Friday, 24 July 2009

The Power of The Don

Don-JohnBoy Don Brash has only had the job of closing the gap with Australia for a week and look what he has achieved already!

It’s The Power of The Don.

Next up for The Don: Learnin’ folks about productivity. And realising for himself what little a Productivity Commission can actually do ‘bout it.


  1. This is off topic, but I've just come across Susan's comment of 17-7-09 re the Sian Elias "Blamess Babes" speech and I'm extremely disappointed to see a libertarian say the following:

    But early intervention is, of course, an answer to straightening out kids before it’s too late. Reintroducing the borstal system might be an idea.
    If she [Elias] wants early intervention, fine. But she has to allow communities to come up with their own solutions – and be allowed to implement them without the socialist engineers screaming about it.

    Susan is clearly advocating Intervention that involves compulsion, i.e. acting against the will of parents. I believe that no state or person has the right to intervene in another person's familial affairs unless there is a violation of the non-aggression axiom (e.g. grievous bodily harm or starvation). Allowing "communities to come up with their own solutions" that are interventionist would just be allowing another form of tyranny.

    If a private charity wants to go to problem parents and say "Look we know your kid is a pain in the ass, would you like sign him over to us"
    - who knows, a pack of cigarettes might seal the deal - that's fine. But intervention with compulsion in the absence of a violation of the non-aggression axiom is itself a violation of the non-aggression axiom, and should be anathema to a libertarian.

    I believe that the state (and the "community") should not be involved in parenting or family matters (including education) in any way whatsoever, with the exception of allowing the state to punish breaches of the non-aggression axiom.

  2. Way to set our sights high, Key 'n Brash. Australia. Ooh. And that's just playing catchup. She be right aye?

  3. Hello KP .. I've just read your comment and I should like to respond, albeit its being off-topic.

    I went back and read that short comment. With respect, I think you have taken it out of context.

    I wrote it in a hurry last Friday morning before leaving town. Ironically, it was the second communication on the same topic that morning, the (unaired) first suggesting a repeal of the Misuse of Drugs Act as one solution to the issue of 'prison overcrowding'.

    Dame Sian made several points in her speech, to which I addressed one (in that second communication): that troubled/problematic minors ought to be dealt with earlier to offset their otherwise inevitable one-way path to jail -- and the subsequent association with older hardened criminals. A point with which I agree.

    "Susan is clearly advocating Intervention that involves compulsion, i.e. acting against the will of parents."

    That is a blanket comment and I was doing nothing of the sort.

    While the borstal system of old was not perfect, I stand by my comments as it (or similar) being one possible solution *where appropriate*. The children to whom I referred in that comment *did* come from awful homes. Are you suggesting that it be acceptable to leave them in those situations? Surely not. Their parents didn't give two hoots for those poor kids.

    However, in retrospect I concede that use of the term 'communities' was ambiguous. I meant it as being synonymous with 'the public' as opposed to, eg, govt agencies or local govt.

    The essence is that I was trying to make the point that she can't have it both ways: that individual parties ought to be allowed the freedom to implement their own strategies without the Sian Eliases screaming collectivist blue murder, as is so often the case with her ilk.

    Listeners to Leighton Smith's programme (and readers of this blog) know that I do not advocate compulsion. It would be an odd sort of libertarian who did. But radio commentary necessitates brevity as opposed to the luxury of expanded written explanation. As such, I'm sorry for any confusion.

  4. Elijah Lineberry24 Jul 2009, 12:45:00

    Getting back on the topic for a moment...

    Brash will suggest some fairly obvious solutions to these problems - massive tax cuts, abolishing minimum wages, making NZ attractive for productive investment, exporting (etc) ...and all these ideas will be rejected.

    This means that in 2025 we will be sitting around saying "how can we catch up with Australia by 2041?" ...set up a commission to look into it and come up with proposals which will all be rejected (tax cuts, exporting, productive investment) and in 2041 a further commission will be established to look at how NZ can catch up with Australia by 2056 (etc)...(etc)

  5. Sus:

    I apologise if I misrepresented your position re compulsion, but that is how what you said came across to me. Elias uses the phrase "intervention strategies" in her speech (para 30 ff) and your use of the term "early intervention" carries, to my mind, a strong connotation of compulsion.

    I did understand "communities" to mean "being synonymous with 'the public' as opposed to, eg, govt agencies or local govt.", but again that was used in the context of "intervention".

    As you said, precision of expression is difficult in that situation.

    Re your borstal idea (to me "borstal" means approximately "prison for young offenders that gives education"): as I said in my post re Elias' speech, the criminal world view is deeply etched on a child's heart by about age seven, so anything that comes after that is of extremely limited value. Borstal is certainly better than sending youngsters to a University of Crime (prison for adults), but when you put all the offenders in one place it is inevitable that the standard of morality is dragged down to the lowest common denominator (i.e. those with a shred of morality will almost inevitably be dragged down to the level of those who don't).

    Criminality and the lack of effective solutions is one of the intractable problems of the human condition: this is covered in more detail in my post, but basically we have to build a bridge and get over it.

    I share your (apparent) position in favour of legalising drugs:

  6. There is a general presumption from most commentators that our farmers, and our dairy farmers in particular, enjoyed a good few years until the current crisis because they have benefited from a surge in demand and the fact that they exploit the environment and dirty our streams and free ride on the atmosphere.

    Yet the rural sector appears to be the only sector of the economy growing at the rate necessary to close the gap with Australia.

    My observation (and it is no more than that) is that the rural sector, and the dairy farmers in particular, have been heavily investing in their technology, equipment and knowhow and that this "capital depth" has been a major contributor to their growth in incomes and productivity. (I have hinted at this in today's NBR. I could only hint because of the search failures I describe below.)

    It would be interesting to investigate the capital depth in the rural economy compared to the other sectors.

    Ironically the source of much of this investment capital (that I am personally aware of) has been the sale of lifestyle blocks to the rural residential and small town settlers. Yet we get these consistent gripes that the lifestyle invasion is using up precious land (land which rural landowners are happy to sell) and presumably they would not sell the most useful land. On the other hand one survey showed that the average farmer during the boom years was investing around $100,000 a year back into farm equipment and technology out of income. It could be that the beef and sheep sector are more dependent on land sales. I don't know.

    I know from personal contacts that some of these land sales have financed the aggregation of farms into larger units. MAF studies show that farms are getting larger and smaller as farms amalgamate for some production and subdivide for others.

    The automation of the large dairy herds has been dramatic.

    I simply do not believe that the rural sector could have achieved the ongoing growth of the last several years without considerable capital investment. One reason they can do this is that they are less hampered by regulation. However, many councils are arguing that farming should NOT be a permitted activity and that any increases in stock numbers should require resource consents.

    They cannot wait to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

    I have done some searches on the web and can find no authoritative papers on the subject of capital investment on the farm, except one dating back to 1974. There is some general commentary in the nineties but no sign of the analysis I would expect to find in recent years.

    This seems a curious gap given the projects that do get research funding including the one that found ducks prefer showers to pools, and another that showed farmers could reduce falls from slipping by wearing socks over their shoes.

  7. KP, I have little doubt that Sian Elias's idea of "intervention strategies" differ from any "early intervention" I might suggest re troublesome minors!

    Re juvenile "borstal" .. which is an unattractive and perhaps dated term, but I use it in the absence of anything else .. I can only refer to the two in my hometown & the staff therein; genuinely caring individuals who were instrumental in changing lives for the better. When they were shut down, I remember wondering what would become of the next generation of troubled kids who never had that backstop. As only the truly stupid couldn't have worked out, they went straight to jail without collecting $200 ...

    No hope after aged 7 or thereabouts? I couldn't be that pessimistic. Conversely, I have great faith in the human capacity for goodness and benevolence towards the disadvantaged/less fortunate, especially when people are left to their own ideas/actions, ie independent of the state.

    Yes, I definitely believe in total legalisation of the drug supply. I believe the "drug problems" as we know them arise as a result of our senseless drug laws.


  8. Hello Sus,

    You have said: "Yes, I definitely believe in total legalisation of the drug supply. I believe the "drug problems" as we know them arise as a result of our senseless drug laws."

    I find this perspective rather curious from your libertarian view, or rather, what I perceive to be a libertarian view.

    What is your interpretation of the word 'drugs'?

    Does it include cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, P, and alcohol?

  9. Owen

    What you write is most interesting and very important.

    Commenting from a manufacturer's perspective; it is necessary to accumulate capital in order to purchase new production machinery and also to up-skill staff (training isn't cheap). We also need to send staff off-shore to obtain orders and new projects and collaborations. Manufacturing requires significant accumulation of capital and this, in the long run, can only come from one source, retained profit. The big trouble is the entire economic structure of New Zealand appears designed to frustrate the creation of profit. Productivity here is strongly discouraged in favour of the national pastime of looting. Your example of the councils and their lust to "kill the goose that lays the golden egg" is exactly the type of thing we face at every turn (and I won't mention the avraciousness of local finance companies and the lack of understanding of manufacturing operations by most bankers). Govt just are not worth the bother of dealing with most of the time, but in order to even operate a business for just one more week, one must continue to deal with them. That's expensive in so many ways. It seems that the various government bodies are only interested in business to the point they can identify assets or cash streams to plunder.

    Culturally this behaviour suits most New Zealanders just fine. They have been taught other people's profit is a bad thing, especially what they call "excess profits", whatever that may mean on any particular day. In the end the results are easily predicted.

    Without sufficient retained profit a manufacturing business is unsustainable. It is also not worth doing if the benfits for the work done are not there for the principals of the business. Manufacturing business in this country is steadily slipping. The list of once world leading enterprises gets shorter and shorter each year. It is getting very tough to continue here. It is much easier elsewhere.

    Presently we are analysing the future prospects of our outfit. Do we strive for expansion? If so, at what stage will that require closure of the NZ operation and relocation to a more business friendly jurisdiction? Do we downsize, liquidating asset and taking capital gain now, in preparation for personal early retirement overseas? Do we run the business at present level and watch it steadily fall behind with declining profits? I'm certainly not in favour of that last option, as it would demand ongoing personal time and effort expenditures at the present level, yet in return I would get less and less out of the whole activity over time.

    It is to be expected that as the present culture of central planing collectivism achieves its logical (or rather illogical) conclusion there will be a dramatic fall in the local standard of living. My understanding is that Kiwi culture will be eliminated when creditors demand wholesale changes to how the country is operated. An arrival of several million new immigrants will see to it that changes are significant and permanent.


  10. shari said...

    Hello Sus,

    You have said: "Yes, I definitely believe in total legalisation of the drug supply. I believe the "drug problems" as we know them arise as a result of our senseless drug laws."

    I find this perspective rather curious from your libertarian view, or rather, what I perceive to be a libertarian view."

    Why are you suprised? The total decriminalization of all drugs/narcotics for consenting adult usage is basic Libertarianism 101.The crux of the issue is that all human beings have the natural rights to life,liberty,property and to pursue their own happiness....and drug prohibition is a blatant violation of those rights.

    Libs understand that people have the right to be wrong,to make poor and personally damaging choices with their own bodies and property...thats called true freedom.

    "What is your interpretation of the word 'drugs'?

    Does it include cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, P, and alcohol?"

    Sus will answer for herself but the short answer is yep!

  11. Hello James,

    Thank you.

    You have said: "The crux of the issue is that all human beings have the natural rights to life, liberty, property, and to pursue their own happiness ... and that people have the right to be wrong, to make poor and personally damaging choices with their own bodies and property...that's called true freedom."

    Yes, it would be fair to suggest Jefferson's thoughts in 1776 can be applied equally to a form of social contract in 2009.

    The two concepts here are inherent and inalienable rights, and true freedom.

    Can the two concepts be applied to the use of drugs and alcohol?

    Yes, and no.

    Yes, because man has the right to feel happy, sad, depressed, murderous, kind, charitable, etc.

    Man is highly susceptible to experiencing a heightened or reduced emotive state after consuming drugs and alcohol.

    How is man likely to act, or think, once he has arrived at his heightened or reduced emotive state?

    He may enter a 'positive' realm, or a 'negative' realm, or he may remain in a state of stupor.

    So far, he is acting upon his inherent and inalienable rights within a state of true freedom.

    If, and only if, he encroaches upon the rights of another man does his inherent and inalienable rights within a state of true freedom cease.

    Jefferson also said 'man is a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights and with an innate sense of justice."

    Is it possible for man, by his very nature, to limit the influence of drugs and alcohol to his own body?

    No, because there is ample evidence to suggest it is not possible.

    It would be fair to suggest man is more likely to cause harm than good to another man while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

    If he is likely to cause harm to another man, he is taking away the inherent and inalienable rights of this other man, thereby denying him his state of true freedom.

    Jefferson's 'innate sense of justice' kicks in and becomes, as he has said, "triable by their conformity with the moral sense and reason of man."

    So, while I can see how a libertarian might engage in a thought process whereby the two concepts are merged and applied to drugs and alcohol, I cannot see the point at which these concepts can be applied to the total legalization of drugs.

    However, Jefferson also said: "It is a great truth that industry, commerce, and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of people."

    It is fair to suggest that the industry of alcohol have led people down the roads of happiness and prosperity.

    It is also fair to suggest that the industry of drugs (including pharmaceuticals) have led people down the roads of happiness and prosperity.

    However, it is in the element of harm (by its nature of encroaching upon the rights of another man) that Libertarianism 101, I think, falls into the abyss.

    Is this likely to lead to a state of anarchy?

    Maybe, maybe not.

  12. Shari:

    I describe libertarianism as simply this:

    personal freedom, personal responsibility and limited govt.

    The only laws necessary in a free society are those that rightly ban the actions of force and fraud.

    If Peter harms Paul either under the influence of drugs and alcohol, OR NOT, a crime has been committed for which he must face the consequences.

    In other words, Peter being sober, drunk or stoned is irrelevant. Either Paul (or his property) has been harmed by Peter's actions, or he hasn't.

    If he has, a crime has been committed.

    If he has not, there is no crime.

    I have been away for the wknd, but in the interim James's comment answered well for me.

    I do not take, nor have I even taken recreational drugs. They are not my cup of tea, but I accept that they may be someone else's and defend their right to use them.

    You might be interested in a post I did for this blog some months ago entitled "P & Prohibition". It shouldn't be hard to find.


  13. s/be: " .. and I defend their right to use them."

  14. Regarding rural debt loadings I came across this troubling article recently:

    LGM - Well said. Of course this is not just an entitlement you have to make these decisions - it is your duty. Sadly, (as you allude) most kiwis seem to have been brought up believing that the lord provides. Or the government, or someone...

  15. One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning

    Down the track came a hobo hiking and he said boys I'm not turning

    I'm headin for a land that's far away
    beside the crystal fountains

    So come with me we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright

    Where the handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night

    Where the boxcars are all empty and the sun shines every day

    On the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees

    Where the lemonade springs
    where the bluebird sings
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs

    And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
    and the hens lay soft boiled eggs

    The farmer's trees are full of fruit
    and the barns are full of hay

    Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow

    Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks

    And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks

    The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind

    There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too

    You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin

    And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in

    There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks

    I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day

    Where they hung the jerk that invented work
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    I'll see you all
    this coming fall
    in the Big Rock Candy Mountains

  16. No hand-outs (unless they're given privately, ie voluntarily) in my world, Shari.

  17. Naturally, Sus, naturally.

    'Gosh', to quote another libertarian, yes, of course.

    We would have to get rid of the Welfare System first, eh what?

    The biggest infestation on humanity, it is - the welfare system.

    Yes, we could then legalise drug supply.

    People would come from far and wide to our fair nation of absolute freedom.



  18. You're free to support any charity or cause you like, Shari. Nobody would stop you.

    But state welfare is, by definition, compulsory charity. To which, as the saying goes, there's nothing so cold ...

    "Line 'em up, eh, and "give" them an arbitrary figure, the bastards.

    But not before we help ourselves to a whole lot first, though. It's only other people's money taken by force. Aren't we wonderful? Aren't we caring?"

    All yours. But I'd rather have the option to support the charities and causes in which I believe -- as opposed to what the bureaucrats believe.

  19. Hello Sus,

    Okay, we are now on the element of charity. It is hard to imagine any reasonable and intelligent person not agreeing with your line of reasoning on forced charity vs. willing charity.

    As I have said to Peter elsewhere, I don't take the libertarians seriously; nor for that matter should any libertarian take me seriously.

    I enjoy and appreciate the art segments posted by Peter, and acknowledge them accordingly. The fact that Perigo banned me from his blog did not stop me from acknowledging he had some fine thoughts on the sirens, etc. on Peter's blog.

    I do not agree with your reasoning on the legalization of drugs because of the very nature of man itself.

    There is valid argument for medical marijuana especially for those suffering from PTSD; but only if supported by a GP and psychologist/psychiatrist, and that group therapy be part of regaining some form of 'normalcy' for the patient. Soldiers come to mind.

    I have noted that libertarians are into name-calling.

    The only purpose this serves is to antagonize the other. Is this really necessary?

    For example, I noted that at least 2 put Ruth down, accusing her of not understanding business because she married into money.

    It is highly unlikely her husband is a fan of the libertarians. By putting people such as Ruth and others down, libertarians give themselves a bad name.

    I find this to be a great pity because libertarians are possessed of ideas that will make a difference for all who are passionate about guiding this nation along the path of wealth, liberty, and 'happiness'.

    It is also a great pity that libertarians only recognise objectivism, and have no thought nor inclination towards subjectivism.

    All matter come in pairs. Positives/negatives, good/bad, etc.

    Much of the way libertarians write and think also lack the element of humanity, for example, in the provocation debate. There is a legal and humanistic distinction between self-defence and provocation.

    Provocation/self-defence indicates an element of behaviour which resulted from the behaviour of another.

    I do not think it is too difficult to comprehend Mill's Principle of Harm.

    The concept of harm contains many elements - be it psychological or physiological or mental or physical.

    It is in BEING human and IN humanity that man finds himself to BE.

    I have yet to receive an answer from the libertarians as to where they stand on the spectrum of government - that of Anarchy-Democracy-Sovereign.

    LGM thinks libertarians lie on the individualism - collectivism spectrum.

    That's fine - only - the individualism-collectivism spectrum is a sub-section of the government spectrum.

    Perhaps libertarians see themselves as a group that lie beyond sovereign.

    What lies beyond sovereign? What do libertarians see?

    I simply do not know. Do you?

    Name it, then claim it, so they say.


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