Monday, 17 May 2010

Never mind the National Parks!

My what a brown nose you have-001 DPF writes about the negotiations with Tuhoe:

    “I doubt many people have an issue with the actual decision.”

Well, I’m one.  But let’s crack on.  DPF continues on with the thorny issue of the national park :

    “ No other treaty settlement has had a national park as part of it – unless it is gifted back. According to reports the Government has offered co-management of the park, which is not insignificant.”

To which Danyl at the Dim Post replies:

    “No other treaty settlement has had a national park as part of it – but no other tribe has been so violently dispossessed of their land and had it turned into a national park.”

“Violently dispossessed?”  Does this man know any history at all, I wonder?  Those two words suggest not.

Let’s look first at the direct reasons for the dispossession.  And to do that, let’s start with a story.

Imagine, if you will, that a savage murderer has been moving up the country, and he's heading your way.  He seeks refuge in your large, rambling property (which you share with extended family).  Instead of either handing him over or doing him in (in both of which you would be justified), you choose instead to join him in his savagery and plunder, heading out on expeditions of rapine and looting before coming home to hunker down in the least accessible parts of your refuge to fend off John Law, who naturally wants to put a stop to the lawlessness and brutality.

The law decides the safest option is to starve out you and your partner in crime, a strategy that meets with success—but whose perfectly justifiable results a century-and-a-half later are used to justify further pillage, this time of taxpayers apparently ignorant of the reasons for the original dispossession.

This is the short history of what happened when Tuhoe gave refuge to stone killer Te Kooti,  conspired in his genocidal killing sprees, for which you and I are now being punished for the punishment that was meted out then .

Quite apart from the issue of the national parks, does that seem in any way either fair or justified? Did Tuhoe’s behaviour not constitute some sort of reason for punishment?

While you think about that, just read in some more detail about what actually happened.

The year was 1869, and the Kooti One had gone on the run after murdering around sixty people (both Maori and non-Maori) in Poverty Bay, eventually finding support for his campaign of continuing  murder under the shelter of a supportive Tuhoe. For three years he and his Tuhoe allies waged war from the Ureweras on all around, with the full support and connivance of Tuhoe leaders, regularly crossing the Kaingaroa plains, the Urewera and surrounding districts to pillage, burn and kill.  Just one example of his blood lust was the slaughter of 64 defenceless women and children in the Ngati Kahungunu pa at Mohaka, murdered in cold blood as a “lesson” to their fathers and husbands.

Any decent government is going to put a stop to this, which is precisely what the colonial government did.

To drive him out of his lair, says the Oxford History of New Zealand, "Government forces applied a scorched earth policy so that the Tuhoe tribe could not shelter Te Kooti and the dwindling remnants of his band," following which he was driven out and 448,000 acres of Tuhoe land was confiscated as punishment, 230,600 acres of which was later returned.  (Ironically, as reward for his murders, Te Kooti himself was eventually given several acres of land in Ohiwa, BoP, in 1891! So much for justice.)

So the supposed  historic 'injustice' was the product of a tribe unwilling to live under the rule of law who knowingly harboured a mass-murderer, and who then joined him on a campaign of murder. 

“Violent dispossession”?  It looks to me like the initiation of violence went all one way.

In some circles, mere partial confiscation would be seen as being let off easily. 

If violent dispossession is to be despised, and it is, then surely the violent dispossession of people’s lives by Tuhoe and Te Kooti must be worth at least addressing, no? 

Because to talk about Tuhoe’s dispossession without any reference at all to the reasons for that dispossession is just inexcusable,  particularly when such context-dropping is used to justify scores of millions  of taxpayers dollars heading towards the wallets of the descendants of those who helped harbour the thug Te Kooti all those years ago. 

In today’s age of hand-wringing  and revisionist history however, nothing (and certainly not the facts of history) is likely to prove a barrier to today's Tuhoe 'leaders' receiving  large amounts of taxpayer largesse as a reward for living in the past -- a past which is largely a fiction of their own making.

So (to come back to where we first started), it seems popular bloggers just don't do history -- but then neither do the more mainstream media, the Government, or the Waitangi Tribunal.

Not to mention the farce of conducting a Waitangi deal with a tribe who never signed the Waitangi treaty, for an injustice that was anything but. 

If anyone’s being done like a dinner, it’s us.  We taxpayers. 

The only injustice perpetrated here is that being dealt to the taxpayers of New Zealand -- who once again will be forced to pay large amounts of money to tribalists for things we didn't do -- and to the tamariki of Tuhoe, who are being taught once again that tribalism and a focus on the imaginary grievances of the past will have a bigger payoff for them than will addressing and meeting the real challenges of the future and taking up the genuine opportunities of the present.

The whole damn thing is a disgrace.
* Figures and quotes are taken from the Oxford History of New Zealand, (pgs. 186, 187);  Penguin History of New Zealand, (pg. 219); 'Te Kooti,' NZ.History.Net; 'Te Kooti,' An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966.

REMINDER: Perigo on air now

A reminder note here that Lindsay Perigo is on Radio Live from 12:30pm to 4pm this afternoon.
Listen in online at the Radio Live website, or just check out radio frequencies there.

More questions for National

National’s former adman John Ansell is biting back again at the hand that once patronised him.

David Farrar posted at Kiwiblog several questions he’d asked at the latest National Party divisional conference; wherein Ansell then posted ten further questions this National Party needs to answer.  The first two give you an idea:

11. Which political system was the National Party founded to oppose?
12. Why aren’t we doing it?

Ansell’s ten pointed questions drew a stern rebuke from Master Farrar—but definitely no answer (because they’re mostly unanswerable?). I wonder how he’d have reacted if I posted the fifty-odd questions for National I posted here from the 2008 Fieldays? Sample:

  • Q: Why has National climbed on board the anti-industry bandwagon in calling for "strong action on climate change" – which means government action to stop private action. We know that socialism doesn't work at fifteen degrees, so why do Nick Smith and National think it will work at seventeen?
  • Q: Cutting taxes without cutting spending makes economic sense? Do you think anyone believes you when you say serious tax cuts don't require serious spending cuts to match?
  • Q: Don Brash stated that National believed in One Law For All. Does John Key?

So head over to Kiwiblog to read all of Ansell’s questions (all but the anti-Chinese one are good) and, while you’re there, feel free to ask a few of those fifty-odd on my behalf.

And check out John’s latest blog post while you’re about it.  He has a few questions for the Greens as well . . .

What tax cuts?

The spin has already been spotted in the wild, and by Budget Day this week the spin will be a tsunami.

I"m talking about the lie of tax cuts--the tax cuts that were promised before the election in the face of world economic collapse; the tax cuts the promise of which was broken because this government lacked the courage to  deliver the necessary spending cuts to match them; the “tax cuts” that are now being signalled in return for increases in GST, tobacco and alcohol taxes, and “carbon taxes” on power and petrol.

I’m talking about the spin that the few cuts, which will be more than outweighed by the increases, are somehow a return on that broken election promise. To that I say, “Bullshit!” The only “tax cuts” you’ll see are those with tax hikes that more than make up for that little. 

    “Look, over there; it looks like a tax cut.”
    “And look, over there; there’s a tax hike to match.”

At a time this government spends every week a quarter-of-a-billion more than it takes in, it shows no intention of stemming this fatal haemorrhage of red ink.  That is just one measure of its irresponsibility.

A measure of its duplicity is the gap between what was promised, i.e., real tax cuts, and what is being delivered, i.e., no real tax cuts--and to whom promises were kept and to whom they were broken.

The credibility gap is huge. There will be no tax cuts.  Today in New Zealand it’s finally “Tax Freedom Day”—the day when the median New Zealander stops working for the government and starts earning for him or herself. That day occurs later in the year here than it does in Australia, the US, or even the deeply troubled UK—and that day has not been moved back one iota by this government, but forwards in order to help bankroll them spending beyond their means.

And to whom are promises being kept?  Simple.  While this government is breaking its promises to producers and tax payers, i.e., the forgotten people who are always called upon to staunch the politician’s bleeding heart by paying for his vicarious generosity*, it considers it absolutely essential to keep promises to the parasites that their mis-named and unaffordable “entitlements” will be maintained.

It is the same delusion that is now dragging down every welfare state in the world.

The fundamental point that must be made again and again was said well by Henry Hazlitt:

_quoteThe mounting burden of taxation not only undermines individual incentives to increased work and earnings, but in a score of ways discourages capital accumulation and distorts, unbalances, and shrinks production. Total real wealth and income is made smaller than it would otherwise be. On net balance there is more poverty rather than less."

Shuffling around that mounting burden does nothing for prosperity.  What is necessary is removing it.

A responsible government would do that.

That they won’t do anything close tells you precisely how “ambitious” they really are.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Atheism in its most basic form…” [update 2]

    “Atheism, in its most basic form, is not a belief: it is the absence of belief.
An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that a god does not exist;
rather, he does not believe in the existence of a god…
    “If we use the phrase ‘belief-in-god’ as a substitute for theism, we see
that its negation is ‘no-belief-in-god’—or, in other words, ‘a-theism.’ 
This is simply another way of stating ‘without theism’ or the absence of belief
in god.’

            - George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God [emphases in the original]


UPDATE 1:  I haven’t listened to it yet in its entirety, but reader Frank sent me this link to a 6-part radio debate between George H. Smith and a theist.  Enjoy.

UPDATE 2:  Readers, especially those who designate themselves as agnostics, might like to see one implication of Smith’s definition, as explained by Smith himself in a subsequent passage in his book:

    “There are many reasons why one may not believe in the existence of a god … But regardless of the reason, if one does not believe in the existence of a god, one is an atheist; i.e., .one is without theistic belief.
    “In this context, theism and atheism exhaust all possible alternatives with regard to the belief in a god: one is either a theist or an atheist; there is no other choice. One either accepts the proposition "god exists" as true, or one does not. One either believes in a supernatural being, or one does not. There is no third option or middle ground. This immediately raises the question of agnosticism, which has traditionally been offered as a third alternative to theism and atheism…
    “Properly considered, agnosticism is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to the presence or absence of belief in a god; agnosticism refers to the impossibility of knowledge with regard to a god or supernatural being…
    “Notice that agnosticism emerges as a third alternative only if atheism is narrowly defined as the denial of theism. We have seen, however, that atheism, in its widest sense, refers basically to the absence of a belief in god and need not entail the denial of god. Any person who does not believe in god, for whatever reason, is without theistic belief and therefore qualifies as an atheist.”

Friday, 14 May 2010

Friday Morning Ramble: The “dinner” edition

Welcome to another ramble round the interweb, another week in which the politicians won while we were all done over like a dinner.  Here are the links and larks from around the ‘net I’ve dug out for you this week:

  • R-150-982555-1265622562KiwiPolitico makes a meal out of John Key’s unfortunate quip yesterday.
    Summary of joke news coverage -
  • “It isn't that the joke was unfunny. It was that he would even think to joke about Tuhoe after just causing them so much pain. That was thoroughly and dismally revealing.”
    John Key, Tuhoe and trust - LINDSAY MITCHELL
  •     “John Key’s fears of being a hangi-filler for the people of Tuhoe pale into insignificance next to the ongoing cannibalism of taxpayers by a multitude of freeloaders, including those moochers currently riding the Treaty of Waitangi gravy train…
        “Maori tribalists are not the only cannibals. Any New Zealander who believes their need constitutes a claim on the life of other innocent New Zealanders accepts the premise that it is right that some humans be consumed by others.”
    Tribal Predators Cannibalise Taxpayers – RICHARD McGRATH
  • Seems like a good time to re-read Paul Moon’s opinion piece from 2008, at the launch of his book on cannibalism in early NZ, This Horrid Practice.
    Cannibalism too unpalatable for some – Paul Moon
    Tales of Maori cannibalism told in new book – NZ HERALD
  • Song of the day really has to be the venerable Puha & Pakeha by Rod Derrett, a “missionary” from a less PC past (kindly pulled out of the ether and dusted off by Keeping Stock)

  • With all the trumpeting last week about the 25,000 “seasonally adjusted” drop in the unemployment rate, no-one seems to have spotted that around 14,500 more people who can't find work and would otherwise have been on the unemployment benefit are now receiving student allowances instead. That is, no-one spotted it until Lindsay Mitchell did.
    Student allowances up 63 percent since 2006 – LINDSAY MITCHELL
  • Let’s have some Q&A on the disastrous. Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
    1.  Who should pay for the clean up?
    Answer:  BP
    2. Should government regulate the transportation and extraction of dangerous goods?
    Answer: No.
    3. Is it proper for the government to oversee activities that represent the potential of mass devastation?
    Answer: No.
    Still, Baby, Drill – YARON BROOK at PAJAMAS MEDIA
    Comment: "There is a mistaken premise in your questions..." – GALILEO BLOGS [hat tip Thrutch]
  • “Instead of moving the debate on energy policy forward, the spill is being used to grind preexisting policy axes. Unfortunately, those axes were none too sharp to begin with, and the grinding now in play does more to confuse than to enlighten.”
    Gulf oil spill: same old arguments - Jerry Taylor & Peter van Doren , L.A. TIMES
  • “It is vitally important that BP, and the oil industry generally, learns lessons from this accident. But it is wrong to overstate what has happened, and it is especially wrong to use this accident as an example of why mankind should stop ‘interfering’ with nature in his various risky ways. Yes, it would be a major step forward to find clean, reliable and economic replacements for the oil we use today, but for now, we’ve got to keep drilling.”
    The low Horizons of modern society: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad, but it is not a warning from nature about mankind's hubris – Rob Lyons, SPIKED
  • Jeff Perren looks over the judicial record of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Turns out there’s not much to see, and what there is of it is not very good.
    Elena Kagan, Free Speech Foe – SHAVING LEVIATHAN
  • The death of young James Webster of alcohol poisoning is a tragedy. But a reality check is required for the wowsers: There is no law on earth that you could pass that would have saved his young life.
    Can't Legislate Against (Teenage) StupidityCACTUS KATE
  • Speaking of wowsers, we know that with an intellectual black hole in the Beehive he's incredibly influential, but when exactly did Geoffrey Palmer become "the fourth branch of government”?
    Geoffrey Palmer: the fourth branch of government – MEDIA LAW JOURNAL
  • Another reality check: John Key’s War on (Flu) Drugs is going the same way as every other War on Drugs and every other Prohibition has gone: “Obtaining methamphetamine may be getting easier despite a Government crack down on the drug, a report says.”
    Futility  - NO RIGHT TURN
  • “So how do we get out of this hole?” asks Eric Crampton. “I know! We'll dig our way out! . . . Guys, you've got to dig up, remember?”
    The 'plan' against P – OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR (October 2009)
  • Speaking of the failing War on Drugs, Radley Balko updates the story on the video featured around the place last week: “It's heartening that nearly a million people have now seen the Columbia video. But it needs some context. The officers in that video aren't rogue cops. They're no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S….”
    Balko on the War on Drugs -  OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
  • c4d72d1e96dc981c4eb1 That video is just one demonstration that the War on Drugs leads inexorably to a war on basic freedoms.  The Key Government’s move to enact a complete ban on the NORML News magazine is another.
    Freedom of Speech: Up In Smoke – LIBZ
  • “Why as a society are we determined to stop people hurting themselves?  Part of life is learning to take responsibility when your own choices and actions hurt you – having a government act in a paternalistic way to stop this, and make it harder for people to learn about individual responsibility, seems dangerous to me.”
    Drugs and anti-paternalism – THE VISIBLE HAND IN ECONOMICS
  • In your face, IPCC. The Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is now up and running.
    Climate Change Reconsidered: The Website of the Non-Governmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Medical researcher (and regular here at NOT PC) Dr Shaun Holt criticises Chiropractic quacks  in the wake of the landmark libel case brought by them against Simon Singh being thrown out. Listen here: Radio Live interview on chiropractors - AUDIO
  • Richard Dawkins explaining how science would work if it was like religion:
  • The head of Australia’s biggest mining company Rio Tinto is urging a shareholders revolt at K.Rudd’s iniquitous resource profits tax—and points out something that Rudd and Treasurer Swan don’t seem to grasp: “He dismissed Kevin Rudd's assertion that the nation would have raked in an extra $35 billion in tax in the past decade if the resource super-profits tax had been put in place… [because] $38bn invested in Australia by Rio since 2000 would not have been spent if the RSPT had been in place.”
    Rio Tinto boss urges shareholder revolt – THE AUSTRALIAN
  • Fact is, “the federal Treasurer does not understand the fundamentals of capital management that drive large-scale commercial investment.”
    Swan doesn't appreciate the impact of tax – THE AUSTRALIAN
  • More evidence on that score: “Treasury believes that if miners do make good on their threats to shut projects or expand overseas rather than in Australia, it would help address the problems of managing a two-speed economy. In particular, Treasury believes a slowdown in the resources sector would reduce the need for the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates.” Or, in other words, shoot the more productive and you’ll somehow “fix” the economy.
    Mining delays 'not all bad': Treasury – THE AUSTRALIAN
  •     “As if … the ‘Pink Batts fiasco and the school’s building scandal’ [weren’t enough], we now have the Resource Industry Super Tax Slug.
        “It would appear that our Prime Minister has declared war on anyone who saves and invests in Australia, including every Australian who has a superannuation policy.
        “Wise old Thomas Jefferson summed it up this way:
                “’I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too
            many parasites living on the labour of the industrious.’

        “For me, personally, about to ‘man a resource promotion booth’ in Washington D.C. and Chicago, my job is made a little more difficult but, as usual, always looking for the positive angle, I have a sign for display on the booth which announces:-
        “’THE GOOD NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA! Australia’s natural resources have a longer shelf life than our Federal Government.’
        “What do you think?”
    Canberra Needs History as a Compulsory Subject – PERTH-BASED MINING ENTREPRENEUR RON MANNERS
  • What was Obama’s advice to Europeans trying to rescue Greece? Essentially it was  "don’t face reality" but "carry on with the charade.”  “Carry on spending more than you produce. All you have to do is get people to think everything is ok.”  Doug Reich explains the ideas behind this patent nonsense, and the consequences of faking reality rather than facing it.
    Obama Regifts His Consciousness to EuropeRATIONAL CAPITALIST
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have this faking reality thing down pat. ““It is a fight against the markets and I am determined to win this fight” – Angela Merkel.  Guess she’s never heard of King Canute, huh.
    The Euro Titanic – SOVEREIGN LIFE BLOG
  • Public debt is not the same as private debt. “When a private person contracts to borrow money, he is entering into an obligation to repay the money – in the full knowledge of the terms of the loan. However, when the state borrows money, it is not the politicians who are taking on responsibility for paying back loans, but the taxpayers
        “The essential point is this: the hapless taxpayer finds himself liable for a debt he did not sign up to, did not authorise. So the moral solution to the sovereign debt crisis is to simply repudiate it – refuse to pay it back.”
    Repudiate Sovereign Debt – SOVEREIGN LIFE BLOG
  • Turns out that economic enlightenment has nothing to do with a university economic education. (No surprise there, some of the dumbest economists are the most mis-educated.) “Based on a  Zogby International online survey of 4,835 American adults, Columbia University psychologist Zeljka Buturovic and George Mason University economist Dan Klein find that economic enlightenment is not correlated to going to college. They also find that it is the highest among those self-identifying ‘conservative’ and ‘libertarian,’ and descends through ‘moderate,’ ‘liberal,’ and ‘progressive.’”
    You Don't Need a Ph.D. in Economics to Think Like an Economist -  VERONIQUE DE RUGY[hat tip Jeff Perren]
  • What’s missing most in mainstream economics is any notion of capital structure, or any capital theory that looks anything like real life.  This lecture by Peter Lewin fills the gap.
    Peter Lewin on Austrian Capital Theory - FEE
  • Speaking  of good economists, the historic correspondence between French economist Frederic Bastiat and anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon [he of the “property is theft” epithet]is now translated and online.  And it’s good!  [Thanks to reader Pierre for the link]
    The Bastiat-Proudhon Debates
  • Latest OECD data suggests NZ is “under-taxed.” However, “even a cursory glance at the data presented would tell you that this is income tax only and does not include any consumption taxes. It is therefore completely stupid…”
    Taxes? What Taxes? - MACDOCTOR
  • “I am sick of the OECD. I am sick of their collective lording over the world. I am sick of banks and financial institutions and money laundering laws being referred to in comparison to these countries. A bureaucracy of 320 million Euros a year and a staggering 2,500 staff… The hypocrisy of the OECD is the US and Euro are in the crapper, Greece is greasy, it is easier for a terrorist to open a bank account in downtown New York than it is for someone with a clean due diligence record to open a bank account in a non-OECD country…
        “I am no longer interested in statistics about the OECD. It is a dying Old Boys club that [no-one should] aspire to join and co-operate with.”
    OECD - Organisation for Economic Catastrophic Disaster? – CACTUS KATE

        “What are all those people counting on? If a [Greek] factory goes
bankrupt, the equalizers will find another factory to loot. If that other
factory starts crumbling, it will get a loan from the bank. If the bank
has no money, it will get a loan from the government. If the government
has no money, it will get a loan from a foreign government. If no
foreign government has any money, all of them will get a loan from
the United States.

    “What they don’t know—and neither does the United States—is that
the United States is broke.

            –Ayn Rand (with only one word altered), speaking as if it
              were yesterday instead of 1974 [hat tip The New Clarion]

  • Britain is already past the point of no return.  Overwhelmed by government spending on the bankrupt welfare state, rather than cutting spending to close the ballooning budget gap the new government is raising taxes.
    Britain Is the New France: UK's Problem is Too Much Spending -  CATO
  • “There were many losers in the election, but none more so than the cultural elite who backed Clegg. They’ve been shockingly exposed…
        “Normally, ‘Lib Dems come third’ would not be a shocking headline. But in the wake of ‘Cleggmania’, when there was a widespread (and wild) discussion of Clegg as a new Obama who would take us into a new dawn and transform British politics forever, the fact that the Lib Dems not only didn’t make any gains, but actually seem to have lost seats, takes on a new dimension. It exposes, not only the well-known fact that the Lib Dems are the perennial third party, but also something more profound: that there is a chasm between the cultural elite and the public today, and the electorate is understandably not enamoured by the argument for a ‘new politics’ that lacks any substance…
        “The problem, of course, is not the electorate. It is the lack of an alternative. The big idea offered by the Cleggomaniac cultural elite, which would apparently shake the foundations of the establishment and seize the voters, was electoral reform. Not any economic solutions, promise of liberty or galvanising vision for Britain, but constitutional tweaking. Such promises of reform were a crutch for an actual political alternative.”
    The message of the polls: ‘We don’t agree with Nick’Brendan O’Neill, SPIKED
  • “The story of the [election], but perhaps the least commented on, was the fact that very few people actually voted… the fact is that the past three elections have seen by far the lowest turnouts in modern electoral history. What that means is that the individual political parties each only have the support of a small share of the electorate… The three major parties together only managed to persuade about 57 per cent of the electorate to vote for them - far from a ringing endorsement of the political options open to us.,,
        “For all the talk in the post-election carve-up about who has a mandate and who does not, the conclusion that commentators seem to be avoiding is that no party has managed to inspire or win the support of even a sizeable minority of the electorate.”
    The General Election that nobody won – Rob Lyons, SPIKED
  • “Hold on. Brown can’t just slink out of office without a final challenge to the idea that he was unspun, decisive and principled.”
    Ten myths about Gordon Brown – Tim Black, SPIKED
  • Prime Ministerial life is hard on the aging process:

  • hooters “An under-16 Australian Rules football team has come under fire for entering a sponsorship deal with a local Hooters franchise. Critics say the move could give adolescent boys the wrong message. The Broadbeach Cats team [from] the Gold Coast [presently touring North America] were cheered on by two skimpily-dressed staff from the Mermaid Beach franchise of the American restaurant chain during their home game against local side Labrador. “The message these boys are getting is that ... as a young footballer you have an entitlement to large-breasted women in skimpy outfits bouncing around at your games,” women’s advocate Melinda Tankard Reist said. Restaurant owner Morney Schledusch called the criticism ridiculous.”
    Good call.
    (Women aren’t decoration, you say?  Surely that depends on the women.)
    Team berated for Hooters sponsorship dealDALLAS MORNING NEWS [hat tip NZ Week]
  • “Around every new social development there arise the shamans. Those who seek to shroud the obvious in mystery to create the illusion that only they can interpret the ‘unknowable.’  And thereby make a buck.
        “For example, look at the hype over ‘social media.’ … The cyber charlatans smell their chance to cloak in complex jargon and gobbledegook what is a rather pedestrian development in the age old behaviour of human conversation and gossip, so as to give themselves an edge and a marketing opportunity. So arises the new priesthood of the  ‘social media expert.’”  -- who are charging $700 a plate for a day of bullshit and jellybeans at Sky City on the mysteries of social media.  Bill Ralston takes aim:
    Social Media – Shamans And Shysters  - BILL RALSTON
  • chaves_hugo_1 This is what lies at the end of price controls under socialism: the gun.
    Hugo Chavez's Response to Beef Shortage: Arrest Butchers - CNBC
  • Architect Frank Gehry makes unusual sense in a talk in Chicago: ‘The costs of making a green building are “enormous,’ he said, and ‘they don’t pay back in your lifetime.’
    Never a truer word . . .
    Frank Gehry holds forth on … why he's not into green architecture – CHICAGO TRIBUNE [hat tip Butterpaper)
  • As it is for buildings, so it is for cars. “Today’s electric cars are “welfare wagons”–overpriced, underperforming novelty items that the rest of us will be subsidizing for upwards of US$7,500 apiece.”
    Reality killed the electric car, taxpayers forced to resurrect it – VOICES OF REASON
  • Buy it at the AYN RAND BOOKSTOREIn the same week as a North Korean torpedo actually did sink a South Korean warship, Pyongyang boasts it has “achieved nuclear fusion.”
    Nuclear fusion achieved?  - LIBERTY SCOTT
  • Roderick Fitts reviews James Valliant’s Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. “Besides demonstrating the truth about Rand's character and the Affair, PARC also discusses some nuances of Objectivism in its applications to one's life.”
    On "Being One's Self": a Review of James Valliant's "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics" – INDUCTIVE QUEST
  • I’m no fan of Roy Lichtenstein’s parasitic comic-book borrowings he calls art, but this optical illusion house is ingenious. [Hat tip Eric Crampton]

That’s all for now.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

QUOTE(S) OF THE DAY: The Meaning of Life?

Two views of what some see as life’s great question:

_Quote When … anyone …would ask [Joseph] Campbell, ‘Isn’t it basically a meaning of life for which we are all searching?’ Campbell would reply, emphatically, ‘No, that’s not it—it’s deepening and opening the experience of life that we’re really after… Life itself is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it… Being alive is the meaning.”
                   - quoted in  A Fire in the Mind: A Life of Joseph Campbell,
                                           by Stephen & Robert Larsen

And from John Cox’s QuiptoonsQT-reading

Auckland Bloggers Bar Bash tonight!

Oops.  Forgot to remind you earlier that we’re having the Auckland Bloggers Bar Bash (B3) at Galbraith’s tonight.  (Yes, that’s right, tonight. Yes, it’s usually the first Thursday of very month, but well, last week we were all sort of busy, you know.)

So: B3, be free, be there!

It’s the event for bloggers and blog readers to leave their guns at the door, let their hairs down, and take the grrr out of bloggrrrs.  And you just never know who’s going to show up.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world!” Lady Gaga said about another event.

“I’m going to be there!” John Key did not say.

“I’m having what he’s having,” Phil Goff really did say.

Past blogging celebrities in attendance include bloggers and (blog readers) from Annie Fox, Barnsley Bill, Beretta, The Fairfacts Media Show, Stephen Franks, Garfield Herrington, Bernard Hickey, Cactus Kate, Kiwiblog, MandM, No Minister, Not PC, Roar Prawn, Lolly Scramble, SOLO, State Highway One, Whale Oil and WHOAR! … though he didn’t stay around too long.

So get ye there and buy your favourite blogger(s) a drink.  ;^)

What: Auckland Bloggers Drinks
Thursday 13 May from 6.30pm
Galbraiths, 2 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland
Who for: Bloggers, blog readers, blog trolls.

How to kill saving [updated]

I see that in a desperate attempt to get noticed, the Labour Party now contemplate making Kiwisaver compulsory should they ever get back in power, and allowing the Reserve Bank the power to inflate.

Are they insane?

The latest Morningstar figures on Kiwisaver providers (released yesterday) show that the Kiwisaver scheme is little more than welfare for paper shufflers—a mechanism whereby your money and taxpayers’ money is given to suits for them to make smaller than the rate of price inflation.  (And the funds “managed” by our old mate Gareth Morgan is still doing worse  than most, appearing near the tail end of all them—worst result 24th our of 24th for his ill-named “Growth” fund, which has lost 2.1%pa over the last two years. )

Inflation will only make these losses first.  And frankly, as we should all know by now, inflation is just another word for stealing from savers: stealing from small savers, and giving it to suits to piss up against a wall.  Get rid of monetary inflation, and ipso facto you get rid of the desperate need for fancy schemes that purport to address the superannuation problem.

A comment at Ron Manners’ blog makes this point perfectly:

    “If the Reserve Bank hadn’t presided over such an enormous rise in the money supply, maybe there wouldn’t be such a pressing need for superannuation in the first place. In my grandparents’ day, money in a savings account could be counted on to maintain its value to such an extent that it was perfectly possible for the lay person to budget for retirement just looking at the account balance.”

So the power to inflate is just the power to steal from savers. Nice, huh.

Mind you, with tax rates as they are now, one person in every couple is going out to work just to pay their tax bill, so that hardly leaves them much to save with, does it.

So forgive me, then, if I consider anyone talking “compulsion” when it comes to saving, when every incentive is there at present to discourage it—and nothing is being done or proposed to be done that would change that. 

Not to mention the implicit government guarantee that comes when you make the scheme compulsory, and all the waste and moral hazard that comes with it.

Let’s face it: the Labour Party really cares as much about saving as the other team.  All they’re doing here is politicking.

But you know the best plan a political party could recommend if it truly did want to encourage saving? Here’s a start:

  1. Stop taxing everyone to hell so they’ve got some money left over to save;
  2. Stop taxing interest on savings so they’ve got some real incentive to save; and
  3. Stop inflating the currency so the money that is saved isn’t diluted by every new note flying off the Reserve Bank’s printing press.

That’s what a responsible party would encourage. 

Pity there are none in this parliament then, eh.

UPDATED:  “Are we seriously going to start writing quadratic loss functions into the Reserve Bank Act, with parliamentary debate on the exact weight to put on to each term in the function” asks Eric Crampton Seamus Hogan, in a way that only a born economist could.

European bailout: “…this is potentially the greatest inflationary plan ever designed.” [update 2]

The Economic Policy Journal sees only “trillion dollar madness” in the European plan “to offer as much as 750 billion euros ($962 billion), including International Monetary Fund backing, to countries facing instability and the European Central Bank [plan to] will buy government and private debt.”

    “There is nothing more to be said other than this is potentially the greatest inflationary plan ever designed. Although statements have been made in the past on which the EU has failed to follow through, the statements issued last night appear to have a sense of seriousness about them, especially the ECB announcement to buy government and private debt, and the Federal Reserve launching of currency swaps.
    “Both these actions suggest spectacular inflation may not be far away.
    “Although the ECB statement says the purchases will be sterilized, meaning they won’t increase the overall money supply in the  system, one wonders how long this will go on. A sterilization of the money printing would mean that money would be drained out of other sectors of the EU economy to be given to the governments of the PIIGS, who are proven irresponsibles with money.
    “Draining from the potentially productive sectors of the EU economy to give to the PIIGS is almost as insane as printing the money without sterilization.
    “That no objection to this madness has come from any finance minister or central banker signals how far down the road we are from any real concern about inflation or the taking away from the productive sectors of the economy.” 

This is what you get with welfare state economics: the bleeding of the productive in favour of the unproductive, while bystanders and bankrupts applaud.

You might call it broken window meets moral hazard.

Or institutionalised parasitism.

Has everyone forgotten that parasitism can only continue until the host dies?

UPDATE 1: More from the Economic Policy Journal on the “currency swaps,” and what it all actually means:

    “It appears, though, that for all practical purposes, the Fed has agreed to bailout the world. Essentially, foreign central banks will print up any amount of money they want  in their currency and the Fed will print up an equal amount of dollars that they will then loan to the foreign central banks (against the foreign banks newly printed money)who will then  loan the funds to the banksters  who will  use as collateral the securities of the PIIGs, to gain the dollars.”

UPDATE 2: “The Federal Reserve's involvement warrants a closer examination," says international asset manager Ganesh Rathnam.

    “The Fed has indicated that it would participate in dollar-swap agreements with the ECB, similar to one it undertook in 2008. Without an audit of the Fed, we can only speculate as to what exactly this swap entails. However, a reasonable guess is an exchange of freshly printed euros by the ECB for freshly printed US dollars by the Fed at the current exchange rates.
    “The Fed would then use the euros to either directly or indirectly purchase the debt of the eurozone nations. The ECB in turn would use the dollars to purchase US Treasury debt. Therefore, this is just a convoluted scheme to monetize government debt. It's a cinch that the funds necessary for this bailout would be created out of thin air rather than raised via taxes or issuing debt. Only in the world of central banking and thin-air money creation can one bankrupt entity bail out another.”

Love - Sandra J. Shaw

love1sc Sherri Tracinski suggests there have been beautiful sculptures of star-crossed lovers (Rodin’s The Kiss more than any), and of “other-worldly lovers (like Daniel Chester-French’s The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Man That They Were Fair) but this piece by Sandra J. Shaw, she reckons, is the most satisfying depiction of love she’s found.  The Kiss , she says, depicts love on this earth as tragically doomed; and the French’s creation “isn't a real love,” so is ultimately not emotionally rewarding.

    “It has taken me years [says Tracinski] to find in a piece of sculpture depicting love that was real, benevolent, and untainted by tragedy…
    “The biggest surprise about this piece is that it portrays love by showing us a solitary figure. This isn't a love that is dreamy, otherworldly, and unreal; this isn't a passionate embrace doomed to tragedy; this isn't love conveyed through action. This is love conveyed through thought. Its focus is not on the physical relationship between the lover and the loved; its focus is on the spiritual meaning of love, in the person who feels it.
    "This sculpture shows us, perhaps for the first time, that love is in the mind as much as in the body. It shows us that love is passionate and tender, that love is benevolent and obtainable. This sculpture is a celebration of what love is possible in this world—and it is far better than a dream, because here the love is real."

Read her full evaluation here, which is itself an art class in miniature.

And head here to Sandra J. Shaw’s website see the full sculpture by means of four full-sized photographs,


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Good riddance Gordon

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories on issues affecting our freedom.

This week’s biggest story: “Good riddance Gordon”

gordon-brown-04Gorgon Brown resigns– The day’s biggest story hasn’t made it to the national newspapers yet. As I write this, Gordon Brown’s flunkeys are carting the lectern, from which the Tartan Terror announced he was quitting, back into his former home in Downing Street. 

The career politician, described by one of his own party’s candidates at the election last week as the worst Prime Minister in British history, has already left the building.

That’s one of the great things about changes of government in the UK. There’s no two-week period of grace where deposed Prime Ministers can wistfully reflect on their time in office, or meddle with the markets. The morning after the bastards get their marching orders by the voters, while they’re still hung over, they’ve got to dust off the suitcases and start packing. Gordon’s four extra days at Downing Street are exceptional, and he can thank the closeness of the election result for his prolonged tenancy.

gordon-brown_03 The Conservatives themselves must have one of the most insipid party logos in existence. I initially thought I was looking at the emblem of the Monster Raving Enviro-loony Party, a zigzag broad brush scribble of green representing the foliage of a tree, with a thin blue trunk and roots. So different to Margaret Thatcher’s inspired flaming torch from the 80s; in fact, absolutely bloody depressing if you ask me, but perfectly symbolic of today’s Conservatives.

The press have been demanding a resolution to the “crisis” of government. Gorgon and David have both talked about the need for stable, strong government. What utter bollocks. The best thing for Britain would be a small and slightly shaky government, beholden to a constitution that recognised the right of Britons to live for their own sake in peace and privacy.   

gordon-brown-02 Well, what should David Cameron do now he’s been anointed Prime Minister? I have a radical proposal, having looked at the election results in each of the four countries of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, home of the Gorgon, the Labour Party won 41 out of 59 constituency seats with 42% of the vote; the Tories won just 16% of the vote and one seat. One miserable bloody seat! In fact there was a small swing from the Scottish Nationalist Party to Labour. The leek-eating Welsh, despite a 6% swing from Labour to Conservative, still only received 26% of the vote and have 8 Tory MPs out of 40 seats. In Ulster, Sinn Fein received more votes than the Tory-leaning Democratic Unionists. The silver lining there is that Sinn Fein  still refuse to take their seats in the House of Commons. (I hope that means they are also cut off from funding by the British taxpayer.)

gordon-brown-01England, on the other hand, is a Tory stronghold. The Conservatives won 41% of the vote, and nearly 300 of the 532 seats. It’s staggering to contemplate that of the 306 Conservative MPs elected, 297 (97%) of them are from England. I believe it indicates that the Tories have no moral mandate to govern Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Clearly, these three festering cesspools of socialism should now be excised from the host that has sustained them for centuries.

The people of England need to free themselves from the engorged parasites to their north and west. It’s time to dissolve the United Kingdom.

Great Britain, while no longer the only sick man in Europe, is still far from well, with a debt-to-GDP ratio not vastly different to that of the People’s State of Greece and the other miscreants such as Portugal and Spain who the German taxpayer are being forced to bail out.

Therefore, as well as granting Scotland, Ireland and Wales independence and home rule, as so much of their respective populations have been demanding for years, urgent and drastic cuts in government spending are needed.  If England is to make any sort of economic recovery within the lifetime of this blog’s readers, this must be coupled with cuts in income tax and the elimination of VAT as quickly as possible.

  Local government in England, long dominated by the Labour Party, needs to be seriously pruned as well. The state needs to sell off vast swathes of urban property including the roads and streets, many of which could then be either closed off to road traffic, or opened up to new parks, thoroughfares or imaginative shopping precincts. Privatisation of property might also mean the dismantling of the bulk of four million CCTV cameras that constantly spy on Britons—another legacy of fourteen years of Labour government.

David Cameron has an opportunity to pull England back from the abyss. But, even more urgently than electoral reform, his Lib Dem enablers should be pushing him to cut free the lesser nations that have wilted in England’s shadow over the past four hundred years. It’s time these nations learnt for themselves that socialism means equal misery for all, and perhaps then the flower of freedom (and when I say that, I assuredly don’t mean the Tory Party) might just start to poke its head above ground in those backward nations.

England’s attachments need to be liberated and their peoples set free to discover the route to prosperity, or the road to serfdom, by their own hands.

So say it with me everyone: “Home rule now!”          

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny - when the government
fear the people, there is liberty.

- Thomas Jefferson

The Great Australian Tax Grab is sending the golden goose offshore

The Australian Budget matters to us.  The extent to which we haven’t descended here into a complete black hole of economic depression is in large part because of Australia’s still ongoing resource boom.

But Kevin Rudd and his Treasurer Wayne Swan are doing their level best to kill that particular golden goose.  Last night’s Budget saw them sharpening the axe as they prepare to carry out the plan to decapitate the miners in order to drink their blood.

The tale can be told in four excerpts:

From this morning’s Australian newspaper, we read the budgetary boasts of Kevin and Wayne who, despite still spending like water, are making far-out promises of balancing the budget:

    “Government debt is forecast to return to zero in 2017-18 - also three years earlier than previously predicted. Mr Swan predicted that the budget deficit, already down from $57 billion to $40 billion in 2010-11, would turn to a bare surplus in 2012-13 of $1 billion. “We have to grow together and maximise growth,” Mr Swan said.

From yesterday’s Herald Sun, we find out just how this fantasy is going to be funded.  Not by ending Australians delusions about their taxpaid “entitlements,” but by finding a new sap to fund them: by soaking the miners:

    “[By] the resources rent tax (RRT) , or as it is dishonestly titled, the resources super profits tax …
    “It is not petty cash. The RRT will [they hope] raise $3 billion in 2012-13 and $9 billion in 2013-14 - the last two years covered by the official budget forecasts.”

And from the Herald Sun, we see how illusory those figures (and this recovery) are going to be.

    “Fully half the $30 billion the Government claims as ‘savings’ over the next four years came not from real savings but from just two last-minute grabs for cash.
    “Nearly $5 billion is to come from smokers - for their own good, of course - and another $12 billion from miners, thanks to the new ‘super profits tax.
    “These are huge figures, and the mining tax depends crucially on there actually being ‘super profits’ left to plunder.
    “If China’s growth stalls and our mineral exports shrink, Rudd’s forecasts are finished.  If the miners, furious at Rudd’s smash and grab, keep announcing the cancellation or deferral of big projects in response, his tax take will shrivel, and our economy with it.”

And the miners? They’re already shrugging, as a local blogger spotted:

‘As they will say in Oz: "Where the bloody hell did ya go...?"
    “Well, apparently now its going to be Africa and other parts of Asia.
    “Anywhere but the super funds of working Australians.
    “Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has managed to put a spanner in the works of that troublesome mining industry with his fabulous new taxes.

"Rio Tinto shelves billions in projects
    ”MINING giant Rio Tinto has shelved plans to spend $11 billion expanding its massive iron ore operations in Western Australia because of the wave of uncertainty sparked by the Rudd government's proposed tax on super profits."

If there’s anyone anywhere who really believes that Kevin and Wayne will manage to steal enough from the miners to backstop their budget deficits, without sending their economy’s backstop off-shore in pursuit of safer profits, they probably need their heads read.

Questions & Tips

Some of my regular reads have added a Formspring account to their blogs, and being an inveterate copycat I’ve added one myself as an easy way to get in touch with me, ask me questions, send me tips, and generally slag me off.

You’ll see it linked at the upper left as “Questions and Tips.”  As they say in boxing, knock yourself out.

PS: If it’s just questions about me you’re interested in (Galt knows why), you might appreciate the ‘Interview with the Blogger’ I ran here in January.  Re-reading it now, there’s some very good questions there--let down only by my answers.  I might add a few of the better ones to the Formspring thing just to get all the good questions in one place.

European Central Bank and its USD$1 Trillion Bailout Plan

Kris Sayce from Money Morning Australia gives an over-the-Tasman perspective on the European Central Bank crying havoc, and letting slip the printing presses of doom.
The Bank of Japan? Check.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? Check.

The United States Federal Reserve? Check.

The Bank of England? Check.

The European Central Bank? Check.

The Reserve Bank of Australia? [Silence].

QUOTE OF THE DAY: The Key to the Politician’s Blank Cheque

_Quote Any political candidate who proclaims proudly that he or she is a pragmatist must, therefore, be watched very carefully because the pragmatist ploy is, ultimately, a ticket to unchecked power, a world in which trickery, muscle, and such are the arbiters of acceptable policies, never mind whether the rights of citizens are being crushed in the process.”
                                            -  Tibor Machan, “The Fatal Allure of Pragmatism

‘You Go to My Head’ – Lena Horne

Singer Lena Horne died today. aged 92. 

Here she is (above) singing ‘You Go to My Head’ with Billy Strayhorn on piano—her favourite accompanist because, it was said, he “cushioned Horne’s eggshell voice with gentle support.” 

Together they perform one of their favourite songs, celebrating “drunken delirium as a metaphor for love.”

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Nick Smith explains the ETS [update 2]

This mock interview with Nick Thick Smith explaining his Emissions Tax Scam was emailed to bloggers yesterday.  I liked Whale Oil’s title for it:

An Interview with Mad Nick

UPDATE 1:  John Boscawen outlines what upsets New Zealanders so much about Smith’s Emissions Tax Scam, and fisks the lies Smith is spinning:

    “What upsets [New Zealanders] so much?
    – That the unnecessary financial burden imposed on individuals and families, businesses and exporters, workers and beneficiaries by this unwanted and unwarranted ETS regime is unreasonable, irrational and unfair
    – That Nick Smith and his leader have both repeatedly stated that New Zealand will not be a world leader in the imposition of an ETS on its citizens and yet are now pushing on to be THE world leader in ETS taxes
    – That NONE of our largest trading partners, Australia, China and the United States, have imposed such a tax regime on its citizens and businesses…

    “If you have emailed a National MP you may have received a standard email in return, containing these misleading pronouncements. I detail them below and also the truth of the matter so that you, the tax-paying citizens of New Zealand, can reach your own conclusions.

Misleading Statement Number 1
In the next 12 months the government has to pay $1.1 billion to foresters, in the form of emissions credits for forests planted since 1990.
The Truth
Nick Smith’s own officials confirmed to me that this was not correct. This figure is a combination of payments for both pre 1990 forests and post 1989 forests. And there is a very important difference. The first is a lump sum; non-recurring payment ($420 million) and the second ($685 million) covers forests planted in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and has an ongoing recurring element of approximately $228 million per year. ACT says we should defer the ETS and compensate foresters who planted after the forestry aspect of the ETS came into effect on 1 January, 2008 . That would cost no more than $20 million.

Misleading Statement Number 2
The Government’s revenue in the first year from the ETS will be about $350 million.
The Truth
Nick Smith’s official's also confirmed to me that this figure excludes the windfall profit gains from the three government owned electricity generators.  So government revenue from the ETS will be in excess of $500 m, well in excess of the annual ongoing forestry cost. Where is the extra money going?

Misleading Statement 3
New Zealand is not leading the world with our ETS, because 29 other countries have one.
The Truth
The New Zealand ETS is a single country scheme; no other country in the world has a single country scheme. The European Union as a trading bloc has a scheme which covers 29 countries. The European ETS imposes costs on the entire European trading bloc and 80 percent of European exports are internal. In contrast, our ETS will directly penalise all exporters.
The European ETS also excludes major parts of their economy, whereas our government has been very proud of the fact that our all gases/all sectors ETS is a world first.

Misleading Statement 4
New data shows that the moderated ETS has reversed the trend of deforestation which was a major worry under Labour.
The Truth
New Zealand’s plantation forest area grew extensively through the 1990s. In the lead up to 1 January, 2008, there was excessive harvesting of forests, only because people rushed to fell them before January 1 so they wouldn't be subject to a bill of $17,000 per hectare. This would never have happened if it weren’t for the ETS.

The government has made a big point of saying that agriculture doesn't come into the ETS until 2015. This is correct with regard to animal methane and nitrous oxide from fertilizers. However, Meat and Wool New Zealand have calculated that by 2015 these costs will be less than one quarter of what a dairy farmer will incur, and about 50% of what a sheep and beef farmer will incur. By far the biggest cost to a farmer is the petrol, electricity and processing costs of dairy factories and meat works. And these costs start on July 1 this year…