Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Emissions Tax Scam Day almost upon us

This time tomorrow, you’ll already be paying more for petrol, diesel, power and everything else that uses any of these things—which means you’ll be paying more for everything—paying more because Nick Smith and John Key have been hell-bent on signing you up to a scheme few want, nobody can afford, whose alleged “benefits” will do precisely nothing to fix the alleged problem, and whose economic impact no-one will even be able to quantify.

But just because “it will be difficult if not impossible” to quantify its economic impact—except to say that we know it will be wearing a negative sign in front of it--that doesn’t mean we can’t quantify the sort of impact it’s going to have on our hip pockets, and on the expenses columns of every would-be producer.

So the money you would have spent on more food, more books or a new pair of shoes for your kids—or that a business might have spent on new investment or, you know, creating new jobs--will instead now be going every week to… well, no-one can really tell you where the hell it’s going, can they. Around a billion dollars a year going … somewhere.

Meanwhile, the coal that would have and could have been burned here to provide warmer homes and cheaper power will instead be shipped to China to provide more and cheaper power there.

But don’t complain about it.  This is what madman Nick Smith has been touting since at least 2006. This is exactly what you voted for.

And tomorrow you’re going to get it good and hard.

It really isn’t about science; it’s about control.  After all, even if the IPCC’s worst prognostications came to pass, it doesn’t follow that we all need to stick our head in Nick Smith’s noose. As Bernard Darnton says, we know that socialism doesn’t work at fifteen degrees, so why will it work at seventeen?

So what would a libertarian do about global warmingPlenty. Property rights can still work over international borders. Fact is, it’s not sacrifice and self-abnegation that’s needed, but more self-interested pursuit of technology, more freedom to adapt to price signals -- and what's needed to pursue that is more freedom and less big government.

Tomorrow, John Boy will deliver the opposite. 

Smile.  He might wave back. And remind you there’s more hikes to come

Banks banks on his reputation for profligacy?

banks_3006_2 In just two days John Banks has destroyed whatever reputation he was trying to construct for being economical with other people's money--a reputation that can hardly be taken seriously in any case, having presided over rate rises every single year of his mayoralty.

But it's a reputation that can hardly have been enhanced by his claim that, unlike his colleague to the south, he--John Banks, Honest John--has never, would never, and hasn't ever “charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland"…  Well, apart from-–Oops! What are those!—those receipts in his office files showing him spending ratepayers' money on some mighty fine entertaining.  (Hey, I forgot, they don’t even serve sandwiches at Euro.)

And its a reputation that has now been delivered a fatal blow by his kite-flying suggestion that as president dictator-for-life mayor of the new uber-city he wants to play host to, wait for it, an Olympic Games

An Olympic Games, yet!! The event that left Sydney with a bill it’s still paying for, and London with one it never will. And you want to hand that sort of Olympic-sized bill to this humble little city!!

What an idiot. What an ego. No more perfect method could have been dreamed up to convert Auckland's millions of dollars of debt into billions.

Just more evidence how "uber-cities" beget uber-egos with uber-power lust, who peddle uberly-stupid ideas that will cost us all dearly.

More evidence, it should by now be clear, that Rodney's uber-bureaucracy is not going to go well.

PUBLIC NOTICE

A few readers have been sending me the story about Al Gore. Please don’t. We don’t run that sort of rubbish here.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: How To Win The Drug War

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

This week: How To Win The Drug War

_richardmcgrath The other day I was reading a regular column in one of our local giveaway midweek rags, penned by a former Wairarapa mayoral candidate, giving his opinion on the woefully lenient 34 month sentence handed down by Judge Judith Potter to the vicious killer of Hawea Vercoe. This brute not only punched Mr Vercoe in the head but kicked him in the swede as he lay unconscious on the ground.

Unfortunately, after calling for a more appropriate sentence commensurate with the scale of the crime, the writer suddenly  dropped in from left field a suggestion that drug dealers be summarily executed with no recourse to the appeal courts. I wasn't overly surprised at this turn of reportorial events, as the author of this piece was the worst sort of teetotaller—one who had for many years enjoyed a tipple but now seems to believe that if he doesn’t drink, no-one else should either.

No doubt writer Walter Block would take issue with this gentleman, as Block considers drug dealers, pimps, slum landlords—even corrupt cops—to be heroes. He lavishes praise on them in his book Defending the Undefendable. Indeed it is hard to feel warmth for some of the people Block idolises—the blackmailer, the slanderer, the strip-miner and the employer of child labour—but he makes a solid case in support of each of them, using the argument that the best, fairest and most socially just way for people to interact is via the free market.

Remembering the Cato Institute’s report on the success of drug decriminalisation in Portugal, I flicked the local rag a response:           

_Quote RL's recent column (June 16) suggested bringing in the death penalty for drug dealers. I suspect the underlying motivation for his radical proposal is a desire to lessen the harm done to others by people who use drugs. Such a sentiment I find commendable. But quite apart from the fact that the state often gets it wrong and ends up killing the wrong person, if the government started executing everyone involved in selling drugs, there would very soon be a grave shortage of liquor outlets, corner dairy proprietors, chemists and pharmaceutical companies, not to mention some very overworked funeral directors.
    “A far more effective way to put the current generation of drug dealers out of business would be to legalise the manufacture, sale and consumption of their merchandise - which sounds crazy, but just think about it for a minute. The people currently selling illegal drugs love the current law because it guarantees them control of the market along with enormous profit margins. The last thing these dealers want is the sort of competition they would face if other vendors were allowed to sell better quality product at a lower price, openly and legally. 
    “R speculates on the motives behind the actions of the thug who robbed and murdered an elderly South Auckland woman. This heinous and disgusting crime may very well have been perpetrated to help finance a drug habit. But has R ever asked himself why illicit drugs are so damned expensive? Could it have something to do with the fact that they are illicit?
    “Just in case anyone is wondering: I don't use currently illegal drugs, I don't promote their use, and I spend one day a week working at the local addiction service trying to help people into a healthy alternative to a drug-centred lifestyle. And I can attest that the exorbitantly high price of drugs does not stop people using them. It just makes them poorer, and makes the people selling these drugs wealthier.
    “R may dislike the thought of other adults taking drugs, but if no-one gets hurt in the process, it's really none of his business. Like it or not, for a multitude of reasons, there will always be a segment of society wanting to self-medicate with whatever drugs they can lay their hands on. I believe the scope for harm to the greater community would be lessened if these people had access to cheap, high-quality product sold by reputable traders. Ideally, they should also have access to education on the risks of drug use. “

If R doubts whether substance decriminalisation works, he should look to what has happened in Portugal, where personal possession of all drugs was decriminalised in 2001. It now has the lowest adult rate of lifetime marijuana use in the European Union. The United States, home of the War on Drugs, has proportionately higher rates of cocaine use than Portugal has of marijuana use. Rates of new HIV infection in Portugal are dropping, and the number of people coming forward for drug treatment has doubled.

R clearly sees the use of drugs as a scourge on society. There is a kernel of truth in what he says. There are more constructive ways of addressing the stresses of past traumas than clouding one's brain with mind-altering medication. But a bigger evil, perhaps, are the laws that drive the market for intoxicating drugs underground, and into the hands of gangs and other organised criminals.

There are so many arguments that can justify legalising the use by humans of any and all drugs immediately. My letter  appeals to the disgust many people feel for the violent and terrifying gang culture enmeshed in the New Zealand drug trade. But more importantly, I should remind readers that it is everyone’s right to self-medicate with whatever they wish, just as it is everyone’s responsibility not to harm other people or their property. My body belongs to me, yours to you. Most emphatically, your body does not belong to the state. It is yours to use or abuse as you wish, depending on what standards you set for the quality of the short time you have on this planet. That is the libertarian view, and that is the view a Libertarianz government would take. It’s nobody’s business but your own what you choose to eat, smoke, snort or inject.

Not only have the Portuguese got a pretty useful football team, they’ve got some inspired politicians willing to give people the freedom to learn from their mistakes they make, and not turn a health issue into a legal one.

Someone is bound to complain that once again I have chosen to support an unpopular cause – drug legalisation – just as I backed the harvesting of sea cattle a week or two back. But issues like these, steeped in controversy and emotional overlay, serve as a litmus test as to whether one’s libertarian values apply to all peaceful people, not just the good-looking ones.        

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

BBC goes not-so warmist? [update 2]

BBC’s Panorama programme has done the free world a great favour.  Last night Channel Warmist  undertook to look at how e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit caused the climate change debate to turn nasty, and (following their balanced charter)  sought to suss out “both sides” on the climate debate post-ClimateGate.

WATCH: How 'climate-gate' turned nasty- video preview

It was carefully done. Tom Heap tackled the debate over the certainty, or not, of the global warming hypothesis, by emulating Top Gear’s ‘Cool Wall’ to produce a heavily simplified ‘Wall of Certainty,’ on which their interviewees placed their answers to Heap’s questions.

Which is a very cool idea—although as atmospheric scientist John Christy points out, there is no category for “I Don’t Know” on the wall, which is where he would put the crucial “Is it us?” question; and, too, there’s a lot of fudging about what each of the little markers means.

The end result of which is co-opting sober statistician Bjorn Lomborg and sensible scientist John Christy into appearing to confirm the warmist mantra.

Yet even as mild and slanted as this is, it still got some British warmists apoplectic.

One thing the BBC reporter might have mentioned, but didn’t, is that a large part of the £8 billion BBC Pension Fund is invested in carbon credits … indeed, the head of the BBC Pension Fund is the chair of the (Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) in which much of the money is invested.  Which somewhat gives the lie to the BBC’s talk of neutrality on the issue.

UPDATE 1: Skeptic site Bishop Hill thought the programme “toe-curlingly awful.” From the comments:

  •     “The programme gave the impression that even skeptics agreed on the scientific arguments for AGW by carefully avoiding asking the right questions, their chain of logic went: "Is CO2 a greenhouse gas... does human activity generate CO2...has human activity contributed to global warming ..?" Leading to even the skeptics interviewed answering "Yes" and the uninformed viewer wondering why the skeptics were rocking the boat of scientific consensus.
        “The missing question was ‘has human activity contributed significantly to dangerous levels of global warming?,’ and that was carefully never asked.”
  • “Just watched it. Very superficial even by the BBCs low standard.”
  • “How utterly dumb. Panorama used to be an hour long, didn't it? Now they struggle to produce a narrative for half that time that would prove interesting to the intellectually subnormal.  The world really is going to hell in a handcart. But not from CO2 emissions.”
  • “I found the questioning of the public and the questioning of the experts on how likely climate change was manmade, very frustrating. The public had one simple question which either made them out to be thick or to be on the side of the great and the good. When the questions were put to the experts, they were re-worded to allow for the obvious nuances with the issue.”
  • “Would I be over cynical if I observed that it has taken [Michael] Mann 12 years to notice that the Hockey Stick has been over hyped.”

UPDATE 2: Hockey-stick producer Michael Mann was interviewed on the programme, expressing surprise that his infamous Hockey Stick (the one that “hid the decline”) was made “an icon of the climate change debate.”

_Quote … Prof Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, said he had always made clear there were ‘uncertainties’ in his work.
    “’I always thought it was somewhat misplaced to make it a central icon of the climate change debate,’ he said.
    “In a BBC Panorama programme, scientists from both sides of the debate agree that global warming is happening and it is at least partly caused by mankind.
    “But they differ on how much the recent rise in temperature has been caused by man made emissions and what will happen in the future.
    “Professor John Christy, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Huntsville in Alabama, said just a quarter of the current warming is caused by man made emissions. He said that 10 to 30 per cent of scientists agree with him and are fairly sceptical about the extent of man made global warming…”

A useful world map

To help English football fans find their way home again, their supporters support team very kindly prepared for them a helpful map showing what they thought would be the world’s main points of interest.Map I understand that most of them are expected home eventually. [Thanks to reader Graham for a copy]

A tale of two Davids

Today I want to tell you a story of two Davids, made by two artists, produced in two different artistic periods.  One David was a thinker; the other a brute. The difference explains the difference between the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, and the two artists.

The chief artistic difference between the Renaissance period and the Baroque period that followed it was the difference between learning and applying. Come the Renaissance and for the first time in centuries, classical technique had been rediscovered and the masters of the Renaissance used it produce figures representing ideal men instead of metaphysical waifs, and art that glorified this earth rather than some other dimension. It was the most important artistic turning point of the last two-thousand years.

Standing on the shoulders of those making this rediscovery were the later Baroque masters, who made the most of the lessons learned to do something quite new in artistic history. What the classicists and the Renaissance masters had done was to produce idealised figures, but they were figures without motion. That was what the Baroque masters added.

In the Baroque, for the first time in art, we see dramatic movement, great power, intense emotion; the expression of each of these became possible to the artists in the Baroque period because of the lessons learned earlier by the Renaissance masters.

michelangelo_david_detail These two great statues of David that are separated by just over a century give the lesson. In Michelangelo’s famous depiction of the great Biblical hero, above and right, he fuses classicism with Florentine humanism. Selecting the psychologically-charged moment of calm -- the centre of the storm just before battle -- he depicts the moment of decision, the act of mind that won the battle of boy against giant.

Bernini however, at left and below, shows something quite different.  For his piece he chooses the moment of action; the instant in which the battle is joined.

Where Michelango's David of 1501-04 is static, suggesting the later movement rather than showing it, Bernini's of i623-24 is all motion, all power, and displays the inner emotional intensity of the shepherd-warrior.

Motion and purpose, fused with emotion - all the very real essentials of life; this fusion was the leitmotif of the very best of Baroque expression.

bernini_david2 

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Reputation, reputation, reputation

cadbury There’s been a lot of talk about Cadbury’s slide down the rankings of NZ’s most-trusted brands, from being judged the most trusted company in the country lat year down to a meagre 36th out of 133rd this year (if those rankings themselves can be trusted, being based on a survey of only 500 people).

For its part, Cadbury has resolved to earn back the public trust it has lost in the past year.

But you might be wondering, why on earth would companies care what people say about them?  Especially when so many of the left’s luminaries insist that companies, especially multinational companies in headlong pursuit of profits, are essentially an irresponsible law unto themselves?

The answer is as simple as the nose on your face, really.  It’s because a seller’s reputation is the key to their long-term profits.

If companies have their own long-term interests at heart then, as all good companies should, then maintaining their reputation with their customers is essential. This is why good companies spend so much time and energy protecting their brand, and lesser companies do not. It’s because in the final analysis it’s not multinational corporations who decide the long-term direction of production, it’s consumers.

_Quote Neither the entrepreneurs nor the farmers nor the capitalists determine what has to be produced [explains Ludwig Von Mises]. The consumers do that. If a businessman does not strictly obey the orders of the public as they are conveyed to him by the structure of market prices, he suffers losses, he goes bankrupt, and is thus removed from his eminent position at the helm. Other men who did better in satisfying the demand of the consumers replace him.
    “The consumers patronize those shops in which they can buy what they want at the cheapest price. Their buying and their abstention from buying decides who should own and run the plants and the farms. They make poor people rich and rich people poor. They determine precisely what should be produced, in what quality, and in what quantities. They are merciless bosses, full of whims and fancies, changeable and unpredictable. For them nothing counts other than their own satisfaction. They do not care a whit for past merit and vested interests. If something is offered to them that they like better or that is cheaper, they desert their old purveyors. In their capacity as buyers and consumers they are hard-hearted and callous, without consideration for other people.”

The consumer is king, and she is a hard task-master—and it is the very profit system that those leftist luminaries denounce that is the key to ensuring a company’s responsibility. Because if long-term profits are important to a company, then keeping their customers happy must be paramount.

RELATED POSTS:

Auckland Bloggers Bar Bash (B3) this Thursday!

It looks to me like this Thursday is the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time for Bloggers Drinks! For the monthly Bloggers Bar Bash(B3) at Galbraith’s, Mt Eden!

So: B3, be free, be there!

It’s the event for bloggers and blog readers to leave their guns at the door, let their hair 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 something else.

“Ecstasy!” Phil Goff did not say.

“I’m going outside for a cigarette,” Judith Collins might have said.

“It’s the second-most arresting thing I attend,” Cameron Slater probably would say, but hasn’t yet.

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 this last one didn’t stay around too long.

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

What: Auckland Bloggers Drinks
When:
This Thursday 1 July from 6.30pm
Where:
Galbraiths, 2 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland
Who for: Bloggers, blog readers, blog trolls.

That’s all, England [updated

One of the many pleasures in watching English teams lose is watching the ferocity with which English supporters turn on their own teams; and The Sun, who have collected a host of jokes already posted  “after what has been seen as England's worst World Cup performance ever” (a phrase you might find useful to remember next time you drink with English folk).

Show's over ... Wayne's World Cup is finished

- The England team visited an orphanage in Cape Town today. "It's heartbreaking to see their sad little faces with no hope," said Jamal, aged six.

- I hear Oxo are making a new product. The packaging is white with a red cross. They're calling it the laughing stock.

- What's the difference between the England team and a tea bag? The tea bag stays in the cup longer.

- News Flash: Huge spike in sales of pink fairy tutus at Glastonbury Festival by blokes too embarrassed to wear their England shirt.

- What do you call an Englishman in the knockout stages of the World Cup? A referee.

- Three hours of football and Robert Green is still England's top scorer.

- Apparently that fan had no trouble slipping into the England dressing room Robert Green was guarding the door.

- I can't believe we only managed a draw against a rubbish team we should easily have beaten. . . . I'm ashamed to call myself Algerian.

- What does the Englishman do when England wins the World Cup? He switches off the PlayStation.

- What's the difference between Wayne Rooney and Shrek? Shrek can save the day.

Time to re- watch and enjoy a few of Nike’s brilliant “Write the Future” ads, a great expression of free will and causality…

Controversy over proposed ‘Ground Zero’ Mosque [update 3]

In his latest podcast, Leonard Peikoff comes out swinging against allowing the “give America the finger” Mosque to be built just three blocks or so from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, where more than 3000 people were killed in the name of Islam less than ten years ago.  But he’s not just objecting to its construction, he’s calling for government action to destroy it altogether. Asked “isn’t it private property and therefore protected by individual rights?” Peikoff says no, emphatically not, and further

_Quote In regard to this issue, I would say, any way possible, permission should be refused; and, if they go ahead and build it, the government should bomb it out of existence. Evacuating it first, with no compensation to any of the property owners involved in this monstrosity.”

Trouble is (well, there’s several causes for trouble, really), his argument applies to every mosque built in every street in every city in the west. Which is no better than what Roosevelt did when he locked up every Japanese-American he could find right after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  As Ari Armstrong said last week:

_QuoteIf there is real evidence that the builders of the mosque actively plan to forcibly overthrow the United States government or harm its citizens, then they should be prosecuted and imprisoned by the government. I have seen no such evidence.”

Yes, Islam is at war with the west.  And yes, those who’ve committed acts of war should be treated as casualties, not as defendants.  But as far as those building the mosque are concerned, any guilt must first be proven, not just assumed.

If not,  seems to me that objecting to this mosque is simply a proxy for objecting to what’s not being done to hunt down and kill those responsible for terrorism and for supporting terrorists —in other words, objecting to the foolish war that is being waged against a tactic instead of against the real enemy, a failing war that has left the real enemies to haunt failed states like Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan and hostile states like Iran in the same way that a vampire haunts darkness. Or in Diana Hsieh’s succinct words:

_QuoteTotalitarian Islam is a major threat, but that threat needs to be fought by the military -- by destroying the states that sponsor terrorism -- not by violating private property rights in order to prevent a mosque from being built.”

On this then, Trey Given’s carefully considered words speak for mine:

_QuoteDr. Peikoff says in his comment that if I disagree, then I don’t understand Objectivism.  I’m fine with that. I do not subscribe to Objectivism so that I might call myself an Objectivist.  I call myself an Objectivist because I agree with all that I know and understand about Objectivism.  Part of that understanding is that I make up my own mind about these things.  Dr. Peikoff can think whatever he likes about things, but his thoughts are not mine.  I will not accept an argument from authority.
    “All I can say is that I will re-listen to the podcast and re-consider what he says and see if I agree.  At present, I do not.”

Me either.

RELATED POSTS:

Read his whole post here asking What About the Forty Other Islamic Centers?.

‘Cathedral’ – Auguste Rodin

What Auguste Rodin could do with a pair of hands, other sculptors struggled to do with whole galaxies of complete human figures. When I first posted this a few years ago, I quoted Oh Crikey'. 

_Quote Who would've thought a mere 'hand' could convey so much anguish & torment, or tenderness & delicacy? ... In Maori terms, we could say Rodin's sculptures have a mauri, or a 'life force.' The more rational among us will scoff, ‘Oh, that's silly, inanimate objects can't possibly have a life force!’ But they're dead wrong, Rodin is alive!

Rodin: the sculptor who breathes life into mere stone.  In a beautiful photo by Mark Klym.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Toy Story meets The Wire

So the new Toy Story film has already been accused if being “carelessly sexist” by the usual feminazis.  I wonder how those critics would feel about the idea of Toy Story mashed up with The Wire? [Hat tip Noodle Food]

The return of street-fighting man

260610_riots They’re out on the streets again. Burning. Looting. Vandalising.

From The Battle of Seattle to the destruction of Toronto’s main shopping street, thugs and vandals have been out in force destroying the property of local business owners to (somehow) demonstrate by that destruction the iniquity of global capitalism,and the evil of multinational corporations. 

The vandals argue that the alleged “violence” of global capitalism justifies their own violence against what they say are the “symbols” of symbols of global capitalism, from banks to multinational franchises from Starbucks to Nike, to the G20 summit itself. A broken storefront window, they say, “becomes a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet.” A burning building becomes “a message board to record brainstorm ideas for a better world.”  And somehow a billion-dollar meet-up of politicians becomes a symbol of capitalism, instead of its very opposite.

This form of postmodern protest is clearly as ironic as it is irrational.

Because in the first place, these thugs meet up to smash windows and score headlines only at the times and places that politicians meet up to talk to each other. And the only relationship that politicians have with capitalism, particularly these ones sitting around today's G-20 table, is getting in its way.

And of what does this alleged “violence” of global capitalism consist?  If we judge the targets of the hard-core “Black Bloc’ thugs, whose destruction is given at least tacit support by their less violent confreres whom they profess to despise, it’s the “violence” of serving coffee and hamburgers to people in comfortable surroundings (“Let’s trash McDonalds and Starbucks!!”); it’s the “violence” of fitting people out in comfortable and good-looking clothes (“Let’s go burn down a Nike or Levis store!”; it’s the violence of lending capital to businesses large and small to help create prosperity (“Let’s attack these tools for the expansion of corporate repression!!”); and if we were to draw the global bow that these protestors would like us to, it’s the “violence” of bringing jobs, capital and prosperity to places around the world that haven’t necessarily enjoyed these boons before.

If there’s any violence here, the only place it can be found is in their own violence against both property and logic.

As it happens, the news of the Toronto protests riots came through just as I was reading an excellent piece on “The Multinational Corporation” from an old (1974) copy of The Freeman. It makes the excellent point, one that twenty-six years later still escapes both the thugs and vandals and their pacifist fellow-travellers, that multinationals are good both for the country of their origin, and for the countries in which they invest.

That’s a lesson that opponents of foreign investment here in New Zealand still haven’t grasped.

And the article also identifies the heart of the leftist opposition to the multinational corporation, i.e., “the Leninist concept of imperialism.”  That’s a well-exploded fallacy that unfortunately still lies at the heart of so much opposition.

Now since the article is now online (as are all from The Freeman’s archives, a great resource), and since The Freeman’s publishers grant permission to republish their articles, here is a large part of it. It makes fascinating reading twenty-six years later, especially considering the examples the uses and the trends begun then (and sometimes expunged since by the political predecessors of today’s G-20 politicians). (References, by the way, can be found in the online article.)
The Multinational Corporation
by Mark Peterson (January, 1974)

I blame the parents, myself

3858744 There’s been a lot of commentary in a short space of time about the arrest and subsequent release without conviction of Phil Goff’s twenty-five-year-old daughter Sara for trying to take four tabs of Ecstasy into a music event in New South Wales—hardly the most serious crime on the books, and one which in a more moral society wouldn’t be on the books at all.

But it’s prompted a lot of people to argue that poor Sara shouldn’t be a headline, on the basis that politicians’ loinfruit shouldn’t be fuel for criticism of their parents.

What rubbish. Child-rearing has yet to become an exact science, but it’s very clear that parents play a large part in the creation of their offspring’s personality—and when the actions of children have a bearing on the politicians themselves, or on their policies, then it’s only appropriate that they be judged thereby.

Annette King’s daughter crashing her mother’s ministerial car, which King herself had loaned her, might for example justify the suggestion that King might not be too responsible herself in how she looks after the taxpayers’ property in which she’s been given responsibility.

Bill English’s son’s anti-gay tirades on his Bebo page might be viewed in the context of the increasingly hysterical whispering campaign about the private life of then-PM Helen Clark and her husband, a campaign given tacit support by senior Nats.

Jim Anderton’s utterly misguided enthusiasm for banning party pills was undoubtedly motivated by the 1994 suicide of his daughter Philippa, leaving him utterly immune to reason on the subject of drugs.

And, more recently, Sarah Palin’s Bible-based conservatism, and the “family values” she sought to impose on the country, gave good grounds to talk about both her 17-year-old daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and the unseemly haste with which her parents tried to force her into what looked like an unwilling shotgun marriage with the baby’s father.

So it’s not true at all to say that politicians’ children should always be off-limits to media scrutiny, especially not if their behaviour reflects on that of their parent.

And Sarah Goff’s behaviour does reflect directly on the character her father, doesn’t it. A life of sucking off the taxpayers’ tit himself has clearly rubbed off on his own loinfruit, because we find that at twenty-five-years old this young woman has already begun to throw her life away—starting a life-long dependency on taxpayers’ money as a bureaucrat with the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry.

A very sad and shocking story indeed.  I blame the parents, myself.

Friday, 25 June 2010

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: “You’re Fired”

So that’s it.  If you’d told me two weeks ago that New Zealand would finish the World Cup unbeaten and finish ahead of Italy—and that I’d watch all their games—I wouldn’t have believed you.

Still, while our eyes were focussed on events in South Africa, other things were happening around the world too...

  • The commander of the Afghanistan campaign, in which New Zealand troops are involved, has been fired over the Rolling Stone scandal. But surely the real scandal exposed in Rolling Stone is not his criticisms of his bosses, but his widely acclaimed but sadly failing “counterinsurgency” strategy, and how it needlessly imperils soldiers’ lives--shifting the risks from Afghan civilians to Western combatants. Not to mention the politicisation and expansion of a war that started with one simple aim, and now has too many, and all too diffuse.
    McChrystal’s other — deadly — scandal – Eland Journo, VOICES OF REASON
    General McChrystal and the War in Afghanistan – OBJECTIVIST INDIVIDUALIST
  • "It is typical of the spin era that the first serious ‘crisis’ in relations between General McChrystal and President Obama occurs over a few disobliging words the General and his team spoke about the President and his team. The endless rounds of deaths and dangerous patrols, the delays in finding political settlements on the ground and the ubiquitous ability of the ‘insurgents’ to reappear are not apparently worthy reasons to recall the General for talks, but a magazine article is."
    The President and the General – British MP John Redwood [hat tip Samizdata]
  • The only possible element of hope is the appointment of David Petraeus to the Commander’s post. In a message following "
  • Speaking of sackings, Julia-Gillard_0Australia just elected had appointed a Fabian socialist Prime Minister to replace the softcock drongo they finally saw through. Wonder how long it will be before they want to see the back of Red Julia too?
    Julia Gillard - New Aussie P.M.'s Red Roots – TREVOR LOUDON
  • Her biggest and most immediate decision: to can or not to can the iniquitous mining tax grab imposed by her predecessor and his Treasurer to pay for Australia’s ballooning welfare bill by strangling its golden goose.  The Aussie dollar has already leaped up on the back of expectation that it will be canned, but all that’s agreed do far is that the mining tax grab ads will be pulled. Which leaves a lot of uncertainty about a tax her over-spending government needs, but the country just can’t afford.
    Uncertainty over mining tax remains as Julia Gillard takes over – THE AUSTRALIAN
  • By the way, have you noticed talk that the “flood of boat people” into Australia was one of the issues that brought down Kevin Rudd?  How big is this flood of human beings seeking more freedom and a better life?  Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?  Well, no. According to one of the primary instigators of the “flood” meme, the otherwise excellent Andrew Bolt, the critical number is just 1500.  1500 souls in a country of 20 million. If this “flood” of humanity is really is an issue, it’s both deplorable and demonstrably wrong. Just one reason I’ll be adding this new pro-immigration blog to my blogroll very shortly, The Mother of Exiles blog:
    Mother of Exiles
  • And for more links and stories see my own coverage of yesterday’s ejection of Kevin’07 for the woman who looks more and more like Helen Clark with sex appeal.
    A lesson from Canberra – NOT PC
  • “So if he cried, forgive. His end was cruel.”
    No wonder Kevin cried  - ANDREW BOLT
  • And already there’s an episode of Downfall for Poor Kev.
    Kevin Rudd's Downfall – YOUTUBE
  • As country after country realises that organising debt into currency is the way to penury instead of prosperity, Britain finds itself the latest canary in this Keynesian coal mine—and its Con-Dem government releases an Emergency Budget that … still fails to really take advantage of a good crisis.
    Osborne’s emergency budget accepts Labour’s larger state - LIBERTY SCOTT
  • “The government can’t borrow much more, it can’t spend much more and it can’t tax much more; nor can it grow the economy out of its current mess (as if it ever could!). The only other way to pay off its debts is by massive inflation, which would produce a catastrophe reminiscent of the Weimar Republic after World War One. The implications are national insolvency down the road and it is against this background – and the failure of Keynesian spend-your-way-out-of-it policies that the historic Emergency Budget must be judged.”
    Keynesian policies have brought Britain to the brink of ruin – Kevin Dowd, IEA BLOG
    Emergency Budget: real spending will be frozen, not cut – Philip Booth, IEA BLOG
  • And the fact remains that, just like in the Great Depression, it’s proving to be those countries which are limiting public spending that are keeping more jobs.
    Lower public spending leads to more jobs – Richard Teather, IEA BLOG
    Stimulus Spending and Unemployment  - Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES
  • Things look bleak indeed, even with these few cuts. Still, Craig Ceely and others want to know who elected Ludwig Von Mises to the High Wycombe electorate!
    Austrian economics come to CentreRight – COBDEN CENTRE
     Labour's legacy is a choice between unpleasant cuts in public spending, a sovereign debt crisis or currency debasement  - Steve Baker, MP, CENTRERIGHT
    Watch for the monetary lesson in his maiden speech from about 3 minutes on…
  • We’re near the breakdown of the present fiat monetary system that Baker so easily describes, a breakdown which was just as inevitable this time as the breakup of every system of fiat money has been.  A good time to look back at Henry Hazlitt’s prescient criticisms of the Bretton Woods system, that mid-century Keynesian abortion premised on organising the expansion of the world’s economies on the back of oodles of paper money backed only by phoney credit. A shame that so much of that plan is still with us.
    Hazlitt's Battle with Bretton Woods – MISES DAILY
  • Here’s a frightening graph (pinched from Kate’s Small Dead Animals blog). It shows the world’s paper “hockey stick” since gold was abandoned in favour of paper money (see when it started taking off around the time of that Bretton Woods agreement in 1944?). 
    And you know what’s most frightening about it? It’s when you reflect that all that paper money was organised out of all the debt that can’t now be repaid. Because that’s (still) the Keynesian way you know…
    graph_goldstandard
  • The problem is everywhere, even as politicians try to spin their way out of it (spin is the only ammunition now in their depleted locker). Yaron Brook looks at the fiction of America’s “Recovery Summer” now being touted from the White House. Just how much good has 800 Gazillion Dollars done to teh economy? Ah . . .
    Recovery Summer: Team Obama to the Rescue! – PJTV
  • Herewith some much needed intellectual ammunition for Tea Party activists, from the same source.
  • So just by the way, what was Obama doing taking BP off the hook for its oil spill?
    "This is no longer BP's problem. Now, it's the president's. The administration's hand-picked fund czar must decide how many fish went uncaught, how many hotel rooms would have been booked if not for the threat of oil-stained beaches, and so forth."
    DISASTER IN THE GULF: That 'shakedown' could be a gift to BP – HOUSTON CHRONICLE
  • But what happened to the rule of law? “Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
     Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny? – THOMAS SOWELL
  • And what’s this nonsense about America having an oil “addiction.” Is that the most over-used world in the postmodern handbook? “… oil’s detractors call it an addiction, downplaying its enormous benefits as fleeting pleasures that will necessarily bring long-term pain and destruction. An oil-based economy will inevitably collapse, they say, because oil is finite and will run out, because foreign oil causes terrorism, because oil, as a fossil fuel, will bring about climate catastrophe. Let’s examine these myths about oil.”
    Three myths about oil – Alex Epstein, FORBES MAGAZINE
  • Poor POTUS. Things are not going well for him—and Washington scuttlebutt says they’re going even worse than what you’re seeing, as the well-connected John Batchelor summarises:

            “Disturbing and mesmerizing whispering that the Oval Office is the scene of stormy
          and romantic melodrama between POTUS and his most senior and trusted advisers.  
          Whispering that POTUS is sleeping poorly and is much aggrieved at slights, shortfalls,
          interruptions. Whispering that POTUS is vulnerable to jet lag. That POTUS has returned
          to chain-smoking. That POTUS hesitates to heed his advisers, because POTUS frets that
          he is being sand-bagged by experts, allies, confidantes.Whispering that POTUS frailties
           most in display in West Wing settings. That POTUS evidences a Nixonian persecution
          mania. Can any of this be confirmed? Not easily. Less detailed, POTUS is said to express
          his opinion to pals in Chicago that he dislikes his job. Wilder whisperings that some pros
           are now weighing that POTUS try an LBJ exit after one term - rather than face a Carter
          collapse.”
        Is Washington Whispering Obama's Name? – DAN RIEHL

  • You know what’s funniest about this Daily Show piece on Obama’s big BP speech and America’s “Energy Independent Future”? It’s because it was also posted at the Greens’s Frog Blog, but when the Greens see decades of lost opportunity in creating their dream (“Oh, if only John Boy & Mary Ellen could have been here to see our latest energy independent future!”), I see the abject and inevitable failure of central planning to plan any damn thing, let alone the future. 
    As they say, fine words butter no parsnips—nor create any new windmills, solar panels or tidal energy stations.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

  • The west now has a confused relationship to risk, elevating “risk avoidance” to an illusory ethical standard, resulting in the production of what Frank Furedi calls "fantasy documents" on policy -- including responses to emergencies -- that provide no real-world guidance. (Are you listening, BP?) Says Furedi, “risk is no longer regarded as an opportunity but as a hazard to be avoided. As a result, risk-taking is now culturally stigmatised. People who take risks are frequently denounced for being, by definition, irresponsible.” But as living beings, we must take risks: the very act of pursuing the values necessary to keep alive entails risk.
    Frank Furedi and Gus Van Horn consider this important question.
    Value Avoidance – GUS VAN HORN
    Why BP is not very slick in an emergency – Frank Furedi, SPIKED
  • Some erudite chap or chappess contributed my post on ‘The schadenfreude of the postmodern president’ to the Bookworm Room blog. Thank you, whoever you are.  And thanks to the Bookworm Room blog for the interest.
    The Bookworm Room blog
  • Here’s another myth that desperately needs exploding:
    The Myth of Retirement Planning – TWIN TIER FINANCIAL
  • Burgess Laughlin takes a good hard look at Bradley Thompson’s important new book, a historically and philosophically deep look at neoconservatism. The  post suggests a more descriptive title for the book might have been: Neoconservatism: Its Philosophical Nature, Historical Roots, and Poisonous Fruit. The neocon movement is very much alive and still a threat.”:
    A Chronology for “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea” – BURGESS LAUGHLIN
  • How often have you heard the claim that those who were “unlucky” when it came to handing out the talents and opportunities need someone to make their particular playing fields more level? But what if you learned that compensating people for supposedly “unequal” luck in life simply means penalizing the virtuous for the sake of the vicious.
    Compensating for Unequal Luck – Diana Hsieh, NOODLE FOOD
  • Here’s another common myth about rational selfishness, another myth that needs exploding:
    Living for yourself is not living only for yourself – Beth Haynes, WEALTH IS NOT THE PROBLEM

 That’s it for now. More later…

Thursday, 24 June 2010

One Shot for Glory ! [updated]

The official All Whites’ team song.  Well, sort of official, with Miles Davis (no, not that one), Dave Gent (ex-Dance Exponents) and friends.

UPDATE: So that’s it.  If you’d told me two weeks ago that New Zealand would finish the World Cup unbeaten and finish ahead of Italy—and that I’d watch all their games—I wouldn’t have believed you.  It might be too early to say it, but that’s a great result.

We just drove past Gina’s in Auckland, the home of Italian support in Auckland.  It’s looking awfully quiet.  Much quieter than we feel.  :-)

Young kids. They blow up so fast, don’t they.

This delightful children’s song produced by an anti-Israeli TV station for children is so touching.

A good time, perhaps, to be reminded of a point well made by then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu back in 2006 when for a brief period of time the rockets being fired into Israel were coming from Lebanon instead of Gaza:

_Quote Here is a simple truth: If our enemies lay down their arms, there will be no more war. But if Israel lays down its arms, there will be no more Israel. For the crux of the conflict is their desire to destroy us.

A lesson from Canberra [update 6]

In around four hours from now we will know whether or not Australia has a new Prime Minister--and whatever the outcome, John Key will have been delivered an important lesson.

Only last year, K. Rudd was enjoying unprecedented seventy-percent approval ratings, but is now so unpopular that senior Labor party folk consider themselves unelectable with the Krudd at their helm.

The two chief reasons for his unpopularity?  The latest is the usurious tax on mining profits, which threatens to send many of Australia’s biggest mining companies offshore--unpopular not just because it’s an economy-killer, but because the Krudd said he wouldn’t spend taxpayers’ money on advertising such programmes, and he did.

But even that misbegotten behaviour pales into insignificance compared to his backing and filling over Australia’s Emissions Tax Scam, i.e., the very scheme John Key said he’d be following with his own one, not preceding.

And therein, really, lies two lessons for Mr Key. The first is that popularity is not something on which you can bank forever.  It’s here today, and gone tomorrow.  Gone like the dust on the wind. So just because you have the support of a focus group today, don’t expect that same support to be there tomorrow, especially if you go back on your word.

The second lesson is well articulated by Andrew Bolt, and should give Key cause for pause on his own Emissions Tax Scam:

_Quote How strange. Global warming a year ago was seen as the policy supported by everyone of sense, and by all political parties. Since then the leaders of the both [Australia’s] biggest parties have lost their jobs essentially over this issue.

Let that point rattle around the empty crania of the Beehive, and resonate through its corridors. As that sign in Tuesday’s protest suggested ETS (Emissions Tax Scam) could easily mean OTG (One Term Government).

UPDATE 1: Turns out NZ’s Climate Science Coalition was making essentially the same point yesterday in a press release warning “John Key Faces Risk of Rudd-Slinging”:

_QuoteUnless he intervenes to defer implementation of the forthcoming emissions trading scheme (ETS), Prime Minister John Key runs the risk of the same level of sudden electoral backlash that now threatens the re-election prospects of Kevin Rudd’s Labor government in Australia. This today from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, commenting on the description by two Victoria University researchers that New Zealand’s current ETS is “technically obsolete” and “beyond rescue.”

UPDATE 2: Don’t think for a moment that Julia Gillard, Rudd’s likely replacement, will take the country in a different direction, or grasp more firmly the nettle that Rudd refused to. Gillard is simply Helen Clark with lipstick.

Nonetheless, her ascension will allow her to permanently park the Krudd’s Emissions Tax Scam, if she wants to, but abandoning his unpopular Mining Theft Tax will be heck of a lot harder.  It will be harder because Treasurer Wayne Swan was relying on it to pay Australia’s unaffordable and ever-growing welfare bill. That’s the very sharp nettle that any Australian Prime Minister urgently needs to grasp, the scale of which John Humphreys’s now prescient comments from 2005 make clear [hat tip Tim R]:

_QuoteOur top marginal tax rate is higher than the rate in communist (sic) China, our income tax burden is one of the highest in the developed world and Australians are currently suffering from the highest level of tax in our history. An estimated 80,000 people are employed to avoid or enforce taxes, and those taxes result in about $30 billion of lost efficiency every year. The current system of welfare payments is complex, expensive, inefficient and ineffective.  If we distributed the current federal welfare budget directly to the poorest 25% of Australians, each family of four would receive $72,000 per year.11 And welfare spending continues to increase quickly. In three years, we will reach $100 billion federal spending on welfare ($80,000 for each of our poorest 25% of families). And yet, despite this massive level of expenditure, poverty remains and is even entrenched.

Australia’s welfare bill is now $111 billion, making that $88,000 per family, yet this War On Poverty has done nothing to roll back the enemy, it is still entrenched, and as countries from Britain to Greece to Australia are now discovering, it’s a War that becomes more unaffordable every day.

How Gillard seeks to pay that bill, or to reduce its size, will define whatever time she can manage in the job.

UPDATE 3: Via kochie_online, “Final numbers being counted ... Word is 64-70 votes for Gillard... Solid win.”

Andrew Bolt gives a timeline of how it happened.  Apparently, it started with a meeting called over the need to resolve the resource super-profits tax….

UPDATE 4: It’s done. Rudd steps down without a ballot, with no visible blood on the floor to mop up (he really must be wanting that Foreign Affairs job).

And in even better news, ABC news in Australia is reporting that Julia Gillard may take a 'new direction' on the mining tax…

UPDATE 5: Sam Hearne posted this pertinent point at his Facebook page:

_QuoteGillard as PM. Can anyone think of any policy successes that she has had in her portfolios? Can think of a lot of disasters (BER, computers in schools, Medicare Gold, and having responsibility for the training aspect of the home insulation scheme). Additionally, she has been central to every disastrous policy that this government introduced. Same old Labor.