protection Working Party for the International Association of Refugee Law Judges, member of the Executive Committee of the International Law Association (Australian Branch), author of Complementary Protection in International Refugee Law (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007), former general editor of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal and a former member of the editorial board of the Sydney Law Review – is also a climate clown. [Says McAdam] :

On Christmas Eve last year, the first inhabited island disappeared underwater as a result of global warming. The residents of Lohachara island in the Bay of Bengal had already fled to a nearby island …

Wrong. 'The Independent' reported on Christmas Eve that global warming had claimed Lohachara (in a piece apparently removed from the paper’s archives), but omitted any actual submersion date. That’s because the island went under some 20 years ago, for reasons apparently not related to warming [probably because the Indian Tectonic Plate is pushing up against the Eurasian Plate, causing the Bay of Bengal to slowly sink].

So despite her glowing credentials, McAdam is either offering evidence for why her family name is derived from a utilitarian roading material, or she's lying to deceive -- as US Congressman Dan Rohrabacher describes her ilk,
part of a movement that feels they have a right to lie and they have a right to frighten people, because they have a higher calling; their higher calling is to save the environment."
Place your bets on which one it is.

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Fallingwater movie


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater was probably the residential masterpiece of the twentieth century (which is why it's been posted and talked about here before). It's a house that makes hard-bitten critics feeling like singing, and the pulse of people like Stephen Hicks pounding.

Most of us aren't able to visit is as regularly as we'd like, but we can enjoy professionally done computer-graphic videos like these.

Enjoy!

UPDATE: More short movies here of 'Usonia,' Frank Lloyd Wright's vision for America, from the good people at Columbia University's Digital Design Lab -- including a flight around Wright's Mile High Tower!
The term Usonia was often invoked by Frank Lloyd Wright to describe his vision for the American landscape. A 1958 drawing by Wright, entitled "The Living City", gave the world an enticing glimpse of this vision. As an alternative to America's urban ills, Wright proposed a balanced synthesis of architecture and landscape that would stretch from coast to coast. Now, forty years after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright, you are invited to explore USONIA. This short computer animation presents the new landscape in an engaging three-dimensional format. Travel among the 'taxi-copters' and 'road-machines' as your journey highlights several of Wright's unrealized projects, including the Rogers Lacy Hotel, Pittsburgh Civic Center, and the Point Park Bridge. The animation concludes with an ascent to the top of 'The Illinois', Wright's eminent design for a Mile High Skyscraper.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Punishing success: It's not un-European

Some people see lots of other people buying stuff in large quantities and they think, "Hmm, people must want that." The Europeans see a company churning out products that people have been queuing up to buy and ask, "How can we put a stop to that?"

Microsoft is getting another spanking for the crime of producing products that people want, this time in the European courts who fantasise that "consumers are suffering at the hands of Microsoft." The Europeans are pig ignorant buffoons who are ensuring that consumers will suffer, just as they always do with every antitrust decision.

"Once again," as Onkar Ghate pointed out last time Microsoft was given the finger by the courts,
Microsoft is being attacked for its success: in reality it has no monopoly power just brilliant management.... Microsoft is today's prime example of what Ayn Rand called 'America's Persecuted Minority.' Like an increasing number of big businesses, Microsoft is being punished for being successful, for making products that people want to purchase.
Microsoft has no monopoly power? It's true. Microsoft has no political power to force to consumers to buy its products, only the economic power to offer them products worth buying. In fact, as George Reisman explains, it is Microsoft's competitors who are after the monopoly:

What underlies such an incredible outcome is the utterly mistaken belief that overwhelming competitive success, to the point that one man or one company dominates an entire industry, constitutes monopoly. This, of course, is the kind of success that Gates and Microsoft have enjoyed.

The fact is that such an outcome of free competition is not monopoly. But it is monopoly when those capable of bringing about such an outcome are forcibly excluded from an industry, or any part of an industry. The accompanying forcible reservation of an industry or part of an industry even to a mass of less capable producers is the real monopoly, as much as if the industry had been forcibly reserved to the possession of one man or one company. The essential element in monopoly is forcible exclusion and forcible reservation, not the number of producers.

So the Europeans fantasise that "consumers are suffering at the hands of Microsoft." Mark Hubbard looks at the European decision and confesses to "a fantasy" of his own, a "daydream, that Bill Gates will hold a press conference and announce the demise of Microsoft forthwith: no new products, no support for existing ones, they are simply going to disappear: and then see what the world looks like."

It's an interesting thought, isn't it. Who would suffer then, I wonder. Who needs whom more?

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EFB: Drown it.

I'm told Libz just got quite a long mention in Newstalk ZB's 9 O'Clock News about their Electoral Finance Bill submission with Colin Cross quoted saying the bill doesn't need watering down - it needs drowning.

The perfect one-liner.

UPDATE: David Farrar says, "I am hearing whispers from Parliament that Labour is 100% determined to get the Electoral Finance Bill passed into law."

It's becoming increasingly clear why they're so determined: at the next election the Labour Party intends to use the taxpayer as their personal cash machine, and the departments of state as their personal publicity departments -- meanwhile using the Electoral Finance Bill to ban criticism, and to muzzle anyone else doing very much electioneering at all. This, for instance:
Leaked draft documents reveal the extent to which Labour plans to campaign on the public purse. This campaign includes a script for call-takers at an 0800 phone line who will sing the praises of Labour's health policies.
It's hard to overstate how disgustingly cynical this is, more cynical even than introducing retrospective 'Get Out of Jail Free' legislation last year to head off Bernard Darnton's legal action over the pledge card outrage.

Even the normally state-worshipping Human Rights Commission told the Select Committee is against this outrageous assault on democracy,
the Bill will infringe certain human rights - most obviously freedom of expression but also the right of all citizens to participate in the election process. ...It is difficult to conceive of a greater limitation on freedom of speech than this.
You didn't think the HRC had the balls, did you.

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Nanny can't drive

Oswald and Lindsay Mitchell together bust the rapidly developing myth that teenagers' driving is out of control, is getting worse, and urgently requires restrictions.

Trouble is, while there's been an increase in headlines that suggest teenagers' driving is getting progressively worse, and there's been a concomitant increase in hysteria over teenagers' driving, the statistics show a completely different story about teenage driving itself. As Lindsay points out, if safe driving is your criteria then the statistics on young drivers are actually getting better, not worse.
The performance of 15-19 year-old drivers has improved significantly. Twenty years ago they accounted for 16.9 percent of accidents involving fatalities. Last year they made up 11.7 percent. An even bigger drop applies to 20-24 year-olds from 22.2 to 11.9% percent. Perhaps some attention should be paid to older age groups.
So despite the headlines, the driving of teenagers is actually getting better -- a disturbing sign for those who look for a bit of spirit in the next generation.

However, if it's bad driving you want, then Oswald points out where attention should really be paid: to the group making the most noise about imposing restrictions on other people's driving. That's right, it turns out that as a group the country's worst drivers are those driving politicians' self drive cars. And the biggest irony? Annette King, leading the charge against bad young drivers today is also responsible for "the most serious smash" in this 2001 report:
her car was in a head-on accident in December 2000 and was written off. The driver of the other car was in intensive care for six days.
So perhaps the minister should be looking closer to both home and House before casting stones further afield at young drivers who (unlike King's family and parliamentary colleagues) are becoming increasingly responsible.

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No tax cuts please, we prefer inflation

It's been revealed this morning that earlier this year Cabinet was considering personal tax cuts of up to one billion dollars, but the idea was knocked on the head because advice was received that tax cuts would be inflationary.

That was bad advice. Tax cuts are not inflationary.

However, here's something that really is inflationary: carbon taxes and fuel surcharges that are going to raise the prices of fuel, of electricity and of food.

So, to summarise, the government decided to abandon the idea of tax cuts on the mistaken view that they would be inflationary, yet they've now decided to stampede towards new taxes that have the absolute certainty of being inflationary -- ignoring meanwhile, their own rampantly and inflationary spending binge with our money.

Would you perhaps call these examples of an ideological burp? Or just sheer bloody incompetence? As Gerard Jackson said earlier this year of the very successful Australian tax cuts, "One can only wonder at the intellectual powers of [people] who fear the so-called inflationary consequences of tax cuts while blithely ignoring the Government’s massive monetary expansion."

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What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - PART 5: A very special carbon tax

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 spontaneously shrinking the state, without any new coercion along the way.

Today, what I like to ironically my 'Carbon Tax Plan.''

5. The 'Carbon Tax Plan'

We've all heard the litany: We’re all gonna die. We’re all gonna die because of man-made global warming. We "need" a carbon tax, urgently, to stop runaway global warming.

Really? How about a show of hands?
  • Do we really have "runaway global warming" anywhere but in computer models?
  • Do we really need a carbon tax to stop those nasty emissions?
Interesting. Well, I’m proposing something to bring honesty to warmist science and warmist politics. Yes, it's a carbon tax. A very special carbon tax. A carbon tax that is a substitute for other taxes (yes, a condition of our support would be the removal of another tax. Company tax for example. Or income taxes. Or those eco-untaxes I suggested earlier.)

What I’m actually suggesting is a proposal first put forward by Canadian Ross McKitrick, who was the co-debunker with Steve McIntyre of the IPCC’s infamous ‘Hockey Stick: the proposal is for a carbon tax whose rate is linked to actual global temperatures – specifically, it would be linked to the temperature of the tropical troposphere, which is precisely where the IPCC's science says the primary CO2 "fingerprint" is to be found.

Yes, it’s a new tax, of sorts, but the proposal has a number of advantages, not least the diminution of one tax which is about to be imposed and the removal of another. Most of the advantages consist of focussing minds on the fact that proposals by the world's politicians to limit carbon emissions by fifty percent are blanket policies to strangle industry … to say nothing of what Al Bore’s proposed emission cuts of ninety percent would so.

This proposal should really focus minds on what warmists really want: do they want to attack what they say is the real problem, or do they just want to shackle and shut down industry; do they really want "action” to fix what they say is a real problem, or do they just want government action to ban private action.

It's crucially important to keep industry free of the warmists' political shackles, and this unique carbon tax offers the prospect of doing that in the warmists' name.

Listen up:
  • First, it calls the bluff of warmists. If you really believe that temperatures are going to rise precipitately, then how could you reasonably oppose it -- surely, from the warmist point of view, that's a one-way bet, right?
  • Second, it offers a real fiscal bonus. If the globe warms we pony up, true, (but remember this is offset by the removal of another tax). But what happens if the globe cools as many solar researchers expect? That’s right. If the globe cools, we all get a refund. “If models are right, then the tax would go up a lot,” [points out economist Geoffrey Plauche], “but on the other hand, if the tropical troposphere temperatures continue to decline as they have since 2002, then the tax would go negative and turn into a subsidy on carbon emissions. Of course, the alarmists are convinced this won't happen so it shouldn't be an obstacle to them endorsing the tax...” Like I say, let’s use this to call their bluff.
  • But that’s not all. With carbon taxes linked to global temperature, people would begin to really focus on the actual measurements of global warming – on how the measurements are produced, what they actual temperatures are, and how closely (if at all) they correspond with predicted temperatures. They might notice too that the methods by which the surface temperatures are presently produced are seriously shonky, but considered “good enough for government work.” And they might even notice that there has been no warming since 1998.
  • There will be serious attention paid to this ongoing temperature figure, so much so that we might even see warmists forced to admit there has been no warming since 1998. We might expect to see the measurement recorded at the Stock Exchange, and shown on the news each night right after the Dow Jones and the Nikkei, and for the same reason those figures are reported, and with the same pressures regarding accuracy and accountability.
  • In a further wrinkle suggested by economist Arnold Kling and others, we would expect there to develop a futures market in the temperature indicator, with taxes, profits and predictions tied to the futures price in a way that rewards accurate forecasting instead of political horse-trading.
  • Furthermore, all those computer models that predict warming (and since 1998 that’s the only place we actually see any warming) – all those models would be under much closer scrutiny. And as Climate Science Coalition convenor Owen McShane points out, we’d expect to see the rise of real, non-government, climate experts to make real non-government sponsored predictions about where troposphere temperature is going, Those whose "predetermination and bias" always encourages them to predict "warmer" would soon lose their clients and their track record would be there for all to see. No doubt too these experts would be listed in the same pages as the share market and similar "real" information. As Owen says, “Augie Auer would be thrilled.”
  • Finally, as I said before this idea was originally proposed by Ross McKitrick (the chap who helped debunk the bogus IPCC hockey stick) so it already has serious credibility, and has received significant international attention. No harm at all in using that spotlight to help promote more freedom here.
[Tomorrow, Part 6: A fishy story]
* * * * *
THE SERIES SO FAR:

INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
PART 1: 'Eco Un-taxes
.'
Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.'
Part 3: 'Small Consents Tribunals'
Part 4: 'Privatisation: Iwi then Kiwi'


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

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Erickson by Erickson


The late Don Erickson's own home, which is where he had his studio and office and which he designed, built and lived in for forty years. From his Chicago Tribune obituary:
A disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect Don Erickson's 55-year career featured houses and buildings that were delicate, beautiful and always original.

"Every building is a unique piece of art," said his wife, Patricia, citing a building she and her husband called the Bird Cage apartments near Ridge and Pratt Boulevards on the Far North Side of Chicago. "[The building] inspired me to become an architect," said Mettawa architect Thomas Heinz [who is writing a biography of his mentor]. He said Mr. Erickson's design incorporates thin vertical black metal elements reminiscent of bird cage wires against a creamy rough stone structure. Perhaps Mr. Erickson's best-known design is Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, completed in the 1980s.
More on Erickson and his design philosophy at this post showing three houses by the man in his prime.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Good bastards I know

In the spirit of Cactus Kate's post on "good bastards we've met," some good bastards I know have just launched their new website. Legacy Productions is an Auckland photographic and video production company. If that's what you need, then they're who you need. Check them out.

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Atlas Rocketed

After this article appeared in the New York Times citing numerous successful businessmen who are Ayn Rand fans and declaring Rand's Atlas Shrugged "one of the most influential business books ever written," the Amazon ranking of Atlas jumped from a healthy 388 to a positively euphoric 52.

Gus van Horn has the news, and plenty of links and commentary.

UPDATE: Stephen Hicks tells me the euphoria is even healthier. After the Times piece, the highest he saw for the paperback version was:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #29 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Also, the hardcover of Atlas moved up strongly:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #89 in Books

And here’s The Fountainhead:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #167 in Books

Even today the paperback of Atlas is doing well and is at:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #35 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

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Greenspan puts finger on conservative failure

Self described "libertarian Republican" and former Ayn Rand associate Alan Greenspan has everybody talking about his forthcoming book [hat tip Russell Brown at Hard News], in which he sagely observes the reason for the Republican demise in last year's US election, and from which he draws a pertinent lesson for conservatives everywhere. The Republicans deserved to be soundly stomping, he says, because the party "swapped principle for power."
In the book, Greenspan wrote that Bush essentially left an unbridled GOP Congress to spend money however it saw fit, and by not vetoing a single bill in six years, the president deprived the nation of checks and balances. "The Republicans in Congress lost their way," Greenspan wrote. "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."
Are you listening David Cameron? Are you listening John Key? Do you listen 'Key Wees'? Greenspan's lesson is this: In swapping principle for power, you end up with neither.

The Republican congress was hopeless: the biggest spending congress in history, betraying whatever small government principles to which Republicans ever laid any claim. As Brad Thompson pointed out in a series I ran last year at Not PC on the collapse of American conservatism:
  • "Government spending increased faster under George Bush and his Republican Congress than it did under Bill Clinton.."
  • "More people work for the federal government today than at any time since the end of the Cold War..."
  • "If post 9/11 defense spending is taken off the table, domestic spending has ballooned by 23 percent since Bush took office..."
  • "...despite President Bush’s much vaunted tax cuts, Americans actually pay more in taxes today than they did during Bill Clinton’s last year in office..."
  • Asks Thompson in the introduction to his analysis of the Decline and Fall of American Conservatism, "What happened to the idea of limited-government conservatism? Have the conservatives been corrupted by power, or is there something in their basic philosophy that has led them to embrace big government?"

    That's the question answered in his article, summarised in the following posts:


    'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY,' THE SERIES SO FAR:

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    Sporting questions

    Another great sporting weekend. And some questions:

    How good would it have been if Georgia scored that last try against Ireland?

    When you first heard the South Africa-England score was 36-0, did you have to ask which team got zero?

    What chance Tonga or Samoa to beat England? Or one to beat up England, and the other to beat them? How good would that be?

    Are there any northern hemisphere teams at all that are firing? Or will it be a SANZAR semi-final line-up?

    Do you feel any sympathy for Gareth Thomas (whose Rugby World Cup is probably over), who if he hadn't so cynically taken out Australia's new first five he might not have been so decisively flattened by Stirling Mortlock?

    How come no team seems able to take advantage of Australia's almost non-existent scrum?

    Did anyone bother to get up to watch the All Blacks-Portugal game? When do we get out first real game?

    Is anyone watching 20/20 cricket? Does anyone care?

    Why do NZ rugby league teams have no ticker? Should anyone care?

    Can you see anyone else but Port Adelaide and Geelong in the AFL final? Or is it only me that cares?

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    Italian Muslims

    While there are about one million Muslims in Italy, only 60,000 or so of those are Italian Muslims.

    This movie shows why.

    Reminds me of two reasons why the Brazilian soccer team can beat any Muslim country's team.

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    The effects of global warming are already upon us

    Looks like the effects of global warming are already upon us, and will soon hit the pockets of consumers and home-owners.

    That is, despite there being at best only threadbare evidence of human effect on climate, and there being little evidence (if any) for the worldwide climate forecast to be catastrophic, we're already seen the all too real effect of global warming in legislation and regulation designed to limit human activity, and human industry -- and now something else is about to hit us both here in NZ, and worldwide.

    The latest effect of the threadbare global warming bandwagon will be increased power and fuel prices (courtesy of the Clark Government's 'cap and trade' emissions scheme to be announced Thursday, probably to the applause of John Boy Key), and rapidly increasing worldwide food prices due in part to increasing demand from Asia and India, but also crucially because acreages normally used to produce food are being used instead to produce biofuels. Protests over rapidly rising pasta, baguette and tortilla prices have already been seen in Italy, France and Mexico respectively. As more than one British commentator has suggested, "The era of cheap food is over." If true, then we we have human-induced global warming hysteria to thank for it.

    So, big and probably permanent price rises coming up then for power, for fuel and for food -- and, once the world's central bankers catch up, higher interest and mortgage prices to dampen down what they will no doubt be calling "inflation."

    The effects of global warming are already upon us -- specifically, the effect of irrational behaviour in pursuit of a pathetic charade.

    UPDATE 1: "Global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon and its effects can even be beneficial, according to two leading researchers." They "have looked at the work of more than 500 scientists and concluded that it is very doubtful that man-made global warming exists" and that GW itself is beneficial. Story here. [Hat tip Marcus.]

    UPDATE 2: Meanwhile, while we can be assured that whatever Clark can do Key will do even wetter, The Observer has found a list of environmental and safety policies that Key's UK idol Wavy Davy Cameron is contemplating. These include:
    • Household recycling to become easier by making it mandatory for all new houses to be built on land-fill sites, thus cutting out the middle man. Rubbish simply to be tipped out of the back door or first-floor windows.
    • Anyone taking a long-haul flight must pay for two seats. The seat next to the passenger to be occupied by a tree, to be planted at the destination.
    • All cars to be edible and consumed at end of journey.
    • Carrot-and-stick approach to car pollution. Research into whether it's possible to come up with a car engine that runs on carrots and sticks.
    • Everyone to wear a permanent seatbelt, which they then attach to whatever motor vehicle they get into.
    • A height tax to encourage couples to have shorter children.
    Expect to hear the more idiotic of these announced here soon.

    UPDATE 3: Cameron's actual policies are even more absurd than the satire, if that's possible. [Hat tip No Minister].

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    What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - PART 4: Privatisation

    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 spontaneously shrinking the state, without any new coercion along the way.

    Today, a politically possible method of ending the tragedy of the commons, by getting rid of the commons.


    4. Privatisation: First Iwi, then Kiwi.
    There’s something missing in this series so far, isn’t there. Every proposal presented so far responds to already existing pressure in the political environment, using it to advance the depoliticisation of the natural environment. So far there’s been something for nearly everyone here, something (so far) that nearly every political party could sign up to.

    Nearly every party. There’s been nothing yet specifically for the Maori Party.

    And there’s something else missing. We’ve said that property rights under a common law regime provides superior environmental protection, but there’s a problem there too, isn’t there. That’s right. To work effectively, property rights-based environmental protection needs and owner to stand up for it, yet nearly half of this beautiful country and most of the seabed, foreshore and waterways still have no property rights attached. Most of it is essentially un-owned, ie., nearly half of the country is still nominally Crown Land, with no owner in the least interested in standing up for their patch. (Yes, that’s right, about thirty percent of the country is so called “conservation estate” that is “protected” by Chris Carter and the Department of Conservation (DoC). Here’s a favourite joke told by DoC employees that reveals their own view of their efficacy: “How do you get rid of possums?” Answer: “Give them to DoC to protect, and wait three years.”)

    So what do we do? Using our ‘judo’ principle of using our opponents’ strengths to gain our goals, what do you think the easiest way would be to establish property rights in all that land that needs property rights protection. Anyone? I’ll give you that clue again, shall I?

    What about giving the Maori Party something to vote for?

    Who’s going to advocate loudest and longest for the title in all Crown land and in seabed, foreshore and waterways to be passed to Maori (or as I like to call it, privatisation) than the same brown roundtable who are presently riding the gravy train. If I may use the expression, that’s a fair weight behind a proposal for privatisation.

    So am I really advocating giving all this un-owned land away to a bunch of tribalists!? Well, yes I am. What have they done to deserve it? Well, nothing.

    Nothing, that is, except develop rights in land and water over long historic use, and agitate loudly enough today so that they’re on point as the easiest way to effect this privatisation. If we can have titles created in land where there presently isn’t any, if we can extract land and water from the hands of the state and turn it into private property with covenants and easements attached that protect all existing rights, then that’s as good a thing as any peaceful freedom fighter can hope to achieve, and perfectly in line with our goal of more freedom, with no new coercion.

    There’s just three things we need to ensure so that both freedom and prosperity are secured.

    The first thing is to ensure that only Crown Land is involved. Scrutiny will be essential to ensure no already existing private property will be in the mix.

    The second is that tribalism must taken out of the mix: title must be transferred NOT to tribal leaders so they can increase their control or create new tribal fiefdoms, but to individuals. I suspect that the main opposition to this condition will come from tribal leaders who realise they’re being made redundant, and not before time—and that opposition in itself will reveal that the interests of the tribal leaders and the people on whose behalf they claim to speak are not the same, and are actually at odds with each other.

    The third thing to ensure is that all titles created must be transferable. As Ronald Coase points out, as long as titles are made transferable and transaction costs are kept low, then land titles so created will tend to end up in the hands of those who most value them. The first holders of these new titles can do anything they wish with them (and making land individually owned and transferable is between them a necessary condition to allow the holders of these titles to borrow against them to advance their wealth), but as we’re all aware the deadbeats and the astute will both quickly sell to those who value them more than they do, and the productive who wish to will keep theirs and use it to produce something more.

    The choice will be entirely up to these new first-time owners. Over time we would expect to see this land and water which was initially un-owned and unprotected (the main reason for problems like ‘dirty dairying’) used first to raise people out of poverty who are in urgent need of that boon and to reduce the importance of tribalism, and then (with covenants and easements still attached) it will end up in the hands of those who value the land and the waterways the most, owners who have most to gain from its protection.

    In short, this is a privatisation even talkback callers can support.
    [Tomorrow, a very special carbon tax plan ...]
    * * * *
    THE SERIES SO FAR:

    INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
    PART 1: 'Eco n-taxes
    .'
    Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.'
    Part 3: 'Small Consents Tribunals'

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

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    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Osama Bin Liar

    Osama Bin Laden's recent video message to the world of saints and scholars and suicidalists has been compared to the rantings of your basic leftist, your postmodern academic, your death-metal nihilist and your common garden anti-globalisation nutcase. (But of course, I repeat myself.)

    No surprise then that, like most specimens emanating from those entities -- and here we're looking at the likes of Michael Moore and Al Bore -- it's awfully full of what we might politely call "untruths."

    My colleague Barry Paul has picked out the most egregious factual errors and contradictions (Bin Liner's claims are given in italics; Barry's fisking appears in bold).

    FACTUAL ERRORS

    Bush not giving the United Nations expanded jurisdiction in Iraq.
    The UN had in fact established its HQ in Baghdad until the suicide bombing of Aug 2003 killing de Mello and others.

    US engaged in genocide of peoples, only "a few specimens" of Red Indians were spared.
    More than 6 million Native Americans today identify themselves as such, hardly “a few specimens.”

    More than a million orphans in Baghdad alone, hundreds of thousands of widows, killing of 650,000 people of Iraq as a result of the war.
    These figures are disputed, but the vast majority of civilian casualties are the the direct result of ongoing sectarian Shia v Sunni violence.

    During the Vietnam war Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers.
    In fact, Donald Rumsfeld was not the Sec of Defense until 1975-77, under Gerald Ford, AFTER the Vietnam war had ended.

    "When Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy and wanted to stop this unjust [Vietnam] war, that angered the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation, and so Kennedy was killed.
    In fact, it was Kennedy who ramped up the US engagement in what was then a French war, sending 1,364 advisors to Sth Vietnam in 1961; increasing this number in 1962 to 9,865 -- at the time of his untimely death in Nov 1963 there were 15,500 Americans in this country. So much for the claim he was wanting to stop the war.

    "You neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war [Vietnam], not even the most violent of its murderers Rumsfeld."
    See comment above.

    "Bush [Jnr] picked Rumsfeld as Sec of Defense in his first term, after picking Cheney, Powell and Armitage despite their horrific and bloody history of murdering humans."
    In fact, Dick Cheney was prominent in commercial life; Colin Powell has a distinguished career as a professional soldier; and Richard Armitage was an advisor, emissary and negotiator. Unlike Osama who murders people in cold blood, they are far from being “bloody murderers.”

    "They are the same reasons which led to the failure of Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war."
    See comment above. Kennedy began the large-scale US involvement in Vietnam.

    "Emissions from the [US] factories of the major corporations, plus not observing Kyoto accord, are causing death and displacement of millions of human beings especially in Africa."
    The pseudo-scientific opinion is premature, to say the least, and the population claim palpably false.

    CONTRADICTIONS
    "And from his [Allah’s] law is retaliation in kind: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and the killer is killed."
    "Religion of peace," anyone?

    "Bush is working with al-Maliki to spread freedom in Iraq. but he is in fact working with the leaders of one sect against another sect in the belief that this will quickly decide the war in his favour."
    OBL shows his hatred for the Shia. Once again, "religion of peace" anyone?

    "In fact, burning living beings is forbidden in our religion, even if they be small like the ant, so what of man?"
    Try telling that to the relatives of the 3 thousand innocents burned on 9/11, or the thousands killed by Al-Qaeda and their comrades in Madrid, Bali, Cairo, Sharm-el-Sheikh, Cairo, Iraq and London.

    "The holocaust of the Jews was carried out by your brethren in the middle of Europe, but had it been closer to our countries, most of the Jews would have been saved by taking refuge with us."
    ! Then why wage intifada now against the Jews in their chosen haven(s) today?

    "There are two solutions for stopping the [Iraq] war. The first is from our side, and it is to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you. This is our duty and our brothers are carrying it out."
    That is one way to stop the war?

    "The world is being dominated by the democratic system, which confirms its massive failure to protect humans and their interests from the greed and avarice of the major corporations."
    Railing against the capitalist system, yet the bin Laden family is immensely wealthy and intimately connected to the Saudi royal family. The Saudi Binladin Group, a global construction and equity management conglomerate from whom the murderer Bin Liar derives his wealth, grosses US $5 billion annually.

    "Since the essense of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital, and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer..."
    See comment above re Saudi Binladin Group.

    "It would benefit you to listen to the poignant messages of your soldiers in Iraq who are paying with their blood, nerves, and scattered limbs."
    All US troops form a volunteer force, and as such take pride in doing their job in a professional manner.

    "I invite you to embrace Islam. The true religion also puts peoples’ lives in order with its laws; protests their needs and interests; refines their morals; protects them from evils; and guarantees for them entrance into Paradise."
    There are only two snags. First,nobody is able to confirm the wonders of Islamic Paradise. And second, as the Danish cartoonists pointed out (and they would know), Allah has already run out of virgins.

    * * * *
    It seems that whatever amenities Bin Liar has with him in his cave, he has neither a basic encyclopaedia or even a textbook of elementary logic-- unless that is he simply intended to rely upon the ignorance and braindead reasoning of the ill-educated and unwashed anti-globalisation nutcases to pass on his rants as if it were one of their own.

    After all, most of them are only too happy to wear murderers like him on their T-shirts and pass shit like this around. Just ask the agents of Che Guevara and Michael Moore.

    Of all the claims about what the tape shows, only two seem to have any veracity:
    1. That it really was put together by an American death-metaller.
    2. That in peddling pissant propaganda like this it's even more clear than it has been than that this is a man on the run who is virtually impotent.

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