First-of-the-New-Year Ramble [update 2]
Here’s what the boys at Brain Stab used to call a bunch o’ links; i.e., news, views and opinions around the web I’ve either picked up or been sent (for which much thanks) that you might be interested in too, most of which has appeared while I’ve been sunning myself in the Bay of Plenty.
- Is this the biggest cheque ever?
- What is Money? A video presentation recommended by RW.
- Where there’s no carbon footprint, there’s no life. A timely reminder by Keith Lockitch.
- Both the Wall Street Journal and Britain’s influential Spectator magazine are seeing strong parallels between the America and Britain of today, respectively, and the America of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, with scenes now playing out in reality that the WSJ says are “eerily similar” to those invented by Ayn Rand for her novel.
If you’ve not yet read Atlas, then “now is a very good time to read it,” says the Spectator. Why? “Because … the reader [i.e., you] would find plenty of chilling analogies for the current economic collapse.”
See 'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years and Britain, by Ayn Rand.
- And more on the economic collapse … Free Radical readers who enjoyed George Reisman’s insightful take on the collapse will surely appreciate his new “series of articles that seeks to provide the intelligent layman with sufficient knowledge of sound economic theory to enable him to understand what must be done to overcome the present financial crisis and return to the path of economic progress and prosperity.”
The first in the series addresses “a disastrous economic confusion, one that is shared almost universally, both by laymen and by professional economists alike, is the belief that falling prices constitute deflation and thus must be feared and, if possible, prevented.”
Read Falling Prices Are Not Inflation, but the Answer to Inflation.
- And yet more. As D.W. McKenzie points out, The US Federal Reserve is pursuing a policy of monetary inflation out of an erroneous fear of deflation. The result is now negative real interest rates in most of the developed world which, as McKenzie points out, will necessarily lead to a cure worse than the disease – a disease, as you might recall, that was caused by the Fed’s earlier massive monetary inflations to stave off the bursting of earlier inflationary bubbles.
Read Liquidity Traps versus Inflation Traps.
- And yet more. Are you by any chance spotting a theme here?
According to the flawed mainstream economic theory, when resources are idle, as they are in depressions, then governments urgently need to borrow and/or print money to put these idle resources back to work. It is on this basis that the likes of Bill English and Steven Joyce are now drawing up plans to spray $7 billion of deficit spending over the economy, and the backward economics of Barack Obama that presages the fantasy of his “green economy.”
Austrian economist Robert Murphy attacks this flawed economic thinking head on: The notion is not only unrealistic, but “even if we conceded that the government could spend money in a way that only involved unemployed resources, the measure would nevertheless be harmful and would make the country poorer.”
In other words, it’s a dumb idea.
Read Does "Depression Economics" Change the Rules? to find out why.
- As most of you are now aware, the leading symptom of the collapse both here and overseas was the housing bubble.
A housing bubble that was pumped up by inflated credit, and exacerbated by restrictive building and planning regulations that has sent the replacement cost of new houses through the roof – a bubble that has burst, leaving (in New Zealand alone) a predicted 35,000 construction workers looking for new jobs this year, a sum only slightly larger than the net increase in jobs in the sector over the last five years of the bubble.
A housing bubble that is clear enough to everyone now, but so few saw through when they were caught up in the hype. Hugh Pavletich, who was warning about the bubble since at least 2004, looks at the “housing bubble blindness” and those who were caught up in it, and what is most urgent now.
And I’ll give you a clue, it isn’t pumping up bogus and unaffordable infrastructure projects that will only inflate the cost of building materials and building labour.
Read Housing bubbles and market sense.
- And my thoughts go out to the people of western Fiji and especially those from Sigatoka, with whom we spent a very pleasant few days just a few short months ago, and who are now suffering the effects of huge rains and massive flooding.
A Fiji Relief Account has been set up at the ANZ Bank. You can donate at any branch.
- Finally, in more cheerful news, artist Michael Newberry has moved from Brooklyn to Santa Monica, where he can enjoy “a flourishing community of friends, collectors, and successful ex- and new students” and where he opens his new gallery in March – and you can take advantage of the move at his Williamburg Studio Sale sale on January 24-25th, and pick up quality art works at reasonable prices.
- PJ O’Rourke’s speaking tour to Sydney, postponed through illness, is back on for April. Annie Fox has the links and details.
- And speaking of Australia’s Center for Independent Studies, which is where PJ will be speaking, applications are now open for the CIS’s first Liberty and Society student conference of 2009, to be held over the weekend of 1–3 May. For more details and to apply please visit: http://www.libertyandsociety.org
- Craig Ceely has another offer worth jumping for. Says he, “Quite a few of us in the west supported Denmark during the big Muhammad cartoons imbroglio. Now, it appears, Denmark is paying us back. As the banner … says, "No Burka on Free Speech." Delightfully, there is no burka on anything in this Siemens commercial.” Head here to see what he’s talking about. Quite possibly the best use of Wagner in a TV commercial. And other delightful stuff. :-)
- And Jeff Perren calls pseudo-economist Paul Krugman a village idiot in the sort of village Ibsen used to write about.
Read Enemies of the People.
- And calls Obama's economics guru Lawrence Summers for his “woozy-minded” editorial in the Washington Post, giving everyone “ample reason to hang on tightly to our wallets over the next few years. “
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” is Jeff’s summing up of the woozy-mindedness, “Unless perhaps it's the coming of Lawrence Summers.”
Read The Newest Deal.
- By the way, today in the US it’s National Delurking Day, “a day for blog readers to emerge from Lurkdom” and leave a comment on all their favourite blogs, which I’d like to think included this one. So say hello in the comments, huh?
- And from the latest Objectivist Blog Roundup comes these next few beauties:
- Guy Barnett presents Give Peace a Chance? posted at The Undercurrent, saying, "Doesn't everyone want peace? Can't we just put aside our differences and live harmoniously together? Find out the answer in this compelling blog post."
- And check out Girls Gone Mild. "Virginity is all the rage these days,” says Guy Barnett, who clearly moves in different circles to mine. “This is partly [he says] because many people believe that the alternative to chastity is promiscuity. "Girls Gone Mild" analyzes this common false-alternative."
- Doug presents How Hamas Brainwashes Children posted at The Rule of Reason.
- Paul Hsieh points out that universal health care will create a "nanny state on steroids".
- And Gus Van Horn presents Fascism Comes to Media saying, "Government 'bailouts' are already threatening freedom of speech."
- And finally (and this time I really do mean it, I swear) if you’re looking for fun and relaxation next weekend then a little press release tells me the Legendary Raglan Mudsharks are having their 3rd Annual Mudshark Monday, Jan 19th 2009 in the Harbour View Hotel (garden bar), Bow Street, Raglan, 8.00pm start. The "legendary" line-up of Sid & Freddie Limbert (bass, vocals & drums), Dave Maybee (guitar & vocals), Midge Marsden (vocals & harmonica) & Liam Ryan (keyboards & vocals) promises to keep you entertained till midnight. The evening will also feature some special guests & friends of the band! As usual anything could happen, anyone could turn up (and will) so if you wanna 'shake, rattle & roll' or just 'sit back & cruise' you'll be in the right place!
UPDATE: Okay, my last note wasn’t the final one. Local opera buffs take note: A friend just let me know that there’s a whole new season of the Met’s operas-on-film now playing around the country at the Rialto cinemas.
First up is Richard Strauss’s Salome, playing at the unlikely time of 10am tomorrow morning!
So if necrophilic erotica, Biblical bloodlust and intense orchestration is what you want over your morning tea (and let’s face it, who doesn’t), then this will be the link you’ll be after.