Tuesday, 20 November 2007
The Standard has a rundown of how the various party websites rate according to the Blog Readability Test. Libertarianz, by the way, is "Elementary School" and SOLO is "High School." Meanwhile Labour's website is "Genius."
Bet you didn't know stupid blog rating tools could have a sense of humour.
Today I heard Price minimising the freedom of speech limit in a law that will “permit legitimate lobby groups to carry on” if they comply with “minimal” registration requirements (not mentioning the accounting, auditing, record keeping etc) so long as they “do not advocate for or against any politician or party”. In other words you can have ‘free speech’ as long as we know where we can get you, and only so long as you do not let people know which politicians support or oppose your policy position.Read Stephen's opinion here.
Why isn't there?
What's wrong with people with political opinions putting their own money where their mouth is? That's certainly infinitely preferable to the corruption that sees politicians putting their hand into your pocket to peddle their opinions, as Labour, the Greens, United Future and NZ First all insist on doing. They're putting their hand into your pocket, while restricting your own ability to do the same.
Let me say this: If "Kiwi groups" have "legitimate election issues" then let them find people with the same concerns to pay to air them. Using the power of the state to force others to pay for your opinions -- forcing people to pay who wouldn't do so voluntarily, or who may even disagree with your "issues" ... that's beyond disgusting.
Anyone who votes for this bill has no claim to be a supporter of either free speech or democracy.
What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the Electoral Finance Bill?"
What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the banning of BZP?"
What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the criminalisation of protest."
What's wrong with saying that however much you damn well spend?
What's wrong is that offends those who wield political power, and they're going to use all the political power at their command to shut you up.
It's supposed to be wrong to have private money in public debate. Why? Because it's supposed to be wrong to "buy" political power.
But is it? Even if it's really possible to "buy" political power, is it really wrong?
What's really wrong is giving politicians and legislators the power they have, power without limit, power to enter your bedroom and your boardroom, to tell you what you can and can't say, and how much you're allowed to spend to say it. then allowing any special interest group access to the levers of political power is inherently dangerous. But isn't that what we already have? The problem is not buying political power, it's with the power that politicians are given, and hwo much more they want to take.
As PJ O'Rourke says, giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
What's needed is not restrictions on buying political power, but on what politicians do with that power. What's needed are constitutional restrictions not on how much can be spent for a party to gain power, but on how much parties can do once they have power.
That is how you protect free speech.
They could video-conference instead to make a statement about cutting emissions, but what’s the fun in that? So thousands of global warming prophets, including many hundreds from the United Nations agencies which have whipped along this new faith, will next month jet to a luxury resort (above) in Bali instead for a conference on how to cut emissions like the kind they blew in getting there. Flying business class, of course...Read all of 10,000 warming prophets jet to hot resort.
Libertarianz Party leader Bernard Darnton said this morning that he was "staggered" that the Electoral Finance Bill had come back from select committee even worse than originally drafted.The march against the Electoral Finance Bill leaves Civic Square in Wellington at 12.30 on Wednesday. KILL THE BILL, before it kills free speech in this country for good!
"Given how awful the Bill was, it's unbelievable that it has come back from select committee even worse."
"The clock is ticking for freedom of speech in this country. Not even the smallest act of political opposition escapes this Bill's reach. Every political comment made during an election year must carry an authorisation statement. The Clark government's message to anyone who opposes it is, 'We know who you are and we know where you live.'"
Darnton encouraged people to join the march on Parliament this Wednesday. "Anyone, of any political stripe, who believes in open political debate should march on Parliament this Wednesday Show your opposition to this attempted repression."
"The tired and corrupt Clark regime is no longer fit to govern. They want to make it illegal to tell that truth. Tell it on Wednesday."
Monday, 19 November 2007
David Farrar has posted 19 reasons why the Electoral Finance Bill as it stands now must be re-written.
- It now includes speaking into a megaphone as a regulated election year activity. [Page 8 of Select Committee Report]
- The definition of publishing an election advertisement is extended to include the catchall “bring to the notice of the public in any other manner” which will include speaking in public. [Clause 4(1) – para (i) of definition to publish]
- Anonymous political advocacy on much of the Internet is outlawed. Uploading a political video to You Tube, or even a post into the nz.politics Usenet newsgroup which advocates either for or against a party will require a name and residential address. [Clause 53(1) – para (a) and para (g) of Clause 4(1) definition of publish]
- The regulated period of all of election year remains one of the world’s longest at 30% of an electoral cycle, or nearly one third of your life (in Canada it is 6 – 8 weeks only for third parties) [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
- Advocating for or opposing a party or a recognised party position requires registering with the government. These so called "third parties" are restricted from advocating in all of election year to vote for or against parties on particular issues such as the environment or taxes. For example Greenpeace could not spend more than $10,000 a month advocating a vote against parties who do not support Kyoto.[Clause 5(1) para a(ii)]
- Blogs are left in an unsure legal position as only "non-commercial" blogs are exempted. All commercial blogs and other websites are now regulated if they express an opinion for or against a party or candidate. [Clause 5(2) para (g)]
- Other online forms of advocacy such as e-mail are now regulated. [para (g) of Clause 4(1) definition of publish]
- No right of reply for people attacked in an election campaign. You can spend only $12,000 nationally defending yourself if you or your organization is attacked during a campaign as third party registrations close on writ day. [Clause 17 para (a)(i)]
- By closing third party registrations before candidate nominations close, a local residents' group would be restricted to spending $1,000 opposing a last minute candidate whose views they find repugnant. [Clause 17 para (a)(i)]
- Different rules for third parties and political parties remain – political parties have twice the disclosure limit of third parties. [Clause 47(1) para (ab)]
- Spending limits not adjusted for population growth and/or inflation so an effective decrease in real per capita spending of 31%, plus that now has to last all year not just last 90 days [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
- Instead of banning anonymous donations, a compromise deal has seen them remain legal up to a certain limit, obviously designed to favour the incumbent Government. [Clause 28C(1)]
- All forms of political advocacy which promote votes for or against a party (or candidate) have to have a name and residential address supplied – even for placards, e-mails, speaking at street corners, posters, chalk on pavement. [Clause 53(1) para (a)]
- Parliamentary expenditure which was clearly electioneering under the existing Electoral Act (such as pledge cards) is now exempt from the spending caps [Clause 80 – para (d)]
- New candidates face a near impossible job against incumbent MPs as they are limited to just $20,000 over 11 months, and MPs parliamentary spending is exempt. [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
- Political parties are banned from running ads which advocate against candidates on particular issues (such as vote against MPs who voted for the Electoral Finance Bill) [Clause 53(2) para (a)]
- Political parties remain immune from prosecution for breaches of the Electoral Act – only individuals such as financial agents can be fined. This provides an incentive for parties to place pressure on individuals to risk breaking the law as the party itself will face no penalty.
- Smaller parties remain disadvantaged with broadcasting rules, as they are banned from purchasing their own broadcasting.
- The public have no meaningful opportunity for input into the revised bill, with its masses of changes
The next march against this corrupt assault on democracy and free speech leaves Civic Square in Helengrad at 12.30 on Wednesday. Be on it!
Let your voice be heard while political opposition is still legal.
This is not a drill. It's the real thing.
Global warming? The earth hasn't been warming since 1998's El Nino put an end to the '79 to '98 warming splurge (before which there were several decades of cooling after the highs of the thirties and forties).
"Regional warming" is killing the glaciers, says NIWA's Jim Salinger.
Regional warming? According to Salinger's own organisation, New Zealand's average temperate last month was 0.5 degrees Celsius below the average for October.
Catastrophe? I think not. Bullshit? I think so. In fact, Doomsday has been called off [video, 44min.].
But I'm damn glad summer's finally here.
UPDATE: Jeanette Fitzsimons' wind turbine has fallen off the roof for the last time -- she's giving up on wind power. And a good thing too. When the cost of repairs is taken into account, Fitzsimons' turbine has produced some of the most expensive electricity ever made.
Not so, say EFB supporters. There's only so much democracy to go around. Free speech is so important in a democracy, says the Electoral Finance Bill and its supporters, that only politicians and those registering with a government censor should be allowed it.
Thus are free speech and democracy destroyed in the name of protecting free speech and democracy! What could be more ingenious?!
Its also argued that private money should be banned from public debate because -- too much private money slants debate, it is said, and laws are need to level the playing field. This of course is bullshit.
People who have money are just as entitled to have their views expressed in public as those who don't -- if democracy has any meaning it is that anyone of whatever race, creed, colour or means is entitled to express their views, and should not be encumbered from doing so.
Taking money from those with one view of politics (while banning their own use of it in expressing those views) and giving it to those with opposing political views who wouldn't otherwise attract such support -- which is what state financing of political parties amounts to -- is wrong. It means that I, in my role as citizen and ripe suck, am required to pay for views that I vehemently oppose. And it means that I, in my role as subject and slave, must pay attention when my political betters tell me I may not freely express my own views.
That is just obscene. Voltaire's dictum is to defend the right of others to express views with which you disagree, not to provide them with a microphone, an advertising budget and a censor's office to bar views with which they disagree.
It's wrong to ban or limit free speech in election year, which in NZ is one-third of our lives. And it's wrong to ban private money from public debate. After all, if it were so easy for money to buy elections, why is the ACT Party the only party in the MMP era that has never been in government?
Bernard Darnton encapsulates the argument in a recent issue of The Free Radical:
Labour seems to have concluded that political speech is so important that no one else should be allowed to have any... The Clark Government is not just nibbling at the edges of free speech, they are engaged in both direct frontal assaul and deliberate flanking attacks on free speech [and democracy].I salute every single one of the two-thousand or so good honest and angry people who got off their arse in Auckland on Saturday to protest this obscenity, and I look forward to seeing that anger land on Parliament's steps on Wednesday with a loud and resounding bang.
... Political speech must be especially protected because it is in the political arena that all other freedoms must be protected. The Clark Government's assaults on free political expression must be resisted because if we fail to withstand this latest round of assaults, it may be illegal to resist the next.
Let us hear the outrage echo from one end of this beautiful country to another, and let's Kill This Bill.
UPDATE: Submitters to the Electoral Finance Bill, who were overwhelmingly against the Bill, were told effectively, "Don't worry. It'll be all right on the night. Changes in Select Committee will address your concerns."
Today those changes have been announced and the Bill as it is about to be rammed through can now be seen in detail. It can't have been easy to achieve but the Select Committee hasn't made it better -- as David Farrar summarises they’ve actually made it worse!
Read on here to see more details about the form in which the death of democracy is proposed.
Not content with regulating written political advocacy, they’ve extended the definitions to also include verbal political advocacy!
The Electoral Finance Bill now even regulates someone who gets up on a soap box and starts communicating to the public.
And while they have scrapped the ludicrous system of statutory declarations, they still treat a placard in a protest march as an election advertisement (if it targets a political party) and that placard will need your name and residential address on it.
Remember all those protesters outside the Labour Party Conference? They would all have been breaking the law if they didn’t have their name and address on their placards. The ones with the megaphones – they would be breaking the law if they didn’t announce over the megaphone their name and residential address each time they chanted.
And this is no drafting error. The select committee report makes it clear they have intentionally widened the scope to capture “the use of loudspeakers and megaphones”. Yes Labour, NZ First, United Future and the Greens have deliberately moved to regulate verbal political advocacy. What sort of parties and Governments are threatened by megaphones?
The term ecology was coined by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. He defined it as the science of the relationship between organisms and their environment. As a philosophy it came to regard any disturbance of or harm to the organisms as necessarily detrimental to the whole environment. In its modern guise, it makes no distinction even between inanimate and animate matter, effectively claiming that all of existence, has intrinsic value in its virgin form, and should be regarded as inviolate. This includes such entities as trees, rocks and mud puddles, all by this “reasoning” granted equal importance to living, breathing human beings.
In 1905, Haeckel the zoologist became Haeckel the President of the Monist League, dedicated to promoting the forcible imposition of ecological ideals. Its zeal paid off in Germany’s “Green Revolution” of the 1930s, which began under the banners of “Blood and Soil” and “Back to the Land” and ended up by invading Poland and destroying most of Europe, and much of the inhabited world.
The ecology movement hibernated after World War Two and re-emerged in America in the 1960s. Initially deriving popularity from concerns about the use of pesticides raised by Rachael Carson in Silent Spring – concerns that led to the banning of DDT and the consequent death of up to 55 million people due to the return with renewed virulence of malaria -- the ecologists, deep ecologists and their deeper red felow travellers who saw an opportunity went on to posit implausible doomsday scenarios which all required big and bigger government to remedy.
Reputable scientists and disreputable politicians joined in doubting man’s or the earth’s chances of making it to the year 2000. Undaunted by the non-advent of any of the promised apocalypse scenarios, the doomsday merchants are still at it – Global Warming having supplanted an imminent Ice Age – demanding a tax-spend-regulate binge in the interests of the eco-system.
New Zealand’s Resource Management Act is an answer to any ecologist’s prayer. It prohibits (without a resource consent):
any use, erection, reconstruction, placement, alteration, extension, removal or demolition of any structure in, on, under or over land;- – and it sets out the tortuous steps by which such a consent might be acquired and from whom.
any excavation, drilling, tunnelling, or other disturbance of any land;
any destruction of, or damage to, or disturbance of, plants or animals in, on, or under the land;
any deposit of any substance in, on, or under the land;
any other use of land whatsoever [!!]
As Ayn Rand points out, when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know your culture is doomed. The point should be obvious even to a product of today's education system.
It should be obvious enought that as a species human beings have a specific means of survival. The way we survive and (if we do well) flourish is not by renouncing ourselves or sacrificing to Gaia but by producing - by applying the mind to existence, transforming it for our own ends.
Thus are resources identified and produced: by application of our minds to this earth in the name of our own survival. It's said that resources themselves are finite, but that's not true. The human mind itself is the ultimate resource. Summarises Benjamin Marks in 'The Malthusian Trap,' it's possible to take seriously the warnings of the pessimists, but as George Reisman and Ludwig von Mises point out, "it comes true only under socialism" -- only under a system in which private property is banned, production is strangled and the tragedy of the commons remains in effect -- under a system of (non) production where the human mind is not able to read price signals and opportunities, and to adapt their own resources to suit.
Libertarians generally hold that there is a place for environmental laws, but that they must be based on the non-initiation of force principle. It is legitimate to protect human individuals from the enforced, involuntary ingestion of harmful substances, for example, but not legitimate to protect un-owned sand dunes from being “despoiled” by housing -– just one of the more absurd outcomes of the Resource Management Act.
Libertarians hold that the best answer to environmental concerns is the extension and better honouring of property rights through common law protection of private rights, whereby it would be unlawful to pollute, violate, or commandeer private property. Old ladies couldn’t be forced from their homes by government or local body fiat to make way for motorways or shopping malls; whole villages (of privately-owned houses) couldn’t be uprooted to make way for government mandated dams; private land couldn’t be invaded by a gold prospecting company or power lines with government backing – to cite some recent real-life examples.
Even trees, rocks, mud puddles and sand dunes would be inviolate if they are privately owned!
This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by NZ libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. The series itself is accumulating down on the right-hand sidebar, and in the archives here and here.
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Friday, 16 November 2007
It is sad that there often appears to be a direct negative correlation between the quality of a beer and the size of its advertising budget. Breweries spend billions of dollars a year trying to persuade people to become fanatically loyal to their products. A large proportion of them cannot make that appeal based on taste. This means they have to find other ways to sell beer.
With new restrictions meaning that you may not use either sex or sport to directly sell beer (though those boundaries are constantly pushed), humour has become the marketer’s weapon of choice.
Accordingly, I present some of my favourite beer advertisements. These recommendations should no way be construed as recommendations of the products. Quite the reverse actually… [Click either links or pics to play.]
Magic Fridge (right) – One of many Bud Light Super Bowl commercials. Tragically, the marketing budgets of every craft brewery in New Zealand put together could not buy even one second of air time at the Super Bowl. None the less, this is a great ad for a very poor beer.
Stubby Symphony – This is the VB ad which got me thinking about this topic. It was sent to me with an unexpectedly strong recommendation to watch. It is quite amazing – particularly since they apparently actually do it for real! The conductor at the end is priceless too.
I’m convinced the guy in it is vaguely famous but perhaps the funniest aspect are the comments which make it clear that some people still don’t get the (not overly subtle) joke.
The Big Ad (right) – A brilliant viral ad from Carlton though they must have taken a few digital short cuts. It reminds me of those old British Airways ads but with more random chaos. Great soundtrack too.
John will still be there. So should you.
The march gathers outside the Town Hall from ten o'clock, leaving to march down Queen St at ten thirty. Get down there to raise your voice against the rationing of political speech and the rorting of elections.
- - - - - - -
* John's father Owen Boscawen was my high school headmaster. I was very sorry to hear the news of his passing. My condolences to John and his family.
UPDATE: Liberty Scott asks an obvious question:
So can anyone tell me, plain and simple, what is wrong with letting free people decide how the express their views in campaigning in election year, as long as it isn't defamatory?Is your vote bought by someone's elaborate political campaigning? Or do you think before you vote?Or do you think that the vast majority of voters are stupid, and that spending lots of money on electoral advertising influences them in ways you don't like - and that there aren't enough people on your side of the argument willing to spend money to counter that?
Faced with the decision to either hire or fire, to either back them or sack them, they've decided not to decide. They've chosen to fudge. That's becoming the New Zealand way, isn't it. Indecision and marshmallow. No wonder we choked under pressure.
So who's your All Black coach? Graham Henry and the 'Three Wise Men' ? Or Robby Deans?
My own answer's in the comments.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Presented with the opportunity to nail their colours to the mast and issue a ringing condemnation of violence -- to come out against taking up arms against "the white man"; against a wish that "bullets start going through people"; against any suggestion of "a bombing campaign that blew up Waihopai spy base, power dams, gas facilities, TV stations and radios" and a terror campaign so sudden and so brutal "they'll think it's al Qaeda" -- what do the advocates for global peace and social justice do instead?
What do so called advocates of peace, equality, non-violence and non-racism do in the face of excerpts from transcripts of police surveillance showing those acting in the name of those aspirations prepared to carry out actions markedly less pacifist than their supposed aims?
The reaction from the fellow travellers is instructive.
Do they condemn? Do they hell.
They turn their heads away instead and whine about everything from our "racist" police force (who arrested three Maori out of seventeen who were charged) to "heavy handed" treatment of some suspects, to the publication of these oh so revealing transcripts -- but they have refused to condemn what's revealed in those transcripts.
That in itself is enormously revealing. Make no mistake, this is a litmus moment: a time when people who support the stated ends of those arrested can and should make make it clear that they are revolted by their chosen and now-stated means. But for the most part they aren't doing that, are they.
Even 'Bomber' Bradbury has invited them to, saying repeatedly:
"NO PEACE ACTIVIST - NO SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST HAS ANY RIGHT TO PICK UP A GUN IN NZ! And the second you do pick up a gun - you are no longer a member of a social justice movement."Would that others in that camp said the same. But they aren't, and we're entitled to make a judgement about what that means.
Instead of condemning the aspirations for blood lust, Keith Locke for example has come out against ... The Dominion. Given the Greens already called those arrested “Maori, peace and environmental activists,” with whom the Greens presumably see some common cause, it would appear there is prima facie evidence here that, for the Greens (or at least for Keith Locke), being a peace activist gives one carte blanche to cheer about murder. It wouldn't be the first time, would it.
And fellow traveller of many of those arrested Nandor Tanczos said a year ago that he had "spoken to people" who see a future of "permanent civil unrest and eventually when the demographics change enough, for outright war" and it "frightens the hell" out of him. Where is he now that when what frightened him is more public? Like Trevor Loudon, I'd like to think his silence indicates he's telling the police all he knows, no matter how minor it may seem. But I don't for moment think that's what the silence of this "mainstream environmentalist" indicates, do you?
Meanwhile Iti's lawyer Annette Sykes, the woman who twelve years ago called for the burning of forests and the blowing up of dams, and who "clapped and cheered" when 3000 people were murdered in destruction of the World Trade Center, is heading to the UN to seek "justice" for the people "terrorised" by the police carrying out search warrants, but not before condemning ... that's right, the publication of transcripts showing her client(s) for what they are.
And John Minto, co-organiser with many of those arrested of a ragbag of radical groups, found time to condemn as "despicable" ... what do you think? ... the media. Ne mention of how despicable it is to arm and train and plan for murder.
And Jamie Lockett's lawyer is equally outraged that the public might read for themselves the true nature of his client is joined by fellow lawyer Moana Jackson who is "appalled" -- appalled! -- at ... no, not at the revelations of violent hatred and blood lust but "the lack of journalistic responsibility" shown in telling the public what his client(s) are really like, and particularly that "Fairfax printed selective items from a huge volume of evidence." I doubt whether we should take that to mean that all the evidence should be made public.
And then there's dear old Peter Williams, QC, who's made a healthy living over the years from defending scum in court (and campaigning for a more comfortable stay in prison for the scum when they go down), who used the word "cowardly" yesterday when commenting on the transcripts. No, not the aspirations stated therein to "to kill Pakeha to get trainees used to killing" or "to assassinate the prime minister, the new one, next year's one." No, that wasn't what stated this officer of the court calls cowardly -- what he condemns as cowardly is the publication of these statements. That tells you as much about Mr Williams as you'd ever care to know.
And we're entitled to draw conclusions too from the likes of blogger Idiot Savant, who like Keith Locke condemns the publishing, condemning the aspirations of violence only elliptically with his comment on Jamie Lockett, and from TV3's John Campbell, who (as Lindsay Perigo identifies), "dismiss its significance because of the small number of people involved." Crikey, even Jordan Carter can find it within himself to express a little momentary distaste. But not I/S.
There's really only one of the usual suspects so far who emerges from this litmus test with a better colour. The Maori Party early on nailed their colours to those accused being angels, and Pita Sharples disgraced himself by quickly pulling out the race card and waving it in the face of the evidence, but he has at least said "Make no mistake - we are absolutely and categorically horrified by the threatening language we have read in the paper today."
Signs of hope, perhaps? It is at least an indication to some of these other fellow travellers the sort of response they now need to take, or to be judged accordingly.
For my own part, let me repeat what I've already said here:
There is a vast gulf between genuine civil disobedience and the "direct action" supported by so called peace activists and anarchists and anti-colonialists, and I for one find it instructive that defenders of the arrested seventeen wish to conflate the two. There is an unstated assumption that because the state so often uses force in promoting its values, that this somehow legitimises ragtag envy-ridden whiners using force to promote values. It doesn't. Two evils don't whitewash the fallacy. Ayn Rand makes the point as clear as it can be:Lindsay Perigo drives the point home:
One does not and cannot "negotiate" with brutality, nor give it the benefit of the doubt. The moral absolute should be: if and when, in any dispute, one side initiates the use of physical force, that side is wrong—and no consideration or discussion of the issues is necessary or appropriate.Clear enough for you?
The greatest good to come from the terror raids may not be the stopping of the terrorists in their tracks, excellent and noble though that certainly be, but the exposure of their vile apologists for what they are.[Thanks to Liberty Scott and Trevor Loudon, whose well-researched posts were invaluable in writing this one. Any errors of course are mine.]
UPDATE 1: The young idiots at Socialist Worker, whose "friends" was who were arrested, continue the theme. These erstwhile advocates of the rule of law condemn the "contempt for the judicial process" shown in exposing the extent of their friends' vileness, while carefully avoiding any judgement of what their friends were up to. If you think it's because they think you're stupid, then you'd be right.
UPDATE 2: Kudos for once to Shane Jones, who told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking:
I rather suspect that a lot of the characters mixed up in this rubbish up in Tuhoe and various other parts are using the cloak of Maoriness to disguise and obscure criminality and soon as the cops round the buggers up and treat them as criminals the better.
Nonetheless I did take some notice yesterday since, while political turmoil is all around in the form of urgent bills on Electoral Finance and Terrorism Suppression, speaker Margaret Wilson allowed a snap debate in Parliament on the whole affair -- and such an allowance from Speaker Wilson is such a rare occurrence that unicorns were spotted in Lambton Quay last time she gave her consent to such a departure. (Indeed, only Tuesday an urgent debate into the Decision of the Solicitor General [video] not to charge twelve people with terror offences was refused by this speaker)
Clearly then, the notion of the "political independence of the public service" is given some weight in the corridors of power. It's not, however, one that it possible to take seriously.
As Colin Espiner points out, "New Zealand just isn’t big enough to have the sort of politicised public service operated in countries such as the United States, where changes of governments lead to thousands of public servants losing their jobs." But this is only a partial answer, since the proper response is that if New Zealand just isn’t big enough to have the sort of politicised public service operated in countries such as the United State, then it's time New Zealand set out to have a markedly smaller public service -- and a very good thing that would be for all productive people, I can tell you.
Even the UK, whose model supposedly provides our own, bureaucrats are about as "independent" in their work as Yes Minister's Humphrey Appleby.
So until that happy time of cold winds and a rapidly shrinking pool of grey ones comes about, let's stop pretending that the bureaucracy is "politically independent." No bureaucrat can fail to have a political position, even if it's only the basic instinct of every bureaucrat to ensure that the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and the public service to gain ground -- a position for which they will find abundant support from virtually every incumbent parliamentary party, which is what not doubt ensures the "independence" of the grey ones.
And let's note, as I did yesterday, the most important thing to emerge from this whole waste of column inches, which is this: that the reason Madeleine Setchell was fired (or not-hired) from the Environment Ministry was because the Environment Ministry was ramping up for a big advertising push in election year in support of government policies on "sustainability," and since she was she was sleeping with a Tory her loyalties might not be altogether in the right place to conduct such a partisan campaign on behalf of the Labour Party.
The firing, in other words, was party political, just as next year's campaign by the Ministry will be.
It rather highlights the iniquity of the Clark Government's pair of bills to gag electoral opponents while giving them open access to the taxpayers' wallet and the promotional resources of government departments. That issue is really the only one of importance to be raised in this 'Setchell' affair. That is really where media attention should be paid, not to this fiction of political independence.
Like I say, there's no other reason to pay any attention to the sacking of another bureaucrat. At any other time it would be something to celebrate. Madelein Setchell is no more important in the Setchell affair than Captain Albert Dreyfus was in the Dreyfus Affair. What's important is what their experience exposes.
If only he'd take the strong hint.
Protest March: Auckland this Saturday 17 November from the Auckland Town Hall at 10.30am (assemble from 10am) Protest: Wellington next Wednesday, 21 November, for a march on Parliament.
This is to invite you to stand up and be counted.
John Boscawen is organising marches in Auckland and Wellington to protest the Labour-led Government's attack on democracy.
The Electoral Finance Bill is designed to curb political activity.
With help from the Greens and United Future, Labour and NZ First are about to ram through a law to gag free speech. Political speech is about to be rationed.
This is over vociferous objection from the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society, Grey Power and concerned citizens from every sector of New Zealand society.
The plan is to give Labour freedom to say what it likes in election year, and to gag everyone else.
Once this Gagging Bill goes through - possibly as soon as next week - it will be against the law for me to send emails such as this.
That's why the Human Rights Commission talks about a "chilling" impact on democracy.
That's why this is a Gagging Bill by any other name and must be stopped. Join the marches
If you want to help contact John@boscawen.co.nz John@boscawen.co.nz
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
On that basis, assuming 35% of the population aren't lying through their teeth, then as a friend notes we can safely predict a Libertarianz led coalition next year.
Pathetic. How do antediluvians like this survive in the world?
First point: Fonterra's business is Fonterra's business, not Mr Woolerton's. Second point: So what if "foreign owners" hold shares in Fonterra? Will they suddenly start shipping farm land offshore? Or will they instead bring in much needed capital to the under-capitalised NZ farming industry. Third point, made so succinctly by Cactus Kate:
Farming has become far too big business for small fry. Present family included, long are the days that a family should slave its way through farming... Farms are now multi-million dollar businesses. What city dwelling young University educated person believes and expects they should be set up in a multi-million dollar business? Why should Nationalistic romantics like those in NZ First claim farm ownership as some kind of natural Kiwi birthright? It's a notion that is long gone... Corporate ownership of all New Zealand farms is inevitable and should be welcome. It would make the operation of 'Fongterra' far simpler.Postscript: Cactus has a farm she's willing to sell. "Chinese buyers most welcome."
UPDATE: The usually perceptive Bernard Hickey comments:
It’s fantastic to see the board of Fonterra take a big risk and put the idea of a stockmarket float to its farmer shareholders. It will be tough to get across the 75% threshold for success, but it’s worth a try.Read on here: Why Fonterra Must Float and Become a Kiwi Nokia.
Dairy farmers are inherently conservative and are deeply attached to the idea of a cooperative. More importantly, they are deeply sceptical about the idea of townies in shiny suits (or even worse, foreigners in shiny suits) owning their dairy company.
Fonterra is on the brink of a global boom in demand for fresh dairy products from equally booming middles classes in India, Brazil and China. It has a once in a lifetime opportunity to build farms, factories and brands in these other markets to sell fresh milk and yoghurt to these middle classes. But it can’t afford the $5 billion needed to do it without outside capital. The proposal to sell 20% of Fonterra to outside investors seems sensible and restrained. The restrictions on individual stakes being no more than 10% and on the cooperative owning no less than 50.1% may even convince the doubters.
I really hope they do. I grew up on a dairy farm and I’m guessing my Dad doesn’t agree with me. All I would do would be to point him to the example of Nokia and Finland back in the early 1990s...
Feel free to comment as you're reading.
UPDATE 1: Short summary (partly pinched from Liberty Scott) of bugged conversations:
- Threat to blow up John Key
- Calls to kill police and evict non-Maori farmers;
- Talk of using a sniper's rifle to assassinate US President Bush;
- Making nail bombs and napalm;
- How to throw Molotov cocktails;
- Live ammunition training in ambush and withdrawal;
- Interrogation training using loaded firearms pointed at trainees' heads;
- Blowing up power stations, gas plants, Telecom, petrol stations and the Waihopai Spy Station;
- "Kill Pakehas" for practice;
- Wanting to emulate the IRA's terror campaign;
- Using the "Al Qaeda manual" on terror tactics, and wanting to emulate Al Qaeda's horror.
- This is not the full evidence, simply short and selective summaries of the 156-page affidavit used to obtain search warrants in the Manukau District Court. Should the Dom have published these few excerpts? Should they have published more? Or placed the whole document on their website?
- Were the police justified in their surveillance? In the level of force used in raids? Did they act too soon? Or two days too late?
- Any evidence here to justify charges of police racism?
- To what extent were these conversations just idle threats and throwaway remarks? How seriously should the police take "idle threats" when they're backed up with training, materiel and people motivated enough to carry them out?
- Is it obvious enough now why the defendants, their lawyers and the Minto Mob did all they can to keep all the evidence suppressed?
- "Peace" activists? If these were your "friends," would you be defending them?
- "I have nothing to hide," said Tame Iti on returning home. Really?
- How seriously should we take John Minto, Jane Kelsey, Nandor Tanczos et al who sat in court listening to these conversations being read out, and still insisted that there was nothing to answer for?
- How seriously should we take journalists who sat in court listening to these conversations being read out, and who still treated Tame Iti as a hero, and the rest of the rabble with kid gloves?
UPDATE 3: Lindsay Perigo praises the Dom for growing a pair:Go on, it's time for Keith Locke to express his view, as a self proclaimed peace campaigner now that evidence is out. It is time for the Maori Party to decide what it believes in - do you oppose political violence? Do you oppose murder? Do you oppose mass vandalism to destroy the economy? Do you oppose violent evictions of farmers from their private property? Or is your support for peace about as skin deep as your support for freedom? At least Maia inadvertently may be quite true in her post, as a friend of the fascist left.Oh, and when you see the hikoi supporting those who support terrorism, you might tell them what you think of them. Methinks those on the hikoi might go home and reflect on who their friends are.
"The Dominion Post's decision to take the 'publish and be damned' approach I yesterday urged on TV3 toward the evidence on which the police anti-terror raids were based is vindicated by the evidence thus revealed," says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo. "So are the raids themselves. And TV3 are exposed yet again as the abject fellow-travellers of those whom I have so rightly been calling the 'wannabe terrorists.'Read the whole press release here.
When people crow to the Fed to lower interest rates and make larger sums of money more accessible, argued Paul, they're not really asking for the interest rates to be lowered; they're asking for the government to print more money.All too true, and much the same here in New Zealand where the Reserve Bank has inflated the currency year on year by around fifteen percent -- and this is in a bid to reduce inflation!
"But they never ask you, and I don't hear you say too often, 'The only way I can lower interest rates is I have to create more money. I have to lower the discount rate, I have to make it generous, I have to increase reserves, I have to lower the interest rates and fix the interest rates.'"
Later, Paul called it "a fallacy" that made the dollar "weaker" and "invites inflation."
"It is that not only have we had a subprime market in housing; the whole economic system is sub prime," Paul railed. "We artificially lower interest rates. And it wasn't under your tenure in office; it's been going on for 10 years and longer and now we're bearing the fruits of that policy." Paul argued the government shouldn't be concerning itself with deceptive lending practices but with its deceptive monetary policy.
Paul is the only American politician who understands the economists' injunction that "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Such a shame he's also a supporter of conspiracy nuts, and a total flake on foreign affairs.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
The Herald has drawn criticism for not being "neutral" in taking against Clark's democracy rationing.. But objective journalism does not mean neutrality. The premise here is that if you have a point of view, then you can't be objective. But as Paul Blair explains, "that's just plain false."
An objective report gives the audience all the information needed to draw a valid conclusion... But facts lead to conclusions. Just because one doesn't want to accept those conclusions doesn't make the facts wrong or the presentation nonobjective: rather, the person who resists the logical conclusion is the one who lacks objectivity... Being objective means recognizing that not everybody's point of view is equally valid or deserves equal respect.Over to you, critics.
Writing about the onslaught of modernism back when was it first fashionable in Manhattan -- that is, back before retro was 'retro' -- Tom Wolfe described being constantly inflicted with photos of THAT apartment. It was always the same one ..-
Every respected instrument or architectural opinion and cultivated taste, from Domus to House & Garden, told the urban dwellers of America that this was living. This was the good taste of today; this was modern, and soon the International style became known simply as modern architecture. Every Sunday, in its design section The New York Times Magazine ran a picture of the same sort of apartment. I began to think of it as THAT apartment. A glass and steel box in which "the walls were always pure white and free of mouldings, casings, baseboards and the rest... Somewhere near there was always a palm or a dracena fragrance or some other huge tropical plant, because [the apartment] and all the furniture was so lean and clean and bare and spare that without some prodigous piece of frondose Victoriana from the nursery the place looked absolutely empty. The photographer always managed to place the plant in the foreground so that the stark scene beyond was something one peered at through an arabesque of equatorial greenery. (And that apartment is still with us every Sunday.)They went away for a while, but I have to tell you that apartment and the lounge that goes with it are back and flourishing in contemporary NZ architecture! And instead of the palms, rubber plants and prodigious pieces of frondose Victoriana used to transform the photographed starkness, these soulless contraptions rely on the stunning New Zealand landscape to breathe into them the life the architect failed to.
I kid you not. You see it in every issue of every NZ architecture magazine -- you see it so often you have to check the cover to make sure it's a new issue, and the caption to make sure it hasn't been designed a continent away and sixty years ago.
So I opened a recent book Architecture: Inspired by New Zealand with excitement. I should tell you that the book (and the architecture) has grand aspirations. It promises
another look at the New Zealand landscape through the eyes of NZ architects, photographers and writers. [Twenty-two] buildings have been juxtaposed alongside images of nature and are accompanied by ideas about the notion of site ... [and] collected together as examples of how each unique environment has inspired the architect to produce a different solution as to how a house can interact with the landscape as well as accommodate contemporary modes of living.Inspire, by the way, means "to imbue or animate (with); to infue or instil (as emotion in or into)..."
Had I somehow missed a new breed of exciting New Zealand architects truly inspired by our breathtaking and ever-changing landscapes and integrating architecure and landscape? Were there perchance some overlooked gems that were a grace instead of disgrace to their beautiful local locations? Were there some New Zealand architects inside who were truly inspired by the almost God-given beauty of this country of ours? All too sadly I have to say that, with just a few very near exceptions (houses by Melling + Morse and Ron Sang and Felicity Wallace and even Pete Bossley contrive to break the mould somewhat), no, there weren't.
Instead, what appears to be the same house in all essentials is dropped into twenty different settings -- settings you would kill to design for -- and author Amanda Hyde de Krester (PhD) accompanies pictures of these places with telling phrases such as "the architect has designed a vantage point from which landscape is viewed as art," and "the site is an expectant reality, always awaiting the event of construction, through which its otherwise hidden attributes will appear," and" the architecture interacts with the landscape not in a deferential way, but by framing and contrasting it," and "the house has been designed to present the landscape to its occupants perfectly."
Closer inspection reveals that for the most part the landscape has been "presented to its occupants" by the simple expedient of framing up a box and then wrapping it in glass, and that while sometimes the house wears a different hat or a different shirt, once all all the candy floss and artifice is stripped away, at the very heart of these places is almost always that lounge. A picture window with a flat ceiling, downlights and a view. A gorgeous view. But of integration of architecture and view (let alone inspiration or animation) there is none, if any.
All the photos shown here bar one are from the award-winning houses in that book. And I assure you, they really are all different houses, not just the same one at different times of the day ...
Of the twenty-two houses inside, then, nearly twenty of them are substantially the same house -- glass boxes whose "dialogue" with the unique landscape in which they've been dropped consists of a bare "pardon me" as they push their way in and sit silent -- a series of glass boxes all too open to the heat and glare of the afternoon sun, with -- at their heart -- as their culmination -- a flat-ceilinged box with glass walls, expensive furniture and nowhere to put your drink. That lounge! At the very place in which you expect to find the very heart and soul of the house, that place in which the occupants can engage daily with each other and that unique landscape that's all around them, you find instead an antiseptic airless and soulless box where the sun is an enemy and "the view" has been treated as just so much wallpaper, and the occupants as so many props for a one-off magazine shoot.
I swear you can almost hear these places echo -- and most likely with the saddest sound of all: the sounds of what might have been...
Far from "different solutions" that have been "inspired" by the unique landscapes in which they're located, instead of buildings that grace instead of disgrace their locations, that connect the people within to the beauty without by means more artful than just window walls and a sliding door (and some curtains to keep out the inevitably overpowering afternoon sun), you would think by comparing them that the twenty architects were all reading the same magazines, and that those magazines were telling them how to suck the very life out of a site. And you might well be right.
The lesson is that it takes more than some grand talk, koru patterns and a glass box to "interact" with and be inspired by the New Zealand landscape.
Contrast this sterility with the approach of NZ architects like John Scott and Harry Turbott and Claude Megson -- or with the designer of the rugged beauty I spotted manfully riding the wild hills out at Bethell's Beach on Sunday -- who were able to almost artlessly drop a house in a setting and immediately bring the landscape outside alive, and even reflect it in the spaces inside (above and below).
Or contrast it with architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright with his Prairie houses and his Usonian houses and his Californian 'textile block' houses; his houses for deserts and waterfalls and clifftops; for the rolling hills of Wisconsin (above and below), the lakes of Tahoe and the earthquake-prone landscapes of Japan ... which are of the site instead of on it, their addition making the landscape sing and the occupants with them.
Or contrast it to the Japanese idea and techniques of Shakkei, of 'borrowing scenery' to bring the view inside and 'capture it alive,' instead of sitting there in your glass box with your blinds drawn or glass tinted and the view floating outside like a butterfly pinned to a cushion.
Or contrast it to what an honest New Zealand house anchored in the New Zealand landscape might be like: a truly New Zealand house using honest materials and honestly responding to the New Zealand experience and the New Zealand landscape, instead of simply recycling glass and steel knock-offs of something that didn't really work fifty years ago.
That lounge really has to go.
"Only the cowboys need to be afraid of the new Building Regulations."Really?
Clayton Cosgrove, Minister for Building Issues, 24 April 2006
"An investigation has been launched after twenty one health and safety experts had to be rescued when their office collapsed during a meeting.":-)
Royal Institute of British Architects Legal e-bulletin no.137, 1 March 2006
O Rotha, with thy living wave!
Sing him thy best! for few or none
Hears thy voice right, now he is gone.
- Matthew Arnold
Sang Tom Waits: "Warm beer and cold women, I just don't fit it in." Obviously what Tom needs is a Huski.
Mr Hodgson is my hero.
The IPCC’s website makes the point with this ad (using a fantastic Santiago Calatrava design to attract attention):
As Tony Gillard at Sp!ked Online says, "Who could possibly argue with such an array of international expertise all in agreement with one another?" Who indeed?
Even skeptics like Bjorn Lomborg have accepted the line. Writing in the Boston Globe in praise of the IPCC's Nobel Prize he said that the Nobel Peace Prize
‘justly rewards the thousands of scientists of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ who are ‘engaged in excellent, painstaking work that establishes exactly what the world should expect from climate change.So the claim is "thousands" of scientists? Is that really true?
According to a study done by Melbourne scientist John McLean from NZ's Climate Science Coalition, there are not thousands of scientists, or even hundreds of scientists endorsing the warmist mantra. After
an extensive analysis of the recent report of Working Group 1 of the Fourth Assessment Report by the IPCC, he found in the critical Chapter 9 there were only five reviewers who explicitly endorsed the claim that humans have a significant influence on climate, none of whom had impeccable credibility.Not thousands. Not hundreds. Just five. Says McLean in his full report [27-page pdf]
The review of the Working Group 1 report was far less intense than the IPCC has implied.As Tony Gillard at Sp!ked comments,
The critical chapter, that which attributed recent warming to human activity, was reviewed by 54
- - 308 reviewers examined the chapters of the Second Order Revision (i.e. penultimate draft) of the Working Group 1 report, with the average number of reviewers per chapter being 67 (minimum 34, maximum 100).
- - 214 reviewers (69%) commented on two chapters or less and 60 reviewers averaged fewer than 3 comments for all chapters they examined
- - Only 5 reviewers, specifically 3 individual reviewers and 2 government reviewers, commented on all chapters and just 49 reviewers (16%) made more than 50 comments in total...
individual and 8 government representatives but almost 1/3rd of reviewers made just one
Just 7 reviewers of that chapter appear to be independent and impartial but 5 of those made just
- - 37 of the 54 had a vested interest in the report, as editors or having papers cited
- - 26 authored or co-authored papers cited in the final draft
- - 10 reviewers explicitly mentioned their own papers in their review
one comment for the entire chapter.
Just 5 reviewers explicitly endorsed the chapter in which it was claimed that humans have a
significant influence on climate but not one of those 5 has impeccable credibility.
There is scant evidence of any support for the IPCC's contention that anthropogenic emissions of
carbon dioxide have caused warming...
Such a tally does not itself demonstrate a faulty peer review process. However, McLean certainly seems to have a point when he draws attention to the gap between the perception the IPCC wishes to create of thousands of scientists in unity in one report, and the reality of a report comprised of many distinct parts, each contributed to and commented on by a far smaller number of scientists with knowledge of a specific field...UPDATE: Here's an opportunity that doesn't arise every day. If you're in Christchurch today you get to enjoy New Zealand Cup Day (and for the first time in forty-odd years there's going to be some rain -- due no doubt to global warming), but if you're in Wellington later this evening you can go to Te Papa and make fun of Al Bore's slide show, being presented by Australian "social researcher" Randall Pearce. Report here.
McLean argues that ‘simple corrections, requests for clarifications or refinements to the text which did not challenge the IPCC’s conclusions are generally treated favourably, but comments which dispute the IPCC’s claims or their certainty are treated with far less indulgence’. He concludes that ‘the notion of hundreds of experts diligently poring over all chapters of the report and providing extensive feedback by way of peer review to the editing teams is here demonstrated to be an illusion’.
Pearce, who was hand-picked by the Bore to be a "messenger" of the warmist message, promises "a strong focus on New Zealand" in this version, which apparently includes a retraction of The Goracle's fatuous assertion that "climate refugees" are flooding into New Zealand.
If you're going along to heckle, then you've got the nine "errors" found by the British court to look for, the "thirty-five" inconvenient truths found by Christopher Monckton, or the 120 one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or wrong assertions that Marlo Lewis points out in his 'Skeptics Guide to An Inconvenient Truth.'
Should be a good night. Who needs fireworks.