Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Tuesday ramble

A Tuesday avo’ ramble through a bunch o’ links, a bunch of good stuff, that I’ve been meaning to write about more thoroughly, but haven’t had sufficient time. Here we go with all the stuff that’s too good to miss, in no particular order:

  • New Zealand monetary policy criticised … by Peter Schiff. Listen here to him criticise Alan Bollard’s approach at the Reserve Bank. “Really irresponsible” is the kindest thing he can say about Alan – but he’s got much worse to say about America and the Fed.
  • The Libertarianz party notes with alarm the arrest of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party's candidate in the Mt Albert by-election, Dakta Green – an arrest that seems strangely consonant with his announcement as a candidate. “While Libertarianz believes that political party candidates should be subject to the laws of the country like any other citizens, the timing of the arrests rings alarm bells that the police are politically motivated in their actions.” Read Libertarianz: Free Dakta Green!.
  • Tim Selwyn likes the look of the support. “This is a wonderful development. If ever there was a political movement that needed to spark up and chill out it would be the Libz. Good for them.” Read Mt Albert - Libz backing stoners?.
  • Lindsay Mitchell discovers belatedly that Chris Trotter talks nonsense:
Chris Trotter writes ... that Mr Key and his right wing mates are showing signs that they are about to get rid of "what's left of the welfare state."
This implies most of what constitutes the welfare state has already been dismantled.
All that remains are the unemployment, sickness, invalid and domestic purposes benefits; the independent youth, emergency, and unsupported child benefits; super and veteran's pensions; accommodation supplement and state housing; the minimum wage; Working For Families; residential care subsidies; childcare subsidies; Paid Parental Leave; student allowances; interest free student loans; 'free' public hospitals and public schools; various family and child tax credits; universal no-fault accident compensation; widow's benefit; orphan's benefit; free dental care for the young; free healthcare for under sixes; the Super GoldCard; the Community Services card; the methadone programme; legal aid; Restart and Replace; 9 day working fortnight subsidies; subsidies to hundreds of 'charities'...
No. There's not much to remember. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, there is a case to include corporate welfare, and grants to the arts and sports as part of the broadest-sense welfare state.
So Trotter exaggerates just a little. Who knew?
  • On his Fox News Show, Glen Beck is working his way through the people at the Ayn Rand Institute. This week on his show he’s got Harry Binswanger. Watch here at YouTube.
  • Everyone’s saluting Margaret Thatcher. And why not, she changed a bankrupt Britain for the better. Read:
    • Division of Labour: “Thirty Years Ago Today ... Margaret Thatcher became PM of the UK. Alas, her fine work is being undone by Gordon Brown.”
    • Mark Steyn (via Tim Blair): “Margaret Thatcher was a great leader, who reversed her country’s decline – to the point where, two decades later, the electorate felt it was safe to vote the Labour Party back into office. And yet, in the greater scheme of things, the Thatcher interlude seems just that: a temporary respite from a remorseless descent into the abyss.”
    • Liberty Scott: 3 May 1979 - the day Maggie's revolution started.
    • The Fairfacts Media Show has a musical tribute. I fear the worst.
    • Read the confession of utter economic failure by the Prime Minister Thatcher threw out, James Callaghan. It’s a message for finance ministers everywhere, and everywhen.
    • And in a related note, I recall a few weeks back how Britain’s economic depression, brought about by three decades of socialism, inspired a generation of musicians to get angry.
  • And everyone’s favourite present-day British politician, Daniel Hannan, talks to the Freedom Association & Conservative Future organisations. Kaiwai has the videos.
  • Meanwhile, news just in that Wall Street II is in the wings. Cactus Kate looks at what might be on the cards for an ageing Gordon Gekko. “Let’s make him a winner this time in trading the bullshit and hot air that are carbon credits off the credit-crunch crisis in 2009.
  • While we’re on Gordon, let’s ask the question “Is Greed Good?” Says the Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook in answer, “The answer to this question really depends on what you mean by ‘greed.’ If you mean the pursuit of short-term gratification at any cost, then I do think greed defined that way is bad.” However . . . read Is greed good? Yaron Brook responds for the full answer.
  • Chrysler (and Gekko) is what happens when CEOs don’t pursue their rational long-term interests, and sell out instead to the short term. The final injustice, as George Reisman points out, “is that the United Automobile Workers Union and its pension fund is to become the largest stockholder in Chrysler when the firm emerges from bankruptcy. his is the very same union that brought about the collapse of Chrysler in the first place. Its philosophy and policy of grabbing ever more in wages and benefits while doing almost everything possible to prevent the company from earning the wherewithal to pay those wages and benefits made it impossible for the company to survive in the face of competition not subject to such union bloodsucking.” [And be warned that George Reisman’s blog may not be long for this world.]
  • The Depression Recession World Economic Collapse affects everyone, even porn stars. Says ex-porn star Penny Flame,“The funny thing about the industry, right now . . is that NOBODY IS WORKING. . .” In a classic description of how malinvestment in a boom leads to tumbleweed in the bust, she continues, “Too many people shot too much content. That’s why none of the girls are working [now]. . . But in the end, everybody getting excited and over shooting has over-saturated the market, and now there is all this porn with no home, not enough people to buy it, not enough horny men and women to watch it….” It’s not lack of demand, it’s too much malinvestment, baby.
  • How do you make a reduced amount of money go around in a Depression? Well, one thing you don’t do is raise wages. Australian Mark Wooden is the latest to make that case: Minimum-wage freeze will keep people in jobs.
  • Oh, what do you think has been the nest performing asset class over the last decade? No, guess again. It starts with a ‘g.’ See below, and the same thing here for American assets.
    It’s the “decade of gold.” “How come so few people have noticed...?" wonders Adrian Ash. Read When Gold Ruled The Earth.
  • And I can’t resist pointing out how well the Iraqi dinar has been doing. From nearly 2,000 to the US dollar immediately post-Saddam, it now sits at 1158 to the dollar. That’s not a bad return over just a few years since I first wrote about it.
  • Meanwhile, Matt & Madeleine explain how to be a famous blogger. It’s childishly simple:

  • And when better to gab about God than after linking to M&M. Danyl at Dim Post looks at nudity, new clothes, and why there isn’t turtles all the way down – and ridiculous reviews of The New Atheists. Scratch your atheistic itch at Gabbin’ about God redux.
  • Why do politicians break their promises? asks Brian Caplan. Might as well ask why cats lick their arse. Same answer: Because they can.
  • Vital Signs has more on Militant Islam Moves to Dominate Pakistan's Prosperous Swat Valley. Worrying.
  • And the Cato blog has more on the destructiveness of using the reputation of good banks to prop up the failed positions of bad banks. See Bank ‘Stress Tests’ Need Transparency. Urgently.
  • Yaron Brook reckons there’s an Ayn Rand Renaissance going on.
  • Even long-time arch-enemy National Review is starting to come around, as Samizdata notes. Slightly. Read Objectivist Philosophy for Fun and Profit, (Subtitle: “How a banker avoided ruin by cleaving to Ayn Rand’s system of ethics.”)
  • It’s all part of the The Irrelevancy of Conservatism, says Edward Cline, who explains why conservatives still need to attack Rand, even when they purport to support her.
  • And here’s the banker that got the Samizdata and NRO boys excited: John Allison of BB&T, who with his “open defence of rational/individualist/objectivist philosophy, a credo that runs counter to 2000 years of Judea/Christian/subjectivist/marxist ethics … and explicit defence of reason [shows that] Yes, such businessmen do exist, they are not merely the stuff of a well-known novel.” Here’s Allison back in January, in the talk that’s got them excited: The Financial Crisis: Causes and Possible Cures.
  • And congratulations to Andrew Medworth, proprietor of Britain’s Ayn Rand Forum, who in one thoughtful post at Samizdata cut through so much of the usual bullshit and bluster that usually follows an endorsement of Ayn Rand.
  • Ever noticed "the troubling correlation between the number of homicides committed by Palestinians and the level of funding of the Palestinian Authority"? The Middle East Quarterly has. Do you think these two things are related? Undoubtedly, they say.
  • The Daily Show's Jon Stewart suggested that Harry Truman was "a war criminal" for dropping nuclear bombs on wartime Japan. Sam Pierson points out a kick-arse presentation at Pajama TV that shows "with due respect, just how moral it was. A kick-arse presentation, and worth the 17 minutes," says Sam.
  • Frogblog is quoting a survey saying "a majority of kiwis support taking real action to combat global warming". “Fine,” responds Liberty Scott, “who is stopping them?” And how come all the measures the Frog supports involve force?
  • Gonzo has some good news for impecunious art-loving Wellingtonians: “The season of Monet & the Impressionists is winding up its run at Te Papa. Before it goes, Wellington City residents too poor to score the entry fee get in for free this Thursday 7th May.” But watch the small print.
  • What Can Architecture Learn From Nature? Brett Holverstott finds out.
  • And finally, guess what happens if you watch Jaws backwards. It becomes “a movie about a shark that keeps throwing up people until they have to open a beach" And what movie do the Ku Klux Klan enjoy watching most? Roots backwards, so they can watch all the slaves go home.
    Jimmy Jangles has more playful thoughts on that theme.

Satellite NB: And finally, really and truly, here’s an important and timely P.S. The most thorough interview Ayn Rand ever did was sitting down with Alvin Toffler for the ‘Playboy Interview’ and the good folk at Playboy magazine have just put it all on line!
As a few of my friends have said, “The interview is a virtual primer, and a teaser of sorts.” And, “No matter how many times I’ve read this interview over the years, it’s the precision, the clarity of mind, that continues to amaze me.”
And, naturally, it means you really can say you’re reading Playboy for the articles.
Read it all here: Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand, March 1964.

1 comment:

  1. Just for your guide re the dinar -The IMF has the dinar fixed to USD -- there is no set international exchange rate so it is not tradable in real markets.

    Again, think of it as a very long-shot gamble, not an investment. And hope that you can get someone to buy them from you should you want to offload in what is an illiquid market. No experienced investors would touch it.

    Who would buy extreme risk gold and dinar when they could have made average 300% profit playing US market indexes over the last 100 days?


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