Saturday, 22 October 2011

Something... remember.

Friday, 21 October 2011

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The “Isn’t There a Game On This Weekend?” Edition

Another ramble round things that caught my eye on the interweb this week.  Bookmark them now for your weekend reading…

  • Face it, campers, Don Brash’s reverse takeover of ACT has been an unmitigated disaster. Instead of him resurrecting the ACT brand, which he himself described pre-takeover as “toxic,” their toxicity has instead overtaken him.  It could have been very different. It might have been different without the Minister of Rhyming Slang on his team. And it looks like it will all be very different come November, because …
    John Banks trails in Epsom - S T U F F
  • NZ is allegedly “third in the world for the ease of doing business” according to a Wold Bank study. Mind you, what the World Bank knows about running a business could be written on the sharp end of the safety pin currently holding together Europe’s finances. Still, let’s not carp.
    NZ 3rd for ease of doing business – H O M E   P A D D O C K
  • My goodness! Sense from an unlikely source: “New Zealand needs to avoid a costly regulatory over-reaction to the Christchurch earthquakes, Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said.”
    Bollard warns against over regulation in response to earthquakes – S C O O P
  • And so too does an American seismic specialist: “A Californian scientist has warned that future buildings erected across New Zealand will never be earthquake-proof and labelled Christchurch rebuild plans "unrealistic.''…The adjunct professor of civil engineering at Berkeley said GNS Science plans to make buildings across New Zealand safer during earthquakes go much further than those in his home state of California, which sits astride the infamous San Andreas Fault.”
    Christchurch rebuild plans 'unrealistic' -  O T A G O    D A I L Y   T I M E S
  • More bad news for Green Party plans to subsidise technologies that wouldn’t survive without subsidies: Carbon capture has been scrapped in the UK, "...descended into farce.” “If only there was a completely unlimited resource then we may have been able to surmount the technical problems at Longannet,” said the subsidisee’s MD after churning through upwards of £1bn.
    Longannet carbon capture scheme scrapped – W A T T S   U P   W I T H   T H A T / B B C
  • Every party resorts to electoral bribes. But not so openly as Hone’s party.
    "Bribery and corruption " – L I N D S A Y    M I T C H E L L
  • Ironic really that it was a Labour Government that overturned Muldoonism, because the Labour Party today seems to want it resurrected. Latest example: “Labour has announced a clampdown on foreigners buying land and will widen the parameters of the Reserve Bank to help keep the New Zealand dollar's exchange rate down, should it regain power at next month's election…”
    Labour unveils agriculture policy – N Z   H E R A L D
  • Mind you, it’s unclear to me how the present mob are any different!  For example:

Image from Red Alert

  • And from Papamoa, a picture of an oil boom … without any oil [courtesy of Russel Norman and Frog Blog]
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy won’t be in Auckland for the Big Final this weekend. Not because he’s a new father, but because he and Angela Merkel are still trying to put together the plan they announced they would put together to rescue a Eurozone that is essentially un-rescuable. Not least because this time
    Blatant Arrogance of France – M I S H ‘ S   E C O N O M I C   A N A L Y S I S
    Unravelling the Greek basket case – Oliver Hartwich, C . I . S .
  • Great interview with Yaron Brook on economic issues in today’s world (Part 3).
    Interview with Yaron Brook on economic issues in today's world 
    – L E O N A R D    P E I K O F F   P O D C A S T
  • “This perceptive short remark, made by a steel worker in Blue Scope’s Port Kembla plant … sums up for me a key reason why specific government job creation schemes, especially popular during episodes of Keynesian fiscal stimulus, turn out to be largely futile exercises in terms of facilitating mass employment creation.”
    ‘It’s a totally different trade’ – C A T A L L A X Y   F I L E S
  • The crash will happen quickly when it happens. “We have gotten to the point when the nanosecond there is even a whiff of ‘risk off,’ everyone hits the Sell button at the same time. Observe Crude. And, yes, volume was involved.”
    Oil Tumbles On First Sign Of Risk Offness – Z E R O   H E D G E
  • Austerity? What austerity? “Like an obese person who complains that he hasn’t eaten in hours, supporters of big government complain about mythical “austerity” even when the government grows at a rapid rate.”
    The Imaginary Age of Austerity – Hans Bader, B A S T I A T   I N S T I T U T E

“Bankers aren’t any more greedy now than they’ve ever been.”
- John Allison,  Interview with Big Think  [HT Trey Givens]

  • imageOccupy Wall Street demographics survey results will surprise you:
    Occupy Wall Street Demographic Survey Results Will Surprise You -  T P M
  • Something #OWSers should understand about their favourite tool.
    How a smaller government made the iPhone possible – C O B D E N   C E N T R E
  • The Solution to Bad Speech Is More Speech.
  • “The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest reached unexpected early success today when the banking industry indicated they had taken on board the widespread criticism and offered to reform the financial system by next Tuesday.” Nah. Just Joking.
    Occupy Wall Street Declared Successful (Satire) -  N Z   C O N S E R V A T I V E
  • “Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has gone global. Thousands are out on the streets in major financial centres, protesting against... something. That's not meant to denigrate the movement.
    “The protesters are mostly (but not exclusively) young and disillusioned. They know something is up. They feel something is terribly wrong with the way the world operates. But through their youth and ignorance they can't put their finger on it.
    “There are two ways of looking at the OWS movement. One … is to dismiss the movement as belonging to left-wing crazies who just want stuff without working for it…
    “The other way of looking at the OWS movement is to see it as an accompaniment to the breakdown of the current financial system. It's societal upheaval joining in with financial upheaval. As they've done throughout history, the two go hand in hand.
    “The global system of finance is broke, both actually and figuratively. It's riddled with corruption. Built on a brittle foundation of unsound money, the termites (politicians and bankers) have gorged themselves and riddled the structure.”
    The Top 1 Per Cent  - Greg Canavan, D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • The Occupy movement is utterly defined by external forces, conformist in both its outlook and its style …
    Occupy London: a ragbag of political conformists – S P I K E D
  • Having visited and spoken with protestors in Aotea Square last night, one thing that unites all I talked to was an idea—albeit only a vague idea—that something is wrong in the world.  Which there is. All I talked to were animated by that feeling, and all I spoke to had come down to see if anyone there had the answers—because they don’t, and neither do the adults and “leaders” who’ve made (and continue to make) a complete mess of things.
    They’re right.  Something is wrong. They don’t know what it is—but those I spoke to were at least honest enough to realise something’s up.
    Sadly, their teachers  are among the problem: they’ve left them too unlearned to understand what’s going on, and too inarticulate to express their rage coherently.
    They’re against special interests, for example. But they all of them support a system of money issue that brought down the world, and that rewards special interests.  So one thing the protestors do need to put their finger on is the way newly created paper money enters the system—and who gets first benefit of it. If they did, they wouldn’t just be occupying Wall Street—they’d be occupying Pennsylvania Ave and The Federal Reserve Bank.
  • Here’s another thing on which they need to put their finger: “The protesters in the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its numerous clones elsewhere in the country and around the world chant that one percent of the population owns all the wealth and lives at the expense of the remaining ninety-nine percent. The obvious solution that they imply is for the ninety-nine percent to seize the wealth of the one percent and use it for their benefit rather than allowing it to continue to be used for the benefit of the one percent, who are allegedly undeserving greedy capitalist exploiters. In other words, the implicit program of the protesters is that of socialism and the redistribution of wealth.
    “Putting aside the hyperbole in the movement’s claim, it is true that a relatively small minority of people does own the far greater part of the wealth of the country. The figures “one percent” and “ninety-nine” percent, however exaggerated, serve to place that fact in the strongest possible light.
    What the protesters do not realize is that the wealth of the one percent provides the standard of living of the ninety-nine percent.”
    How a Highly Productive and Provident One Percent Provides the Standard of Living of a Largely Ignorant and Ungrateful Ninety-Nine Percent – G E O R G E   R E I S M A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • Still, perhaps some in the OccupyLondon protest get it:



  • And here’s one good form of activism, particularly so “since it is also tied into the activist's job.” [HT Thrutch]


  • The Republican presidential hopefuls—the only electoral answer to another four years of Barack Obama—lined up on CNN the other day to slag each other off and embarrass themselves.  Truth is, “as an advocate for secular republicanism, none of the 2012 presidential candidates are acceptable… These are ominous times … the outcome of the 2012 presidential election will affect the nation at a crucial point in our history and the current field of Republican candidates … are all contaminated and stained with the residue of a bankrupt philosophy; … whatever decent positions they hold are meaningless because they may be misapplied, tossed aside at the first test of reality, or abandoned in the name of faith, feelings or the spur of the moment. The GOP candidates do not offer what we desperately need: a consistent, bold and realistic vision for achieving a secular republic based on individual rights.”
    Update: 2012 Republicans – S C O T T   H O L L E R A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • “Herman Cain has been gaining much traction with his 9-9-9 Plan, a bold proposal to replace our dysfunctional tax code with what could be a simpler, less invasive, and more economically stimulative alternative. While I don't agree with the full spectrum of Mr. Cain's policy choices, I applaud his courage on the tax front…  However, the plan has deep flaws, the most glaring of which is its creation of a hidden payroll tax which represents a fourth ‘nine.’"
     There's A Hidden 9 In Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan – Peter Schiff,   B U S I N E S S    I N S I D E R
  • Instead of watching them all again, or at all, why not let Trey Givens help you belatedly follow the debate.
    I Tweeted the Debate and I am WAY More Funny Than They Are – T R E Y   G I V E N S
  • A combination of interview/statement of intellectual exhaustion? Obama: "even though I believe all the choices we've made have been the right ones, we're still going through difficult circumstances"  [HT Matt Welch]
    Transcript: ABC News' Jake Tapper's Exclusive Interview With President Obama -  A B C
  • Mind you, it’s hard on a bloke when someone steals your teleprompter.
    President Teleprompter -  P O W E R L I N E

“Not ‘The Buffet Rule’ but ‘The Binswanger Rule’: a 100% tax exemption
for millionaires and billionaires. They gave at the office.”
- Harry Binswanger

And just before the World’s Best World Cup Victory (there, I said it) here’s the World’s Best Anthem—from Casablanca. (Let’s hope the French team don’t feel like this on Sunday night!)

Against all that gloriousness all we have to offer is a haka. Oh, and the best team on the park.  Smile

Go the ABs!

Have a great weekend!

Happy Birthday, Christopher Wren

England’s architect of the Enlightenment era would have been 379 this week. To celebrate, the Telegraph has a small gallery of his works, including evidence he did build more than just the tourist’s favourite, St Paul’s Cathedral.

imageTrinity College Library, Cambridge – a perfect, stripped down external expression of the building’s function.

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford – not bad for an architect’s second work.

St Mary le Bow – the City church within earshot of whose bells the true Cockney is born.

Wren has perhaps the best epitaph of any Master Builder: On his resting place in St Paul’s is the Latin inscription, “Si monumentum requiris, circumspice” ('If you are seeking his monument, look around you').

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Quote of the Day: “The fundamental evil of government grants is …”


The fundamental evil of government grants is the fact that men are forced to pay for the support of ideas diametrically opposed to their own.”
                                 -  Ayn Rand


Anger is an energy–and that’s about all

The left view ideas not as as the arbitrary products of warring mobs. With the OccupyEverything Mob, we are now getting ever closer to the warring mobs:

I thought of the Joker's nihilistic ramblings [says Doug Reich] while reflecting on some news related to the Occupy Wall Street protests. What did Obama’s utterly vacuous campaign slogan “change we can believe in” actually mean? Or, recall Pelosi urging the electorate to pass Obamacare "in order to find out what’s in it." Or, for a more innocuous example, recallCameron Diaz causing a furor in Peru by sporting a Maoist-themed bag.  In other words, it seems the left is very good at wearing revolutionary accessories, fighting the police, and just doing things, but, when pressed, they are very cagey about what they actually want. Well now we have the ultimate manifestation of this phenomenon - a global movement supposedly comprised of hundreds of thousands of protesters who openly brag about allegedly having no demands.

No demands, but plenty of everything to whine about and march on—including, now, Auckland’s Aotea Square and Wellington’s Civic Square. (Well, not so much a march, perhaps; more a kind of unwashed sleepover.)

And in the States, they’re starting to march on millionaire’s houses … though not yet on millionaires like Nancy Pelosi.Or Barney Frank. Or Henry Paulson.

And they’re starting to march on banks … though not yet on the Central Bank centrally responsible for the economic collapse and the increasing worthlessness of paper money, the US Federal Reserve.

Talk about “cognitive dissonance.”

Meanwhile, the representatives of the mainstream have shown an equal paucity of ideas, with even more destructive results: from their headlong creation of central bank credit that headed straight into the today’s malinvestments; ; to their failed pursuit of “price stability” that instead of stability saw assets and finance houses explode with the great gobs of counterfeit capital created by central banks; to their failed experiments with “stimulus” that delivered only rigor mortis; to the worldwide sovereign-debt crisis that is upon us all now that the bill for all that failed stimulunacy is coming due, a bill that threatens to bury the whole world.

Meanwhile, banks in the US, which was given great gobs of taxpayers’ money when their bad loans made in the Fed-created boom exploded in the bust, are now literally using police to prevent people from getting their own money out of their own accounts.

So there’s reason enough to be angry.

If the febrile minds presently Occupying Everywhere really did have a mastermind, or even a single mind using its on-switch, they’d have a lot at which to cogently direct their anger.

Mind you, that would require taking ideas seriously, instead of just being out in the streets like dogs chasing cars.

Addicted to Socialism?

Do you have a problem with your socialism? Watch this for help.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Feeding the 100% [updated]

I’ve granted before that the #OccupyWallStreet mob do have one grain of truth in their anger, whether or not they know it.

Where they do not have a point is their whining about being the so-called 99%, i.e., the 99% who allegedly do all the work, while 1% get to take home all the cake. This is not just statistically unsound, it’s frankly Marxist rubbish.

So as Diana Hsieh says,

I cannot imagine a better response to the whiny "I am the 99%" meme of the "Occupy Wall Street" protestors than We Are the 53%. (That refers to the fact that 47% of households pay no U.S. federal income tax.)
Here's just a taste:

In case you can't read the text clearly, it says:

    My father came to NY from Croatia in 1971, with KNOWLEDGE in his head, LOVE in his heart
    & the clothes on his back.
    He built up a small construction business and put me & my 4 siblings through Catholic school
    and college, while my mother raised us and put home-cooked meals on the table.
    Business has been steadily declining and my family (still honestly abiding by the regulations,
    TAXES & fees imposed by the gov’t) now lives paycheck-to-(hopefully!) paycheck.
    We found out he has thyroid cancer - THANK GOD WE PAY for our own health insurance and
    WERE ABLE TO CHOOSE the best cancer hospital in the country, Sloan Kettering, where he underwent
    10-hour surgery this past summer.
    He was back to work FULL-TIME (12 hrs/day, 6 days/wk) within a month, even though the doctors
    told him to take it easy (he works manual labor).
    The cancer still grows, but my father STILL WORKS FOR LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF
   THAT is the American dream.
   WE are the 53%.
   **People like my father came here because America was the answer to all of their problems- IT

These are the kind of Atlases whose work ethic and productivity (yes, Virginia, these things are virtues) keep themselves and the 47% fed.

And how inspiring to see their grassroots response.

Go read all the stories.  Go read them now.

UPDATE: In NZ, of course, We Are The 56.5.

Bribery. It’s wrong, isn’t it?


So why are election bribes okay?

Coerce more Kiwisavers, say Kiwisaver providers

Looking to their bottom lines, Kiwisaver providers came out in their droves this morning in support of the government’s plans to coerce more New Zealanders into Kiwisaver

Milford Asset Management managing director Anthony Quirk said yesterday's announcement was positive. "The broader the [KiwiSaver] coverage the better," said Martin Lewington of Mercer.  Tower Investments chief executive Sam Stubbs said he supported the move towards "soft compulsion."  "This is a positive step forward, no question," he said.  

Surprise, surprise. The government announces it intends to herd NZers’ pay packets in the direction of these suits, and the suits step up and agree with them.

By such deals are “grand political consensus” made.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011



Here’s the word on tonight’s discussion from our friends at the UoA Economics Group:

Tonight we will discuss one of economics' most frequently cited statistics - Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  GDP is often used to measure economic growth and it forms an important part of most courses in economics while also playing an important role in shaping government policy. However, often we accept such ideas without critical examination and without assessing the extent to which it achieves what it is claimed to do.

So in this seminar we will define GDP and show where and how it is applied by economists. But more importantly, we will examine its apparent deficiencies and weaknesses. How is it that in the midst of the current recession, GDP is shown to be rising but that the underlying real-world economic fundamentals continue to deteriorate? Should the concept of GDP be shown to be an empty concept, then the implications and consequences are far reaching for us all. We will discuss what these consequences might be.

        Date: Tonight, Tuesday 18th October
        Time: 6:00pm
        Location: University of Auckland Business School, Level 0, Case Room 5
        NB: Note the change in room, to Case Room 5.

Unbreaking news: Poverty [update 8]

Unbreaking news, i.e., news that never changes:

UPDATE23 percent of NZ babies born in 2010 were reliant on a benefit by the end of that year. In April this year, NZ children reliant on the DPB numbered 180,845--75% of them, around 135,600, living below the poverty line. If the Child Poverty Action Group is to be believed, as recently as 2008 (before the Great Financial Crisis began) at least one in five children in New Zealand was living in poverty while 185,000 were living with severe or significant hardship. Things now are, presumably, much worse. “The underclass is still growing,” admits the PM.

It’s said “The poor will always be with us.” Why?

It’s not like there hasn’t been plenty of money, yours and mine, thrown at the problem. Welfare, including Super, accounts for one third of government expenditure. In 2006 Treasury forecast welfare expenses in 2010 would be $18.975 billion. They under-forecast by over $2 billion.

If all of the expenditure that relates to working age welfare is totalled the sum last year was $9.379 billion. Divide that by the number of working age beneficiaries at June 2010, 300,000, to get an average sum of $28,165…  Now I know I am labouring a point here but an average income of $519 per week does not describe abject poverty.

We have more people on benefits now that at any time in the country's history, more than 330,000 of them (largely due to the Welfare for Working Families package, which has suckered many middle class families into becoming beneficiaries). The welfare state, which was going to solve poverty, is bigger than it has ever been before. It has  been spending like there’s no tomorrow now for decades, and it obviously hasn't solved poverty at all.

Not, at least, as poverty is defined by the advocates of the welfare state.

What's to be done?  Beats the hell out of Paula Bennett, who massages new figures and re-announces old policies while judging her success by the extent her department keeps out of the headlines.  Beats the hell out of Labour spokesthings who, under their previous watch, increased both the numbers on welfare and numbers under the “poverty line.” It beats the hell out of the Child Poverty Action Group themselves, who tell us every year (against everything history and research should tell them) that all we need to do to beat poverty is to raise benefits; it beats the hell out of alleged economist Susan St John, who (with a straight face) continues to blames the problem on policies that "promote paid work as a way out of poverty" which are, she says, "a major reason for the widening gap between rich and poor"; and it sure beats the hell out of the rest of the poverty industry who've been fighting this “War On Poverty” since Methusaleh was born, yet after all that time they still find the scoreboard against them.

Shouldn't they be asking themselves some serious questions about now?  Or are the poverty industry and the politicians happy to accept that "the poor are always with us" simply because they're convenient voting fodder to keep the same old game going on.

Seventy years of just giving people more money has not made things better, it's made them worse. In the last ten years alone around $180 billion has been taken from taxpayers and spent in a war on poverty, that's one-hundred and eighty billion dollars on a war that no one is winning; not the government, not the taxpayer, not the 200-330,000 or so who've been the targets of this war over the last ten years.

That's $180,000,000,000 in ten years -- enough to have given every beneficiary in the country a massive half-million dollars each each to start their own war on poverty, and it still hasn't worked. And it won't. It never will. To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke,

the spending of this truly vast amount of money -- an amount more than half again the nation's entire gross national product in 2001 -- has left everybody just sitting around slack-jawed and dumbstruck, staring into the maw of that most extraordinary paradox: You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

When do we realise that government welfare doesn't work, least of all for those who it is supposed to help.

We are all worse off for this war—all worse off except for the politicians, for whom this massive sum spent on cheap lobby fodder amounts to very cheap and efficient vote-buying.

Let's try something else instead.

UPDATE 2:  Comment by “Rebecca” at Red Alert:

In 2006, $1.5 billion of Working for Families tax credits were paid out to 159,000 people. By 2009, this had risen to $2.7 billion paid out to 419,200 people. [Ref:]
In 2004 Child poverty was 23%. It dropped to 16% in 2007 then increased to 20% in 2008. All despite WFF. Any increases means it is not working. [Ref:]
There is only one reason for the majority of the poverty in this country: people have more children than they can afford to raise on their own merit.
The minimum wage is a liveable wage for a single person and the average wage most certainly covers the cost of living for the average person.
When people choose to bring children into the equation they choose to bring in children that they will not be able to provide the necessities of life for.
This is wrong….”

UPDATE 3: The poverty excuse is a cop-out – Lindsay Mitchell

UPDATE 4: How Prosperity Generates Poverty – Paul Trescott

“The occupants of the poverty cohort are a very diverse crowd. But there are two substantial components which, in very different ways, are in significant degree larger because the economy is more prosperous.

1. A significant fraction of the … poor are "in transition"… [Those with] a work ethic, look for work, and generally find work. As a result, most of them do not remain poor…
2. A very different component of the poverty cohort consists of the people whom Charles Murray has labeled "the underclass." These are people who make life-style choices which produce almost-certain poverty… The underclass are subsidized in many ways by our prosperous society…”

UPDATE 5: What’s Wrong with the Poverty Numbers – Robert Murphy

“There are dozens of plausible measures of income, each including some factors while excluding others, and differing in the treatment of medical expenses, child-care expenses, and so on. There is really no way to single out one of the measures as “correct,” and that’s the point: If one wants to paint a picture worse than the official statistics, one can construct measures that imply a higher rate of poverty…
”Perhaps our society would experience a tremendous reduction in poverty if only our government would stop spending billions of dollars subsidizing it. Currently the government tells its citizens: “Tell you what. If you agree to make under $10,000 or so a year, we’ll give you a bunch of money and other goodies.” As Murray Rothbard put it, we can have as many poor people as we’re willing to pay for.”

UPDATE 6The Poverty Hype – Walter Wiliams

“Despite claims that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, poverty is nowhere near the problem it was yesteryear -- at least for those who want to work. Talk about the poor getting poorer tugs at the hearts of decent people and squares nicely with the agenda of big government advocates, but it doesn't square with the facts.”


“Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others—misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement—failure is not a mortgage on success—suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence—man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause—life is not one huge hospital.”
                          - Ayn Rand, “Apollo 11”


“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.”
                         - Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, 17 October 2011

Poverty? [updated]

Is this really what it looks like?

UPDATE:  Welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell kindly provides some relevant figures:

Cannons Creek School is rated Decile 1 while Newlands (nearby 'rich' neighbourhood) school is Decile 8. The decile rating substantially affects the level of government funding. For example from the 2011 operational funding budget:

Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement, Including Redistributed Decile Funding
(Decile Per student)

Decile 1
    A 871.49
    B 810.21
    C 703.59
Decile 2
    D 594.40
    E 487.80
    F 404.60
Decile 3
    G 336.98
    H 266.81
    I 212.23
Decile 4
    J 175.82
    K 144.31
    L 130.00
Decile 5
    M 111.37
Decile 6
    N 90.16
Decile 7
    O 68.93
Decile 8
    P 45.08
Decile 9
    Q 27.83
Decile 10
    Z 0.00
Special Education Grant, Base per school 1,354.69
(Decile Per student)
Decile 1 71.14
Decile 2 69.11
Decile 3 65.04
Decile 4 60.98
Decile 5 56.92
Decile 6 52.85
Decile 7 48.80
Decile 8 44.74
Decile 9 40.66
Decile 10 36.60
Careers Information Grant, for schools with students in years 9-15
(Decile Per student)

Decile 1 35.90
Decile 2 34.49
Decile 3 31.66
Decile 4 28.83
Decile 5 26.05
Decile 6 21.11
Decile 7 17.56
Decile 8 16.18
Decile 9 15.48
Decile 10 14.78

I was nervous as I walked down to the ground last night [updated]

Nervous? Hell, I know I was, walking down the hill to the ground last night. And I know I wasn’t the only one.

Wearing the same tear-stained All Blacks jersey I’d worn to our 1991 semi-final loss to Australia in Dublin  (not jinxed, I hoped!) it seemed to me that night and others like it in Cardiff, at Twickenham, in Sydney, had demonstrated to every AB fan, to all of us, how difficult it is even just to get the right to play off for the big prize.  And the short and stupid game the night before had shown how easy it is to have your hopes overturned in one stupid rush-of-blood-to-the-head moment.

There were one and a quarter great semi-finals to enjoy over the weekend. Sadly, rugby’s destructive obsession with command and control* killed off the first one after seventeen minutes, but there were at least 97 minutes in all that were a great advertisement for the game.

And didn’t the boys in black step up in that second game! Apart from the two Williams boys (one of whom was a passenger, the other who was ejected from what could have been his biggest stage looking like an even bigger muppet than his mate Quade Blooper) every single player stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Even Weepu, playing with flu and the memories of his late grandfather, could be forgiven for missing the kicks that could have put Australia away much earlier. He could be forgiven because the Australian pack were being monstered, destroyed, and finally just blown apart. (Who didn’t feel as thrilled as Brad Thorn when right on cue the black pack blew them apart utterly to deliver the penalty that finally confirmed the victory.)

But think of those great moments; those great “one-percenters.” Cory Jane’s marking of the high ball. Israel Dagg’s line breaks. Cruden’s coolness. Kieran Read’s superbly dashing tackle, backing himself to come off of his man at full speed to snuff out an attack. McCaw’s driving tackle to push Genia back ten, fifteen, nearly twenty metres and then steal the ball. (Is that how it happened? In the stands around me, we were were all starting to get a bit messy by this late stage of the game.)

The pressure of the black machine was just immense.  Only one try in it at the death, but in the end there was only one team in it.

Not because Australia played badly. But because they just weren’t allowed to play well. (“Four more years, boys,” every Australian in the crowd was being told over and over.)

Roll on next weekend. **

And yes, I’m already starting to feel nervous again.

But at least I know it isn’t my jersey that has the hoodoo.

* * * * *

* I blame soccer:  The rolling on the ground by the felled French winger; the whole ridiculous read card/yellow card nonsense—both entirely inappropriate imports from a game where they do play tiddlywinks. 
Rugby is a man-on-man physical battle needing all fifteen players to make it a contest.  Yes, referee Alain Rolland followed the letter of the IRB’s rules in sending Warbuton off for his adrenalin-fuelled spear tackle (so stop your whingeing about the ref), but they’re bloody stupid rules he was enjoined to follow.
Tens of thousands of people travelled many hundreds of miles for a match that was four years in the making, and many months in the anticipating. Millions of dollars, pounds, euros and zlotis have been spent getting these teams and all their fans to this point of the tournament. Millions tune in to watch the drama, and the hopes of whole nations rest on the outcome. So to kill it off as a contest after just seventeen minutes—tokill it stone dead—suggests to me that rugby still needs to sort out its house.
My suggestion: abandon the sending 0ff rule altogether.  It doesn’t protect players; it only destroys the game. It destroyed this one-and with it, for many, the credibility of the tournament. Instead, do what AFL does in contests of equivalent tension and physicality: instead of sending players off for egregious offences (which is what Warburton’s was, make no mistake) in an AFL semi-final he would have gone on report and his team been marched back fifty metres—earning the French the appropriate outcome from the offence (probably, on the much shorter rugby field, it would have been a five-metre scrum or some equivalent), and earning the Welsh captain the well-deserved ire of his fans and team-mates, instead of (as he has been now) being elevated into the ranks of sainthood for having lost his head when all around him his team-mates were keeping theirs.

** There’s only one game next weekend: the World Cup Final! Who cares about the joke game that is the third and fourth play-off, a game unlived even by those playing in it. Put it to bed, please—or better yet, set it up as a Battle of the Hemispheres, with selected players and coaches from north and south shoulder-tapped to take part as their teams exit the tournament.
It’s not like they have anything else booked for the week.
And wouldn’t it be great to see Victor Matfield and David Pocock pack down next to each other against Sam Warburton and whatever other northerners could be found worthy of the contest. (Even throw Bryce Lawrence the whistle, to redeem himself in a much more good-natured contest than his last outing.)
Like the classic barbarian games of old, it really would be World in Union—and unlike the dreary third-fourth Battle of the Sad Sacks, it’d be a fantastic curtain-raiser for the Big Game!

UPDATE: Best line this morning from an Australian:

Was a week that started with endless [Australian] huffing and puffing over [Gillard’s] carbon tax ever going to end in anything other than a blackout?

Read the rest of Anthony Sharwood’s piece on the All Black Sabbath. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Friday, 14 October 2011

More updates from Papamoa, from our correspondent Jonathan Livingston

Jonathan Livingston reports from his eyrie above Papamoa Beach.

UPDATE, 9:19am, 14 October

A report on Newstalk ZB just moments ago appeared to claim that the beaches at Papamoa are now clean due to the manual clean-up. Bravo, well done boys, etc.

I observed the beach near me from one day to the next, where no manual cleaning had been conducted, and it too had been mostly cleared of oil globules during the tidal cycle.

The notion that the only way the oil can go is to be manually removed by humans reminds me of the absurd notion being (successfully) promulgated by the greenies that trees must be planted by humans before they can grow.

The blobs of oil will break down naturally, the same way each grain of sand came from a larger rock, and end up constituting an even lesser proportion in parts per million in the sea water than , say, radioactive uranium.

UPDATE, 7:18pm, 13 October:

I went all down the beach today. SO FAR it is pretty minimal, at the Mount you wouldn't know anything had happened, except from a few beached containers (being guarded), and one little enclave of oil eddying around near the Papamoa Surf Club. It doesn't extend far in either direction (so far), and could be cleaned up by a front end loader with a skilled operator in a few hours. Still haven't figured why it is being done by hand!

Oh, and that little micro-pocket of oil is where all the media shots are being taken of course.

My theory was that this stuff will ultimately be washed away and go somewhere else, like North Korea for example. Westerlies are  now coming in over the next couple of days, so may have to make that Venezuela, not North Korea…

Tupperwaka: Too much hooey, bit late with the do-ey

I’m certainly not the only one to be, um, disappointed about the $2m of taxpayers’ money spent on the Tupperwaka to “showcase” Ngati Whatua culture to Rugby World Cup visitors.

At least, that was how it was sold to the politicians giving away our money.

I heard a Tupperwaka spokesman crowing that with the Tupperwaka open they could now “showcase their culture to the world.” Mate, I thought, the world’s gone home. They’ve been and gone. They came, they looked around, and now most have toddled off home. If you built this for the World Cup, for the six weeks and twenty teams and supporters who were here, then it’s a bit late isn’t it, with just eleven days and only four teams left.

Altogether too late.

Mind you, perhaps it wasn’t truly intended as a “showcase” at all. Maybe it was only intended to give piles of money to a few chosen members of the Browntable (you think?), in which case it has already been a success.  For the recipients of our largesse, at least.

And if they’d truly intended to showcase their culture to the world, then I fear—with this whole shambles—that they have.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Things are Interesting Down Here at Papamoa, and other thoughts of Jonathan Livingston [update 3]

A guest post from our correspondent Jonathan Livingston, a common-sense kind of gull who perches in an eyrie overlooking Papamoa Beach.

I see signs are going up down at the Mount, and volunteer beach oil cleaners have been advised they need to do a course before they can help - apparently clean-up volunteers must "register." The claim about the so-called “toxicity” of the oil clumps coming ashore is, I suspect, just spin to justify control.

An engineer colleague tells me from his fuel oil manual it is no more toxic than tar-seal.  Maybe just a few more base metals in it than more refined oil.

The main difference between this “bunker oil” and crude, I'm told, is that crude floats. So this stuff will just go all through the ocean. My theory is that it will ultimately go somewhere else, like North Korea for example, so I am not going to worry unduly about removing the tiny little bit on my beach as I’d be surprised if it didn’t wash away in the next storm and join the rest of it.

As for the "toxic" container, try googling ferrosilicon. Doesn't look too bad to me, but the the entire beach from the Mount to Maketu is now been pronounced off-limits on account of it. Nobody knows where it is, and it is claimed that it can’t readily be identified—which is awfully convenient for the clipboard wielders. (I wonder though how they deliver these containers to their respective consignees if they cannot be identified?)

H L Mencken would probably have been able to say something about all this, but hey, he's just a silly conspiracist, right?

Interesting too to hear Leighton Smith interview the salvor spokesman this morning, who I understand was claiming to be an “expert.” Leighton asked him why the ship could not be torched. The way I heard it, the spokesman was pretty much flummoxed, lost for words, and couldn't give any answer other than to mumble something about not knowing if that was an option.

It is surely surprising the expert spokesman couldn't explain why burning is not an option (it may well not be, I don’t know). Perhaps the answer was so obvious, the notion so absurd, that the spokesman didn't need to answer the question. Leighton mentioned that someone out of the thousands of experts now in on it would have suggested it had it been an option.

As far as the oil around my own nest, there is less there this morning, most of it having washed away to North Korea over the last tidal cycle.

Jonathan Livingston

UPDATE 1:  More from Jonathan:

I went all down the beach today. SO FAR it is pretty minimal, at the Mount you wouldn't know anything had happened, except from a few beached containers (being guarded), and one little enclave of oil eddying around near the Papamoa Surf Club. It doesn't extend far in either direction (so far), and could be cleaned up by a front end loader with a skilled operator in a few hours. Still haven't figured why it is being done by hand!

Oh, and that little micro-pocket of oil is where all the media shots are being taken of course.

Westerlies coming in over the next couple of days, so may have to make that Venezuela, not North Korea…

UPDATE 2From NewstalkZB: “…there are more details of the hazardous goods container - one of 88 which fell overboard.  Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman, Sophie Hazlehurst says it's not ferrous-silicon as first thought - but another dangerous liquid which is water soluble and not expected to cause a significant health risk at this stage.”

UPDATE 3:  And in related news:

There's a sliver of good news from the salvage crew that's been all day on the Rena, after being winched aboard this morning.
Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman, Sophie Hazlehurst says their first job was to see if they could get the power going and she understands they can.
Their next step is to heat the custard-thick fuel so it thins enough to pump.

Only just now getting the power going, and the fuel-oil heaters going? You’d wonder if perhaps the right decision might have been to allow the crew to sort that out first, and deal with the arrests later. Or, perhaps, were they just arrested to proffer the illusion the government is in charge?

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Exiting the Parliamentary Trough

_richardmcgrathYour weekly prescription of headline dissection from Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath.

This week, Exiting the Parliamentary Trough


Parliament has finally risen. And if Mark Twain is correct, that should mean our lives, liberties and personal property should be safe again for a month or two.

Fat chance.

Nonetheless, the end of this parliamentary term has seen several MPs disengage themselves themselves from the trough from which they have gorged themselves these past three years. Some have been feeding from it for two-score years or more. Others have stayed just long enough to qualify for the parliamentary pension. I can't remember what the rules around that are now—perhaps the perks are not quite as gold-plated as they used to be, although subsidised air travel appears to remain on the list.

One of the troughers finally extricating himself after years on the State tit is Rodney Hide, the perk-buster come perk-luster who shouted his girlfriend an overseas trip paid for by the sweat of others ("But I was entitled!" he squealed, paying up only once he was found out). Another is Roger Douglas, who by my reckoning has chalked up twenty-seven years warming a seat in the debating chamber; he made himself famous in his first terms as a Labour Finance Minister prepared to challenge and then rescue the country from the totalitarian tendencies of Robert Muldoon; he  made himself famous in this one by being prepared to have the taxpayer pay for his books and his  trips to his granddaughter's wedding in the UK. ("But I was entitled!" he squealed, refusing to pay up at all.)

Other parasites—cockroaches like Trevor Mallard and Murray McCully spring immediately to mind—hang on like the leeches they inevitably become, addicted to the OPiuM of the masses (Other People's Money) and the power plays of the Parliamentary precinct.

Those of us who have to pick up the tab for the circus that is Parliament, for the time-wasting, filibustering attempts to justify a salary that is several times the minimum wage, and the TV channel that broadcasts the heavily censored antics of these goons into our living room (the cameras are not allowed to capture MPs sleeping, reading newspapers or picking their noses, and newspapers may not—on penalty of being banned—republish photos of any action that might occasionally happen in the chamber) often become somewhat irritated by the overinflated sense of importance that MPs exhibit and their insatiable lust for unearned reward. Unearned, because none of them produce a damned thing. They can only either inhibit or destroy.

The best thing they could do would be to get out of the way. Let people work hard, and desist from stealing the fruit of their labour. Go on indefinite gardening leave, for example, as PC has suggested most 'public servants' do. But no, they insist on making more and more laws to regulate and micromanage our lives, as if that somehow justifies their bloated salaries.

Until they see the light and start pulling their heads in voluntarily (fat chance), I propose a radical reform of the system of remuneration and the trappings associated with being an MP. This would involve pulling ALL current MPs off Nanny's nipple and sending them back from boarding school to their parents with a note from Matron. That note would essentially say that the golden days of living off the taxpayer forever are over, From now on, MPs would have to be funded by their own political parties.

Yes, let the National Party set John Key's salary, and that of his Labour-Lite colleagues. And let the members of the National Party raise the funds to pay that salary. Likewise let the Labour Party pay its own MPs—that should be a relatively cheap exercise for the next 3 years at least.

Radical? Hell, yes. It would probably mean National seeking funding from corporate sources and Labour competing with other left-wing parties for union funds. But it would mean political parties were actually bankrolled by the people that support them instead of holding a gun to heads of productive people and forcing them to cough up their hard-earned pennies to pay delinquent parasites whose principles and policies are often diametrically opposed to their own personal beliefs.

Speaking for myself and my own pocketbook, I personally resent having to pay a Prime Minister who is a liar and his sidekick the Dipton Double-dipper—happy, both of them, to consign our children to a burden of crushing debt, the inevitable consequence of which which will be default and further credit downgrade.

Make all political parties responsible for paying their MPs whatever they want, and arranging their pensions and perks. You can bet there wouldn't be the same golden shower of pay and perks these jobsworths enjoy at the moment at our expense.

Hell, some of them might be forced to find productive work! 

And yes, fat chance of that as well.

See you next week!
Doc McGrath

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Class warfare hits the U.S. streets

Last night the #OccupyWallStreet movement #OccupiedBoston, much to the consternation of the Boston police.

Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute joins the crew at PJTV to discuss the good and bad about the grassroots protests:

Time to go

Another picture doing the rounds…


It’s a disaster [updated]

There’s no way around it: the ship breaking up and spewing fuel oil off Papamoa is a disaster.

A disaster for the beach, the wildlife, the home-owners and beach regulars (of which I’ve been one), for Tauranga harbour, for the shipping industry—and, one would hope, for the ship’s owners, helmsmen and navigators.

Since the ship’s stranding, the weather has hardly helped the salvage. But given how much interest there is in cleaning up the spill, is there a reason there aren’t waves of volunteers out there on the beaches helping clean up? There are stories about that folks being banned from doing any clean up by busybodies more interested in waving clipboards than cleaning up.  (Just like happened in Christchurch after the shakes, eh. Seems to be the knee-jerk response to disaster by “the authorities” these days: to spout about how they’re “in charge” while demonstrating precisely the opposite.)

And make no mistake, it’s a disaster too for any large-scale oil industry that might—or, now, might not—ever appear off the East Coast. Eric Crampton says, and I agree with him, “The Greens are largely right on this one.”

There's little chance of public support for substantial offshore drilling if a minor freighter crash leads to locals having to clean up the mess [or being barred from doing so]. The exploration companies ought to pull out something credible demonstrating either capacity to contain a spill or financial capacity to pay for a clean-up should a spill eventuate.

Yes, they should.  And yes, it’s true that the Gulf of Mexico spill appears to have cleaned itself up very quickly, and was eventually good for fish stocks rather than bad.

But the circumstances here aren’t quite the same (the naturally occurring microbes that happily clean up crude oil, for example, don’t do the same job  for fuel oil) and there’s been far too many recent cases of companies expecting to privatise profits and socialise their losses.

Time for one of them to step up now, or (deservedly) forever hold their peace.

So what do you think?

UPDATE: It would a disaster compounded if the justified anger at what appears to be rank sea-going incompetence were to spill over into anti-corporation anti-industrialism. A letter by Don Boudreaux at the time of BP’s blunder in the Gulf of Mexico oil makes the pertinent points:

During today’s 1:00pm hour you played a clip of a listener who is “livid that Americans aren’t up in arms against the devastation that corporations inflict” on us.  This gentleman’s anger was sparked by the BP oil spill.
    I have little sympathy for BP, it being a firm that has often feasted at government troughs.  But some perspective is now very much needed on the costs and benefits of corporations.
    Consider that the latest estimated cost of the BP spill is $33 billion.  That’s a lot of money, to be sure.  But this sum pales in comparison to the amount of money that Wal-Mart’s retailing efficiencies are estimated to save consumers each year: $200 billion.*
    Oil 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.  And any assessment of the worthiness of corporations in modern life had best take them into accurate account lest we adopt policies that make us all poor and miserable.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Production versus Consumption ... and more [updated]


Our friends at the UoA Economics Group just sent me through their update on tonight’s meeting:

Hello all,

“Progress is movement in the direction of a higher, better and more desirable state of affairs.” Growth? Not so much. Join us tonight as we discuss the difference between progress and growth, wealth and production, productive consumption and UNproductive consumption.

It will help us next week when we discuss the GDP Delusion—the idea that GDP measures production, and not something else that’s almost the opposite.

    Time: 6:00pm
    Date: Tuesday, 11 October
    Location: Case Room 1, Level 0, University of Auckland Business School

Look forward to seeing you there.

UPDATE:  Here’s some notes and images used last night (my source for the images is Mark Skousens’s book Structure of Production):



And here’s the slides showing all those definitions we discussed. Hope you find them useful:

SLIDES-Production Versus Consumption

John Key lies [updated]

Two years ago, if you believed the Key Government, the biggest problem facing Bill’s First Budget was whether or not he could somehow forestall a credit downgrade. Government cheerleaders cheered when our hero pulled it off.

Not so much today.  Those cheerleaders are resolutely silent.

And the talk elsewhere now is not about last week’s downgrade—due in part to “increased spending by the government”—but about John Key’s lies about it.  About the lie he told parliament after last weeks’ downgrade that an even bigger downgrade would have happened under a Labour Government—and he knew this (he says) because Standard and Poors told him.

 Bullshit, says Standard and Poors. They aren’t now, never have been and never will be so partisan—and, frankly, any former manager of Merrill Lynch knows that as a fact you can take to the bank, whatever he now says he heard second-hand from whichever ill-tamed unnamed source.

He lied. Perhaps to take attention from the downgrade itself. But he lied.

He can’t help himself.  It just comes naturally.

He lied to you about tax cuts. Before the last election he promised “a tax cut programme [fully costed and funded] that will not require any additional borrowing” – a “pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age.” It was a lie. As their borrowing grew, their tax cuts fizzled, spluttered, then died in a political sleight of hand: a small cut with one hand, a larger rise with the other. (And no fear saying Smile and Wave never saw the collapse coming.  You don’t think a former Merrill Lynch manager would have noticed when Merrill Lynch went under?)

He lied about it, and you bought it.

And how about this boast of his in parliament a couple of weeks ago, boasting about “his” achievements as Prime Minister:

We have grown for eight of the last nine quarters, we will be back in surplus by 2014-15, our debt is one quarter of the OECD average, we have interest rates at a 45-year low, unemployment is starting to fall, we have created 45,000 jobs, … we are likely to create 170,000 jobs in the next 4 years, we have reformed the Resource Management Act, and, by the way, we are on track to win the Rugby World Cup.

More lies.  More bullshit. More hyperbolic nonsense.

  • “We have grown for eight of the last nine quarters…” Any “growth” has only been in inflated figures—and even those show any “growth” as virtually a statistical anomaly. The claim is a nonsense.
  • “…we will be back in surplus by 2014-15…” Any “surplus” expected in 2014-15 is expected only by Treasury, and only on their delusions of world economic recovery and local economic “growth” of over three percent a year for the next several years. Do you see any of that coming? The claim is a fiction.
  • “…our debt is one quarter of the OECD average…”   Government debt is now $28.5 billion and growing, thanks solely to Bill English’s continued over-spending.  This rapid and worrying rise in government debt was cited by both Fitch and Standard and Poors in their downgrade. Moreover, the OECD includes the UK, USA, Japan, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece … being just “average” in this company would be a very disturbing place to be indeed. The claim is irrelevant, at best.
  • “…we have interest rates at a 45-year low…” Interest rates have been set at a 45-year low by every central bank in the world because the world is in the middle of a 75-year historical world financial crisis, brought about by those same central banks. This is not an achievement, it is an admission. Of failure.
  • “…unemployment is starting to fall…” Really? Since the official unemployment rate rocketed up to between six and seven percent, virtually doubling under his Premiership, the adult rate has remained virtually static—figures helped, perhaps, by the more than 100,000 New Zealanders who left under his watch for Australia, with the rate of departure increasing in recent months. Meanwhile, a quarter of young people are now out of work and likely to remain so for some time, and nearly one-third of a million New Zealanders have been on a benefit for nine out the last nine quarters, with no sign of that falling either. Key’s claim is a joke. A disgraceful joke.
  • “…we have created 45,000 jobs…”  There were just over 2.2 million New Zealanders in work when the Key G0vernment came to office. There are now just over 2.2 million New Zealanders in work. 2.2 million minus 2.2 million equals …
  • “…we are likely to create 170,000 jobs in the next 4 years…”  More flatulent fiction.
  • “…we have reformed the Resource Management Act…”  The Act was “reformed” not to free up land to help make housing more affordable, nor to give power and property rights back to property owners, but to give more power to planners and make life easier for the government’s road-building machine. In other words, not to help you or I, but themselves. The claim is a lie.
  • “…we are on track to win the Rugby World Cup…” We? Is he next in line behind Stephen Donald?

His boasting is a litany of orchestrated ooze.

The fact is John Key lies.  He twists. He wriggles.

He’s a flake and a faker.

Why does he lie? Simple answer: if reality is only your side then there’s no need to fake it.

You only need to lie when reality is not going your way.

And once you start lying, there’s no way again that anyone else can trust you.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, Steven Joyce lies too. [Don’t just trust Gareth, you can check the logs.]

Q: So how can you tell when a politician is lying.
A: Their lips are moving.