Thursday, 30 December 2010

More Gangster Government From Obama's Thugs

_jeffrey-perren Guest Post by Jeff Perren

One of the distinctive characteristics of gangster "business operations" is to make up the rules as they go along. Gangster government does something similar when they ignore courts and Congress and simply go on as if neither had said anything.

One more instance in a long line of that in the U.S. occurred with the recent declaration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the Orwellian-named "net neutrality" rules. I wrote an article some time ago explaining how any such rules necessarily violate property rights and the right of free trade. Peter Ferrara now demonstrates in an American Spectator essay how Obama's thugs are proceeding Chavez-like to demonstrate how much they truly don't care about that.

_Quote On April 6, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Comcast Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission that the FCC does not have the power to issue net neutrality regulation. ...
    Rejecting that reasoning in an opinion written by one of the Circuit's more liberal Judges, David Tatel, the Court had to remind the FCC that "administrative agencies may act only pursuant to authority delegated to them by Congress."
    The Court said regarding the FCC's reasoning, "if accepted it would virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether." The Court added that "without reference to the provisions of the [FCC's governing] Act directly governing broadcasting, the Commission's ancillary jurisdiction would be unbounded."
    Indeed, the FCC's lawyers suggested to the Court in oral argument that in the agency's view it already has the power to impose price controls and rate regulation on Internet service providers and broadband operators.
    Yet, the FCC just flouts this decision in going ahead and issuing its net neutrality regulations by rulemaking last week.

If there is any good option at this stage for businessmen — and for us, who trade with them — other than simply ignoring the law, I can't think what it might be. It's either that or passive acquiescence to tyranny.

We in America are now ruled, in fact, by petty dictators unbounded by anything but resource limitations in enforcing their Progressive whims.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

NOT PJ: Good Riddance 2010

_BernardDarnton This week Bernard Darnton raises his last unbroken champagne glass to welcome in the New Year.

2010’s been a bit of a crap year so it’s time for a new one.

Things for me started off fine having the New Year at my parents’ place in England. It was the first time our whole family had been in the same room for five years and the first time that my parents had been in the same room as all their grandchildren ever.

Outside, Britain was in the grip of the worst winter in 30 years. (Now the second worst winter in 30 years.) We escaped shortly before Heathrow closed. The warmth of Singapore was a welcome relief except for the small matter of a toddler who immediately fell sick, couldn’t stand the heat, and didn’t understand time zones. As I have mentioned elsewhere, anyone considering travelling with a toddler should be compulsorily assessed and treated under the Mental Health Act.

From the literal blizzard of an English January I landed back into a metaphorical blizzard of work. Those who work in the software industry will know what a “death march” project is. Those who know about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II will know what an actual “death march” is. A death march in the software business is a project that’s a bit like the endless overworking of prisoners during the war except without the apology from the Japanese government afterwards.

Eventually I thought “bugger this for a game of soldiers” and left. I was in the middle of sorting out my new job when the house moved four metres closer to Darfield and the contents of my bookshelves and liquor cabinet moved two metres closer to the ground.

Fortunately my only injury from the Canterbury earthquake was a slap to the head as I realised we’d abandoned the water bottles, gas cylinder and aging tins of peaches in Wellington when we shifted down last year. It was comforting to turn on my hand-cranked radio that morning and discover that John Key was immediately flying down to show solidarity with the people of Christchurch. I assume he was crapping in a plastic bag like the rest of us.

As if the most expensive natural disaster in New Zealand history wasn’t enough, the Pike River coal mine was rocked a few weeks later by New Zealand’s worst accident since Erebus.

The year will also be remembered by friends who lost parents or, worse, children. Of course, things like this happen every year - and there were also a year’s worth of births and weddings - but some years are remembered for their highlights and some for their lowlights. 2010 was the year of the Canterbury earthquake and Pike River.

With only a few days of 2010 left, it’s time to yell out a hearty “Good Riddance,” raise the last unbroken champagne glass, and cheer in 2011 with gusto. New Year is my favourite holiday. I have no interest in deities, royalty, or trade unions so all but two of our public holidays mean nothing to me.

Anzac Day is a day for solemn reflection on the past—a day to remember not only that our freedoms were bought at great expense but also to consider, with lottery-winner’s disbelief, that someone else picked up the tab.

New Year is a day to look forward to the future—a day to seize and to say, no matter what happened last year, that this year’s pages have not yet been written. And to resolve to write those pages.

Last year’s mistakes and disasters belong to last year. They can be learned from. Last year’s successes belong to last year, too, and they can be built on. Above all, New Year is a reminder that today can be better than yesterday and that each of us has the ability to make it so. What better reason to celebrate?

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column at NOT PC every week between glasses * *

Friday, 24 December 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright: “Man the Enlightened Being”


Architect Frank Lloyd Wright used to send out his poetic Christmas message on “Man the Enlightened Being” his poetic Christmas message on “man the enlightened being” every Christmas time. So do I. [Note that Wright did not understand the word ‘Democracy’ to mean “a counting of heads regardless of content” as we do at 'Not PC'; by the word “Democracy,” Wright himself simply means Freedom.]

“The herd disappears and reappears," says Wright's message, "but the sovereignty of the individual persists." What better time of year to reflect on that.

_Quote Literature tells about man. Architecture presents him. The Architecture that our man of Democracy needs and prophecies is bound to be different from that of the common or conditioned man of any other socialized system of belief. As never before, this new Free-Man’s Architecture will present him by being true to his own nature in all such expressions. . .
    With renewed vision, the modern man will use the new tools Science lavishes upon him (even before he is ready for them) to enlarge his field of action by reducing his fetters to exterior controls, especially those of organized Authority, publicity, or political expediency. He will use his new tools to develop his own Art and Religion as the means to keep him free, as himself. Therefore this democratic man’s environment, like his mind, will never be style-ized. When and wherever he builds he will not consent to be boxed. He will himself have his style.
    The Democratic man demands conscientious liberty for himself no more nor less than he demands liberty for his neighbor. . .
    Whenever organic justice is denied him he will not believe he can get it by murder but must obtain it by continuing fair dealing and enlightenment at whatever cost. He will never force upon others his own beliefs nor his own ways. He will display his social methods to others as best advantage as critic or missionary only when sought by them.
    His neighbor will be to him (as he is to himself) free to choose his own way according to his own light, their common cause being the vision of the uncommon-man wherein every man is free to grow to the stature his freedom in America under the Constitution of these United States grants him.
    Exterior compulsion absent in him, no man need be inimical to him. Conscience, thus indispensable to his own freedom, becomes normal to every man. . .
    Remember the men who gave us our [American] Nation. We have ‘the Declaration’ and our Constitution because they were individualist. Great Art is still living for us only because of Individualists like Beethoven. We have creative men on earth today only as they are free to continually arise as individuals from obscurity to demonstrate their dignity and worth above the confusion raised by the herding of the common-man by aid of the scribes and Pharisees of his time—quantity ignoring or overwhelming quality. The herd disappears and reappears but the sovereignty of the individual persists. . .

Read on here for the full message: “Man, the Enlightened Being” by Frank Lloyd Wright, and remember to have a great individualistic holiday season.

And remember this useful advice about responsible holiday drinking: Don’t underestimate when you’re at the bottle store. When there’s serious celebrating to be done, it would be irresponsible to run out.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Jellyfish and broken arses

Libz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

      This week:  Jellyfish and broken arses

  • NZ HERALD: “Plan opens ACC to private insurersAccident Compensation Corporation Minister Nick Smith confirms his decision “in principle” to allow competition in the workplace insurance market…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Talk about spineless! If Nick Smith believed privatizing the Accident Compensation Corporation was right “in principle,” surely he would just do it rather than pussyfooting about seeking a “mandate” from voters. Either the man believes privatisation is the right thing to do, or he doesn’t. Simple as that.
    This blue-green invertebrate had six months to consider a “stocktake” on the ACC which recommended it exit the market for workplace insurance. And still he rejected doing it!
    Let’s face it, Nick Smith is a blue socialist, a supporter of big government, and any downsizing of the state will only happen over his dead body. That’s why you should NOT waste your vote on the BlueLabour Party, and instead consider voting for a party that has unflinchingly supported the privatisation of workplace insurance because it is the moral thing to do.
    This piss-weak effort from tree-hugger Smith is just further confirmation that BlueLabour are too scared to act on principle in case someone, somewhere might take offence.
    For the record, a Libertarianz government would not postpone decisions until after the next election. It would carry out its pledges according to its principles of individual sovereignty, private property rights, limited government and capitalism (essentially the same thing expressed in four ways).
    ACC could be gone by lunchtime, with employers and workers given the choice of whether they wanted to insure themselves or to carry their accident liability risk themselves.
    If Nick Smith and BlueLabour really believed privatizing ACC was the right thing to do, they would have done it early last year. Don’t waste your vote again on these jellyfish. Next year is election year. Turn over a new leaf and vote according to your core beliefs. If you believe in the justice of the free market, and in getting government out of your life, there is only one party that fits the bill – LIBERTARIANZ.
    After all, are you any better off now than you were under Helen Clark?    

THE DOCTOR SAYS: What a breath of fresh air! At last, someone from a mainstream political party in the Western hemisphere who recognises drug prohibition is a failure and decriminalisation is the answer.  
    Bob Ainsworth gives the reasons why the government should leave adults alone to make their own decisions about self-medication: “Prohibition fails to reduce the harm that drugs cause in the UK, fuelling burglaries, gifting the trade to gangsters and increasing HIV infections. The war on drugs creates the conditions that perpetuate the illegal trade.”
    Ainsworth envisages a system of regulated sales of drugs via doctors and pharmacies. I see this as a transitional policy until people become used to the idea that drugs can be accessed legally and safely. Eventually, adults should have access to low-cost, high-quality medication – and the best way to deliver that is via a free and open market.
    Only thing is – why didn’t Mr Ainsworth say all this during the thirteen years his party was in government? Already, Labour party leader Ed the Red Miliband has shown himself incapable of abstract thought by his whining copout: “What about the children?”
    The children, Mr Miliband, are the responsibility of their parents who hold their rights in trust until the children are old enough to assume these rights themselves. No sensible person is advocating making drugs available to minors without the express permission and supervision of their parents.
    Anyway, parents administer potentially fatal drugs to their children every day – for example, paracetamol – with very low rates of overdose or other problems.
    Conservative Party deputy leader Peter Lilley is sympathetic to Mr Ainsworth’s sentiments, even if he makes the rather artificial distinction between “soft” and “hard” drugs.
    However, Tory crime prevention minister James Brokenshire disagrees, saying legalization “fails to address the reasons people misuse drugs in the first place, or the misery, cost and lost opportunities that dependence causes individuals, families and the wider community.”
    Bah, humbug. Perhaps Minister Broken-arse should consider the misery, cost and lost opportunities that decades of socialism (and, more recently, the Islamisation of large parts of the UK) has caused tens of millions of British people.
    The libertarian solution to the man-made problem of drug prohibition is to hand back to people dominion over their own bodies, and make the challenge of medicational misuse a health issue and not a criminal one.
    Let adults decide for themselves what they put into their bodies, but hold them responsible for the consequences of their actions at all times._richardmcgrath

And with that sage advice I bid you goodbye for 2010.
Enjoy the Festive Season, and I look forward to seeing you back in the New Year.
Doc McGrath

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Have a Salacious Saturnalia!


Those cunning secularists, perverting the “reason for the season”!  We hear the same complaints every year, from Fox News to the Vatican, that "Christ is being taken out of Christmas," about the "War against Christmas" (TM) --  about the "widespread revolt" against "Christian values” and “Christian symbols” –about the prevalence of "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" greetings.

Here's what I say to those complainers:  Get a life.  Learn some history. And try a Christmas joke:

Q: "What's the difference between God and Santa Claus?"
A: "There is no God."

Ha ha ha.  The harsh fact is, customers, there is no God, and Christ was never even in Christmas --except in fiction and by order of the first Popes. 

_Quote None of the four gospels gives any notion of what time of year (let alone in what year) the supposed Nativity occurred. Only two gospels mention the virginity of Mary and only one has any mention of a "manger" [i.e., a trough]. Nowhere is there any record of a "stable." Wise men and shepherds are likewise very unevenly distributed throughout the discrepant accounts. So that the placement of a creche surrounded by a motley crew of humans and animals has no more Scriptural warrant than does The Life of Brian. Moreover, the erection of this exhibit near the turn of the year is actually a placation of the old Norse gods of the winter solstice - or "Yule" as the pre-Christians sometimes called it.
    I myself [
says Christopher Hitchens] repose no faith in any man-made text or made-man redeemer, so when it's Christmas I say "Merry Christmas" with a clear conscience, as I respect Ramadan and Passover, and also because "Happy Holidays" is so thin and insipid. I don't mind if Christians honor the moment by displaying, and singing about, reindeer (a hard species to find in the greater Jerusalem/Bethlehem area). Same for the pine and fir trees that also don't grow in Palestine. I wish everybody joy of it.

And so do I. I just wish the Christians would leave off bashing us over the head with their myth—and their values.

Jesus wasn't even born in December, let alone at Christmas time: he was born in July* -- which makes him a cancer**.  Just like religion. 

And God doesn’t even like Christmas trees, for Chrissake!

Historians themselves know the "reason for the season," and it's not because of anything that happened away in a stable at a time opf a non-existent census.  Even the Archbishop of Canterbury knows the truth, conceding a couple of Christmasses ago that the Christmas story and the Three Wise Men - the whole Nativity thing itself --  is all just "a legend."

And I like myths and legends. I’m even happier when we remember they’re stories, not historical accounts.

Fact is, 'Christmas' itself was originally not even a Christian festival at all.  The celebration we now all enjoy was originally the lusty pagan festival to celebrate the winter solstice, the festival that eventually became the Roman Saturnalia. This time of year in the northern hemisphere (from whence these traditions started) is when days stopped getting darker and darker, and started once again to lengthen.  This was a time of the year for optimism.  The end of the hardest part of the year was in sight (particularly important up in Lapland, the pagan home of the Norsemen where all-day darkness was the winter rule), and food stocks would soon be replenished. 

All this was something worth celebrating with enthusiasm, with gusto and with plenty of food and drink and pleasures of the flesh -- and if those Norse sagas tell us anything, they tell us those pagans knew a thing or two about that sort of celebration!  They celebrated a truly Salacious Saturnalia.

One popular celebration involved having a chap put on the horns and skin of the dead animal being roasted in the fire (worn with the fur side inside and the blood-red side outside ), and giving out gifts of food to revellers.  This guy represented Satan, and the revellers celebrated beating him back for another year by making him a figure of fun (I swear, I'm not making this up).  Observant readers will spot that the gift-giving and the fur-lined red outfit (and even the name, almost) are still with us in the form of Santa.  So Happy Satanmas, Santa!

SUCH WERE THE celebrations of the past.  But the Dark Age Christian do-gooders didn’t like the pagan revels.  Instead of bacchanalia, these ghouls of the graveyard wanted instead to talk about suffering and their sores, and to spread the misery of their religion worldwide; instead of throwing themselves into such lewd and lusty revels, they thought everyone should be sitting at home mortifying their flesh  – and  very soon they hit upon a solution: first they stole the festivals, and then they sanitised them.  Instead of lusty revels with Satan and mistletoe, we got insipid nonsense around a manger.  (Just think, the first 'Grinch' who stole Christmas was really a Pope!) 

So given this actual history, it's somewhat churlish of today's sanitised saints of sobriety to be complaining now about history reasserting itself and claiming Christmas back.

AND THE VERY BEST OF Christmas is still very much pagan. The mistletoe, the trees, and the presents; the drinking and eating and all the red-blooded celebrations; the gift-giving, the trees and the decorations; the eating and the singing; the whole full-blooded, rip-roaring, free-wheeling, overwhelming, benevolent materialism of the holiday -- all of it all fun, and all of it fully, one-hundred percent pagan. Says Leonard Peikoff in 'Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial', the festival is "an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life." I'll drink to all that, and then I'll come back right back up again for seconds. Ayn Rand sums it up for mine, rather more benevolently than my brief introduction might have led you to expect:

    “The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: ‘Merry Christmas’—not ‘Weep and Repent.’ And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance....
    “The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying is good for business and good for the country’s economy; but, more importantly in this context, it stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decoration put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.

And so say all of us.  I wish you all, wherever you are a  Cool Yule, a Salacious Saturnalia, and a very Happy Christmas.

I’ll see you back again in the New Year.

Be as good as you can be while I’m gone.***

PS: Here’s some related Hot Facts from the Hot Facts Girl.

* Yes, this is simply a rhetorical flourish. Jesus' birth may have happened in March. Or in September -- or not at all -- but it certainly did not happen in December. More on that here.

** "A cancer. Like religion." Think that's harsh? You should try Landover Baptist's Bible Quizzes. Or Sam Harris's 'Atheist Manifesto.' Ouch! [Hat tip for both, good old Stephen Hicks] And, I confess, I pinched the quip from Australian comedy team The Doug Anthony All Stars.

*** Yes, I’ll be gone, but you’ll not be totally forgotten. Bernard Darnton and Doc McGrath have columns still to come. Jeff Perren can never keep his fingers too far from his keyboard. And, unfortunately, our place in Matakana does have internet access . . .

Monday, 20 December 2010

Have an earthly commercial Christmas

Layout 1

 IS CHRISTMAS TOO COMMERCIAL? Hell, no! You hear the same complaint every year, but for many retailers this year and last, Christmas hasn’t been commercial enough.

And according to at least one sane person, Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays.  “It's the season for earthly pleasures,” says Ayn Rand enthusiast Onkar Ghate, “and embracing the spectacle is no sin.”

Actually, he had me at “earthly pleasures.”

Anyway, complaining about the “commercialisation” of Christmas pretty much misses the point anyway, because Christmas is the most benevolent and frankly commercial holiday in the catalogue. It was designed that way.

_Quote Christmas as we know it, with its twinkling lights, flying reindeer, and dancing snowmen, is largely a creation of 19th-century America. One of the most un-Christian periods in Western history, it was a time of worldly invention, industrialization, and profit. Only such an era would think of a holiday dominated by commercialism and joy and sense the connection between the two.

As Ghate says, Christmas is a time of unabashed earthly joy.  That’s what’s good about it. Like philosopher Leonard Peikoff says, at Christmas time we don't say "sacrifice and repent," we say enjoy yourself and thrive!  And we do, whatever the economic climate. We get together with workmates, friends and loved ones, celebrating the year with gusto; we give gifts to people we value, whose friendship and company we want to celebrate. Toasts are made and livers threatened. Boats full of happy people cruise the harbour; laughing diners fill restaurants; shops overflow (well,most years) with people buying gifts to make people happy who make them happy; and glasses full of enlivening liquids are raised the heavens to celebrate life here on earth. 

So what's not to like about Christmas being commercial? About capitalist gift-giving between consenting adults—and even children.

Because that sort of secular celebration is the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not really about a chap who came to earth to deliver “Good News” like this:

_Quote_Idiot If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
and children
, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he
cannot be my disciple.--[
Luke 14:26]

Because even if this was his birthday (which it isn’t) that’s not something you’d want to celebrate. No, in any case, Christmas is a good old pagan holiday taken over and rechristened. So let’s take it back and celebrate it like all good pagans should—like these enthusiastic Norsemen singing a song by Verdi for which the loose translation is ‘Wet Your Throat.’

Let me leave you now with “Five Golden Hemorrhoids: A Biblically Correct Version of The Twelve Days of Christmas

Don’t panic, children

Children especially might enjoy this update…

_Quote_Idiot INDEPENDENT, UK (March, 2000):  “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives …
    According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event” …
    “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said

Don’t worry children. Fast forward to today:

And don’t worry. Several feet of global warming over Britain is just one of those signs that global warming is definitely still happening.

Here’s Mahalia Jackson. Still dreaming…

Oh dear

I’ve just started packing for the holidays. And I think I’ve overdone the books again.


Thanks to all the NOT PC readers who’ve very kindly donated to help keep my library growing. You make it more difficult every year to pack my suitcase. :-)

Carols for Godless People . . .

I suspect only the British could do this: a full-blooded atheist celebration, “celebrating the majesty of the universe, and most of the things in it,” called ‘Nine Lessons, and Carols for Godless People.’

Here’s Part One of Seven… [hat tip Marcus Bachler]

Friday, 17 December 2010

The greatest story (hardly) ever told [updated]

‎"The events of any given period of history are the result of the thinking of the
preceding period. The nineteenth century [for example]—with its political freedom,
science, industry, business, trade, all the necessary conditions of material
progress—was the result and the last achievement of the intellectual power
released by the Renaissance."
- Ayn Rand

HERE’S A STORY FROM history that’s hardly ever told, but yet it’s the greatest story history could tell.

It’s a story that covers two continents and 2,000 years, and is the fundamental reason for all our health,wealth and happiness —and freedom—but most people don’t know anything about it, and couldn’t tell you why it matters.

Here’s a small part of that story, which starts for us in an unlikely place. . .

alhambra THE SEAT OF SCIENCE and civilisation a thousand years ago was in the Muslim world.

While Western Europe endured its Dark Ages—that wasteland of crosses and graves that lasted nearly a millennia, and buried more than a million souls in misery and squalor—the Arab and Persian world was making advances in medicine, mathematics, cartography, astronomy, philosophy, poetry, scientific method and more.

If you were a scientist, an artist, or any sort of human being hoping to breathe free then, from the eighth to twelfth century, the places in which you wanted to breathe had names like Toledo, Cordoba and Baghdad.

And then, it all came to a crashing halt. And within two centuries, the situation in the two places was almost entirely reversed.

What happened? What changed? And what made the  successes happen in the first place?

A fascinating 28 minute interview on Radio New Zealand with scientist Jim al-Khalili, author of Pathfinders - The Golden Age of Arabic Science, tells part of the tale—one of history’s most-interesting yet least told. And he tells a fascinating story. I recommend a listen.

al-Khalili explains how Muslim scientists flourished in a culture that then valued the “this-world” knowledge they were pursuing. But he finds it damnably hard to put his finger on the precise reason for the growth and development of this culture—talking about things like the invention of paper and “the ideas of the Greeks,” without really saying much about what those ideas were.

Equally, he finds it difficult to explain the rapid fall of Islamic science and the slow awakening of western Europe from its intellectual slumber, beyond talking about a “conservative backlash” in Islam, “the discovery of the New World” by the West (which actually happened around three centuries after Islamic decline began) and the transmission of “the ideas of the Greeks” from the Muslim world to the West.

In fact, the reason for both fall and rise is the relationship that both these cultures had with Greek ideas. Specifically, with their relationship to reason, and especially to the man they called The Philosopher of Reason, Aristotle.

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science
(9781846141614): Jim Al-Khalili

A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future
(9780345373168): Charles Van Doren

(9780231085298): John Herman Randall

“Ancient Greece tore away the heavy shroud of mysticism woven for centuries in
murky temples, and achieved, in three centuries, what Egypt had not dreamed of in
thirty: a civilization that was essentially pro-man and pro-life. The achievements of
the Greeks rested on their confidence in the power of man’s mind—the power of reason.”
- Mary Ann Sures

ARISTOTLE WAS PLATO’S STUDENT, yet the mature philosophies of these two giants could not have been more different.

Raphael’s famous painting shows Plato pointing to the heavens, and Aristotle to this earth. It is an accurate summation of their positions. Plato looked to the heavens for the “true reality,” and found there rules for living on this “imperfect,” non-ideal plane. Aristotle saw instead that happiness on this earth was man’s highest estate, and that knowledge of the things of this earth—observing nature and drawing conclusions from it—is the means by which to begin obtaining it.

aristotle-platoIt’s said that the history of philosophy is described by the duel between Plato and Aristotle. In virtually every important sense, this is true. In both the Muslim and Christian worlds, it’s played out in the duel between mysticism, with Plato and neo-Platonism brought in on the side (literally) of the angels and of other-worldly maunderings; and Aristotle (when he’s been rediscovered) on the side of reason and a focus on success in this world.

It’s the rediscoveries of the ideas of Aristotle that have been crucial in our story.

Aristotle left behind at his death a veritable manual of scientific discovery and how to live on this earth—especially the Organon, six treatises on logic that were a virtual toolkit of logic. These were “the ideas of the Greeks” that mattered most to Muslim scientists when they rediscovered them eleven centuries later, and to western philosophers and scientists when (thanks to Muslim scholars) they rediscovered them for the west fifteen centuries after they had first been buried.

Because these ideas, while powerful enough to turn civilisations around, barely had time to be given even a full road test after their first brief time in the sun, around 300BC. Because this was very quickly becoming very much not a safe time in which to be a philosopher, and just a few short decades after Aristotle’s death his school was closed, his students were scattered, and his works on papyrus rolls were buried for safety in a trench in Asia Minor, not to be uncovered for centuries.

And while they lay buried, the light of reason which had flickered so briefly and so well was going out around the world, in Athens and Alexandria and eventually, finally, even Rome. 

hieronymus_bosch_-_the_garden_of_earthly_delights_-_hell1It was buried by pagan mysticism (which had never fully gone away) and neo-Platonism (which had been around long enough to take hold), but most forcefully and more thoroughly still by those Roman emperors who from the fourth century had already set themselves up as both definers and enforcers of religious “orthodoxy,” and the head of a monotheistic state.  (The Christian insistence on the absurdity of the Trinity, for example, dates from Theodosius’s 381AD decree dictating that all his subjects subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or else.)

As if to demonstrate that without reason to deal with one another there is only force, the emperors from Theodosius on now began the systematic suppression by the sword of all non-orthodox Christianity, and of all still-surviving pagan philosophies that couldn’t be made hand-maidens of theology as easily as neo-Platonism (which could easily be bent to fill up the gaps in the emerging Christian theology).

With Justinian edicts in the 530s enforcing religious conformity on pain of death, the assault on reason and freedom was complete.

Thus began the inevitable waves of barbarism, looting and darkness that necessarily accompanies the widespread rejection of reason and a culture-wide focus on the next world rather than on this one.

“If there is a philosophical Atlas who carries the whole of Western civilization on
his shoulders, it is Aristotle…. Aristotle may be regarded as the cultural
barometer of Western history. Whenever his influence dominated the scene, it
paved the way for one of history’s brilliant eras; whenever it fell, so did mankind.”
- Ayn Rand

the-alhambraWHILE THE WEST WAS  committing intellectual suicide, the Islamist world was just beginning to wake up. It was the rediscovery of Aristotle in Muslim Spain and the Middle East that was the next light of hope in the world, and that built and underpinned the Islamic Golden Age—which at its three-hundred year peak spread wealth, riches, learning, art and happiness from Baghdad to Spain.

Just as it was built by ideas, so too however  was it killed by them—by what scientist al-Khalili calls the “conservative backlash,” a reaction against science and reason best summed up by eleventh-century theologian Al-Ghazali, who called for the Greek ideas to be thrown out, saying essentially, “If it’s in the Quran we don’t need it; if it’s not in the Quran we don’t want it.” And so out it all went. For good—or at least for ten centuries.

One of the most illustrative examples of Al-Ghazali’s “thinking” was his direct assault on causality. Things don’t act according to their nature, he said, God makes things act any way he pleases:


The connection [said Ghazali] between what is habitually believed to be a cause and what is habitually believed to be an effect is not necessary…
    For example, there is no causal connection between the quenching of thirst and drinking, satiety and eating, burning and contact with fire, light and the appearance of the sun, death and decapitation, healing and the drinking of medicine, the purging of the bowels and the using of a purgative…
    On the contrary, it is within [divine] power to create satiety without eating, to create death without decapitation, to continue life after decapitation, and so on to all connected things…   

You might think this is insane, and it is; the stuff of madness, and you’d be right; utterly illogical--which is it’s point. al-Ghazali is here simply doing God’s work:


Our opponents claim [for example] that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively; this is not a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnection of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and  made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without…

This is a God for every teenage arsonist seeking an excuse: “Well, yes, I lit the match. But it was God wot burned the school down.”

This is nothing like the “God of the Gaps” that leave God just to fill in what science has yet to discover. This is a God who holds every test tube, sparks every flame, guides every bullet, and detonates every bomb—either  with the intermediation of angels, or without.

According to al-Ghazali—whose “thinking” swept the Muslim world (and swept away reason, logic and science with it)—there is no other causal agent in the universe but God, and therefore “no unity in the world, moral, physical or metaphysical; all hangs from the individual will of Allah.”

Nothing could be more destructive to reason, to science, and to civilisation. Yet al-Ghazali’s fateful rejection of reason swept the Islamic world, which (still proudly waving his flag and that of the Quran) sank into the intellectual mire from which it has yet to emerge.

“Aristotle’s philosophy was the intellect’s Declaration of Independence. Aristotle, the
father of logic, should be given the title of the world’s first
intellectual, in the purest
and noblest sense of that word. No matter what remnants of Platonism did exist
in Aristotle’s system, his incomparable achievement lay in the fact that he defined
the basic principles of a rational view of existence and of man’s consciousness…
    If we consider the fact that to this day everything that makes us civilized beings,
every rational value that we possess—including the birth of science, the industrial
revolution, the creation of the United States, even the structure of our language—is
the result of Aristotle’s influence, of the degree to which, explicitly or implicitly, men
accepted his epistemological principles, we would have to say: never have so
many owed so much to one man.”
- Ayn Rand

STTING HERE IN 2010, it’s easy to laugh at al-Ghazali.  That’s because we, here and now, mostly take reason for granted—so thoroughly that we find it hard to understand those who don’t. That we do take it so much for granted is testament to how thoroughly western culture has supped from Aristotle’s well. But it took a while.

Because in the first ten centuries after Christian theology first gained its toehold, the west was also labouring under similar nonsense to al-Ghazali’s, and with the same existential results as the Islamist apostle of unreason would deliver to his culture. Early Christian theologians were in virtually all respects peddlers of the very same nonsense, just delivered wearing a different brand.

Paul, for example, who took violently against the “upstart” Greek philosophers whose logic he had trouble countering, took instead to attacking the very core of Greek intellectual achievement.


The more they [Greeks] call themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew … they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. [Romans 1:21-22]
The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. [Corinthians 1:25]

(He made more sense when he declared, “I know of nothing good living in me.” [Romans 7:20] On that, I can concur.)

And while Augustine, the second-most influential Christian theologian, was willing to allow reason, he also declared it may only be used to explore “truths” already revealed by his God—and even these revelations were only to be accepted on the authority of the monotheistic state. (“I would not have believed the Gospels except on the authority of the Catholic Church.”)

And Tertullian, “I believe because it is absurd.”

And John Chrysostom: “Restrain our own reasoning and empty our mind of secular learning in order  to provide a mind swept clear for the reception of divine words.”

And Lactantius: “What purpose does knowledge serve—for as to knowledge of natural causes, what blessing is there for me if I know where the Nile rises, or whatever else under the heavens the ‘scientists’ rave about?”

And Philastrius of Brescia, who was ready to declare causality itself implicitly a heresy in a fashion that Cantabrians might appreciate:


There is a certain heresy concerning earthquakes that they come not from God’s command but, it is thought, from the very nature of the elements… Paying no attention to God’s power  they [the heretics] presume to attribute the motions of force to the elements of nature … like certain philosophers who, ascribing this to nature, know not the power of God.

(T paraphrase al-Ghazali’s similar “arguments” aired above,  it would seem that Philastrius’s God has extended to him the power to think without having possession of a brain.)

Finally, to show that they knew who their enemy was, we have Anastasius of Sinai, who  was ready to declare  that the ten sections of Aristotle’s Categories were ten “heresies” representing the ten horns of the dragon in the Book of Revelation (12:4)

No wonder, under the sway of “thinkers” like these, that western Europe spent so many centuries in darkness.

Fortunately however, in the brief window before the fruits of Islamic thinking disappeared forever, western translators eager to learn the “heresies” that had been buried for so long discovered and began translating Islamic works on medicine, astronomy, mathematics, engineering … and philosophy. They discovered the Arab commentators on Aristotle, and they discovered the great works of Aristotle himself. In short, they re-discovered his manual of reason, and with it the key to begin civilisation anew.

If the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century owes its genesis to the tremendous intellectual power released by the Renaissance, as the quote at the top of the page suggests, then it’s important to realise that the intellectual power released in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was generated by the intellectual “atomic power station” of Aristotelian reason that was rediscovered in the twelfth.

The new Latin translations of Aristotle’s Organon (translated in Spain and Sicily from Arabic, which themselves were translations from lost Greek originals) were the transmission belts for the ideas that powered the new thinking of Albertus Magnus, Aquinas, and Francis Bacon; the new art of Giotto, Michelangelo and Da Vinci; the new architecture of Brunelleschi, Bramante and Palladio; the new science of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton; the new conception of human freedom embodied in the ideas of Grotius, and Locke and (eventually) Jefferson—who all of them, as reason requires, began their work by turning their eyes to observing the facts before them before seeking the causal integration that explained the facts observed: a re-use and rediscovery of reason’s method all but lost in the west since the original days of the Greeks.

To that almost fortuitous rediscovery we owe virtually all human progress of the past five centuries. That’s how important this story, and that rediscovery, is.

“The events of any given period of history are the result of the thinking of the preceding period.” That’s what this story makes so plain—that ideas do have tremendous consequences, for good and for ill.

It’s astonishing that the story is so rarely told---and so little understood when it is—told when it is told with, for example, the sort of mechanistic detail that explains the rise of Islam by the discovery of paper or the west by the discovery of the New World; or the fall of Rome by the onset of hyperinflation, or the fall of Islamic science to some undefined “conservative backlash”; without ever seeking to look beyond these outward details to the fundamental facts that caused them.

“There is no future for the world except through a rebirth of the Aristotelian
approach to philosophy. This would require an Aristotelian affirmation of the reality
of existence, of the sovereignty of reason, of life on earth—and of the splendor of man.”

- Leonard Peikoff

YOU’LL HAVE NOTICED by now that I’ve strewn a few books across your path, each of which tells a part of the story. And below I’ve added three more that between them integrate and give the culmination of the story—the first as a guide to the loss and rediscovery; the second, in which the title essay tells the tale told here in far more colourful and sweeping terms than I could; and the third, to demonstrate that the primordial struggle for reason and individual liberty are the same story, whose culmination we find in the discovery of individual rights and their implementation.

Taken together, they tell a remarkable tale. But the astonishing thing to note is how few books there are telling the story itself. When Burgess Laughlin, for example, began work on another project, he looked for a book telling the tale and found none. So he wrote his own, The Aristotle Adventure. To my knowledge it’s still the only book-length survey giving the whole context.

If you want to bury yourself in books on the greatest story (hardly) ever told, then these listed here are a good place to start.

And there’s no time like a long summer holiday to begin.


The Aristotle Adventure: A Guide to the Greek, Arabic, & Latin Scholars
Who Transmitted Aristotle's Logic to the Renaissance

(9780964471498): Burgess Laughlin

For the New Intellectual
- Ayn Rand
(Signet) (9780451163080): Ayn Rand

Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable
Moral Case for Individual Rights

(9780761849698): Andrew Bernstein

NB: Note that not all books listed here are entirely without fault or error. I should note that those to be most careful of are Rubinstein’’s Aristotle’s Children and Reilly’s The Closing of the Muslim Mind, which are both sadly infected by the authors’ own religiosity, making them sadly unable to see the full drama of the story they’re trying to tell.

Naturally, I’d be very happy to have other books recommended that might fill in some of the gaps.

And to see the whole story in one graphic, here’s one of the charts from Burgess Laughlin’s Aristotle Adventure that makes it so valuable:


UPDATEAndy Clarkson points out

It was Arabs qua Aristotelians and not Arabs qua Islamists who are responsible for the accomplishments of Arab Muslims.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Happy Christmas

My favourite Christmas song, performed by my favourite…oh, shite, why don’t I just let you hear it.

This is great.  “Fairytale Of New York.” Sung by Christy Moore with all the passion and accuracy it demands.

And Happy Christmas.

NOT PJ: Don’t Vote.

This week Bernard Darnton considers a resolution for election year.

P. J. O’Rouke’s latest is Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards. In it he gives us his view of politics as game of “Kill Fuck Marry.”

“Kill Fuck Marry” is a game played by teenage American girls. Being neither teenaged, nor American, nor a girl, I didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was on about. Fortunately the rules are pretty straightforward. One player names three people and, for each of the three doing-words you say who you’d rather do it to (and who you’d rather kill or marry).

P.J. gets us started with the “exemplary” 1992 presidential race: “We kill Ross Perot. We could hardly avoid a fuck from Bill Clinton. And we marry kindly, old George H. W. Bush.”

In New Zealand we could play with the Government front bench. John Key, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee. You kill Bill English for bankrupting us, you fuck John Key and then blackmail him for millions, and you marry Gerry Brownlee because, umm, struggling here a bit – but, hey, free wordwork!

The first third of the book is devoted to America’s political heritage, featuring giants like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Joe Biden.

If you went to P.J.’s talk in Auckland last year and didn’t drink too much you’ll recognise some of the background material in these chapters, but it’s good to have it here as, let’s just say, a reminder.

O’Rourke then turns his attention to the present day. He tackles the bailout, social security, health care reform and then devotes an entire page to climate change: “There’s not a damn thing you can do about it.” A billion people in China want a car. If you fret about climate change he suggests you go to China and tell them they can’t have one. If you survive, go to India and tell another billion people the same thing.

Throughout, the text is peppered with O’Rourke’s trademark strained analogies. That is to say, he taps the sap of the linguistic tree and vulcanises it with Spock-like rationality. He carefully blends the resulting analogy, extending it and spreading it as far it will go. He stretches the rubbery metaphor until it breaks, leaving you exhausted and carrying the bastard child of hyperbole and rhetoric.

Having described America’s political journey, P.J. describes his own. He started off as some ill-defined kind of leftie following the early realisation at college that the beatnik hippy chicks were probably not going to kill or marry him. Getting a job and the accompanying tax bill (as well as realising that his stupid haircut was unbecoming for an adult) he became the nineties libertarian - the Republican Party reptile - that we’re most familiar with. Now, allegedly as a result of fatherhood, he describes himself as a conservative.

As is inevitable with American conservatism, God gets a mention or several. It’s probably the minimum acceptable veneer by American standards but it sticks out like a televangelist’s orthodontics to a secular New Zealander.

Fatherhood hasn’t converted me to conservatism, although that “honour your father and mother” thing might have something going for it.

_BernardDarntonConservatism has made P.J. a more serious man. This book is a work of political theory with some jokes in it. It has a lot more reading and thought behind it than some of his previous books but he was funnier when he was a libertarian. Kill The Bachelor Home Companion. Fuck All the Trouble in the World. Marry Don’t Vote.

* * Bernard Darnton is Not PJ O’Rourke, but we
still let him write here every Thursday. * *

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A festival of box-ticking on the way

I thought you’d like to think about this while you sun yourselves on the beaches over the summer. It’s something that hasn’t got a lot of press, but will change the lives of many new Zealanders very soon for the worse.

A festival of box-ticking is on its way. A never-ending festival. By 2012, every professional or near-professional in the country will be fighting a torrent of government-produced paperwork. By 2012, if you don’t have a government licence (with all forms completed in triplicate) you won’t be able to

  • build a house
  • design a house
  • sell a house
  • value a house
  • rewire a house
  • lay drains
  • put in plumbing
  • design a structure
  • drive a taxi
  • see a patient
  • dispense pharmaceuticals
  • give financial advice
  • run a classroom
  • teach in a classroom
  • argue a case in court
  • register a title

This list is by no means exhaustive. (Feel free to send more examples; they are legion.)

Understand that this torrent of occupational licensing enveloping the country (the Licensed Building Practitioner and Authorised Financial Advisor (AFA) Regulations are just the latest two) is intended to mandate something called “quality.” Something that people still borrowing $250 million per week would know everything about.

You might think about this cavalcade of occupational licensing when you realise that every illiterate teacher you’ve ever met is a registered teacher; that virtually every leaky home was designed by either a Registered Architect or paid-up Architectural Designer, and built by a registered Master Builder; that virtually everyone about to become a “Licensed Financial Adviser” will know less about economics than they will about these regulations, and was until recently advising their clients to put their nest eggs into places like Hanover, St Laurence, Dorchester and Bridgecorp (and thanks a lot for the commish, boys).

Occupational licensing doesn’t help the best rise to the top—quite the opposite. (The perfumed parasites of subsidised classrooms are proof enough of that.) Instead it simply makes every licensed member of these professions virtually equal to every other, with the “most equal” (the best at ticking boxes) being given positions of authority to dictate standards and procedures to their betters—allowing the box-tickers to mooch off the do-ers, and (on occasions) to loot their would-be customers.

Understand that licensing and form-filling offers no guarantee at all of quality—none whatsoever. All it can ever be is the proxy for quality that makes these things good enough for government work.

In fact, what occupational licensing will do is to push up costs (someone has to pay for all the box ticking); put the grey ones even further into every business in the land (which will drive costs further up and good people further away); and restrict entry to new competitors (which will reduce entrepreneurialism, reduce quality, and—you guessed it—drive up costs even further for would-be customers).

So that’s a win all round, really. Not.

The most egregious of all these iniquities is really the last: the cozy system of “closed professions” that protects inertia and incompetents, and helps keeps out those who might challenge this in any way.

Want to know what it will do to the fees these professionals will charge? Well, just look at the cozy system of the legal “profession,” which couldn’t be more closed, and think just how much your lawyer charges for just sending one letter.

There’s a reason the tallest buildings in town have lawyers’ names on them. It’s one reason they like barriers to entry like this.

Many years ago, a young Norman Kirk famously built his own house (and here I quote from an unlikely source) “with his own sweat and toil, including making his own blocks, a feat now outlawed by the … complex licensed building practitioner regime, which would have required Norm to have a licence for concrete work, a licence for blocklaying, a licence for roofing, a licence for carpentry, and a licence for external plastering… for which he would not have had a hope of paying the cost of a bureaucratic supervisor for its construction.”

The irony here is that the entity whom I quote above was pointing this out only four years ago. Yet now he is part of the government imposing all this upon professionals and their would-be customers.

No wonder so many are already resident in Queensland, with more to join then soon.

Galt help us all.

Which posts were read most in 2010?

It’s that time of year again—the time when we all look back.

So here’s me looking back at the posts you read most this year. Clearly, Google has something to do with it…

  1. 'Brick Country House' - Mies van der Rohe, 1923
  2. James Cameron—a Titanic lack of balls
  3. Family Tree of Economics
  4. Computer wars: Mac vs Linux vs Microsoft
  5. John C. Pew house – Frank Lloyd Wright
  6.  SUMMER SIX-PACK: Architecture, creative destruction & some rules on objective journalism
  7. Villa Malaparte, Capri
  8. Ads you might never see again
  9. It's Easter, which means ...
  10. Whale Oil fights the good fight

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Debts, deficits, and self-defence

_richardmcgrath Libz leader Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers again for headlines and stories on issues affecting our freedom.

  • NZ HERALD: “Govt faces 12.6b debt hole - "Ballooning cash deficits grow faster than the government's borrowing programme…"

    THE DOCTOR SAYS: There is a major assumption one must make in order to accept what this article suggests, i.e., that the government should be allowed to borrow unlimited quantities of money to spend on whatever it wants, with the responsibility for paying this debt falling squarely into the lap of future taxpayers, some of whom are currently children or even unborn as yet.
              Bill English readily concedes that part of this deficit blowout is attributable to his government, in its wisdom, deciding to shift responsibility for the leaky homes fiasco from builders, architects, materials manufacturers, local councils and BRANZ onto taxpayers—who  had nothing to do with the construction of these houses.
              Taxpayers have also been landed with responsibility for undertaking to provide partial earthquake insurance cover for homeowners, a function that the private sector could have assumed quite easily.
              Part of the blame for the rising fiscal deficit is a "dwindling tax take." But a responsible government would have realised that bad economic times would have generated less revenue, and cut their spending accordingly—not raised it by around one billion extra per year!
              As for Bill English's comments that "We're still on track to reach budget surplus in 2015/16," what a load of abject, unspeakable bullshit. What a complete and utter crock.
              If a week is a long time in politics, then five years is never-never land.
              All he's really saying is "Please re-elect us. We might do better next time." Well, why on earth should we, Bill? Why on earth would you?
              Are New Zealanders any better off than they were three years ago?
              What radical steps have you and your party taken to tear down the walls of Clarkistan?
              What state-owned millstones have you sold off to repay the national debt?
              How many state servants have you released into the private sector to get a proper job?
              Why do you feel you deserve three more years, when you’ve done nothing at all with the last two?
             (National Party supporters: please feel free to respond on Bill's behalf. I understand he's busy spending money that productive people have earned.)
  • DOM POST: “Attack on officer no reason to arm police - "Before we rush headlng into a Wyatt Earp response to perceived violent crime in NZ, we should pause and ask some questions…"

    THE DOCTOR SAYS: Labour Party candidate for Wairarapa Michael Bott argues against police being able to defend themselves with an appropriate level of weaponry when a firearm or other lethal instrument is wielded by an assailant.
              First, he says, arming the police force "puts a distance between the police and the public" and is a "state-sanctioned threat of force to effect control." Well, Michael, that threat is there with every law the government makes. Do this, it says, or we will prosecute you using physical force to compel you to comply.
              Second, he makes the statement, unsupported by any evidence, that "the more guns there are in society, the greater the likelihood that they will be used." Evidence please, Michael, and how do you define "used"?
              Third, argues Bott, a stray bullet could kill an innocent party. True, and tragic when it happens. But so could a stray car, as per the child killed by a boy racer in Christchurch not that long ago. No reason to outlaw cars, is it?
              Fourth, Bott uses the case of Constable Bruce Mellor to argue that a gun could have been taken off him and used against him. This ignores the possibility, as Police Association president Greg O'Connor pointed out, that the assailants may not have been quite as aggressive had Constable Mellor been packing heat.
              Bott also dredges up the case of Steven Wallace who was smashing windows with a golf club in Taranaki one morning and ended up shot dead. He forgets that the police officer who shot him, Keith Abbott, did not have recourse to a Taser, which would likely have resulted in a stunning and not a shooting.
              Michael Bott would do well to remember that these days criminals are armed. Our police should not be sent into battle against scum with inadequate firepower. Just because they have access to firearms does not mean they need to use it. After all, a revolver in a police holster could be a fake, but there to provide a strong disincentive to those who might otherwise entertain fantasies of beating up or killing a cop.
              But if police are armed for their own defence, then so too should all law-abiding citizens have the right to arm themselves, and only one New Zealand political party regards self-defence as such a fundamental right that it would enshrine this right in a constitution. And as John Lott has pointed out, increasing gun ownership in a community makes people safer from violent crime.
              So, in opposition to Michael Bott, I believe the police should have the option of using firearms, and some or all of them should have our permission to carry a sidearm.
              But at the same time, the right of free New Zealanders to keep and bear arms should not be infringed by the state.

"Let's face it, politics is largely the art of deception, and
political rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issues."

- Thomas Sowell