Lindsay Perigo's appearance on Eye to Eye yesterday to discuss 'Mordi Language Week' can now be seen online at 'Gogglebox.' Keep an eye out for former Head of the Māori Language Commission Haami Piripi to say the only way the Commission would "target" Perigo is "with a gun in the back," and Rotorua City Councillor Hawea Vercoe to display all the powers of reason of the vicious neanderthal he so strongly resembles.
Monday, 28 July 2008
Fresh from his "people I hate" diatribe in last week's Sunday Star, in which "creators of wealth" and "makers of jobs" come in for particular opprobrium, local leftie Christopher Trotter now offers up as an antidote to that 'hate speech' a "things I believe in" column.
It's not because he's a Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist/Trotskyite that he's a leftie -- 'I rejected that credo' long ago, he insists -- it's all about need, you see. Here's the heart of it:
I believe [says Christopher] that human societies arise out of need. The need for food and shelter, the need for intimacy, the need for nurturing, and the need for protection – both from natural dangers, and the aggression of our own species. To secure these needs, human beings must work, individually or collectively, but always with the ultimate goal of keeping strong those innumerable threads that bind our communities in a functioning wholeness.
Did you see the sleight of hand? From whence emerged this "ultimate goal" of "keeping strong those innumerable threads that bind our communities in a functioning wholeness"? How does he jump from individual needs for things like food and shelter to the "ultimate goal" of the "binding" of communities? Of answer, there is none, and never can be.
And from whence, in the world of our Christopher, emerges the food, shelter and "protection from natural dangers" that all individuals seek? How do these things get here? Who produces them, and why? This is the economic rock upon which all the ships of Trotter's statist longings founder -- indeed, it is the economic rock upon which all of Marxism/Leninism founders: explaining how the goods got here. Sheer need alone will not produce them, and no amount of verbal sleight of hand or "I believe" longings can conjure them out of thin air.
The Marxist's answer to how they're produced? Somehow! They observe only that the goods exist, and put their minds only to the job of taking them from those who somehow produced them -- or to dreaming up sophisms to justify the theft.
This, to a Marxist (or a pseudo-non-Marxist like Trotter), is considered 'economic thinking' : It concerns itself not with how wealth is actually produced, a process which to them remains a mystery, but only with how it is to be 'redistributed.' From Christopher, as from every lapdog Marxist, there is no sign he even understands or wants to understand how production happens. To him the question is insignificant. "Individuals and groups by superior strength or simple good fortune are endowed with wealth and influence" ... they were just standing in line at the right time ... "the possession by a fortunate few of social, political and economic privileges serves the community [are] ... privileges granted to them by the majority" ... they are granted by the majority, you see ... "As a social-democrat I look to the state ... to secure for all citizens a healthy and abundant life" ... all hail the state, the great expropriator ... "As a social-democrat I cannot countenance the arbitrary dispersal of the people’s resources..."
The people's resources, you say, Chris? 'What the hell did indolent fat cretins like him have to do with producing any bloody resources?' This is the question you might want to ask yourself as you read on.
According to the Trotter mantra, the likes of food, shelter, wealth, influence and resources are not produced by individual effort, or entrepreneurial ability, or the application of reason to existence -- they arrive by "good fortune," they are granted as "privileges" by the majority -- they fall, in other words, like manna from heaven, to be redistributed as one pleases. These are the sort of sophisms of which I spoke above.
To people like Labour candidate Jordan Carter, trade is immoral. To people like Labour cheerleader Christopher Trotter, production is irrelevant. To both of them, and to all their great social-democratic 'luminaries,' the State is simply a great engine of expropriation, a beneficent behemoth from which all good things apparently flow. "Those charged with governing our country," the Trotter confides, "hold in trust the resources – both natural and social – that are the common property of all our people."
What makes this property "common"? How do these resources come into the possession of the apparatchiks of the state? What right did they have to take them from those who produced them? Of answer to these questions there is none, but neither is there in all the pages of Marx, or Lenin, or Stalin -- or of any of Trotter's present 'social democratic' heroes. The expectation is that need will inexorably arise, and just as inexorably expropriations will rise up to meet them.
Communities simply have rights to goods, according to the Marxist/social democrat, which the state must meet by expropriating them from those who (somehow) have been able to produce them.
What could be more ingenious? A whole social edifice based upon theft!
Thus we see how one man's need becomes the justification for theft by the state, how economic illiteracy becomes a justification for a morality of sacrifice and expropriation, and how the moral cannibalism of altruism underlies the engine of destruction that is the all-enveloping welfare state. To repeat, according to Trotter: "Those charged with governing our country, hold in trust the resources – both natural and social – that are the common property of all our people." When you understand that, in Trotter's view, those who (somehow) possess this magical ability to produce must be considered a resource, you can understand both why they must be enslaved - "they are the common property of all our people" -- and why he hates, as he demonstrated in his revealing diatribe last week, these productive few who have been mysteriously endowed with an ability beyond his own.
And thus we come to the inevitable Marxist conclusion of Trotter's 'I believe,' the linking of ability to need through the enforced sacrifice of the welfare state -- in the words of Karl Marx: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
Trotter may resile from calling himself a Marxist these days, but it doesn't take too much poking around under the new veneer to see what's hidden beneath the easy sophisms, and that the same blood red flag is still flying.
Those charged with governing our country, hold in trust the resources – both natural and social – that are the common property of all our people.
Can’t disagree with that.
Dear Galt! He then bewails when Trotter "seems to say the minority have no rights, unless the majority grant them," yet the connection between the two escapes him!
Another example of how to disarm oneself by a lack of sufficient philosophical acumen.
David Farrar's Kiwiblog is now five years old, boasting nine-and-a-half million visitors in that time (my own humble blog boasts just over one-tenth that number in just over half that time*). I'd like to offer my congratulations to David for the hard work and energy he has put into his blog over those five years, and what he has achieved with it.
Blogging has already changed the nature of political commentary, helped by the appalling state of the mainstream media -- did someone say "Braindead"? -- and with its uncontested 'number one in NZ' ranking, Kiwiblog has both surfed and created NZ's blogging wave, as No Minister summarises.
The chief value of Kiwiblog to me and many others over many of those last five years is not that Farrar's opinions are either worthwhile or worthy of respect (he's at the better end of National Party apologetics, but apologist he still is), but that his nose for details is acute, and his political antenna is first class. If there's a political issue about, then he's onto it. If there's a story in the wind, then he'll be linking to it. In that respect, Kiwiblog has become the preeminent online clearing house for NZ's major political stories, ahead of the likes of Scoop which would like to have that role. Read Kiwiblog once or twice a day, and if there's a political story worth knowing about then in five minutes or less you can be informed.
From where I sit, however, his authority has diminished as the apologetics for his party have become more necessary.
It's worth noting that for all of those last five years, Kiwiblog has been very much part of the political opposition, while erstwhile rival Public Address has very much not been, and that if National are successful in Election '08 the situation will reverse, and I'd expect the apologetics at Kiwiblog to quickly take over. At that point, when squelching criticism of the government takes over from linking to it, I'd be prepared to say that the relative positions of the two leading blogs might also reverse, and Kiwiblog's number one position will be under threat. After all, the nature of blogging is inherently oppositional.
* Specifically, 986,899 visits since April 2005. At the current rate, I should hit the million mark about halfway through August!
Amid a blogosphere brimful of bickering and a polis rife with passions, Burgess Laughlin comes out on his own blog in favour of ... reasoned debate! What on earth?
In the last few years, I have frequently examined many advocacy websites. One of my purposes was to identify the manner in which the authors made their points. In some weblogs, one element of style stands out: insults to opponents. These writers call their opponents names such as: nutbars, nutjobs, morons, cowards, idiots, goat herders, ragheads, and scum. They also use adjectives such as: moronic, idiotic, stupid, nuts, crazy, loony, insane, delusional, and childish.
I plead guilty. Meanwhile, Laughlin continues.
Why do these writers [ie., me] use insults? Judging from their statements of purpose and the contents of their weblogs, these writers want the world around them to adopt certain views. Do these writers think that insulting their opponents will persuade their opponents to revise their values? I am not sure of the answer. I have only a "working hypothesis."?"
Answering for myself, I have two answers:
- Calling a spade a spade.
We're not having a debate in a university lunch room here. If I can entertain, inform and enlighten by using reason and emotion, then all the better for both my readership and my advocacy.
What say you, dear readers?
[Hat tip Objectivist Carnival at Rational Jenn's]
Barack Obama gives the impression he would be an "I will" President yet, points out psychologist Michael Hurd, all the evidence -- including his "Gee, look at me, I'm a President" tour -- suggests the best way to characterise an Obama presidency would be "I wish."
Labour's Welfare for Working Families bribe has transformed large swathes of New Zealand's middle classes into welfare beneficiaries. When introduced, National called it "a giant welfare package," which it is, said it is "a waste of money," which it has been, and pointed out that it trapped working beneficiaries into penury with an effective marginal tax rate of one-hundred percent, which it does.
Asked about it yesterday, however, Key confirmed National's Welfare for Working Families policy: "Me too."
Nothing has changed to counter those criticisms. What has changed is the National Party, who have now adopted every major policy that they've opposed for nine years.
Meanwhile, as credit dries up on capital markets -- and with no planned spending cuts from a Key-led government -- John Boy has confirmed against criticism that National "will not borrow to fund tax cuts." Notice however that he hasn't ruled out borrowing to fund so called "public investment," which was how Key justified its borrowing plans in 2005 to fund its promised tax cuts.
National: the opposition you have when you don't have an opposition...
UPDATE 1: How many ways does this flip flop violate National's so-called party principles? Let Lindsay Mitchell count the ways, and watch her effortlessly count to nine.
UPDATE 2: John Key, 2004:
Mr Key predicted the new system would have "huge behavioural outcomes" and he was concerned that employers would find workers refusing to do overtime or weekend work.
The effect of the Budget had been to push the disincentive far into middle New Zealand, he said.
"They've got the vast majority of people now trapped in a one-size-fits-all. We all pay one rate - it's communism by stealth.
"It didn't work very well for Eastern Europe and it won't work very well for New Zealand."
John Key, 2008:
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Saturday, 26 July 2008
On the basis of that pathetic shambles of a performance, you'd have to say the All Blacks will be lucky to come third in this Tri Nations.
If you think of that as the final round of a job interview, Deans just aced it. Shame the bosses' incompetence meant he's already signed up for the other side. Henry and co just have to go; they couldn't coach a bloody darts team.
Frankly, the Mad Butcher could do a better job. Or even his mother.
Friday, 25 July 2008
Here's a wrap up of what proved to be the most-read posts here at NOT PC over the last seven days. Check 'em out if you missed them the first time 'round:
- Scientists for sophistry
The Royal Society of NZ was once an objective scientific organisation, but as Vincent Gray's thorough fisking of their recent descent into egregious warmism demonstrates, those days are over.
- Another interest rate decree set to distort the economy
How Alan Bollard's interest rate meddling messes with the economy, and with people's natural time preferences ... (part one of three)
- Nosmo King - by order!
British anti-smoking zealots are strangling the British pub culture and turning the country into a dictatorship. Sound familiar?
- Say "No" to the public-service pushers!
What makes an eager, fresh-faced intelligent young graduate take their hard-earned degree and, with the whole world as their oyster and opportunity their friend, choose instead to take up a comfortable berth in the civil service -- where instead of being productive themselves, they spend their time, energy and intelligence devising schemes that get in the way of those who are?
- Beer O'Clock: Hop Heavyweights
Announcing the battle of the two hoppiest beers ever available in New Zealand, coming soon to a public house near you. If you're lucky.
At some stage in their lives every thinking person has to read the 'complete collection of classic dystopian novels.' There are many pretenders, but this is the core list...
Clark's highly popular cocktail and entertainment bar in Queenstown, Debajo, has a 24-hour licence, but council wowsers are now trying to get all bars to close at 4am, and to do that they're making an example of just two bars which they insist must start closing early -- by order! -- and as early as next week.
This is not just an argument about opening hours. Debajo make around a third of its income in the hours after 4am, with entertainment through to 8am. And since all the other bars in town will still have 24 hour licenses, all the punters will head off to the other bars while Clark is forced to close at the time he usually makes most of his income, destroying his business.
Clark is a responsible host and Debajo is one of the top bars in Queenstown. He has been nominated as barman of the year. He competes in many competitions in the hospitality world, and is taking his good old dad to Rarotonga in two weeks for an expenses-paid holiday courtesy of a competition he won for a new cocktail involving rum, pineapple, liquid nitrogen and a blow torch. He has also been chosen by Beefeater Gin to represent them in the world championships. This is not just a regular barman - this is his chosen career - he's damn good at it -- and fascist wowsers are trying to close him down.
Promises, pledges or ideas for support can be sent to email@example.com.
It's not the role of any business to be a ward of the state. Former vice president and economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Gerry O'Driscoll reckons the best thing for multi-trillion dollar failures Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is not to bail them out, but to let them fail. The Federal Reserve's bailout plan, he points out, is totally without any protection for taxpayers.
They'll fund the downside if losses mount at the two mortgage giants. But if Fannie and Freddie recover, stockholders and management gain. Call it "casino capitalism" - taxpayers bankrolling management high rollers.
The plan doesn't ask stockholders or management to suffer for their financial indiscretions. The players who put their companies in jeopardy get to stay in charge - Paulson says he isn't looking for "scapegoats." Someone should remind him that capitalism without failure is like religion without sin.
UPDATE: Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute recommends reading the Wall Street Journal's "revealing opinion piece, 'The Fannie Mae Gang,' by editorial page editor Paul Gigot, a longtime critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"Gigot's piece is a devastating expose of how these quasi-governmental behemoths concealed their shady practices and shaky finances by enriching powerful friends on Wall Street, Main Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
"Gigot's account should lay to rest the idea that 'public-private partnerships' such as Fannie and Freddie bring valuable new assets to the free market. In fact, the government's only contribution to the market is to forcibly take some individuals' money and freedom for the sake of others.
"Fannie Mae's 'public-private' goal of 'promoting home ownership' turned out to mean nothing more than handsomely rewarding reckless lenders by forcing taxpayers to bail them out. Any proposal for how to clean up the Fannie Mess must seek to phase out and eliminate the twin housing monstrosities--not prop them up."
Amid a maze of me-tooisms that only Ariadne could navigate with certainty, one of the few policies National leader John Key has been clear about is that if elected National will repeal the Electoral Finance Act (EFA).
Many otherwise honest people have drawn great comfort from this promise, eager to have this assault on our freedom of speech repealed. But the talk about repeal made not so much to abolish a law that tramples our freedom of speech, but to replace it in Key's words with "something that works."
So what exactly is this promise worth, then? What precisely will he replace it with? Will free speech be protected, or rationed? Do we want the same authoritarian law with a different name, in a different package, just "working better"? Not me, but that looks to be what Flip Flop Boy thinks is all we're going to deserve.
On Morning Report this morning [audio here] John Boy "clarified" his approach is to be exactly as mealy-mouthed on this as in everything else. He confirmed his intentions regarding the EFA's replacement have nothing to do with free speech ... the main concern is "consensus," to make the electoral process "workable," to seek "cross-party support" -- and further, many of the "aspects" of the Electoral Finance Act will be retained, says Key, who predicts no "dramatic changes" in any replacement legislation ...
So if anything at all is clear after that it's that nothing will be clear until "consensus from all parties" is sought, and found, and free speech is cut up, repackaged and rationed out by agreement among our political 'masters' who are all supposed to be our servants.
So what's a Key promise worth when it's examined?
There's nothing quite like getting a bundle of Rutherfords as payment for a job well done; it's not gold, but it does at least offer superb aesthetic value.
So with a Rutherford judged as 'very cool,' these new Royal Bank of Scotland notes have to be judged as very cool indeed.
They combine two of my favourite things: bridges and money. Kerry Rodgers explains their significance [hat tip Building Today magazine]:
It was no mere script writer's fancy that Captain James T. Kirk's chief engineer on the USS Enterprise spoke with a phony Scottish burr. The Scots have long enjoyed reputations as serious engineers, whether of a mechanical or civil bent.
... just one reason places like NZ's West Coast still have some mouldering engineering marvels from the nineteenth century still extant...
And it is highly appropriate that the backs of an entire new note issue from the Bank of Scotland pays homage to some of the more notable engineering achievements of the Land of the Mountain and the Flood.
Read all of Rodgers article for a description of all the the fine engineering works depicted.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
The Department of Internal Affairs reports that stories of somewhat colourful children's names being registered by their parents is somewhat exaggerated -- that is, they are wrong. Says a DIA press release,
Some of the unusual names being circulated in media reports have not been officially registered by the Department of Internal Affairs, despite claims to the contrary.
Brian Clarke, Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages says some of the names mentioned have not been registered. "The names Fish and Chips, Masport, and Mower, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit have not been registered."
Remember, just because you read it in a newspaper, it doesn't make it true.
Yes, I'm afraid with illness and all I rather missed all the kerfuffle over Christopher Trotters' weekend 'hate speech' against rich pricks, in which he clearly bared his blood red dripping soul, but I did enjoy the rejoinders against Trottersky by Lindsay Perigo and Phil Howison.
You might too.
... apropos of yesterday's post:
Lobbyists, special interest groups, and tainted money are drawn to political power like flies to garbage. The only way to get rid of the flies is to clean up the garbage - by cleaning up [politics], by taking away from the federal government the ability to grant favors.
- William Winter
I trust the relevance will be obvious?
Paul Walker at his great blog Anti Dismal summarises in two recent posts recent research on the causes of rising world food prices (hint, it's neither growing Indian and Chinese demand, nor is it the fault of speculators), and some recent rational commentary on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle.
Thomas Sowell's quoted observation on the latter issue offers the broader lesson from both:
Politics is largely the process of taking credit and putting the blame on others— regardless of what the facts may be. Politicians get away with this to the extent that we gullibly accept their words and look to them as political messiahs.
I voted for the robin.
UPDATE: Crikey, those Australians move fast: the link has already been changed. To see the two video I promised, click here to go to the programme's archives page and try out the top two videos for 'Which agency's fossil fuel company climate change message do you warm to more?' And of course feel free to check out all the other great stuff on offer.
In less that an hour, Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard will bring down from the mountain tops his latest decree on the country's interest rates, which he will deliver to us with all the gravity of one who has just been to the mountain tops communing with the economic gods.
He hasn't, of course -- instead, he's been interviewing his calculator.
In his view, and the view of those who support the mainstream economic model on which his pronouncements are based, from his calculator issues forth all the wisdom that the market lacks. According to these mainstream economic models, interest rates can't do their job -- they are governed by irrational "animal spirits" (yes, this is the sort of 'thinking' on which the mainstream economic models are based) -- and they require the likes of Bollard to do the job for them with calculations like this one, in which the interest rate, r=p + 0.5q +0.5 (p-2) +2, and p is defined as the inflation rate over the previous year, and q represents a notional figure based on guessing what 'full output' looks like.
Elegant, huh? The figures '2' appearing there, by the way, indicate the banker's nominal inflation target of two percent.
If you've ever wondered why economies experience severe business cycles -- lurching cyclically from boom to bust, from inflation to stagflation -- then the heart of the answer lies in the failure of this flawed economic model, and the difference between the interest rates brought down from the the mountain (or received from their calculators) by the likes of St Bollard, St Greenspan and St Bernanke, and the 'natural interest rate' that would be set by the market if interest rates and the money supply weren't being meddled with by the likes of these beatified few.
The 'natural' interest rate is not set by central bankers. In fact, it's not set by bankers at all. It's set by the natural time preference for money of numerous individuals, as shown by their spontaneous decisions to save or consume or invest.
Time preference is simple to explain, but profound in its implications. It is simply a measure of how much I prefer present satisfaction to future satisfaction, as demonstrated by my own actions. If I demonstrate by taking out a loan that I prefer $100 dollars now to $110 one year from now, then that suggests a 'natural' interest rate of ten percent, as demonstrated by my own demonstrated time preference. If I find a lender willing to forego his own consumption of that $100 for one year on the basis that he will receive my $110 in a year, then he has demonstrated a similar and reciprocal time preference.
It is on simple decisions such as this on which a rational market is based.
The natural market interest rate is simply the sum of all such preferences shown by borrowers and lenders across all markets, and if coordinated through the voluntary choices and actions of individual actors the result is to provide the necessary constraints and incentives to keep savings in line with investment, and to distribute new resources to future investment projects, based all the time on people's demonstrated willingness to forego present consumption. Left alone, instead of being used to further the political goals given to the world's central banks, interest rates can do their "growth governing" job - if, to stress the point, they are allowed to.
I'll leave it as an exercise for you, the reader, to work out what happens when people's demonstrated willingness to forego present consumption does not match the resources distributed to future investment projects -- which is what happens when interest rates are set by saints bringing down wisdom from the mountain tops instead of by simple market forces.
NB: In fact, I'll only leave it until tomorrow to muse upon the question, since I propose to answer it tomorrow with some rather tasty looking graphs. Keep watching.
UPDATE 1: As you've probably heard if you're reading this now, Bollard's calculator told him to make a cut in interest rates this time, the first interest rate cut in five years [Herald story here]. The NZ dollar had already eased slightly in anticipation...
UPDATE 2: ... the dollar had eased slightly, but not as quickly as it 'eased down' after forex dealers heard the sound of Bollard's chickens coming home to roost. Interest rates: they play a huge part in setting our exchange rate; they're the means by which we divide up our income between consumption and investment; they set the levels at which resources are distributed to projects with a long-term payoff ... and all Bollard's calculator is able to do for him is confirm the failed myth that he is capable of influencing inflation, without apprising him of the damage he's doing in the process. [Thanks to Lou at No Minister for the graph.]
The Wall Street Journal, no less, sets up artist Jacob Collins as the 'next big thing' -- his 'classical' realism opposing all the 'novelty art' that has heretofore succoured the empty souls of the big-money New York art buyers.
The new school Collins represents finds its artistic home in the Florence Academy of Art, a school "founded in 2002, offering rigorous training in modelling, one-point perspective, cast drawing, and all the other technical aspects of art that one used to assume would be part of an artist's training." Says the Wall Street Journal,
Is technical mastery sufficient by itself to guarantee high artistic accomplishment? The art world has been shouting "No" for decades. That judgment is correct -- ultimately -- but it leaves out the important codicil that an artist who lacks technical command also lacks competence.
Hallelujah! That point has been either lost, evaded or mislaid for more than half a century!
If an artist's 'inner voice' lacks the technique to communicate except by the visual equivalent of Tourette's, there's no reason to give them the status of artist. If Collins and artists like him can rehabilitate the importance of technique, they will have done an immense job in moving art back to what it had once achieved when both technique and expression -- and having something to say -- were valued.
NB: Collins's painting above is very much a study. Just 4 1/4" x 11", studies like this form the basis for works like this.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
But what's to comment on?
And what's there to say that I haven't already said before, when arguably there was a trifle more to talk about?
Once again, the miasma of 'me too' permeates everything John Key touches,
[Thanks to Scott for the 'redirect.']
I freely confess that when it comes to stories about who gave what to which politician, and how much, and what it was for - and why it might be either illegal or against the cabinet manual -- my eyes begin to glaze over, as I suspect do most of yours. Which is what, or course, politicians like Mr No-No-Yes rely upon, that seven days from now you'll all be hard pressed to even remember the details about Winston's donations from Owen Glenn and the Velas, and why they mattered.
There are arguments about whether donations follow policy or policy follows donations, and it's frankly impossible for anyone but the donor to know which is which and whether they're getting value for money, which points to the primary problem here -- that politicians have almost unlimited power to deliver policy and favours in which their donors are interested. Policies that so often deliver special privilege, or special favours, or monopoly interest.
The problem is not with the donations, it's with the power politicians have to deliver those special privileges. The problem is not chiefly that policy might follow donations, but that politicians have the power to deliver the policies favoured by this sort of donor. That's the problem that those decrying Winston need to face up to, and that both sides of the Electoral Finance Act debate need to address -- that there are no constitutional restrictions whatsoever on how much parties can do once they have power, ands as long as that remains the case, the temptation will exist to buy one's laws or special favours direct from the political wholesaler.
But isn't this just another reason why the levers of political power should pull so much less weight? That there should be constitutional restrictions not on how much we can spend on our favoured party so it can gain power, but instead on how much parties can do once they have power. Isn't that infinitely more important, and far more supportive of genuine free speech?
As PJ O'Rourke says,
When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.Isn't that the point in a nutshell? Restrict the range of areas in which legislators can meddle, and you immediately lessen the interest in buying political power.
Around £100 million has been spent renovating outdoor areas for smokers ... sales of patio heaters have doubled to 3.2 million (prompting complaints from environmentalists) ... but following the British government's ban on smoking in pubs, smokers are staying home in large numbers instead of patronising their local -- and non-smokers have been staying home with them.
As the Express reports, and despite predictions to the contrary from anti-smoking zealots before the ban was imposed, British pubs "are facing an uphill struggle to attract customers." It's been the same in every benighted part of the world where the zealots have trampled on the property rights of pub and bar owners.
“Trading conditions are incredibly tough. We’re seeing hundreds of pub closures and smoking is definitely a factor,” says a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association.
“Current closures will certainly continue for the foreseeable future. At the moment 27 pubs are closing every week” ...
Pubs are not the only businesses suffering – there are more than 600 bingo clubs countrywide and most say customers are disappearing in the wake of the ban.
"I hate the ban," says smoking rebel Bill King. "It has turned the country into a dictatorship... Why not have smoking and non-smoking pubs? And as for the nonsense about smokers being a drain on the NHS, well the tax on a pack of 20 comes to about £4.20 so I think it’s the smokers who keep the NHS going.”
I'd be interested to see some local figures, if anyone has been able to collate them?
UPDATE: Lindsay Mitchell has graciously provided the local figures here, and the words "cash' and "cow" spring immediately to mind. Anti-smoking zealots please take note.
I was fascinated to see news that Auckland's Mercy Hospital will soon be host to NZs first ever private cancer treatment centre, offering "the latest in high-tech treatment, using lower doses of radiation, pinpointing the cancers more precisely, yet treating the cancers more aggressively. Treatment sessions will be quicker and the average patient will be in and out in three minutes. And patients will not have to rely on fluctuating public hospital waiting times to start their treatment.
"We will start their treatment within a week and all the urgent cases will start work within 24 hours," says Dr Benji Benjamin, clinical director.
Given the crucial importance of time in cancer treatment, with British researchers, as just one example, attributing their "dismal" cancer survival rates to the "late diagnoses and lengthy waiting lists for treatment" that are endemic with socialised medicine, this is fantastic news.
One can't help but assume the news is linked to plans announced earlier in the month for privately-owned Ascot and Mercy hospitals to begin offering "New Zealand up as a destination for 'medical tourists' from affluent countries who want 'cheap' operations and other medical procedures" -- a deal by which everyone wins: the medical tourists get timely, inexpensive treatment in well-appointed private hospitals "that, unlike their public counterparts, are not full to overflowing; English-speaking hospital staff and a culture that felt familiar to many Americans," and we get the use of services, facilities and technology that wouldn't be affordable otherwise, and get to retain and attract back just a few of those New Zealand surgeons working overseas, or thinking about heading off.
Great news all 'round, really.
Cactus calculates just how much the above average woman spends each time she gets her leg over. It's the very least you can do to buy her dinner -- or offer her a tax deduction.
UPDATE: I can only imagine the response to Cactus' calculations if men wrote advice columns:
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.
UPDATE [11 June 2010]: Acute analysis here from Robert Tracinski:
The title of Rudyard Kipling’s poem is obscure today but would have been clear to any educated Englishman of his day. A copybook was a kind of penmanship exercise in which the student copied over and over again a sentence printed in the heading at the top of each page. These copybook headings were usually aphorisms or statements of commonsense wisdom, so Kipling used the Gods of the Copybook Headings as a symbol for basic, immutable truths.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turnThe point of the poem is that the various schemes for “social progress” being promoted at the time—and most of them are still with us today—are based on denying the basic truths represented by the Gods of the Copybook Headings.
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,Kipling’s derisive reference to the “Gods of the Market Place” was not intended as anti-capitalist. “The market” is not short for “the free market,” as it is in contemporary parlance. Rather, the “market” refers to the public spaces where people gather to listen to demagogues who promise the impossible and the irrational—the function performed by CNN today.
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Mangere? Cairo? Fallujah?
Only a short time ago the city of Fallujah served as stronghold for insurgents. Daily skirmishes, improvised explosive device detonations and public unease made operating a business in the city very difficult...
The KFC is the first to open for business in the city. Before improved conditions in the city, insurgents threatened business owners, demanding money to support acts of terrorism...
“I remember when I was here last in July 2004 and things were much different than they are now,” said Sgt. Steve J. Arnoux, a 25-year-old vehicle commander from Browning, Mont. “When we would go out on convoys in the city, the attitude was a lot different. It seemed like we were just waiting to get ambushed. Now we stop at KFC.”
Citizens of the area can now work steady jobs, where as prior conditions kept many from even coming to work on a daily basis.
“I love the work here, because we have the opportunity to go to work every day,” said a KFC employee.
UPDATE 1: And AP reports:
BAGHDAD (AP) — An oil refinery in Iraq's western desert has resumed production, the government said Sunday, as part of an outreach to an area once controlled by Sunni insurgents.
And in the country's south, a new airport opened in Najaf in what the prime minister said was a key step in the reconstruction of a country devastated by war.
Michael Newberry's colleague Brett Holverstott chooses his three favourite architects. One out of three isn't bad. ;^)
To be fair, his choices two and three offer much from which to learn, but to me they lack the cohesion, integration and sheer life-loving flair of his number one choice.
Can you guess who that is?
(Photo, by the way, is of the Paimio Sanitorium, designed in 1929 by the architect who's Brett's number three choice.)
Monday, 21 July 2008
While we were hunkering down with a martini in Grahamstown, Thames, Brendan O'Neill from
Sp!ked Online "has been reporting from just about the most exciting city on the planet right now: Beijing. Read the truth about the city as the Chinese prepare for two weeks of unadulterated showing off to the world" - including news about the biggest building on Earth, why Beijing is the new New York, the "People's Republic of PR," and "the battle between Blue Sky Days and Grey Sky Days, and why it's time we tackled the many myths of the Tiananmen Square massacre."
Sounds like a series worth reading.
At some stage in their lives every thinking person has to read the 'complete collection of classic dystopian novels.' There are many pretenders, but this is the core list:
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- 1984, by George Orwell
- Utopia, by Thomas More
- Clockwork Orange, By Anthony Burgess
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
- We, by E.I. Zamyatin
- Anthem, by Ayn Rand
If you haven't already, check them out when you get the chance.
Yes, I had a great weekend down in Thames with friends -- and thanks for asking. It was capped off with a phone call from another friend telling me Geelong (number one on the AFL table) had just beaten the Bulldogs (who are number two) by sixty points. Sixty points!
Thames has come of age. Just as myself and CP had decided that Thames very definitely isn't a 'martini city' in the manner movingly described by Voltz, when hey presto we stumbled upon a newly renovated "lounge bar" at the Grahamstown end of Thames called 'Nectar': the second-smallest bar in the country, which not only had great atmosphere, not only was open at the time in question (well, openable), but had the decency to allow me to play barman myself. You can't beat that.
In answer to the question, "Why visit Thames?" let me give you a simple answer. There we were in Grahamstown, Thames, and in just a few short steps we had an excellent martini in a friendly bar ('Nectar'), bought a book in a second-hand bookshop that I've long sought (the memoirs of Alexander Kerensky), and had the best afternoon meal I've had ever, at Sola Cafe.
Why wouldn't you want to visit?
But did anyone realise he is so low he's prepared to use his mother's death to extricate himself from questions he's unable to answer? To garner sympathy, and so gain a hole to try and wriggle out?
Can anyone possibly have any respect for him again?
Winston Peters keeps them honest. Yeah right.
There are certainly apologies and resignations to be done, as Peters demanded last week -- if, that is, any integrity remained. But the apologies and the resignation should be his.
UPDATE 1: Winston Peters says the money Owen Glen donated (about which he claimed "no knowledge" for so long) didn't go to a "political fund." It went instead to a "solicitors account ... controlled by the Law Society" -- to "a legal fund" set up in 1991 when Mr Peters became involved in a series of legal actions.
UPDATE 2: Who said this:
There is little corruption in politics in this country, and the corruption that has occurred has been targeted, found out, and exposed.
Answer: Peter Brown, deputy leader of NZ First, opposing a register of pecuniary interests for MPs. And yes, Peter, it has been.
UPDATE 3: David Farrar has a host of questions that a believer in Winston's immaculate integrity would need to believe if they are to maintain their idolatry.
UPDATE 4: And little comment at all, apparently, from blogs or politicians further left. Go figure.
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Welcome to Sunday Star Times readers.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul certainly doesn’t help Peter and it doesn’t do Paul much good either. New Zealand is drowning in welfare. Click here to see what Libertarianz intends to do about it.
And here's some more posts on Welfare here at NOT PC:
- Curing South Auckland
- The poor are still with us
- Stop stealing from the poor
- Who created the underclass?
- An apparatchik in every home
- Sack the social workers
- Welfare: Up, up and away
- Welfare cheats
- Work. Dole. Alms.Key. Platitudes.
- As cold as charity
- Stop taxing families
- Welfare's inhumanity to immigrants
- Separating State and Welfare
- Housing the moochers
- Trickle-down in action
- Welfare isn't working
- More government. More programmes. More violence.
- Persuasion versus force
Cheers, Peter Cresswell
LIBERTARIANZ List Candidate
PS: Click here for a new parable on giving ...
Friday, 18 July 2008
If you missed your fix of NOT PC this week, then don't worry ... too much. Here's what writers, readers and ranters in the comments section decided were the best half-dozen or so posts here this week:
- Making nanny state bigger one dead rat at a time
National might think they're being smart with their 'me too' election strategy, but but leaves a hole a Labour strategist could drive a truck through -- and probably will.
- NZ ~ 100% there for the taking!
Plans have just been uncovered of a new Australian Federal Government initiative for the 'closer economic integration' of New Zealand. Visit InvadeNewZealand.Com for details.
- REVIEW: Little Bushman & Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, (Auckland Town Hall)
Crikey, this was good!
- Chrysler Building - William van Allen
New York's Chrysler Building is now Abu Dhabi's Chrysler Building -- an unintended consequence of Keynesian economics and environmentalist anti-development policies.
- ECE: Me too.
National has just released its policy on early childhood education. It varies not a whit from every other National policy.
- Let's all have inflation to go
Some people still think the Reserve Bank fights inflation. Poor saps. Here's the history of NZ's inflation, in a graph...
- It's not peak oil, it's peak politics
It's not the earth's capacity to deliver more oil that is at threat, but our capacity to extract more oil from it. The market can solve the energy crisis, but only if we actually have a market.
Enjoy! And don't forget to check out this week's Objectivist bloggers' roundup over at Noodle Food and, if you still want you say say on the issue I've studiously avoided here, head over to Lindsay Perigo's site and join the ongoing debate about Tony Veitch.
And finally, in the wake of US government bailouts of every bank they can think of with as much created credit as they can get away with, and the NZ government's $750 million bailout of the Reserve Bank's failing foreign exchange dealings, here's the quote of the week, from The Onion:
WASHINGTON--A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.
"What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution." [Hat tip Jeffrey Tucker].
Makes you wonder who's the real satirists! Have a great weekend.
Hop aboard the heavyweight hop express with your robust conductor Stu from SOBA.
This week I sidestep the wheat beer article I promised in my last Beer O'Clock post – because either a) I left it at home, or b) the dog at my homework (pick one) – and tell you about Hallertau Maximum Humulus Lupulus and Epic Armageddon… the two hoppiest beers ever available in New Zealand.
Fresh from a trip to the World Beer Cup in San Diego, with tongues still numb from an excessive amount of hoppy American-style India Pale Ales (IPA), Luke Nicholas of Epic and Stephen Plowman of Hallertau hatched the plan to brew up a heavyweight IPA challenge.
This hop heavy battle is more than just brewery versus brewery, it is New Zealand versus the world. Hallertau’s Maximum Humulus Lupulus uses New Zealand malt and hops exclusively, while Epic Armageddon uses English malt and American hops. No matter where the ingredients come from, both beers promise to be ridiculously hoppy.
These beers will not be cheap. If you think the price of petrol has risen dramatically, you should be glad you are not buying American hops. 'Peak hops' is hitting much harder than 'peak oil' [especially considering one of these is bogus - Ed.], with brewers paying up to nine times what they were paying a year ago for hops.
Added to that, the price of European malt is also on a strong rise. Armageddon looks to be the beer equivalent of purchasing a Liebherr T 282B to drive to work in – hedonistically fun but hideously expensive. Both beers weigh in around 7% and, as such, their price tag also contains a stupefying amount of excise tax.
The beers are both on tap at The Malthouse right now. They’ll soon be on tap at Hallertau in Auckland, and the word on the street is they might be at Galbraith’s too. If you can’t get to any of these places, you’ll have to travel to San Diego to find beers this hoppy … good luck.
Slainte mhath, Stu
A few intelligent people have asked me recently how to find out which AFL games are broadcast internationally, since like all thinking people they'd like to get a dose of the world's most libertarian sport, but local guides like NZ's Sky Guide have proved notoriously unreliable.
I'm happy to provide the answer. Head to the AFL's site, click the link to the Broadcast Guide, and then mosey around until you see the button for the International Viewing Guide. This downloads a PDF giving you all the AFL's games broadcast all around the world.
And just to help you out even further, the game broadcast this week in NZ is the contest between Port Adelaide and local rivals the Adelaide Crows, showing on Sky Sport 3 at 5pm -- which means unfortunately that we'll have to hear reports about the the long-awaited top-of-the-table clash between Geelong and the Bulldogs on the 'net on Monday.
Why do so many eager, fresh-faced intelligent young graduates take their hard-earned degrees (I'm talking here about those few who do work hard, and can parse sentences) and with the whole world as their oyster and opportunity their friend, choose instead to take up a comfortable berth in the civil service -- where instead of being productive themselves, they spend their time, energy and intelligence devising schemes that get in the way of those who are?
Why the hell do they do this?
Sure, there's money involved -- with Wellington wages in the last few years going through the roof compared to other regions, it's easy to see that. But even if you choose to ignore where that money comes from and how it's extracted from those who produced it -- even if you choose to ignore that you're a parasite on those whose productivity your own work is daily diminishing -- you must know that sort of money won't last, and even if it did, does it pay for a life of soul-destroying boredom in places where incompetence and sloth are a way of life?
What sort of person gives up a life of productivity and profit-making for a career in the bureaucracy and a gold watch on retirement, and why? Because of some sort of mission? Do they think that bureaucrats move the world by the simple expedient of getting in our way? -- which, let's face it, is all they're able to do with distinction.
It sure beats the hell out of me, and maybe some bureaucrats who've voluntarily grasped the poisoned chalice can post your own reasons in the comments, but Jeff Scialabba suggests it's because of a phony dichotomy between profits and 'public service' -- a dichotomy that a new ethic of sacrifice is encouraging, at least in the U.S. In his post The Next Hot Career Choice: Self-Immolation posted at The Undercurrent, he notes that
terms like “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” make self-sacrifice palatable, and sidestep the fact that careers in the public sector are predominately low-paying, emotionally straining, and offer little chance of professional advancement. Those who argue in terms of the false alternative between pursuing wealth vs. serving the community ignore the real issue: career as personal fulfillment vs. career as self-sacrificial duty.
So why would anyone advocate this false alternative? Why do university administrations and career counselors frame the issue in terms of wealth vs. service? They frame it in this way because it is precisely self-sacrifice that they want to push. The moral ideal they advocate is not to help others, but to sacrifice oneself in the helping of others.
[But] if the good of others is truly the public service pushers’ goal, then why do they decry business as antagonistic to their mission? As evidenced by profit-seeking businessmen throughout history, an individual’s selfish pursuit of wealth in a capitalist society raises the level of prosperity of others ... consider Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two giants of capitalism that have had a profoundly beneficial impact on the way we live. How many products and services remain in existence for you to enjoy because of the savvy investments of Mr. Buffett? How many jobs have been created? How much more productive is the world because of the growth of the personal computer, initiated and guided by Mr. Gates? How many lives have been saved by the technological advancements the computer has fostered?
Yet at what point were Gates or Buffett ever upheld as models of moral action? Despite bettering the lives of billions through the selfish, insatiable pursuit of wealth, never was so much praise reaped upon them as when they chose to give their earnings away, when they turned away from practical action undertaken for the benefit of their own lives and chose to sacrifice that wealth for the good of others...
If there is a good and valid selfish reason to pursue a career as a parasite, then it sure as hell escapes me. But to choose to be a parasite as a means of “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” is to stretch the English language too far, and to overlook that, as Mr Scialabba concludes "it is not kindness, not generosity, not good will towards others that the public-service pushers proselytize to students. It is sacrifice—the sacrifice of their goals, their dreams, their values. Students should answer these calls for self-sacrifice with a resounding 'No,' and should get on with the business of choosing whichever career they find most personally rewarding."
What was once a serious group of objective scientists, the 'Royal Society of NZ,' now appears little more than a partisan, muck-raking rabble less interested in the supposed objectives of fair or responsible comment on scientific matters than they are in protecting their sources of funding, which for the most part (with most of the Society's luminaries) is based on peddling the warmist litany.
A recent press from the Society's "Climate Committee," consisting entirely of persons whose livelihoods rely upon the maintenance of the warmist myth, was issued in response to an increasing sea of doubt in the warmist litany -- in the Society's words, "the controversy over climate change and its causes, and possible confusion among the public." This "confusion" is manifested in the likes of polls that show the bulk of the public considers the likes of the Society's luminaries to be talking nonsense. Which they are. And increasing evidence that global warming promises have become "a gushing source of national hypocrisy. It's politically incorrect to question it, and political suicide to do anything about it."
Dr Vincent Gray is one former member of the Society who has resigned in protest at the public statement, which purports to be "a statement to make absolutely clear what the evidence is for climate change and anthropogenic (human-induced) causes." As Dr Gray points out, it is nothing of the sort.UPDATE 1: There's no smoke and people should be fired says Dr David Evans, former consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.
I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector...As he goes on to record, the evidence has quote simply never arrived, and "since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?'
When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.
The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly?
There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts...Read on here for Dr Evans' exposition of the facts that changed his mind.
UPDATE 2: John Lennon would disapprove, as to would anyone with an ounce of musical taste, but there's a chap here at YouTube who would like you to Imagine a World Without Global Warming. Perhaps that should read, 'Imagine a World Without Global Warming Hysteria'?
UPDATE 3: Read Christopher Booker's entertaining take on the empty words spewed forth into the oriental air at the recent G8 summit. "As well as having no idea how they could achieve such an absurdly ambitious target [as their trumpeted but far from serious fifty-percent reduction og emissions by 2050], they may inflict immeasurable damage on their economies just by trying to do so," says Booker.
UPDATE 4: As NZ's emissions trading scheme still falters for a lack of political support, folk elsewhere are beginning to realise the buying of carbon indulgences has the very opposite effect to that which emission trading supporters. See Justin Danhof's report and explanation of why cap and trade could backfire.
Simple answer: It's our old friend the law of unintended consequences again, which probably helps explain why the European Union's cap-and-trade system isn't working, and why NZ's never will.
UPDATE 5: Comedian Dennis Miller points out that it's weird when you're the only one at a dinner party who's not convinced New York City is going to be underwater by 2057 -- didn't people like this used to be derided as cranks?