Friday, February 01, 2008

Beer O'Clock: Bill Shakespeare & beer

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A more contemplative Beer O'Clock for you this avo.  "Wot's 'contemplative' mean?" you ask?  If you do have to ask, let me warn you this post is probably not for you.

This week we celebrate the connection between beer and Bill Shakespeare.  If you ask this time, "Wot connection?" then this post is very definitely worth pursuing.  You see, according to new friend George Light (who writes at the NeverMind Aesthetic blog), your basic garden ale was "the little drink that made the glories of the English stage possible."

shakespeare_narrowweb__300x322,2 Without beer, no Bill (not least because his father was an official ale-taster, which meant sitting around in leather keks to test the quality of beer).  So not only no beer, no Bill - it also turns out that without Bill, no beer. 

You see, Elizabethan pubs hosted entertainment for the same reason that today's pubs host karaoke: because it pulled in the punters.  The strolling players of Will Shakespeare's troupe performed the same function then that gigging guitarists do today: and it was William Shakespeare who wrote the very best material for those players.  It was Shakespeare's stuff that brought in the punters that allowed the world's first commercial brewers to prosper.

drink.tg1All  hail The Bard!

If this astonishes those of you who take their theatrical performances only with "a glass of wheet ween, darling,"' then let George tease out the historical implications of all this for you. Theatre began, he says, "as a physical extensions of drinking establishments, with inn-yards being utilised as the first semi-permanent sites of theatre..."

Turns out William Shakespeare made of a lot of early brewers very happy.  And turns out today's theatre-goers have more to thank yesteryear's ale drinkers than they might realise.

This weekend, raise a glass to old Bill --  and to learn much, much more about beer, The Bard, and the Elizabethan ale and beer wars, download and consume George Light's 'Beer & the Bard' here [pdf].  "For a quart of ale is a dish for a King!" as the Bard himself once said.  And as his own King Henry said ... "I would give all my fame for a pot of ale." A very wise king indeed.

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Shortage, thy name is socialism

Water's running short, electricity's on the blink, hospitals are crumbling, schools aren't working, and -- as school students head back next week --- roads are once again getting gridlocked.  Can you see the common factor in all of the above listed shortages?  (For those too dim to turn the lights on, the government 'owns' them all.)

Meanwhile those who endorse government ownership of the means of production continue to denounce the rampant consumerism, overflowing shelves and abundant prosperity produced by the engines of capitalism, however much the forces of capitalism remain shackled by their lacklustre heroes.

S'funny, isn't it.  'Privatisation' is too horrifying a word for the Blue Team to even contemplate, yet failure is the leading result of the unfortunately leading alternative.

It's a funny old world.  It's like prosperity and abundance are bad things.

The only abundance that rampant government meddling ever seems to produce is rising interest rates consequent on government's grip on banking, exploding house prices consequent on the grip of government planners over house building, exploding compliance costs for every business consequent on rapidly rising regulations and impositions, and steadily rising  youth crime consequent on several generations of failed government programmes (one in particular),  ... yet the only unshackling from government proposed by any of the mainstream political parties is, when the tax burden upon us is at another historic high, very timid, almost derisory cuts in the amount governments plan to steal from us.

Meanwhile, you lot just sit back and vote for more of the same, and nod sagely as you say "that's all one can really do, you know."  You make me sick.

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Dullards behind blackouts ahead

New Zealand's power generation is in crisis. At a time when the country faces imminent blackouts it's worth reminding ourselves that the government's latest 'energy strategy' sees the construction of reliable new coal and gas plants banned, the recommissioning of new coal and gas plants put on hold, the construction of new hydro schemes made well-nigh impossible, and almost complete reliance on near non-existent "renewables" and the fickleness of wind generation for the extra capacity so urgently needed (and even Jeanette Fitzsimons is giving up on wind power).

The threat of blackouts is the product of the extraordinarily bad energy policies followed by the governments of the last twenty years, and of the even worse strategy they intend to follow in the next ten.

The energy strategy for the next decade is endorsed by both major political parties.  It is not so much a strategy for more energy as it is an anti-industrialist's manifesto.  New Zealand's power generation is in crisis -- it's in crisis because politics has trumped prosperity, and because the country's voting public just doesn't care.

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Nothing to see ... no principles, no ideas ... (updated)

John Key's National Party announced the first wave of their strategy for Election Year 2008 yesterday: they're going to outflank Labour on the left. In 2005 Don Brash's National party called interest-free student loans "an irresponsible election bribe."  Yesterday Key's Labour-Lite endorsed the irresponsible election bribe, and added a further ten percent.  Story here.

                             Interest Free Student Loans - Labour Too

2008: the year of the 'me-too' election.

UPDATE 1:  It's said that the interest-free student loans policy would be "too difficult to unpick."  Not at all.  As a few commenters here have suggested -- and as has been Libertarianz policy for some time -- all that's necessary is to sell the loan agreements off to whoever wants them, at whatever mark down bidders think is workable.  Let them "unpick" what should never have been knitted in the first place.

UPDATE 2: Speaking of centrist mush ... on the back of John Boy's nine questions to Helen the other day, SOLO's Lance Davey has ten right back at him.  Just to remind you, John Boy's original nine questions were:

  1. Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
  2. Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
  3. Why, under Labour, do we get a tax cut only in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
  4. Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
  5. Why can't our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
  6. Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
  7. Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
  8. Why hasn't the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
  9. Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Good questions all, but as I pointed out the other day, John Boy has no more answers than Helen does -- so as Lance says, given National's well earned reputation as Labour-Lite let's ask:

  1. Why, after eight years of Labour, have we heard National whine about high interest rates - but never once offer a plausible alternative solution?  Not once.
  2. How exactly would the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world stop getting bigger and bigger under your stewardship, if all you are offering is Labour-Lite?
  3. How will tax cuts be either affordable or practical under your regime, given how scared you are of the dreaded "P" word (privatisation), your unwillingness to countenance serious steps to roll back the welfare state, and no meaningful plans whatsoever to cut government spending beyond "attacking waste" -- which every opposition party since time began promises, but none ever elected ever achieves?
  4. Do you recognise that with grocery and petrol prices already going through the roof, your stated goal to "reduce carbon emissions" to an even greater extent than Labour will send the price of groceries and petrol even further skyward?
  5. Are you aware that in several recent reports the blame for high housing costs was laid squarely at the feet of over-regulation? Do you remember who it was that introduced the worst of these regulatory laws, the Resource Management Act?  Since you weren't in the country then, let me remind you: it was National. Or who administered it without change for nine years and two elections? Let me remind you again: it was National -- and, for five of those years, National's present environment spokesthing Nick Smith.  "Far reaching environmental legislation" Smith calls the RMA.
  6. Do you realise that one in five Kiwi kids who left school under the last National Government left with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills as well?  Do you know that nothing tangible has changed on that score since your own sorry stewardship?  And why, under your own proposed regime, will four in five New Zealand children still be forced to endure indoctrination by the state at the factory schools responsible for NZers' grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills? And why are the so called 'educationalists' responsible for that tragedy not already on your hit list?
  7. Why does National buy into the nonsense of man-made Global Warming anyway?
  8. If the health system hasn't improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it, will National dare do the right thing and work to privatise health? Or will it keep flogging the same die-while-you-wait horse?
  9. What would your government do, John, to fight the causes of violent crime?  With most of those responsible for violent crime having been scarred with illiteracy caused by the state's factory schools, what do you propose to do about that?  With the modern rise in violent crime having been largely congruent with the time that the unwanted children of DPB recipients came to adolescence, what do you propose to do about that? What do you propose to do about the police spending more time doing over innocent people for driving fast -- or smacking their kids -- or defending themselves against violence -- than they in addressing real crime?  For arresting and incarcerating more and more  New Zealanders guilty only of victim-less crimes, when so many real criminals and real crimes with real victims are left un-addressed?  What will you do about all the anti-individualist and quasi-socialist statist busybodies that infest your own party (people like Jaqui Dean, the daft bint crusading against any "think of the children" cause thrust under her ignorant, self-serving nose) and about all the soaring state interference at the personal level of what you can, can't, must and should not consume, do or think?  What will you do to end the nannying?
  10. In short, what exactly will you do to work towards your party's purported goal of minimising the government and keeping them out of our lives?

Any further questions?  Any chance, do you think, of any plausible answers -- any at all -- either now or in the months to come?

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Second Jacobs House - Frank Lloyd Wright

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shintbw1Wright designed the first house for journalist Herbert Jacobs and his wife in 1936 -- it was the first of Wright's 'Usonian' houses, costing $5500 including architect's fee.

  The Jacobs family loved their first house so much that when they moved in 1942 in order to get away from the town that was sprawling out to meet them Jacobs-BW(Wright's advice when first the bought -- which they didn't take -- was to buy out as far as they could afford, then go out just a litle bit further)  they commissioned another Wright house, and once again he produced a 'first.' 

This time it was what he called a double-storey 'solar hemicycle' for the northern American prairies; tucked down behind an earth berm to protect it from freezing northerlies, shdaeriaand opening up to the south on both ground floor and mezzanine to sun and gardens and a pool half-inside and half-outside.

The Jacobs family built the house themselves, and by their own account lived a charmed life there.

Jacobs-Plan Jacobs-section

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Paying no-hopers to breed produces ....

Here's another government disaster we're now all paying for:  The tremendous rise in youth crime.  The explosion in youth crime since the early eighties is largely due to people being paid by the government to have children they don't want.

Paying people to have children they didn't want started in the early seventies.  By the early eighties those children were old enough to make other people's lives a nightmare, and the violent crime statistics much larger.

Think about it.  What sense is it being forced to pay no-hopers to breed, and then wondering why their progeny go wrong?

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Illiterates still sadly surging forth. Ambulances positioned firmly at cliff base.

First, a quote from earlier in the week: “Education in the government's factory schools is pumping out an ever-increasing number of functionally illiterate and unemployable youths - good for nothing beyond stuffing a ballot box." - Peter Osborne

And a cartoon (from The Free Radical):

               New_Maths

And now, some good news.  The Government appears to have accepted the bad news that "the literacy level of about 800,000 workers is such that they might struggle to transfer printed information to an order form - a deficiency cited as a factor stifling the country's economic growth" -- and, not incidentally, blighting the lives and futures of  at least 800,00 New Zealanders.  Story here. Puff piece here.

The bad news is, first, that according to Pete Hodgson, it is businesses who will be expected to teach their own workers reading, writing and maths "under a complex new plan to raise the skills of the workforce." 

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly - who, with Government and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, is part of the new Skill New Zealand Forum developing the plan - [said he] didn't want a "bureaucratic nightmare" for business [but] "We've got a problem in terms of functional illiteracy and innumeracy in our workplaces. We are poor by world standards," said Mr O'Reilly.

At least it means the schools responsible for this disaster won't be getting their hands back on the evidence of their resounding failure.   But the further bad news however, completely un-addressed by this "complex new plan," is that the factory schools that churned out this horde of functional illiterates continue to sail on regardless.  One in five of the New Zealanders who attended those schools for ten years or more failed to attain the most basic of life skills, yet nothing about that revelation will cause any sort of re-examination by those responsible. 

That is outrageous.  It would happen in no other line of endeavour except one monopolised by the state.

Those who continue to insist that the state simply must take charge of primary and secondary education might pause to consider what this figure shows about the efficacy and content of what those factory schools have been and are continuing to delivering -- in recent years it's been mostly bullshit, mush and toxic swill.   If you thought they were primarily teaching literacy and numeracy, you were obviously very much mistaken -- it's mostly about the seven-lesson inculcation of servitude.

If you ever thought that appalling figures such as these would get the planners behind the factory schools asking themselves serious questions about their plans and their success rate (or lack thereof), then you've been  hoodwinked.  And if you ever wondered whether a private organisation with failure of this magnitude would be able to get away with it, then I have a bridge I can sell you.

The tragedy of wholesale illiteracy and innumeracy must be laid firmly at the door of the mandarins responsible for the method of teaching and the content of what is taught at the state's indoctrination centres.  It is not enough to pick up the lives of those blighted by those mandarins years later.  It is essential that those responsible are urgently removed from the responsibility of filling up further young minds, and be placed where they are never in such a position again.

As every year a new horde of young New Zealanders surges forth into the world, one in five of whom  after ten years of factory schooling are unable to function in the modern world, the situation becomes ever more urgent.  Don't just wring your hands in impotent despair at the tragedy.  Don't just bewail the youngsters' sorry futures.  Don't just join me in hammering the factory schools.   Join me in going in there and taking them all back

          Ministry_of_Miseducation

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Seth Peterson Cottage - Frank Lloyd Wright (updated)

                               mlsethp06

Designed in 1958 when Wright was ninety and described has having “more architecture per square foot than any other building Wright ever designed,” this tiny (88sqm) one-man cottage is a jewel.

peterson The Seth Peterson Cottage in Mirror Lake, Wisconsin, is one of eight Wright locations you can rent, along with:

spcfloorplan50 lodge

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NOT in support of murder

I must confess I'm disturbed by the many messages of support and sympathy I've seen around the place for the fifty-year old murderer of Pihema Cameron, a man who knifed the fifteen-year old for the offence of tagging his Manurewa fence. This wasn't self-defence, for which he'd have my support. He didn't drag the young tagger from his fence and discipline him, for which he might have my sympathy. He didn't just chastise him, which he certainly deserved. Instead he chased him three-hundred metres down the road and stabbed him through the heart. That's not self-defence -- the only legal defence available to him. That looks more like murder.

For tagging his fence, he murdered him.

I just don't understand how people can support murder.

Now I don't know the murdered youngster from a hole in the ground -- which is where he is now -- but when I was Pihema's age I must confess to having tagged a building or two around South Auckland. I'm not proud of it. It wasn't smart. But I grew up. Pihema Cameron never will.

I just don't understand how people can his support murder.

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The Minto myth (updated)

Poneke explains why John Minto was one of the heroes of his formative years, and why he is no longer.

A good read, and topical, since Minto has made news for refusing to accept the South African award of the Order of Companions of Oliver Tambo, reserved for “eminent foreign nationals and other foreign dignitaries for friendship shown to South Africa.”

Yet was the award even offered?  As Liberty Scott has spotted, Reuters says he was never offered the award in the first place.  A statement from the office of the President of South Africa states:

  The Presidency has noted publication of an open letter addressed to President Thabo Mbeki written by Mr. John Minto of New Zealand.
   In the letter, Mr. Minto claims, amongst other things, to have been nominated for the prestigious Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.In this regard, the Presidency wishes to place it on record that Mr. Minto has not, as a matter of fact, been nominated as a candidate for any of our national orders.

Minto is no hero.  He's a destructive fool and a liar.

UPDATE: From Liberty Scott:

Minto has now been reported in the Dominion Post as saying "South African sports minister Reverend Makhenkesi (Arnold) Stofile told him at his home last year he had been nominated for the award." Oh so no letter John? No written evidence? Funny that. Given this is a man who once said the death of the Kahui twins was "society's" fault, it's no surprise that he has his own portable reality generator. I guess a journalist will now interview the South African sports minister ... his contact details are here.

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Sort out your own stables first

A few people around the traps have been talking these last few days about 'pop econ' books like Steven Leavitt's 'Freakonomics' and Tim Harford's 'Underground Economist' that purport to take economic reasoning from the arid realms of economic analysis and apply it to everything from the use of toilet paper to the impact of abortion on inner city crime.

For all the pleasure to be had in reading them, and the huge sales of these books show how much fun there is in them, wouldn't it be better if instead of applying economic reasoning to other people's fields, these economists first sort out their own

While revealing what their economics has to say about your nail clippings and the 'hidden' effect of what your mother calls you when you're born -- in other words, things of almost total irrelevance --  these so-called economists seem to have been blithely unaware as the meddling of the world's great central bankers brought about the world's great credit crunch.

When most economists miss such an obvious blunder, when they struggle to understand the very basics of their own profession -- including where money comes from and what causes recessions and inflation and even how to properly define them -- it's clear the economists' own stables still need seriously mucking out. Until that's done, (if I may mix a metaphor) perhaps they'd better stick to their knitting instead of advising on it.

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Read more about this book...

UPDATE: Here's an example: while 'mainstream' economists write 'pop econ' books and promote the need to for 'fiscal stimulus' -- in other words, more easy credit to mop up the problems caused the earlier wads of easy credit -- the more sensible chaps have asked themselves a few serious questions, and formed a Coalition against Fiscal Stimulus [hat tip Paul Walker].

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Plan Red for youngsters

This year's early political football is shaping up to be sixteen to eighteen year olds.   Problems with literacy, numeracy and youth crime have become so obvious even the politicians can't ignore them.  They labour, however, under the delusion they can fix them.  Both red team and blue team have a plan, one they hope will cement their place on the treasury benches, whatever its effect on the young people they're purporting to help.

Weaning young NZers off their cradle-to-grave welfare expectations is far more important than any other 'lesson' dreamed up just to capture election-year headlines. And what headlines.  At a time in youngsters' lives when the most important lesson they can learn is independence, John Key's 'Plan Blue' is for the state to either coddle them or shackle them -- or have them sent to boot camp.  Helen Clark has just announced her own response this morning, which in all respects is even worse.  Plan Red is this: no-one under voting age should be allowed out to work

It beggars belief.  Each election is an advanced auction of stolen goods.  This election, they're coming for your children.

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Gates and the wealth of nations

The world's richest man, Bill Gates, has been disgracing himself at the World Economic Forum in Davos by calling on Western nations to adopt a new, “creative capitalism.” Notes Alex Epstein at the Ayn Rand Institute, Gates complained that

under “pure capitalism . . . . the great advances in the world have often aggravated the inequities in the world. The least needy see the most improvement, and the most needy see the least . . .” Gates called for corporations and governments to devote far more time and money “doing work that eases the world's inequities.”

Gates appears wholly ignorant of the historic role of capitalism in moving people out of poverty.  To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke, the reason that some places prosper and thrive and others just plain suck is simple: some have capitalism and freedom, and some don't.  Epstein has a Memo to Gates: The Cause of Third-World Poverty Is Not Capitalism, But a Lack of Capitalism...

The West did not become wealthy at the Third World’s expense--we did not seize computers, houses, pharmaceuticals, and railroads from the Sahara. We created our wealth under capitalism, the system that liberates individuals to produce and trade without interference. And Third World countries could do the same if they adopted that system.

“The last 200 years have shown that wherever capitalism is adopted--from Singapore to the United States to Hong Kong to Australia--it enables its citizens to create wealth and prosper. Yet not one word of Gates’s speech calls for poor countries to change their anti-capitalist governments.

“No matter how many billions Bill Gates gives to poor nations, until he starts advocating universal capitalism instead of attacking it, he is acting as an enemy of prosperity in the undeveloped world.”

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On voting

Tibor Machan on how to waste your vote:

The notion that one must vote for someone, anyone, just to vote, never
mind that everyone running advocates bad ideas, bad policies, is
completely off the wall. That really amounts to throwing away one’s
vote--a kind of electoral littering. Better to wait for a time when
perhaps some sensible people, with sensible ideas, become candidates.

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Tugendhat house - Mies van der Rohe

exterior1_v tugendhat-CRTugen1930deSandalo

045_0002One of European modern architecture's early classics, it was designed by Mies for for textile factory owner Fritz Tugendhat in Brno Czechoslovakia, 1928. 

If it looks familiar, it's because so may of today's 'classics' are simplhy stylistic recycling of Mies' early work.

The villa was seized from its Jewish owners Fritz and Greta Tugendhat by invading Germans in 1939, and was never returned to the family.

vila_tugendhat_project_doc_2

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No answer

John Key's speech-writers had nine questions for Helen Clark:

• Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
• Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
• Why, under Labour, do we get a tax cut only in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
• Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
• Why can't our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
• Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
• Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
• Why hasn't the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
• Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Unfortunately, neither the speech-writers nor John Key's policy-writers have virtually any answer to the obvious follow-up question: "What the hell would National do about any or all of these nine?" The answer to most of them still seems to be  either "Beats the hell out of me," or, "Much the same as Labour."

UPDATE: The Hive claims there was plenty of detail, all of which they liked.  I'd suggest however that the liberal use of phrases like "focus on," "more careful with" and "unrelenting in our quest" speak less of detail than they do of wishful thinking.  Every government since Jenny Shipley's has promised for example to "reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy."  Not one has yet managed it.  Key offers no details of how his government would be any different.  Like all such promises have proved to be, John Key's promise is all sizzle, no sausage.

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Voucher schmoucher

HERALD: Key plans tertiary vouchers for teen school-leavers

Says the blogger known as Write Ups:

Is John Key’s voucher plan for 16 & 17 year old school leavers nothing more than changing the nature of the handout slightly?

No matter how you try to spin it, a voucher for polytechnic training is still a handout.

What we really should be worrying about is how to wean people of the welfare cradle-to-grave expectations many New Zealanders have of the government.

Too true.  Weaning young NZers off their cradle-to-grave welfare expectations is far more important than the details of a new handout with the designed life-span of one election year.

Frankly, a partial redesign of the handout system is far less important than cracking the culture of entitlement which young NZers imbibe in Nanny's indoctrination centres, and which a new handout will do nothing to cure.

And don't forget that it's the existing tertiary education funding system, that's a voucher system in all but name (a system introduced by the previous National Government), that delivered such delights as Rongo Wetere's outstanding salary, and tales of  profligacy and nepotism, of first class air travel, million dollar contracts to family members, and  money wasted on failed IT projects

The idea of school vouchers is popular (not least with the purveyors of twilight golf and the owners of Wananga o Aoteaora). Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but only at the expense of either bringing private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early childhood sector now understands), or of throwing the taxpayer’s money away on bullshit.  Key's advisors think they can achieve the latter by insisting on the former, which does nothing to wean anyone off anything, and will deliver even Ministry goons even more power over educationalists and young NZers.

Fact is, as long as state and school remain unseparated and youngsters consider themselves entitled to your cash, we may continue getting the various dogs' breakfasts that we keep being served up and to have inflicted upon us the smart-arse youngsters who think people other than their parents owe them a living; as long as it's assumed young people are the responsibility of the state, they'll keep thinking the whole world owes them a living, and they'll keep stamping their feet until they do so.  And now!

Already, more young NZers have gone to more tertiary institutions than perhaps at any time in this country's short history, yet fewer and fewer of them are educated. This is not an accident. Like the Soviets producing tractors, there are lots of figures showing an awful lot of production, but none of the tractors work. Meanwhile the number of people who can actually think on their feet -- actually do things -- is surely be at an all-time low.

The most important lesson for a sixteen- to seventeen-year old is independence, not entitlement.  John Key's vouchers are not the lesson they need.

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Another murderer dead

Goodbye and good riddance to former Indonesian president Suharto, who seized power from the dictator Sukarno before embarking on his own career of repression.  Another dead dictator for whom one almost wishes the idea of hell had some meaning.  Chris Rossdale for one is enraged at the soft-soaping done by the official obituaries such as this obscene apologia from the BBC of a man in the top twenty of the last century's murderers. Says Chris:

You wouldn’t expect an article on Hitler, or Stalin, or Saddam Hussein, to start off by talking about his good economic record, and then mention ‘human rights abuses’. It would start by rightly condemning them as mass murderers. Suharto is a mass murderer, who killed somewhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people. The fact that he did most of this with Western support is to our shame, that it is not regarded as one of the worst atrocities of the post WW2 era is embarrassing.

Australian John Quiggin agrees, and sees signs of hope in post-Suharto Indonesia:

I don’t imagine many readers will be shedding tears at the death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto, and certainly I won’t be. The bloody massacres in which he rode to power amid the collapse of the Sukarno regime, and the brutal invasion and occupation of East Timor, not to mention his spectacular corruption, mark him down among the worst political criminals of a terrible century, and have coloured Australian attitudes to Indonesia in the decade since his fall from power.

Now that he’s gone, I hope Australians will begin to recognise the immense progress Indonesia has made against daunting odds...

Read on to see if you agree.

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No free speech in election year

Labour's Electoral Finance Act has its first result: State censorship has successfully closed down Andy Moore's 'Dont Vote Labour' site. 

And you thought the left were supporters of free speech ...

[Hat tip Annie Fox!]

UPDATE 1: DPF notes the irony of former free speech advocate  Idiot/Savant, who blogs anonymously, arguing that Moore should not be able to advocate against the Government without listing his name and address...

UPDATE 2: We know your name and address, the Pacific Empire boys tell the proudly left blogger Idiot/Savant, who blogs at No Right Turn.  They point out quite correctly "this information is no more than Idiot/Savant thinks is fair for others who choose to express their political opinions online."  Time for him to either front up, shut up, or wake up.

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It's murder

More New Zealanders murdered by New Zealanders.  Ten people murdered already, with the year only twenty-nine days old.

Tahani Mahomed
Michael Hutchings
Bronwyn Whakaneke
Sophie Elliot
Karen Aim
An unidentified woman aged between 30 and 50, found dead in the Wairoa River
Chattrice Maihi-Carroll-Poipoi
Saishwar Krishna Naidu
Shayne Walker
Pihema Cameron

“The motivation behind them seem to be quite random,” Detective Superintendent Win Van Der Velde said, “so there’s no single trend or factor.”

Random violence.  No single trend or factor.  Just a brutal start to a new year.  Here in New Zealand we like to think we're immune from the violence that all too frequently sweeps the world, but our 'quarter-acre pavlova paradise' sometimes seems more like Hell's half-acre.

With a new outrage almost every day, picking up the newspaper each morning is becoming an act of courage.

It is impossible not to contemplate the questions the slaughter raises: What kind of world - what kind of a country - is it in which these things can be done to other human beings: a child's life snuffed out by his parents; a graduate with her life before her murdered by ex-boyfriend; a bubbly young girl seeing the world is slaughtered by a young boy; another young boy killed for tagging a fence in Manurewa; and another young Manurewa boy killed in his parent's dairy ...

“We pay tax and what do we get?” says dairy owner Anand. “We’re trying to work hard. We try to make an honest living.”  Not so the brutes, who end the lives of other human beings for nothing much more than the 'kicks' it gives them.

What kind of bloody place is this where such unthinking, mindless brutes exist that can do such things to other people? What use is it -- we might ask ourselves -- to proselytise, to persuade and to philosophise when the newspaper is full of new atrocities every time we pick it up? What use is philosophy and reason when brainless brutality seems the order of the day?

Bertrand Russell once observed that "many people would sooner die rather than think - in fact, they do so." If only, we lament, it were only the wilfully mindless who were dying!  But it's not - these bastards are taking others with them before they go.

'What refuge is there from this noxious tide of irrational brutality?' I wondered as I drove into town this morning helping a client set up a new business. As I drove I watched thousands of other good people going purposefully about their business - carrying out their plans, making deals, and enjoying the adventure of life in a teeming city. And as I drove, I realised that - despite the headlines - these senseless killings are still the exception rather than the rule. The slayings are still news precisely because they are not normal everyday events: The norm was here, I realised, right outside my car window, inside my client's new architecturally-designed offices, and in the heaving, pulsating, guffawing city all around me.

I realised the overwhelming majority of people, in this hemisphere at least, are simply going about their daily business - planning, acting and producing wealth and happiness for themselves and for others. The mindless brutes are not all around us; what we see around us instead are people much like ourselves - people whose actions are the exact inverse of the mindless morons - people whose actions are purposefully productive. It is such actions that move the world, not the actions of a few mindless thugs, however brutal.

Those of us who do value reason and happiness will often become frustrated by the mindlessness around us - particularly when violent mindlessness is inundating the news we see. But the fact remains that, in the western world at least, the violently mindless are still very much in the minority.

The meek will probably never get the chance to inherit the earth, and nor perhaps will the brutes: We will - those of us who do choose to think, and to act, and to guffaw. But some days it still seems like we'll have to fight the brutes for it all the way.

Pass the ammunition.

UPDATE: January's outbreak of brutality is the "backfire of collectivism" says Callum McPetrie.  It's hard to disagree.

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Cue Card Libertarianism: Education

Each 'Cue Card Libertarianism' entry forms part of a series intended to introduce newbies to the terms used (or as used) by local libertarians. The series so far can be found archived here, and here, and the Introduction here.

“A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.”
– Isabel Paterson, 'The God of the Machine.'

EDUCATION: The system of compulsory, taxpayer-funded education is another prime example of the state performing the opposite role to its proper one, i.e. initiating force against its citizens, rather than protecting them from it.

It forces children from their parents; it forces a curriculum on children with or without the parents’ approval; it treats the child’s mind as the property of the state; it forces people to pay for the education of other people’s children.

New Zealand’s public education has followed in the path of the United States: beginning with educating children to submit to the collective feelings of the group, rather than to develop their own minds ands use their own independent judgement – i.e. it teaches them to value 'consensus' before truth, and 'fitting in' above facts.

Peer pressure and politics are now important than good pedagogy. “Humanities” subjects have been hi-jacked by the purveyors of fashionable political viewpoints, and even the sciences have been infected with irrational nature-worship and notions like "Maori Science," ie., myth. A recent Minister of Education even claimed that science is not even concerned with the discovery of truth.

The travesty of education being perpetrated by the state currently is nothing short of criminal. Taxpayers paying more and more to get less and less -- more money spent, to fill the heads of more and more young New Zealanders with mush.

Despite governments doling out increasing election bribes on the state's factory schools, Labour Department figures estimate there are more than half-a-million New Zealanders who are functionally illiterate. It's clear what we have is neither free, nor a system of education.

We're left to deduce (as we must with all government spending binges) that education isn't a function of the money that's thrown at it; what matters more is what that money is spent on.

What it's been spent on in recent years is bullshit, mush and toxic swill -- and the seven-lesson inculcation of servitude.

“Education in the government's factory schools is pumping out an ever-increasing number of functionally illiterate and unemployable youths - good for nothing beyond stuffing a ballot box."

The 'liberal' view is that all that is wrong with state education can be fixed with more money, better staff-student ratios, greater control of curriculum, more qualified teachers and more paperwork. But as more and more money spent on education has shown that more of the same just produces more and more failure. The view of conservatives is generally that public education needs to be made more efficient. With more efficiency, they say, 'delivery' of education will be better.

Libertarians however maintain that public education is all too efficient: it has been ruthlessly efficient at delivering the government’s chosen values. After generations of indoctrination at the knee of the state we now have several generations who are 'culturally safe' and politically correct -- ‘good citizens’ unable to use the brains they were born with, unthinkingly compliant in every respect with the values in which they've been totally immersed; braindead automatons to whom group-think is good and for forty-two percent of whom the reading of a bus timetable or the operation of a simple appliance is beyond them.

In previous decades the government's chosen values included banning the speaking of Maori in schools; speaking Maori in schools is fast becoming compulsory, along with the teaching of the ordained versions of Te Tiriti and the inculcation of the ideas of multiculturalism and the inferiority of western culture. Governments and their values change, but their use of their factory schools for indoctination doesn't.

The government's recently chosen values are "fairness, opportunity and security." We know that because Helen Clark said so. Orwell would have recognised these words, as he might the rigid orthodoxies of what passes for teacher training. "What happens in our schools is a very big part of shaping the future of New Zealand," says Ms Clark in the same speech, acknowledging that this is the way to make subjects out of citizens. Libertarians agree with Ms Clark's statement, which is precisely why we want governments away from the schools and away from control of curricula. Both Liberals and conservatives endorse state control of schools and of curricula, and they both seek to be the state. Libertarians don't.

Rather than delivering new generations of New Zealand's children to be indoctrinated into servitude and their heads filled with mush, it's time for a radical rethink and a wholesale rejection of NZ's educational establishment -- of those who've sucked up the money, and produced only failure. It's time for a permanent and constituional separation of school and state, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of church and state.

Even the critics of state education, however, cannot imagine life without it, simply because they’ve never known anything else. They would have the same difficulty grasping the possibility of removing the state from the production of clothing if, all their lives, the state had exercised a coercive monopoly in that field.

Libertarianism holds that the removal of the state from education is a reform needed more urgently than most; and that all education should be private, non-compulsory, and paid for by the parents whose children are receiving it.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by New Zealand libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

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Too few busybodies

Some good news and some bad news this morning about the rise and rise of busybodying.  Lincoln University's Environment Society and Design Division head, Stephanie Rixecker says there is a growing demand for "environmental planners" -- that's the bad news -- but admits there is a lack of students keen to become such busybodies.  Ms Rixecker  blames "bad publicity and issues surrounding the Resource Management Act" for this lack of enthusiasm.

Excellent.  While the current legal environment still demands more planning busybodies, it looks like the culture is changing, and careers like these are being looked at with increasing revulsion.  Excellent.

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Money: "Pathology & reality"

Here's a timely plug from the Mises Store:

Recent daily articles on Mises.org have addressed the economic downturn, and the unbearably bad response from Washington and the Fed [and the world's central banks]. These people have learned all the wrong lessons from the Great Depression. There is nothing that the planners won't consider at this point: wage and price controls, floods of new money, exchange controls, protectionism, hundreds of billions in public works – you name it.
The good news is that all the literature necessary to combat this nonsense is in print. The Austrian perspective is there to make sense of the current economic mess.

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