Sunday, 12 June 2011

(I'm) Stranded

'm) I've been stranded in Melbourne by a Chilean volcano--out of which circumstances someone far better than I could surely conjure some sort of poetry, but I can only post briefly to excuse myself from blogging for another day. Or until the volcano and its ash blow themselves out, and I can get closer to the blogging equipment I'm beginning to think I should have brought with me.

So in the meantime: Go the Cats!

And here's The Saints from 1977, from another Australian town, with the best single from this and every other week (as somebody knowledgable once said).

Friday, 10 June 2011

Do-it-yourself ramble


I’m off to Melbourne this morning to join 90,000 screaming fans watching Geelong beat Hawthorn tomorrow night at the Cathedral of Sport.

So there’ll be no ramble this morning from me.

So why not take the opportunity for a do-it-yourself ramble—to post in the comments links and stories that interested you, and are sure to interest other readers.

Go to it!

And enjoy!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

NOT PJ: Taking the Mickey

_BernardDarntonThis week Bernard Darnton wouldn't steal a car, but he might download one if it was old enough.

Taking the Mickey

Outrage erupted this week as an anti-piracy video featuring comedian Rhys Darby was released to New Zealand schools. Pro-piracy campaigners announced a boycott and said they would immediately stop watching their downloaded Flight of the Conchords episodes. Darby is expected to miss out on revenues of up to $0 a week until the boycott is lifted.

There is an escalating war between the creators and distributors of films and music and the “information wants to be free” crowd who think they should be allowed to consume whatever entertainment they want without paying for it. The law is on the side of the copyright owners and technology is on the side of the pirates. Matters are foggied because the technology has myriad legitimate uses and the law is being used as a blunt weapon to bludgeon the pettiest of offenders and any inconvenient bystanders.

MickeyExhibit A: Steamboat Willie starring Mickey Mouse. This film was released in 1928. Its copyright was due to expire in 1956. Then it was renewed giving a new expiry date of 1984. Just in time, the law changed extending its protection until 2003. Yet again the horrors of public domain were avoided with the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act, taking the date out to 2023. Ergo, according to the anti-copyright folks, Congress has been bought by “big media” and Disney is writing America’s laws.

Without wanting to fabricate complicated conspiracy stories, the steady increase in copyright protection does look odd. By rights, Steamboat Willie should have fallen into the public domain by now and the file-sharers should be allowed to share and remix this nugget of Americana to their hearts’ content.

At this point you need to put your conclusion-jumping shoes on because we’re off to the land of Non Sequitur. Steamboat Willie is 80 years old and I would be allowed to copy it if not for some shady corporate welfare deal. Therefore copyright is bollocks. Therefore I should be allowed to download X-Men: First Class, which is 8 days old, which is what I wanted to do in the first place before making up this rambling story about Mickey Mouse.
So, a question for the Rhys Darby boycott crowd: if information wants to be free, why didn’t X-Men: First Class just spring into existence by magic? Why did hundreds of people have to spend months of effort and $160 million to bring it into existence?

Like every good political stoush, everyone is yelling, and everyone is wrong. Media corporations are wrong to keep lobbying for extensions of copyright, lawmakers are wrong for criminalising fair use and format shifting, and file sharers are insane for thinking that they can take products without paying for them and expect the producers to keep producing.

Lawmakers are wrong for writing legislation that assumes guilt as soon as copyright infringement accusations are made and wrong again for mandating that internet access be denied to those accused. Opposing lawmakers are wrong when they claim that internet access is a human right. (Tom Paine was silent on the matter.)

Whenever I listen to an argument on this topic I want to stick both sides in a room and reboot the lot of them.

* * * * *

Bernard Darnton boots himself into action every Thursday here at NOT PC.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Why do Weiner et al keep being given more power?

As yet another politician disgraces himself, this time by tweeting his Weiner to folk who hadn’t asked for it, isn’t it time to ask why so many people so readily grant so much power to such demonstrably stupid people like this?

As Tibor Machan says, it’s very puzzling.

Why, in the face of repeated scandals and corruption across the world and this country,are  there well-educated folks who continue to be confident that if only one hands a problem over to politicians and their appointees, all will be fine.

Tibor, naturally, has both an answer and a solution.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Double-dip? Or never-ending bust?

WillPredictRecoveryForFood“"Whether one likes it or not, it is a fact that the main issues of present-day politics are purely economic and cannot be understood without a grasp of economic theory. Only a man conversant with the main problems of economics is in a position to form an independent opinion on the problems involved. All the others are merely repeating what they have picked up by the way. They are an easy prey to demagogic swindlers and idiotic quacks.   Their gullibility is the most serious menace to the preservation of democracy and to Western civilization.”
            - Ludwig Von Mises, Bureaucracy

‘Midst expectations of a “double-dip” recession and in the light of the above,  you might be wondering “Did the (U.S) Recession Ever Really Go Away?” 

And you might appreciate  “ A Primer on the Never-Ending Bust.”

“We’re awful,” sayeth the teacher

Ann McElhinney, former teacher and now famous for her films "Not Evil Just Wrong" and "Mine Your Own Business," gives a heartfelt speech about how children are being indoctrinated by teachers.

Don’t think her stories only applies to the States.

What she’s talking about are the modern-day Comprachicos.

But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims. The ancient comprachicos hid the operation, but displayed its results; their heirs have reversed the process: the operation is open, the results are invisible…

[HT Robert at the Small Dead Animals blog]

Monday, 6 June 2011

June 6, 1944

June 6, 1944, is one of the most momentous days out of many in twentieth-century history.

It was the day sixty-seven years ago that the free west summoned every resource available, and gambled everything on the outcome of this one day, and one vast attack—an assault across the English Channel on five beaches in western France. It’s object: to free Western Europe from the Nazi jackboot.

This was D-Day.

The tale of Operation Overlord, a heroic assault on the Atlantic Wall launched by the greatest invasion armada the world has ever seen, has been told many times but never so well or as effectively as the sweeping story told by Cornelius Ryan in his non-fiction account The Longest Day—which became a surprisingly effective 1962 movie starring everyone at the time who held an Actors Equity card.

Don’t accept cheap imitations.  Unlike the Spielberg splatterfest which purports to portray the same momentous event, this film (and more especially the book on which it was based) shows both the context of this landmark event and its human interest stories.

Cycling around those Normandy beaches a few years ago with my copy of Ryan’s book as one of my guides, I soon discovered that when they saw the book the locals were still keen to stop me and talk about what happened that day so many decades ago.  And sometimes (since they were talking very fast, very idiosyncratic French) I could even work out what they were talking about.  Or some of it.

And I remember sitting in a pillbox on Omaha beach, imagining how it must have felt that morning to have looked out to sea and seen the whole horizon armed to the teeth and heading straight for you…

… fast forward to 3:15. And keep your buttocks clenched.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On minimum wages

“The proposal is to make low wage earners less employable. To
steal their right to work for whatever wage they want to. To ensure
that they don't get the work experience they need in order to earn
more later in life. And most crucially of all, the increase in the
minimum wage would cement job security for those already
earning above the minimum wage. It does this by reducing
competition. That's why unions came up with the idea.”
           - Nickolai Hubble, from The Daily Reckoning Australia

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Rand on religion

See, even big government liberals can admit “Ayn Rand Wasn’t Always Wrong.” Says P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula,

    This is a video of Ayn Rand on a talk show in [1979, three years before the died]. Don't run away yet! The interesting part… [is] the audience and also the host: they seem horrified that someone has so boldly stated that they don't believe in god. And that liberal host, Phil Donahue, "tsk, tsk, tsk"s her, and you can tell he's just unable to comprehend someone denying the deity.
    We have come a long way. I don't think a modern audience would be much less annoyed, but at least they wouldn't be as surprised.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday Morning Ramble: Lot’s to get (un)excited about

Local politics has become almost unwatchable. So I’ve stopped watching it. For the moment, anyway.  How about you?
In the meantime, here’s a few things that caught my eye this week.

  • As  Eric Crampton points out, debaters on both sides of the minimum wage argument have been making stuff up.
    Over and underestimating effects of minimum wages
    – Eric Crampton, O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • The story of New Orleans’s resurgence after Hurricane Katrina might offer some hope for struggling Cantabrians if they can get the political classes off their backs. Because Katrina’s recovery did not come from the top down. The disaster “undermined the corrupt, inept political regimes that had burdened the area for decades… After Katrina everyone was forced to become an entrepreneur. The dominant concept for the rebuilding has become one of resiliency and self-employment.”
    Let’s hope the same thing will pull Christchurch through.
    [Hat tip Owen McShane]
    The Katrina Effect: Renaissance on the Mississippi -  Joel Kotkin, N E W   G E O G R A P H Y
  • According to Suffolk University economics professor Ben Powell, the three most common immigration myths are that immigrants are a drag on the economy, they steal our jobs, and that they depress wages. The evidence for those assertions is so weak that it takes Powell less than two and a half minutes to debunk them.
    As he concludes, “Whatever your position on immigration was before, if one of these three myths was holding you back, this should push you more on the margin toward wanting more open borders, not less.” [from Bastiat Institute by Ryan Young]
  • What would the world look like if too many people spent too much time and money learning too little of anything that really matters a damn? Well, take a look around folks: we’re living in that world now.  Lot’s of folk with MBAs and PhDs, and too few to make stuff, fix stuff, and to come out weekends to repair your drains. (No, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s what happens when a market is as heavily subsidised as this one.)
  • Let’s get this straight: GDP, that measures so-called Gross Domestic Product, does not measure production. It mostly measures consumption (i.e., spending by you and me at the shops, and spending by the government buying votes). And when it does measure production, it netts it out so drastically so that what it does count is only the very small tip of a very big iceberg. So it’s neither Gross, nor a measure of Production. In fact, in recent times, what it is coming to measure most is government spending, and their expansion  of the money supply. So, with that in mind …
    ... Can We Please Stop Pretending the GDP Is "Growing"?
    - Tyler Durden, Z E R O  H E D G E [ht Keith W.]
  • How’s Australia doing? Strangely, there are still folk around that think it dodged an economic bullet. And oddly, Roger Kerr seems to be one of them.
    The State of the Australian Economy – R O G E R   K E R R ‘ S   B L O G
  • Yes, Virginia, Australia’s housing bubble has burst. “First and foremost, house prices are falling.  We’re going to use the dreaded ‘f’ word here on television.  House prices are falling.” And: “The rate of decline is actually accelerating.”
    * 5 Myths That Won’t Stop an Aussie House Price Crash
    * Why Housing Will Fall as Hard as Silver But Take Longer to Recover 
    - Kris Sayce, M O N E Y M O R N I N G A U S T R A L I A
  • And for the rest of the world? The crash radar is still on extreme.
    Why We Back Top Fund Manager’s Crash Call – Kris Sayce, M O N E Y   M O R N I N G   A U S T R A L I A
    Why the US is in Re-Recession – D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • Will the economic pain in Spain stay mainly on their plain? No, it won’t. Spaniard wanting to fake the reality they’ve voted for won’t help.
     Forex focus: the pain in Spain – T E L E G R  A P  H
  • Does New Zealand need a weak dollar?  No, we need a sound dollar. (The arguments here are essentially the same as they are in the U.S. )
    Do We Need a Weak Dollar? – Robert Murphy, M I S E S   D A I L Y
  • Meanwhile, back in the States, rather than cut their profligate spending they’re still trying to pass a bill so they can government can raise the amount they can keep borrowing without breaking the law. ‎150 horrified economists have called for responsibility, and signed a letter opposing an increase to the debt ceiling. Paul Krugman was not amongst them.
    150 Economists Sign Letter Against Increase Of US Debt; Spoiler Alert - Paul Krugman Is Not Among Them – Z E R O   H E D G E
  • Meanwhile, mainstream economists are still baffled by the US’s “slowing economy and low yields,” and that’s despite all the Keynesian stimulus they’ve had thrown at the problem. As Steven Kates implies, they’re only baffled because they haven’t learned to read more widely—like some of the folk you might read here.
    Are we still all Keynesians now? – C A T A L L A X Y

“The public debt is a double burden on the free market:
in the present, because resources are withdrawn
from private to unproductive governmental employment;
and in the future, when private citizens are taxed to pay the debt.”
- John Stuart Mill, “Of a National Debt,” as paraphrased by Murray Rothbard
[Thanks to Greg D. for the cartoon] 

  • By the way, if you’re an “app” writer (and I know some of you are), then listen up. We could be reaching a “tipping point” in apps.
    Hitting a tipping point in apps – C O D Y  W A T C H
  • “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” A hospice nurse reveals the top five dying regrets of her patients.
    Regrets of the Dying – Bronnie Ware, I N S P I R A T I O N   &   C H A I
  • Would you give up Vegemite for Amanda Palmer? Tough question.
Amanda Palmer in Sydney, with her Vegemite Song
  • Here’s the world’s best Republican vibraphone player: Lionel Hampton.
Lionel Hampton and his band perform ‘Flying Home.’ Broadcast on American Television in 1957.
  • Now how about this for a treat! Vladimir Horowitz play Liszt’s piano transcription of Richard Wagner’s ‘Liebestod.’  Magic.

Have a great weekend.
I will be.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

GUEST POST: “Sorry about the sewage, we are too busy gardening in the Red Zone!”

I’m sure if you caught the news from Christchurch this morning you felt as I did.

While owners of central Christchurch property are being ordered by the government’s bureaucrats at CERA to cough up demolition plans for buildings they are aren't even allowed to visit, supposedly because it’s too risky for them, council gardeners are allowed in to central Christchurch to plant flowers—presumably to make wreaths to plant around the  businesses the council has killed.

In this Guest Post, Christchurch businessman Hugh Pavletich gives voice to some of the anger felt around the city:

“Sorry about the sewage, we are too busy gardening in the Red Zone!”
by Hugh Pavletich

Take a look at these:

    Gardening in red zone - The Press
    Gardening in Red Zone infuriates business owners - TVNZ
    Anger at red zone gardening - Newstalk ZB


    Grass in house no grounds for rates relief - The Press
    Battle grows to reopen Dux - The Press

While the Christchurch City Council was insolent, incompetent and obstructionist following the 4 September 2010 earthquake, things are now even worse after the 22 February 2011 event. Another layer of bureaucrats  has kicked in with in the newly formed Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (one with neither development nor engineering expertise). It would appear the Council has pretty much “kicked the can” to CERA, this new body, and is taking an even more relaxed approach to life—even as it enforces that same relaxation on the city’s business owners, who it still largely prohibits from accessing their own buildings.

These photos  below and reports ;linked above show 6 Council City Care workers tending a garden in the Christchurch’s CBD Red Zone, from which public and business and property owners, excluded. They are surreal.

That’s a lot of workers to weed one garden of course......but hey......that’s another story (see my “Christchurch: A Bureaucratically Buggered City,” from which the important Council hyperlinks have already been disabled – why?)

Obviously Mayor Bob Parker, CEO Tony Marryatt and the “management” think weeding plant beds in an area that is vacated is more important than employing these staff replacing the destroyed and mostly obsolete  sewage infrastructure in the east.

But, hey, at least they’re visible! Quite where all the grossly overstaffed 1,300 administrative / regulatory people usually located at the redeveloped Civic Offices are is something of a mystery.

These Civic Offices, the council’s brand-new “not fit for purpose” redeveloped and excessively expensive “green” building was “knocked out” for two months following the first earthquake event (at an estimated cost of rebuilding of $5 million, excluding much larger disruption costs)  – and for some four months following the 22 February event (est. cost or re-repair $10 million, again excluding disruption costs). It will not be reoccupied until the end of June. [And for the design of this “fit for purpose” building, the architect Ian Athfield has been reward with the job of Christchurch’s architectural czar. Cool, eh. – Ed.]

clip_image001So where are they all and what are they up to? No doubt some Council staff are scattered around suburban service centres and libraries. Where are the rest? What are they doing?

This illustrates one reason the Council has insufficient money to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to the community it is supposed to serve.

It is past time to move from the current failed and bloated centralised model, to the "One City - Many Communities" one, in which elected community representatives and ratepayers might better monitor these guys.

There are two types of local government in this world – the small and the bad.

Christchurch can and will recover from these continuing  earthquake events and become an “opportunity city,” once we figure out how to get acceptable performance from our elected representatives’ and the public bureaucracies we pay excessively to serve us—and how to get them off our backs.

Hugh Pavletich


PETER SCHIFF: Markets swoon on double dip fears

Peter Schiff comments on the big U.S. stock mark sell-off, amid general weakness and fears (fears? what are we talking about: expectations) of the coming second crash—made worse by the resources consumed in the stimulus season.

So while the NZ Government bases Budgets on fantasies of “four-percent growth” over the coming year, in Australia, in Europe and in the U.S. things are heading rapidly downhill. And investors know it.

And no fear thinking China is going to pull us out of it.  They have problems of their own based on their own expansion of counterfeit capital to fake the expansion of GDP  and consequent over-production of malinvestments. And in China, even the malinvestments are bigger:


_McGRathLibertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath offers inoculation against the nonsense appearing in recent stories and headlines

This week: Fan mail 

Rather than looking at the papers this week, I share below an e-mail recently received from a New Zealander who, like many others, is wondering just how long John Key can carry on the Smile and Wave charade before the whole pack of cards comes crashing down around his ears—a correspondent who cares that innocent people are being hounded by the same government that is meant to protect them:

I have been following your party for some time now and only voted National in the last election so we could get Labour out, as I’m sure many did. However I think its time to start promoting your party more and I have already started telling people about [Libertarianz].

The reason for my email is that I want to propose the idea of a new bill, called the Victimless Crimes Bill. Basically the idea is that if a person is charged with a crime, and they can prove there is not (or would not) be a victim, then they should not be charged. I am sick of victimless crimes in this country, it’s a disgrace.

As I said in response to him, the new boss is the same as the old boss. As Peter Cresswell has pointed out on numerous occasions on this blog, this National government continues to drive this country further into indebtedness by $300 per week per family. In every essential—and all too many of the details—they  are no different to Labour before them. And their attitude to victimless crimes is just the same.

Wikipedia, defines a victimless crime as

“an infraction of criminal law without any identifiable evidence of an individual that has suffered damage in the infraction.”

Surely the test of whether something is a crime should be whether someone was actually harmed by the actions of someone else. No harm – no crime.

The Libertarianz Party believes in the principle enunciated by John Stuart Mill in his essay On Liberty:

"[The] only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

Or to put it another way, government is force; and the only time that force may be exercised is to protect you from me—or me from you.  (Specifically, to prevent the initiation of force by one person against another.)  The only times a person or persons can be forced to do something against his/their will is, by extension, by right of self-defense or restorative justice (where people are compensated after sustaining proven objective harm, by the entity that harmed them).

At all other times, the government—to whom the power of retaliatory force is delegated by the individuals it serves—should turn the other way, even if some people find what other people are doing distasteful.

Lack of taste is not an initiation of force.  Which means:

  • Homosexuality itself harms no-one, in the same way that heterosexuality is not inherently evil. There should be no laws that interfere in the peaceful interaction of adults.
  • Cultivating, consuming and trading in cannabis (a natural plant) is another victimless “crime”, between adults and with the consent of all parties who take full responsibility for the consequences of their freely chosen actions.
  • The same principle applies to the producers of erotica, to prostitution, to gambling and to other activities in which people are not forced to participate or actively support. As long as no coercion is involved, the State should let people do what they want. Once force is used by one party to violate the individual rights of another, however, that is where the State should step in to enforce compensation for damage or other loss.

This country needs fewer laws, not more of them. Yet while the National Party is in no hurry to remove the laws that prosecute victimless crimes, and persecute innocent New Zealanders, it is spending virtually every waking moment preparing and writing new laws to be passed under urgency.

On the other hand, the Libertarianz Party has always maintained that such laws—laws without victims—should be repealed. Immediately. That would be the beginning of paring the threat from government down to size.

In the meantime, and as healthy start on this road, my correspondent suggested a Victimless Crimes Bill be drafted. Damn good idea! The Libertarianz Party will get on to it. And who knows, there may be a libertarian-leaning party with MPs in the next parliament via whom such a bill might see the light of day, by Private Members ballot or otherwise.

Incidentally, who would have thought that blackmail is a victimless crime?

See you next week!
Doc McGrath             

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

This is tomorrow calling

There’s a little graph that started doing the rounds yesterday that someone’s tricked up to show that government debt here in NZ is just ten percent of GDP and falling.

It’s not.

The person who tricked it up is bullshitting you.

Government debt in New Zealand is over thirty percent of GDP and increasing—as we can see just by checking Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s website here:

26.164% of GDP in 2009, to
31.024 of GDP in 2010, to
32.653 of GDP in 2011, to
something even bigger in 2012 and beyond.

The simple fact is that this Government is borrowing over $300 million every week to cover the shortfall between its big taxes and its even bigger spending.  That's a new $300 debt added to the account of every New Zealand family, every week—and that figure is not falling, it’s growing.

We are in a crisis, and “politics as usual” is not going to get us out of it.

So why would the faker who tricked up the graph want to bullshit you?


PIGSBecause, like Bill English, and like John Key, they too want the government to keep faking reality and keep right on spending as if there were no tomorrow. Just as they did in Portugal, in Ireland, in Italy, in Greece, in Spain, in the UK, in the US … in pretty much every jurisdiction where the virus of welfarism has taken hold and convinced nearly everyone in them that the world owes them a living—and that they can vote themselves riches to make it happen.

But tomorrow is calling—and really very loudly. There is a worldwide sovereign debt crash coming, and when it does it won’t be pretty.

And just because the ratings agencies aren’t worried about it now, that doesn’t mean a thing. Those blind imbeciles were busy just a few short years ago giving A++ ratings to debt based on mortages given to unemployed homeless Americans—just before that particular world came crashing down.

Here’s Bryan Ferry & Chris Spedding.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: The Socialist Calculation Debate

Here’s what our friends at the Auckland Uni Economics Group will be discussing this evening.


In this Tuesday’s seminar we turn to what is referred to as the Socialist Calculation Debate.
    In 1956 Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev banged his shoe on the podium at the U.N., and told the west: "History is on our side. We will bury you in fine [goods]. You hear that? Quality!"
    In 1971, he told an American president, "In 7 years we will reach the level of America. When we catch up and pass you by, we'll wave to you."
    In 1989, however, the whole of Eastern Europe collapsed, and the economy and environment of the Soviet Union were exposed to the world as a complete and utter basket case. It was a defining moment in twentieth-century history. "Scientific socialism," which started in Utopia and was continued midst bloodshed and famine, was revealed not as a miracle of production (as many mainstream economists seemed to think) but as a complete and utter bust.
   The reasons for the collapse were explained all the way back in 1920. The Utopians "invariably explain how, in the cloud-cuckoo lands of their fancy, cooked chickens will somehow fly into the mouths of the comrades," observed Ludwig Von Mises. "but they omit to show how this miracle is to take place."
    In fact, despite all their rabid inventive, neither Karl Marx nor his followers had written even one word explaining how a socialist economy would actually work in the real world. And nor could they. Because as Mises pointed out, there is one fundamental economic flaw in the socialist Utopia that means the system can never produce anything but misery--and after decades of debate in 1989 he was finally conclusively proved right.
    No wonder Soviet economists eventually insisted a statue to Ludwig Von Mises be placed in a prominent place in Moscow.
    Join us tonight to discuss that flaw and some of that history, as we discuss the Socialist Calculation Debate--including several lessons from it for us today.

Date: Tuesday 31 May
Time: 6pm
Room: University of Auckland Business School, Owen G Glenn Building, Room 219 (Level 2)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Perigo for Brash [updated]

Don Brash isn’t the only one who’s just recently joined ACT. So too has Lindsay Perigo.

He explains his reasons here.

UPDATE:  If you want to see why the opinions of the blogosphere can be so readily dismissed as brainless slop, please refer to the comments on this very topic at both Kiwiblog and Dim Post.

Of intelligent life, there is none.

Mind you, they haven’t been much better over here, have they.

Carbon dioxide, pollutant? [updated]

How can a gas that’s just 0.039% of the atmosphere cause all the calamities alleged by global warmists?

Is CO2 as dangerous as some scientists claim?

And if not, why are we saddled with the extra costs of Nick Smith’s Emissions Trading Scheme—with the pledge of an extra Phil Goff supplement to come?

A Princeton physic professor addresses the pertinent question, on which the whole climate circus depends: Just how dangerous is this naturally occurring trace gas?  His answer:

    Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and other things being equal, adding the gas to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about 1 degree Celsius in warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere—about 2 ppm per year—it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increase will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, and so on are greatly exaggerated.
    “Mitigation” and control efforts that have been proposed will enrich a favored few with good political ties—at the expense of the great majority of mankind, including especially the poor and the citizens of developing nations. These efforts will make almost no change in earth’s temperature

So why all the catastrophising about carbon? Because

    The frightening warnings that alarmists offer about the effects of doubling CO2 are based on computer models that assume that the direct warming effect of CO2 is multiplied by a large “feedback factor” from CO2-induced changes in water vapor and clouds, which supposedly contribute much more to the greenhouse warming of the earth than CO2. But there is observational evidence that the feedback factor is small and may even be negative. The models are not in good agreement with observation…

They never were, were they. 

Read it all here:

UPDATE:  And what about the Kyoto Treaty-on which Nick Smith’s Emissions Tax Scam, Phil Goff’s Smack-the-Farmers-Scheme and Julia Gillard’s Carbon Tax are based?  Answer: Now that the Big Four have pulled out permanently, it’s a dead duck. Which means we down under are now  “world leaders” in punishing ourselves.

Kyoto deal loses four big nation
DEAUVILLE, France: Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty, European diplomats have said…
    Developed countries signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. They agreed to legally binding commitments on curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
    Those pledges expire at the end of next year. Developing countries say a second round is essential to secure global agreements.
    But the leaders of Russian, Japan and Canada confirmed they would not join a new Kyoto agreement, the diplomats said. [Moreover] at last Thursday’s G8 dinner the US President, Barack Obama, confirmed Washington would not join an updated Kyoto Protocol, the diplomats said.

Which means Kyoto is dead.

Which means New Zealand has no “Kyoto obligations.”

Which means neither farmers not any other producer has any “Kyoto obligation” to meet.

Are you listening John and Nick and Phil and Julia and Cate?  Because you can be damn sure voters will be.

Cass Sunstein Outdoes Orwell

Guest post by Jeff Perren

Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Regulatory Affairs, unveiled the U.S. Federal government's plans for (cough) “regulatory overhaul.”

    Sunstein said that the reform proposals, which are now available for public review as they head to become final rules in roughly 80 days, “underline and italicize the words freedom of choice.” [emphasis added]
Coming from this Administration—and from Sunstein in particular—that is a statement I regard as roughly equivalent to the slogans “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength.”

By the way, as of two days ago, none of those sections allegedly designed for public feedback were operational and there were no comments.

P.S. If the partial list provided at AEI is any indication, none of these changes touch anything serious. (Yes, I'm not surprised, either.) For example,

- Creating a system of hazard labels that conforms to “international harmonization.”
- Making sure federal regulatory code doesn’t refer to nations that no longer exist.
Color me underwhelmed.

Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

Gil Scott-Heron died over the weekend—a musician and poet with a killing sense of black humour.  Gil was not “miscellaneous.”

The JazzOnTheTube site has put together this tribute, including:

  • "Is it Jazz?", one of the greatest love poems to jazz ever written.
  • "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", a phrase Gil coined.
  • "The Bottle," one of the most beloved Soul tunes in the UK, especially the North where they take their Soul seriously!
Gill Scott-Heron tribute by JazzOnTheTube.

Friday, 27 May 2011

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: It’s a faking-reality election again [updated]

The 2011 election campaign has started early, with both sides signalling already that their primary platform this year will be faking fiscal reality. It’s going to be a long few months.

  • That should leave room for someone, you would think, to begin stating the facts about the govt living beyond its means.  But it will take a lot more gimlet-eyed passion than this. (Maybe he needs a good Press Secretary … ? ;-)
    WHY ACT? A personal statement – Don Brash, F A C E B O O K
  • And here’s a reasonable question.
    Will ACT vote against the Budget? – T H E   S U B – S T A N D A R D
  • Mind you, it’s easy for politicians to fake reality with a press corps as dim as ours.
    Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? – Seamus Hogan, O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Oh, by the way, did you know the projected costs for the Auckland Super Shitty amalgamation are now projected to be out by a factor of 10.
    Local government minister Rodney Hide wrote in the Herald a year ago that “projected $94 million establishment costs … of the first Auckland Council” plus “a further $66 million on IT to finish the job post November 1" were “a drop in the bucket” compared to the $2 billion spent annually by Auckland's councils.” 
    Except now we ratepayers face not just the $1 billion debt left by then-mayor (and now ACT Epsom candidate) John Banks, but also the cost of half-a-billion dollars for new computer systems to run the city built by former ACT leader Rodney Hide.
    Someone has to be accountable for this – Russell Brown, P U B L I C  A D D R E S S
  • “The employment effect of a minimum wage is a classic example of the law of unintended consequences and Frederic Bastiat’s insights about the seen and the unseen. It also illustrates William Graham Sumner’s thesis about The Forgotten Man
    The Minimum Wage and The Forgotten Man – Art Carden,  B A S T I A T  I N S T I T U T E
  • Just as not all products are worth paying $15 to receive, not all jobs are worth paying $15 to have done...
    Do We Really Need a Minimum Wage? – Charlie Virgo, M I S E S   D A I L Y
  • Two weeks ago, Stephen Franks suggested the first move of new CERA boss Roger Sutton should be to free up affordable land.  Two weeks later, after lots of talk about what could be done with downtown with Other People’s Buildings (with or without their consent), we’re still waiting for him to listen to that suggestion.
    Roger Sutton’s first move – affordable land for his people? -  S T E P H E N   F R A N K S
  • “The ‘good land’ issue should have been clear to the central and local political authorities September last year – as [High Pavletich] explained at the time in the NZ Herald. Near 9 months later, the politicians are still dithering. Preference always trumps policy. If people can’t get good land here in Christchurch – people and business will go elsewhere. It is as simple as that.
    Earthquake highlights need to open city limits. – N Z   H E R A L D
  • Meanwhile, in the absence of being allowed to do anything with their own property, high levels of Christchurch residents leaving New Zealand to live permanently in Australia…
    Quake exodus sees Kiwis flock to Australia in April – Alex Tarrant, I N T E R E S T . C O . N Z
  • Not that things are great in the traditional Australian destination state, Queensland.
     The day the music died -  T H E   P U L S E
  • You don’t believe me when I say people are banned from doing anything with their property? Just ask this poor chap, arrested for trying to recover his own prope form his own house.
    Distraught quake cordon breach accused pleads not guilty – S T U F F
  • Meanwhile, the story of who the government is paying (with your money) to do things to other people’s property gets murkier by the minute.  For instance, most of the building and demolition that will (eventually) be done in Christchurch will be Fletcher Building—by government appointment. The Grand Chancellor demolition, for instance, for which Fletcher Building were awarded the tender by CERA, despite being $3 million higher than anyone else.
            Q .  Who appointed Fletcher Building to manage the demolition works and then, reconstruction works?
            A .  NZ Government firstly,  then CERA.
            Q . Who predominantly are the staff of CERA?         A . Fletcher Building employees on secondment.
           Q .  And who is the main single shareholder of Fletcher Building?
            A . The NZ Government, who with 275 million Fletcher shares, around 40%, is now the single biggest
                   shareholder in this new Govt Department. Aren’t “public-private partnerships” wonderful. And not at
                   all corrupt.

    [CORRECTION: The Government does not own 40% of Fletcher Building, nor is the single biggest shareholder,IN fact, government agencies account for only around 6% of the shareholding—the 276 million shares held by the NZ Central Securities Depository at 2, The Terrace, Wellington, are not held by the Government, nor by the Reserve Bank, but by an agency responsible for holding the shareholdings of mainly small, private “Mum & Dad” investors.
    I apologise for that error.
    The rest of the above criticism stands.]
  • Who should be leaping out of the blocks to blame bad weather in the US, but Bill “Chicken Little” McKibben—a man who says mankind should simply surrender to suffering and disease rather than risk damaging weeds, rocks and mud puddles. Not only is Bill wrong ethically, he’s wrong on the weather too.
    Bill “Chicken Little” McKibben –  Don Boudreaux, C A F E   H A Y E K
  • “From bans on video games to drinks advertising, Australia has become the world’s number one nanny state. There is a PhD thesis waiting to be written some day about how Australia came to be the world’s number one nanny state; how a country that was once renowned for rugged individualism capitulated to puritanism with barely a whimper.”
    Australia: the world leader in illiberalism – Chris Snowdon, S P I K E D
  • How do you explain the mind of the modern liberal?  It’s the herd instinct, says David Mamet.
    The Liberal Mind Explained   - S M A L L   D E A D   A N I M A L S
  • Now this is seriously cool. An imaginary phone lets you answer calls on your palm. You don’t believe me, do you …
  • Finally, the CIA are to Search bin Laden’s Compound. (But first, Pakistan needed enough time to cart away any obvious evidence.) [HT Michael Yon]
    CIA to search bin Laden compound – W A S H I N G T O N   P O S T
  • “The effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent for over seventy years relied on the perception that in fact nuclear war would bring about the end of the world.” He’s right, you know, as this recently declassified 1958 film clearly suggests between the lines. “The men who produced [it] unwittingly left a testimonial to their greatest achievement, which, in retrospect, at least rivals the achievement of the Greatest Generation. It was the generation that successfully did not fight their war. We have not had a general war in nearly three generations. In the last reel, one of the fictional generals says, ‘we failed in our primary mission, but succeeded in our secondary mission, that of destroying the enemy.’ In actuality, their achievement was far greater. By luck or skill, they led us through the valley of the shadow of death to the 21st century.
    Armageddon 1958 – N O   M I N I S T E R
  • Meanwhile, back in the States… those trillions of dollars of stimulus “created/saved approximately 450,000 state and local govt jobs” … “and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs.”
    Study Shows "Stimulus" Protected Government Jobs while Destroying Private Ones -  T H R U T C H
  • Mind you, there were a few private-sector jobs created. But you had to know someone…
    Obama skirts rule of law to reward pals, punish foes – W A S H I N G T O N    E  X A M I N E R
  • “Programming your children into STATISTS does not come cheap...”
    $500 Million Obama Administration Program Will Help Kids ‘Sit Still’ in Kindergarten
    – B R E I T B A R T
  • When Obama’s poll ratings are in the toilet, what dies he reach for?  Simple. (Well, it did work for that other famous demagogue.)
    • “This week, Israel celebrates its 63rd birthday. For most countries, that number would elicit a shrug of the shoulders. Not in Israel's case.”
      Happy Birthday, Israel! – David Harris, H U F F I N G T O N   P O S T
    • “To say that [Israel’s 1967] borders are, even implicitly, the starting point of negotiations, is to concede something that couldn’t be further from the truth: the idea that Israel was not justified in taking the land it took during the Six-Day War. To accept the 1967 borders as a starting point is to deny that in 1967 Israel was fighting a proper war of self defense, that it took that land because doing so was necessary to eliminate the threat against its citizens’ lives, and that it was therefore justified in doing so.”
       Why It Matters Whether The 1967 Borders Are the Baseline for “Peace” Negotiations 
      - Amy Peikoff, D O N ‘ T   L E T  I T   G O
    • Here’s one simple clue why Israel is so keen on KEEPING the 1967 borders that Israeli forces won when they repelled the Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi forces who had tried to drive the filthy Jews into the sea: Because in a country a tank could drive across in less than three hours, the 1967 borders were never defensible. [HT “We Say No To the 1967 Borders”]



    • A tribute to the great man by another great man:
    • Be honest now, is this some of the best modern blues you’ve ever heard?
    • And some of the best Bach… (mein Galt, this is good!)

    That’s all from me.
    Have a great weekend!
    And maybe see you on Sunday?