Wednesday, 9 February 2011

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Worthless pledges & no-go neighbourhoods

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

This week: worthless pledges, no-go zones & failing to please the Electoral Commission

  • NZ HERALD: “Key Pledges State Service Shake-upThe Prime Minister suggested he wants to cut government spending and borrowing, and address the welfare dependency problem . . .

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Finally, ten months out from an election, after two full years in government, John Key thinks it might be an idea to start delivering on his previous election promises.
    True, if the figures mentioned in this news article are accurate then Key has reduced public service numbers by 5%. A reasonable start, but that’s only about a 1.5% drop per year. And Key is asking government bureaucrats for advice on “streamlining the public service’s performance.” Does anyone really believe any self-respecting bureaucrat will suggest that his own department be downsized?  (Do turkeys vote for Christmas?)
    The Prime Minister fails to ask this question of each and every government ministry, department, office, and ant farm: Does this arm of the state really need to exist at all? That gets to the heart of the matter. The purpose of the departments, offices and ant farms is not employment of drones—if that is the best argument the defenders of the grey ones can muster, then every over-staffed ant farm must go.
    A few years back the Libertarianz Party did an analysis on hundreds of these little empires and concluded that most of them can just be quietly shut down and wouldn’t even be missed. So do it, John!
    Why not start by giving all employees a twelve-month holiday to find a new job—and to see if anyone notices their absence. The one-off cost would be worth the long-term gain!

  • DOMPOST: “Pomare Turning Into A Ghost TownA crime-ridden gang-infested Lower Hutt slum owned largely by the state is being abandoned as people move out to safer and better suburbs . . .

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Margaret Thatcher had the answer to this problem: sell off the state’s housing at a heavily discounted rate to the people that live in them, thereby encouraging pride of ownership.
    The Libertarianz Party would go a few steps further: privatising the streets in favour of residents—allowing formation of secure communities that can shut out undesirable elements such as gangs and welfare parasites.
    In the meantime, Housing Minister Heatley should immediately sell the 53 vacant state houses in the area, even if this means moving them off site. He should also sell the tenanted homes out to private landlords who will be less tolerant of vandalism and neglect of their property.

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Oh dear. How sad. Never mind. Seriously though, this brings to mind the unfortunate error which prevented the Libertarianz Party from contesting the party vote in 2002 (showing up at the Electoral Office at the appointed time with forms and signatures, and cash, cheques and credit cards to submit them—but not the required bank cheque drawn on the party account. Bugger.)
    Because of that balls up, I almost feel sorry for the Greens – except that as Whale Oil points out, the tosser concerned (one Richard Leckinger, who will never be allowed to forget this) was not using either public transport or a bicycle made out of recycled cardboard to move around the electorate desperately seeking a signature, but a private vehicle powered by the despised emissions-spewing internal combustion engine!!
    Oh, the irony!

"Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important
as a wild and
healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people
are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line — at about a billion years
ago, maybe half that — we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have
become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. . .
" Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of
us can only hope for the right virus to come along."

- David Graber,
research biologist and greenie,
relating his vision for the future of the human race


  1. The Libertarianz Party would go a few steps further: privatising the streets in favour of residents—allowing formation of secure communities that can shut out undesirable elements such as gangs and welfare parasites.

    Snow Crash-style?

  2. A few years back the Libertarianz Party did an analysis on hundreds of these little empires and concluded that most of them can just be quietly shut down and wouldn’t even be missed. So do it, John!

    Shut down the Customs Service? Now I'm in favour of open borders as much as the next guy, but there are serious biosecurity implications here. One person could destroy the livelihoods (and property) of thousands or tens of thousands of people, and even start a famine, simply by carrying a foreign hitch-hiker in their briefcase. How would your common law deal with that?

  3. Richard McGrath9 Feb 2011, 13:57:00


    The book you mention (from what I can gather from the Wikipedia summary) describes a state of near anarchy, along with hyperinflation. Libz advocate small government which, if you take the time to check out our policies, would still be involved in national defence and maintaining law and order, and would stop the printing of fiat money and the setting of artificial interest rates by a central bank (which is what causes inflation).

    Snow Crash is a nightmarish society with little or no constitutional protection of individual rights - a Somalian situation. No thanks.

  4. The element of the fictional society in the book I was referring to was the presence of "burbclaves": sovereign neighbourhoods operated by private organisations who sell or lease houses to residents who agree to abide by the rules. Most of the respectable burbclave franchises have rules designed to keep out "undesirable elements". Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong, for example, has a ban on guns, and anybody who attempts to enter a Hong Kong neighbourhood with a firearm has it seized by robotic guards. The New South Africa franchise has a policy against non-whites.

    Also, PC: did my comment about Customs get deleted, held up in a moderation queue, or did I just not submit it when I thought I had?

  5. @Bizarrro: "Shut down the Customs Service?"

    Sure, why not.
    Biosecurity Bureaucracy Banished

  6. PC, I think that Ken's view is different. A good chat with him on the way to Whangaumu last month and his views is that it is vital that bio-security must be there since the government must have the monopoly on law & order. Bio-security is just an extension of that monopoly, whether it comes under the police or they exist as a different department altogether.

    The conversation started, when I brought up the subject, that the Aussie had banned our NZ apples for almost 7 decades for bio-security reasons and the NZ govt is whining about it. The question I put forward to Ken is, if the Aussie govt just allows private sellers & buyers of apples to trade with no restriction, then it is guaranteed that some buyers in Aussie, would have allowed the NZ apples to be exported over there, while others fear that this unrestricted trade will cause damage to their Aussie apple industry in general? The reason for the general ban imposed by the Aussie govt is to protect the properties of other growers if our so called insect-infested/diseased apples are being exported over there.

    Does Ken have a point?

  7. Richard McGrath9 Feb 2011, 18:50:00

    @Bizarro: The burbclaves idea is great and I would endorse it, but as mentioned earlier I'm not so keen on other aspects of the former USA in Snow Crash.

    I guess gated communities would come fairly close to qualifying as burbclaves.

  8. with regards to the Biosecurity issue here is my take on it:

    lets say that someone imported a shipment of kiwifruit and the shipment contained some pests that would damage the local industry in the country and cause loss to business. It would be legitimate for the government to step in and ban the shipment from entry. In this case, there is risk to property from the pests.

    Note: This does not mean that government has a legitimate role in screening everything and anyone who enters the country or travels around. I think someone would have to make a charge that there was a specific risk, and give some evidence—then and only then could police forces or whatever ban the shipment.

    This is a tough question, I think—it's really one for a philosopher of law, which I'm not.

  9. Merely having the person that introduces a new pest/disease sued/imprisoned would not be sufficient for (at least) three reasons:

    1. You may not be able to trace the introduced pest/disease to the person that introduced it.

    2. They may not have any money, so suing them wouldn't reap any real amount of compensation for the many millions of dollars lost.

    3. If the person were to be prosecuted and imprisoned after introducing a disease/pest, it wouldn't change the fact that the disease or pest had already been introduced...

    For these reasons, border bio security is a necessary part of Government.

  10. @FF, @David: I agree these are a matter for government. My issue however is whether they are necessarily a matter for a government department--one that specialises in going through your personal possessions.

    I say not. I say hold the carriers themselves legally responsible (i.e., the airlines, shippers etc.), who might be expected to wish to keep their businesses solvent.

    The recent reintroduction of myxamatosis suggests in any case that any one with even half a brain can easily outwit a govt dept.

    And the disgraceful banning of NZ apples betrays how easily a govt dept can turn an issue of alleged biosecurity into one of outright and indefensible protectionism.

  11. @Michael: I give a longer argument on that point at the link given in the comments above.


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