Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ode to a fig leaf [updated]

On the occasion of the announced retirement of Genetix Fitzsimplesimons, Liberty Scott strides on to the stage not to praise her career, but to bury it and to spit on its grave:

    There is much more than can be laid at the feet of the wolf in sheep's clothing. She looks like and generally talks like she wouldn't hurt a fly, but the truth is that she has been a force against reason, against science, against economics, against individual rights and has happily used personal attacks when she saw fit to do so.
She is a simpering vapid scaremongerer. New Zealanders should be pleased this nice but dim woman has not been in Cabinet, and has at the most dabbled around the edges of power rather than been in control of it.

There’s more, much more where that came from.  Read on here: Farewell to the wolf in sheep's clothing.

The best thing about Fitzsimplesimon’s retirement?  In Rob Hosking's words in the NBR, the departure of Fitzsimons -- “who has become a sort of organically grown, carbon-credit-worthy fig leaf for what is basically a radical left-wing party” – and in particular the elevation of non-environmentalist Sue Bradford, will expose for all to see the antediluvian Marxism that is now the ideological base of the local Greens.

UPDATE: Searching Scott’s ‘Marxist Gits’ file uncovers another seriously good lambasting of the woman who is the human fig leaf for the Marxist martyrs in the Greens: Just one more chance.  [I thank our ActSupporting commenter for the pointer.]

Tuesday morning ramble [updated]

While I was off air yesterday, I was sent loads of links to so much good reading that I was in no position to post. So I figured I’d take a ramble through it all this morning.

  • How bad is the world’s economic crisis?  Take it from George Soros, who while never entirely disinterested is always worth listening to:
        “Renowned investor George Soros said the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.”
  • Things are so bad, even God is telling us to read Atlas Shrugged
        Crikey.  Get your copy now before it sells out: As Lindsay Perigo reports, “Ayn Rand's resurgent Atlas Shrugged, the most important novel of the twentieth century, exposing the moral bankruptcy of Chavez-Obamian collectivism and its catastrophic consequences, sits at 83 on Amazon.com's best-seller list in paperback, and 124 in hard cover, fifty years after publication.” One sign of good news in the gloom, perhaps.
  • So with those earthquake warnings ringing in our ears, let’s start off with three neat films you might want to bookmark. 
    First, The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo [hat tip Justin Ptak].
  • FRS And second, here’s Money as Debt by Paul Grignon, which explains the system by which banks organise debt into currency – creating money out of thin air that’s backed only by promises to pay - the termite mound in the monetary system that underpins the present collapse. (Buy the DVD here if you’d like to show the copy further afield.)  Yes, it’s a little conspiratorial, but it explains the mechanics of fractional reserve banking, and its inherent fragility, extraordinarily well.
  • And third, and much shorter, here’s George Soros’s former partner Jim Rogers speaking recently on Dutch TV.  Part Two is particularly good.
  • And now, if you really want to thoroughly understand the present crisis right down to the root, right down to the causes of it all, then George Reisman’s new series on Capital, Saving and Our Economic Crisis is really a must-read: “a 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 article in the series was “Falling Prices Are Not Deflation but the Antidote to Deflation,” which you might already have seen.  
    And now the second article is now available, in two parts.  It’s compulsory reading:

Remember, this will be in the exam.

  • DJI-240209 So is stimulus working?  Well, what do you think?  “ Market Finds 11-Year Low Despite Bank Rally ” says CNBC summing up all the post-stimuli red ink.  It’s basically been downhill all the way since the stimulus was mooted – and the pace is now accelerating.
  • Speaking of downhill, let’s move on to the Greens.  While Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei fight it out for the local Green Party’s ‘I’m-furthest-left-than-you’ award, British Greens are now actively promoting nuclear power as the best way forward.
        “The four leading environmentalists who have come out in favour of nuclear power are Stephen Tindale, former director of Greenpeace; Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury, the chairman of the Environment Agency; Mark Lynas, author of the Royal Society's science book of the year, and Chris Goodall, a Green Party activist and prospective parliamentary candidate.
        “Mr Tindale, who described his turn-around as a "religious conversion", said many more in the environment movement think ‘nuclear power is not ideal but it's better than climate change’."

  • Have you heard the one about the Al Qaeda head man who’s started trashing his mates?  It’s no joke.  Tim Blair has the story. “Attacking America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims,” wrote Al-Qaida founder Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who also goes by the nom de guerre Dr. Fadl. “But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy’s buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours? That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11.”  Blair comments wryly, ”Just as well al-Sharif is safely in jail. Saying those sorts of things can get you in trouble.”
  • Have you heard the one about how Corrections Minister Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins and Corrections Department Supremo Barry ‘The Man’ Matthews are going to sort out their differences?  Danyl McLauchlan has the scoop on what could be the fight of the century. 
    Read his his hilarious account at Collins challenges Corrections CEO to knife fight in showers.  Commenters are already taking bets.
  • Speaking of people snapping, Butterpaper has the account (a true one this time) of a British architect applying to council to build a farm shed, who obviously had enough of the bullshit and let his feelings show in the Planning Report he was required to complete.
        “An example, Context Analysis: ‘The use is compatible with a farm because it is a farm building… It is located where it is because it is in the most convenient place, being on the farm and near the farmhouse.’
        '”Council accepted the report, and noted that it covered all clauses: ‘As long as the architect answers all the relevant headings then it doesn’t really matter what the tone of the application is’.”

  • Capitalism Magazine has a one-two-three hit of world-class economists scything through the myths. 
      • Read Thomas Sowell on Upside Down Economics:
            ”From television specials to newspaper editorials, the media are pushing the idea that current economic problems were caused by the market and that only the government can rescue us.
            “What was lacking in the housing market, they say, was government regulation of the market's ‘greed.’ That makes great moral melodrama, but it turns the facts upside down.”
      • Read Walter Williams on the Economic Miracle:
           “The idea that even the brightest person or group of bright people, much less the U.S. Congress, can wisely manage an economy has to be the height of arrogance and conceit. Why? It is impossible for anyone to possess the knowledge that would be necessary for such an undertaking…
        ”Our economic system consists of billions of different elements that include members of our population, businesses, schools, parcels of land and homes. A list of possible relationships defies imagination and even more so if we include international relationships. Miraculously, there is a tendency for all of these relationships to operate smoothly without congressional meddling. Let's think about it.”
      • Read Ludwig von Mises on The Alleged Absence of Depressions Under Totalitarian Management:
            “Many socialist authors emphasize that the recurrence of economic crises and business depressions is a phenomenon inherent in the capitalist mode of production…
            “As has already become obvious and will be shown later again, the cyclical fluctuations of business are not an occurrence originating in the sphere of the unhampered market, but a product of government interference with business conditions designed to lower the rate of interest below the height at which the free market would have fixed it…
            “It is essential to realize that what makes the economic crisis emerge is the democratic process of the market…”

  • Another argument for property rights coming out of Australia. Australia’s water shortage, says Chris Brown, is another leading example of the tragedy of the commons.  “The government has blamed the shortage of water on drought and climate change. And while droughts may be created by a shortage of water, water shortages are created by an abundance of government rein.”  Nice pun. 
        Read the whole piece here to see why Australia urgently needs property rights in water: The Water Wizards of Oz.
  • You’ll have heard that Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who was the director of the film Fitna has been banned from entering Britain on the basis that his film is “hate speech.”  Says a defiant Wilders in a speech in Rome [hat tip Sandi at SOLO],  
        Fitna is actually not made by me, but is made by radical Muslims, the Koran and Islam itself. If Fitna is considered to be hate speech, then what is the Koran? … Wilders: "If I am considered to be a threat to public security, then what is Islam?"
  • Owen McShane has been busy.  He’s writing four excellent essays from a Burkeian-Hayekian viewpoint on the clash between the Enlightenment and Environmentalism, and he’s just completed the third.
      • The first essay, The Rise of Urban Romanticism – or the New Road to Serfdom discussed the impact of the Romantic movement and its contemporary expression on urban planning theory, and in particular examined Smart Growth and Visioning as planning tools within this context.
      • The second essay, Beware the Dark Greens, explored the development of European environmentalism from the dark side of Romanticism as expressed in the early and mature phases of fascism. This passionate and spiritual form OF environmentalism, does not sit well within those nations still committed to the democratic tradition.
      • The third essay, The Age of Environmentalism – the American Story, explores the origins of Environmentalism in the United States during the 1960s and its rapid development during the 1970s, and implies that this form of Environmentalism… [has] determined so much of the political debate of the current “Age.”
      • The fourth essay (yet to be written) “European Communes and Urban Villages” will explore the story of the commune movement in Europe…

    Head to the index for the series here.

  • History.  History and children.  How early do children need to learn history?  Kids Need History Early says historian Scott Powell. How early? “The best time to start kids on a systematic history curriculum is when they are six or seven years old. Five is usually too young, and eight is possibly too late! Why start history at six or seven years old? Because children of that age are ready for history.”  In Montessori terms, at that age they have a ‘sensitive period’ for history that should be taken advantage of.  Don’t miss out.
  • I intended to blog this last week.  It relates to an argument I had over summer, and as TVHE explains it’s a common yet important economic misunderstanding: the difference between Average vs Marginal: The most common mistake in economics.
       To help you out in understanding the difference, from the Ideas-You-Need-To-Know file comes this beauty:  The Philosophical Mortician explains brilliantly the important economic notion of Marginal Utility, which explains among other things why diamonds are worth more than water (even though we’ll never die for lack of diamonds) and why CEOs of large companies, even bad ones, calculate their salaries by the number of zeroes at the end -- while teachers, even good ones, spend their spare time checking behind the cushions for spare coins.
  • Speaking of economic error, here’s a Finnish series of ads encouraging people to spend and not feed the recession.
  • And finally, while speaking of resistance to error, here’s a stirring call for a Chicago Tea Party: Rick Santelli’s magnificent tirade against the Obamessiah’s stimulunacy [hat tip Voices for Reason].
  •     On CNBC's "Squawk Box" Feb. 19, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter, along with several traders, expressed his outrage about President Barack Obama's plan to "spread the wealth" for people that didn't deserve it. He said a stimulus should go to people who live responsibly rather than some sort of housing bailout to people that lived irresponsibly.
    "I tell you what, I have an idea," Santelli shouted. "The new administration is big on computers and technology - how about this, President and new administration? Why don't you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a change to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water."


General debate

Feel free to take a crack at whatever, and whomever, you wish.  Have at it!

Serpentine ‘Gallery’ – Frank Gehry

serp1_37311aI give you tonight a complete piece of shit -- a work of total architectural fraud -- talked up as 'art' in a piece here from The Independent that is emblematic of the synergy between critic and charlatan. 

The critique is as bad as the ‘architecture.’  Like an artistic Ponzi scheme, both critic and the so-called ‘architect’ need each other -- and the arrival of new suckers -- to survive.

This is crap that needs the fertiliser of bullshit to flourish. Architecture that isn’t worth the enormous effort that it takes to assemble. A fraud that isn’t worth the energy to unravel.

In a word: it’s shit.  Very, very expensive shit.

Are you buying it?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Sometimes protest works…

NBR, 4:17pm: Government calls delay on S92
   The government is to delay implementation of the controversial Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies Act) due to come into force February 28.
    Prime Minister John Key announced at a post-cabinet press conference this afternoon that implementation of the controversial clause of the copyright legislation to be delayed until March 27.
   “We are hoping that by that time we will have come up with a voluntary code of practice,” Mr Key said.
    If no agreement is reached, Section 92A will be suspended.

Aucuns Oscars [updated]

No, I won't be commenting on the Oscars.

Why would I?

I’ve many better things to do, as I’m sure you have.  And awards to people I don't admire for 'skills’ I find questionable performed in movies I'm never likely to watch mean less to me than ... the price of garlic in Goz Beida, Chad. 

Which is, by the way, about 1850 CFA Francs per kg.

UPDATE:  Penelope Cruz just described the Academy Awards as “a moment of unity for the world.” In the words of Tim Blair, “That’s it for me.”

Depression differences [updated]

Since the Herald began a series over the weekend looking at the global depression, I figured I’d start posting a few pointed historical facts and figures here – including a few parallels.

According to Austrian economists like Peter Schiff, Mark Thornton and Thorstein Polleit – who all draw their theoretical powder from Ludwig von Mises’ theory of the business cycle, which allowed him to see the oncoming Great Depression --  the seeds of destruction in both the thirties depression and the present model occurred in the years before their respective bubbles exploded.

In both cases, ‘the Fed’ pumped up the money supply, which spilled over in the twenties into the stock market, and in the 2000s into the housing market.  These were the most obvious of the many malinvestments caused by the dramatic monetary inflation, a phenomena that both Keynesian and Friedmanite economists largely ignore. These are the figures which blew up the bubble; the inflationary figures they have no time for:


Compare that to the increases over the 2000s (graph pinched from Bob Murphy’s fine article ‘Evidence that the Fed Caused the Housing Boom’), which reflects too the post-bust frenzy in which the central bankers are still printing like mad.:


Now, note that both depressions started in the States (the thirties depression, albeit, as a result of European attempts to avoid paying for the First World War), but as the figures below will indicate, the effect of the global depression was different in every country. It was deep and it was long everywhere, but as it happens, it was deeper and lasted longer in those countries like the US who adopted the most profligate solutions (i.e., all the big-spending solutions favoured today) and who insisted on keeping wages and prices high so as to maintain ‘demand,’ and less so in those countries that weren’t so profligate, and who allowed wages and prices to fall to reflect the new realities.  (Note that the Scandinavians had another reason for their apparent immunity – they were supplying Hitler’s war economy, a bill that would be submitted to the world in the next decade).


The depth and distress can be seen by comparing year-on-year figures for major countries (and by including our own wee corner of paradise).  As you can see, there’s still a few gaps to fill in …


The world was just as globalised then –- at least it was before the passage of the US’s Smoot Hawley Tariff Disaster.  It was just as much prey to central bank meddling with the money supply.  And in both decades they the monetary inflation led to a credit bubble that popped.

Perhaps the biggest difference now is that more countries’ governments, including NZ’s, were prepared to let the ‘sharp edges’ of the world depression be taken off by the ‘classical’ solution of letting wages and prices fall, instead of trying to keep them up by profligacy.

And in the context of employment, there is now another another big difference between then and now: the number of people now directly employed by the state – which is to say, carried on the shoulders of the productive – is vastly more than it was back then.  And as Forbes magazine reminds us, there is no depression for the state.

UPDATE:  On a related note, Austrian economist David Gordon says,

In the present recession, advocates of government intervention often evoke the specter of the Great Depression. Unless the government intervenes massively, we are told, we risk an economic collapse comparable to that of the 1930s. To see the fallacy of this claim, it is imperative to understand that government intervention both led to the Depression and prevented recovery from it. The following books, I hope, will assist those interested in grasping what happened in this vital historical era.

Read on here: What You Must Read About the Great Depression.

Wait for the blackout



This is your last opportunity to help prevent Section 92A of the Copyright Act becoming law.

National Party MPs meet today (Monday)  for their Cabinet meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) for their Caucus meeting.  EMAIL THEM with your view of what they must do.  Tell them to Abolish s92.

All MP’s email addresses can be found on the NZCPR PARLIAMENT page - click here>>>.  Try to be polite, even though they demonstrably don’t deserve it.

In my own humble opinion, here’s the sort of thing you should be telling them.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Best NOT PC for the week

A week of recrimination, politicisation and exasperation -- dominated at this blog at least by a post where I shut up and let you talk, which was an order of magnitude more widely read than any other post here.

Maybe I should shut up more often?

Here’s the posts NOT PC readers  liked reading most over these last seven days or so.  If you missed out, here’s your chance to catch up:

  • General debate
    In which I say nothing, and you lot celebrate.  You think we should try this again sometime, huh?
  • As CO2 rises, temperatures … don’t
    Our carbon emissions are rising, say warmists!  Maybe, but our temperatures aren’t.  You think there’s maybe a problem with warmist theory?
  • Good news from ignoring bad law
    A Victorian family fined for “illegally” clearing the bush around their home to make a firebreak survived the savage bushfires.  Would that some of their neighbours had.
  • NOT PJ: Carisbroke
    What is it with politicians and stadiums? Even those rare politicians who are only slightly profligate, when presented with an artist’s impression of a stadium they develop all the self control of a half-Irish half-Frenchman with six hours to live who’s discovered a liquor cabinet in a brothel.
  • Law versus a lynch mob
    Contrast the words “The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed” with what you read as you thumb through s92A of the Copyright Act…
  • ARI outreach hits London
    NOT PC readers who, like me, follow the progress of Objectivism with great interest will be very pleased to hear of the Ayn Rand Institute's new "outreach" programme.
  • NOT PJ: Free Bank (to a Good Home)
    Our correspondent Bernard Darnton serves up a history lesson this week – with the promise that obscene ranting will resume as usual next week.

And the favourite art post of the last seven days was … by Mr Matisse.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading and contributing.
Cheers, Peter Cresswell

Beer O’Clock: Inspiration!

At the end of every working week, I like to post an inspirational piece.

Here is the most inspirational piece of advice I can give this week:


Have a great weekend!

“Oops,” go the warmists

In yet another “oversight” in warmist data collection, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has been at the forefront of predicting doom in the arctic as ice melts due to global warming – predicting in May, 2008 for example that the North Pole would be “ice-free during the 2008 'melt season.”

Today, however, [says Slashdot]they say that they have been the victims of 'sensor drift' that led to an underestimation of Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square km… Thus far, sea ice extent in 2009 is tracking ahead of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, so the predictions of an ice-free north pole might be premature…

Don’t expect to read this news in your newspaper.  Like previous similar warmist admissions of mislocation, overestimation or misunderestimation – or just plain cheating -- the catastrophism always hits the front pages and goes around the world, but these “oops!’ moments only ever make page 16 on the paper you use to line the cat’s litter tray.  So do read and pass around the news that Arctic Ice Extent Understated Because of "Sensor Drift."

From Washington to Bush

My favourite online historian is just starting out to rank all the past US Presidents.  I look forward to his results, particularly with how he deals with Lincoln.

For myself, I’m pretty clear on which entity was the very worst US President – although another very strong contender has just appeared on the horizon…

Property rights are human rights: let’s protect them say NZ academics! [updated]

I’m astonished.  The last two decades have seen attack after attack on New Zealanders’ property rights.

  • the imposition of the Resource Management Act, which gave planners full power over your land;
  • the confiscation of crown pastoral leases;
  • ‘right to roam’ laws attacking the sanctity of farmers’ land;
  • the destruction of Maori land value by Crown pre-emption rights;
  • the nationalisation of petroleum;
  • the partial nationalisation of Telecom;
  • the confiscation of the legal right to claim the foreshore and seabed under common law;
  • the destruction of value of pre-1990 forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme;
  • unwanted power pylons being imposed on Waikato farmers;
  • the attack on the value of shares in Auckland International Airport Ltd.

And in the last Parliament, when offered the opportunity to place the protection of property rights in NZ’s Bill of Rights Act, MPs peremptorily voted it down –- with John Key’s National Party being prominent in the ‘Noes’ lobby when it finally came to the vote.

Despite abundant historical evidence of the many blessings of property rights, and cogent arguments defending these life-sustaining rights, both academics and politicians of all stripes have been on the front foot against property rights for years.

So how astonishing then to see National Party hack Matthew Hooton promoting the work of two academics from the state-worshipping climes of Victoria University, who argue in advance of next week’s Jobs Summit that “if the new Government moves to protect property rights, there will be more jobs in our economy than otherwise.” 

Professor Lewis Evans and Professor Neil Quigley of the Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation at Victoria University of Wellington, along with NERA Economic Consulting, entitled ‘Protection of Private Property Rights and Just Compensation: An Economic Analysis of the Most Fundamental Human Right Not Provided in New Zealand.’

The paper compares New Zealand’s record on property rights with the rest of the OECD; finds our record to be among the worst in the developed world; details the economic harm being done to all New Zealanders as a result; and proposes a legislative solution involving an amendment to the Bill of Rights Act to ensure a canary in the mine exists to alert the public if and when future parliaments seek to confiscate property rights without compensation.  [The full paper can be found at  http://www.iscr.org.nz/n493.html and it was also previewed on page six of today’s National Business Review.]

There is much to be disappointed with in an argument made on practical grounds alone, without any statement of the moral grounds on which property rights must be protected –- and much to object to in the notion that property rights equates only to ‘compensation for takings’ instead of outright protection against theft of what you own –- but in these times seeing support for property rights from any local quarter is welcoming.

And they’re right, you know. If the new Government does move to protect property rights, then there will be more jobs in our economy than otherwise. 

An understanding of the vital role of property rights and lawfulness in creating wealth should be basic knowledge for every thinking person, shouldn’t it?  Even a politician.

Tibor Machans' authoritative piece on the Right to Private Property would be a good place for honest thinking persons to start their education: "The institution of the right to private property," says Tibor, "is perhaps the single most important condition for a society in which freedom, including free trade, is to flourish."

UPDATE: Quote corrected.

Is this the moment, Messiah?

Remember that moment when the Obamessiah won the Democratic presidential nomination and he stood up in St Paul, Minnesota, and declared "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal"?  Remember that?

Barack does.

And after “fixing” the economy yesterday, Barack Obama is now going to “solve” global warming before he heads off for the weekend.

What a guy.

He’s going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eighty percent by the year 2050.  Eighty percent!

How’s he going to do it?  Simple.  He’s going to strangle an already strangled economy.  What could be simpler.

As the Cato Institute’s Jonathan Slemrod points out, even the US government’s EPA admits that Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade programme to fight the non-existent problem of global warming would hurt the US economy. Hurt it a lot. It will hurt producers, and it will hurt consumers. It will hurt savers and it will hurt borrowers. It will hurt everyone who buys electricity, or produces energy.  It will hurt everyone.

Everyone except politicians.  And rent-seekers.  They will do well.

You won’t.

This is called “saving the planet.”

It’s not insanity.  It’s not common sense.  It’s just politics.

Gabb: “Smash the Establishment!”

Sean Gabb was invited to explain to the youngsters in David Cameron’s British Conservative Party why their party has been out of power for the last twelve years.  Gabb’s answer: You didn’t deserve it – and you still don’t.  And if you do come to power next year –- as polls presently suggest you might -- it won’t be because the electorate likes you, but because they now hate you less than they do Gordon Brown’s Labour Party.

It’s not the only parallel with NZ politics.

There is much in Gabb’s observation that NZ’s National Party supporters would do well to digest, particularly those who still hanker for something much more radical than the tepid agenda on which their heroes campaigned, and has been signalled so far.  To paraphrase Dr Gabb, John Key’s Nats did nothing at all in their campaign to acquire a mandate for radical change, without which any sort of radical change would lack legitimacy.

To put that same point negatively, to make radical changes without that mandate would look like dishonesty, and would dishonour for decades any radical changes that might be made. (For evidence of this, see Douglas, Roger: policies, reaction to.)

The question is probably moot in any case, since there’s no evidence of any backbone anyway, either in the UK Tories or the local breed, which means the guts of Gabb’s advice would have have fallen on deaf ears.

And the guts of his advice is this: You can’t co-exist with The Establishment, you have to fight it.

The meaning of this is that you should not try to work with the Establishment. You should not try to jolly it along. You should not try fighting it on narrow fronts. You must regard it as the enemy, and you must smash it.

There are several simple reasons why this is so necessary, not least because

Over the past few generations, a new Establishment or ruling class has emerged… These are people who derive income and status from an enlarged and activist state… They are not always friendly to a Labour Government. But their natural political home is the Labour Party. They will accept a Conservative Government on sufferance - but only so long as it works within a system that robs ordinary people of their wealth and their freedom. They will never consent to what should be the Conservative strategy of bringing about an irreversible transfer of power from the State back into the hands or ordinary people.

Thatcher understood that  in her day. Labour understands that still. And the Marxians and their Gramsci-ite followers have understood it for years – hell, it was them who made it happen.  But today’s Tories don’t, and never will.

There are two ways of doing politics. One is to listen to focus groups and opinion polls, and offer the people what they claim to want. The other is to stand up and tell them what they ought to want, and to keep arguing until the people agree that they want it, or until it is shown not to be worth wanting. I think I know what sort of politicians will run the next Conservative Government. What sort of politicians do you want to be?

What sort of politicians do you want?

You can read the full transcript of the speech, and a link to the Tories’s reaction to it, at the UK Libertarian Alliance blog.

Study for the Libyan Sibyl – Michelangelo


The completed figure, from the Sistine Chapel, is one of my favourite Michelangelo figures – and this sketch is absolutely masterful.  Click to enlarge (I hope), and just look at his linework.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Spending your way to penury

The governments’ economists are reciting the Keynesian mantra of the “paradox of thrift.”  Saving, they say, causes money to “leak out of the system.”  They’re reciting the mantra that consumption drives the economy.  Consumption, they say, drives more than two-thirds of the overall economy. What the politicians need to do to “rescue” the economy, they say, is to limit private saving and spend, spend, spend!

That’s a command that every politician likes to hear.

So governments are spending. Governments and their economists are exhorting you to spend.  Australian Kevin Rudd is giving Australians shopping subsidies, and he’s insisting that you spend it. The Obamessiah doesn’t trust you to buy up large, so he’s spending nearly a trillion on your behalf

The governments’ economists keep insisting that spending is good, and saving is bad. They’ll tell you that it’s consumption that drives the economy.  But what they’re doing is reversing cause and effect, and even a US$787 billion dollar bar tab can’t change that.  As Amit Ghate points out,

production must ultimately be understood as being for the sake of consumption...  But this of course does not mean that consumption makes production possible, manifestly it’s the other way around

The fact is that consumption spending directs productive expenditure to particular areas of the economy, but it's productive expenditure that drives it.

Here’s a model of the economy*.  See for yourself what drives it:


It sure as hell ain’t consumption.

And to answer the obvious objection: Yes, government spending is always consumption spending.

As Murray Rothbard used to say [hat tip Anti Dismal],

"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a "dismal science." But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance."

* Figure produced by Paul Ekins & Manfred Max-Neef, and pinched from Mark Skousen’s book Structure of Production.)

Greens’s boot camp ‘racist’ jibe: could do better [updated]

The Green Party’s hippies have their sandals in a twist over the idea of 'boot camps' for youth offenders -- not because they don’t work or because there are more important lessons for youngsters to learn -- but because the idea, says the Greens’s Kevin Hague, “unfairly discriminates against Maori.”

Oh please. If you could just put your macrame down and listen for a moment, Kevin: the boot camps won’t be taking people because of their race, but because they’ve committed crimes. Understand? If a disproportionate number of young Maoris are locked up, or placed in boot camps, then that’s because a disproportionate number of young Maoris choose to habitually commit crimes.

There are many reasons to object to boot camps, but this is not one of them. 

And there are probably many ways to fix the problem of the disproportionate number of Maori committing crimes, but wringing your hands and throwing around bogus claims in the media would not be one of them.

It appears even Hone Harawira is beginning to understand that much, since his own knee-jerk “racism” button hasn’t yet gone off.  If Hone and the Maori Party can see through the bogus notion that boot camps are racist, then maybe the hippies should try a little harder to understand why.

Now, having said all that, if the Greens really do want to get worked up about something that really is discriminatory on the basis of race, then they should object to the minimum wage law. Now that really does discriminate against Maori.

UPDATE: To be fair to the Greens, Green MP Catherine Delahunty (who plumbed new parliamentary depths with her maiden speech) replies to the charge above in a private email to a reader, saying there are other reasons as well for their opposition:

    Hi Xxxxxx, the Green party is opposed to boot camps because the experienced
youth justice judge Justice Andrew Becroft and many other leaders in the
field of youth justice are categorical that boot camps do not work! The
Maori Party may support National's proposal but the Maori Party do not speak
for all Maori on this issue…
If you google "Finland and youth crime strategies" you will find some very
interesting articles on more constructive intervention strategies. We agree
that intervention is needed but also a need to get tough on the causes of
I did not hear the speech about the camps being discriminatory against young
Maori but statistically Maori youth are targeted far more often by police
and have higher convictions rates than any other culture for crimes also
committed by other young people. If you accept the prejudices in the system
work against Maori youth it is easy to see the connection…

‘Stimulus’ = tooth fairy economics [update 3]

The problem with Obama’s so-called stimulus bill “isn't that it's full of ‘pork,’ bad as that is,” says Meltdown author Thomas E. Woods Jr.  “The problem is the tooth-fairy economics on which it is based.”  Read Tooth Fairy Economics.  It’s the best thing you’ll read today.

UPDATE 1: With so much ‘consensus’ around the stimulunacy, and only half-baked criticisms even from so-called free-market economists, you could be forgiven for thinking that stimulunacy is the only economic game in town.  It’s not.  Using Austrian Business Cycle Theory, for which Friedrich Hayek received the Nobel Prize, Austrian school economists were predicting the housing bubble and its likely consequences back in 2003/4, and back in the twenties Hayek and his teacher Ludwig von Mises were almost alone in predicting the coming depression.

Mark Nugent explains how they did it, and why big-government apologetics isn’t the only economic game in town in Bailout Blues.  As Nugent concludes, “With the tenets of true [Austrian] free-market economics, the causes of the economic crisis are brought into focus, as is the path to recovery.”

UPDATE 2: The always erudite Onkhar Ghate recommends:

If you want to understand the fundamental economic forces responsible for our present crisis, tune out the New York Times’s coverage, turn off Fox News, and instead read Human Action, particularly Chapter XXXI.

And if you’re too impatient to buy it, you can always read it online.

Of course average citizens can’t be expected to be economic experts. The principal failure of understanding here rests with our intellectuals and commentators. But what is disturbing is how readily Americans seem to accept that the form of a solution, whatever its details, will look like this: concentrate even more unchecked power into the hands of government Czars. Give Bernanke or Paulson or Geithner even wider authoritarian powers to dream up new schemes, and they’ll tell us what to do. People seem unfazed by the palpable look of uncertainty in the faces of these “financial czars”–i.e., by the fact that the Czars don’t have a clue what to do.

UPDATE 3:  “Barack Obama tells us to embrace his ‘stimulus package’ and other planned interventions in the economy–because ’We can’t posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place’.”

“True,” says Alex Epstein. “Here are four top failed ideas that we should not resort to.”  Oops.  Too late.

Irony alert

Headline from today’s NZ Herald: Rugby: Race rule could prevent NZ Maori playing Boks.

You just can’t make this stuff up, you know.

NOT PJ: Free Bank (to a Good Home)

Our correspondent Bernard Darnton serves up a history lesson this week – with the promise that obscene ranting will resume as usual next week.

The Bank of England achieved a stunning success last week, reveling in an historic victory atop the rubble of the global banking crisis. HBOS – Halifax / Bank of Scotland – revealed vast losses that threaten to push its recent adoptive parent, Lloyds Banking Group, into public hands. A 280-year battle has ended. The Glorious Revolution is complete.

The Bank of England first attempted to smash the Bank of Scotland (“the old bank”) in 1727. The Britich Crown suspected the Bank of Scotland of helping to fund the Jacobite Rebellion (called the Jacobite “Rising” by people who don’t believe in constitutional limits on government, such as the previous Minister of Justice).

As well as taking the traditional approach to this type of disagreement, that of sending a whole lot of guys to go and stick knives into a whole lot of other guys, the British Government decided that some economic warfare was also in order. The Royal Bank of Scotland (“the new bank”) was founded by Royal Charter with the mission of destroying the old bank.

The Royal Bank began to stockpile Bank of Scotland banknotes and then presented them all for redemption at once. In those days, money meant something – your notes were backed something heavy and shiny. If you tried the same thing at the Reserve Bank today your banknotes would just be pointlessly swapped for different banknotes. The old bank had to call in loans, and while it suspended payments for a few months it didn’t buckle.

The new bank remained hostile for years but with the Jacobites defeated (using the old-fashioned knifing method at the Battle of Culloden) the banks eventually came to a truce and started accepting each other’s notes.

The British government had failed to crush the Bank of Scotland with brutal competition in Scotland’s free banking system. The stability of the system sparked Karl Marx’s observation that “capitalism causes banking crises, except in Scotland.” In other words, freedom causes banking crises -- except where banking is free. An even simpler translation might be “capitalism doesn’t cause banking crises.”

As is now clearly apparent, a bastardised semi-free system cobbled together by politicians for their own ill-thought-out ends is quite capable of causing banking crises and inflicting far more damage than competition in a free market.

Unfortunately, Karl Marx’s spectre still haunts the banking system. Having flooded the world with easy money, governments are now looking to take advantage of the crisis they’ve caused by taking ownership of many major banks. At a British inquiry last week, HBOS’s would-be new owners delighted in discovering that the bank’s previous bosses had no formal banking qualifications. No one’s yet asked whether being an MP, which mainly requires knocking on doors and giving away bundles of other people’s money, is a suitable qualification for someone wanting to run a bank.

* * Bernard Darton’s NOT PJ column appears here every Thursday at NOT PC * *

Quote of the Day: Thomas Jefferson

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
--Thomas Jefferson

‘Atlas’ and today: The parallels are striking! [updated]

* * In the wake of the passing of the Obamessiah’s US$787 billion ‘Throw-Money-at-Everything-You-Can-Think-Of’ Bill, Glenn Beck talks to Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute about the parallels between Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged and what’s happening right now in the world’s economies and the corridors of political power.

The parallels are striking! 

“The economic catastrophe we’re witnessing now parallels very much the catastrophe in the book” … with one key difference.

Key point: the prevalent political ethic today is that “failure is the standard.”  And until that changes…

* * And here’s Beck on his own on the same theme: Is America on the road to socialism?  Or fascism?  Hell, we’re moving towards state ownership or state control of everything!

* * And just for completeness’ sake, here’s Rand herself interviewed by Mike Wallace all of fifty years ago, predicting just what we’re seeing today:

(NB: No, I just couldn’t resist that pun in this post’s title.  Could you?)

UPDATE: Who “owns” the economy “owns” you, says Edward Cline.

Hakone – Ando Hiroshige


Plate 11 from Ando Hiroshige’s set of wood block prints of The 53 Stations of the Tokaido.

Basil Stewart’s guide to Hiroshige describes it (somewhat anachronistically) thus: “A high peak, round the base of which, through a gorge, a daimyo's cortege is wending its way ; on the left the Hakone Lake, with Fuji in the distance. The peak is drawn in a peculiar angular manner, almost cubist in effect, which detracts somewhat from this view.”

Mr Stewart and I disagree somewhat in our evaluation of its merits.  It’s like a much more exuberant Mt Fuji!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Kids having kids

The phenomenon of children having children has the chatterati all aflutter.  And The Press is reporting that more boys under 15 are becoming dads.

What should “we” be doing about kids who mature these days earlier than kids once did, but who exhibit less maturity now than kids ever used to do?

To identify the problem’s cause is to solve it. Paraphrasing Andrew Galambos, the problem is a collision between capitalism and socialism.  Capitalism is improving kids’ nutrition faster than socialism is educating children to be adults.

Liberty Scott has more.

As CO2 rises, temperatures … don’t [update]

You’ll no doubt have heard the latest warmist all over the media recently wringing his hands over the increasing amounts of CO2 “we” are all emitting, and how this will inevitably lead to disaster. “Our” emissions are “now outside the entire envelope of possibilities" considered in the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change, said the Associated Press’s near-hysterical “science” writer Randolph Schmid, and will, he says, lead to all the usual catastrophes that warmists always hope for.

Problem is, as Chip Knappenberger reports at the great new Master Resource blog, “Schmid failed to mention that during the same time, global warming proceeded at a rate much slower than anyone expected.”



while Schmid was busy [all over the media], Patrick J. Michaels testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment that global warming was proceeding at a rate that was at the lowest values projected by a large suite of climate models. Dr. Michaels further told the Subcommittee members in the nation’s capital that another year or so of little warming would put global temperature trends outside the accepted range model prognostications.
    So, clearly, the picture is a lot more complicated than CO2 in/catastrophic climate change out. It is just that most environmental alarmists (reporters included) don’t like to think of it as such.

That seems a very polite way to report Schmid’s catastrophising.

UPDATE:  Meanwhile, on a planet far from the solar system of sanity, NASA warmist James Hansen continues his increasingly hysterical trajectory:

Coal [says the OberGruppenWarmist] is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet. The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.

Tim Blair quips in response: “On the other hand, it does stop people dying in winter.”

Team Obama’s shock doctrine [update 2]

Pinched in toto from today’s Cato blog:

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, says free-market advocates spend their careers stockpiling free-market ideas waiting for a crisis that could be used as a springboard for implementing those ideas. But, as David Boaz asks, what about Obama’s policy proposals amid recession and financial crisis?

In today’s Cato Daily Podcast, Boaz exposes Obama’s Shock Doctrine:

    We know from history that, while there are a few examples of free-market or somehow right-wing programs coming about after a crisis, usually what happens in a crisis is government seizes more money and power. And you can see that in the New Deal; the Great Depression led to the New Deal. You can see it after Kennedy’s assassination led to Lyndon Johnson and his 100 days of legislation. You can see it in practically every communist government that ever came to power, was in the devastation of war….

    We had a financial crisis and what happened? Did the incumbent Republican administration say, now’s our chance to implement Milton Friedman’s program and privatize and deregulate? No, they did what governments always do: they expanded their own powers at the expense of civil society, and so in that sense, Obama’s just doing the same thing that Bush did. We could call this the Bush-Obama era.

It was, after all, Rahm Emmanuel who said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”

UPDATE 1: How’s this for chutzpah from the Obamessiah.  Reports Jeff Perren, “After pushing for the largest theft of future taxpayer wealth in history, only a little more than a third of which conceivably has anything to do with the economic crisis,” the Messiah is now scheduling a "fiscal-responsibility summit" for Feb. 23, at which, says the WSJ, he “will unveil a budget blueprint … crafted to put pressure on politicians to address the country's surging long-term debt crisis…”


I’m speechless. Jeff’s not:

I'm beginning to wonder if Obama's Progressive pragmatism has led him to an actual psychotic break. Now, now he's worried about the Federal debt and the deficit?

UPDATE 2: Commenting on the Messiah’s stimulunacy, Thomas Sowell says,

Nothing in the amateurish way the current administration has begun suggests that they have mastered even the mechanics of governing, much less the complexities of the huge national problems looming ahead, at home and abroad.

Parenting advice from Sun Tzu

Now that one iniquity created by the Clark Government has been removed, it’s time to address some others.  How about the Anti-Smacking Bill, in which the present PM is still implicated.

One of the worst errors forced on parents by those who were unable to distinguish between smacking and beating (yes, I’m talking to you Sue Bradford) was the legally enforced confusion between assault and reasonable parental force.

There is a difference.  A distinct difference.

Rational Jenn has a great post that explains the difference perfectly, and concretises why reasonable parental force is sometimes so crucially necessary: The Art Of War For Parents.

Think of it as the necessary update to Sun Tzu.

DOWN AT THE DOCTOR’S: Dissecting the news

Libertarianz Party leader Dr Richard McGrath gives a libertarian take on some of this week’s news . . .
  1. ‘Farmer Walks Free After Shooting Intruder’ – A jury acquitted David Allen, a Bay of Plenty man, after he shot a gang associate who had been threatening to kill him over a debt. Two weeks earlier, Mr Allen had been beaten to a pulp by two men who arrived on horseback demanding money. Bravo to Mr Allen for ridding the country of the two-legged rodent, and to the jury that acquitted him on all charges. People have a right to act in defence of themselves, their loved ones and their property, using sufficient and reasonable force. A Libertarianz government would enshrine in a formal constitution the right to act in self-defence. 

EFA - gone

It started with the Labour Party changing the law to stop Bernard Darnton suing them over their 2005 pledge card, continued with their Electoral Finance Act by which they attempted to squelch free speech and hog-tie their opponents, and now after many months of shouting in the end it (eventually) took take less than a day to excise that incursion into Mugabeism from our law books.

And even Labour voted for its removal, and new Labour leader Phil Goff had the grace to concede it was a mistake.

Unfortunately, reports do not record what Helen Clark’s face looked like when she was required to file into the lobbies to vote against the mechanism by which she hoped to achieve a permanent Premiership.

Honourable mentions in the battle to exterminate this affront to democracy:

  • Bernard Darnton *
  • David Farrar, Cameron Slater and their Free Speech Coalition. *
  • John Boscawen, who organised protests around the country that attracted thousands of affronted New Zealanders.
  • The NZ Herald, who front footed the theme of Democracy Under Attack, and showed there is a backbone thereafter all.
  • The National Party (yes, the National Party), who with the exception of one clause have kept their election promise to remove this travesty from the law books. Since this will probably be their only move in the direction of freedom this term (notice that it’s only a temporary restitution of previous law before the reinstitution of something else before the next election, let's take the opportunity to celebrate.

* That these two protest websites are now covered in cobwebs is proof enough of the measure of their success.

Aquarius – Stella Shawzin




Another one of sculptor Stella Shawzin’s great bronzes of figures in motion.  More details here from the gallery, including the price …

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Wrong rhyming slang [updated]

A few weeks ago Deborah Hill-Cone mused over “whom leftists would throw their shoes at now Dubya has yahooed back to Texas.” Now she knows: it’s bankers.

Although I bet [Gordon Brown, Barack Obama], Polly Toynbee and all the rest were quite happy to take advantage of the boomtimes when their houses were increasing in value, one can't help but wonder if they are feeling some self-loathing now. When the party stops it is much easier to blame the bankers for getting us drunk than admit we are lushes.

And much easier for big-government worshippers like Polly, Brown and Barack to blame those private bankers who were simply doling out the punch, when the primary cause of the problem was the punch bowl being spiked by big-governments’ central bankers .

UPDATE: To get some idea of the role of central banks in the boom -- which has turned to bust in a big way -- and just how seriously they spiked the punch bowl, consider these three quotes from William Fleckenstein's book Greenspan's Bubbles,

Central bankers like Greenspan [and Bollard] aren't like bankers at all... Central bankers are actually central planners [with all the failures of that breed]. Like bureaucratic leaders of central-planned or command economies, they pick an interest rate to wthin two decimal places that they guess will be the correct one, and then they proceed to cram it down the throat of the banking system.

And there are people who call the failure of The Fed a failure of free markets!

So with what was the punchbowl spiked? What were the central bankers cramming down our throats?

Greenspan erred by continually picking an interest rate that was too low, then he solved the turmoil that resulted from that decision with another period of interest rates that were again too low.

Repeat process until finished, which is what Greenspan did -- and what we're now paying for. The last tranche of easy money that left the Fed was to 'fix' the bursting of the bubble in 2001, and we know where it all ended up ...

We will quote once more an amazing nugget of research from Asha Bangalore, economist at Northern Trust Co.: No less than 40 percent of new jobs since 2001 owe their existence, directly or indirectly, to the real-estate levitation.

Submissions for sale

Have people learned nothing about the Resource Management Act after fifteen years of its imposition?

I've heard outrage everywhere about the news that the Department of Conservation took money to shut down its opposition to the Project Hayes wind farm in the South Island’s Lammermoor Range.

Words like “bribe” and “hush money” have been used.  People are outraged.  “It's venal, cowardly, and corrupt," Dunedin conservationist Dave Witherow said. "What we are encouraging is a culture of bribery," the Project Hayes objector said.  "To be blunt, [it] was about buying silence to avoid political embarrassment," says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Morgan Williams.

Where have these people been?

The Resource Management Act actively encourages corruption.  It encourages a culture of bribery. It incites it.  It makes it normal.  If people are given a “right” to object to what you do on your property, then ipso facto they have a right they’re able to sell.  And they have been.

  • That neighbour who “objects” to your extensions, but can be bought off with a bottle (or three) of wine.
  • The iwi who discover taniwhas at the bottom of your garden, which disappear after judicious application of JP Morgan’s salve.
  • The environmental group who suddenly discovers after an ex gratia payment (offered “without prejudice”) that the native snails/mangroves/sand dunes they’d been bound to protect will be fine after.
  • The historic places trust, who agree to drop their objections in return for a range of mitigation measures … and a cheque for $179,000.
  • The government department who are “legally obliged to protect the environment” whose concerns about access, visual impact, and falcons who might be hit by turbine blades, are assuaged by the payment of $125,000.

The RMA positively encourages groups like these to use the process as a meal ticket – where anywhere else this would be called blackmail.  It positively encourages planners to play both sides of the fence – where anywhere else it would be called corruption.

Have people learned nothing about the Resource Management Act after fifteen years?

It’s a case study of what happens when you expand “rights” beyond those that are legitimate.

Which is to say, it’s another classic case study of non-objective law.

Law versus the lynch mob [update 3]

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. CreativeFreedom.org.nz is against this unjust law - help us

Let me contrast objective law with a new law about to be foisted upon us.

First, here’s what objective law looks like:

All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it…


[Objective law] requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures.

Contemplate those words “The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed” while you read s92A of the Copyright Act, which on its present timetable will be passed into law in 11 days, 17 hours and fifty-four fifty-three minutes.

Internet service provider [sic] must have policy for terminating
accounts of repeat infringers
(1) An Internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement
a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances,
of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer.
(2) In subsection (1), repeat infringer means a person who repeatedly
infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.

What that means, says Matthew Holloway of the Creative Freedom Foundation, is Guilt by Association.

The … law reverses New Zealander's fundamental right to being presumed innocent until proven guilty, punishing internet users with disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without evidence held up to court scrutiny.

The proposed law fails to adequately define “internet service provider.” (I’m a blogger; apparently that makes me an “internet service provider.”) It fails to protect people against false, frivolous or flawed accusations. (Matthew Holloway gives some examples here.) It ignores entirely the basic rules of evidence developed, with good reason, over many centuries. It confuses an accusation with a conviction.

It’s bad law.

My opposition to the Copyright Act is not due to its intent (which is to protect copyright) but because it confuses an accusation -- “He done it!” – with its opposite, i.e., : “evidence to establish that a crime has been committed.”

It is the difference between law and a lynch mob – with the lynch mob’s rope provided by poorly drafted, non-objective law.

I’m agin’ it.

NB: Contemplate this, from the Ayn Rand Lexicon, which describes the future under this law:

When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown “influence” will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all-and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow “public policies,” integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun.

Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves.

UPDATE 1: David Farrar has a guest column on the issue of S92A at Muriel Newman’s Centre for Political Research.

UPDATE 2: Russell Brown explains why your friends’ pictures are turning black all over Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. “You're seeing The Blackout, a netroots protest against Section 92(A) of the Copyright Act, which comes into force on February 28.”

And he identifies another ill of this law, if it were to come into effect: “It is not only that this law denies the accused any due process, it is that it stipulates a penalty that no court would impose in adjudicating a copyright complaint even if infringement were proven…”

UPDATE 3: Stephen Fry takes the protest international on his Twitter page. (For Americans: Stephen Fry was Hugh Laurie’s comedy partner back when Hugh still spoke English.)