Friday, 9 May 2008

National ready to swallow the Emissions Trading rat

National's about ready to swallow the dead rat I said they would, but with the garnish of something healthier.  Today's National Business Review reports

The National Party is willing to support the government’s troubled Emissions Trading Scheme [ETS] in return for dumping the bill’s proposed 10-year ban on new thermal electricity generation.

Given the parlous and creaking state of NZ's electricity generation -- which will be running at and probably beyond capacity this winter -- dumping the ten-year ban on new thermal electricity generation would almost be worth the huge imposition of resuscitating the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which without National's help is all but dead. 


As the CEOs of BP and Solid Energy pointed out this week however, the Emissions Trading Scheme is not so much a market as a substantial new tax, one that could net the government around $80 billion by denuding producers of the capital they need to grow.  This is a huge imposition, and even the dumping of the thermal electricity generation moratorium isn't worth that.

And since the Resource Management Act (RMA) acts as a de facto moratorium on the construction of new thermal electricity generation -- it has been used to bar, delay or make much more expensive the construction of every new thermal electricity generation project in the last ten years -- then unless the Resource Management Act is dumped, the ending of the moratorium is all but worthless anyway.

If National wants to dump the moratorium, as they should, they should simply announce it as policy and go to the country with that as their platform.  And if National really wants to allow the construction of new thermal electricity generation, as they must do, then they really must get their head around the abolition of the Resource Management Act.

If they have any honesty, that's what they must do.  As I warned back in 1998, the anti-industrial 'green dream team' of the RMA and Kyoto (which is behind the ETS) has the potential to drain our industrial lifeblood.  NZ's commitment to both needs to go together.

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What if public schools were abolished?

What if public schools were abolished, asks Lew Rockwell.  Answer:

In short, if we could abolish public schools and compulsory schooling laws, and replace it all with market-provided education, we would have better schools at half the price, and be freer too. We would also be a more just society, with only the customers of education bearing the costs.

What's not to like? Well, there is the problem of the transition...

Read his solution here: 'What If Public Schools Were Abolished?'- Lew Rockwell, MISES INSTITUTE


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'The Rights that Make Us Rich'

In a piece called 'The Rights that Make Us Rich' (fantastic title) Mike Moore explains the result of increasing private ownership around the globe:

"In the past 60 years, more wealth has been created than in all of history. The number of people living on less than a dollar a day has dropped from 40 per cent in 1981 to 18 per cent in 2004. During the same period, the numbers living on less than $2 a day have dropped from 67 per cent to 48 per cent."

As Liberty Scott notes wryly, "That hasn't been because of charity."  "Private ownership works," says Moore.  It sure does. The great irony for New Zealand is that while much of the rest of the world is confirming that lesson, here at home the move du jour is to nationalisation, not privatisation.

How can we best help poor countries.  First of all, we should make sure we don't become poor ourselves.  And second, as Moore says, we should encourage their governments to get the hell out of the way of business activity, and

establish property rights which will encourage people into the formal economy. It's not that radical, it simply suggests that poor people in poor countries should have the rights that rich countries have. Perhaps that's why they are rich.

Property rights -- that concept now celebrated in New Zealand mostly in their breach.  National's Nick Smith provides a timely example of the endemic lack of local respect for this boon: he wants to confiscate the property rights of Kaiangaroa Timberlands to protect some Douglas Firs.

The man is an idiot.  He needs to read the former Labour Prime Minister.

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A library in the palm of your hand?

book_clk I'm not sure I'll be reading from one of these things in ten years time or less, but e-books are said to be the way we'll read books in the future, and there's some big money going into producing e-book readers.

Read: The Future of E-Books - Forbes.Com.

UPDATE:   For obvious reasons this has turned into a 'what-are-you-reading'' thread.  Feel free to add yours in the comments.

Humour on Friday

2008_Gods_Final_Witness_big We're all gonna die!  There's nothing like sackcloth and ashes and warnings about the end of the world to get some people's blood beating in their ears.  If it's not the apocalyptic warmists it's the equally apocalyptic religionists: here's a religionist who's been "been sent by God as His end-time prophet." This is almost beyond satire.

From now until the latter part of 2008, many prophecies are going to begin to be fulfilled, especially the Seven Thunders of the Book of Revelation, which the apostle John saw but was restricted from recording. Those thunders are revealed in this book, as well as detailed accounts of the final three and one-half years of man's self-rule on earth, which are recorded in the account of the Seventh Seal of Revelation.

Don't you just love it.  Don't miss out!  Buy the book now!  If you're disappointed in three and one-half years  that it all hasn't come to pass, you can at least hit yourself over the head with the book to help yourself feel better.

Day Out

Here's a neat website.  If you're heading out and about around New Zealand, then head to DayOut.Co.NZ, type in your location or intended location and the sort of things you'd like to do and BINGO!  It's all laid out there for you.  Brilliant. 

Perfect for those long scenic drives in your classic car.


Ecstasy of St Francis - Carravaggio

I love the three-dimensionality of Carravaggio's paintings; her really was a master of the fully-rounded figure.  At their best they're almost holographic.


Pity he hadn't chosen better subjects.


Thursday, 8 May 2008

Risking little

I was discussing the concept of financial risk with a friend in the finance industry last night,  and it seemed to me that our views on risk diverged somewhat.  I thought of our discussion again this morning when I read a report of the recent annual pilgrimage to the sages of Omaha, Nebraska -- Mr Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger -- whose combined wisdom struck upon this very topic.

What my friend and I were discussing was the relationship between risk and return, and how exactly one measures or quantifies risk -- which is what, as it turns out, my friend is in the business of doing.

On these two issues, my friend insists 1)that risk can be measured (one simply looks at the past volatility of an investment vehicle and extrapolates it into the future, apparently), and 2) that returns necessarily bear a direct relationship to the risk of an investment -- which is pretty much the standard patter on risk these days.  (Or as the Gnomes of Zurich have been known to say, "Worry is a sign of health: If you're not worried, then you're not risking enough." )

But why would you assume that past volatility alone is necessarily an accurate guide to future performance?  Didn't help those investors in the likes of Brierley, for example, which went from blue chip (non-volatile) to dog (highly flammable) in the blink of a share ticker's tail a few years back.

And why should risk and return necessarily be correlated?  A fairly successful friend maintains what to me seems a perfectly sensible view of risk and return, which is to seek those investments  in which the risk of loss is low and the expected return very high.  Sounds sensible to me.  Seek out opportunities in which the risk is already low, and increase you margin of safety by having a high margin of safety when things go wrong, which they do.  In other words, why not stop worrying altogether, while getting the same (or better) returns than your gnome over there with the ulcer? 

We talked some more about this, my friend and I -- my friend who is in the business of calculating risk for investors -- and I was thinking about our conversation as I read this gem from two of the world's most successful investors:

    Both men had lots of critical things to say about the so-called risk managers of our day. Risk managers, as the name implies, are supposed to ensure the safety and soundness of the investments made by financial institutions. "But too often," Buffett complained, "a risk manager is a guy who makes you feel good while you do dumb things."
Someone asked whether the big investment banks are too complex for even their managers to understand the risks the banks are exposed to. Buffett said: "Probably yes." He also pointed out that the managers have little incentive to worry about certain risks. His example went like this: Say there is a 1-in-50 chance of a company going out of business. If you are a 62-year-old executive planning on retiring at 65, it's not in your best interest to worry about it.
By contrast, the 77-year old Buffett and 84-year old Munger DO worry about risk. But they manage risk primarily by avoiding investments they don't understand. "Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing," Buffett once remarked.

And that, right there, is my answer to my friend of last night; that and the advice of Buffett's colleague Charlie Munger:

    "We like businesses that drown in cash," Charlie Munger declared during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska last weekend. Warren Buffet promptly agreed.
    Throughout the meeting, Buffett and Munger repeatedly stressed the importance of investing in companies that provide ample cash flow or some other essential "margin of safety."

Sounds smart to me. You can read the whole report from the Munger and Buffet show here at Rude Awakenings.  Just scroll down to How to "Drown in Cash" by Chris Mayer.


Samuel Freeman House - Frank Lloyd Wright


7d997f40-874b-4f3e-92d3-158238b83e5b efdd1855-0a67-4dbc-b8ac-368380c8ea1c Another 'textile block' house from Wright's Californian period, the Freeman house for Samuel & Harriet Freeman was completed in 1923, and lived in by the owners until 1986 when Harriet Freeman (pictured left in full flight) died and handed the house over to the University of Southern California.

The house, which now overlooks downtown Hollywood, was the smallest of Wright's textile block houses.

Guess_WhatYou might recall I asked you to identify it the other evening on the basis of a detail, and one two many clues:

You can see more photos of the house here, taken by master architectural photographer Julius Shulman.

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Wednesday, 7 May 2008

PJ in Auckland!

Fantastic news! The Center for Independent Studies (based in Australia, hence the misspelling), hasn't only just published a hit job on KiwiSaver that's got everyone talking, they've also announced that they're bringing PJ O'Rourke to Auckland! In December!

I wonder who you have to root to get a ticket?

If you have no idea who PJ O'Rourke is, then you're going to have to shell out for the best stuff -- books like Republican Party Reptile, Eat the Rich, All the Trouble in the World, Holidays in Hell and Give War a Chance -- since YouTube only seems to have the detritus of promotional tours. Here' for example is PJ taking Q&A in an author's evening a few years ago:

And talking about his new book summarising Adam Smith:

Or, you can read PJ talking about the world bicycle menace.




Burma: Cyclone Nargis death toll tops 22,000
The cyclone that hit Burma, also known as Myanmar, has left at least 22,000 dead and 1 million homeless. [TELEGRAPH]

Another dead rat: Emissions Trading

As the Bill setting up the government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) heads to parliament for a vote, parliament's most boring man, Peter Dunne, warns the scheme is in danger of collapse.

This is excellent news!

As everyone but the Green Party is slowly starting to realise, the scheme is an impost on industry that businesses just can't afford, while the science behind the scam is looking increasingly theadbare -- it's both unnecessary and destructive but, despite Dunne's heads up, it's not over yet.

The scheme is in danger, argues Dunne, because of the increasing uncertainty around its introduction, especially since the Helen Clark's 'dance of the seven veils' over fuel taxes and the delays and exemptions to the scheme -- a belated realisation that the costs the scheme will add to doing business in New Zealand is going to be calamitous. These announcements of delays and meaning are scaring of those who expected to make big windfalls from the rort.

It's also in danger because the Greens now say they won't vote for what they see as a watered-down impost on industry -- they don't want to give local industry an out, they want to see the full environmental noose applied. And while the Greens voice the fears of their voting public, United and NZ First have been reading the signs of opposition to the scheme from what they hope is theirs, and are rapidly backing away from giving Clark's scheme the support it will need when it comes to a vote very shortly.

However, it's not all good news. We're not entirely out of the woods yet: there's one twerp who is still likely to give it life. With the Greens threatening to pull out," notes the Dominion, "Miss Clark said Labour would look to National for support." Enter stage left, John Key. Flip Flop Boy. The Smiling Ass. Instead of reading the signs from the voting public, John Boy is still listening to his advisers. Clark's backdown on the new fuel tax is not good news, it's "an embarrassment," says John Boy. Labour's partial retreat on the global warming bandwagon is not a welcome sign they're listening to the voting public, it's a sign of "Labour of failing to deliver on climate change" says John Boy.

They guy is an idiot. Anyone with a brain could see that "failing to deliver on climate change" is a good thing.

Remember how the smiling twerp signed up to resuscitate Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill, just days after his MPs stood on the steps of parliament telling bill opponents they were dead against it? Expect to see history repeated as he signs up to a deal with Helen to resuscitate Helen Clark's anti-industry bill.

How many dead rats can you swallow before you choke.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Enforcing the Gore-thodoxy at Wikipedia

As a footnote to my regular injunction "don't use Wikipedia for any subject that's controversial," here's the story of how the global warming pages at Wikipedia are constructed, mostly under the watchful eye of a net guardian by the name of Kim Dabelstein Petersen [aka Tabletop], who has set herself up as Wikipedia's warmist gatekeeper [hat tip Bidinotto].  As Lawrence Solomon of Canada's Financial Post summarises,

The thought police at the supposedly independent site are fervently enforcing the climate orthodoxy...  If you have read a climate change article on Wikipedia -- or on any controversial subject that may have its own Kim Dabelstein Petersen -- beware. Wikipedia is in the hands of the zealots

UPDATE: Solomon has a follow-up on another Wikipedia warmist, a man he calls The Opinionator, who is

an administrator with unusual editorial clout. Using that clout, this 40-something scientist of minor relevance gets to tear down scientists of great accomplishment. Because Wikipedia has become the single biggest reference source in the world, and global warming is one of the most sought-after subjects, the ability to control information on Wikipedia by taking down authoritative scientists is no trifling matter.


Engage your brain

LP02B_220 If discussions of the philosophy of Objectivism here at NOT PC have piqued your interest, then you might like to engage your brain and get serious by joining the Objectivism Seminar -- an online weekly seminar hosted by Greg Perkins that is about to go through Leonard Peikoff's presentation of the entire philosophy in Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Details here and here.  Visit to sign up.  Looks like you can download Skype and (if you're in New Zealand) book in for some serious weekly brainwork. 

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Top to the bottom.

Labour finance minister Michael Cullen says that "it is wrong" for railways to make a profit.  Which means it's to be propped up by businesses that do.

Meanwhile, Labour Hunua candidate Jordan Carter tells the world he "wouldn’t go into business if my life depended on it," not realising that it does.  "I find trade immoral," says the socialist prick. If he considers it at all, which is doubtful, then like his hero he presumably expects "immoral" private businesses that do trade and make profits to prop up his favourite government-run sluggards that don't. 

These two views are united by Cullen's "rich prick" insult in the house.  From the top to the bottom, the Labour Party is infested with the idea that making money is immoral, that wealth is immoral, that profits are immoral ... and at the same time, that those who do make money should have it stolen from them to prop up those who don't.  People like themselves.  People who will never ever be able to say of anything except ignominy, "I earned it."

What they fail to realise is the immorality of making a loss.  What they fail to appreciate is the morality of those who do.  What they completely fail to understand is the meaning of money.

NB: No point in saying any more about the rail sale -- I said most of what I wanted to say yesterday.

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COMPETITION: Guess what?

A prize to the first person to identify the provenance of the building in this photo gets a prize and a loud cheer.


The prize will be ... let's see ... how about a copy of the latest Free Radical magazine.  And if you can get the correct century, or the continent, then you'll get the loud cheer. 

Here's your first clue: it hasn't been posted here before ... [Photo credit Matt Jalbert, Exuberance.Com]


Monday, 5 May 2008

Boris beats Ken

boris-johnson Let me propose a useful test for all you Tories, and all you died-in-the-wool Boris lovers.  This is for every one of you who has hated everything Ken Livingston has ever done, including breathing, and who's cheered to a standstill Boris Johnson's weekend victory over the mad Marxist. 

I suggest you take a deep breath, and start being realistic. 

I suggest, as one way of measuring Boris's performance in office, that you might want to  award Boris a point every time he overturns something Red Ken introduced -- which was always something egregious.  How many points do you think he'll have earned before London's voters throw him out? 

And what do you think this will say about the nature of Tory government?

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Paying for a needless new train set -- through the nose

Ever wondered why the government was the only bidder in the latest rail sale? 

Or wondered why all the people praising the Clark Government's decision to pay Toll Holdings an exorbitant sum to buy back a failing rail 'network' didn't use their own money to  buy their own shares in the network when they were available?

Answer to this last question: rail supporters are dumb, but not that dumb.  Answer to the first question: because, as everybody knows,  this 'network' is not a money-maker it's a black hole down which money gets poured, and as such, perfectly suited to government ownership because the government can simply point the gun at taxpayers to get them to pick up the tab for a train set that too few people want to use.  A tab that's cost taxpayers the princely sum of almost $1.5 billion to buy (you can read Liberty Scott for the breakdown of this huge sum), with hundreds of millions of dollars to come on the likes of new and upgraded rolling stock, and ongoing costs (read subsidies) of tens of million dollars a year.

This is paid for with money taken from our pockets by force. This is money that taxpayers could have used productively. This is money we won't see again. 

This is why when you're berating the 'wastefulness of consumerism' -- and I know there are readers who do -- you might like to know that the biggest consumer and by far the most wasteful is the government.

As I blogged a couple of weeks ago, the government is not a producer, it's a consumer. This is not an investment: it's a waste of bloody resources.  In fact, that's the precise nature of every government so-called investment.  Whereas productive investment is reproductive -- producing the wherewithal by which to  purchase its replacement -- goods used by consumers (and governments) are consumer goods, which are destructively employed. Unlike producer goods, they disappear with use.

You see, when a businessman invests in goods or assets, he expects to make sales from these assets sufficient to replace them, and more. He expects to recoup his expenditure, with a bit left over besides. In other words, sales made on the basis of these assets makes possible their own replacement when they are physically consumed. It is reproductively employed.

Not so with government, "because governments are not producers: they are consumers. "

They are not self-sustaining: they are parasitical.   In other words: government does not invest, it consumes.  Hence only private businesses can be described as self-sustaining, since only the activity of private businesses is so designed as to recoup its investment in assets, and therefore to preserve its 'seed corn.' 

Put bluntly, all that a government produces requires consuming the production of others; all the assets in which it 'invests' are at best only consumptive production that is dependent on mooching off real producers.  Without this mooching, every government asset is on the road to disappearing without a trace.

used by consumers to consume are consumer goods, which are destructively employed. Unlike producer goods, they disappear with use.

This mooching is called "socialising the losses."  It's also called "a waste of bloody money" -- and, if you care about such things, a "complete waste of resources."  In other words, it's neither sustainable, nor an investment.

If you think this assessment is wrong, that this is an excellent investment that the country desperately needs -- the best use of 'scarce resources' -- then go right ahead and challenge Liberty Scott's figures here and here and here and here and here.

NB: And if you disagree with the purchase and think a John Key National Government is going to overturn it?  Then someone needs to tell you you're dreaming: despite the waste and despite earlier pledges that they would, they won't.

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"Global warming may 'stop', scientists predict" - TELEGRAPH

Britain's Guardian newspaper whines that the "deliberately contrarian" tone of tabloid newspapers has "damaged public perception of climate change," poor lambs. 

Little wonder the volume of "deliberately contrarian" writing is rising, since as global temperatures simply refuse to follow the course the warmists' models say they should, the "mainstream warmist" position is looking increasingly indefensible.  And the "deliberately contrarian" position isn't just confined to the tabloids.  Even scientific journal Nature is now publishing peer-reviewed articles suggesting that despite global warming models predicting  catastrophic warming, we're unlikely to see any increases in average global temperature until at lest 2015.  The Telegraph (a broadsheet)summarises the uncomfortable news:

Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said...  This would mean that the 0.3°C global average temperature rise which has been predicted for the next decade by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may not happen, according to the paper published in the scientific journal Nature.

For years skeptics have been pointing out that there's just no way the warmists' models can account for every variable in the global climate, and until they can the model's results are just so much hot air. This adjustment is the result of adding several new variables that were previously ignored, including "how the oceans behave over decades,"  "the strength of the Gulf Stream and the El Nino cyclical warming event in the Pacific," and "the giant ocean "conveyor belt" known as the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), which brings warm water north into the North East Atlantic."  All fairily important one would have thought.

Defending the warmists' long-term models, Hadley Centre scientist Richard Wood said that "climate predictions for a decade ahead would always be to some extent uncertain."  To say nothing of climate predictions for a century, or for government action based wholly and solely on these "uncertain" models. 

To put the present result in context, if these new papers are correct it will mean there will have been no warming from 1998 to 2015, a period of seventeen years.  So much for catastrophe. 

In fact, rather than showing catastrophe, the record would show that since the 'coming ice age scare' finished in 1979, when modern warmism began, the globe will have warmed for nineteen years (from 1979 to 1998),and then plateaued for seventeen or so.  Hardly catastrophic.  And hardly a strong endorsement of either the global warming models, or the still unproven causal link between CO2 and global temperature.

Looks like those models are no more reliable than your average TV weather forecast. 

Perhaps those endorsing measures to throttle industrial civilisation on the basis only of the unreliable weather forecasts of the IPCC might use this hiatus to reconsider the headlong rush into poverty and food riots for which they are already responsible.  Perhaps they'll resile from talking up dramatic sea-level rises on the bask of their horrifying models -- from strangling the use of coastal land and all their talk about the millions of "climate refugees" from low-lying islands (of which the world is still waiting to see the first such refugee) .

Perhaps those who've joined the warmist chorus out of ignorance -- not because they know anything more than anyone else, but only to show their friends they 'care about the planet'-- could just keep quiet for a little while.  Perhaps those who've been scaring the crap out of impressionable and illiterate young kids with their 'we're all gonna die' litany could just shut the fuck up for a while, so that kids can realise this is a great world in which to live rather than the place of irrational disaster-prone madness that warmists would have us believe.

And as NZ Climate Science Coalition convenor Owen McShane points out:

    These findings make two important points. The first is that natural climate variation means that there will be no warming until 2015. This is wonderful news, because it gives us lots of time to stop and think before we leap. NO more biofuels and ruminant follies.
    The next point is that all the climate models failed to predict this — until now! That means that all the climate models have grossly underestimated natural variation and they are all must be regarded with extreme suspicion.
    Therefore we need a Royal Commission to look at the whole thing before we completely destroy our economy for something that may not exist and is certainly not imminent.
    Definitely time for a tea break.

I'm not so sure about the Royal Commission, but the fact remains that to destroy your economy on the basis of extremely flawed extremely long-range weather forecasts is just insane.  (And as Climate Debate Daily reports, "An insider exchange between climate modelers reveals the extent to which they are themselves leery of attributing predictive power to their models ...continue » Click on "EXPAND ALL.")

Time for that cup of tea, I'd say, if not a complete lay down.

PS: Why not go join the legion of voters at Kiwiblog and go vote in the poll on the left-hand side for "Global Warming is a hoax and there is no evidence for it ."  It's currently leading the pack.

UPDATE:  "Can global warming’s vested interests close the deal on greenhouse gas regulation before the public wises up to their scam?" asks Steven Milloy of the Junk Science site:

    When NASA’s James Hansen sounded the alarm in Congress 20 years ago, he predicted that rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or CO2, would drive global temperatures higher by 0.34 degrees Celsius during the 1990s. But surface temperatures increased during that decade by only 0.11 degrees Celsius and lower atmosphere temperatures actually decreased.
    Global temperatures remain well below an El Nino-driven 1998 spike despite ever-increasing atmospheric CO2. Global warming hysterics purport that manmade emissions of CO2 are the primary driver of global climate and that controlling emissions will favorably affect climate. While this is obviously not so since it virtually supposes that without human activity climate change would not occur, it nevertheless remains their
    The Nature study, however, reasserts Mother Nature in her rightful place as our climate dominatrix. Although there is no evidence that manmade CO2 emissions play any detectable role in
climate change, the very idea that Mother Nature may cool the planet despite humanity’s furious output of greenhouse gases should be even worse for the climate alarmists’ way of thinking.
    It would mean that greenhouse gas emissions are actually beneficial, since without them, Mother Nature’s cooling could be quite damaging.

He concludes:

    The bottom line of global warming—and that is why so many are behind it—is that its many vested interests are on the verge of a financial and political bonanza, something that scientific facts and climatic realities are likely only to spoil.
    So when global temperature doesn’t behave as predicted, excuses and explanations must be found to prevent the almost-mature golden goose from being roasted for dinner.
The spin on the Nature study provided by its authors to the New York Times is that, “We’re learning that [natural] climate variability is important and can mask the effects of human-induced global change. In the end this gives more confidence in the long-term projections.”
    The attempted logic here is that even though the alarmists have been wrong in the past—been there, done that—their failure somehow sets them up for more certain future success.
    We look past this logical fallacy at our own peril. I can’t wait for their Orwellian pronouncement that global cooling is the new global warming.

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Petrol Porkies

As petrol at NZ pumps head towards two dollars per litre, commerce minister Lianne Dalziel says his morning there's nothing her government can do to lower prices.

Au contraire, Lianne.  Since the government is taking a fairly savage proportion* of the cost of every litre in tax (which is far more than the profits the oil companies make on every litre of their own oil every litre, and with GST on top) I'd say there's something very tangible the government can do, don't you?  

And this is not to mention the extra twenty-five cents per litre (plus GST) that the government is about to levy to pay for feelgood anti-global warming measures, and for its latest bout of constructing public transport infrastructure that few people want to use.

So frankly, Lianne, there's something very simple your government could do to lower petrol prices: Stop stealing.

* Last I checked this was something of the order of forty-seven percent, and that was before the extra five cents per litre 'green' tax added on April Fool's Day this year.  Perhaps someone with a calculator and access to an accurate account of the theft could let me know this morning what it amounts to now?

UPDATE:   Thanks to commenters JC and 'Spam,' who've come up with these figures:

    Going back to early 2007, taxes were $0.50 excl GST.
    GST is charged on the total price of fuel, and with a total price at around $2 / litre, the GST component is about $0.22. Now, with the importer margin being only around $0.18 the government is making more money out of GST ONLY than the oil companies are making on a per-litre basis!
[On top of that there's] the ACC levy of 7 cents, soon to be 9 cents on each litre. 
    So you have a 50 cent levy, a 9 cent ACC levy plus 22 cents GST... in round figures [that's about] 80 cents per litre to the government.
To put that in perspective, the government's take is about what we used to pay for petrol around 1997/98.

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Sunday, 4 May 2008

Sunday School reading: The other religion of 'peace'

Another reading today from Christianity's Holy book, this time from the New Testament -- the one that brought a "new covenant" to the world after the Old Testament's reign of blood.  Reading now from Matthew:

More here in a similar vein from the New Testament.

As they say, know your Bible. [Ref: Russell's Teapot]