Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Quote of the Day – Jeffrey Tucker on climate change

Climate change is the Left's War on Terror."

                       - Jeffrey Tucker, quoted by Bob Murphy

SCOTUS sacks racial preference law

Black activists are hailing a US Supreme Court decision of which the likes of Pita Sharples and Willie Jackson should take note.  While these two morons were calling for preferential entry to university for unqualified Maori entrants, a group of black activists was taking to the Supreme Court a case that opposed all such race-based foolishness.

Speaking to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, which cascv, the members of the Project 21 black leadership network praised the result as “a step toward removing the racial trappings of a by-gone era and putting all Americans on equal footing.”

    ”It was clear to this Court that barring people from promotion because of the color of their skin is wrong. . .” said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "True equality allows people to rise and fall on their merits. That's what this decision protects. How can one oppose such fairness?"

Beats me.  Try asking those two professional Maoris, Messrs Sharples and Jackson. 

Recounting Iranian votes, discounting Iranian desperation

It was all too predictable what the recount of Iranian presidential votes was going to show. Hey presto, Allah kazah, Allah kazam: A Guardian Council recount of 10 percent of the vote confirms the June 12 election results.

So what?  The reason to support the Iranian protestors wasn’t because they were saying “Where’s My Vote?”  It was because they were also and much more importantly saying “Death to the Ayatollah!” It was because they were saying “We Want Freedom!” It was because they were saying "Death to the Government" to a government who urgently needs a bullet.

In the words of Glenn Beck, “This was not about votes.  It was about freedom.” Or if I may quote myself,

Principled government is not built on majority rule, but on individual rights.  Hanging your hat on the verisimilitude of a vote is not the way to bring freedom to Iran, or to anywhere.  Freedom is not a popularity contest, it’s a human birthright.

That was true last week and it’s just as true today, even if the protestors have now been shot off the streets of Tehran (and are now being pursued by the more sophisticated brutality of the secret police), just as their protests have now been swept away in a recount as bogus as the original count.

And where was Obambi Obama?  As Debi Ghate says at the Voices of Reason blog:

As the protests in Iran begin to dwindle, and the usual accusations of “American interference” are launched by Tehran, I can’t help but wonder what today’s news would have been had America responded differently to the situation. I can’t help but wonder what a different message from President Obama would have led to.

The following is a fictitious speech. It is the speech that only a President acting on a foreign policy that properly defends the rights of its own citizens – a foreign policy of self-interest – could make.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to address events of great significance to the American people. Over the past few days, we have borne witness to the murdering, beating, silencing and intimidation of the Iranian people by a theocratic regime clenching its iron fist to retain power. I strongly condemn these unjust actions of the Iranian regime.

It is time for us to be unequivocal. It is time for America to recognize its past errors. It is time for the United States to make it clear that it does not recognize the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Its current Supreme theocratic leader and his sub commanders are not a legitimate regime. The fact is that Iran has not had a legitimate government worthy of our recognition for decades. The country has been ruled by a series of murdering clerics who seized power, outside of any legitimate political means. They were not chosen through any representative process. They are dictators of the worst kind.

Yet the Iranian regime deserves our immediate, uncompromising attention. This theocracy has repeatedly, for decades, declared itself an enemy of America and has openly acted in violence against our citizens.  It is a standard-bearer of Islamic totalitarianism, the movement that Osama bin Laden and others, avow to kill us, and themselves, for. We’ve known it of Iran since they took our embassy staff hostage in 1979. The regime in Tehran is the spiritual inspiration for the ideology behind the horrific attacks on our soil on September 11th. Americans have not forgotten those attacks and who is ultimately responsible for them. We have nothing to say to the Iranian regime except to say that we will no longer repeat our grave errors of the past. We know what you stand for. And we will never again forget what we stand for.

But we do have much to say to the brave men and women in Iran who have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to the self-appointed Supreme leader. We have much to say, and offer, to the people of Iran, who are now declaring to anyone who will listen that this regime does not represent them.

To those among you who have stood up in the face of threats and intimidation; to those among you who have said “We will continue to speak even if you, Supreme leader, claim that Allah forbids it”; to those among you who are saying that it is time for freedom in Iran—we say you have our support. You have our encouragement, and our sanction. We will help you – and we will offer you our moral and financial support. And yes, if it comes to it, we will offer you military support to the best of our ability. You see, we share your goal of ending the theocracy in Iran and of eliminating the threat it poses to freedom-cherishing nations, including our own. We have had the moral right to end it for decades; you not only have the right, you have the moral fortitude to finally end it. We will help you do what we were unwilling to do ourselves, for both of our sakes.

To those in Iran who genuinely, and desperately, seek liberty: you have the opportunity to fight for the creation of a freer nation, a nation founded on principles that protect the rights of each individual. As America once fought for its independence, so can you. Life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness: these are your inalienable rights and the time is now to fight for the creation of a nation that upholds these principles.

It will not be easy and our thoughts are with you as you face imminent danger and uncertainty. We know it will take courage and conviction. But to you, the true friend of freedom, we say that you have taken an important first step.  You have rejected the iron fist that smashes you down through religious rule. You have spoken; stand firm, and we will stand with you.”

Sadly, those words were never spoken.  While Iranians were chanting “We Want Freedom!” the putative leader of the free world was looking the other way; while they were shouting “Death to the Ayatollah!” apostle of “change” was still trying to talk to the apostle of Islamic totalitarianism; while they were saying, at risk of their own lives, "Death to the Government" he was seeking a way to appease that government – a government  responsible for brutalising its citizens -- and the rest of the Middle East

And now the opportunity of a “Tehran Spring” has gone, possibly for ever. Pissed away in the meek capitulation of appeasement.  A small, flickering light of liberty appeared in the east, was ignored, was snuffed out, and is now gone. Perhaps for good.

But in years to come when Iran’s ruling mullahs are rattling their nuclear sabre in the name of the darkness they represent, remember this moment when a small flame of freedom could have lit up that darkness, but you were too busy to notice and you turned away instead.

Politicians are criminals too - FBI

FBI profiler Jim Kouri reckons politicians share personality traits with thieves and serial killers.  No surprise.  They’re certainly the former, if not the latter.  From the LA Times [hat tip and cartoon Bosch Fawstin]

Character Assassination 4 blog    Kouri, who's a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.
These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.
But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)
Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.
Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.

Perhaps that’s why they can lie like a Frenchman.


Susan Ryder reacts to the reaction to Michael Jackson’s death.

Hippocrates was reputedly a keen observer of humanity. If he was alive today, he’d be in his element right now. Or not.

I was never a Michael Jackson fan. I don’t own a single recording, unless you count his 1972 recording of “Ben” which featured on 20 Solid Gold Hits, Volume 5 (or so my sister reminded me). It was one of my first pop records and I played it to death – “Ben” included. But I was never into Thriller or Bad or anything else he did. It simply wasn’t my cup of tea. Nor was I ever interested in the details of his personal life. I was a libertarian before I even knew of the term.

But that doesn’t mean that I do not acknowledge his undoubted genius. He displayed astonishing talent as a child that continued right into adulthood. He was an American success story: a talented, beguiling little boy who grew into a talented, handsome young man. And I was saddened to hear of his untimely death last Friday morning (NZ time) at the age of 50.

I heard the news while driving on Auckland’s southern motorway. “Oh God,” I thought, “it’ll be Princess Diana all over again” and thus far it has been. Another massive media meltdown subject to all sorts of nonsense.

Mercifully, I was out and about for all of Friday and Sunday and chose to ignore it all at home on Saturday. But it’s almost impossible to be 100% media-proof and the bits I heard confirmed my suspicions.

On Friday evening, fill-in drive-time host on Newstalk ZB, Susan Wood, asked her Australian correspondent “I guess the death of Michael Jackson is a huge story in Australia, too?” No, Sue, only here. Only in New Zealand has hell broken loose …

Sheesh. But it got better. The “Hollywood correspondent” – one of life’s necessities, that – said that a recent rehearsal (of Jackson’s) was “recorded and might be released, making it a sort of comeback album for Michael, if … ”, she faltered, “er, he wasn’t dead.” Not much of a comeback, then.

Every man and his dog – and with Michael, you can’t dismiss anything – seemingly wanted their 2 cents worth of time. And within hours of his death, Real Groovy Records had reportedly sold out of its entire stock of Jackson merchandise.

Thousands of people in various stages of grief were milling around places such as Times Square in New York and outside Jackson’s Los Angeles home and the hospital where he died. “I can’t believe he’s dead; I don’t believe he’s dead!”, cried one woman, eerily echoing those from an earlier generation upon news of the death of Elvis.

“Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of colour!”, yelled a defiant man, oblivious, it would appear, to the success of Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jnr. Not to mention the legions of black musical legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Muddy Waters, together with the many Tamla Motown talents of the last 50 years, just to start with. And then there is sport with Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe along with three of the biggest names in basketball: Johnson, Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar. That man should be reminded that entertainment and sport were among the first US industries to respect talent, irrespective of skin colour – not the last.

I realise that celebrity is the new religion in the west, vying only with environmentalism for the top spot. But what I don’t get is the necessity for a mass display of public grief for a public figure unknown to most of us, such as we saw for Princess Diana. Whatever happened to acknowledging the loss, should you feel it, quietly at home?

Remember the flowers outside Buckingham Palace? That first small gesture was enormously touching. But what was the point of everybody else spending a couple of quid on a bunch of cheap chrysanthemums from the local shop? You’d have been better off surprising your elderly neighbour with the gesture, than have it lost amid all the others. That one single floral tribute on its own signified so much more than the truckloads that eventually went off in the warmth.

I was never a Princess Diana admirer, either. Nor did I ever rush to buy a publication with her in it, either before or after she died. But I was very sad that a young woman was hounded to death at the age of 36 leaving behind two young sons. In the same vein, why would anyone rush out to buy a Michael Jackson CD just because he died? Surely if you liked his music, you’d already have it. It all screams of mass hysteria to me. And hysteria has never been synonymous with reason. In the months after Diana’s death, British health authorities announced a sharp drop in reported cases of depression and related mental illnesses. The decrease was linked to the affected people dealing with their personal issues via the loss of the princess. It was a literal transferral of grief.

Perhaps the best example of mass-media madness was the furore surrounding the O.J. Simpson saga. I was living in Australia at the time and watched the frenzy in disbelief with reports of media breaking into scheduled programming all over the world to carry the vehicle pursuit live. Having lived in the US, I was aware of Simpson. He used to co-host Monday Night Football, having been a professional player himself. He also had a few minor film roles to his credit, but was largely unknown outside North America.

That didn’t stop the worldwide media from carrying the story all day, every day for months. A Tasmanian friend mentioned it one day in conversation. “Did you know who he was?” I asked. “No,” she said apologetically, “I’d never heard of him before,” as if that was a shortcoming. And yet there she was following the story, chapter and verse.

Why the hell should she have known who he was? Can you see NBC or CBS interrupt programming over there to breathlessly announce that Colin Meads had gone mad in the King Country? Or that Waka Nathan was terrorising Tauranga? Ah, but OJ was an American celebrity, so the world’s media was transfixed and the world along with it.

Rose Van Wylich might disagree. Sunday’s early TRN news carried the story of the young Christchurch woman who plans to set up a local Michael Jackson fan club so New Zealand fans can “come together. We are there for you and we understand that this is going to be a long mourning process,” she said. She went on to say that some fans were “blanking out completely” because they don’t want to acknowledge Jackson’s passing. I suspect those same individuals have been ‘blanked out’ for some time.

Rose, bless her, is busy. She’s planning to hold three memorial services in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on the day of Jackson’s funeral in Los Angeles so local fans can farewell him. A quick internet search unearthed that Rose “has a passion for most everything creative, even if it is something I don’t want to pursue for myself.” Among her interests She lists “litterature” and “Ameture theatre group preformances” [sic, and sic, and sic again]. Let’s hope that Rose’s organisational skill is better than her spelling.

Perhaps the last word belongs to one of those cerebral giants of popular culture, the sports reporters. Doug Golightly said on Newstalk ZB that “all sportsmen will be lining up to pay tribute to him. I know Beckham is going to come out and make a statement right across the US .. I don’t know whether Tiger Woods will say anything .. he and Michael Jordan tend to stay away from that sort of thing .. neither of them came out and had a huge go for 9/11 .. it was a bit disappointing, really.”

Says whom? Good for Woods and Jordan for sticking to their knitting, I say. Beckham should stick to soccer and fashion and silly women, and Tiger Woods on 9/11 makes about as much sense as Winston Churchill on the subject of cheese.

Doug wasn’t finished unfortunately. “It’s times like these that you look to your iconic sportsmen to stand up and speak on behalf of sports fans”, he said. Hell, I hope he’s excluding the NRL from that, otherwise we are screwed! [Ed – “we”?]

Who knows what really went on in the life and mind of Michael Jackson. For all the fame, wealth and adulation I wouldn’t have traded our lives for a second. At least he won’t be witnessing the absurd mass grief that will have been forgotten five minutes after the funeral or hear the nasty jokes doing the current rounds. Or, even worse, watch the crocodile tears being shed by the same media-ocrities who were all too quick to take pot-shots when he was alive. R.I.P., Michael Jackson.

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

‘Toilers of the Sea’ : ‘Heavy Weather, La Durande’ – Victor Hugo


“Had you decided to become a painter instead of a writer,” wrote painter Eugene Delacroix to author Victor Hugo, “you would have outshone the artists of their century.”

Here Hugo illustrates a scene from his own novel,The Toilers of the Sea, showing perhaps that Delacroix had a point.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Monday morning ramble [updated]

There’s a few things I‘ve been meaning to talk to you about for a while . . .

  • Adolf from No Minister arrived home last night “from ten days of indolent inebriation and gluttony in the delightful Republic of Fiji.” And what about the politics of the joint? “Nowhere did I hear a bad word about Commodore Bainimarama. We know a number of businesspeople in the Nandi area and their commentary was revealing along with that of taxi drivers, hotel staff and local roadside stall holders. There is widespread anger and it is directed not at the local regime but at New Zealand and Australia.”  Read Wish I Was Still There.
  • “Non-seasonally adjusted CPI” -- “core inflation” – it’s hard to know what to worry about when official economists so frequently tinker with their indices to make them look better.  Read Bob Murphy on More Tinkering With Official Price Statistics.
  • It’s a really bad look when your Federal Reserve chairman resorts to the “I don’t recall” line when being questioned under oath about threats and dishonesty by the Fed over Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch.  Mish has ten points showing why Bernanke is a Total Failure Unsuited for Role as Fed Chairman, concluding “Bernanke is a disingenuous liar with a memory problem. He is also an economic dunce who does not understand the cause of great depression nor could he spot a housing/credit bubble visible to nearly every blogger in the country.”
    All the more fuel for Congressman Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill, which now has the support of over half the House. And no wonder.  The office that has devalued the purchasing power of the dollar by 95 times since its inception in 1913 has, uniquely, never been subject to audit.  “Why in the world should this much power be given to a Federal Reserve that has the authority to create $1 trillion secretly?” asks Ron Paul.
    It’s not as sexy an idea as ‘End the Fed,’ but it’s a start, right?
  • Meanwhile, the US Congress has passed a 1,200-page Climate Bill that Congress was Not Even Allowed to Read.  Peter Schiff has read it, or at least the summary page, and he talked about to Glenn Beck the night before the vote.  See it here . Or here:
  • Historian John Lewis weighs in against the arguments supporting the 1200 pages of gobbledegook:
    • “Predictions of a coming disaster are shown to be a-historical in both the long term and the short term, to involve shifting predictions that are contrary to evidence, and to be opposed by many scientists. The political proposals to alleviate this alleged problem—especially plans by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—are shown to offer no alternative to fossil fuels, and to portend a major economic decline and permanent losses of liberty. The anthropogenic global warming claims are largely motivated not by science, but by a desire for socialist intervention on a national and a global scale. Neither the claims to an impending climate catastrophe nor the political proposals attached to those claims should be accepted.”
    • And he sends a succinct letter to his Congressman on the matter.
  • By the way, Lewis’s forthcoming book, from which regular NOT PC readers would already have read excerpts, is about to enjoy its “pre-publication book launch.” Read all about it here: “Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History.”
  • And astonishingly, “The day before the House was to vote on [the] controversial energy bill, destined to be the largest tax hike in American history, it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency had suppressed an internal report challenging the entire global warming myth.  Despite the importance of this study, and how it related to a debate about to ensue on the House floor, its existence and suppression went almost completely ignored by America's media.” [Hat tip Crusader Rabbit]  The Competitive Enterprise Institute has obtained a copy of the study and discusses it here. The censored study itself can be found here.
  • Robert Bryce talks about cap and trade (i.e., the 2009 Lawyer-Lobbyist Full Employment Act) at the Daily Beast. Read: How Wall Street Will Ruin the Environment. And on a related note, read Darn Bakst’s The Renewable Energy Scam at National Review.
  • Should Keynes have a seat at the G20 table? asks Stephen Kirchner in the Australian Financial Review. “The collapse of traditional Keynesian economic thinking was not just theoretical. The demise of Keynesianism in theory was largely inspired by decades of failed Keynesian policy practice. . .  As the current enthusiasm of the G20 for fiscal stimulus demonstrates, its failure is not for want of trying.”  The basic truth: “Activist fiscal policy doesn’t work, because governments cannot generate new economic activity. They can only redistribute the income and wealth of the private sector. . .”  Kirchner concludes:
    • ”The relevance of Keynes today is little changed from his relevance to the 1930s. Keynes provided a fig-leaf of intellectual respectability for the bad policies governments have always been tempted to implement. While politicians have never needed much encouragement to spend our money, there will always be a strong demand for pseudo-scientific doctrines to rationalise their actions.”
  • A group of physicists say that mainstream economic theory should disappear from text books over time because it has been falsified.  “There is little or nothing in existing micro- or
    macroeconomics texts that is of value for understanding real markets,” they conclude.  Over to you, mainstreamers.
  • New Scientist magazine explains how to unleash your brain’s inner genius.  Something economists might like to think about?
  • How bad is the recession?  Check out this graph showing New York contemporary art sales 2004-2009.  That’s how bad.  But given the state of contemporary NY art, you might decide it’s a good?
  • Building permits are supposed to be the means by which local governments eliminate “public safety hazards,” but have long since transcended such beginnings. They are now routinely used to use and abuse property-owners, says Tim Sandefur of Cato.  Read Government Abuse of Building Permit Power.
  • In response to such stuff, a chap called Joe Reed writes to his local “zoning board” explaining how they are violating a neighbour’s rights, and how they could do better.  Read What Can One Do?
  • Who are the new Sons of Liberty? asks historical novelist Edward Cline?
    • “I will reply that we are the new Sons of Liberty. We’re all over the place. You will recall that the Sons of Liberty, for about ten years leading up to Concord and Bunker Hill, communicated with each other all over the colonies through committees of correspondence, trading intelligence, ideas, strategies, and progress reports. The new committees are facilitated by the Internet. Fundamentally, there is no difference between their functions, except the element of time. It might have taken two weeks for correspondence from Boston and Sam Adams to reach Richmond and Richard Henry Lee. Now, it takes mere seconds for anyone‘s communications to reach a hundred times the number of addressees.”
    • So who exactly is this “we”?
      ”Here’s another parallel: In the Founders’ time, before the Declaration, opposition to Crown policies was expressed by a number of groups. Call them 18th century “libertarians,” religious based groups, conservatives, and the like. But by the time of Bunker Hill and the second Continental Congress, most of them were agreed on the fundamentals of why the colonies should separate from the Crown. We are in the same situation today. Religious groups, libertarians, conservatives, and other groups opposed to Obama and the Democratic Congress’s policies are all vying for attention and trying to dominate especially the Tea Parties. But Objectivism is the only philosophy that offers a consistently rational politics. None of the other forces do.”
  • Great news for New Zealanders involved in the Ayn Rand essay competitions: the Ayn Rand Institute reports “that the 2008-09 Ayn Rand Institute high school essay contests have set an all-time record for student participation.”
  • 'If a biography is a selective account of someone's life according to the author's judgments about what is important, what makes for a good (or bad) biography?'"  Burgess Laughlin answers the question at The Nearby Pen.
  • The Atlantic has published a glowing eulogy of William F. Buckley by Garry Wills which Gus Van Horn highly recommends -- “but with one proviso..."
  • Rational Jenn offers more rational guidance on child-care: “Helping the kids through the steps of solving their own conflicts--rather than solving their problems for them--gives them good chances to practice Objectivist virtues,” says Jenn. “Even though the process sure takes a long time!"
  • To Know Capitalism Is to Love Capitalism says Doug Reich at The Rational Capitalist, saying, "Modern writers implicitly define capitalism by non-essentials with the consequence that capitalism is often regarded to be something approximating its antithesis. Properly defining the concept of capitalism is half the battle.”
  • Speaking of capitalism, The Objective Standard has An Interview with a “Capitalist Pig”. That is, an interview with Jonathan Hoenig, manager of the CapitalistPig Hedge Fund, on Hedge Funds, the Economic Crisis, and the Future of America.  You’ll need to subscribe to read the full interview (which is worth ever penny), but if you like your interviews free than read their feature interview from the previous issue: Yaron Brook on Atlas Shrugged and the World Today -- especially why, more than fifty years ago, Rand was able to project the kinds of crises we are seeing today.
  • While we’re talking The Objective Standard, if you’re a New Zealand subscriber you will have enjoyed Monica Hughes’s Brief History of U.S. Farm Policy and the Need for Free-Market Agriculture – something NZers have known for at least twenty years.
  • Can China Transform its Mode of Growth?  Mark DeWeaver looks at the prospects.
  • NapoleonKrugman For some reason, alleged economist Paul Krugman still commands respect in some circles.  This is the same Paul Krugman who back in 2002 called for Alan Greenspan “to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble”; the same Paul Krugman who’s since been suggesting that doesn’t mean what it says; the same Paul Krugman who earns the definitive smackdown by Lilburne in as Krugman's Intellectual Waterloo.
  • Speaking of smackdowns, Dr Shaun Holt continues his dismantling on Breakfast TV and Newstalk ZB of local health charlatans. 
  • Online historian Scott Powell is about to start another round of European History, and ideal course for home-schoolers taught in Scott’s uniquely easy-to-learn method of History by Induction.  Learn more about the course here: HistoryAtOurHouse European History Curriculum Summary.
  • property freedom If you’ve got some spare time, then book mark the videos from the recent European Property and Freedom conference, featuring presentations by the likes of Jörg Guido Hülsmann on ‘The Great Crash of 2009,’ Robert Higgs on ‘The Costs of the American Empire,’ Theodore Dalrymple on ‘In Praise of Prejudice,’ and  Sean Gabb on ‘What is the Ruling Class?’ 
    See all 27 here at the Property & Freedom Society conference website.
  • Who would have thought it.  Aucklanders don’t like being told what to do.  They don’t like living where planners want them to, or how planners try to make them live.  But they should be made to, say the planners.
  • Luke Malpass argues that even though the Key Government campaigned on reforming welfare, as the recession bites deeper it looks far more like they’re incentivising welfare.
  • The abortion “debate” begun when an anti-abortionist gunned down Dr George Tiller in his church ended up going nowhere.  There’s a simple reason for that, folks.  As Tom Bowden points out, “Laws against abortion are products of religious faith.”
  • I meant to post this after Obama’s Cairo speech.  In his speech in Cairo, President Barack Obama made the following statement:

    As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

    This statement is completely false. The president's error is in attributing "Islam" to the accomplishments of the Arab world of a thousand years ago. The president couldn't be more wrong.  Read The Charlotte Capitalist find out why, and to learn some real history about the Dark Ages of both Islam and the West.

And finally, here’s a pic just published of a young Barack Obama in his schooldays:


Entrepreneurial alcoholism

My correspondent from Otara swears this is a true story. Recently a routine police patrol car parked outside a local neighbourhood pub. Late in the evening the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so Intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the car park for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing.

After what seemed an eternity and trying his keys on five vehicles, the man managed to find his car, which he fell into.  He was there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on  and off (it was a fine dry night). Then flicked the indicators on,  then off, tooted the horn and then switched on the lights.

He moved the vehicle forward a few cm, reversed a little and then remained stationary for a few more minutes as some more vehicles left.

At last he pulled out of the car park and started to drive slowly down the road.  The police officer, having patiently waited all this time,now started up the patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and carried out a random breathalyser test.

To his amazement the breathalyser indicated no evidence of the man's Intoxication. The Police officer said "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station - this breathalyser equipment must be broken."

"I doubt it bro," said the man, "tonight I'm the designated decoy."

Quote of the day: Paterson on profits

After being startled to discover that even economists don’t understand the difference between production and consumption (one might say “especially economists”) I resolved to write a short piece explaining the difference. 

My problem is making it short.  So in the meantime, here’s Isabel Paterson on the connection between profits and production:

Production is profit; and profit is production. They are not merely related; they are the same thing. When a man plants potatoes, if he does not get back more than he put in, he has produced nothing.”

Simple, huh.  Leonard Peikoff expands the point:

The amount of a businessman’s profit indicates how much his customers value his product over the factors constituting his input to the enterprise. Profit thus measures exactly the creation of wealth by the profit-maker. Loss indicates people’s lower evaluation of the output than the input; loss thus measures the destruction of wealth.

Consumption might be equated with loss.  We produce for the sake of consumption – that’s undoubtedly true – but for all that consumption does drives wealth creation, it is no less a destruction of wealth for that.  Perhaps the best short statement connecting the concepts of production and consumption is this: “Don't eat your seed corn.”

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Going to Jackson

There’s still apparently only one piece of news out there – and to quote David Slack it’s ‘Bye, Bye, You Peculiar Guy.’

Working on the basis that one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead without good reason, I don’t feel the need to be as ungracious as Mark Steyn’s ‘Beyond the Pale.’ I didn’t care for Michael Jackson’s music, but that’s no reason to set the dogs on him now.  Which makes Lindsay Perigo’s short tribute all the more appropriate:

There was no denying the talent, energy and charisma that made him stand out from his siblings in the Jackson Five right from the get-go. I don't know if the allegations about his private life were true , but I do believe they were often driven by mercenary opportunism. He claimed to like children for the reason that they were the only human beings who told the truth. This, as the adult world persecuted him because of his talent and eccentricity, was at least understandable. The world is certainly less colourful for his passing.

Short and to the point.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Montessori course kicks off in Mt Eden

Yesterday we celebrated the formal opening of New Zealand’s first full-time internationally accredited face-to-face Montessori training course – in other words, the first genuine Montessori teacher-training course this country has seen, presented by the good folk at the Maria Montessori Education Foundation.

Why does that matter? Because if we’re ever going to change this culture to one that values reason over nonsense – productivity over idleness - individualism over the ant-heap of tribalism and collectivism – then Dr Montessori’s system of education, which promotes these life-giving values, will be in the vanguard.

The Montessori philosophy of education offers much more than just a philosophy of education: It is an essential aid to life. Said Dr Maria Montessori, “The first step, is then to help the child develop all his functions as a free individual and to foster that development of personality that actuates social organisation."  Which means the first first-step is to develop teachers who can do that.

That first first-step began yesterday afternoon.

Visit the Maria Montessori Education Foundation website to find out more.  In the meantime, here’s a few snaps of the opening.

Rose Phillips from the Montessori Association of NZ set the scene for the fifty or so there to celebrate the opening.RosePhillips

Stephen Arnold, the former principal of Wellington’s Athena College and now principal of Queensland’s largest Montessori secondary school flew over to do the ‘keynote’ opening honours.StephenArnold_MMEF

Carol Potts, the driving force behind setting up the course, and the fender-off of the slings and arrows of outrageous nonsense from NZQA.Carol_MMEF

And Cheryl Ferreira, one of the worlds leading Montessori trainers and the director of training for this course.  The students don’t yet know just how lucky they are!Cheryl-MMEF

And of course, no celebration would be complete without a cake.  :-)

If only your photographer hadn’t muffed his shot so badly when the MMEF trustees got together to cut it . . .


Friday, 26 June 2009

Treasury gives BERL’s alcohol report another smack

BERL’s now disgraced report on “the social costs” of alcohol use “is work that doesn’t look like it meets the ‘normal standards you would expect’,” says Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Dr Peter Bushnell. “I can see the point being made in the article – it looks pretty shonky.”

Bushnell of the Treasury is essentially agreeing with the demolition of BERL’s report by Eric Crampton of Canterbury University and Matt Burgess of Victoria (reported here and here at NOT PC).

And Eric Crampton reckons the problems with this BERL report belie a more general problem with economic consultancy reports, “in that there needs to be somebody looking at the Requests For Proposals (RFPs) that a ministry sends out, and checking the results when they come in.”

I think he could have stopped with “a problem with economic consultancy reports.”

Meanwhile, BERL are still yet to comment on Treasury’s bollocking of their work.  At this point, the last word from “BERL Chief Economist Ganesh Nana” is that “BERL stands by its report.”  If that’s still the case, I’d suggest you start discounting everything they say.

UPDATEPaul Walker comments at his Anti Dismal blog:

    The interesting thing here is that this is a very strong statement coming from a very senior member of the Treasury. It is unusual to see such statements. Treasury can not be happy.
    The NBR also says,

Sir Geoffrey [who commissioned the report and has already started making gravy with it] was overseas when contacted by NBR, and has declined to comment on the matter thus far.

    Is he running for cover? It will be interesting to see what he says, if anything, on the matter when he returns from overseas.

Alternative energy schemes costing Spanish taxes, jobs

So much for the  so called “Green New Deal” – it’s as flawed as the first New Deal.  So much for so called renewable energy: -- as I’ve said before, its defining characteristic is that it is “energy produced by means that would be uneconomic without such tax breaks and subsidies.”

Latest evidence for the prosecution: Spanish taxpayers’ forced “investment” in ‘renewable energy' has destroyed more jobs than it created, while subsidising them at absurdly high costs.  Read ‘Spain Tilts At Windmills And Pays Price.’  Here’s an excerpt [hat tip Jeff Perren]:

    Spanish professor [Gabriel Calzada] is puzzled. Why,  wonders [the economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos], is the U.S. president recommending that America emulate the Spanish model for creating "green jobs" in "alternative energy" even though Spain's unemployment rate is 18.1% — more than double the European Union average — partly because of spending on such jobs. . .
    Calzada says Spain's torrential spending — no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources — on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs.
    But Calzada's report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies. Wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation . . .  Calzada says the creation of jobs in alternative energy has subtracted about 110,000 jobs from elsewhere in Spain's economy.

Sounds so insane it’s no wonder local Greens like the idea.  Featherbedding for featherheads.  As Tom Woods says, throwing the Broken Window Fallacy at the whole Green New Deal crap:

I won't ask if they think [people] are this stupid, since they obviously do. Leaving aside the question of whether carbon needs to be capped, since that has nothing to do with whether doing so "creates jobs" on net, is there a non-drone, non-bought-and-paid-for human being on this earth who thinks throwing obstacles in the path of production "creates jobs" in a non-trivial sense? Couldn't I, with equal justification, say that forcing every business to destroy its roof and then build a new one out of clay, or chopping off every third worker's right hand, would create an analogous series of jobs?

Moral of the story?  There are at least two.  First, the problem with job creation at this time and any time is not about creating jobs at any cost but, as George Reisman tells Paul Krugman, it’s about creating productive jobs at prices employers can afford.

And second, there’s only two kinds of energy production: energy that costs more to produce than it delivers, and energy that doesn’t. Guess which kind “renewable energy” is.

NB: You can download Calzada’s report here: Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources.

Farrah Fawcett, 1947-2009

164719614_25221fde7d_o By special request, the poster that once adorned several million teenage walls.  And it wasn’t only teenage boys who were big fans of Farrah and of Charlie’s Angels in which she starred– betya didn’t know that Ayn Rand was a big fan too, calling the show a “triumph of concept and casting.”

“Oops! admits French rugby player

“I was drunk and fell over, admits Bastareaud” – NZ HERALD

So Wellington's streets are safe to walk around at 5:27am in the morning.

So foreign teams are safe drinking around Courtenay Place after their games.

So there’s nothing to embarrass Wellingtonians in advance of the Rugby World Cup – apart from the obvious reasons.

And once again a Frenchmen has underestimated the investigative powers of the New Zealand police.

Which leaves just one question: is the name Mathieu Bastareaud French for Mark Blumsky?

Quote of the day: Frank Lloyd Wright on roads

Speaking to Russel Norman as if it were today, instead of back in 193s when he said:

The road is a symbol of individual freedom. Cars aren't simply contemporary or modern, they represent democracy itself. The technology to cross and to communicate long distance facilitates: air, light and freedom of movement.”

It’s no accident that his name for his concept for America, Broadacre City, has the word “road” embedded at its heart.


Tricoteuse – William Bougereau (1879)


‘Tricoteuse’ is the French word for someone, especially a woman, who knits.  Someone such as the old women who famously sat and knitted while above them Madame Guillotine carried out her daily shaving  of heads – a ceremony called by some enthusiasts “the red mass.”

So is this just a young girl knitting?  Or, since nothing in art is unintentional, is something more intended?  What clues are there in the painting?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Quote of the Day: Vaclav Havel on reacting to Iranian evil

The hero who led Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution that threw off Soviet rule has a few thoughts on what is possible in response to Iranian protests, and the Mullahs’ crackdown”

    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  “is a man possessed. Unfortunately we are living at a time when a man possessed could easily inflict damage to a lot of people, due to modern technology.
    “What is possible and what I would repeatedly warn against is the policy of compromise and the notion that if we don’t provoke evil, it will just go away by itself. On the contrary, that would just make it stronger.”

[Source: Bloomberg News.  Hat tip Reason’s Hit and Run.]standby

PS: You might be interested in what I had to say  about Vaclav Havel on the occasion of the political retirement of the great man.

PPS: An account by a young participant in the Velvet Revolution, at the time an apparently hopeless cause, might help to explain why young people are taking to Iranian streets in an apparently hopeless cause. She writes:

    I was then a teenager, with a twist - I knew that I had no control over my future and that I faced two choices only. In order to blend in, accept the evil around me in exchange for a semblance of a 'normal' life. Or follow in my parents' footsteps and forsake all that is considered good and rewarding in a healthy society, such as higher education, travel, even family and potentially freedom. I may have been very young but, alas, not young enough to be blind to the full horrors of such life. After all I had seen those around me living with similar decisions. As it happens, that choice was not real - having been part of the dissident movement, I was weighted, marked and tagged as the enemy of the state. I belonged to the dark forces undermining the society - a phrase so beloved of the communist media.
    I remember the nervous elation of the 'now or never' moment, as we walked to the main square to meet thousands of others who felt the same. It was a powerful sensation to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people knowing that they are there for the same reason - an experience unprecedented in a fractured and diseased society under communism...

PPPS: Cartoonist John Cox reckons

Charles Krauthammer is wonderfully succinct describing how the Obama administration is sitting the bench during Iran's tumultuous election fallout. Please read this excellent editorial.

I strongly concur.  Read: Hope and Change -- but Not for Iran, by Charles Krauthammer.


State house tenants to become home-owners. Cool! [update 2]

Time to praise a rare sighting of good government from this government.  National’s policy allowing state house tenants to buy “their” homes from September is almost all good.  As I said back when this idea was first floated:

    That's very good. That's very, very good. When Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives allowed sitting council house tenants to buy at a heavy discount the houses in which they lived it was enormously popular (indeed, her "right-to-buy housing revolution" as it was dubbed was the first enormously popular thing her Conservative Government had done) and enormously successful, and there's no reason it wouldn't be both successful and popular here.
    In the UK after introduction of Thatcher's 1980 Housing Act, home ownership grew from 55 % of the population in 1980 to 64 % in 1987; by the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 it was 67 %. That's a huge jump, and it inspired a huge change in fortunes, and in expectations.
    With "right-to-buy" Thatcher wanted to create a social revolution, and she did. By 1995 2.1 million working class tenants had become members of the "property-owning democracy," changing Britain and these people's lives for the better. This is one thing I'm very pleased that the Nats have learned from the Tories (albeit twenty-seven years late), and very pleased to see Key's Pink Tories even talking about privatisation . . . any privatisation at all.

Sadly, it’s not all good. 

There was no suggestion at all that the houses could be bought at a hefty discount, which is what helped make Thatcher’s scheme so successful.  Further, the announcement from housing minister Phil Heatley included news of “a boost” for first-home buyers – i.e., an increase in government-subsidised (i.e., taxpayer-funded) mortgages for first-home buyers that will only help lift the price of starter homes.

And finally, it was accompanied by news that the money earned from these state house sales will be used to build even more state houses.  Which rather misses the whole point, don’t you think?

UPDATE 1:  There’s a good debate on this going on at Cactus’s place.

UPDATE 2: Lindsay Mitchell calls it “Sleight of hand socialism.”

NOT PJ: If you’re hapu and you know it

This week Bernard Darnton examines the cheques and balances in the immigration industry.
While the pace of nationalisation has slowed, it doesn’t look as if anything will get sold any time soon. The previous government may have believed in state ownership of the means of production (if by some fantastic leap of imagination you can call the railways productive) but it’s not clear what the current government believes in.

If you want to see any privatisation in a hurry you’re going to have to do it yourself. That’s the path taken by Gerard Otimi, tracked down by a self-congratulatory TV news crew selling fake visas to overstayers. While the real immigration service is beset by long queues and incompetent staff, Otimi’s rubber-stamp operation was quick and efficient. $500 bought you a passport stamp and the dubious protection of Otimi’s hapu, no questions asked. No doubt one of the missing articles of the Treaty of Waitangi would make it all clear.

Tennis Court Oath – Jacques Louis David


The Tennis Court Oath, taken by the French National Assembly on June 20 1789, “considering that it has been summoned to establish the constitution of the kingdom.” It ended in a victory for “The Third Estate,” and the beginning of the end for the Monarchy. And lo, a terrible beauty was born.

You can almost see the winds of change blowing through . . .

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The credit/debt delusion: The faster you go, the bigger the mess

debt-mgmt-cartoon New Zealand farmers are in debt to the tune of $45 billion, 61% of which is in the dairy sector, leaving dairy farmers “reliant on continuing asset gains as income was never going to meet debt-servicing commitments” says Fran O’Sullivan in the Business Herald.  In other words, we’re looking at an agricultural debt bubble that is only being held up by an agricultural asset bubble the debt itself has helped to inflate.

Oh dangerous times.

Many farmers have apparently been riding the bubble -- "farming for asset gains" the Agriculture Production Economics report calls it – leaving them exposed on three fronts:

1. Debt is a problem throughout NZ agriculture, but at the farm level it is still highly concentrated.
2. Where that farm debt is highly concentrated - eg, at least 20 per cent of New Zealand's dairy farm production - it is such that farms cannot, and will not ever, meet their debt servicing commitments even under the most promising payout and interest rate scenarios. This is New Zealand's equivalent to US sub-prime lending: reliant on continuing asset gains as income was never going to meet debt-servicing commitments.
3. The issue is building as its destructiveness compounds along with the debt. The real questions are as to the detonator, the timing and how well the consequences are handled.

No debt bubble has ended well, and as O’Sullivan points out this one is unlikely to be an exception.  Writing in 1931, two years after the great stock market crash, author Garet Garrett gives some lessons for 2009 and beyond in his book A Bubble that Broke the World a debt bubble built (at first) on the back of unpaid yet ever-expanding war debts, and subsequently on the back of the Federal Reserve’s printing press. (What George Reisman calls counterfeit capital.) Said Garrett, back then:

    Organized credit is relatively strange in economic life. New and experimental forms of it are continually being invented and we love to deceive ourselves with them. We forget that credit in any form represents debt in some other form. We know about ourselves, that we have seizures of ecstasy and mass delusion. We know that a time may come when the temptation to throw the monetary machine into wild motion, so that everybody may become infinitely rich by means of infinite debt, will rise to the pitch of mania as it did, for example, in 1928 and 1929.
    For a while the difficulty of not knowing what anything is worth inflames the ecstasy. Everything will be priced higher and higher to make sure that it is high enough; there will be the illusion that things are becoming dear and scarce. They seem to be dear because the value of money in which they are priced is falling; they seem to be scarce because people are buying in the expectation that prices will go higher still. Suddenly doubt appears, then comes awakening, and - panic. The faith is lost... This is the financial crisis...

Garrett talks about the “delusion of credit,” a mass delusion as widespread now as it was in the 1920s. And as destructive.

    The general shape of this universal delusion may be indicated by three of its familiar features.
First, the idea that the panacea for debt is credit. . .

6a00d8354d172669e200e5527867c78833-800wi Borrow and spend; borrow more and spend more . . . borrow more to make your payments on the earlier borrowing . . . that’s not a “recipe for success” but a formula for destruction reliant on an ever-expanding credit line.  In other words, a pyramid based on The Reserve Bank’s printing press.

Second, a social and political doctrine, now widely accepted, beginning with the premise that people are entitled to certain betterments of life. If they cannot immediately afford them, that is, if out of their own resources these betterments cannot be provided, nevertheless people are entitled to them, and credit must provide them. . .

An oh so familiar plaint.

Third, the argument that prosperity is a product of credit, whereas from the beginning of economic thought it had been supposed that prosperity was from the increase and exchange of wealth, and credit was its product.

Prosperity is so very far from being a product of credit that it is almost one-hundred and eighty degrees wrong to suppose that it is – in that the delusion that prosperity is a product of credit wipes out the pool of real savings that has been created by the increase and exchange of wealth, and on which further wealth creation actually depends.  Frank Shostak explained the destruction back in 2005:

    Let us now examine the effect of monetary expansion [in the form of Reserve Bank-created credit] on the pool of real savings. The expanded money supply was never earned, i.e., goods and services do not back it up, so to speak—it was created out of  “thin air.” When such money is exchanged for goods it in fact amounts to consumption that is not supported by production. (As a rule it leads to nonproductive consumption).
Consequently, a holder of honest money, i.e. an individual who has produced real wealth that wants to exercise his claim over goods, discovers that he cannot get back all the goods he previously produced and exchanged for money. In short, he discovers that the purchasing power of his money has fallen—he has in fact been robbed by means of loose monetary policy.

“Robbed by means of loose monetary policy.”  That’s as true for creditors as is for debtors, and everyone in between.

NB: You can buy Garrett’s book at the Mises Store, or download the PDF here.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Big government and other sins

In which Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

  1. “Iacocca speaks out about carmakers' bailout” – Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler and developer of the Ford Mustang, offered some sage advice to the future bosses at his old company and at General Motors: Get the government out of your business as soon as possible. He almost had it right. Ultimately, it is better not to let politicians and bureaucrats into your business in the first place. Like me, Iacocca is impressed with the Ford Motor Company’s refusal (during the current economic correction) to take government loans, and its avoidance of bankruptcy protection. Another former basket case, Fiat, has taken over the reins at Chrysler, and can hopefully restructure the auto giant so it can trade its way out of trouble. But if a corporation such as General Motors finds that no-one will buy its cars, it should be allowed to fail, and its employees released to find meaningful work elsewhere. Otherwise their jobs become just more government make-work, with no relevance to the services and products that people actually want to buy.   
  2. “Goff Mocks PM Over Employment Promise – The man they call Leader of the Opposition (even though he and John Key sing from the same hymn book on most issues) dissed the PM’s nine-day fortnight scheme. And rightly so. What a load of bollocks it was - likewise the green cycleway. Now that 1100 people a week are becoming dole beneficiaries, the pathetic numbers of people kept in non-viable jobs through government interference is an embarrassment for the Key administration. The leaders of both major political parties would do well to heed the words of Henry Morgenthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary, who remarked in 1939: "We have tried spending money. We have spent more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. We have never made good on our promises. I say, after 8 years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started, and an enormous debt to boot."
  3. “Harvey pushes for Matariki to be public holiday– Helen Clark’s mate Bob Harvey wants another public holiday but doesn’t say who’s going to pay for it all. Employers spokesman David Lowe estimates such a holiday would cost employers over $270m, for a reduction in productivity. Easy for Bob and the Maori Party to suggest another holiday when it’s being financed by Other People’s Money, and in a time of recession. Poor old Bob also wondered yesterday whether King’s Birthday, if Charles becomes the British monarch, would be shifted to November. He doesn’t seem to realize that the current monarch’s birthday is in April. If I recall correctly, one of QE2’s predecessors shifted commemoration of the Sovereign’s birthday to June to make sure it fell during the British summer.
  4. “We’re Getting Richer, But The Gap Is Widening – More fodder for the envoys of envy such as Jim Anderton, Sue Bradford and the editors of Salient and Nexus student rags. Yes, on average Aucklanders are getting richer, even the people in the lowest socio-economic groups. But those robber barons in the richest areas of Auckland are getting richer at a faster rate, so there must be something wrong. It’s the same old story - Jim and his mates want equality of outcome, regardless of merit, regardless of productivity, and regardless of the self-discipline and delayed gratification required to succeed in private business. What they fail to realize is that ultimately it is the capitalist system that lifts people out of poverty, and improves the living standards of everyone. Even when that capitalist system is corrupted by statist politicians via taxation and regulation, there is just enough freedom permitted so that people can prosper - provided they are willing to help themselves. That darling of the socialists, the “growing gap between rich and poor” is, to the average punter from North Korea, the gap between the very wealthy and the less wealthy. Of course, the difference between New Zealand and North Korea is that here, we enjoy smaller government, lower taxes, a semblance of property rights, and the rule of laws intended to protect individual rights. Though the Clark regime took us in the direction of North Korea, New Zealanders still have enough freedom to be able to improve their own lives by their own efforts. People like Anderton don’t seem to believe that’s a good thing.       

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

You’ve got to be in to waste your money

I don't know about you, but I've heard a lot of people talking up their chances in tonight's big lottery.

Here's a couple of things to think about before you start spending what you hope will be your winnings.

You have a similar chance of your ticket winning this draw as you do of drowning in the bath. Or being run over by a bus. But I don't see anybody spending time obsessing about possibilities like these.

In fact, the chances of your ticket winning in this lottery is something like 1 in sixty-million.  And since one-chance-in-a-very-large-number is a number very close to zero (and the larger the number the closer it is to zero), this means you have roughly the same chance of winning whether you have a ticket or not.

Interesting, no?

I know a lot of people who buy a Lotto ticket for a bit of “fun” – but I confess I’ve never quite understood where the “fun” comes in when you’re throwing away money you can’t really afford to lose.  And I know a few people for whom the “hope” of winning, however small, is the only hope they ever give themselves of turning their lives around -- the hope of some sort of escape that can be delivered without effort.  I confess I’d much rather see them exchange the uncertain “hope” of a winning Lotto ticket for the far more certain success of education, entrepreneurialism and hard work, but the seductive siren or reward without effort has them hooked.

But I’ve won something on Lotto.  Since Lotto started in 1985, I've probably won around $6000. I've "won" that by not spending five dollars a week buying a ticket.

How much have you "won."

Death of Marat - Jacques-Louis David


A revolution gone wrong.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Hail to The Stig

Just because we wanted Michael Schumacher to be The Stig, doesn' t mean he always was The Stig.

David MacGregor: Iran, Freedom & Revolution

David McGregor is the head of Sovereign Life and the author of what is still the most popular post here at NOT PC (Google global+economic+financial+crisis+causes++solutions and you’ll see what I mean).  Here are his thoughts on the tinderbox in Iran:

NoSurrender The protests in Iran are dominating the news online and off - and rightly so.

Although I have no proof, it would appear that significant voting irregularities have occurred, and been a catalyst for people disenchanted with the way things are to get out on to the street and protest.

What’s amazing though, is the way people from all over the world have warmed to the Iranian cause - and perhaps for the first time seen Iranians as human individuals like the rest of us, rather than simply robotic extensions of a theocratic system.

Hopes are high. The cry for freedom is universal and watching those brave young people stand up and defy their rulers is something to celebrate for sure. However, it is at times like this that clarification of purpose and reading between the lines is required.

While many people are quick to use the words “democracy” and “freedom” in the same phrase, as if they were identical, I would caution against treating them with equal reverence.

What the Iranians, and all of us, want and need is freedom - not democracy. Democracy is fraudulent freedom - something we already have far too much of in the “free” world. I would urge Iranians to demand the real thing - true individual freedom.

How do you define freedom? I would define it simply as this: freedom is that state of being where you are fully in control of your own life and property. And a free society is one in which such freedom is enjoyed by everyone - equally. No “ifs” and no “buts.”

By that definition no country on earth is fully free - being ruled by an elite political class representing the “state”, and under a system in which control over one’s own life and property is systematically undermined, negated and wilfully abolished.

Of course, some countries are freer than others. But as long as democracy casts a veneer of respectability over an otherwise totalitarian impulse, one needs to take care in distinguishing between nationalist illusions and facts on the ground.

Believe me, no matter what country you live in, you are nowhere as free as you think you are. And if you don’t believe me - consider just how many ways rightful control of your own life and property is violated by the state, as a result of “fair” and democratic elections!

6a00d83451c45669e201157140b4f5970b-500wiThere are two likely outcomes to this crisis. One is that the theocratic state will do what states always do - and bring out the guns, big time.

Another is that calmer heads will prevail and a vote recount will be allowed - thereby acting as an escape valve for seething emotions. Either way, the theocratic system is unlikely to disappear any time soon - so perhaps the best Iranians can hope for is to have the noose around their necks loosened a little. And I do not denigrate such loosening, as it is an essential first step to demanding and acquiring even more freedom.

Whether Iranian, American, Brit, German, Australian or a citizen of any country, people need to understand that under the present rules of the game (democracy) true freedom can never arrive. Why? Because the nature of democracy (morality by numbers) allows voters to use the power of the state to undermine and abolish the freedom of others - to legislate away the right of individuals to 100% control of their own person and property.

475945531But there’s more to this Iranian street “revolution” than meets the eye. At its base, it’s a challenge to the existing order. The Iranian state has switched off text messaging, blocked websites and expelled foreign journalists - yet it still cannot stop powerful stories and emotive images from appearing around the world. Such stories and images are the “gift” of freedom- enhancing modern communications technology - technology created by free people, not tyrants.

Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones and cameras are being mobilised by individuals to get the news and images out - even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds. This is good news indeed. And while the political leaders of various countries feel compelled to reflect their own citizens’ enthusiasm for such assertions of freedom - and praise the Iranian protestors for their actions - surely, deep in their totalitarian hearts they must be trembling.

To see the state’s powers of censorship, violence, intimidation and control openly challenged in this way is an inspiration to freedom lovers everywhere - and will surely have repercussions down the track.

The events in Iran are opening a window into the soul and essence of totalitarianism - whether of the theocratic, democratic, fascist, communist, socialist or militarist variety - and revealing the nature of the beast for all to see. The contrast between self-appointed mullahs and their armed guards and those hopeful, enthusiastic, life-affirming individuals swarming through Tehran’s streets, stands as a testament to the power of ideas. And mark my words, the idea of freedom is much more compelling than the idea of slavery.

Viva the revolution!

Yours in freedom
David MacGregor

UPDATE: The ObaMessiah has made what newspapers are calling “his strongest comments to date” on the street revolution in Iran, urging the Iranian government "to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." Hardly the resounding clarion of freedom that desperate people yearning to breathe free want as fuel!  Lindsay Perigo writes the speech that should be loaded up on Obama’s teleprompter:

My Fellow-Americans
    As I speak to you tonight, there is hope that the most evil regime on the face of this earth is about to collapse.
    The theocratic dictatorship that rules the Islamic Republic of Iran is a regime that has actively sought to discredit and destroy America since its inception thirty years ago. It calls America "The Great Satan," routinely calls for "Death to America" and openly despises the freedom and prosperity we take for granted. It seeks nuclear weapons. It seeks the destruction of Israel. It sponsors terrorist organizations. It fomented the insurgency that began after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It has supplied the wherewithal for the roadside bombs that have killed so many of our soldiers in Iraq. Within its borders, it stones women to death. It arrests and tortures women if their headscarves do not fully cover their hair or their clothes show their figures too clearly. It hangs gays for being gay. It forbids lovers to hold hands in the streets. It brutally suppresses dissent and non-conformity, and enforces adherence to the most savage tenets of its religion.
    But the spirit of man, it seems, is indomitable. Even in the face of such barbarism, Iranians, cheated of an honest election result, have spontaneously surged onto the streets, risking their lives for their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some, it's true, may be hoping for an even stricter theocracy; we have reason to think, however, the vast majority are young folk yearning to be free.
    Brave Iranians, go for it. America is behind you. We're all Iranians now. . .

Read on for the full text, and reflect that platitudes, smooth words, and timidity never won a true victory anywhere.