Tuesday, 17 June 2008

'Shred the RMA'

Wellington's Capital Times interviews Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton.  Link to the interview is here, or just follow the link from the front page titled 'Shred the RMA.'  My favourite two responses:

On contemporary politics:
"It’s about getting one over on the public rather than do what is best for the public,” says Darnton.
On National and Labour:
“They are out for power for power’s sake. They see it more as a sport than as a way to run the country. They are there to win the game rather than see how things could be better.”

South Auckland, again.

Crime and poverty in South Auckland are once again in the headlines, just as they have been every month for the last ten years, and probably will be for the next ten as well.  Despite government programme after government programme after government programme, it just doesn't get any better, does it.

Crime and poverty in South Auckland is not the result of a shortage of money or a full moon, it's the result of an excess of poor choices.  Many of those poor choices have been from politicians, who have sat back and watched as government programme after government programme after government programme has had absolutely no positive effect on either crime or poverty, and yet have never bothered to themselves whether it's their own programmes that might be to blame.

Let me give you something to think about: No part of New Zealand has had more government than South Auckland.  And I suggest, as a former resident of the place (and one who still visits to help out with my old footy team in Manurewa*),  it's no accident that no part of New Zealand is less attractive.

Most of South Auckland is government-planned, government-designed, and built almost entirely with government money -- and every new problem attracts more government action plans and even more "resources."

Government houses fill the suburbs and people overwhelmingly on government benefits fill those houses, from which children emerge every day to go to government schools where the latest fashionable government curricula and government educational programmes are delivered, and their parents emerge every three years to tick the box of the political party promising even more government intrusion, and even more suffocation of enterprise.

If anecdotal evidence is correct, there are more government programmes, government plans, government agencies, and government-employed welfare agents per-square kilometre in South Auckland than there is anywhere else in the country outside parliament and its surrounds.  And the place is a disaster.

Might I invite readers to have a really good, hard think about that as they read the daily headlines that emerge from there.

The problems of South Auckland are not too little government, but too much.  If there is a violent underclass, and South Auckland seems to be doing its best to prove that there is, then it is the perverse incentives created by government paternalism and forced redistribution that has given birth to it.  Between them they remove any reward for responsibility -- and if South Auckland really is poor in any one thing, it it this.

Paternalism undermines responsibility. Dependency creates disaster.

Lindsay Mitchell put it bluntly last year: "Whatever the arguments about the legitimacy of the dropping unemployment figures, "[don't] forget there are still almost 300,000 working age beneficiaries - double the number we had 20 years ago," and many of them live (and vote) in South Auckland.

    The underclass isn't everybody on a benefit. It's a group of people who refuse to live in society in a peaceable, co-operative and constructive way. Their thoughts are only for today and themselves. If they aren't already criminals of some kind they are on the fringes. And it isn't an "emerging" class of people. But, judging by what we read in the newspapers and what we see on TV, or what we experience firsthand as victims, it is growing. Bugger reported crime levels. Look at victims of crime surveys.
    Then if you looked at WINZ records most of these people are there. They abuse welfare, they abuse or neglect their children, they abuse each other. But most of all, they abuse opportunity.

I've written before about this, and I'll give you the links in a moment, but think for a moment about just one phrase above, and how the incentives created above have fostered what it describes:  "Their thoughts are only for today..." 

That is the problem at the heart of South Auckland.  Think about it.  How you solve that takes more than just another government programme.

Tomorrow I'll mention some solutions -- some of them hard, some of them easy, none of them involving knee jerk bans on bottle stores, armed police patrols, or more social workers.

The warrior culture of South Auckland, Part 1 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
More social workers, more violence - NOT PC (November, 2005)
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop, (January, 2007)
* I'll be out there at Mountfort Park on Saturday, in fact, installing barbed wire around the interchange bench.  ;^)

What moves history?

Cover_web Now, this  is the sort of thing I'd like to see on Sky's History Channel, AKA, the WWII channel.  (Where would the History Channel be without Hitler?)  What I'm talking about is Stephen Hicks' superb video presentation Nietzsche & the Nazis.

How did one of the most educated nations in Europe turn into a Nazi dictatorship? How philosophical were the National Socialists? How socialist were they?  What influence did heavyweight intellectuals such as Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and Oswald Spengler have? And to what extent was Nietzsche a forerunner of the Nazis?  All these questions and more are asked and thoroughly answered in Hicks' film. 

But don't just trust me about how good it is.  Read Tibor Machan's review -- and watch the first few minutes online at YouTube

Long life, thank man!

To understand one of the main benefits of living in an industrial civilisation, just think for a moment about life expectancy. 

Since America's Industrial Revolution, life expectancies have essentially doubled, from a life expectancy of 38.3 for a man born in 1850 (and 40.5 for a woman), to 75.7 for a man now, and 80.8 for a woman.  [See the tables here, hat tip Stephen Hicks.] 

What that means is that just one-hundred-and-fifty years ago, anyone over the age of forty in the US was considered old.  And with the exception of the last one-hundred-and-fifty years, that was the way it was for most of human history -- and still is in those places that haven't yet experienced genuine industrialisation.

Thank goodness then for the Industrial Revolution, the single biggest boon for the human environment in all recorded history (and thank goodness too for the source of that blessed revolution: man's reason). 

As Ayn Rand suggests, anyone over 38 years of age today should give a silent "Thank you" to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find.

PS:  I wonder how many readers will see the link between this post, and the post on morality a couple of days ago?  Anyone?

UPDATE: On a related theme, Yaron Brook characterises the ongoing conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil as that between the "flat world" and the "free world." Those who see the victory of the latter "powered by inexorable forces of technology and history" should think again, he says.

Why can't the bastards just leave us alone! (updated)

light-bulb-ban Another day, another ban. 

Since Navtej Singh was shot we've been hearing calls for bottle stores and their opening hours to be capped, banned and regulated into non-existence -- it was Mr Singh's own fault for being shot, say the wowsers, and bans on bottle stores and their opening hours are urgently needed.

This, it seems, is their idea of 'fighting crime.'

On Wednesday last week, we were told that using our cellphones while driving would be banned.  We're not to be trusted in our own cars, so the government's big stick is coming out, we've been told.

This, it seems, is their idea of 'road safety.'

And today we hear that the government is going to ban incandescent light bulbs from the end of next year, so if we want light in our homes we will have to use the mercury-filled spiral windings that have been struggling for consumer support -- and with good reason. 

This, it seems, is their answer to so called 'market failure' -- ie., consumers who show a dislike for products the wowsers insist they should be buying.

Nearly every day we're assaulted with would-be wowsers who know better than we do how to live our own lives, or who think they do.  Every day we hear a new bastard who wants to ban products or behaviour that for some twisted reason they just don't like. And nearly every second day we're assailed with a politician who's seen an opportunity for headlines by picking up one of the wowsers' favourite schemes to decrease our moral space.

And so it is that our freedoms shrink incrementally, one ban, one regulation, one imposition at a time.

It's often said that the end result of banning foolishness is that we'll end up with a nation of fools. It's increasingly obvious that it's the fools who have taken charge.

PS: I wonder if the wowsers have considered that the ban on light bulbs is symbolic of the wider wowserism?  After all, since cartoons often use a thought bubble of a cartoon to signify a good idea, what to do you think a ban on lightbulbs symbolises?

UPDATE 1: New links added.
UPDATE 2:  To celebrate the new light bulbs we're all going to be forced to use, here's Graham Parker's 'Mercury Poisoning.'

Blogger warning

This is a heads up to bloggers of all shapes, sizes and political allegiances (even nasty ones) that use stories from Associated Press.  Looks like using AP's content might land you at the wrong end of a legal suit.  In just one example, Roger Cadenhead of the Drudge Retort reports that AP is suing a blogger for posts  quoting between 33 and 74 words of AP's material!  More details from the blogger here. [Hat tip Noodle Food.]

Just thought you ought to know too.

Taxpayer-funded blogging

Yes, taxpayer-funded blogging.  No, not me you fools.  I'm talking about the Labour Party client blog called The Standard AKA The Stranded, AKA The Double Standard, AKA the Sub-Standard.  (I won't post a link to the site because every time I visit my anti-virus software goes into hypermode.)

This is a blog run by geeks with no name who spew out patent garbage promoting this government that even Heather Simpson would reject as too fawning -- geeks who continue to insist that the Electoral Finance Act is justified to prohibit anonymous participation in politics.  And it looks like they're using our money to do it.

Earlier in the year it appeared clear that these geeks were paid Labour flunkies using a tax-paid Labour server to post their anonymous rubbish. After much media interest, Labour president Mike Williams insisted they weren't, and even if they were they were going to stop, and even if they had been they've stopped now.

They haven't.  It appears The Double Standard still pumps out its hot air, lies and spin on a taxpayer-funded Labour webserver -- that's a big piece of hardware you've paid for, dear reader, so that the the Labour Party can run its office, not so Labour flunkies can help them run for office.    Details here.  That's a piece of hardware, just to remind you, that Labour Party president Mike Williams has previously insisted the Standard boys and girls are barred from. 

Guess not.

Martin House, Frank Lloyd Wright


This, above, is the focal point of the 100 ft long pergola and conservatory extending from the entrance of the Darwin Martin House right to the very back of the garden -- part of a reconstruction currently under way at the 1904 Buffalo house to restore the house and grounds to their former glory after a century of destruction of the grounds, and institutional neglect of the house.

You can see the pergola and conservatory running from right to left through the centre of the plan below.

This slide show and audio at the 'Wright in Buffalo' site gives an update on the progress of the reconstruction. [Hat tip Prairie Mod.]  And you can take a virtual tour of the whole complex here at the house's official site.  [Click BUILDINGS then MARTIN HOUSE COMPLEX.]

                            Martin_House Plan

Monday, 16 June 2008

New blog & new updates

New blog in town is NZ Capitalist hosted by Elijah Lineberry, seen in his usual besuited garb a few posts below at the Libz stand at Fieldays.  Of his new blog Elijah says, "It is intended to have various current events, market matters and other business related comment for you to read; and one hopes you all enjoy!"  Sounds splendid!

And for those of you following Anna Woolf's cancer treatment (that's the treatment of the blogger formerly known as Annie Fox), she's posted the first updates on how she's feeling after her first two sessions of chemo.

Anyone for a drive across Israel?

When preparing his lecture on Israel for our online history course on The Islamist Entanglement, historian Scott Powell discovered an apt way in which to demonstrate just how small Israel is. For a New Zealand audience, it's the size below -- the length of a drive from Dunedin to the Wild Food Festival in Hokitika -- the size of a country that could be overrun in just a few hours by anyone determined enough to 'wipe it off the map.' No wonder it's been tried --and repelled -- so often.

The image comes from the site IRIS.ORG.IL, which also shows the size of Israel in comparison to just a portion of the Arab world.

As Scott wryly says, "No wonder the Arab world has so much trouble accommodating the Palestinian refugees. Where would they all fit?"

NB: If you've missed the nine preceding lectures in Scott's Islamist Entanglement course, then it's not too late to sign up and listen to all the lectures so far at the online archive, and then get the concluding lecture live and online next week.

And if you'd like to sign up for Scott's next history course before it starts -- and I'd urge all of you to give it serious consideration -- he's kicking off his First History for Adults™ (Part 4) on Ancient History shortly. (No previous knowledge of history is required, just some basic native intelligence.)

The exploding glass ceiling

Aussie Tim Blair has news on the latest frontier for feminism: a women's equal right to blow herself up.  Apparently while the likes of Hamas and the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda are happy to heed the call of "I am woman!  Here me explode!", Al Qaeda bosses are denying women the right to break, quite literally, the 'glass ceiling.'  Read, Blair's The Right to Ignite for the latest farcical feminist flatulence.

Finding a scapegoat for petrol prices (updated)

The Government has decided how to handle the calls for a reduction on excise tax in petrol: To ignore them.

Specifically, to ignore them and to offer the public a scapegoat.

This is the real point, you see, of the Government-ordered inquiry in petrol pricing: to draw attention from the fact that without excise taxes and GST on petrol, the price would not be the record high of $2.10/litre it is this morning but a highly affordable price of around $1.25/litre. In the words of George Reisman, this will be the guilty interrogating the innocent in order to throw the blame somewhere else.

The reports around the traps this morning and the support for the inquiry from the Automobile Association show that the conjuring trick is working -- the media are too dumb to notice they're being used, and the AA are too keen to curry favour to point out the dishonesty.

The inquiry has absolutely no other point than to take the focus of the extent of government theft. There is absolutely nothing of any substance an inquiry can achieve. You can compare its theft below, in red, to the margins made by local distributors, in grey, and see for yourself the effect that bullying the local petrol companies could have:

The government takes far more in excise taxes and GST on petrol than the local petrol companies earn for importing, refining and selling the stuff, yet by offering up the spectacle of local oil company executives being harangued by local MPs the government hopes the public will forget the extent that the government is thieving from them, and maintain the illusion that the government is on the side of the motorist.

They know, of course, that can rely on the compliant media and a fawning Automobile Association to back up the lies.

UPDATE 1: Julian summarises the situation, for those of you who Lianne Dalziel hopes haven't kept up. "The reasons that fuel costs are so high are because:

  1. The cost of crude is high. It is an international commodity. In NZ we are powerless to change that.
  2. The majority of the local cost is made up of tax. The government can change this - but will not.
  3. I understand that the return on capital for international oil companies has risen from 22% to 23% - that is an increase of only 1% - since oil was at US$40 a barrel. The costs of refining have risen and they are pouring huge amounts of money into exploration (despite governments trying to prevent them from exploration). The risks they face are enormous and they must be compensated for this.
  4. Which brings us to the local petrol companies. As the MED graph shows, margins are not high historically speaking. They are powerless in the face of the current environment.

"As you say PC, this is just another exercise in blaming companies - and another attempt to [justify regulating] our lives and business." Don't buy it.

UPDATE 2: The nonsensical idea that international oil prices are being driven up by speculation, and not by basic supply and demand factors, should be given short shrift.

I've dealt before with the supply and demand factors, so I won't do that here. Instead, I'll let George Reisman explode the myth that, in the absence of genuine reasons for price movements, 'speculation' is capable of pushing up the price of anything.

Yes, it's true that many investors have been moving into commodities in recent months, but to blame them for the overall rise in prices ignores a number of things (including those supply and demand factors), including the much overlooked fact that in order to gain their profits the speculators or their agents will at some stage have to sell their holdings -- and if the quantities of their purchases are sufficent to shift the market upward (as the braindead say they do), then so too will their sales drive the market down. Explains Reisman:
The fact that speculators must lose in the absence of an independently caused rise in the demand for and price of the commodity in which they speculate is confirmed by the following supply-and-demand diagram. The diagram shows that initially, in the absence of speculators, the price of a commodity is p0, resulting from the demand DD and supply SS. [That is,] the general public buys the entire supply, equal to quantity OA, at the price p0.
Now, speculators appear on the scene, and when their demand is added to that of the general public, the total demand for the commodity rises from DD to D'D'. The result is that the price rises from p0 to p1.
At the higher price, the general public reduces its purchases from the full supply, OA, to the part of the supply represented by OB. The speculators buy up the part of the supply represented by AB. If the speculators bought the quantity AB all at once, they would have to pay a price of p1 for it. In the absence of an increase in demand on the part of the general public, the speculators would then have to sell back their supply at a price of p0, if they sold it back all at once.
The fact that they would probably buy the quantity AB in increments and sell it back in increments changes nothing fundamental, because the purchase and sale of each increment is described by exactly the same analysis.
In addition, there is the further problem of a likely movement of the quantity supplied to somewhere to the right of the line SS, in response to the rise in price.
Naturally, this is a problem somewhat helped in the case of oil by the natural tendency of governments to place extensive restrictions on supply.

And just so you know, this is the first, and probably the last, time this blog will play host to a supply-and-demand diagram. It's posted here so all the intelligent Treasury types who read this blog and who do use such diagrams can download it and use it in their submissions to Dalziel's inquiry. (If you want the page reference for your footnotes, you can read the argument in Reisman's book Capitalism, p217-218, and 224-225. You can find a PDF copy of the book online here.)

Some pics from Fieldays (updated)

Here's a few photos of the Libz crew at work at Fieldays talking to part of the record Fieldays crowd(click the pics to enlarge). We figure someone at Fieldays must have had a sense of humour, putting the Nats right next door to us :

P6130246The crew at work (below). Punters sign up for more, while Eli checks the deserted National Party stand next door (left). Note the signs indicating who paid for the Nats' site.

Here's the Nats' Rotorua candidate on Friday afternoon, just before we sent him home for vagrancy.P6130248And here he is hugging a tree ...

Here's Maurice Wimpianson looking for today's National policy...
P6130249 And here's Maurice all alone, and still in the dark ...

P6130254 4.37pm on Friday - the taxpayers obviously didn't pay enough to keep these people (left) on the job for the full day either.P6130257

NZ First lady (right) knew all about Libz "because we read all your press releases."


Here's the winning message that drew the punters in:

And a winning stand -- the only political party stand that was Not Taxpayer Funded: P6140270

And, finally, guess which party has ideas ... and which one's completely in the dark ...

UPDATE 1: Following on from what I said after my own stint on the Libz stand earlier in the week, here's some of what the Libz volunteers observed over the week:

  1. Libertarianz' name recognition has increased enormously amongst rural folk, as has the realisation that if parties keep dishing out the same old slop we'll keep getting the same old big-government failure.
  2. Libertarianz is no longer seen as 'extremist' -- at least not by the people we were talking to. It's taken twelve years, but policies like abolishing the RMA and separating school and state were being talked about as sensible and 'centrist.' As they say, it's not until you get bored with saying something that it finally starts to sink in.
  3. Oh, and no questions on the roads. Real people are over the small stuff.
  4. Most National MPs are better privately than they are publicly (hard not to be, really), but every single one of them lacks courage. The lesson being that the more principled activists can make it politically acceptable for politicians to say (as Kate Wilkinson did, for example) that National MPs are opposed to compulsion, the better. Even better if they mean it when they say it.
  5. ACT are now irrelevant. Not one person mentioned ACT to us all week, not even to write then off.
  6. And so too are Winston First and United No Future. For once, there was no rabid geriatric supporters of Winston first to give us the usual 'The Messiah Will Save Us' speech, and no Winston to show up and sooth his few remaining supporters. And no one even knew who Peter Dunne was.
  7. The traditional farming constituency of the National Party are very angry with the Nats. There is widespread agreement that they are just Labour-Lite, widespread annoyance that they've bought the phony global warming line -- and absolute outrage that they're proposing their own Emissions Trading Scheme -- and apparently no support at all for National's mealy-mouthed sleep-walking to the election. A rural vote for National this year will not be a vote for National but a vote against Helen Clark. The Nats will have to earn back any genuine support -- if they can.
UPDATE 2: Note that unlike the other political parties at Fieldays, the Libz stand was NOT taxpayer funded. If you'd like to help out with the costs of the stand, you can donate here. :-)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Where the 'New Atheists' get it wrong

The assault by the New Atheists on religion has been splendid to watch, but incompletely conceived.  The likes of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and The End of Faith by Sam Harris have all contained courageous assaults on superstition, and between them they've helped put the superstitious on the back foot, but, says Greg Perkins, they've fallen short in important areas that religionists like Dinesh D'Souza have been able to exploit.

In the fourth in a series on The New Atheists, Perkins presents 'Why the New Atheists Can't Even Beat D'Souza: Morality and Life' saying,

How can people be moral without God? The 'New Atheists' stumble badly in debate against Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza when addressing issues such as this. In this article, I explain how their struggle flows from three patches of confusion that are widespread in secular thought -- confusions that actually prevent the pursuit of a truly objective, scientific approach to values and morality. This the last in a series of four pieces exploring key weaknesses in the New Atheists' philosophical foundation -- and illustrating how D'Souza wouldn't stand a snowball's chance against an Objectivist."

[Hat tip, Objectivist Blog Carnival at Rational Jenn's]

You see, the New Atheists are successful in pointing out that the morality of the Bible is appalling.  “Consider first God’s moral character, as revealed in the Bible," says Elizabeth Anderson, for example.

He routinely punishes people for the sins of others. He punishes all mothers by condemning them to painful childbirth, for Eve’s sin. He punishes all human beings by condemning them to labor, for Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:16-18). He regrets his creation, and in a fit of pique, commits genocide and ecocide by flooding the earth (Gen. 6:7). He hardens Pharaoh’s heart against freeing the Israelites (Ex. 7:3), so as to provide the occasion for visiting plagues upon the Egyptians, who, as helpless subjects of a tyrant, had no part in Pharaoh’s decision. (So much for respecting free will, the standard justification for the existence of evil in the world.)”

And they're successful in pointing out that, as Dawkins says, even Christians "do not as a matter of fact derive [their] morals from scripture,"

or if we do, [they] pick and choose among the Scriptures for the nice bits and reject the nasty. But then [they too] must have some independent criterion for deciding which are the moral bits. A criterion which, wherever it comes from, cannot come from Scripture itself, and is presumably available to all of us, whether we are religions or not.

But when it comes to deriving the actual source of morality, Dawkins and his colleagues fail abysmally.  The source of morality is not "innate." It lies not in our "feelings," or some innate "moral sense" or "social conscience."  Its source is not gurus or God, it's ...  well, read on:  Read my own contribution on the topic, or Perkins masterful contribution.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

NOT PC's 'Six of the best' for week to June 14, 2008

Here's the top-six most read, most linked, most loved or most-argued about posts here at NOT PC this last week.  If you missed them, for shame -- but now's your chance to catch up:

  1. Fifty-odd questions for National. Fifty questions that go right to heart of the empty bloated thing that is National.
  2. Voting Advice from Ayn Rand.
  3. The 'Gone By Lunchtime List.'  There's no shortage of ways to slash government spending, no matter what the pundits say.  Here's 400 ways to start ...
  4. Shop Killers. First thoughts on the bastards who murdered Navtej Singh.
  5. Tear Down this Tax, Dr Cullen!  There is something simple this government can do about rocketing petrol prices -- something very simple ...
  6. Opera House for Dubai, by Zaha Hadid.  I was wrong.  This stunning piece of architecture for the desert sands of the Emirate's megalopolis shows that Zaha Hadid really does know what she's doing.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Beer O’Clock: Beer Events

For the average punter, the constant release of new beers from New Zealand breweries and the stream of imports arriving on-shore seemingly every week can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a couple of beer events prepared to all do the hard work for you if you are prepared to fork over some cash and try something new.

Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge
Now in its eleventh year, the Challenge is the longest running and biggest beer and food matching contest in New Zealand. Entrants create mouth-watering dishes using non-farmed “wild” ingredients and match them to the Monteith’s range (including their New Zealand Lager this year.)

Over 100 eateries in Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch, the West Coast of the South Island, Marlborough/Nelson, Wellington, Tauranga, Hamilton, the Central Plateau, Coromandel/Thames and Auckland have entered the competition for 2008.  

Having judged this contest for a number of years, I have to say it really is a dining experience.  There are formal and informal categories to cater for everything from pub food and high cuisine.  Best of all, the beer is included in the meal price!

The contest dates are:

North Island: 13th July - 3rd August 2008

South Island: 20th July - 10th August 2008

Full details will be posted soon on the Monteith’s website -- and keep an eye out for the signs around town.

BrewNZ 2008 
clip_image001New Zealand’s biggest beer festival, BrewNZ, will be held in Wellington from 2-6 September 2008.  

Now entering its seventh year, BrewNZ is set to become a world class beer event kicking off with the judging of over 200 beers from New Zealand and around the world for the BrewNZ Beer Awards and culminating with two days of tasting under one roof at the Overseas Terminal.

It is great to see the return of a public event at BrewNZ.  This year it will be Beervana, a beer-tasting and education event where guests can get advice from high profile brewers and chefs on beer styles and the art of beer and food matching. 

You just know I will be there.

The public are invited to attend the BrewNZ Awards evening on Thursday 4 September as well as Beervana on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 September.  Ticket prices for Beervana are $25 per person and they can be purchased now at the revamped BrewNZ website.  

I’d suggest that is the best $25 someone interested in beer could spend all year.

Cheers, Neil

On fuel prices

There's a great letter in the Herald this morning from Libz member Shaun Holt:

On Fuel Prices
Why don't petrol stations advertise the cost of petrol as $1.25 plus taxes? That way everyone would see who is to blame for high prices - not the oil companies who find, collect, process and distribute the petrol, but the Government who takes nearly half of the cost, just because they can.

Shaun Holt

Holding students back

The government is about to force youngsters who have better things to do to stay in the government's factory schools until they're eighteen, and unsurprisingly the principals of some of the better government schools are unhappy at being forced to play nurse-maid to youngsters who would rather be somewhere else -- perhaps somewhere productive like earning a living.  As Callum McPetrie says, it's not hard to understand why principals are unhappy.

Why would a school principal want to keep students who have already expressed an intention to leave school -usually to go into the workforce- and who would simply cause violence if they were kept back? Why would a school want to waste money on the hiring of new teachers, adjusting wages to compensate for the extra stress put on already-existing teachers, extra school teaching material, and new classrooms for students who don't want to learn?

Libertarianz education spokesman Phil Howison puts the proposal in context:

Detaining students for a further 2 years against their will is a violation of the rights of young New Zealanders, to say nothing of a waste of tax-payer money. It is essentially an admission of defeat for state education - if eleven years in state schools has left over 500,000 New Zealanders functionally illiterate, what difference could adding two years make?

It used to be that students were kept behind after class as punishment for their own failure of discipline.  Now it seems students will be kept behind because of the failure of the school system itself.

Bursting the warmist bubble

Margaret Thatcher's former chancellor knows a thing or two about financial bubbles -- after all, he helped create one in the late eighties that, when it finally burst, gave the UK several years of deep recession in the early nineties. Now he's identified another bubble, a green bubble, and in the latest Time magazine he argues that it too is about to burst.

The twin elements of a bubble are euphoria and roguery, with the proportions varying from case to case. The coming green bubble, which is already attracting large amounts of venture capital and government money, displays both.

Read on here: What's Green & Goes Pop? - Nigel Lawson, TIME

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Libz firearms spokesman online

When Libertarianz firearms spokesman Peter Linton appeared on TVNZ's Eye to Eye last weekend with Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Marie Dyhrberg, & Hone Harawira, no one knew that the unarmed Navtej Singh was about to be brutally murdered for the price of a case of beer.

In the wake of that senseless killing, their debate on the police, guns, self defence and tasers takes on new relevance, and can now be seen online via Libz TV.

Steyn on the line

Canada's attack on Mark Steyn's free speech is more than a political evil, says Jeff Perren. It is contrary to reason and justice.  See Jeff's article here at Real Clear Politics: Canada's Mortifying Trial.

"Ban the ban" cried the fantail (updated)

Another day, another ban, this time on using a hand-held mobile phone in your car. Libertarianz spokesman Luke Howison tells Morning Report here that this is a "knee jerk response" and yet another example of the proliferation of nanny state: the government feels the need to ban everything bad and make everything good compulsory.  Audio here.

UPDATE 1: You know, if you don't like drivers using cell phones, there's no need for government to pull out the big gun -- which all those in support of a ban are supporting. 

If, for example, insurance companies

were to review their actuarial figures for accidents (which are more accurate than the politically massaged figures quoted in support of the government's ban) and find that cell phone use was consistently linked with accidents, then they're always able to inform holders of insurance that, for example, accidents involving or caused by cell phone use will not be covered under their car insurance policies, just as accidents involving a drunken driver are presently not covered  by the driver's policy.

So there's no need to leap to bans, which is the nannying knee jerk response one expects when the solution to everything is thought to be bigger government.

UPDATE 2: I assume most of you will have got the hippy reference in the title?

Blasphemer jailed

This poor bastard has been jailed in Finland for two years and four months on nine counts of "gross defamation, inciting ethnic hatred and inciting religious hatred" -- in other words, "insensitivity towards Islam." [Hat tip Duncan Bayne] The poor bastard's name is Seppo Lehto, and while his work is variously described as "odious," "repellent," and "racist filth," that on its own should not be cause for imprisonment.  Notes blogger Baron Bodissey,

As was pointed out by several commenters at the time, Mr. Lehto is not the most appealing poster child for freedom of expression.

Unfortunately, one can’t choose only the most noble and upstanding people as defendants in civil liberties cases. When it comes to the suppression of free speech, authorities are more likely to pick off the stragglers — the unpopular, unpleasant, and unattractive media personalities who inhabit the fringes of public discourse.

Seppo Lehto is one such character, and now he has just been convicted and sentenced for inciting ethnic hatred. He will spend more than two years in prison for posting his noxious opinions on his blog. In many ways, Finland is leading the way in the repression of free speech. Britain generates more cases, but the Finns have been prosecuting theirs more effectively and imposing harsher punishments."

"That Finland is now in the role of protecting Islam from criticism, is a step that no other state in Europe has taken until now," notes the Tundra Tabloid, "and that, more than anything else, is indeed dangerous as it is worrisome."

It's ominously clear that when 'hate speech' laws are on the books, then free speech protection goes to the dogs.  As Hugh Laurie's former partner-in-comedy Stephen Fry reminds us,

'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?'

NB: Instead of linking to Lehto's odious and repellent racist filth, I'll link readers instead to Prodos's masterful analysis of the issues raised by Lehto's colleague-in-purdah Mikko Ellilä in his article, 'Society Consists of People.'  The link to Prodos's analysis, his own reasons for ejecting Ellila from his Prodos-hosted blog, (and why ejecting him is not a violation of free speech) can be found here:  My comprehensive assessment of Mikko Ellila article, Society Consists of People.

A frolic at Fieldays (updated)

I spent yesterday at the Fieldays in Mystery Creek -- always an exciting day out.  For four days every year in this attractive river valley, a small city grows up  devoted almost exclusively to celebrating production, innovation and the backbone of New Zealand's wealth production.

"Almost exclusively" since on those stands manned by government employees (of which there are mercifully few) the virtues of production, innovation and wealth are celebrated only in their destruction, just as they are at three-quarters of the stands manned by the few politicians who bother to show up.

This year there were just four political parties represented: Labour, NZ First, National and Libertarianz.  (The ACT Party apparently wasn't interested in the chance to talk to 150,000 people, the United Party and Maori Parties are either disinterested or insufficiently resourced, and it's unlikely any agricultural producer would want to talk to the Greens.)

The organisers obviously had a sense of humour -- they placed the Libz stand right next to the National Party stand.  Naturally, this proved enormously useful in directing punters next door to ask one of the fifty-odd curly questions we'd prepared for the National MPs in attendance to answer.  I even slipped over and asked a couple myself: I was particularly fascinated to hear Kate Wilkinson's answer to whether or not National is a party of compulsion -- the answer is apparently both "Yes" and "No" and "I was misquoted."

Improvements are already under way to reflect this contiguity.  As I write this, for example, a small sign is being attached to the Libz stand containing excerpts from the National Party Constitution, inviting punters to ask the National MPs next door if they still believe in such phrases as "Individual freedom and choice," "the avoidance of unnecessary controls," and "competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement," and how exactly those beliefs are given expression in National Party policy.  Answers will be recorded for posterity.

Our job was made much harder however by National's failure to erect any signage telling punters who they were or any lighting to relieve the gloom of the poorly lit indoor venue, resulting in passing punters being accosted out of the gloom by small people in ill-fitting suits with whom they were utterly unfamiliar. 

It wasn't just embarrassment that was to blame for National not putting up any signs.  Since the taxpayers of New Zealand funded the nearly ten-thousand dollar cost of their stand, the Electoral Finance Act required their signs to be accompanied by a parliamentary crest the same size as the party logo, something for which they had been wholly unprepared. The stand therefore consisted only of one reception counter, one card table with chairs, one large flower arrangement and four hay bales, presumably to give 'local colour.'  Of policy or pamphlets, there was little sign.

Such scruples however didn't bother either Labour or NZ First, whose stands abounded in tax-paid regalia without any matching crest, and in NZ First's case a large framed portrait of His Winstonness in pride of place.  Intelligent patronage at both these two seemed slight -- no one appeared eager to engage the Labour wimmin in discussion (what would there be to talk about?), and the only people I saw at the NZ First stand were an elderly couple being helped to a seat by Doug Woolerton, and what seemed to be their Downes Syndrome grand-daughter, who stood pointing happily at the portrait of Winston while dribble rolled down her chin.

Such is the support base of Winston First, and the interest by farmers in what Labour has to say.

TFR79-FrontCover UPDATE:  A few people have asked about the signs at our own stand - which was ringed with red tape on which appeared our officially mandated authorisation statement, and dotted with conspicuous displays of the 'Not Taxpayer Funded' logo.

Three things worked particularly well in drawing in passing punters and raising a smile:

  • a sign prominently displayed on which was listed just some of the departments, agencies and quangoes Libz recommend for abolition;
  • that picture at right, which was turned towards the National party stand;
  • a paraphrase of Voltaire's famous quote emblazoned across the back wall :
    • “New Zealand will never be completely free until the last bureaucrat is strangled with the guts of the last politician.”

Frankly, by the time the punters started talking to us they were already smiling so hard they were only too happy to have Libz literature and ideas thrust upon them.

Problems in the US electric grid

Given the ongoing problems with NZ's electricity generation and supply, The Objective Standard hosts a timely and fascinating discursion on the history and development of the American electric grid written by analyst Raymond Niles, taking us from its earlier genesis under the likes of entrepreneurs Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, to its gradual strangulation by regulation, price control and property rights violations, and the resulting "crises, blackouts and huge price disparities" of today, which, notes Niles,

have led to a vigorous debate about the root cause of the industry’s problems and how to solve them. On one side are the advocates of regulation who blame the problems of the industry on the “deregulation” of the past few decades, and who long for a return to the “good old days” of 100 percent ratebase regulation. On the other side are the advocates of the kind of “deregulation” that involves the forced opening of the grid, who now argue that the grid must be “freed up” even more than it was before.

"Both sides,"  says Niles, "are wrong."  Read on here for his solution to the seemingly "intractable dilemma," which is also the solution to demonstrates the illusion of Telecom's supposed monopoly of supply was a monopoly maintained only by the lack of Niles' important insight.

UPDATE: At a time when NZ's electricity generators are running at capacity -- which is still  less than enough for some businesses who are already working short shifts -- at a time such as this, what is National's Nick Smith worried about?  What is it that has got the red-faced weasel worried? Answer: "the massive current increase in emissions from electricity generation." And his colleague, Gerry bloody Brownlee, here's what he had to add: "Brownlee said if the recent thermal emissions were added to the deforestation figures "it's just a disaster" and says the increase continues the pattern set during Labour's term in office."

A "disaster." In Smith and Brownlee's wet world, generating the power to keep the wheels of industry running is "a disaster."  In the upside-down world of National, if Labour's finger-wagging waffle about climate change isn't matched by equally vigorous finger wagging stopping producers producing, this is considered to be a bad thing.


No surprise then that National has now said "me too" to its own Emissions Trading Scheme a sort of Emissions-Trading Lite -- which I was assured yesterday by Phil Heatley would be sufficiently onerous to hold NZ industry down to 1990 levels of emissions.  Asked if this meant that the scheme would be sufficiently onerous to hold NZ industry down to 1990 levels of productivity, Heatley assured me that we'd all be alright, that producers would go right on producing. 

How?  Somehow.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Fifty-odd questions for National

By the time you read this post, I'll be holding up one end of the Libertarianz stand at Fieldays -- helping promoting reason, freedom and less government to an expected 150,000 punters strolling past our stand.

And since we'll be just three stands down the road from the National Party stand, we thought we should encourage passing punters to stop in and see them too, and ask any passing MPs some pointed questions.  In fact, for those so inclined, we'll be offering them some very pointed questions to ask.  Who better to ask them of, we thought?

And since we believe in fairness, we'll even give them advance notice of some of the very fair questions we've prepared for them ... 

Fifty-odd Fieldays questions for National

Q: RED TAPE: Which government departments will the National Party abolish to reduce government, in accordance with the stated aims of the National Party's constitution?
LIBERTARIANZ says: The Libertarianz unemployment policy is clear -- unemployment under Libertarianz would increase dramatically ... among bureaucrats, consultants and jobsworths. Start with the Ministries of Women's, Youth, Maori and Pacific Island Affairs, and NZ Rail and OSH, and then keep working on down ...

Q: SMACKING: At the anti-smacking rally outside parliament last year, National MPs stood up and said they were AGAINST the anti-smacking bill. One week later they all marched into parliament and voted FOR the Bill. Is there a word for that?
LIBERTARIANZ are opposed to the nationalisation of New Zealand children. Your children are YOUR children, not Sue Bradford’s – or John Key’s.

Q: RMA: You Introduced the Resource Management Act in 1991, and Simon Upton and Nick Smith oversaw it unchanged for eight years. Are you proud of that?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Private property rights provide the strongest possible protection for the environment and property owners. Libertarianz will repeal the fascistic Resource Management Act, and uncover the common law that decades of planning legislation have buried.

Q: COMPULSION: Is it true you are not a party of compulsion, as National's Kate Wilkinson said recently -- just before she was silenced for saying so?

Q: VOLUNTARISM: Do you support voluntary student union membership?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Supporting voluntarism on campus is a litmus test of freedom. If you don’t support students being allowed to choose with whom they associate, then what does that say about your support for freedom of choice.

Q: GLOBAL WARMING: You signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998. Are you still proud of that?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Emission reductions required under the Kyoto Protocol will throttle New Zealand industry and energy production. Libertarianz advocate immediate withdrawal from this anti-industrial handbrake on prosperity.

Q: LABOUR-LITE: Is there any law introduced by the Clark Government that you WOULD repeal? Anything at all to which you wouldn't say "Me too"?
LIBERTARIANZ says: ‘Me too’ government is rotten government. Policies should be based on principles, not platitudes.

Q: ELECTION BRIBES: National originally said it would oppose interest-free student loans "with every bone in its body." Now you SUPPORT them! Where are those bones now -- in particular the 33 vertebrae?
LIBERTARIANZ says stop taxing students, and they can pay their own way through their studies. And keep your promises.

Q: EDUCATION: Three years ago National said bulk funding was "the first step towards providing the flexible education system that parents wanted." You've now abandoned even this timid first step. Do you no longer believe in a flexible education system that serves parents and children better?
LIBERTARIANZ says the separation of school and state is urgently necessary to liberate youngsters from the factory schools that are failing in everything but politically correct indoctrination.

Q: FOREIGN OWNERSHIP: Why won't you immediately overturn the pathetic ban on foreign ownership of so called strategic assets that saw the sale of Auckland Airport shares to Canada Pensions made illegal by this Government?
LIBERTARIANZ says it's not the Government's job to intrude upon a willing seller and a willing buyer. A principled party would know this.

Q: WELFARE: Why won't you immediately overturn Labour's Welfare for Working Families programme that is turning so many of the country's middle class into welfare beneficiaries?
LIBERTARIANZ says the moral cannibalism of enforced welfare should be abolished immediately, and beneficiaries urgently reacquainted with the ethic of self-responsibility – as should the National Party.

Q: DEFENCE: Why has the National Party capitulated completely on defending New Zealand? Isn't it true that the National Party's defence policy is now best summarised by the title of our national anthem: 'God Defend New Zealand'?
LIBERTARIANZ says: A country worth defending must be able to defend itself. New Zealand's woeful defence capability must be urgently upgraded --meaning more frigates, more Orions, surveillance aircraft for border protection, and rebuilding the strike wing of the Air Force.

Q: MONEY: After eight years of Labour, we are paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world -- how EXACTLY will you change that?
LIBERTARIANZ says the idea that governments can print money to create false prosperity must always be paid for in the long run.

Q: WAGES: The gap between NZ wages and those in Australia and around the world is getting bigger and bigger -- how EXACTLY will you change that?
LIBERTARIANZ says getting the government off your back and out of your business will light the blue touch paper of prosperity!

Q: MONEY: Grocery and petrol prices are going through the roof -- how EXACTLY will you change that?
LIBERTARIANZ says abolishing GST and ending the theft of motorists through hefty petrol taxes (nearly a dollar of every litre) will begin to make life affordable again.

Q: HOUSING: Every city around the world that has made town planners into kings has made housing seriously unaffordable for hardworking kids, whereas un-zoned cities like Houston are the most affordable places in the world to buy a house. What will you do to reduce the power of town planners in New Zealand?
LIBERTARIANZ says the rule of the town planners will only end with a stake through the heart of the Resource Management Act.

Q: EDUCATION: Ten years after Lockwood Smith introduced the NCEA, 300,000 Kiwi kids are functionally illiterate. Are you proud of that? And why is he still on your front bench?
LIBERTARIANZ says the separation of school and state is urgently necessary to liberate youngsters from the factory schools that are failing in everything but politically correct indoctrination.

Q: ENVIRONMENT: Why is Nick Smith more concerned with cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting Maui dolphins than he is in protecting hardworking New Zealanders who are losing their livelihoods by the throttling of industry and the closing down of fisheries? Isn't he in the wrong party?
LIBERTARIANZ says the environment is best protected with strong private property rights, not their destruction.

Q: GLOBAL WARMING: Why has National climbed on board the anti-industry bandwagon in calling for "strong action on climate change" – which means government action to stop private action. We know that socialism doesn't work at fifteen degrees, so why do Nick Smith and National think it will work at seventeen?
LIBERTARIANZ says New Zealand should drop the Emissions Trading Scheme forthwith, withdraw from Kyoto, and leave folk free to make their own choices on global warming.

Q: HEALTH: Even with billions of extra dollars poured into it, the die-while-you-wait health system hasn't improved -- how EXACTLY will you change that?
LIBERTARIANZ will end socialised medicine, allowing providers of all forms of prevention, treatment and therapy to compete in an open market. Tax relief leaves money in your pocket to spend for your own family's health care as you see fit.

Q: TAXES: Cutting taxes without cutting spending makes economic sense? Do you think anyone believes you when you say serious tax cuts don't require serious spending cuts to match?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Your money should be left in your pocket. A Libertarianz government will abolish all duties, tariffs, taxes and levies - except income tax, which as a transitional measure will be set at 25%, with an income threshold before payment of $50,000. And unlike National, Libertarianz has spending cuts to match.

Q: CRIME: We know that violent crime against innocent New Zealanders is continuing to soar -- how EXACTLY will you change that? Why will you not recognise the right of New Zealanders to defend themselves and their families?
LIBERTARIANZ says real crimes with genuine victims like rape, robbery, murder and theft should be vigorously pursued and the rights of these victims enforced and upheld. The NZ Bill of Rights should be amended to uphold your right to self-defence and the right to possess the means thereof.

Q: WELFARE: We know that when nearly 300,000 New Zealanders are dependent on welfare that it's a lie to say unemployment is at "record low levels" -- how EXACTLY will you change the endemic welfare dependence that is the legacy of both National and Labour policies?
LIBERTARIANZ says the moral cannibalism of enforced welfare should be abolished immediately, and beneficiaries urgently reacquainted with the ethic of self-responsibility – as should the National Party.

Q; DPB: After watching case after case of unwanted children being murdered by their own whanau, when will you abolish the system whereby hard-working New Zealanders are taxed to pay for no-hopers to breed?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Recipients should be given three years notice that the failed DPB scheme will end, at which time it should be terminated forthwith.

Q: COMPLIANCE COSTS: Every government since Jenny Shipley's has promised to "reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy," but not one has yet managed it. How EXACTLY will you?
LIBERTARIANZ says there must be a separation of state and business. We must get the government's agents out of your business and out of your life, and slash the regulations that give them access.

Q: PRIVATISATION: Why will you not terminate wasteful dreck like NZ Rail and Maori TV, and sell off profitable enterprises like TVNZ? What happened to the National Party's principles of favouring smaller government?
LIBERTARIANZ says: State assets should be given back to those whose money paid for them - taxpayers - as shares to be sold or retained as you choose.

Q: NANNY STATE: Nanny State is going berserk. How exactly will you reverse the soft fascism of Nanny's onslaught?
LIBERTARIANZ says: The urgency of getting Nanny State out of our homes, out of our workplaces, out of your children's minds and out of our pockets should be understood now even by the National Party.

Q: EDUCATION: Why won't National allow tax credits for people paying for private education?
LIBERTARIANZ says if you withdraw your children from the state's factory schools, you deserve a refund.

Q: HEALTH: Why won't National allow tax credits for people paying for private health insurance?
LIBERTARIANZ says if you withdraw your custom from the state's die-while-you-wait health system, you deserve a refund.

Q: ELECTORAL CORRUPTION: Where was National when Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton was suing Helen Clark for stealing nearly a million dollars of taxpayers' money to buy the last election?
LIBERTARIANZ says using taxpayers’ money to buy elections is corrupt, whoever is doing it.

Q: ENERGY: Will you repeal Labour's ten-year moratorium on the construction of new thermal power stations? Or would Nick Smith rather go hug a tree?
LIBERTARIANZ says the abolition of the Resource Management Act and withdrawal from Kyoto are urgently necessary to allow the long overdue construction of new, clean power generation.

Q: TRANSPORT: Why will you not sell off Michael Cullen's new train set so we're not in the hole even further for all its ongoing costs?
LIBERTARIANZ says all the government's white elephants should be sold off.

Q: PRIVATISATION: Why have you ruled out selling TVNZ, the power generators, all the SOEs and al the government's shares in Air New Zealand?
LIBERTARIANZ says all the government's assets should be sold off, or given as shares to long-term taxpayers.

Q: BUREAUCRACY: What will National do to make public servants our servants again, and not our masters?
LIBERTARIANZ says show them our unemployment policy -- unemployment under Libertarianz would increase dramatically ... among bureaucrats, consultants and jobsworths. Start with the Ministries of Women's, Youth, Maori and Pacific Island Affairs, and the Resource Management Act and OSH and work on down ...

Q: ANIMAL WELFARE: Why will you not rein in the maltreatment of farmers by the SPCA?
LIBERTARIANZ says a farmer's animals are his property, not the SPCA’s.

Q: RACISM: Don Brash stated that National believed in One Law For All. Does John Key?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Government should be colour blind. Law should be colour blind. There should be no favours based on race, colour, or 'treaty status.'

Q: RACISM: Why won't you abolish the Maori seats immediately? If it's right to do it in three years, why not now?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Mean what you say and say what you mean. Racist parliamentary seats should go the way of slavery and apartheid.

Q: WAITANGI: When will you end the corrupt Treaty Gravy Train and take power away from the corrupt Brown Table who are making millions from it?
LIBERTARIANZ says the politics of race and the myth of ‘partnership’ should be expunged from our legal system. Like good politics, good law is colour blind.

Q: GLOBAL WARMING: Why are you going to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme of your own?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Throttling industry with feel-good law is wrong -- just flat out wrong.

Q: FISHING: Why won't National repeal Jim Anderton's draconian ban on set-net fishing. Do you care more about Maui dolphins than you do about the families and livelihoods of New Zealand's fishermen?
LIBERTARIANZ says: Human beings come before fish. (And if dolphins were so smart, they'd stay away from set nets.)

Q. LABOUR-LITE: What's the chief difference between your team and the Red Team? Better suits?
LIBERTARIANZ says if you want to vote Labour out, then voting to put Labour-Lite in is just a wasted vote.

Q. TRADE: How come the Labour party is better at getting free trade deals than National ever has?
LIBERTARIANZ foreign policy can be written in two words: free trade.

Q. TRADE: How come Phil Goff & Helen Clark are better at arguing the case for free trade than John Key & Bill English?
LIBERTARIANZ foreign policy can be written in two words: free trade.

Q. WINSTON PETERS: Will National once again offer Winston the baubles of office just so you can govern?
LIBERTARIANZ says Winston’s tantrums are too high a price to pay. In Parliament Libertarianz would firmly commit to supporting every law that both advances freedom and contains no new coercion. Which rules out supporting Winston.

Q. GLOBAL WARMING: Why did John Key change his view on Global Warming? Was there new evidence we didn't hear about?
LIBERTARIANZ says: The warmist charade is another scaremongering fiction, just like the Y2K, Asian Bird Flu and Ice Age scares of yore – another case of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Q. Does the National Party Caucus beat the snot out of Nick Smith during morning break? If not, why not?

Q. FARMING: How come farmers have been better off under Labour? Please explain.

Q. ELECTRICITY: If Nuclear power was the right thing for NZ would National support it? If not, why not?
LIBERTARIANZ says: The abolition of the Resource Management Act and withdrawal from Kyoto are urgently necessary to allow the long overdue construction of new, clean power generation.

Q: ELECTRICITY: Good on Gerry Brownlee for taking the Clark Government to task for New Zealand’s shambles of an electricity supply. But what will National actually do that will make any difference to our supply shortage? And is he aware that it was National who signed the Kyoto protocol that makes new thermal power stations immoral, and introduced the Resource Management Act that makes building new power stations of any kind all but illegal?
LIBERTARIANZ says abolishing the Resource Management Act and withdrawing from Kyoto are urgently necessary to allow the long overdue construction of new, clean and reliable power generation.

Q. ECONOMY: Why has Labour out-performed National in terms of NZ economic growth rates each time they get into power? It’s not just luck, is it.
LIBERTARIANZ says: Failed policies of subsidies, ‘picking winners’ and micro-managing economics makes an economy insufficiently able to adapt to changing economic conditions. The only ‘managing’ governments should do is managing to keep themselves out of the way.

Q: LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Council rates are going through the roof! Why will you not repeal Local Government Act that Sandra Lee introduced to allow councils to charge like a wounded bull?
LIBERTARIANZ says all laws that allow politicians to put their hand in your pocket without your permission should be repealed.

Q: SUSTAINABILITY: Will you ban the word ‘sustainable’ from the government’s vocabulary?
LIBERTARIANZ says sacrificing our own prosperity to ‘future generations’ in the name of ‘sustainability’ is a con – it can only end in the poverty of both. Our grandchildren will not thank us for not building the dams, abattoirs, power stations, roads and houses today that will need in the future.

I'll let you know if we get any decent responses.

And if you'd like to contribute to help pay for the Libertarianz' stand, then we'd love to see the colour of your money.  :-)

Modernist 'marvels'

Modernist architecture was capable of delivering great excitement, and great squalor.  This 'world-wide tour in ten slides' of some of the modern era's 'marvels' gives you a bit of both.

On which side would you place the Farnsworth House, by Mies van der Rohe, which is included as one of the ten? 


You might be surprised to learn that it wasn't built in Omaha last year, but in Plano Illinois in 1945-51.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Tear down this tax, Dr Cullen!

I'm pleased to be able to correct an earlier negative of assessment of ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie by noting that he's come off the fence to make the obvious point that while the NZ government can do nothing at all about the international supply and demand problems pushing up the international price of oil, they can do something about the local price of petrol which is made up in large part by a large payment to government.  Says Bagrie:

ANZ Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie says the Government should cut petrol taxes by 10 or 20 cents a litre to reduce the squeeze on incomes and help reduce inflation.

Bravo, sir.  I agree with you.

Spending, Saving and the 'Gone By Lunchtime' List (updated)

In the face of constant calls to release policy, John Key has been insisting against all the evidence that he already has, 14 polices, to be precise -- but these are not even 14 blocks of cheese (as David Slack points out they're barely even 14 cheese slices ).  The biggest slice includes a still vague post-budget promise to cut taxes "somewhere north" of Michael Cullen's stake in the ground.

Conventional wisdom however suggests he will have a problem answering Michael Cullen's block of cheese with more than even a small slice of cheese.  Not only is it still conventional post-budget wisdom that we all just got a tax cut (when all we got was a partial inflation adjustment), and that tax cuts are inflationary (which they aren't), it's still conventional wisdom that when National comes to put together a fat tax-cutting budget, they're going to find that the cupboard is bare, and Michael Cullen has already stolen the last of the chocolate. The oncoming economic woes only underscore the problem, say the conventional pundits -- and when it comes to punditry, there's none more conventional than the Listener's Jane Clifton, who says this week,

 it looks very much as though Cullen has used up all available oxygen in the scary chamber of fiscal responsibility. He has even – reluctantly – plunged us into a likely cash deficit, and with the economic downturn upon us, only a buccaneer would try anything bolder.

Ooh er.  A buccaneer!  How swashbuckling. 

Well, not for the first time, the pundits are wrong -- and just for a change I'm going to help National by showing they're wrong.

First of all, as Fran O'Sullivan points out [via The Hive], there's no need at all to buckle a swash.  Alan Bollard's "gloomier economic prognosis" than Cullen's actually "gives National the room it needs to campaign on even bigger tax cuts" without going into deficit, since with things in the toilet even Bollard might gather together enough sense to see he's been a macroeconomic fool.

And second of all, the cupboard they're confusing with Mother Hubbard's is just dripping with fat that can be excised.  It's laden down with sacred cows that need killing.  As PJ O'Rourke points out, the first secret when you're trying to balance the budget and give tax cuts the size of Texas is "to avoid looking for ridiculous examples of government waste."  When you're looking to make spending  cuts you don't want to "page through the minutiae in the "Notes and Appendices to the ... Budget," sifting the "Detailed Budget Estimates by Agency" section until you come up with something like the Department of the Interior's Helium Fund," at which point you "grow very indignant or start making dull, budget-critic-type helium jokes."  No, you want to slash wholesale, cutting bone if necessary -- after all, this is only government bone, with most of it concentrated around government skulls.

There's no need at all to worry about what to cut when without too much effort you can put together a list for the chopping block like the one below, a list my colleague Luke Howison calls 'The Gone By Lunchtime List'.

Luke points out a something crucial most of the conventional pundits have overlooked in their ministrations:  there are 407 -- four hundred and goddamn seven! -- government departments, offices, organisations, councils, SOEs and quangos just waiting, nay demanding, to be chopped down to size, in which hundreds of thousands of people spend their days drawing down a tax-paid salary paid to get in our way.  Given the parlous economic conditions, it would be foolish indeed not to liberate these guys and gals just to get them off our backs.  Fortunately for you all, Luke and his brother Phil have already done the job, helpfully sorting them out for an incoming government into categories. Here's the list a new PM could announce in November:

Gone by Lunchtime, ie., Don't Come Monday:

Office for the Children's Commissioner (he hasn't stopped the killing, has he)
Families Commission (ditto)
Commerce Commission  (AKA Communist Commission)
Ministry for Women's Affairs
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Ministry for Maori Affairs  (let all 'their people' organise their own damn affairs)
Race Relations Conciliator  (have you noticed him successfully conciliating any races? No, me either)
Ministry of Youth Development  (let hoodie-wearers buy their own spray cans)
Ministry of Economic Development (the economy would develop quite nicely without Jim Anderton's attentions, thank you)
NZQA (provides neither quality, nor assurance)
Housing New Zealand (let the bureaucrats pay for their own holidays, and private house-builders do what they do best)
Department of Building & Housing   (why impoverish home owners and house builders to pay for a ministry that does things worse than any house builder in the land?) 
Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand
Asia New Zealand Foundation
Audit New Zealand, part of Office of the Controller and Auditor-General
Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Council
Broadcasting Standards Authority
Broadcasting Commission
Central South Island Fish and Game Council
Child, Youth and Family (have they done any of the three any good?)
Creative New Zealand (let creative New Zealanders pay their own way)
Department of Internal Affairs
Department of Labour
Eastern Fish and Game Council
Electrical Workers Registration Board, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Electricity Commission (nice work, guys, well done)
Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (ditto)
Energy Safety Service, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Environmental Risk Management Authority
Environment Bay of Plenty
Environment Canterbury
Environment Court, part of Ministry of Justice
Environment Southland
Environment Waikato
Family and Community Services, part of Ministry of Social Development
Fish & Game New Zealand
Gambling Commission (I'm betting they'll object to this)
Governor-General (we're a republic now!)
Hawke's Bay Fish and Game Council
Heartland Services, part of Ministry of Social Development
Human Rights Commission
International Services, part of Ministry of Social Development
Investment New Zealand, part of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Measurement and Product Safety Service, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Tourism, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Motor Vehicle Traders Register, part of Ministry of Economic Development
National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, part of Department of Labour (bet there's some unemployable women on this 'council,' right?)
National Health Committee, part of Ministry of Health
Nelson/Marlborough Fish and Game Council
New Zealand Climate Change Office, part of Ministry for the Environment (haven't changed much climate so far, no?)
New Zealand Export Credit Office, part of The Treasury
New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board
New Zealand Geographic Board
New Zealand Sports Drug Agency (if it can't be funded voluntarily, what argument is there for keeping it?)
New Zealand Teachers Council
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
New Zealand Valuers Registration Board (let them register themselves)
North Canterbury Fish and Game Council
Northland Fish and Game Council
Overseas Investment Commission (whose only job is to stop overseas investment!)
Otago Fish and Game Council
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Personal Property Securities Register, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Plant Variety Rights Office, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Registrar of Unions, part of Department of Labour
Removal Review Authority
Remuneration Authority, part of Department of Labour
Residence Review Board
Southland Fish and Game Council
Sport and Recreation New Zealand (we did sport well, back before governments started paying for it)
SPEaR, part of Ministry of Social Development
Taranaki Fish and Game Council
Takeovers Panel
Te Mangai Paho ((if Maori broadcasting can't be funded voluntarily, what argument is there for keeping it?)
Te Matatini Society Incorporated
Tenancy Services, part of Department of Building and Housing
Toi Te Taiao: The Bioethics Council (oh please)
Tourism New Zealand
UNESCO Secretariat for the New Zealand National Commission
Wellington Fish and Game Council
West Coast Fish and Game Council

Phew!  And here's more, to face a slightly later axe:

Deadlock Holiday, ie., Don't come back in August:
Ministry for the Environment (all it takes is codification of common law and abolition of the RMA, and they're gone) 
Ministry of Social Development (let's face it, our social life hasn't been developing well for years, has it)
Ministry of Arts and Culture (aka Ministry for Subsidising Middle Class Tastes)
Ministry of Education (it's been some years since any education was fostered by the fount of political correctness and illiteracy
Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit, part of The Treasury
Crown Health Financing Agency
Employment Institutions Information Centre, part of Department of Labour
Employment Relations Authority, part of Department of Labour
Employment Relations Infoline, part of Department of Labour
Employment Relations Service, part of Department of Labour
Health and Disability Commissioner
Health Research Council of New Zealand
Health Sponsorship Council
Insolvency and Trustee Service, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Inland Revenue Department (who among us won't enjoy that day)
Labour Inspectorate, part of Department of Labour
Ministry of Health  (bureaucrats, not health workers) 
New Zealand Artificial Limbs Board
New Zealand Debt Management Office, part of The Treasury
New Zealand Food Safety Authority  (can't people just pay Sue Kedgely to advise them?)
Occupational Safety and Health Service, part of Department of Labour (they do stop people performing their occupations, but there's blessed little safety or health been seen)
Office for Disability Issues, part of Ministry of Social Development
Office for Senior Citizens, part of Ministry of Social Development
Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector, part of Ministry of Social Development
Office of Ethnic Affairs, part of Department of Internal Affairs
Office of Film and Literature Classification (we're adults, thanks, we'll classify our own films and literature)
Office of Human Rights Proceedings, part of Human Rights Commission (properly known as the Human Wrongs Commissariat)
Office of the Children's Commissioner
Office of Treaty Settlements, part of Ministry of Justice
Retirement Commission, Whiriwhiria!
Securities Commission
State Housing Appeals Authority, part of Department of Building and Housing
TeachNZ, part of Ministry of Education
Te Puni Kokiri
Tertiary Education Commission
Waitangi Tribunal, part of Ministry of Justice
Work and Income, part of Ministry of Social Development

And now for the one Helen Clark has been waiting for, the 'Sell, Sell, Sell!' list -- assets that should be sold so they become real assets instead of a drain on taxpayers; sold to pay off government debt and extinguish some contingent liabilities:

Sell, Sell, Sell!
Accident Compensation Corporation (after their monopoly has been broken)
Accounting Standards Review Board
AgResearch Limited
Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust
AgriQuality Limited
Antarctica New Zealand
Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited
Animal Control Products Limited
Asure New Zealand Limited
Aviation Security Service, part of Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
BIZ Information Centres, part of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Building Control, part of Department of Building and Housing
Career Services rapuara
Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Crown Minerals, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Dispute Resolution Services Ltd , part of Accident Compensation Corporation
Earthquake Commission
Education Review Office
Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Limited
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Foundation for Research Science & Technology
Genesis Power Limited
Healthline, part of Ministry of Health
Immunisation Advisory Centre, part of Ministry of Health
Maternity Services, part of Ministry of Health
Medsafe, part of Ministry of Health
National Screening Unit, part of Ministry of Health
New Zealand Health Information Service, part of Ministry of Health
Housing New Zealand Corporation (assets on a building-by-building basis sold)
Industrial Research Limited
Industry Capability Network, part of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited
International Accreditation New Zealand, part of Testing Laboratory Registration Council
Landcare Research New Zealand Limited
Landcorp Farming Limited
Land Transport New Zealand
Leadership Development Centre
Learning Media Limited
Mediation Service, part of Department of Labour
Meridian Energy Limited
Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited
Mighty River Power Limited
Ministry of Fisheries
Ministry of Research, Science & Technology
Ministry of Transport
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited
National Radiation Laboratory, part of Ministry of Health
New Zealand Blood Service
New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research Limited
New Zealand Lotteries Commission
New Zealand Lottery Grants Board
New Zealand Post Limited
New Zealand Qualifications Authority
New Zealand Railways Corporation (we won't get much for the 'infrastructure,' true but we'll save a mint on annual running costs, and the real estate on which the tracks sit should be worth a quid in the major cities.)
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra  (if Auckland's APO can make themselves pay, then Wellington's orchestra can too)
New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Limited
New Zealand Film Commission
Pacific Business Trust
Pharmaceutical Management Agency Limited
Public Sector Training Organisation
Public Trust
Qualmark New Zealand Limited
Queen Elizabeth II National Trust
Quotable Value Limited
Radio New Zealand Limited
Road Safety TrustRadio Spectrum Management, part of Ministry of Economic Development (sell the spectrum, keep the registry)
Reserve Bank of New Zealand (after removing their monopoly on printing money, and introducing restrictions on new fiduciary media)
Research, Information and Capability Group, part of Ministry of Economic Development
Royal Society of New Zealand (let the Queen pay)
Scion (scientific research)
Solid Energy New Zealand Limited
Standards New Zealand
Statistics New Zealand
StudyLink, part of Ministry of Social Development
Television New Zealand Limited (freed of the charter, it's bound to make its owners a profit again)
Testing Laboratory Registration Council
Transit New Zealand
Transmission Holdings Limited
Transpower New Zealand Limited

And finally, stuff in which ownership should be distributed as shares to existing and past taxpayers.

Distribute as tradeable shares to existing and past taxpayers, ie., to those who paid for them
Alexander Turnbull Library (part of National Library of New Zealand)
Aoraki Polytechnic
Archives New Zealand
Auckland District Health Board
Auckland University of Technology
Bay of Plenty District Health Board
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
Canterbury District Health Board
Capital & Coast District Health Board
Christchurch College of Education
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Counties Manukau District Health Board
Department of Conservation (all it takes is the privatisation of government land, and recognition of existing rights in land and foreshore, and they're gone.  Could be incorporated with former New Zealand Historic Places Trust to form a wholly voluntary NZ National Trust)) 
Dunedin College of Education
Eastern Institute of Technology
Hawke's Bay District Health Board
Hutt Valley District Health Board
Lakes District Health Board
Lincoln University
Manukau Institute of Technology
Maori Television
Massey University
MidCentral District Health Board
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
National Library of New Zealand - Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa
National Rural Fire Authority, part of New Zealand Fire Service Commission
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
New Zealand Fire Service, part of New Zealand Fire Service Commission
New Zealand Fire Service Commission
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (could be incorporated with some portion of former DoC assets to form a wholly voluntary NZ National Trust)
New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee
Northland District Health Board
Northland Polytechnic
Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
Otago District Health Board
Otago Polytechnic
School Services, part of National Library of New Zealand - Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa
South Canterbury District Health Board
Southern Institute of Technology
Southland District Health Board
Tai Poutini Polytechnic
Tairawhiti District Health
Tairawhiti Polytechnic
Taranaki District Health Board
Telford Rural Polytechnic
Te Wananga o Aotearoa
Te Wananga-o-Raukawa
Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi
The Correspondence School
Timberlands West Coast Limited
Unitec Institute of Technology
Universal College of Learning
University of Auckland
University of Canterbury
University of Otago
University of Waikato
Victoria University of Wellington
Waiariki Institute of Technology
Waikato District Health Board
Waikato Institute of Technology
Wairarapa District Health Board
Waitemata District Health Board
Wanganui UCOL, part of Universal College of Learning
Wellington Institute of Technology
Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki
Whanganui District Health Board
Whitireia Community Polytechnic
West Coast District Health Board

I'm sure it's possible to quibble over one or two of these on the list -- and even over a few that have been left off, like the Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand, the Mental Health Commission, and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management -- but frankly why wouldn't one want to relieve the tax burden of hard-working New Zealander by taking these drones from our shoulders?

For any incoming government looking to make savings, there's a veritable smorgasbord of opportunity just waiting for them.

UPDATE: Updated to reflect comments and suggestions from Ad Libertas and Comrade MOT.