Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Pre-school non-education vs Montessori education

Over the weekend The Herald reported 

    Many 5-year-olds are starting school unable to count or complete the alphabet, despite years of pre-school education. . .
Rosemary Vivien, head of Edendale School in Sandringham, Auckland, said the Ministry of Education had outlined general expectations of what children should know when they started school. These included being able to count to 20, knowing the alphabet, recognising colours and being able to write their own name.
More than half the children who started at Edendale, a decile 5 school, could not do that. . .

Grotesque news, when you think about it, to which David Farrar commented that

I have said many many times I would take money from tertiary education and stick it into pre-school or early childhood education,

and talked about his niece who “turned five late last year and could proudly count to 100 and back – both in English and Maori.  I sort of assumed that counting to 100 was pretty standard for pre-school. Certainly counting to 20 should have occurred.”  It certainly should, but even that’s hardly stretching anybody.

I responded at Kiwiblog that both Mr Farrar and the Ministry have their sights sets pretty low – and it’s  almost tragic that even the Ministry’s low standards are not being met. In good Montessori schools however, I pointed out,

CLICK HERE FOR A MONTESSORI LECTURE YOU MUSTN'T MISS!! six year olds are counting and understanding the concept of one million, doing long division and binomial equations, and reading and writing their own short stories.
    These are not exceptional students, these are normal students. And
these results are well documented.
    The answer is not more money “stuck” into into government-sponsored pre-school or early childhood education programmes. These programmes are the problem. And neither is the answer more forced retraining for ECE teachers or more free hours — and it’s certainly not more power to the Ministry of Ed — it’s simply to get the hell out of the way of the better schools and the local Montessori teacher training centres.
    Montessori schools and the better mainstream ECE shools have been shafted by govt policies and extra govt spending over the last decade-and-a-half; what they need now is less interference and govt spending, not more.

Like I said, when you can see what children can achieve at good Montessori schools, too see what passes even for success in mainstream schools is heart breaking.  And it’s important to realise that the results I cite above – such as counting and understanding the concept of one million, doing long division and binomial equations, and reading and writing their own short stories – are achieved by pushing Montessori children into achieving those sort of results. But far from it — it’s the kids who are pushed who generally don’t achieve. As I went on to say at Kiwiblog:

   The results are achieved, paradoxically you might say, not by pushing them but by letting them be kids; by recognising what they’re thirsty for at each stage of their development, and making sure that’s what’s in front of them when they’re eager for it.
    Of course, this is just a very small part of the reason for the success of Montessori education, but an important one: the recognition of what Dr Montessori called “
sensitive periods for learning.”
    Rather than dumbing children down and treating them as morons, as mainstream education does, Montessori treats them as young people with brains which they want to train themselves, and offers them the means by which to do that.

Steven_Hughes Now it’s often thought that what good Montessori schools do for children is some sort of miracle. but that’s just not true.  It’s not a miracle; it’s simply good science.  Montessori education works because, as a forthcoming visitor to New Zealand points out, “Montessori education parallels what is known about brain development.”

Dr Steven Hughes is a neurologist and paediatrician who fell in love with what Montessori education can do when he sent his own children to Montessori school, and quickly realised what was going on in front of his eyes at school mirrored what he was seeing in his own scientific research on brain development.

Hughes is an assistant professor of paediatrics and neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School in the USA and will be visiting Auckland soon after a speaking tour of all major Australian cities – and I’d highly recommend going along and hearing what he has to say.  Everyone I know who’s seen him talk before says he’s outstanding.  From the ad for the Auckland public lecture on September 18 at AUT’s Northcote campus.

    This public lecture will help you gain unique insights into how Montessori education provides children with an unparalleled foundation for the development of academic, social, and executive functions critical for advanced problem solving and lifetime success.
    In this highly visual, rapid-paced and entertaining talk, Dr Hughes will share how Montessori education parallels what is known about brain development and how Montessori fosters the development of advanced cognitive functions, social cognition, and such higher-order competencies as empathy and leadership.
    He will show how and why Montessori kids are ‘good at doing things’.
    This talk is especially great for fathers who may wonder about this ‘Montessori-thing’!

You can get a ticket to this event from your local Montessori centres or schools or by emailing eo@montessori.org.nz, or freephone 0800336612.  But be quick. The Montessori Association of NZ has kept the cost low at only $10 per person for early-bird bookers, which deadline runs out soon. Visit the MANZ website for more information.

The Natural Selection rap

Yes, I have rap reservations, but the crowd-participation chorus is a good one.  Watch this live track from The Rap Guide to Evolution, and head to the man’s website to hear (and legally download) the whole collection. [Hat tip Pharyngula ]

Bill & Roger: Just a couple of overinflated beneficiaries

WogerIs Entitled BennyBill Beneficiary Bill and “Roger the Taxpayer.”  Two graduates of the entitlement culture running right from the top to the bottom of the New Zealand political tree. Two people with their hands in your pocket – two moochers who saw a racket, and wanted in on it.   Two looters – one of whom as minister of finance increased the total tax take, the other of whom increased the total deficit.  Two bludgers, neither of whom ever saw an “entitlement” they didn’t want part of.

Two of the country’s most highly-paid beneficiaries, with morals to match.

Seems to me that whatever claims to moral authority either of them might have had once, and any such claims must be vanishingly small, their studied and unrepentant fleecing of the taxpayers has now destroyed it.  As Adam at The Inquiring Mind says, “Bill English has committed the cardinal sin of being the resident of a glass house who has commenced to throw stones.  He may not have ‘broken the rules’ but he has undoubtedly diminished his ability to speak with any authority . . . “  Given Douglas’s previous reputation, that goes double for him.

Frankly, except for the occasional party zealot, who are out in force even now insisting neither of these bludgers has done anything wrong, who would ever again take seriously anything either of them has to say on taxing, spending, belt-tightening, economising, responsibility, or honesty.   Who could?

Beer summit

Jim Treacher was a fly on the wall at the manly goodness that was Obama’s beer summit.  Here’s the transcript-in-pictures. [Hat tip Tim Blair]

LIBERTARIAN SUS: Breaking & entering

Burglary is not just a property crime, says Susan Ryder.

susanryder The feeling occurs straight away. You may not be able to put your finger on it and it might even take a bit longer to register that something is wrong, but you know from the outset that something’s definitely not right.

And then it hits you -- hard. The realisation can be overwhelming and sickening and frightening, all at once. You’ve been burgled.

Other factors come into play, too, such as the extent of the damage and time of discovery; (the darkness always makes things more ominous). And if you’re alone when you discover the circumstances, it can be really horrible.

It’s happened to the homes of my parents and sisters. In fact my little sister’s house was broken into twice in two days while we were in Australia celebrating the wedding of our other sister. That was dandy, my brother-in-law having to cut his holiday short to get back to oversee the situation – and during the Easter break, too, when airline seats were as scarce as brains on The Bachelor. My parents’ store was also burgled on two occasions.

Touch wood, my own experience is limited to my wallet being stolen in Portugal and latterly, my car broken into one evening in Auckland. Driving home afterward was awful. The damage and subsequent theft of property was bad enough, but the thought of an unknown person or persons in my car made my skin crawl. Being penniless in Lisbon was no picnic either, but that’s for another time.

Yesterday I learned that a family friend, an older woman who lives alone, was burgled last Saturday night. She was away; ironically, she was doing an absent friend a good turn by caring for the latter’s home and pets for the night. The perpetrators broke in and ransacked the place, helping themselves to many of her possessions along the way. As a parting shot, they generously left the front door and windows wide open for good measure. She discovered the mess the next morning. Lord only knows when the local police will arrive to file the necessary reports. It took the same police force two months and several reminders to visit my sister back in 2003.

If you haven’t been burgled, it’s difficult to comprehend exactly how it feels. Natural emotions range from frustrated to furious, but worst of all is the knowledge that strangers have been tramping through your home, fingering your belongings and rifling through your cupboards and drawers with callous indifference. My mother couldn’t wait for the police to finish up so she could wash her clothes. She hauled everything out of the dressers and systematically washed the lot. And then she started on Dad’s.

In the following days you walk down the street and wonder “was it him?” or “does she know what I’ve got in my home?” and “they know where I live ... will they come back?”

In the case of our business customers – and they were many – it was hard not to suspect them all, even though I hated myself for it. It’s an awful feeling that stays with you for some time.

Not that the arseholes concerned give a toss about you. They don’t give two hoots that your children might be terrified; that you can’t sleep for worrying; that you jump at every strange sound – especially at night – and automatically brace yourself when pulling up in the driveway for months afterwards. It’s either a professional situation or a bit of fun to them. They’re banking on you being insured, (responsible people are like that); and that your sanctuary has been ruthlessly violated doesn’t occur to them, let alone matter.

Some people don’t consider property crime to be serious, former Police Minister Ann Hercus, for one. Ms Hercus, who went on to become New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Nations, is on record as saying as much in the late 1980s. To this day, she doubtless believes in more lenient punishment for those who commit property crimes. Those concerned are probably disadvantaged or misunderstood or “had a difficult childhood”, don’t you know. It never ceases to astonish as to how the abuser is of more concern to these clowns than the abused.

So now it’s my friend Lyn’s turn to go through this hateful situation. She’s a sweet, generous person by nature, although right now I imagine she’s rather less concerned with the personal woes of her burglars.

And unlike Ann Hercus, I’m with Lyn.

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

Quote of the day: On alcohol and joy

The timorous mineral water and “better not” attitude to life rather than the “why not?” attitude seems to be among the saddest of the health postures – a loss of joy, hedonism and self=exploration.”
                                                                   - Frank Moorhouse in his fine book Martini: A Memoir

“The real right to medical care” [updated]

George Reisman has just posted on his web site www.capitalism.net a reprint of his 1994 essay THE REAL RIGHT TO MEDICAL CARE VERSUS SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Says George:

I wrote this essay to help defeat the Clinton plan for socialized medicine. In all essentials it’s as valid today as it was then. It’s a demonstration that government intervention inspired by the philosophy of collectivism is the cause of America's medical crisis and that a free market in medical care is the solution for the crisis. I urge everyone who wants to help defeat the essentially similar Obama scheme to read it.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman once again shows himself on the wrong side of every contemporary issue.  Here he is getting ‘pwned’ (as the youngsters say) in a ‘straw poll move’ in a health care debate last year  [hat tip David R. Henderson.

The tragic lovers - Kitagawa Utamaro

Utamaro001Full title: The tragic lovers Oshichi the greengrocer's daughter and Kichisaburo the young temple-servant. A wonderfully full print from ukiyo-e master Kitagawa Utamaro  (1750-1806). You can see the tragedy about to happen in the closeness and the turbulence.

Monday, 3 August 2009

30 Songs [updated]

George from The Nevermind Aesthetic didn’t tag me for this, but I did it anyway because I was curious.

Instructions...if you're interested:
1. Turn on whatever MP3 player you possess.
2. Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3. Write down the first 30 songs or more that come up--song title and artist.
4. NO editing/cheating, please. Write them order.
5. Choose 25 (or so) people to be tagged...or not. 
So here goes:

woodenheadCD Ain’t No Right – Jane’s Addiction
How Do You Think It Feels? – Lou Reed
Sixty Seconds to What – Ennio Morricone
Caution – Bob Marley
Tremolo – Marc Chesterman/Woodenhead soundtrack)

41X1E6ECTTL._SL500_AA240_ Fruhling – Jesse Norman, singing Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs
Making Plans for Nigel – Nouvelle Vogue
Ennui – Graham Brazier
Oop Bop Sh’ Bam – Dizzy Gillespie
Daddy’s a Postman – Graham Parker

Redgum_-_Caught_In_The_Act-[Front] Charade – Henry Mancini
Diamantina Drover – Redgum
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl – Muddy Waters
Enola/Alone – Manic Street Preachers
Aquarium – Saint Saens

41YZ1Y7YEML._SL500_AA240_ Autograph – Bernard Butler
Evil Lies in that Ring (Act 3, Scene 1, Siegfried) – Richard Wagner
Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin – Earl Wild
Memories are Made of This – Mario Lanza (after Dean Martin)
Der Engel – KIrsten Flagstad, singing Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder

Fripp_&_Eno's_Evening_Star People Move On – Bernard Butler
The Card Cheat – The Clash
I Think I’m a Mother – PJ Harvey
Green Walls – Toy Love
Wind on Water – Fripp & Eno

MusicCatalog_B_Barry Adamson - The King Of Nothing Hill_Barry Adamson - The King Of Nothing Hill Whispering Streets – Barry Adamson
Criollo – Phil Manzanera
Lawless – Christy Moore
Ho-Ho Schmiede Mein Hammer – Lauritz Melchior singing the ‘Forging Song’ from Act 1 of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried
Amarcord Suite - Nino Rota

So there you go.  Some great curiosities there.

I won’t tag anyone but if you’d like to be tagged just leave a note in the comments so I can link to your post in an update.

UPDATE: MacDoctor’s had a crack at the game.

NZ’s David Hicks confesses: “jihad was beautiful to me” [updated]

Wardle-Idiot On the weekend that Aussie Al-Qaedaist David Hicks weds a Peace and Conflict Studies graduate who “writes poetry on human rights issues” – should make for some good conversations over the lamingtons – former NZ jihadist Charles Wardle confessed to Indymedia that in his Islamist days “jihad was beautiful to me.”

Watch the video interview of this “radical Islamist turned atheist” at Trevor Loudon’s site, consider the role of useful idiots like Robert Fisk in his conversion, and contemplate the fact that when people truly believe that war is beautiful then peaceful co-existence is frankly impossible.

And that’s where we’re at.

NB: Why not visit Wardle’s website, where he now promotes “science and logical thought.” There’s a journey for you.

UPDATE:  On a related and hilarious note, Pat Condell rips into the “enlightened liberal intelligentsia who are anything but enlightened or liberal [or intelligent]” -- “the lefty liberal multicultural appeasement monkeys” who are the western enablers of the David Hicks of this world:  Apologists for Evil he calls them.  God, he gives good rant (pun intentional).

Debagging Green bullying

05_538_01_gross Since it’s been a few days since the control freaks at the Greens have called for a ban, a restriction, or just another way to boss us all around – last week it was bans on fishing, imports and foreign investment – this morning’s call for a mandatory charge on supermarkets’ plastic bags (effectively a new tax on supermarket shoppers) is already a few hours overdue.  As Sus says, Wussel Norman’s insistence that the government must force all supermarkets to emulate “New World's silly decision to impose a 5c charge on every plastic bag is just more force from New Zealand's most violent party. More fascism from self-professed peaceniks. More blanket contempt for everybody from these we-know-best control freaks.”  More force from “peaceniks” who’ve never understood the difference between persuasion and force.

Have you understood the real message of the Greens yet? it’s not peace, love and non-violent macrame pot-holders – and it’s certainly not “the environment.”  It’s bans, bullying and the “soft fascism” of government force.

Give ‘em up.

All Blacks or Warriors?

So who's more pathetically lack-lustre? The All Blacks or the Warriors?

Tough choice, eh.

The broken-down youth employment policy [update 2]

Good old John Key.  He’s put his thinking cap on and come up with a scheme to help up to 17,000 unemployed youngsters.  Good on him, eh.

That nice Mr Key is going to spend around $152,000,000 of your money “to get thousands of young New Zealanders off the dole.”  What  a guy, what a scheme, what a plan.

Estimates suggest this spend-up “will assist roughly 15% of the people it’s meant to be targeting, indicating a deluge of cash around  ”That’s around $59,000 per youngster it’s supposed to help, or around $9,000 each for all of them, showing that as far as “plans” go this makes about as much sense as spending $50,000,000 on the John Key Memorial Cycleway to attract around 20,000 tourists (spending around $25,000 per cycle-tourist to derive “benefits” said to be around $10,000 for each lyca-clad visitor).  So as far as thinking caps go it’s only too clear that the nice Mr Key just doesn’t own one.  His only “big idea” is throwing money at things. Your money.

He might as well just give that money to each of the youngsters and tell them to head off on their OE.

But in fact the cost to you and me is much higher than just the money spent on this feelgood nonsense.  Every dollar that government spends costs producers around two dollars to produce, meaning this spend-and-hope package.   I’ll let you work out what that works out to. The sums aren’t difficult.  But it’s hardly what businesses need at a time when they desperately need every dollar they can get to keep their heads above water.

Now John Key (he’s such a nice man, isn’t he) said over the weekend that this is an example of how his government can "play some part in terms of trying to keep the economy feeling as though it is moving forward and that we are supporting it."  But it’s not, is it.  It’s yet another example of our friend the Broken Window Fallacy – another example of how government just makes the problem they’ve created even worse.

After all, it was government who  created the problem. It’s reported that in June last year, around 4000 young people were unemployed. There are now 17,000. Now if you think back a couple of years you might remember that it was around then that the government increased the youth rate, and in February this year (in the very teeth of the recession) they increased the minimum wage too.  Supporters of both moves insisted that neither would have any effect on unemployment, which shows you how little those people know about anything.  Others of us pointed out at that the chief result would be to increase unemployment amongst the most marginal employees. Like those 17,000 youngsters now unemployed.  This is one of those occasions it would be nice to be wrong, but unfortunately it was all too predictable, wasn’t it.

And government is now making what they created even worse.  Rather than leaving the sum of half-a-billion in the hands of producers, who would use it to genuinely move the economy forward,  government is taking the investment bread from their mouths to give youngsters an unsustainable crust – and getting headlines for “doing something” when what it’s doing is only exacerbating what they’ve already created.  Short-term non-solutions to a long-term problem of their own making.

So given that Mr Key clearly has no ideas beyond tax-and spend and making beneficiaries out of would-be employees, let me give him two simple ones to sort out this problem.

  1. The first is to abolish the minimum wage for every marginal employee – that is, for every employee who can barely produce enough to justify their position.  Abolish the minimum wage so that employers can create genuine positions at the recession wages they can actually afford while offering an opportunity for these marginal employees to get a foot on the employment ladder.
  2. And to make it easier for these employees to pay their bills, give each of them a two-year income tax holiday so they’ve got a chance at being a genuine producer.

How about those two ideas, which will help both producers and employees, and would definitely play some part in keeping the economy genuinely moving forward and the government progressively getting the hell out of the way. Everybody wins, unlike now.

UPDATE 1:  The reactions around the blogs are a good measure of political partisanship and economic (il)literacy.  David Farrar says "Ra, ra.”  Labour’s Red Alert nitwits want more, and more. Lindsay Mitchell points out that the headlines are wrong, that dole for 16-17 year olds isn’t being “scrapped” since it doesn’t exist – and that Job Ops and Community Max are Fancy names for failed ideasEddie at Labour’s Double Standard, one of the cheerleaders of minimum wage hikes, says the scheme has “good potential [Galt save us] but will it deliver?”  And Cactus?  She points out what no one else has:

    Once again the National (Socialists) do not understand that government cannot create jobs . . . Now John Key has come up with another idea to match the "Bill English Cycleway". $156 million poured down the hole with selectively picking "winners" from losers. . .
    These are not real jobs. At the end of the six months they can hand the worker back. These young people are still unemployed.

UPDATE 2: It’s deja vu, says Russell Brown.

A bold $150 million plan to keep all New Zealand under 18 year-olds in school, or in training … the idea sounds oddly familiar. Ah yes. Helen Clark announced it as Labour Party policy 18 months ago.

Naturally, National’s supporters were bagging it then . . .

UPDATE 3: As if to reassert their place in the elite of economic illiteracy, the Unite Union has chosen today “to initiate a petition for a Citizens Initiated Referendum on raising the minimum wage . . . starting with an immediate rise to $15 per hour.”  They surely don’t have the brains they were born with.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Presenting the Broken Car Fallacy [update 2]

During the Great Depression the US Government slaughtered and buried thousands of hogs, and burnt millions of acres of grain.

You’d have to ask the the geniuses in charge of Roosevelt’s New Deal  just what the hell they thought they were doing, but the only visible effect was less food, and more hungry people.

But we know better than that now, you say.  They wouldn’t destroy things now in the hope that it would bring about economic recovery – we know way better now.  Oh really?  Take a look at America’s $1 billion Cash for Clunkers programme, just voted another $2 billion to take decent roadworthy cars off the road.

Tim Blair calls it cold-blooded engine murder carried out on behalf of the US government:

NB: Here’s the Broken Window Fallacy, for those who need to know.

UPDATE 1: Mish  comments on the wastage: Free Money Runs Out, Congress Authorizes More.

UPDATE 2: Cash For Clunker Policy Is Crackpot Economics says the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Quote of the day: “No representation without taxation”

From the 2007 book, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand:”

 "[Mill] also insisted that there should be no representation without taxation. Allowing non-taxpayers a vote, he said, amounted 'to allowing them to put their hands into other people's pockets for any purpose which they think fit to call a public one’."

Is this an idea whose time has finally come back? I firmly think it is.

Beehive bludging [updated]

See, I told you these pricks were the highest paid beneficiaries in the country.

What a thieving bunch of bastards.

UPDATE: Poneke points out the silent hypocrisy of the National-supporting blogsters over the Beehive’s biggest beneficiary.  Read The deafening right blog silence over Bill English being paid to live in his own home.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Beer O’Clock: How to open a Radler

You can open you beer with almost anything if you’re sufficiently resourceful. A knife, a fish slice, another beer, a piece of paper, your forearm, your chain saw, your iPhone, your eye-socket, your breast. Or breasts.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.  But because it’s still mid-winter down here in the Southern hemisphere and we’re all looking forward to all those delightful sights that summer brings, here’s something delightful you might like to look forward to down at your local.  And if it’s not your local, there’s at least two incentives here to make it so (and be warned that “beer opener” may be a pun):

And if you are opening a Radler this coming summer, for whatever reason and in whatever way you choose, then just damn make sure it’s not a Monteith’s. Here’s why.  If there's one thing worse than lack of property rights, it's claiming property rights over something that ain't your property.

Who’s paying for whom here?

Many people are up in arms that beneficiaries' details were made public this week -- prominent bloggers being among the most vocal in expressing outrage.

But aren't people who are forced to pay the bills entitled to know just how much the people they're forced to fund are getting?  And if you're one of those receiving largesse from the taxpayer, shouldn't you at least have some gratitude for that largesse, instead of snorting like a buffoon that you're "entitled."

Frankly, the only entitlement here is that of we poor downtrodden taxpayers, who are pushed around and trodden up on by scum.  We the taxpayers are entitled to know what has happened to the hard-earned money that is taken away from us, who exactly is now pulling it down, and how much.  So that means whatever variety of moocher you are, from the ordinary garden variety karaoke-singing moocher right up to the most highly paid Beehive bludger, then we have a right to know.

Which just leaves me curious how many of those bloggers expressing faux outrage on behalf of beneficiaries are extracting largesse from the rest of us?  How many of us are effectively being forced to fund the expression of views which we find abhorrent.   I think we should be told.

Unbridled wowserism [update 3]

Seems to me the only people more annoying than the moochers who ask for more and more while doing less and less are those lemon-sucking wowsers who are more and more vocal in insisting we enjoy ourselves less and less.

The age of Nanny is not dead. Her latest incarnation rode in yesterday on Geoffrey Palmer's horse, and has already been taken out for a trial canter this morning by Simon Power. It's a horse that needs to be shot.

Arise_SirWowser The whole thrust behind Geoffrey fucking Palmer’s recommendations on alcohol consumption (yes, you'll be hearing some strong language if you choose to read on) is that we -- i.e., you and I -- are not behaving as they -- i.e., Geoffrey and Simon -- think we should when we consume it. We're drinking too much of it. We're making too much noise when we do. We're swinging from too many chandeliers, singing too many macarenas and getting in the way of too many decent people going about their business at 3am in the morning. We're getting uppity, and something must be done. Geoffrey: fuck you. Simon: fuck you. How about we live our lives and you live yours, and as long as we don’t get in each other's way I'll be very happy.

But that sort of approach was never on the cards, was it Geoffrey.  If your whole agenda wasn’t clear when Helen Clark gave you a truckload of cash to write your report, then it became abundantly clear when you commissioned "independent" research from your tame consultants to inflate the “social costs of alcohol.” And if Eric Crampton and Matt Burgess hadn’t spotted your duplicity you might have gotten away with it, you arsehole. But you didn’t.  You were exposed as trying to bolster your bullying with bullshit, and you got pinged.

But you're completely unashamed by that, aren't you – you’re unashamed because you really do think it's your Government-given self-anointed right to boss us the fuck around. Well, as I said before, fuck you and the unbridled power you rode in on.

You talk about "changing the policy settings" when what you're really doing is telling free people how to live their lives. You talk about "encouraging" changes in behaviour when what you mean is force. Christ, you can't even be honest in your inhumanity.

Weizenbier You say that taxes on alcohol should increase? But your colleagues have already stuck your hand in drinker's pocket once this year, haven’t you -- adding around fifty cents to a pint of beer and endangering the whole craft brewing industry – and last year – adding 10% to the cost of spirits – and the year, before, and the year before that.  Fact is, your excise taxes on our alcohol are already through the roof, aren’t they, and heading higher every bloody year (and every year another learned report is handed down recommending yet another bloody increase “for our own good”), making us wonder just how much is enough! Just how much do you want the the working man and woman to pay for their pleasures, you thieving gobshites.

You say too that bars and clubs should be forced to shut down from 2am? Tell you what, if you don't like the look of what goes on after 2am, then stay the fuck home.

You say that new liquor licenses should be made more difficult to get and to keep? Way to go helping out small businessmen by cutting compliance costs, you bullying arseholes.

You say that 18- and 19-year-olds should be banned from buying alcohol from bottle stores and supermarkets? Which means you think they're responsible enough to vote for unbridled power-lusting cretins like yourselves, but not responsible enough to pour themselves a drink when they get home from work.

Tell you what, why not just mind your own fucking business, and we'll mind ours.

And let me tell you something else too: It's not your job to "encourage" anything; it's your job to get the hell out of our way.

And as it happens, in those rare places and situations where governments do get the hell out of the way -- in places like France, say, where youngsters can enjoy a drink with their parents from an early age – it’s there that we do find responsible drinking; and we find it because responsibility is encouraged, not discouraged. That's self-responsibility, Geoffrey -- a concept it's clearly too late for you to learn, but some of us really would like to encourage. That’s the opposite of the restrictive, coercive, heavy-handed six-o’clock-swill mentality that you and arseholes like you would like to bring back.

But here's one final lesson to digest, from a chap called Herbert Spencer: that the ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. That goes double for the architects of those shields as well.

Geoffrey: fuck you.

UPDATE 1: Eric Crampton makes a polite clarification:

    Palmer didn't commission the BERL report: MoH and ACC did. As I understand it, the Law Commission views as defamatory that it be construed as having commissioned it. Palmer chose to use the report 'cause it was around, then chose to commission Brian Easton as a neutral party to resolve differences between BERL and us.
    We can wonder whether commissioning Easton as neutral agent here is consistent with the Law Commission wanting a neutral view. . .

UPDATE 2: Chopper Read makes a less than polite point more than appropriate to Simon Power and Geoffrey fucking Palmer: Make Dead Shits History.

UPDATE 3: You think Courtenay Place at 3am is bad?  You should see “closing time” in Africa.  Once a year, a tree in southern Africa produces very juicy fruits containing a large percentage of alcohol – and as soon as the fruits are ripe, animals come there to help stave off dehydration. You can imagine what happens next.
Geoffrey Palmer and his Wellington Wowsers Law Commission observers (who supposedly did late-night research tours around NZ’s seventeen-most popular drinking spots) appear here about 2:02 in.)

Round Midnight - Jack Vettriano

Britain’s biggest selling print artist is Scotland’s Jack Vettriano. “My paintings,” he says, “are about things I have done and things I wish I could do. They are about a bunch of sad, unhappy people who are driven by lust.”  Or as a commenter says here, they're "a little like a naughty Hopper."

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Some propositions on privacy

Let’s get some thoughts going on the “right to privacy.” Here’s a few to start you off.

“An issue such as ‘the invasion of privacy’ cannot be discussed without a clear definition of the right to privacy, and this cannot be discussed outside the context of clearly defined and upheld individual rights.”
- Ayn Rand

“Privacy: it’s a good, not a right. It’s not something to be recognised, it’s something to be earned.”
- PC

“Yes, we each of us need privacy. But our need for something is not a claim on someone else.”
- PC

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”
- Ayn Rand

“Social democrats are collectivists of the first order. For them society is a large beehive or ant colony, and they are convinced that they have landed the job of managing it. It is a bit ironic, actually, since it is usually social democrats who champion ‘the right of privacy.’ Apart from that, though, liberal democrats do not acknowledge the existence of individual rights. Most of all, they are nearly unanimous in denying private property rights. . .  these people dogmatically assume that "the wealth of the country" is for them to use and dispose of as they see proper. Individuals have no rights to their resources, income or wealth, especially not those individuals who have plenty of them.”
- Tibor Machan

“Does a human being have the right to privacy? Well, is human nature such that in their community lives people require their own realm of authority, their own sovereignty—self-government—with respect of various aspects of their lives? Of course they do—that’s what being a responsible moral agent amounts to. So the right to privacy exists. It stands as a bulwark against meddlesome other people, especially governments.”
- Tibor Machan

“Philosophically speaking, however, there is no contradiction between a ‘right of liberty’ and any ‘right of privacy.’ And neither of these rights is possible without private property rights. . . The ‘right of privacy’ is, fundamentally, an expression of the right of private property.”
- Chris Sciabarra

“Privacy is a good -- like food, music, or love. So while we have the right to take the actions required to secure our privacy via judicious use of our property and voluntary contracts with others, we have no direct right to privacy per se. . . Laws designed to protect privacy undermine genuine rights to property and contract.”
- Amy Peikoff

“The ‘right to privacy’ is a misguided attempt to save some shreds of certain [legitimate] rights while retaining a way to eviscerate others.”
- Arline Mann


Rogering the taxpayer

It’s hard to take a man seriously who talks about fiscal responsibility when he just spent $44,000 of our money on his overseas travel – spending which he calls an “entitlement.”

Once a bludger, always a bludger.

Political trials

Is it just me, or do the trials of Maryanne Thompson and Phillip Field look like political trials more than genuine criminal trials?  Perhaps “payback” for the failure to ping well-connected politicians from the previous regime when they were in power?

Frankly, having heard the evidence against Field I’m still no clearer than I was before what he’s actually done wrong .  And as far as Maryanne Thompson’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics goes, the witnesses from the London School of Economics hardly covered themselves in glory when they had to explain how they’d lost it “down a black hole,” and why they never effectively communicated regarding her oral examination.

No, these two look like to me nothing more than political trials, complete the with backdrop of barbarians baying for blood that every political trial has ever had.

Quote of the Day: Hayden Wood on David Garrett

"Aren't ACT lucky they chose a quality researcher and safe pair of hands like David Garrett over an embarrassing loose cannon like Lindsay Mitchell."
............................................................- Hayden Wood

NOT PJ: Public Finances

This week Bernard Darnton looks at what happens when you sup with the devil and ask for seconds.

_BernardDarnton The media is aflutter with concern for the “right to privacy” of two beneficiaries who chose to whine about their finances in public. The aggrieved pair are “astonished” and “flabbergasted” that Minister for Westie Affairs Paula Bennett trumped their “right to privacy” with “turnabout is fair play.”

Mses Fuller and Johnston were the stars of a Sunday Herald story histrionically titled “Govt axe destroys dreams.” There are innumerable cases where government axes – or at least sharpened clipboards, suffocating paperwork, and strangulating red tape – do destroy dreams. In some crappier parts of the world the government axes are less metaphorical and more, well, axe-like.

In this case, however, the dream was the dream of yet more free cash from the government. The axe was a budget decision that there would be minutely less money dished out on education subsidies this year – probably because most of it got spent on basket-weaving and similar nonsense. Bennett’s crime was to inform us that the Sunday Herald’s two heroines were already pulling down about $80,000 between them.

Welcome to the welfare state: Give a man a fish and he’ll demand chips too.

Sue Bradford immediately accused Paula Bennett of beneficiary bashing. Mind you, anyone who suggests that it’s not the state’s job to provide free breakfast in bed with extra caviar is accused by Sue Bradford of beneficiary bashing. Listening to her is just extra wear and tear on my eardrums that I can do without.

Somehow, Annette King has concluded that the financial affairs of Fuller and Johnston are private and should remain secret, even after Fuller and Johnston have published details of their financial woes, alongside suitably sad photographs, in the Sunday Herald and also after King herself had discussed said financial affairs in Parliament.

Nope. The way that modern democratic socialism works is that thousands of wannabe beneficiaries gang up every election and vote themselves the contents of each other wallets. This system supposes that the contents of everyone’s wallets are of intimate concern to everyone else involved. So it’s a bit bloody rich for the supporters of this scheme to complain when those of us who pay the bills find out where the cash actually goes.

There is such a thing as the right to privacy but it derives from the right to property. What goes on in my house is my business because it’s my house. But that changes if I invite the Sunday Herald into my house to show them the broken windows and mildew and to have dejected photos taken. And if someone then points out that it’s not as crap as I’d made out I can hardly complain. And if I was using the publicity to try and convince people to chip in and buy me a spa pool I should probably just slink back to where I’d come from.

The details of my income are private because they’re a purely voluntary arrangement between me and my employer. They don’t concern anyone else. Those of Mses Fuller and Johnston on the other hand (and that of Ms Bennett, for that matter) concern everyone who has their pay packets raided by Inland Revenue to fund our gargantuan welfare state.

The debate has been framed as a big, bad government picking on a couple of helpless individuals battling to improve themselves. A big, bad government trying to chill the free speech of a couple of citizens who dared to criticise it. In fact, the ones telling this story are the ones trying to make the government bigger and badder.

If you don’t want the government to tell everyone your income then stop voting for governments that demand to know how much you earn.

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

Sho-Hondo Temple - Kimio Yokoyama [updated]


Built in 1972 to last a thousand years, this remarkable Buddhist temple was demolished amid much controversy in 1998.

Unfortunately it’s been as ill-served by photographs as it was by its guardians, but it certainly holds its own with Mt Fuji – and from the right angle it looks no less organic than the “beautiful back end” of Notre Dame de Paris.

st01_3Inside however it was something quite unique.


UPDATE:  A couple more large pictures of the enormous interior, courtesy Luke H.:
Detail of back wall

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The strange moral inversion of the welfare state

I’m just listening to a woman on ‘The Panel’ berating all of us for our rudeness towards Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston

This looks to me like a rather strange inverted moral standard being applied here.  To whit, that it’s not rude to take other people’s money by force to buy votes (the government); it’s not rude to accept this money yourself at a rate that gives you a better income than many of those from whom the money was extracted (Ms Fuller and Ms Johnston); but it is rude, according to our woman on ‘The Panel,’ to expect Ms Fuller and Ms Johnston to be accountable to those paying through the nose for their lifestyle.

As it happens, it’s the same inverted moral standard exhibited in Bill English’s 2009 budget.

Quote of the day: Bernard Darnton on the what we've just learned about welfare

Too good to wait until tomorrow morning's NOT PJ column, here's one lesson Bernard's drawn from The Bennett Affair:
"Welcome to the welfare state: Give a man a fish and he’ll demand chips too."
..........................................- Bernard Darnton

Ben Bernanke: Adrift without a clue [updated]

As a bookend to the non-answering of Queenbo’s question to economists (story here yesterday), we’ve now got the diametrical opposite to Peter Schiff’s now famous ‘Peter Schiff Was Right’ video: Ben Bernanke’s ‘I Don’t Have a Fucking Clue’ video.  Here it is:

While Schiff was predicting the deep recession that would follow the bursting of the housing bubble, Bernanke didn’t even know there was a bubble going on – or realise that his own organisation was largely responsible for it.

Now just to make sure you don’t miss a word, Lilburne has both transcript and analysis – and a point worth taking.  In this video, “Bernanke is shown to have been just as embarrassingly wrong as Schiff was uncannily right”; but that’s not because Bernanke is a moron – he’s a very bright guy – but because of “their differences in economic understanding.”

Schiff’s economic understanding is Austrian.  Bernanke’s is mainstream.  There’s the story.

UPDATE: Robert Blumen gives an example of a blatant mainstream error committed by Bernanke right out in the open here – the same error, I’ll wager, that many NZ home-owners make: i.e., the idea that a strong economy necessarily supports rising house prices.

As Blumen points out, we certainly shouldn’t expect that to be the case with a strong economy and food prices, would we, so why expect it with house prices?  And in any case, shouldn’t a strong economy support generally falling prices?

[Blumen’s] point is not that it is impossible for rising incomes and rising home prices to co-exist, only that it requires a very special set of conditions and that, in general, we should expect the opposite. Bernanke's blithe statement of the obvious at best requires further explanation and is at worst illogical. It is more likely, as Reisman says, that the cause is an expansion of credit.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Paula, Laura and the Greenwashed explorer

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

richardmcgrath 1. Ice caps melting – astronaut – “A Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station says it looks like the Earth’s ice caps have melted since he was last in orbit twelve years ago,” says the article. Later in the news article, he admits: “This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling the glaciers are melting…” No measurement, no science, just “a feeling.” No wonder his comment has been so widely reported.  
    The report doesn’t say whether the astronaut’s previous voyage was at the same time of the year -- and I could be mistaken here -- but I imagine the ice caps recede and then build up again depending on the season. Two snapshots twelve years apart are hardly the basis for such a pronouncement.
    My suspicion when reading this article that it was probably written by some equally Greenwashed media puppet was confirmed when it went on to talk about an air-scrubber stripping “deadly” carbon dioxide from the space station’s air. What utter bullshit. Carbon dioxide is not “deadly.” In fact, a buildup of CO2 in the blood of a living human provides stimulation to breathe more deeply and quickly, which sounds fairly life-enhancing to me. Down here on earth it is the fourth most abundant gas in the air we breathe, at a concentration of 0.04% or 1 in 2600 by unit volume. In higher concentrations carbon dioxide is irritant and harmful, but then again so is oxygen. Of course, in a space station the levels do need to be diminished, but the word “deadly” is being used in a space-station context to allow readers to draw conclusions about earth that they shouldn’t.

2. ‘I Can’t Afford To Eat Healthily’ – From the pages of the Daily Mail, but I just had to share this article with readers: a 25 year old British woman who has never worked, who weighed 38 stone, who was given a gastric bypass costing £8,000 under the NHS system, and dropped to 22 stone. But now she’s unhappy because her “disability allowance” of £340 pounds a month has been cut.
    Her response: to sit on her backside watching TV for seven hours a day eating chocolate bars and packets of crisps. When asked why she didn’t eat an apple, she said: “They’re cheap, but emotionally, I don’t always feel like eating an apple.”
    Does this entity ever consider the productive people who are taxed to support her indolent lifestyle? Does anyone ever give any thought to those they’re living off? I find it extremely difficult to feel any compassion for this entity who appears to have very few, if any, redeeming features. Never fear, the NHS has offered to bleed more taxpayers to the tune of another £12,000  to pay for an operation to remove the saggy bits of skin left behind after the initial weight loss. Only in Britain!

3. Minister Accused Of Breaking Privacy Law – Paula Bennett is in the firing line for revealing how much the taxpayer is forced to pay two beneficiaries who were complaining about a reduction in handouts to solo parents. There is a simple answer to this: privatise welfare, so that politicians and bureaucrats are no longer privy to this sort of personal information. Thousands of public servants could have access to details of your personal benefit history – why on earth should sensitive information on personal finances be available to state employees? There is ample evidence that private welfare does a much more efficient job at targeting money and resources to those who need it. Most importantly, a private system would not be allowed to extort money from working people as the public welfare system does currently via Inland Revenue. 

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

A Pacific New Freeland?

Andrew B spies an opportunity based on this news report from Tuvalu:

"At the primary school in Funafuti, children are taught about climate changefrom the age of six. They are also learning what it means to emigrate, because this could be the last generation of children to grow up in Tuvalu. Its peopleare already in flight. More than 4,000 [allegedly] live in New Zealand [as ‘economic refugees’], and the Tuvaluan government is planning the migration of the remaining 10,000."

Which leaves an opening for New Freelanders, says Andrew:

So these Islands are going to be abandoned - some already have been. I sense an opportunity for libertarians who don't buy into all this global warming rubbish. We go over there, buy up people's land as they abandon it, dredge the islands that are already under water and dump it on those remaining, and then declare our freedom.

Sounds like a plan. I’ll put it to the Kaimai Thirteen. Meanwhile, here’s what Everybody Knows (or Should Know) About Tuvalu.

Les Femmes Damn̩es РAuguste Rodin


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What gives moochers a right to privacy? [updated]

What’s this “right to privacy” bullshit that Annette King and co are banging on about on behalf of two beneficiaries.

I know about a right to life -- about a right to liberty – about rights to the pursuit of property and happiness. All those are legitimate rights for all of us -- but I'm not so sure about this "right to privacy."

Furthermore, if you come and take my property, my money, my wealth, and then give it to two people who already look to be on a bloody good wicket and are only complaining because they want to be able to take more (or to 121 people who are on a damn fine wicket, and are always grasping for more), then I have a right to know just how much of my money they’re pulling down.

Right to privacy, my arse. How about everyone's right not to be stolen from.

UPDATE: Revised for clarity after a discussion at KiwiPolitico starting here.

Excuse me, Ma’am, there were a few who *did* see the collapse coming

PD*29463458 Not being a royalist I can’t say the Queen always talks good sense, but it looks like she knows how to ask a good question.

When she visited the London School of Economics back in November she asked the obvious question of all the luminaries showing her around: How come you and your colleagues never saw the collapse coming?

The luminaries have finally replied eight months later with a whole shotgun load of blame saying essentially “it wasn’t us,” blaming everything from “the psychology of denial” to low interest rates making borrowing cheap, to a "feelgood factor" to a foreign savings glut, to a sea of debt.  It’s “complex,” they say – code for “beats the hell out of us.”

Queenbo Because they never actually answer the question, which was 'Why did none of you notice it?’ Because to answer that they would have had to admit to the failure of their science.

The best they can offer is to conclude,

"the failure to foresee the timing, extent and severity of the crisis and to head it off, while it had many causes, was principally a failure of the collective imagination of
many bright people, both in this country and internationally, to understand the risks to the system as a whole."

Which still leaves open the question: Why did so many bright people suffer such a drastic failure of “collective imagination”?  What is that if not a tacit acceptance that the leading theories of your science have failed – that your bright people have been pursing economic dead ends?

Because the reasons for that failure can be found, ironically, in the profession’s near complete ignorance of what a leading LSE lecturer had to say about booms and busts way back in the Great Depression when he worked there – the very subject which he was brought there to teach, for which he won a Nobel Prize, and the very theory which allowed people like Peter Schiff to predict the coming crash with such certainty he was writing books about it.

There was a time when the London School of Economics actually promoted Friedrich Hayek’s Austrian business cycle theory, which was back when the head of the London School of Economics wrote a book on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression based on that very business cycle theory.  Now, they barely know it exists – yet it is today’s advocates of that theory who were prominent in saying the crash was coming, even when all they received in response was laughter.

While alleged economists like Paul Krugman were calling for another bubble to rescue the world economy from the dot-com bust, and the present luminaries at the LSE were up to their eyeballs in their “failure of collective imagination,” it was clear-eyed advocates of Hayek’s Austrian Business Cycle Theory like Peter Schiff, Thorsten Polleit, Mark Thornton, Stefan Karlsson, Anton Mueller, Robert Blumen et al who were explaining what was coming and writing about it extensively.

But no-one was listening then, and no-one wants to listen now.  The failure of mainstream theory then has become a failure to recognise the collapse of that mainstream theory now.