Friday, May 22, 2009

Best of NOT PC: There’s something about Mt Albert!

Oddly enough, there’s one thing NOT PC readers have had on their mind’s this week: Mt Albert.  If you want to catch up on what posts were most read this week, then these are they:

So if you want to catch up NOT PC’s week, then those are the posts to read first.

Cheers,
PC

PS: And don’t forget to check out this week’s Objectivist Blog Carnival for lots more good stuff!

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Beer O’Clock: The Bottle of Britain [updated]

The general rule with beer ads is 'the lesser the beer, the better the ads.' Budweiser Light for example has some of the best beer ads around. Q.E.D. you might say.

But "What about Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale?” I hear none of you cry. What of that? What indeed. Here there appears a beer that breaks our rule of thumb. Ouch!

I remember Spitfire Ale well from six months spent renovating a house down in Kent, from which I was supposed to drive back home to London on Fridays after work. My way home however passed by a Shepherd Neame’s pub where myself and colleague would stop for post-work refreshments . . . and the rest of this particular story you can guess for yourself. Many an unplanned Friday night was spent in Kent rather than at home in London, for which I lost several points each week, and frankly I blame the Spitfire Ale. The tasting notes for the beer describe it as follows:

The deep amber Kentish ale piles in the aroma and flavour with three different locally-grown hop varieties adding a wealth of fragrant interest to its bank of well-rounded malts.
This premium Kentish ale has wonderfully generous aromas of tangy malt, soft raisins and sweet oranges, freshened by the floral, grassy notes of three different Kent-grown hop varieties (flowery Target, tangy First Gold and orange-fragrant East Kent Goldings). In the mouth, the finely balanced flavour opens with a blast of rounded malt before the rousing, almost spicy hops follow through to provide a complex, multi-layered finish. Etc.

All I can tell you from memory myself is that it was a damn fine session beer for a damn fine unplanned session. Very moreish. Very easy to drink. Very likely to get you into trouble.

So why am I telling you all this? Because this fine drop also has a fine ad campaign to go with it: Spitfire Ale, the Bottle of Britain. Here’s just a small selection below from a huge offering.

RugbyA5versions_7

I don’t suspect it’s a big seller in Europe.

ad62003th

RugbyA5versions_3

RugbyA5versions_1 ad32003thad92003th

worldcup4

ad12004th

ads06vichyth

Spitfire10

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Earth to Fed: So where’s the money gone?

Anybody know where the hell the Federal Reserve’s several trillion dollars of “quantitative easing” and stimulus money has gone?

“Cos as this short video shows, it sure beats the hell out of the Inspector General of the Fed.

As the latest Foundation for Ecconomic growth newsletter asks, “Is Anyone Minding the Store at the Federal Reserve?”

    If you are under the impression that the US government knows what is going on back at the Federal Reserve or that the Inspector General can tell them what is happening then you are in for a big surprise when you watch this video.
    They are all in uncharted territory with no compass - moral or magnetic.

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“Melissa Lee is right” says Libz Mt Albert candidate [update 2]

Support for Melissa Lee this morning from an unlikely source.

"Melissa Lee is right about criminals coming from South of Auckland," says Libertarianz candidate Julian Pistorius.

 Read on here for details.

UPDATE 1: Join Julian tomorrow morning over brunch at Ocra Cafe in Sandringham Rd for his campaign launch (that’s just down the road slightly from Helen’s old office), and then feel free to join him and his team out on the streets talking about Freedom for Mt Albert – or just tell him how he could be doing it better.  Head here for details.

Support Capitalism.  Support Freedom.  Support Pistorius.

UPDATE 2: Well that didn’t take long.  Melissa Lee concedes defeat. Time to get on board a better candidate, folks.

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Hikoi of the hopelessly racist

So how many NOT PC readers will be joining the March for Racist Auckland Government tomorrow (aka the Hikoi to protest the lack of Maori seats on the new Auckland uber-city).

If you are, then why?

There’s  certainly plenty of reasons to protest against the uber-city – here’s several right here – but objecting it’s not sufficiently racist is not one of them.  In fact, it’s the only thing about the uber-city to like.

Say no to racist government and to the Auckland uber-city.

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The ten-million dollar question

It’s been interesting listening to all the rumour and speculation about the “runaway squillionaires,” especially answers the questions what you would do if you found yourself the windfall winner of a ten-million dollar bank error in your favour.

Which reminded me of an old architect’s joke. 
Q: What would you do if you won a million dollars?
A: I’d keep  practicing architecture until it was all gone.
[Insert laugh track here.]

So what would you do?

PUBLIC NOTICE: Petition to change my blogroll

This is a Public Service Announcement.  I've received petitions from two folk on my blogroll – personal representations from two bloggers who wish to be elevated p from the blogroll ghetto of being labelled "Cheerleaders for the Government" to the exalted position of “Pro-Freedom Blogs” or even “NZ: Good People.”

I speak of course of Lindsay Perigo's Blog and Jameson's Blog.

So what do you think, customers?  May I invite you to check out their work and leave me the benefit of your own wise judgement on the matter.

And while we’re about it, if there’s anyone else on the blogroll you think is mislabelled, then please make your case in the comments.

Here endeth the Official Announcement.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quote of the Day: How to destroy capitalism, part 17

As if she were writing yesterday (instead of thirty-four years ago), for those now trying to make sense of the world’s economic collapse and the political reactions to it:

"One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary." – Ayn Rand

If you’ve been sleeping for the past few months, or you’re not sure what controls led to today’s problems, then read (or re-read) George Reisman’s still timely summary: The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Present Crisis.

And check out, if you haven’t already, The Ayn Rand Center’s webpage on the financial crisis, which has that Rand quote above as its masthead.

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Non-investigation files still Brashly unreleased [update 2]

Whale Oil is right. Why are the police releasing unedited in all its glory the Tony Veitch file, but not the full unedited file of their non-investigation into who illegally stole the Leader of the Opposition's emails?

What's going on here? As a commenter at Whale's blog suggested, does someone have to kick Nicky Hager in the spine to see some action? This was a serious security breach at the very highest level of state . . . and it's treated with all the importance of a theft at a school tuck shop.

Who exactly are the police protecting? And what does this say about their partiality? Fran O'Sullivan's conclusion is unchallengable:

This is [all] frankly unacceptable in a democratic system where authorities like the police should be expected to get to the bottom of what was obviously a politically motivated burglary.

UPDATE 1: Brash has called for a formal inquiry into the email theft.

Phil Goff agrees with him. Bill English apparently doesn't.

Is this a clue?

UPDATE 2:  Police Commissioner Howard Broad has appointed an "independent commissioner" to look at the whole issue -- so independent he  just happens to be Broad's Assistant Commissioner.  Reports The Herald [hat tip DPF]:
    Commissioner Broad said continued questioning of the police role could undermine public trust and confidence in the force.
    He ordered a full review of the case, including the recent release of the highly edited file, to be conducted by Assistant Commissioner Steve Shortland of Auckland, with an independent adviser working alongside him. …
    Dr Brash said he was happy with the steps being taken.

NOT PJ: Long hard road in Mt Albert

This week Bernard Darnton takes all the jokes other people have made about Melissa Lee and gathers them in one place.

_BernardDarntonIt would be fair to say that Melissa Lee’s legend burned out long before her candle ever did.

Mount Albert voters have had a week to absorb the news that they’re going to get a new motorway. Where Labour had promised them a tunnel, National offered them two tunnels. At half the price. For a limited time only. Act now! Pick up the phone because our operators are standing by.

The only downside was that the motorway was going to bring in criminals from south of Auckland to steal people’s houses and bulldoze them.

There are always people who complain when new roads are built. When the Wellington bypass cut through Te Aro a few years ago some of the scruffs who lived nearby were quite upset. The odd thing is: in Te Aro none of the Not-In-My-Back-Yard types who complained about the bypass actually owned any of the back yards that the road went through. All the land was purchased voluntarily.

Not so in Mount Albert. There are residents there saying that the motorway will be built over their dead bodies. That will only encourage the land thieves. Ask the residents of the Bolton Street Cemetery, who gave way to another Wellington roading project in the 1970s, the Wellington Urban Motorway. They’d be turning in their graves if they still had graves.

The taking of part of the cemetery caused huge controversy when it happened. I’d like to think that turfing living people out of their houses would be just as – if not more – controversial. The media are more interested in Melissa Lee having her foot in her mouth than having her jackboot up the backsides of the local residents.

Not that any of the others are any better. National and ACT are happy to evict the residents of 400 houses before the government bulldozers flatten their soon-to-be-empty homes. Labour would have done the same for about two hundred homes around the tunnel entrances. The Greens would happily shift the entire population into detention centres – er, sustainable eco-villages – to make way for the 930,000 km of canals that would be required to shift all of New Zealand’s road freight onto solar-powered mule-drawn barges.

As usual, it’s only the Libertarianz candidate, Julian Pistorius, who’s suggesting that if you want something you should ask the owner nicely. It’s always valuable to be reminded that a government big enough to insulate your home today is big enough to smash it to bits with a wrecking ball tomorrow.

Faced with the stormtroopers of “progress” and the blitzkrieg of eminent domain, we should be more like the French. Wait – that’s obviously not right. Forget that analogy.

The government should be more like the French. Usually when I say that I mean that they should take long lunch breaks, long summer breaks, and don’t – under any circumstances – do anything under urgency. In this case I mean it more constructively.

French roadbuilders pick multiple routes, buy options on properties on all the routes, and then when one route is complete all the property owners on the route are paid out in full. The road is built. It turns out that pocketing a fat wad of Euros and buggering off is more popular than living in an intact house next to a motorway.

There’s no reason that the same scheme couldn’t be used here for roads, electricity pylons, nation-spanning cycleways (assuming that wasn’t just a joke – I live in hope), or any other construction that comes in an inconveniently long skinny shape.

If a politely worded letter and a suitcase stuffed full of cash is all it takes to make the French look organised we should at least consider it. If the letter was polite enough and the suitcase stuffed enough, it might even persuade miseducated lifestyle-block housewives that electricity pylons don’t microwave their kids’ heads and make them explode.

But the biggest advantage would be having a government that wasn’t a gang of looters and pillagers. Returning property rights in New Zealand from myth back into reality will be a long hard road but one well worth building.

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

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Only a Rosette

Had a great night last night.  This National Party rosette was the loser. 

GoodbyeRosette Oops!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nymphs & Satyr - William Bouguereau


Fred Ross from the Art Renewal Center argues that anything by Bouguereau trumps anything by Picasso -- or any of the moderns.

Where the moderns bring ugliness, here there is beauty. Where everything about the finished modern product "is utterly awful and would be beneath the capabilities of a talented 12 year old," the technical skill exhibited here is immense. But most importantly, where you need to approach a modern work "as you would a Rorschach inkblot test," you can simply approach a Bouguereau with your own eyes, your own judgement and without books or texts or convoluted explanations.

You have to be taught to love Picasso, because nobody would love him otherwise. But people don't need to be taught to love Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Bouguereau, or for that matter Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, or Tom Sawyer , The Grapes of Wrath , Alice in Wonderland , or The Christmas Carol .
Teaching and information can add to the depth of understanding of great works of art, but they are great initially by their ability to capture the soul and imagination of the viewer, without thousands of words to instruct us on how to deny the evidence of our own senses and to deny our innate sense of truth and reason.
Of course, what tends to happen to people who have allowed themselves to be convinced that the emperor is wearing beautiful clothes, is that they have become "ego invested" due to years of having parroted the same falsehoods... and the associated humiliation that goes with acknowledging that one has been had.
The more years, and the more said in support of Modernism, the greater the difficulty in breaking through the gestalts, and taking off the iconic blinders, shedding all the preconceptions and looking again with "innocent eyes" and describing what is really there (at least to yourself), and then comparing it to the maligned academics like Waterhouse, Bouguereau, Lord Leighton, Burne-Jones, Gérôme, and Alma-Tadema, and deciding with freedom of thought and an honest wish to find the truth, which of them indeed are works of art, and which are snake oil salesmen.

Read Ross's whole piece here. Very, very good. Hat tip to Jeff Perren who says, "I invariably respond passionately to elegant pornography." (And click here for a very large version of the artwork.)

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More on stealing people’s homes

Paul Walker at Anti Dismal links to a piece by Don Boudreaux challenging the conventional idea that the existence of “hold outs” necessitates governments stealing people’s homes in order to build motorways, or power lines or railway lines.  Not so, says Boudreaux. 

While it is easy to imagine such problems [such as the recalcitrant homeowner], I doubt that they are significant enough to entrust politicians with the power to take private property.  .  .[Especially since] with skillful contracting maneuvers — for example, buying each plot of land contingent upon the successful purchase of all other plots of land necessary to build the road or airport — a government intent on serving the public should be able to do its job without powers of eminent domain.

Concludes Paul, “If only our government had the same skills as private developers.” But then they wouldn’t be in government, would they.

Frankly, if there’s burglars coming to Mt Albert by motorway, it’s the burglars who are there stealing people’s houses to build it.

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Time to overturn the anti-smacking law

MacDoctor makes much sense on Jimmy Mason’s conviction for punching his four-year-old in the face – a crime that was illegal before Sure Bradford and is still illegal now.  As such, as MacDoctor says, “It is not even remotely a test case for the new legislation.”

This is not to say at that the Bradford/Clark/Key anti-smacking law should “trundle along unattended to, on the grounds that [we] are not seeing large numbers of convictions under the new law. This is a dangerous illusion. The damage is being done to thousands of toddlers as I type.”

This is the damage to children of receiving no discipline at all – since under the fear, uncertainty and doubt of brought in by the new anti-smacking regime, no parent now knows what the hell they’re legally allowed to do with their own children. The resulting horror stories of good parents being hounded for administering a light tap and other parents simply giving up on any parental discipline whatsoever is frankly  “far worse for children than the inappropriate punch of Jimmy Mason.”

MacDoctor makes a good argument for reinstating the legal protection of Section 59 immediately.  Read Not Smacking and see if you can disagree.

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Morgan-Wishart debate

Turns out I’m not the only one who didn’t hear yesterday’s “global warming debate” on Leighton Smith’s show between the authors of two recent tomes on the subject, Ian Wishart and Gareth Morgan – so here’s a link to the audio:   Click here.  (Interviews start around 13:45.)

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Mt Albert, Mudbaths and Morons

richardmcgrath An irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines, from Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath

  1. Mt Albert By-election Candidates Named – The fifteen contestants for the vacant Mt Albert electorate seat were named yesterday. There are three independent candidates, and no New Zealand First presence. Apparently NZF are going to wait until there are demonstrations in the streets demanding the return of Winston before they test the waters in a by-election. Might be a long time between drinks, guys. 
    The mainstream parties have wheeled in some big guns – Labour have flown their carpetbagger in from the Middle East, National have scourge-of-South-Auckland-burglars Melissa Lee and the Greens have co-leader Russel Norman standing. I hope Russel rides his bike to Auckland, or catches the Overlander train (for which his party fought so hard to keep taxpayer subsidies) every time he comes up from Wellington, rather than flying. Student candidate Jackson Wood also hails from Wellington. Last election, Russel only turned up to a few candidate meetings in Wellington (or was it only one meeting, Russel?). United Future are standing their party president. There are some gimmick parties – Bill and Ben, People’s Choice, People Before Profit, Human Rights.
    Then there are the more earnest, principled representatives of established parties – ACT, the fledgling Kiwi Party, the one-issue Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, and Libertarianz.
    The Libz candidate is Julian Pistorius, who at least lives in Auckland, and who is fighting for the rights of hundreds of homeowners currently threatened by government theft of their land for a new motorway. The Greens, on the other hand, who wring their hands and cry crocodile tears, want to steal land from the residents of Mt Albert so they can play with Michael Cullen’s train set.
  2. Investigation at Named Pig Farm – No-one likes to see animals mistreated. But let’s get this straight: animals do not have rights. Their actions are not based on a process of conceptualization, reason, ethics and a sense of morality. Their survival depends on instinctual reaction and physical attributes such as sharp eyesight and muscular strength. They are not capable of respecting the individual rights of a human. Thus, it would be absurd to accord them the same rights that humans – who, by virtue of their capacity for reason and the fact that their actions are chosen, possess rights.
    Having said that, the images of pigs cramped into very confined quarters were disturbing to many people. But the sensible way to approach this is via the free market: if people really want their meat from well-treated sources, then animal welfare agencies could request access to all farms, ask to inspect the farms, and award a grade depending on how they like each farm according to their own criteria. Other organizations could do the same, and consumers could choose whose farm they wanted to support with their disposable income. Animal mis-treaters and those who refused to allow inspection of their farms could be publicised online or in mailouts, billboards, advertisements, etc. A tick from the animal welfare agencies might be a positive selling point. But the process has to be voluntary and self-funding, not another millstone around the taxpayer’s neck.
  3. Wakefield Health Surges – Amid the doom and gloom of the economic correction, there is news that a private hospital operator has increased revenue by 10 per cent, and profit by 40 per cent. Looks like people are waking up to the fact that public hospitals are death-traps. Last week my daughter waited five hours to be seen in such a place, with what could have been a serious surgical condition. When we were eventually discharged, there were people in the waiting room who had been there for eight hours and still hadn’t been seen. In other hospitals, waiting times of more than 24 hours are common. If this happened in a private hospital, its company directors would have their entrails torn out at the next AGM by enraged shareholders. And that’s just one of the differences: accountability.
  4. Depression Analysis Also Applies To Climate Change – American jurist and “scholar” Richard Posner has just published a book on the causes of the current recession called A Failure of Capitalism. He blames the asset bubbles on “uncertainty about the possible effects of major innovations.” He ignores the regulation that distorted markets, particularly in residential property, instead blaming deregulation. If only!
    There is ample evidence to suggest that regulation -- for example, that under the Clinton administration which forced banks to lend money to high risk customers – had a lot to do with the current state of the world economy. Posner regards political reaction to alleged anthropogenic global warming as “taking insurance out against a potentially catastrophic risk.” The precautionary principle, in other words. Nothing evidence-based, of course, just scare-mongering and superstition, in the absence of hard facts and objective science. But that, my friends, is all the anti-freedom global warming alarmists can offer us.       

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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Selling out

“What’s wrong with the world?” ask so many people.  “How come capitalism is losing the battle?” they cry. Capitalism has been slowly strangled over the last century, and the strangling has only accelerated in this one.  But capitalism is not being destroyed by its enemies (they have no ideas with which to do that)but – in compromise after compromise; in sell-out after sell-out; in apology after apology – by its so called friends.

Pistorius-snip The simple answer to why capitalism has been destroyed can be seen in something as prosaic as the almost tribal reaction here at this site to Libz’ Mt Albert candidate Julian Pistorius from people who are supposedly capitalism’s friends.  They suggest “Capitalism” is a swear word.  That freedom is  not for everyone.  That talking about ideas is just “trotting out old clunkers to prove we’re well read.” That speaking the truth will “lose more votes than it wins” – that it is too “divisive.”

It is responses like these “that are the answer to any question about why and how capitalism was killed”;  killed by this craven, crawling attitude to speaking your mind, to never saying as much as you know, to never defending what you actually believe – and it’s there in spades too in both of the commenters’ mainstream so-called capitalist candidates at this election.

You might call it incipient political correctness, but the attitude I identify here is actually the source of that particular weakness.

If you want to see why capitalism was given up by its so-called defenders, you can see it in microcosm in these examples, just as you saw it writ large all through the last century and through this one.  To, um “roll out Rand” again, as she said the worst defenders of capitalism are its so called supporters in business and in the “conservative” movement who seek to apologise for capitalism’s virtues, while adopting collectivism’s vices.  If there is one thing on which the “liberal” opponents of capitalism could always rely, it was the eagerness of their opponents to adopt the “liberal” position as their own (see for a recent example our current Prime Minister).  As Rand says, “this is the answer to any question about how and why capitalism was destroyed” by its supporters:

  1. Abysmal anti-intellectualism – contempt for ideas, theories, thought, abstract knowledge; no concept that it is ideas that move the world; the “huffy” attitude” about so called “realism” and “practicality.”
  2. Abject “Social Metaphysics” (i.e., substituting what other people think of you with the facts of reality) – the acceptance of any given status quo as “reality,” the willingness to adjust to it without any questions about who or what has brought it about . . .
  3. Abject terror – the unwillingness to conceive that the so-called political “reality” is evil, is ruled by and aimed at evil goals (the terror of the so-called “public interest”-advocate caught in a corner).
  4. Underlying cynicism – the concrete-bound, short-range “successes” as the only actual “reality”; the abstract and long-range as “complex” and “subtle”; the invariable addition of “the public interest” or “service to others” or the like to any statement involving self-interest and individual rights.

This, she says, “presents the essence of the kind of soul that would have, and has, turned young people to socialism.”  This is the soul of a pro-business “intellectual.”  This is how an enemy so weak (socialism and “liberalism”) has destroyed capitalism.

This is what must be changed.

If there was as much support from so-called pro-business “intellectuals” to move the debate, to identify (and defend) the fundamental issues involved, to change the status quo – to change the culture’s dominant ideas – as there is for selling out, then capitalism would never have been in danger.

NB: The four points above are adapted from some marginal comments by Ayn Rand appearing in Ayn Rand’s Marginalia, pg. 211-12.

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More borrowed music [updated]

It’s NZ Music Month, so … here’s a 1938 American hit “borrowed” by a popular local band for a recent album hit.

Chocolate fish to the first person to give the name of the local band. (Hint: their album was released in February.) I’ll let you know the answer at midday, if someone hasn’t already pinged it by then.

UPDATE: So that went well, didn't it.

The answer, for the two of you interested, is Auckland band Sola Rosa, who "borrowed" it without attribution for the song 'Humanised' on their new album Get it Together. Listen to it here.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

All change

Busted Blonde has bowed gracefully out of the blogosphere.  She’s gone to the dark side. Meanwhile Cactus Kate bows not so gracefully out of the mainstream media.  She was already on the dark side.

Support Pistorius in Mt Albert!

Here's Julian Pistorius' new brochure for Mt Albert he and the team will be handing out. . .

 

Picture 15 He scrubs up well, don’t you think, for a scruff who used to sport a beard and ponytail!

Picture 14

Sign up at Julian’s Facebook Campaign page to jump on board to help out.
[And if you can’t the there on the ground, then just throw money. :-) ]

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Recession in pictures

The New York Times asked readers to send in their “recession photos.”  Check them out.  As Bernard Hickey says, it’s sobering viewing.

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A British political class is blown away

You've no doubt heard the stories coming out of Britain MP's snouts in the moat.  Sean Gabb from the UK Libertarian Alliance describes the public debagging of corruption in power, and celebrates while A Political Class is Blown Away.  And he has a theory who's behind it all.  

Hint: It's not who you might think.  As they might say, follow the power lust.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Never say never

Susan Ryder finds herself looking through The Listener.

susanryder “Never say never” so the saying goes.

I was reminded of that as I bought a copy of the latest New Zealand Listener on the weekend. I’d always associated the purchase of that magazine with ‘hell’ and ‘freezing over’ and yet here I was, plonking it down on the checkout counter in between coffee and Sultana Bran.

The blame lay squarely with PJ O’Rourke and not enough checkout operators operating checkouts. (What is it with supermarkets having loads of checkouts and never enough staff to man them? Same goes for banks, but that’s for another day). While waiting in line I glanced at the magazines on offer. I can’t remember the last time I bought one – and that’s because I have no interest in Shortland Street, what my stars predict for next month, or whether Brad and Jennifer are back together or not.

My eyes fell upon the Listener. Force of habit saw me look past it as a matter of course – and then just as quickly look back. It was a small picture of the man himself adjacent to the headline: PJ O’Rourke - Raucous with Ralston, an interview conducted in Auckland’s SkyCity Grand Hotel a few hours before O’Rourke’s recent Auckland lecture sponsored by the Centre for Independent Studies.

I was half-way through the article by the time I reached the front of the queue. Entitled “Gonzo Guy,” it was a good read, although I grinned at Bill Ralston’s own claimed aversion to “libertarians . . . the Seventh Day Adventists of all politics, to be avoided at all costs because of their proselytising zeal.” I’ll go along with zeal, but proselytising? Religious fervour is more akin to the Environmentalist movement and the left in general, and I doubt the Seven-Dayers would be rapt with the comparison, either. At any rate, it may well be the first time The Listener has ever seen the words “Adam Smith,” “the invisible hand” and “self-interest can be beneficial to society as a whole” in the same sentence – and said without sneering – and that’s got to be good for you.

Even though The Listener is half the size it used to be, there was plenty to read. I’d heard rumours that it wasn’t as overtly red as it once was, but old habits die hard so I braced myself nonetheless. The editorial, unexpectedly, made a case for more government spending on defence and, even more unexpectedly, Jane Clifton argued that with regard to restructuring (local) government “downsizing officialdom is usually a good place to start.” So far, so good. I read on.

There was a story on SIDS (formerly cot death), also now known as SUDI, “Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants” – somewhat redundant you’d think, in that ‘sudden’ is synonymous with ‘unexpected’ regarding mortality, anyway – where Coroner Garry Evans argues that safety standards are too important to be concerned with issues of cultural offence regarding the inconvenient fact of Maori babies being seven times more likely to die (of SIDS) than non-Maori babies. The article stated that poor Maori mothers were “far more at risk of losing a baby to SIDS than any other group in the developed world.” Commentary from other parties included the Ministry of Health, Plunket and the breastfeeding-promotional organisation La Leche, together with Auckland University’s Maori SIDS Prevention team.

It had to happen. The Coroner called for cots to be provided to all families who couldn’t afford one; the Plunket regional clinical advisor warned about their staff “being careful not to offend” with regard to identifying at-risk mothers; and a recent Auckland survey on antenatal class attendance showed “hardly any first-time Maori mums attend the course because of the costs sometimes involved.” Don’t mention personal responsibility with regard to having a child around here, please. It’s undoubtedly offensive!

Nick Smith was there too, defending the indefensible in his ongoing crusade to make ACC work by saying that “the focus of the stocktake is around how we make it into the very best 24/7 state insurer we can.” So not a very good one, then.

Perhaps the Letters section best reflects the views of a publication. A chappie from Whangarei was fired up over China’s coal-fired power stations, but even more concerned that New Zealand’s per capita carbon footprint is five times that of China. “We’ve all got to start looking in the mirror,” he said, “and make a commitment to minimising our own footprints.” This planet-saviour went so far as to list seven planet-saving points for my reference. I particularly liked the NZTA study that found the health benefits of walking to equate to $4 per km and cycling at $2 per km. That’ll solve the recession! Oh, and spurn red meat, please, because vegetarian Indian cuisine is “tasty,” in case you didn’t know. Planet saved – job done. He won the award for best letter, too, a Ralph Lauren fragrance. I trust that he walked down from Northland to collect it, usual freight means involving carbon miles as they do. And after all, just imagine those health benefits!

“Margaret Shields” from Pukerua Bay may well be Margaret Shields, former Labour MP-cum-feminazi stalwart. If not, she’s another Margaret Shields, eco-fascist. “The warnings of global warming continue,” was Ms Shield’s ominous opening, and though “most of us now think those on the anthropogenic side of the argument are probably right, the argument remains flawed and partial.” Her beef, (that’ll upset my Whangarei walker), is the non-focus on the growing world population and the subsequent increase in carbon dioxide levels.

She writes: “Rarely does it (population growth) rate a mention. Nor has there been more than a passing reference to the tragedy of the recent abolition of China’s one-child policy.” She concludes with “we must also be prepared to limit the size of the population before it’s too late.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Abolishing the terrible “one-child” policy is a “tragedy”? Abolishing that degree of state authoritarianism is tragic? Lord only knows what this fascist would “be prepared” to do with regard to decreasing population levels should she ever be in a position to do so.  That this letter was written and published tells you all you need to know about the magazine’s readers and editorial staff.

Perhaps the last word was fittingly found on the back cover. It depicts a full-page advertisement for One News, showing a reporter interviewing a demonstrator during the recent G20 protests in London. The demonstrator is holding a large sign that says: No one has any right to buy or sell the earth for private gain.

If the New Zealand Listener isn’t still essentially socialist, I’m Margaret Shields from Pukerua Bay.

* * Read Susan’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

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In praise of the mighty filibuster

So what the hell is wrong with filibustering?  What’s wrong with slowing down the machinery of political power?  There a few enough checks on executive power in NZ politics, the time-honoured filibuster being one of the few.

Frankly, the complaints I’ve seen from around the traps about Labour’s slowing down Rodney Hide’s One Auckland bill all seem to be complaints that this new government doesn’t hold absolute power.

But doesn’t it just look like they’re trying to achieve that with their Transitional Auckland Authority? 

So the “centre right” are getting what they’re after anyway. Ein volk, ein neck, ein week to give Auckland’s new rulers absolute power.  You’d wonder why a day or two’s delay in getting that should make them so upset.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Roasting Barack

Celebrity Roasts are all the rage – even Paul Holmes is getting in on the fad.  The Iowahawk surfs the trend with a script for a Roast of the person people are calling President Zero, the man the crowds adore, the saint best decsribed as The One, The ObaMessiah, the new President of the US of A: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s pal Barack Obama.

If you’re easily offended you’d better give it a miss.  But if you’d like to enjoy what Commentary magazine calls “the sharpest pieces of political satire written in the English language in ages,” then check it out: I Guess You Had To Be There: The Barack Obama Celebrity Roast. [Hat tip Barnsley Bill]

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Justice delayed is still justice denied, but . . .

I’m in two minds about Simon Power’s latest justice reforms.

A radical review of the welfare system for lawyers that is legal aid is long overdue.  Regular readers of this blog would know that I’ve long been a fan of removing lawyers from sucking off the state’s tit, and replacing legal aid welfare payments with a public defenders’ office.  There’s no species more venal than lawyers making up their bills (un less of course it’s politicians making up their expense claims).

In fact way back in 2005 I wrote that with some very few noticeable exceptions, the more I see of lawyers and their venality, the more I find myself in favour of nationalising the lot of them. When you consider the justice of removing their taxpaid path to riches, you might consider the words of H.L. Mencken:

All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.
Ain’t that the truth. Simon Power should send the country’s lawyers a copy of Mencken’s words on a piece of stiff parchment, with the advice that if they disagree with being removed from the state tit that they fold it until it's all sharp corners, and then insert it where the sun doesn't shine.

So legal aid can go.  I’m quite comfortable with the concept of the public defenders’ office instead. But I’m not so happy to see the right to a jury trial so peremptorily dismissed. The right of a person to choose to be tried by a jury of their peers is just one valuable, time-honoured legal protection against innocent people being rail-roaded into prison. 

It is certainly true that the wheels of NZ justice spin slowly – and it’s true too that justice delayed is justice denied.  But the cure for this is not to remove legal protections to make it easier to lock people up – they key fix would be to remove so many of the ridiculous laws on our books that clog the justice system up.  Restrict law only to those that protect individual rights, you can take a chain saw to the country’s statutes.

Back in the 1800s lawyers like Abraham Lincoln could ride around on horseback from trial to trial with only three legal books in his saddlebag, one of those being a copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England, the bible of English-speaking law for more than a century.  Right now that lawyer on horseback would have to be a accompanied by a whole wagon train of toadies towing a whole caravan of legal books, if they were to carry with them all the laws that now assail our country.

Start hacking back the intrusions of excessive law and regulation, and you’ll find that courts will unclog themselves very quickly.

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