Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The fact and fiction of collapse [update 2]

When the world’s economy began collapsing four years ago in a mountain of malinvested private debt—debt built on a pile of counterfeit capital—Presidents Bush and Obama rolled the dice and plumped for government debt to take up the slack. They plumped for “stimulus” to “kick-start” activity, and for corporate welfare to prop up those whose props had just collapsed.

The end result of the pile of govt cash was to only make things worse. The crash was a sign that too many malinvestments has been made—the “stimulus” only served to prop up the bad investments, and  ensure those bad positions would continue as zombies for many years to come, sucking the life out of any green shots that might have appeared in their absence.  And the creation of new government debt only served to suck out real resources from where they were needed—creating profitable new businesses—and to make the world’s govts, and this U.S. government in particular, among the most indebted in history.

All that money, poured down a black hole that only made things worse.  As some of us said it always would.  The only” growth” has been in govt debt, and in govt power.

And now, as American govt debt heads towards the abyss, the only surprise that the likes of Standard & Poor’s has called the debt “horrendous” is that anyone, anyone at all, is surprised—let alone that this long-overdue recognition of economic reality would cause commodities and  stock markets to tumble, gold to rise, and headless chickens to squawk.

And as govt power grows with each crisis and each call to “do something,” it becomes increasingly difficult to see the difference between the fact of America today and the fiction of Atlas Shrugged. See what I mean [hat tip Objective Standard]:

No wonder that Atlas Shrugged, first published in 1957, is now at number four on Amazon’s list of best-sellers

UPDATE: Some audience reactions after Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 screened in Colorado:

UPDATE 2: And Peter Schiff points out that Standard & Poor’s are always too late to the Party!

But then Standard & Poor’s is one of only three with government-granted monopolies on their “ratings.”

Monday, 18 April 2011

Perigo!, #4

In the fourth show of his new series, Lindsay talks to educator Graham Crawshaw from Windy Ridge Boys Farm about his unique reading camps for troubled boys, and the debate over Phonics and Look-Say.

It takes a civilisation …

It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster.

Or even a pencil.

Friday, 15 April 2011

FRIDAY RAMBLE: The ‘Atlas’ Weekend Edition

I have no idea yet whether it’s good, bad or (most likely) indifferent, but on the weekend that Atlas Shrugged:Part 1 opens on screens across the States, how could I not start with the principle the book most clearly illustrates:

“There are no victims and no conflicts of interest among
rational men, men who do not desire the unearned …  men
who neither make sacrifices nor accept them.”
                   - Ayn Rand

A principle that, once recognised, provides the strongest possible reason for benevolence that could possibly be imagined.
Think about it.
And now, on with our usual Friday morning show. But first, a message from Wesley Mouch:

  • Who’s Wesley Mouch? “When Rand created the character of Wesley Mouch, it’s as though she was anticipating Barney Frank (D., Mass). Mouch is the economic czar in “Atlas Shrugged” whose every move weakens the economy, which in turn gives him the excuse to demand broader powers. Mr. Frank steered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disaster with mandates for more lending to low-income borrowers. After Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of their subprime mortgage books, Mr. Frank proclaimed last year: ‘The way to cure that is to give us more authority.’ Mouch couldn’t have said it better himself.”
    Remembering the Real Ayn Rand – Donald Luskin, W A L L   S T R E E T  J O U R N A L
  • Here’s one question to ask yourself this weekend: Are you a maker, or a taker?
    Are you a producer or a moocher? – Gen La Greca & Marsha Enright, D A I L Y  CA L L E R
  • 340x_custom_1276644309238_picture_43 Whatever the success or otherwise of the film Atlas Shrugged, and reviews are already mixed, there’s no doubt that there’ll be yet another huge spike in interest in the book. And just to be ready for it all, the Atlas Shrugged website has been drastically updated with substantial new content and new resources to enhance understanding of the ideas behind the novel.
    Atlas Shrugged website 
    –A Y N   R A N D   I N S T I T U T E
  • It’s not only Christchurch earthquake victims being screwed by organisations like EQC. Japan had its own version of interventionist ineptitude.
    How the Japanese Insurance Industry Screwed the Average Person on Earthquake Insurance – E C O N O M I C  P O L I C Y  J O U R N A L
  • “Nice to have”? Or impossible to afford. I can’t help thinking that  if this economic plan had been implemented back in 2008, we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. "We call it the Don't-Spend-So-Goddamned-Much Plan" …
    Finally: A Credible Economic Plan – L I B E R T A R I A N Z, 2008
  • How many NZers would have left money with Mark Hotchin if they’d known he was so credulous?
    Suppression of market-relevant information – O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Copyright protection on the net? Right idea, wrong process.
    An own goal  - David Farrar, K I W I B L O G
  • No wonder, when you have MPs involved. Why do people want people like this making decisions for them? About, well, about anything really?
     Katrina Shanks internet law parody by Kurt Sharpe. – S T U F F
  • Quick, download NationalMP2.o now…
    It's Upgrade Time – I M P E R A T O R   F I S H
  • “Human character (or at least behavior) was changed, and changed forever, by seventeenth-century Britain’s insistence that ideas were a kind of property. This notion is as consequential as any idea in history.”
    The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention
    – Dale Halling, S T A T E   O F  I N N O V A T I O N
  • “Unfortunately, Libertarians, Socialists and many Economists do not know the difference between a monopoly and a property right. Here are three easy questions for Libertarians, Socialists, and Economists to determine if a right is a monopoly or a property right.”
    Monopoly/Rent Seeking vs. Property Rights/Intellectual Property 
    – Dale Halling, S T A T E   O F  I N N O V A T I O N
  • As always, Paul Walker has some excellent Blog Bits. Two in particular.
    Blog Bits – A N T I   D I S M A L
  • Eric and I will have to disagree about the merits of playing NWA at a club—or anywhere else for that matter—but we don’t disagree it’s a disgrace to be arrested for it.
    Two disgraces that are, and one that isn't – O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Mind you, it has always been so in this small authoritarian backwater.Anyone else remember how the riot squad used to “visit” gigs up in Airedale St just to bust them up?  As the Newmatics remembered, those weren’t the days.
  • “The Marxian doctrine of the alleged arbitrary power of employers over wages appears plausible because there are two obvious facts that it relies on, facts which do not actually support it, but which appear to support it. These facts can be described as ‘worker need’ and ‘employer greed.’”
    Wages and the Irrelevance of Worker Need and Employer Greed 
    – G E O R G E   R E I S M A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • “There is a sense in which the whole of Marx’s writing boils down to several embarrassing questions.” This is truer than Marxists care to admit.
    Terryfied – Don Boudreaux, C A F E  H A Y E K
  • Here is a chart of oil prices.
    216546_177936218925442_100001271958300_466275_5134679_n And here is a chart of oil prices priced in gold.
    215330_177936535592077_100001271958300_466276_6101348_n Do you think maybe there might be some kind of lesson here? [Hat tip Keith W.]
  • You’re just in time for our 2011 Gold Quiz! How much do you know about gold? Jeff Clark challenges you to test your knowledge. Also in this edition: Gold – the performing commodity; and, three ideas killed stone dead since the 2008 crash.
     The 2011 Gold Quiz  - C A S E Y   D A I L Y   D E S P A T C H
  • “Aggregate economics just doesn't work.” So why do we even need macroeconomics at all?
    Macro is not having a good day - A N T I   D I S M A L
  • Debt? Think it’s your grandchildren paying for your government’s  debts? Think again. As with war, so too with profligacy and waste…

“One now and then hears the interpretation expressed that
financing war by state loans signifies shifting the war costs
from the present onto following generations… This interpretation
is completely wrong. War can be waged only with present goods.
One can fight only with weapons that are already on hand; one
can take everything needed for war only from wealth already
on hand. From the economic point of view, the present generation
wages war, and it must also bear all the material costs ...”
                       - Ludwig Von Mises, Nation, State & Economy


  • When Denis Dutton died, it seems his magnificent Arts & Letters Daily died with him.
    Arts & Letters Daily  - C A T A L L A X Y   F I L E S
  • The book The Spirit Level is still being taken seriously as an evidential tool to argue for interventionism. Chris Snowdon explains that the “evidence” is painfully thin, and terribly tortured.
     Should We Sacrifice Economic Growth for Equality? – I . E . A .
  • A debate to watch over the weekend: “Government, what is its proper role?”
  • 4731533855_7d65790718_oBob Jones writes more politely about “leadership” than I think I’ve ever seen him write before.  But he still thinks it’s bollocks.
    The Actual Habits – Bob Jones 
    – G E T   F R A N K
  • Here’s a question answered to help you buy baby’s clothes:  “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Can you guess how long ago that was written?
    When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? – S M I T H S O N I A N  [hat tip Noodle Food]
  • This is cool. This amazing software developed by a NZ company takes raw photo images, and constructs digital 3D models from them. [Hat tip Lyn B.]
    A R E O S C A N
  • Ho w Google works, in one simple flow chart. [Hat tip Geek Press]
    How Google Works – P P C   B L O G
  • You do know it’s okay to dislike good art, don’t you?
    Appreciating Art (It’s OK to [Dis]Like It.) – T R E Y  G I V E N S
  • And finally, there’s music for everyone this Friday. For everyone else going those “extra Miles” (ho ho) …
  • … for everyone moving on …
  • … and for everyone suffering from absent lover(s), here’s Rainbow. (I liked the comment at YouTube: “Graham Bonnet may have looked like a Miami Vice extra, but what a fucking awesome voice.”)

Have a good weekend, y’all.

PS: Time to start thing about those beers for the colder seasons. Just sayin’.

PPS: And by the way, who’s this bloke?


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Perigo! #4


Tonight on Perigo! Lindsay and his guest Graham Crawshaw, a specialist in teaching troubled teens to read, discuss undoing the damage done by those who inhabit the government’s factory schools. 

Join them for a half hour of intelligent discourse as well as a special romantic music gem by the late, great Joan Sutherland.

PERIGO! Stratos at 7.30, Freeview 21 & Sky 89.

Snail’s pace [updated]

Ten days after the devastating 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan, China, nearly one million temporary houses had been built for quake victims.

q16_17016885 Less than one month after Japan’s devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, families have begun moving into temporary homes there.

Meanwhile, nearly two months after Christchurch’s second quake and with around 10,000 homes needed … all eyes are on the Department of Building and Housing, awaiting their announcement of Fletcher Building of which Kiwi company will be allowed to build temporary housing here … on the new Earthquake Authority to see whose land they will “requisition” … and on Christchurch City Council, to see if by some miracle their ring-fencing of the city with zoning laws will be relaxed.

Because nothing is allowed to happen here without the say-so of the Czar and his satraps.

UPDATE: Eric Crampton has some thoughts on the newly minted powers of the Czar.

Open thread—and plenty to talk about

There's lots going on in the world right now—CERA, Syria, Libya, inflation, debt, Obama’s class war, Ayn Rand’s new film, Auckland’s Maori Statutory Board, NZ’s new copyright protection laws, French anti-burqa laws, secret bank bailouts, the nationalisation of lawyers, the end of property rights in Canterbury—and I'm sure you want to talk about it all and more.

Your topics—your points—your links. Make them and raise them now in the comments.

If you’re (un)lucky, I might join in myself.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Constitutional Hooey

When the Clark government held a high-profile hui to review the New Zealand constitution, there was a muted undercurrent to have “group rights” [sic] accepted as superseding individual rights, and an overt attempt to incorporate the Treaty of Waitangi into a new constitution.

The attempt is now being made again under this government—under the guidance of Bill English and Pita Sharples, and with the assistance of an “expert” advisory panel. Seeking to be said “experts” are the likes of Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu, who is on the record as seeing the constitution of Bolivia as “a future model for New Zealand.”

For the record, this is a constitution that gives special “group rights” to “indigenous” Bolivians, and gives nature “equal rights” to human beings.

Maybe not a future model for New Zealand then, we hope, but certainly a strong candidate for the world’s next famine.

Helen Clark’s constitutional conference was ultimately unsuccessful—not because attendees were opposed to the idea of group rights (an anti-concept wiping out the recognition that individuals hold rights “not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective—”as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross”), but mainly because Maori themselves were opposed to tying the Treaty down as long as they weren’t tying the knots themselves.  Such incorporation, said Shane Jones at the time, might “tie down the Treaty's mana as a 'sacred covenant'”; or as Ngatata Love said "I say what my tikanga is, not the law." Meaning, of course, that if law is clear and objective then witchdoctors won't be paid a fortune to give this week's interpretation of 'taonga.'

Clark was at least astute enough to realise giving the witchdoctors power to write their own constitutional ticket would be congenitally stupid, and left the constitutional question alone for the rest of her term. Key and English however, politically naive and desperate for Maori Party votes, are foolish enough to give the farm away before they’ve even realised what Sharples (and Mutu) have set their eyes on.

That vigilance, then, is going to be up to you and I.


DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Ninnies, nannies and more

_McGRath Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath invites you down to his clinic for an inoculation against this week’s stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.
This week: Ninnies, nannies and rent-seeking guild socialists.

1. STUFF: “Labour MP Damien O’Connor fronts up over gay commentsRejected at the last election by West Coast voters, Damien O’Connor apologises but does not back away from his claim that the Labour Party selection process is controlled by unionists (Little, Dalziel, Fenton, Beaumont, Wood, Mika, Curran, Lees-Galloway, Pillay) and gays (Robertson, Chauvel, Street, Wall, Carter)…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: And apologise he should, as he omitted three other important sources of Labour Party candidates – school teachers (Street, Mallard, Davis, Beaumont, Sepuloni) political studies graduates (Goff, Robertson, Jones, Hipkins) and lawyers (Parker, Chauvel, Dalziel, Huo).
    Delete members of these groups from the Labour list and there’d be few with knowledge of the real world left to stand.
    The ultimate Labour candidate would be a gay disabled Islamic trade unionist ex-school teacher with a background in race relations, membership of CORSO, Oxfam and Greenpeace and a degree in political studies.
    Shame to see Damien O’Connor apologise, obviously he has been nobbled by someone further up the chain, probably a gay unionist who took offence at hearing some home truths. Good thing however that O’Connor hasn’t backed away from the comments, merely expressed “regret” that someone took offence. Won’t hurt his chances at the next election, provided West Coasters have forgotten Helen Clark’s labeling of them as “feral.”

2. DOMPOST: “Jetstar stops disabled pair flyingDisabilities Minister Tariana Turia condemns Jetstar’s decision not to allow two wheelchair bound people on one of its aeroplanes…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: What is wrong with letting the market judge Jetstar, instead of a minister? If this decision is so horrendous, then Jetstar’s profits will drop as potential customers vote with their feet. The last thing these two disabled travellers need is an interfering politician using the situation to grandstand at taxpayer expense.
    All the more reason to abolish the post of Disabilities Minister – along with the swarms of other unnecessary ministries and departments that harass New Zealanders and eat out their substance.

3. DOMPOST: “Proposal to regulate teeth-whitening productsThe Environmental Risk Management Authority wants to force people to consult with a dentist before they use some types of mouthwash…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Not content with trying to ban dihydrogen monoxide, our guardians now want to regulate the use of hydrogen peroxide.
    Commonly used as a hair bleach, it can also be used to bleach teeth. The Dental Council are shocked – indeed scandalised – that a person can just go and buy whitening gels direct from the shelf and (gasp) apply them to their own teeth without first paying a fee to their members.
    Why can’t these rent-seeking do-gooders be told to mind their own business and allow adults to decide what they put into their own body instead of treating them like children? If people are injured through the use of bleaching agents, word will get around, and people will very quickly learn what products are safe to use and which are not. The last thing adult New Zealanders need is more rent-seekers and more nannying, which tends to undermine our capacity for independent thinking and decision-making.
    The Libertarianz Party, of course, would abolish both ERMA and the Dental Council, and allow adults the freedom to make their own decisions and to live with the consequences.

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may
be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons
than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty
may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but
those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end,
for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
– C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Swimming in the path of progress

Pelican So a ragtag bunch of anti-industrialists has headed out to sea in boats made with petro-chemicals and powered by fuel oil to protest about oil exploration and the prospective production of petr0-chemicals 30km off the coast of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, a year on from BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Gulf of Mexico (the former economic Dead Sea) has been oil-free for seven months and enjoying more fish stocks than it has ever had, and the Gulf Coast itself has largely recovered.

_Quote “The spill was a disaster, but it was not the catastrophe that many people were portraying,” said Ivor van Heerden, a marine scientist who once headed the Louisiana coastal restoration programme for the state’s fragile eco-system of wetlands.

It’s the catastrophe that wasn’t. A non-catastrophe that will still help make offshore drilling better, cleaner and safer. A non-catastrophic oil spill that is still nonetheless the touchstone for most of the unwashed. Sure, as Don Boudreaux points out,

_Quoteoil spills are compellingly photographable – and, hence, attention-getting and emotion-stirring.  In contrast, lower prices for – which, by the way, mean fewer resources used to bring to market – clothing, children’s toys, digital cameras, camping equipment, kitchen appliances, groceries, and other goods that we routinely enjoy are not photographable in any compelling way.  The result is that the social benefits of corporate innovations and competition are easily overlooked, ignored, taken for granted, forgotten.  But these benefits are enormous.

petrobras-protest So why are there so many previously unwashed anti-industrialists swimming around in front of other people’s boats off East Cape ?

Precisely because the logic of environmentalism, as practiced by the anti-industrialists, is to deny man’s needs and the requirements of his survival—to deny the benefits they themselves enjoy—to follow instead a path which would logically lead to a society without technology. Even the technology that allows these people to sit, quite literally, in the path of progress.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Invitation to an opening, from Mark Wooller

image Put your glad rags on tomorrow evening* and come out to see a friend’s new exhibition in Parnell:

Mark Wooller: The First Post

_Quote Mark Wooller’s new exhibition features stunning New Zealand native forests, but also included in the paintings are the first New Zealand stamps, early postcards, street maps of early Auckland, deed documents, and even paintings of old tobacco tins…
    These paintings of luscious New Zealand forests are interspersed with early roads, allotments and subdivisions, some depicting Queen & Wellesley streets, and Parnell Road. Parnell was one of New Zealand’s first subdivisions. Wooller says, “I found old documents relating to the division of land. These old plates and deed documents had appeal with these neatly drawn out numbered squares laid on grids offering settlers a chance to purchase their own piece of paradise…. streets and views we are so familiar with years ago would have been covered in dense vegetation, to step back and witness the inevitable tide of progress, the laying out of lots and sections the measuring and creation of land ownership out of what was, years before, a land of forest.” …
     This new series of work by Wooller is not just a celebration of New Zealand’s forests both past and present but a thoughtful narrative highlighting an iconic and often controversial aspect of New Zealand’s history…


WHERE: Warwick Henderson Gallery, 32 Bath St, Parnell.
WHEN: Tuesday 12 Aril, 5:30-7:30pm—and thereafter until the 30th.

Visit new artworks by Mark Wooller at www.markwooller.com, and follow his blog at http://markwooller.wordpress.com/.

* And don’t worry—our regular Economics meet-ups are taking a break for two weeks. So instead of coming along to uni to learn about economics, come along to the gallery and invest.  ;^)

Politics over principle – the U.S. edition

Side-stepping a temporary government shutdown (which would have been the second-best* outcome of the Republicrat-Demopublican Budget battle) US politicians  have instead agreed to fake reality for one more year by attacking the country’s biggest deficit ever with "trims variously valued at effectively 0.00% of this year's federal spending."

Peter Schiff comments on the argument over a rounding error—and the final victory for compromise over necessity.

[Hat tip Objective Standard and Casey’s Daily Despatch]

* Can you guess what the first-best would have been?

No party like a Labour party (list)

Labour has released their party list for the 2011 election, and like most everyone else I'm finding it hard to summon up sufficient enthusiasm to say anything about it.

Well, almost everyone. Labour Damian O'Connor at least has strong opinions about it.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Musical ramble

Sorry I’ve had no time to post my regular Friday Ramble this week—or last week. Normal transmission will resume just as soon as … well, just as soon as I’m able to resume it.

So instead of a full ramble, let me just post a little music for the weekend following the exciting news [hat tip Arthur Streeb-Greebling]that The Stone Roses have announced plans to reform—not to say resurrected…

… which for some strange reason made me think of the best piece of music Mozart ever wrote …

… and the beautiful ‘in memoriam’ Duke Ellington played for his late friend and collaborator Billy Strayhorn…

…and how’s this for an outstanding piece of super-leviathonic, rhythmaturgicaly, syncopated,  tapstematicianismusness—Bunny Briggs dancing before Duke Ellington with all his might!

Enjoy your weekend—and enjoy an organic and kosher brew if you can!

GUEST POST: What is inflation—and why Matt Nolan should care. [Updated]

Guest post by Phil Scott of NZ’s Foundation for Economic Growth. (If you’re not a subscriber to their regular newsletters, then kindly remedy that now!)

Last weekend I read an article in the Saturday's DomPost entitled, "What is inflation and why should people care?" by Matt Nolan from Infometrics and the Visible Hand blog.
    After a couple of introductory paragraphs Matt states, "By definition, inflation is an increase in the general level of prices, independent of economic fundamentals."
    At no stage did he mention the money supply which I thought might be an "economic fundamental". It is quite obvious that prices cannot rise across the board unless the money supply is rising. If the money supply is static then when people pay more for some items they are automatically forced to buy less of other items which will cause the sellers of those items to reduce the price to meet the reduced demand. So changes in the money available effect changes in the price of goods. So prices will change up and down if the money supply is static but there can be no general increase in all goods unless the money supply increases.
    Therefore increased money supply must come first followed by a general price rise.
    Increasing the money supply CAUSES price inflation in goods and services.
    Sounds fundamental to me.
    But never mind, Matt is in good company. In Thursday's DomPost Ben Bernanke is quoted on page 2 as saying, "an increase in US inflation had been driven primarily by rising commodity prices globally, and was unlikely to persist."
    So Ben Bernanke tells us that rising commodity prices causes inflation. Perhaps he didn't notice the 2 or 3 Trillion dollars he produced from thin air recently.
    I wonder if Matt and Ben are using the same definition of inflation? It is difficult to construct a logical line of thought when one defines effects rather than the cause of those effects. But, then Keynes was not known for his logic either.
    Saying that inflation causes inflation doesn't seem particularly helpful in educating the public.
    My very good friend Hugh Templeton who was recently honoured by the Australian government for his work in starting up Closer Economic Relations (CER) recently borrowed my book, Human Action  by Ludwig von Mises. He informed me that this book is the best book on economics he has ever read. [He’s right you know – Ed.]
    Ludwig thinks that changing the money supply causes changes in prices of goods. In fact he starts at the logical place - the cause - and defines inflation as an increase in the money supply.
    This allows him to construct a logical and true framework for economics which clearly demonstrates cause and effect and explains economics so there are none of the current logical inconsistencies which so plague current "Keynesian" thinking.
    I have tried to describe how Austrian economic thinking describes reality in the section of our web site called REAL Economics. Perhaps Ben should have a look!

Phil Scott is the Chief Executive of NZ’s Foundation for Economic Growth. Send him mail at phil@feg.org.nz

UPDATEKeith Weiner points out, correctly, that

_Quote It's not an increase in money supply per se. For example, in a gold standard gold miners do not create inflation (or rising prices).
It is an increase in
counterfeit credit.

But that might be going one concept too far for most mainstreamers to get their heads around!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Happy birthday, Billie Holliday

It’s April 7th. Billie Holliday’s birthday. [Hat tip Jazz on the Tube]

Happy birthday Billie.

‘Perigo!’ #3 tonight [updated]


Perigo! is the new interview show featuring New Zealand’s most experienced political interviewer, Lindsay Perigo.

“Perigo” means danger in Portuguese—and Perigo! promises danger to bossyboots and busybodies everywhere!

Tonight, on the third show in this series, Perigo interviews Muriel Newman, Principal of New Zealand Centre for Political Research, and a former Deputy Leader of the ACT Party. (Count them, there’s been something of a revolving door for ACT’s deputies.)

Tune in to see her and Lindsay discuss Liberty vs Democracy, and the current state of the ACT Party and the nation.

PERIGO!  Stratos on Thursday at 7.30 pm, Freeview 21 & Sky 89.

Here’s what episode #2 looked like…

UPDATEPerigo!  #3 is already up on YouTube [thanks Ron], and here it is:

Broken AMI [update 3]

AMI The AMI insurance company and every one of its policy holders now lies shattered by the Christchurch earthquake.

If you still needed convincing that there is no economic silver lining from the black cloud of Christchurch’s destruction—if you thought the Broken Window Fallacy was refuted by all those fabulously rich insurance companies who would sprinkle economic largesse from some unspecified financial heaven across the plains of Canterbury at no cost to ourselves—if you remained unpersuaded by Kris Sayce’s explanation of how there is no free lunch from insurance companies after a natural disaster—then perhaps today’s public announcement of AMI’s meltdown might bring the message home.

There is no free lunch from insurance companies.

There is nothing good about destruction.

It is rubbish to say the earthquake was good for the economy because the money for rebuilding comes into New Zealand from insurance companies, and won’t be taken from elsewhere in the economy.

To borrow from the title of Bastiat’s essay (just as Kris Sayce did) this only considers that which is seen but not that which is not seen.

All the money AMI had invested in New Zealand is now gone. It won’t be replaced. We will now never see what it would have bought.

Instead we see only another $500 million of your money heading AMI’s way to help bail it out, sent there by a Finance Minister as generous with corporate welfare as he is with his own housing supplements.

And we’ll never see what that half-a-billon might have bought either.

The earthquake was an unmitigated disaster.

And so, it should now be clear, is this government—who knows only how to compound it.

UPDATE 1: Felix Marwick: “National-led Government owns a rail company, a finance company, and about to pick up an insurance company. We're all socialists now.”

UPDATE 2: Felix Marwick again: “Probably they could pick up the Chch casino pretty cheap right now…”

UPDATE 3: Matt Nolan on AMI and moral hazard:

_Quote So when a disaster hits, the government is willing to bail out domestic insurance companies to “provide certainty for claimants” …
    As a result, insurance firms will discount these large-scale low-probability events – and take on more risk when providing loans.  Their willingness to take on more risk than is socially optimal [sic] will be paid for by tax payers…

Auckland Bloggers Drinks tonight

If you’ve always wanted to bail up bloggers and either give them a piece of your mind or buy them a beer, then join us tonight at Galbraith’s, top of Mt Eden Rd, for our regular first-Thursday-of-the-month Bloggers Drinks.

We’ll be all ears—and open throats.

Who’s the Wastemaster General now, Bill? [update 2]

TeWaka Bill English has been opening his mouth again and letting the wind blow his tongue around.

He says there is an “economic case” for a $2 million giant plastic waka that will be planted down at Queen’s Wharf for a month later this year.

Saying you have an economic case for X has a very specific meaning. It means you envisage specific economic benefits to specific economic players from X.

Does anyone really believe there is any economic benefit to be derived from this beyond the direct $1.8n million benefit to Ngati Whatua themselves? If there is an economic case for the waka, then I say let those who think they stand to benefit economically take the entrepreneurial risk themselves.

How dare Bill English and Pita Sharples and Ngati Whatua big cheese Ngarimu Blair load that entrepreneurial risk onto taxpayers instead of taking it themselves.

This is a very good example of why entrepreneurial risk should always be borne by the owners of capital—not by taxpayers at the behest of politicians playing political games.

There is little enough capital in this country anyway, most of it still malinvested. Should taxpayers bear the risk with their capital of Bill English's/Pita Sharples’s/Ngarimu Blair’s entrepreneurial acumen? Or lack thereof?

Hell no.

This is why taxpayers should not bear the burden of paying for a big plastic waka. If there are economic benefits to be had from it, then let those who stand to benefit stump up and risk their own capital.

Same argument for Team New Zealand, frankly. If there are economic benefits to be had from yachts with New Zealand logos floating around the world's pleasure spots, then let those who stand to benefit stump up and risk their own capital.

Same argument for the Rugby World Cup itself, frankly. If there are economic benefits to be had from "showcasing New Zealand," of from building “slugs” on Queen’s Wharf to “showcase New Zealand businesses,” then let those who stand to benefit from that showcasing stump up and risk their own bloody capital without dipping into other people's pockets.

And same argument for an inner-city rail loop round central Auckland. If there are economic benefits to be had from a rail line under central Auckland, then let those who stand to benefit economically from that rail line take the economic risk themselves.

These are many, many, many things that are "nice to have"--and those who find them nice should be the ones that have to find the money.  Why the hell should people who might think it's nice just to afford their rent be forced to take food out of their own mouths to pay for someone else's idea of "nice."

There are many other things that others might think it "nice to have" but will never ever have any economic benefit at all. That are just Waste with a capital ‘F.’ Boondoggles that Bill English should recant on now. And if he doesn’t recant on them now when his Government confronts the most economically destructive natural disaster the country has ever see combined with the biggest government deficit this country has ever seen then one has to wonder when he will.

  • A bailout for South Canterbury Finance debenture holders. Nice for some. Not nice for NZ taxpayers.
  • A bailout for AMI Insurance policy holders. Nice for some. Not nice for NZ taxpayers.
  • Welfare for Working Families. Nice for the middle class families getting the welfare. Not so nice for the taxpayers paying for it.
  • Interest-free loans for students. Nice for the students getting the interest-free loans. Unaffordable for for the taxpayers Bill English still forces to pay for it.
  • Michael Cullen’s train set. Nice for the few people who use it. Not nice for those taxpayers Michael and Bill taxed to pay for it.
  • Nick Smith’s Emissions Tax Scam. Nice for the bureaucrats administering it. Nice for those who think it makes NZ look “nice” to the rest of the world. Nice for Nick Smith who gets to strut around looking “nice” before his friends at the world’s climate conferences. Not nice at all for all you hard-pressed producers and consumers who have to pay for it.
  • Continuing to pay for Ministries of Women’s Affairs, Ethnic Affairs, Maori Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs and Consumer Affairs (let all these pressure groups handle their own bleeding affairs); for Ministries of Youth Development, Economic Development and most of the Ministry of Social Development (have you seen them doing any developing to speak of?); for Commissions for Commerce, Children, Electricity and Race Relations; and Councils for Alcohol Advice, Fish and Game, Gambling and “Human Rights”—not to mention the whole litany of other government millstones hanging round the neck of producers.
  • And of course “Party Central” itself and its giant plastic waka—which as everyone really knows has no economic case whatsoever.  It is simply nice for Pita Sharples and the Ngati Whatua Browntable, and very nice for John Key and Bill English—who get to buy the Maori Party’s votes in Parliament with money out of your pocket.

Before the last election, when National’s luminaries were swallowing dead rats while pretending they didn’t know there was an economic crash coming, they were busy calling Michael Cullen the Wastemaster General.

Who’s the Wastemaster General now, Bill?

Who’s the Wastemaster General now, John?

UPDATE 1: Eric Crampton: “Oh, the dangers when the government starts picking winners.”

UPDATE 2: Please take this 3 News poll: “Should the taxpayer or businesses pay for World Cup projects - eg Cloud or the Waka... ? “