Tuesday, 25 November 2008

White ribbon day

Another day another bloody lapel ribbon.

The ribbon de jour today is white, I think.  Wearing one today tells everyone how 'right-on' you are. How much you care.  Or at least, how much you want everyone to know that you care.

What you're caring about today is Violence Against Women, okay?

Violence Against Women is Bad.  It's Not Okay.  Let's All Just Get Along.  If you and your friends can just wish hard enough and recite those mantras to each other long enough and loud enough (loud enough to drown out the voice of reason that tells you mantras alone won't fix anything) then bad men will become good, bad relationships will heal themselves, and everyone everywhere will get their pony.

What a load of self-deluded bollocks.  It's a white ribbon, arseholes, not a bloody tool of self-defence -- or a means of self-reflection for the self-deluded.

But wearing your ribbon isn't really about fixing anything, is it -- it's just about showing your friends how worthy you are.  That you care.  That you're one of them.  One of us!  You'll sit around today in your little coffee groups and luncheon circles with your little white ribbons on -- or whatever the colour of today's 'I-Care-a-thon' is -- and agree with each other that hitting women is a bad thing, that 'we' shouldn't do it, that violence doesn't solve anything, that men have a lot to answer for blah, blah, blah ...

And you know what: you won't make a blind bit of difference.  Men will go on hitting women.  Women will carry on staying with men who hit them.  And you and your friends wringing your hands about it?  Not going to change a thing.

But you'll feel better for your worthiness, won't you, as you sip your trim latte and nibble on your biscotti -- and that's all the white ribbon's about, isn't it.  Saying, "I care."

So bloody what.    It's appropriate that white is the colour of surrender, don't you think?

Another Victim of P & Prohibition [update 2]

By Susan Ryder

Damn the Kiwis.  Any other weekend I’d have been ecstatic at the upset win over the Kangaroos in Brisbane on Saturday night, to capture the Rugby League World Cup for the first time in its 54 year history. To say that the win was unexpected would have been refuted by only the most diehard of diehard supporters, and therefore all the sweeter.

But I couldn’t savour the win on Saturday due to receiving some shocking news that morning. It was the sort of news that you just can’t stop thinking about, try as you might.

I’d heard the radio news report of a brutal sexual attack (is there any other?) upon a 99 year old woman in her home during the early hours of a morning last week. You read it correctly: the lady was 99.  I remember being momentarily horrified. The story was repeated over the next couple of newscasts and then that was that.  Just another forgotten victim of another horrific attack right here in Godzone.

Until, that is, I spoke to Mum on Saturday morning.  It turns out that the victim – let’s call her Mrs X - has three children, one of whom we’ll call Jean.  Mum and Jean share a hobby and when Mum rang her on Friday, Jean was just leaving for the hospital where she and her two siblings are providing a 24-hour watch over their mother who, unsurprisingly, is in a terrible physical and mental state.  This sprightly, independent, female nonagenarian tried to defend herself against a 20 year old male under the influence of P.  Jean does not believe her mother will come out of hospital.

If it’s possible to feel sick and numb and horrified and repulsed simultaneously, I did.  I still do.  I have a 95 year old grandmother who’s of the same ilk as Mrs X.  Nana, too, insists on living alone and doing for herself.  These women have lived good lives and raised families.  They have witnessed the events of most of the 20th century in all its glory and despair.  They do not deserve even a fraction of the fate that befell Mrs X.

Which brings me to her attacker and his choices, namely to take an illegal, highly dangerous drug.  The media is full of stories as to the potency, danger and addictive properties of methamphetamine, known in New Zealand as “P”.  It is the latest drug horror story to reach our shores.  And with each horror story, the calls for even more regulation and policing are heard all over again.  I know, because I used to be one of those voices.

I used to scoff at those who called for the legalisation of marijuana.  Well, it was pretty easy to scoff.  They were largely hippies and no-hopers or, most painful of all, affluent varsity students sporting Greenpeace t-shirts and adopting the latest social cause … while quietly cashing regular cheques from boring old Mum and Dad.  Notwithstanding my ongoing scorn for the hippies, the truth is that they were right and I was wrong.

It’s oh so difficult to be rational about the subject of illegal drug use -- it’s an emotive topic and you’ll appreciate that I’m very emotive at present -- but if you wish to reduce the problem, it is essential to be so. Consider this:

  • When you ban something – anything – you create a black market: an illegal market that operates underground, ie outside the law.
  • Black markets are run by outlaws. In NZ’s case, they're run by gangs -- those despicable criminal gangs.
  • In contrast to the peaceful resolution carried out in ordinary legitimate businesses, criminals solve problems associated with the distribution and supply of their products violently.
  • Not being subject to the natural product regulation that occurs in an open, legal market, the banned product is always of sub-standard quality.
  • Consumers have limited knowledge as to product ingredients, which may be dangerous and harmful.
  • Black markets create artificially inflated product prices, perfect for criminals who are only interested in high profits with no regard for their own risk.
  • Addicts resort to crime to pay the high prices, creating community distress and further stretching police resources.
  • Criminals do not care to whom they supply, hence your children and grandchildren become prime targets.

Contrast all that with, say, the sale of paracetamol, a widely-used, easily available pain relief medication.  No matter from which outlet you purchase paracetamol -- a pharmacy, supermarket, dairy or even petrol station -- you can be assured that it has been legitimately manufactured by a reputable company, and duly tried and tested before being released for sale at a price acceptable to the market.

But if we banned it, and overnight tried to limit its supply, you would then have to resort to buying your pain relief (whatever it consists of) from some crook behind a filthy public toilet in your local crappy council park.  Gee, I can’t wait.  And who knows what is in that bottle you'd be so keen to purchase.

Did you ever stop to think that neither kids nor criminals are interested in stealing Viagra or Cialis from their local pharmacy?  These are wildly popular but the kids aren't interested precisely because they are legal, which means there's no money in it for them.

Did you ever stop to think that the government is not there to tell adults what they may voluntarily put into their bodies?

That the great majority of people who use illegal drugs do not abuse them, are not addicted, are harming nobody (are just getting on with their own lives), but are nevertheless considered criminals in the eyes of the law?

That we already, rightly and properly, have laws that prosecute those who harm others or neglect children, whether “under the influence” or not?  And that every single time you call for more regulation, you have just put even more money into the gangs’ pockets?

Yes, I’m talking to you, the well-meaning person who’s actually making matters worse. You cannot save people from themselves (and God knows the state can’t) but you sure as hell can make things worse -- and you have.

Your local pharmacist is a drug-dealer. But he or she is a much nicer person with whom to do business, and you can do it in much nicer surroundings. They are fully qualified, supplying reputable products priced to meet the market. They are hardly likely to hang around school gates in order to supply children. They stand and fall upon their service as per any legitimate business.

Criminals, on the other hand, can never compete with private enterprise for the reasons provided, which means that a drug like P would simply not exist in an open market.  No pharmaceutical company would manufacture it, marketing a safer substitute instead.  But in the market made by prohibition, it's the ideal drug for dealers to push.

Look, I don’t like drugs any more than you do.  I don’t even like taking prescription drugs if I can avoid it. But the truth is that the likes of Al Capone and Pretty Boy Floyd only went out of business in Chicago after Prohibition was thankfully repealed. Their black market profits disappeared at the stroke of a government pen (virtually the only good thing Roosevelt ever did with his pen) and at that stroke the gang violence and the police corruption of alcohol prohibition ended as well.  The only difference between the Chicagoan gangsters and New Zealand’s Black Power?  Capone and his colleagues had better dress sense.  Prohibition of alcohol didn’t work then, and prohibition of drugs doesn’t work now.

One last word, please.  Do not make excuses for the vile individual who attacked Mrs X.  I’m in no mood to listen.  You see, he could have chosen an alternative drug that day, one that wasn’t so destructive.  He could have chosen not to consume anything, not to fry his brain at all. He could have done a lot of things.  But the choices he did make saw him end up brutally violating, perhaps destroying, a sweet lady old enough to be his great-great-grandmother.  For that, I damn the bastard to hell.

* * * More brave and brilliant writing from Libertarian Sus here at Sus's Soundbites * * *

UPDATE 1: Disgraced former media tycoon Conrad Black, convicted last year for his theft of company funds, and now sharing a prison with assorted Florida felons  ("It is a little like going back to boarding school," he says of his stay) has finally woken up to the effects of The War on Drugs - a war he himself once championed.  But in a letter to London's Sunday Times he says the the War has failed:

    "U.S. justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers' unions that agitate for an unlimited increase in the number of prosecutions and the length of sentences."
   
Fruitless attempts to wipe out the illegal drug trade are to blame for the situation, says Black, taking up a battle cry long espoused by people he's never traditionally associated with - those on the left of the political spectrum, including groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.
   
"The entire 'war on drugs,' by contrast, is a classic illustration of supply-side economics: a trillion taxpayers' dollars squandered and (one million) small fry imprisoned at a cost of $50 billion a year; as supply of and demand for illegal drugs have increased, prices have fallen and product quality has improved."

Says PM Jaworski at The Shotgun Blog,

it looks to me like Black thinks money spent on the war on drugs is money "squandered." That in spite of blowing through ridiculous sums of money, there is just about nothing to show for it.
 
Conrad Black understands what Milton Friedman said so long ago: "The war on drugs is a failure because it is a socialist enterprise." It always amazes me that there are still so-called conservatives who manage to somehow reconcile opposition to social engineering and big government, with the ultimate social engineering and big government program: the war on drugs ...

UPDATE 2: And let's not fail to mention Milton Friedman's Iron Law of Prohibition,,which explains why outlawing drugs only increases the virulence of recreational drugs: The more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the prohibited substance becomes.  Which means  'P' is precisely the sort of drug you should expect when you start a War on Drugs.

                                  image

'Girl Jumping Rope' - Jose Manuel Capuletti

(Image from the Paper Tiger)

Monday, 24 November 2008

'How The Government Wrecked The Economy' - Peter Schiff

The shorter YouTube interviews I posted with economist Peter Schiff have proved very popular -- and no wonder: while all about him were losing their heads with irrational exuberance, he was one of the few sufficiently clear-eyed to predict the coming catastrophe.  This longer fifteen minute interview linked below suggests some of the basis for his far-seeing analysis.  Says Sovereign Life's David McGregor (who sent me the link):

If you're wondering why nothing governments are doing to stave off the financial/economic crisisis working - and are looking for some clear thinkingon this - then I certainly recommend you spend 15 minutes listening to this interview.You'll get a lot more insight in a few minutes than thousands of hours on CNN, Fox News or BBC ....For a crash course on the coming depression, the"how", "why" - and the way out, listen to: How The Government Wrecked The Economy.'

Perfect lunchtime listening.

Who won?

Oh yes, I believe there was a game of five-tackles-and-a-kick over the weekend.  A game that purports to be a World Cup Final.  And one team five-tackled-and-a-kick better than the other. 

You should probably go tell someone who gives a shit.

Go tell it to the economist

One of the only fully rational economic bloggers in the country wants to hang up his keyboard: Paul Walker, posting at Anti Dismal.  Please go tell him he's needed; that you want him to keep going; that there's no more urgent time for rational economic commentary.  Tell him here, at what he purports to be his last post.  And keep telling him.  Go on, do it now!

The urgent necessity of sound money, instead of unsound politics

A former economist at the US Federal Reserve says Forget Bretton Woods II - We Need A New Gold Standard:

    Too much credit and easy money. Those were the biggest culprits behind this financial crisis. Yet, appallingly, the government's rescue attempt is built on more credit and even easier money. That's like giving a procrastinator a deadline extension. By choosing this course, Washington has steered us on to the "road to Weimar" - the road to runaway inflation.
    It didn't have to come to this. And it still doesn't. But the proper remedy will take tremendous political courage: Bring back the gold standard. That, more than any byzantine regulations that emerge from the Bretton Woods II conference this weekend, would provide stability and safety for nations and individuals around the world.
    Sadly, current policy seems to reflect a desire to weaken the dollar as quickly as possible.

Discuss, with reference to 1) "the doubling of Federal Reserve credit, the main component of the US monetary base. Since Labor Day 2008 it has risen from $894 billion to $2.2 trillion. That's the greatest monetary expansion in the Fed's 95-year history" -- and 2) Peter Schiff's comments on the inevitable collapse of the dollar.

.

Hollow men & women

Mulholland Drive takes against two National Party minister-morons:

First, Paula Bennett:

    Stealing from people with no kids to pay for those who choose to have kids is wrong.
    Any questions?
   
Good.  STFU then.

And Nick Smith:

Nick Smith Doesn't Get It
    He sums it up in one sentence:

        "Why do we have this idea that somebody has to own a thing?"

    Yeah, property rights, what a silly notion!  You FAIL at being a National MP, Nick.  Just bugger off and join the Greens, or RAM, or something.

So what sort of CHANGE was it when these morons took over from the other morons?  And how come you all got so damned excited?

Politician lowers the tone at brothel

News here that New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has moved into the same building as a brothel, which has prompted the obvious complaints.

"It's a little embarrassing, yes," said the brothel owner, Mr X [about his new neighbour]. "We're sick of all the seedy characters hanging around. But respectable businesses like ours aren't going to be driven out by the likes of them."

Brilliant!

The building is shared by a mob of drug-dealing money launderers, an international arms dealer, an arsonist, a gang of slave traders, the crew of a Somalian pirate ship and a merchant banker, but the arrival of the politician has prompted complaints about the tone of the neighbourhood being lowered.  "A council insider told The Sun-Herald: "We have to take all complaints seriously. Apart from the merchant banker's, obviously."

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Great advertising

How's this for a great poster:

inherit-the-wind

If you're in Oakland and a fan of the two great movies Inherit the Wind, as you'll see above the theatrical version is currently being performed by The College Preparatory School, directed by Salil Singh.  [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Saturday, 22 November 2008

It's a YouTube afternoon here at NOT PC

It's a bit of a YouTube afternoon here at NOT PC, and you're invited.

** Here's a compilation video that's deservedly doing the rounds: in 2006 and 2007 economist Peter Schiff was using Austrian economic principles to explain to the mainstream morons why a housing price crash, a market crash and recession were inevitable.  Watch them laugh.  Watch them advise us to buy shares in "underpriced" finance houses like Merrill Lynch. And Goldman Sachs.  "I like Bear Sterns," says one of the grinning morons. Oh how they laughed at Schiff's good sense, based on good Austrian fundamentals. And ask yourself who's laughing now.  Watch The Curse of Cassandra.

** Naturally, interest should now turn to what Schiff's saying now.  Here's what he said yesterday on CNBC:

Our markets are going lower. This is just not a financial crisis. This is an economic collapse. Our entire phony economy is collapsing around us. There is nothing the government can do to stop it. They should just get out of the way, and let it happen.

He's been been promoting gold as a store of value: but it appears that gold hasn't done quite as he would have hoped.  Schiff answers the objection in this video: Peter Schiff: Gold Will Rise, Dollar Will Collapse, and at the link above, which points to the next big worry about this collapse.

And on the present value of gold, bear in mind that, as Hayek pointed out in 1977, "I think it is quite as legitimate to say that under a gold standard it is the demand of gold for monetary purposes which determines that value of gold, as the common belief that the value which gold has in other uses determines the value of [commodity] money."  The flip side of this means that when the use of gold for monetary purposes has been prohibited, we need to value gold slightly differently (or else to recognise the necessity of reinstituting sound money).

Any way, on with the videos.

** I like the new short clips just posted by the Ayn Rand Center, among which are these topical insights: 

And this much longer one (65 min. long):

** Since I'll be up to my ears in 'Tristan and Isolde' tomorrow afternoon in Newmarket, here's the great Waltraud Meir singing music's longest orgasm: the conclusion to the whole four-and-a-half hour music-drama. There's nothing else like it in all music: Liebestod - Tristan & Isolde 'Set it at full screen and turn your sound system up to eleven, and be stunned!

** And finally, if you're keeping up with CricInfo to keep up with how we're unaccountably giving the Australian cricket team heart trouble, you might like to keep an eye on Richard Irvine's hilarious Sport Review blog.  I feel sure he'll have some great things coming once he comes down from the shock of it all.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Best of NOT PC, week to Friday 21 Nov

Another round-up of the week here at NOT PC.  A week in which new contributors at NOT PC were revealed and embraced, and the new NACT government began to unrolled its favoured strategy: to  bore us all into submission.

If you haven't yet had time to catch up on the gold-plated goodness that was NOT PC this week, then here's what other regular readers seemed to like (and if you'd like to get this weekly 'Best of' emailed to you, then why not sign up here at Yahoo.  What's to lose?):

  1. The global financial/economic crisis: causes & solutions
    Still the most popular post this week, this month (but not quite this year). A guest post and a great summary of the global financial and economic crisis: it's real causes and the only long-term solution.  Yes, it was from last fortnight-- but it's still ranking through the roof!  And deservedly so.
  2. NOT PJ: Mourning Helengrad
    Bernard Darnton ponders the renaming of Helengrad now the ruling regime has changed...
  3. Too dishonest to be a policemen...
    ...and therefore perfectly suited to be a lawyer. Yes, we're talking Clint Rickards here.
  4. "We" didn't do it! But we can stop it.
    Yes, we're talking Nia Glassie.  There's an awful lot of talk, but what does it really amount to?
  5. SUSIE THE LIBERTARIAN: Saving the Environment from Environmentalism
    How do you save the environment from environmentalists like Nick Smith? And how do we save ourselves from this weasel?
  6. Let Ford fail
    If the government is prepared to print money to bail out the banks, then why shouldn't it tax, print and borrow to bailout car-makers?  Um, I can think of several reasons.
  7. More myths from the Great Depression
    Did FDR save the US from depression, or did he make it worse.  Was Herbert Hoover a hands-off laissez-faire champion, or a meddler second only to FDR himself?  Find out the answers to these and many more timely questions.

Lots of good reading there, and plenty of intellectual ammunition with which to fill up your shot bag. Read like you mean it!  :-)

Enjoy your weekend! PC

Going Belgian (part one)

Our friend Stu from SOBA, the co-producer of the very drinkable Yeastie Boys' beers, brings you your regular Friday afternoon Beer O'Clock post. This afternoon, the delights of going Belgian:

logo_marques When people think of Belgian beer they usually think of one of the many local Belgian-themed beer cafés and their big bowls of mussels with pomme frittes (a fancy term for fries) with mayonnaise. Some people may think of the fact that the beers are generally quite high in alcohol, should be approached with caution, and are somewhat “funky” (I’m sure the odd business lunch has turned into a rather funked up afternoon).

In truth, the beers you taste in the Belgian-themed bars, besides one (sometimes two or three), are about the least funky beers Belgium has to offer. Nonetheless they are usually excellent beers and well worth an investigation.

leffeTap beers at these bars are generally the decent Stella Artois (a better local drop than its green-bottled nemesis and European neighbour), the deliciously quaffable Hoegaarden, the lightly-spiced and highly-drinkable Leffe ‘brothers’ (Blond and Brune) and the cherry-infused Belle-Vue Kriek. All good beers, usually served in smart glasses and in very good condition.

The bottled range branches out through some of the more interesting drops (and interesting glasses) from Hoegaarden, Chimay, Westmalle and Belle-Vue, as well as the omnipresent Duvel, the funnily named Kwak and its unusual glass, the marching elephants and crocodiles of Delirium Tremens, and the dangerously drinkable Gulden Draak (a 10.5% liquefied Christmas cake). Thinking about these beers makes me want to sneak down to my local Belgian-themed bar and sip the afternoon away, with a few friends and a whole lot of conversation.

bel-rodenbach For the more adventurous, the funkier beers in these bars are Orval and – very occasionally – a beer from the Frank Boon range or Rodenbach Grand Cru (I was once told by staff at Wellington’s Leuven that Rodenbach had been removed from the beer list because it was returned too often - it seems that its fruity “balsamic vinegar” character was not appreciated by the average drinker). We’ll look further into the more funky Belgian ales next time.

It is a shame that corporate practice prevails and these bars don’t have a policy of stocking some of New Zealand’s better Belgian-styled beers, such as Emerson’s JP (an annual release), Tuatara Ardennes or Mac’s Great White. They’re all as good, or better, than most of the imports. Another top New Zealand ‘Belgian’, though only available at the Mt Eden brewpub is Galbraith’s Resurrection – it even comes served in a chunky Belgian-style goblet.

When I was last in Auckland (earlier this year to see an excellent PJ Harvey make mediocre piano-playing a fantastic experience) I felt almost ashamed for having done a “30-something version of McDonald’s” by lunching at Occidental. In reality it was anything but – I had a couple of glasses of Orval, undoubtedly one of the very best (and most remarkable) beers in the world, and a very competent meal.

Many of these beers are available in the better supermarkets and bottle stores around New Zealand, while an even wider and more interesting range is generally available at the more specialised liquor stores. My picks are Rumbles in central Wellington, Regionals Wines and Spirits by New Zealand’s best test cricket venue, New World in Island Bay and the online Beer Store. Do you go Belgian and, if so, where?

Cheers, Stu

Seven Random or Weird Facts About Myself

I've been tagged!  When the first person tagged me, I was too busy. When Annie Fox tagged me, her cancer card got me thinking.  And now Whale Oil's tagged me, and that makes three -- so being a good blog citizen, here I go: Seven Random or Weird Facts About Myself.
  1. I have a favourite conspiracy theory.  See.
  2. I have an unusual talent or skill: I can offend several dozen people at several paces simply by entering a room.
  3. I once made money by making fine tofu for a natural foods outfit. It was good stuff too.
    And when Britain was in recession and there were 10,000 architects out of work (no this wasn't last week, it was 1990) I made money for a while on the horses.  Yes, I found a system that worked -- just enough of the time, anyway.
  4. I live in a castle.  True story.
  5. I can play 'Sweet Jane' on the guitar.  Not well, mind, but it's recognisable.  Well, I can.
  6. My favourite building in London is John Soane's house, which is now a museum.
  7. There are still more than four-hundred Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I need to visit.  And at least one Wagner Ring Cycle to see at Bayreuth.  :-)
The rules are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules
3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links.
I tag:

Blogger drinks this evening

This just in from FairFacts Media: "Blogger drinks are at The Cavalier in College Hill, Ponsonby, today, Friday at 6pm."  Sadly, I'll have to make my apologies -- I'll be enjoying myself in Onehunga.

Drinks cabinet

Danyl at the Dim Post cops a load of the new National cabinet. It's incisive analysis like this that puts Danyl at the top of the press gallery pole (or should do):

Bill English
Background: Policy analyst.
Portfolios: Finance and Infrastructure
Analysis: Rumoured to have tricked Key into thinking he is actually the National leader's butler, causing Key to let his guard down around his ambitious deputy.
Murray McCully
Background: Lawyer.
Portfolios: Foreign Affairs. Sport. Rugby World Cup.
Analysis: Was probably just a big coincidence that McCully’s time as National election strategist saw his party spend nine years in opposition; I’m sure he’ll be a great diplomatic envoy.

Consumers don't drive the economy, stupid [update 2]

bernanke-helicopter THERE'S A POPULAR misconception that, once exploded, explains why so called stimulus packages don't do what they're supposed to do. It's so popular that even luminaries like National Business Review editor Nevil Gibson subscribe to it: "Consumer spending," says Gibson in last week's NBR, "drives more than two-thirds of the overall ... economy," implying all that needs to be done to fix things is put more money in the hands of consumers and then everything will be sweet. What we need is a helicopter full of cash spraying its golden shower over the suburbs.

Simple, not to say simplistic.

As I say, Gibson's not the only one who's fallen prey to this popular yet facile misconception: you can read the same mistaken notion at Forbes magazine, Reuters, L'Express and Bloomberg, to name just a few, and closer to home at 3 News, TVNZ News, Radio NZ News, the Dom Post, the Otago Daily Times and Businessday --- all of them saying it's consumer spending that drives two-thirds of the economy, and consumer spending that must be supported. Urgently! What we need is shopping subsidies, and we need then now!

As I say, it's conventional wisdom. You can read it almost everywhere. Such a pity then that it's dead wrong. Insanely and destructively wrong.

FIRST OF ALL, as Bernard Darnton pointed out yesterday, that money put into the hands of consumers has to come from somewhere, else we're just committing another Broken Window Fallacy. As Brian Riedl points out in the Wall Street Journal,

Government stimulus bills are based on the idea that feeding new money into the economy will increase demand, and thus production. But where does government get this money? Congress doesn't have its own stash. Every dollar it injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new spending power is created. It's merely redistributed from one group of people to another.

And who knows what that first group (or groups) would have done with it? They sure as hell wouldn't have thrown it out of a helicopter.

Governments don't create new purchasing power out of thin air. If Congress funds new spending with taxes, it is redistributing existing income. If the money is borrowed from American investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy. If the money is borrowed from foreigners, the balance of payments must still balance. That means reducing net exports through exchange-rate adjustments, thereby leaving net spending on the economy unchanged.
Yet Congress will soon borrow $300 billion from one group of people and then give it to another group of people and tell us we're all wealthier for it.
Lawmakers commit this fallacy repeatedly...

Yes, and so do newsmen and economists. You'll hear some of the latter group whining about something they call 'the paradox of thrift' -- they'll say that in times of recession people need to spend, spend, spend and if they don't -- if they save instead (the horror!) -- then everything will collapse in a heap. But this is just dumb. Saving doesn't mean "not spending." It simply means deciding to spend later, rather than spending it all now. And in the meantime, unless that money just goes into a hole in the ground, the money that people save goes into investment, which means it goes to producers (or would do if it weren't diluted by printing money to produce stimulus packages) which brings me to my second point.

YOU SEE, CONSUMERS don't drive more than two-thirds of the economy at all. This is just horse shit on a stick. Though it's hidden in the arithmetic of the GDP, by far the majority of spending and income payments in the economy are not consumer spending but productive spending, i.e., spending for the purpose of making sales. In other words, for the stuff that really makes the economy go round.

As George Reisman explains it, this productive expenditure constitutes "all the expenditures made by business firms in buying capital goods of all descriptions and in paying wages,"

"Capital goods include machinery, materials, components, supplies, lighting, heating, and advertising. In contrast to productive expenditure, consumption expenditure is expenditure not for the purpose of making subsequent sales, but for any other purpose. In the terminology of contemporary economics, consumption expenditure is described as final expenditure. Productive expenditure could be termed intermediate expenditure. Implicitly or explicitly, productive expenditure is always made for the purpose of earning sales revenues greater than itself, i.e., is made for the purpose of earning a profit."

And this figure is huge! It is

"an amount equal to the sum of all costs of goods sold in the economic system plus all of the expensed productive expenditures in the economic system. It is these costs which must be added to GDP to bring it up to a measure of the actual aggregate amount of spending for goods and services in the economic system... And because productive expenditure is the main form of spending, most spending in the economic system depends on saving. Even consumption expenditure depends on saving, inasmuch as saving is the basis of the payment of the wages out of which most consumption takes place."

Which means that it's not consumer spending that drives the economy at all: it's saving.

Just contemplate that for a moment.

So how can such an enormous figure be hidden in the arithmetic? Well, I blame Keynes. Essentially that GDP figure is his; when the GDP (or National Income figure) is totted up it counts profits, but it ignores completely the costs required to make those profits, i.e., it completely ignores productive expenditure, which by any rational measure is the spending that drives everything. In Reisman's words, that means that "Keynesian macroeconomics is literally playing with half a deck.

"It purports to be a study of the economic system as a whole, yet in ignoring productive expenditure it totally ignores most of the actual spending that takes place in the production of goods and services. It is an economics almost exclusively of consumer spending, not an economics of total spending in the production of goods and services."

And being an economics almost exclusively of consumer spending it sees "stimuli" only in consumer terms.

But once you realise where most of the deck of cards resides -- i.e., in productive spending -- you really do see what you're doing with consumer stimulus packages: you're taking real resources away from the behemoth that really does drive the economy, which is productive expenditure, and you're pissing it up against a wall.

That might be popular, but in the long run it's just flat-out dumb.

LINKS:

UPDATE 1:  If you would genuinely like to make sense of the wider discussion here, the clearest and most integrated pieces are these:

  • Bastiat: 'What is Seen and Not Seen.'
    "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen."
  • Bastiat: 'What is Money'
    "I cry out against money, just because everybody confounds it, as you did just now, with riches, and that this confusion is the cause of errors and calamities without number.
  • Rand: 'Egalitarianism & Inflation'
    "If I told you that the precondition of inflation is psycho-epistemological—that inflation is hidden under the perceptual illusions created by broken conceptual links—you would not understand me. That is what I propose to explain and to prove."  And she does!

UPDATE 2: Don Boudreaux's brilliant letter to the Washington Post has much wider relevance than just the proposed auto bailout [emphasis mine].  See if you can spot the Bastiat reference:

Dear Editor:
Martin Feldstein and George Will each offer excellent reasons for opposing a bailout of Detroit automakers (Opinion, Nov. 18). Here's another: resources given by government to these corporations must be taken from somewhere else. Government cannot conjure billions of dollars of resources out of thin air.

The number of different places from which these resources will be taken is large and spans a continent. So it's easy to overlook the fact that each of many productive firms from across the country will, as a result of this bailout, pay more for steel, machine tools, fuel, and other inputs they use in production. These other firms will contract their operations; they'll employ fewer workers; they'll produce less output.

The bailout might well save GM, Ford, and Chrysler. If so, politicians will celebrate it as "successful." But that success – which will be easy to see and capture on video tape – will likely really be an economic failure because of the resulting (if hard to see) contracted economic activity throughout the economy.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

ARCHITECTURAL MINI-TUTORIAL: It's all in the plan, and the function and the form

Like the stunning garden shed featured here a few weeks ago, this humble farm building shown here shows that good architecture isn't just confined to cathedrals.  And like Bruce Goff's Gutman House I featured yesterday, we can see that the excitement of Haring's 1924 Gut-Garkau Farm is really all in the plan - just like it should be in all really good architecture,

Why's that? Because unlike the modernist architecture of, say, Mies van der Rohe, whose buildings could pretty much house anything, the plans of Hugo Haring always express the function for which they're intended -- in this case to house and service a bull and his cows in a cold climate. Hugo Haring, you see, wasn't a modernist.  He designed organic architecture.  As Frank Lloyd Wright describes it,
In an organic architecture the ground itself detemines all features: the climate modifies them: available means limit them: function shapes them.
What this means for the plan you can see above is that the form of each element can be traced to a functional need.  For instance: 
"The pointed-arch section of the barn reflects the choice of a lamella roof. It follows the line of structural thrust with interlocking small timbers and leaves the internal volume unencumbered by ties." [Peter Blundell-Jones]
That's a good thing for a barn: the result of that form reflecting those particular functions is that the forms becomes expressive of the function: or as Wright would say, form and function become one.

This is the integration we look for in good architecture.  Blundell-Jones explains how the function of the barn generated the building:
"A simple rectangle in plan, the barn was planned so that unloading carts could pass through between the asymmetrically placed doors. The cowshed lies beneath the hayloft so that the cattle can be fed directly via a trapdoor.The intermediate floor slopes inward, both to facilitate spreading the hay and to guide rising breath of cattle to vents at the sides, reducing spread of infection. The framed structure allows a continuous window band at clerestorey level to maximise skylight, ventilation being achieved separately by flaps above. The pear-shaped plan gathers the cows around a food-floor which tapers with the quantity of food distributed, and the circulation space around the edge allows smooth flow. The guiding idea, though, was clearly to reflect the relationship between the 42 cows and the single bull, father of the herd and its genetic identity."
And simply and elegantly done.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Top blogs

Blogosphere ranking are out covering the election period ... and I can tell you that NOT PC did better than the Libertarianz, dropping just one spot to six.

Big movers are No Minister, zooming up six places past me to four, and Trevor Loudon's New Zeal, whose online Obama investigations are paying off in increased readership (congratulations to you both), and  Policy Blog, which dipped three spots even before the departure of Messrs Trotter and Hooton.  Oops.  Guess slime and venom doesn't pay like it used to.

Head to Tumeke! to check out the top twenty, and head back tomorrow for the full list.

Should we worry about deflation?

Should we be worried about deflation?  Answer: no.  Deflation (conventionally defined) just means gently falling prices. What's wrong with that? Falling prices are a boon for consumers, eventually, but more importantly falling prices are a boon for producers now who get to take advantage of lower costs to regenerate their businesses again -- in short, falling prices are necessary for the market to correct, as it is.

Deflation, in fact, is a "great liberating force," writes Jörg Guido Hülsmann, "because it destroys the economic basis of the social engineers, spin doctors, and brain washers." It rewards Mr and Mrs Saver, who've delayed spending now with the expectation of spending later, and punishes Mr and Mrs Profligate, whose spending has been part of the reason we're now all suffering.

The reason that unsound economists rail against deflation?  Because they think Mr and Mrs Profligate drive the economy.  But they don't, as I'll show you tomorrow.

How to stabilize the stock market

The US stock market is up. The US stock market is down. The market kicks up then it shakes and all falls down. It's up and down and all around every time Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson opens his mouth, which suggests an obvious solution:

Stabilize Stock Market

This is not your money, Congressman [update 1]

Message to American car-makers, to would-be supporters of the car-makers, and to everyone that's standing behind the car-makers with their hands out waiting for some action as well: Bailouts are immoral. Bailouts are impractical. Let Ford fail -- and let all the rest of them as well. If their costs are too high and they're wasting resources on stuff that people don't want to buy, then let them go to the wall, and let those resources be put to better use.

And a message to the politicians: these aren't your billions of dollars. This is not your money. Yes, I'm talking to you, you immoral, thieving numb nut.

UPDATE: "There can surely have been few more pitiful spectacles in recent times than the heads of the Big Three American auto-makers going cap-in-hand to Washington to beg for taxpayer money," says Lindsay Perigo.

"The sight of these three supposed stalwarts of American capitalism pleading for politicians to rescue them from the workings of the marketplace with the plundered earnings of productive citizens must surely have Mikhail Gorbachev scratching his birthmark. Time was when such captains of industry wouldn't dream of bowing and scraping to the power-lusters and parasites on Capitol Hill. Now it seems their self-respect is non-existent as they shamelessly solicit coerced money with which to continue producing inferior cars and coddling the obscenely bloated United Auto Workers Union."

NOT PJ: The Revelation According to John

He's not PJ O'Rourke, and this week regular columnist Bernard Darnton isn't Bastiat either ...

Shortly before being sworn in as Prime Minister yesterday, John Key was given a briefing on the state of the economy by Treasury. “It’s not Armageddon,” said John.

According to the Book of Revelation, Armageddon would mean “a beast coming out of the sea. It [will have] ten horns and seven heads... The beast [will look] like a leopard, with feet like a bear’s feet and a mouth like a lion’s mouth.”

While having this creature sloshing its way out of the harbour and lurching up Lambton Quay would have spiced up the pre-election fiscal update no end, it would also have made it a lot harder to hide the bad news in the small print. imagine if you will ...

The businessmen of the earth also cry and mourn, because no one buys their goods any longer; no one buys their gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls... The businessmen who became rich from doing business in that city will stand a long way off, because they are afraid of sharing in her suffering... In one hour she has lost all this wealth!

Grim. But if you’re a glass-half-full sort of person you’re probably already thinking, “Hold on, maybe Armageddon wouldn’t be so bad.”

If you see an axe sticking out of the former Prime Minister’s electorate office window and think, “Hey, that’s got to be good for the glaziers of Mt Albert,” then perhaps, you're thinking, Armageddon could be even better!

If Babylon gets consumed by vengeful fire we’re obviously going to need a new one. And how much does a new brothel cost? Not to mention all the drinking dens and the heathen temples? That would add up to a significant sum. A few trillion in fiscal stimulus to replace all those iniquitous lairs would really boost demand! And having all those boudoir decorators and idol sculptors gainfully employed would certainly revive flagging consumer confidence. Beelzebub and his demonic host would seem quite the public benefactors.

The trouble is of course that government guarantees against acts of God have to be paid for. Somehow. Just nominating a Minister for Infrastructure doesn’t cause new casinos and bath houses to appear out of thin air. The labour and materials have to be redirected from other projects. We’ll never know what real entrepreneurs could have done with the same resources.

Even those who espouse stimulus packages and other wasteful spending on nonsense projects don’t really believe in their own prescription. If they really believed that providing stimulus to consume was all that was required to improve the economy then surely they’d ensure their own future wealth with a little home macroeconomics.

They’d burn down their houses, take out mortgages on the land, and spend the loans on rebuilding the houses. Hey presto – economic miracle.

It’s not Armageddon, so your house probably won’t get burnt down by righteous angels, Satan’s armies, or enthusiastic but misguided macroeconomists. But if you’re after stimulus, you may get the pleasures of Babylon piped to your home over a shiny new (but not strictly necessary) fibre-optic broadband network. It will remain forever unseen what those billions would have been spent on if left in their owners’ hands.

The DPB: A failed experiment

Another gem from Libertarian Sus:

You almost don't know where to start, do you. Looking at the pieces of filth charged with the murder and assault of wee Nia Glassie, I just knew I was looking at subhumans. Everything about them, their demeanour, their detachment from what was going on around them, and yes, their complete lack of remorse or comprehension, even as to their actions, pointed to absolute uselessness. These cretins literally are a waste of space.  They're oxygen thieves.

We've been here before -- many times -- going right back to little Delcelia Witika and James Whakaruru, both tortured to death by family and de facto family. Then there was Baby Lillybing and the Kahui infants, whose killer or killers still walk free. What a bloody disgrace. There are many more in between whose names, I'm ashamed to say, escape me.

I've never had any time for hand-wringing. I'm not a wailing socialist. And it doesn't take a Philadelphian lawyer to point to the common denominator of unfettered social welfare ... in particular, that misguided experiment called the DPB which allows:

1. loser dads to bugger off and leave Mum with the kids, knowing that the poor old taxpayer - again - picks the tab, and

2. loser blokes to move in with single-Mum-with-kids-on-DPB, to be fed and screwed on demand, and

3. young women to screw anything with no personal regard for future consequences, ending up with children they really don't want, who are treated accordingly.

The DPB is at the heart of this misery, paying people to have babies they neither want, nor care for properly. And every govt for 30+ years has supported and promoted it, rather than have the guts to call it for what it is: a failed experiment.

Emil Gutman House, Gulfport, Mississippi - Bruce Goff, 1958 [update 2]

                              GutmanPlan-GOFF
11312_image_7.150 I freely concede that it's not a great looking house; overly symmetrical; squatting above the ground like some sort of hovering insect; but this really is a beautifully crafted plan -- and it'd just be enormous fun to live there, don't you think? 
Goff's multi-cellular open plan is a tightly-focussed gem.
Just try and project yourself in there, and imagine what it would be like.
This is a severely underrated piece of architecture.


UPDATE 1:  I've scanned in two A4 pages of blueprints so you can see the original floor plan and much more.  If you click on the small pics below, you should see something much bigger.

GOFF-Gutman001 GOFF-Gutman002

UPDATE 2:  Now apparently destroyed by fire, but commenting at the Preservation in Mississippi blog Jim Galloway tells us where in Gulfport, Mississippi, the Gutman House used to be located:
"The Bruce Goff House, aka the Gutman House, in Gulfport, also locally known as the Star of David House, was located on the north side of Bayou Circle in Gulfport, which runs along the south shore of Gulfport Lake, all in the Bayou View subdivision. It was originally constructed by a Dr. Gutman, and was sometimes called the “Flying Saucer House”. It was quite a sight when it was built."

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

"We" didn't do it! But we *can* stop it.

It didnt take long, did it, before "we" were all blamed for not stopping Nia Glassie's whanau from killing her.
NZ HERALD: Hone Kaa, head of the child advocacy group Te Kahui Mana Ririki, said New Zealand's child abuse rate was unacceptably high, and more children like Nia would die if people continued to turn a blind eye."We can be sure she isn't going to be the last. We might pray that she is, but in the end it's the behaviour of adults that secures the safety of children."Dr Kaa said New Zealanders ought to be "busybodies" and report abuse."We've got to learn to nark. I've said this before and I'm not afraid of saying it time and time again. Drop them in it."
One looks in vain from Hone (or from any of the usual suspects) for any condemnation of the animals who killed her.  Oh yes, it's "not okay to hit your family" say the ads we're all paying for -- but the animals we're paying to have children children don't care. Memo to Hone: I didn't kill Nia.  We didn't kill her, either by commission or omission.  It wasn't us who killed her: This whole sorry whanau did.  Babies who were paid paid by the system to have babies.  

These scum were paid to breed, and Nia died of it. Think about that when the busybodies are blaming us for not being busybodies.
aren't we all getting sick to death of being commanded to take responsibility? Whether it be for 'narking' ... or as a taxpayer, who should fork out more to alleviate the poverty that apparently lies at the heart of this dysfunction?
We pay no-hopers to breed, and then we wonder why their progeny have no hope.  We've been following this hopeless pattern now and produced three generations of losers. 

Who's really to blame here for the hopelessness of it all? Answer: those who put the system in place, and those who feed it and maintain it.  We don't need inquiries or more hand-wringing; the answer is much simpler than that.  It has to be said: It's time to stop paying no-hopers to breed.  Here's how to do it.

A handy man

tool-fist-470-1008 In his 'Notebooks of Lazarus Long' Robert Heinlein famously averred that every human being "should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

Popular Mechanics updates Heinlein's list with 100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008's Ultimate DIY List.

Try their quiz to see just how human you're being.

Advice for new ministers

Chris Trotter and Gordon Campbell need have no fear, there is no great "libertarian experiment" about to break out at the top -- more's the pity.  Instead we have a public service full of what Liberty Scott calls bright-eyed bushy-tailed mediocrities who have spent nine years serving a pro-active interventionist government who will now be serving a status-quo interventionist government full of bright-eyed bushy-tailed mediocrities.

So there's some sort of symmetry there, I guess, if not much in the way of progress.

Still, should that be an unfair judgement and any of the new ministers be harbouring anything in their breasts in the way of experimenting, Scott proffers some advice on advice on how to deal with the mediocrities working for them.

World still buried under inches of global warming hype ... but the rapid meltdown continues [updated]

Record-breaking snow storms in Tibet, Arctic sea ice thirty percent more extensive than last year, "unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures" all the way "from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand," and "in the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years."

So how come NASA's James Hansen -- world's senior warmist and adviser to the good and the great (and Al Gore) -- the chap who told the US Senate that oil company executives need to be locked up for "crimes to humanity"-- the man who last year likened the construction of a new coal-based power plant as equivalent to the holocaust -- who said that trains bringing coal to a new power plants are like the "death trains" moving Jews to extermination camps -- how come he announced last month, October, to be the hottest October on record

Simple really. First, Hansen is clearly no stranger to hyperbole, or to "sexing up" his data.  And second, in their apparent eagerness to back up their boss's sexing up, Hansen's Goddard Institute, one of the world's Big Four climate agencies has stuffed up.  Christopher Brooker explains:

    So what explained the anomaly? The Goddard Institute's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.
    The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.
    A Goddard Institute spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

The quality control question has been raised before,  suggesting that NASA seems to have "lost track of a number of large cold regions" - not least of them Siberia -- and what's left looks like "a network of contaminated data collection."

And it's on the basis of such "science" as this that we're about to crucify ourselves on the cross of carbon taxes, Emissions Trading Scams and assorted other impositions on production, on industry and on agriculture -- in Brooker's words,  "to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist." 

As he says, it's a question which should give us all pause for thought.

UPDATE:   From the 'but the ACT-Party-are-our-friends file' comes the following email newletter from accountant Mark Hubbard, which is sent to all his rural clients popinting out that ACT, a party of climate change sceptics, campaigned on a policy to abolish the Emissions Tax Scam altogether -- and once joined in the campaign against Labour's Fart Tax -- and now they're saying they'll sign up to a Fart Tax from National!
    My opinion: traitorous, lying, rotten sods. The first thing a NACT Government does is NACT'ker the economy. I can't believe that the first thing Hide does in power, is advocate for yet another tax, and the fart tax!! ACT said nothing about wanting a carbon tax through the election. They made it seem like they were your friend in wanting to get rid of an ETS.
    Unbelievable. It took exactly one week and two days for this government to turn traitor and stab you all in the back. And I know many of you were single issue voting for ACT on this issue.

It's going to take more than a razor gang to fix this! [updated]

Around sixty years before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed midst great hope and expectation, and New Zealand began working towards the "modern democracy" it is now, Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
How far are we from that time? Well, consider some figures from a Bernard Hickey column that has attracted little comment, but shows we're now at the cusp of a historic turning point:
[From 1999 to today] both local and central governments grew consistently and faster than the rest of the economy [as did] the number of people receiving benefits, Working for Families payments and/or working for local and central governments...
This means that now we have 1.85 million people working and paying taxes to 1.75 million who receive benefits or work for the government. This near 1 to 1 ratio compares with a near 1.5 workers to 1 beneficiary in 1999.
Let me repeat that: in New Zealand's modern democracy1.75 million adults now rely on income taxes paid by 1.85 million working adults. [You can see here how those figures are made up.]

It's going to take more than a razor gang and a bubbly personality to fix that.

UPDATE 1: Speaking of democracy, what would Alexander Tytler say about this: How Obama was Elected.

I know for sure what Bill Weddell would have said: "Democracy is the counting of heads regardless of content."

UPDATE 2: Yes, I've been corrected by Redbaiter. It's Tytler, not Tyler.

Bob & Dorene Barns House - Bruce Goff, 1955

               Barns-GOFF

[Sketch by Bruce Goff from Art Institute of Chicago Collection]

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

How to fix everything

The great Hugh Laurie tells us how we can fix everything right away, right now -- the answer's just staring us right in the face. Hey, it's ever so simple, all we gotta do is ...
[Hat tip Noodle Food]

Why stimuli fail

How are government "stimulus" packages supposed to work? Jeff Perren points to an answer in the Wall Street Journal: "Government stimulus bills are based on the idea that feeding new money into the economy will increase demand..." But identifying where the government gets the money from explains why such stimulus doesn't work the way it's supposed to, if at all. Says Jeff:

I strongly urge everyone to read the entire article, which uses "infrastructure spending" as an example.

There should be no subject more topical for a NZ taxpayer.

Meanwhile, the Onion asks whether the government should stop dumping money down a giant hole [hat tip Berend].

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's Lynne Kiesling on prospective attempts to build a better economy by mis-allocating (or destroying) capital. To paraphrase a popular recent ad campaign, "No We Can't." [Hat tips Art Carden and Will Wilkinson]

SUSIE THE LIBERTARIAN: Saving the Environment from Environmentalism [updated]

I'm very happy to post the first post from another of my new regular contributors here at NOT PC: Susan from libertarian headquarters.  Sadly, the subject is not such a happy one ... it's this weasel here:

Prime Minister-designate John Key announced his Cabinet yesterday ahead of being sworn in as New Zealand’s 37th Prime Minister this week.  It’s a big Cabinet, consisting of 28 Ministers and Associate Ministers for everything, by the looks of it, except for Africa itself. Although if Bob Geldof had his way …. but I digress.

All the usual suspects are there, along with the truly stupid Ministries of Arts & Culture, Rugby World Cup and, of all things, Disarmament. I thought there was nothing left to disarm, but there we go. The patronising Ministries of Women’s and Pacific Island Affairs still exist and ACC does not look to be privatised in the near future, more’s the pity.

And Nick Smith acquired the Environment portfolio, which was such a sure bet that the TAB would not have been interested. Which makes him the new Minister for the RMA. 

It’s true that his skin has been forest green for some time, but rather than ease up a bit, he has only become more fanatical as time goes by.  Nick’s positively in love with nature, which is great. So am I. But his prescription for its survival is very different from mine. Nick’s environmental values would not be out of place in the Green party. And that alone should worry any working New Zealander with at least half a functioning brain. For an example of what can happen – quickly - when zealotry prevails, let me take you on a wee trip around the British countryside under New Labour.

The last decade of British country life has seen angry clashes between supporters of traditional country pursuits and the “antis,” the latter of which are lead by violent, well-organised, urban protestors who have a hatred of the former that verges upon the pathological.

I spent a long winter in rural North Yorkshire 25 years ago. I learned two things about the fox: 1) that it has no natural enemy, and 2) that it is not a cute dog. On the contrary, it’s a lethal killing machine. It kills for fun, not for food. If a fox gets into a henhouse, it will leave nothing alive.

Personally, foxhunting wasn’t my favourite thing. But it was the countryside’s method of keeping fox numbers at manageable levels. It is not easy to catch a fox; it is notoriously quick and the hounds track by scent rather than sight. They are killed (by hounds) with one quick blow to the neck, not the messy, protracted affair as the antis would have you believe. The pursuit provides employment for thousands and has been enjoyed for centuries.

Clarissa Dickson Wright of Two Fat Ladies cookery fame, in her superb autobiography Spilling the Beans, states that the ban on foxhunting came about largely as Tony Blair’s quid pro quo for the invasion of Iraq, in order to appease his party’s extreme. Fox numbers have obviously risen markedly since, resulting in increasing stock losses for farmers and small-holders alike and the adverse implications thereof.

Dickson Wright has become something of a spokesman for the countryside movement. After the death of her on-screen partner Jennifer Paterson, she co-hosted a television series for the BBC entitled Clarissa & the Countryside, with each episode concentrating on a particular rural subject. It was very well-received and she quotes one instance where the editor of “Scotland on Sunday,” after watching an episode on the requirements of the grouse moor, printed an article bemoaning his ignorance as to the moors’ necessity in being managed for longevity and retracting previous critical editorial. It is interesting to note that, in spite of her roaring success in this country with Two Fat Ladies, the rural series was not purchased by TVNZ. Guess it didn’t sit well with Labour’s Charter, eh…

There is also the UK ban on shooting birds of prey, which has resulted in the rapid decline in the numbers of smaller British birds as their larger counterparts vie for food sources. Additionally, the birds of prey attack ewes by blinding them so as to easily prey upon their newborn lambs. The interference from Whitehall has negatively impacted upon the lives and livelihoods of thousands and been the ruination of many.

Now all this might seem like it's half a world and a different political party away from Nick the Dick, our new Minister for the Environment, but the essentials remain the same, i.e., the essence and ramifications of interference by central planners upon YOUR property and, perhaps, YOUR livelihood under the banner of protecting the environment. And with the weasel having been given the added portfolio of Climate Change in addition to that of The Environment, you can bet your ever decreasing dollar that Nick Smith has every intention of stamping his mark upon New Zealand, both rural and urban.

Oh, and regarding ACC? He’s got that, too. Just thought you’d like to know. ;)

                                                                                              * * * * *
By the way, Clarissa Dickson Wright is the daughter of the brilliant heart surgeon, Sir Arthur Dickson Wright, who was also a brutal alcoholic. Her mother was an Australian heiress. Clarissa studied for a law degree and remains the youngest woman in UK legal history to be admitted to the Bar, aged 21. She was a contemporary of Tony Blair and Jack Straw, among others.  Her autobiography Spilling the Beans is an extraordinary read and, to quote one of the many favourable reviews, it left me flabbergasted. I highly recommend it.

NB: More posts here detailing what this pillock plans for the RMA -- in short, bugger all:

UPDATE:  "Snap quiz: how many ministries does the New Zealand government have, as in Minister of This and Minister for That?"  For answers, head to the Kiwi Polemicist, who's "undertaken the herculean task" of writing a list of them all: "as you read consider not only the number of ministries, but also which areas of your life (and other people’s) that our slave masters deem it necessary to manage."