Monday, 31 October 2011

Roger Kerr 1945 – 2011


As many of you know already, the always combative Roger Kerr has fought his last battle. He died on Friday night after a year-long illness.

Roger was on point for most of the reforms that constitute the opening up of post-Muldoon Fortress New Zealand, and the formation of the freer markets that were the result. He was singularly successful both in persuading New Zealand’s corporate moguls that ending protectionism was in their long-term interest, and that they should fund a permanent organisation, of which Roger became head, to promote the necessary “permanent revolution” for which Roger saw that first freeing up as just the beginning.

Unfortunately, that second revolution never came, being lost in the blancmange of spud-like Compromise, comradely Clarkism, and now Smile and Wave Nothingness.  But never for a moment did Roger give up the battle.

He will be sorely missed. As Lindsay Perigo said of his departure, “The best tribute we can pay is to continue his valiant battle against statism.”

This 2011 interview with Lindsay, which would have been one of the last he gave, gives a taste of The Great Man:

And from Roger’s blog, which will never again host a Friday Graph, comes this announcement of a service to honour Roger’s life to be held on Thursday 3 November at 2.30pm at Old St Paul’s in Wellington.

A selection of public tributes to Roger:

The story of The White House

imageStupid story of the day, from this morning’s Herald: a woman bought and transported a 100-year-old Epsom villa to a new site overlooking the Kaipara Harbour, a house that for all its life has been painted white.

Both sites are within Rodney Hide’s City of the Supersized Bureaucracy, in which planners have been given wider powers.

What those planners told Julie Cotton is this: in Epsom, the only colour you have permission to paint you house is white.  But in Kaipara, virtually the only colour for which you don’t have permission to paint your house is white. (Yes, dear reader, in the Brave New City anything that isn’t prohibited is made compulsory.) From the Herald story:

_QuoteThe villa had been painted white its whole life - a council heritage requirement for a house of that age in Epsom - and the Cottons wanted it to stay that way.
    However, shortly after moving it to Tapora, the family were told by a council inspector they had to paint the house one of 50 dark colours, including green, brown, or black.
    The order was based on the West Coast Policy Area, which states parts of the North Rodney area landscape are highly exposed to the risks of development, meaning the colour and material of houses should complement the surrounding environment

Yes, that’s right, the RMA, the District Plan and Rodney’s planners have all been insisting that this house, which can’t be seen from any road, must essentially be painted in camouflage in order not to offend non-existing passers by. So that poor Julie Cotton, who always wanted “a big, white house on a farm,” is now instead faced with painting her house to look like an army barracks.

Just another story from this Brave New City.

Lock up your babies, it’s election season

Now the rugby’s over we’re straight into the far less entertaining election season in which not a hand will not be shaken nor a baby left un-kissed.

Every election is the same. This time at least it’s a mercifully short, four- week popularity contest, but it’s still the same advance auction of stolen goods in which class and race hatreds are polished,  bigotries burnished, statistics  tortured, economics ignored, and taxpayers and producers taken for granted.

The hand kissing and baby shaking started with a rush over the weekend.

But also, there was this:

Rich Pricks in New Zealand

Direct from Libz TV: Rich Pricks in New Zealand, by Libz Wel-Cen candidate, R-Dawg Cutting, featuring The Milminator.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The dangers of faith

Richard Dawkins speaks with an extremist Muslim … but no communication was possible.

Friday, 28 October 2011

In the year 2033

Who would have thought this Labour Party would have the courage to open the can of worms that is the debate about Government Super’s sustainability—and to open it with a flourish.

What they’ve done is to look at the financial chaos around the world and realise that a large portion of it comes from government’s borrowing unsustainably to fund election bribes welfare. And they’ve made a tough call.

Government Super in its present form is unsustainable, they say. And they’re right. Yes it is.

The simplest way to remedy that is to raise the age at which Government Super is payable, they say. And they’re right. Yes it is.

So, therefore, they say we must immediately got on with raising the age incrementally … so that by 2033 the qualifying age will be 67.  Did they really say 2033?


Surely, Phil, you have to be kidding.

Yes, yes, I know you’re simply opening the debate, and for that I doff my hat to you.  But to kick the can down the road to 2033 is, frankly, to acknowledge the problem and then do nothing about it. (And no, implementing compulsory “saving” and raising payroll taxes to pay for this and other promises is not a solution, but two new problems.)

Mind you, acknowledging this problem is still one step further than Smile and Wave has done. He’s now hamstrung by his ridiculous promise never to touch Government Super as long as he’s PM. If this announcement makes him wriggle while others around him grasp the necessary nettles, then all the better for that.

And if the necessary nettles are grasped, and this National Party wants to put blue water between itself and Phil Goff on Super (rather than the red water that separates them now Goff is outflanking them on the right) they could easily announce a much more robust plan to raise the age in more appropriate increments to erase the problem in much better time.

Or they could even do something along these lines.

PS: In more “are they finally getting it” news, it turns out that Hone’s Mana Party is prepared to grasp a few nettles themselves.

Correctly diagnosing the present tax system as being bad for the poor, since every dollar the poor earn and spend is taxed like hell, Mana wants to get rid of all income tax on the first $30,000 of income, and to get rid of the Government Slavery Tax (GST) altogether.

All good stuff—or at least it would be if they planned equal cuts in spending to balance this out. But still, it’s a healthy start.

PPS:  And in even more “finally getting it” news, it looks like even the National Party are able to admit when they are wrong: they’ve announced this morning that exploding youth unemployment has (finally) changed their mind on the Youth Minimum Wage. Bravo!

Yes, three years and several thousand youngsters on the scrapheap too late. But still: “Bravo.”

Except, except ... as Eric Crampton points out the large print of this policy announcement giveth while the small print taketh away. What National pledge to do is not to take away the Youth Minimum Wage but instead to "expand eligibility for the New Entrant's Wage (now called the Starting-Out Wage)":

The starting-out wage will be set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage and three groups of people will be eligible:
  • 16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer.
  • 18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a designated benefit.
  • 16- to 19-year-old workers training in a recognised industry course involving at least 40 credits a year.
What's the sum total of the changes then?
  • 16 and 17 year olds get an additional three months' eligibility for the training wage. Maybe this is enough to make employers deem the transactions costs worthwhile, maybe not;
  • 18 & 19 year olds have access to the starting out wage - this is new;
  • Youths in training only have to be doing 40 instead of 60 credits per year.
In short, there's not much there. 

Cartoon by Richard McGrail
Not.  Much.  There.

Shorthand not just for this policy announcement, but what's between a politician's ears.

Except this time, there's even less than meets the eyes.

Sometimes a party will be accused of hypocrisy when it simply says the populist and wrong thing while quietly getting on and doing the right thing. Given the electoral environment, in which doing the right thing is rarely the populist thing, behaviour like this is understandable, and almost forgiveable.

What is neither is to say the right thing, and to take all the flak for it, while not even intending to actually do what you say you'll do.

This isn't hypocrisy.  It's just flat-out political flatulence.

“Mr Brownlee: Tear down this wall!”

There are two film featurettes highlighting this year’s disaster in Christchurch. Here’s the trailer for the first, When A City Falls:The People’s Story, a feature documentary about the people in Christchurch before, during and immediately after the earthquakes. It is harrowing.

The second film has a different focus, takes in the longer time frame since the quakes, and looks at a different, though related, disaster.  With interviews from local Christchurch business owners and commentators, this one looks not at the earthquakes directly, but at the man-made disasters following in their wake.

As someone said on Twitter yesterday, “the first disaster was the earthquakes.  The second disaster is the political decisions made in their aftermath.”

Because what wasn’t destroyed in the earthquake is being destroyed now, by government both central and local. Literally. And I don’t just mean people’s buildings—often without their permission, or even their knowledge. What’s being destroyed is enterprise, people’s futures, and the very future of business in what was New Zealand’.

What’s needed to repair and renew the city is not gobs of (borrowed) government money; it’s the enterprise of entrepreneurial NZers who are currently locked out of their city.

Referring to both the hurricane fencing that surrounds the Christchurch CBD, and the unhelpful attitude of CERA and other bureaucrats who are impeding access to private property within the CBD and delaying the resuscitation of business activity, let us all echo the youngest of the interviewees on the second featurette:

"Mr Brownlee, tear down this wall!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: A new slogan…

_DavidGallandGuest post by David Galland of Casey Research

In New York City for our “Singularity Summit,” Alex Daley of our Casey Extraordinary Technology service and I decided to see what all the commotion is about and so wandered through a light drizzle to Zuccotti Park, home to the Occupy Wall Street protestors.

The group sure is attracting a lot of media smoke, so might there also be fire?

While it may be a conceit, as a young person arrested in the Oakland Induction Center riots, circa 1967, I like to think I know at least a little about grouping together in order to take it to the man.

So, based on my experience, how does OWS stack up?

In a word, pathetic. For three reasons.

1. Lack of a solidifying (or even coherent) purpose. 

First and foremost, the movement lacks a cohesive purpose.

As expected, there were a dozen or so cliques touting anti-capitalist themes. But other than in a general sense, they were far from the majority, which I would loosely describe as loosely described.

We saw one group against fracking and another small pod holding up signs calling for justice for the victims of Ecuadorian death squads. One old-timer held up a soggy sign with a passage of the US Constitution, lecturing passionately to a small contingent of bored youths on how said passage had been violated.

Standing nearby in the small park, an aspiring young Che was trying to get the attention of fellow les miserables in order to tell them how South America had been a non-violent paradise prior to the arrival of the white man. Others want to "eat the rich," while another... Well, you get the idea.

I am sure there was a divergence of opinions on this and that back in the Sixties, but I can assure you that everyone who sat in at the Oakland Induction Center, and dozens of other locations like it, was clear that the objective of the protest was to stop the Vietnam War. In the case of Oakland, by blocking the doors to the center through which the US war machine was regularly processing thousands of slaves, er, draftees, precedent to flinging them into a losing war in a country that not one in a hundred of them could even point out on a map.

By contrast, Occupy Wall Street appears to be little more than a gathering spot for the misguided, ill-informed, disgruntled and disenchanted. That is not to say that there aren't some legitimate gripes represented among the motley. Rather it is that unless and until they actually decide on a specific objective, their chances are slim of accomplishing anything more than encouraging copycat groups in other countries to riot for more targeted purposes - for instance, in Italy to protest government austerity measures.

As to who is encouraging those other groups, look no further than the television vans around the park perimeter. I strongly suspect some producer somewhere decided that OWS could be made into good drama for the nightly newsertainment, and so it came to pass. Given the lack of vigor in the park, it wouldn't surprise me at all if said producer had to periodically nudge the lumps with the toe of his boot and encourage them to make some noise for the cameras.

2. What leaders they have, appear to be both idiots and ideologues. A leader leads, as in getting the masses to act in concert in order to achieve a specific goal. Given the Tower of Babble gibberish so clearly in evidence, it's clear that no one near the top of the flock has a unifying vision or the ability to rally the troops in cohesive action.

If you want to understand just how painfully moronic the purported thought-leaders of this movement are, you only have to take a few minutes to watch this YouTube video.  (I have to warn you, however; this may cause irreversible brain damage.) The speaker is none other than uber-greenie Bill McKibben.

Doug Casey recently referred to these guys as "watermelons"... green on the outside, red on the inside, and I can't argue the point. In case you are wondering, the spastic wiggling of fingers in the background is called "twinkles" - and is done when trying to express enthusiasm for a speaker without interrupting them with applause.

So, what's got McKibben and his troupe of scary sycophants all heated up at Zuccotti Park? None other than the proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline, an evil tube of death flowing from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In McKibben's own words, according to certain unnamed scientists, "If we build this pipeline, it is game over for the climate."

Game over for the climate? Egads! Death to us all, including the doe-eyed little polar bears! And people accuse us here at Casey Research of being gloomy and doomy.

Thanks to regular correspondent Marko, here are a couple of maps that clarify the dire threat posed by the proposed Keystone extension, this veritable Godzilla of Goo. So, what does the extension actually look like? See the dotted lines on the map just above. Monstrous!

Devastating, no question about it.

Next, (right) we see a map of all the many pipelines in the US that are interconnected with the Canadian oil fields.

How can anyone deny that McKibben and his chorus are right... we should fight this monstrosity at all costs! To the ramparts!

That would show those filthy Canadians what to do with their filthy oil... namely swing that dotted line west in order to better ship the stuff off to China.

3. If You Aren't Getting Arrested, You Are Doing Something Wrong!

Seriously, I wanted to stand up in the middle of the park, clear my throat and yell, "Hey, listen up! What are you doing here? Pull yourselves together and get down to business!" (Egged on by Alex for his personal entertainment, I'm pretty sure.)

So, here's the set-up. The protestors, which number only in the dozens, are encamped in a small park in a fairly non-descript and unimportant corner of Manhattan. They are literally surrounded, in order of scale, by the police, the media (in nice, cozy vans), and Falafel vendors (it's hard not to love the contradiction between the signs saying "Down with Capitalism" and the Falafel vendors doing land office business selling the protestors their grub).

In other words, like the "Free Speech Zones" now mandatory for anyone caring to express an opposing opinion as presidential motorcade6s rush by, the Occupy Wall Street folks have allowed themselves to be corralled within the boundaries of a designated protest area, approved by the powers-that-be as suitable for the malcontents.

Exposing the extent of the farce, the New York Police force has a portable, extendible watch tower that looms over the park, keeping a Sauron-like eye on the goings-on. That thing would have lasted about ten minutes back in the good old brick-throwing days.

If I learned nothing back in the Sixties, it is that (once you decide on an objective) you need to assemble in the spot that most forcibly gets your point across - by disrupting business as usual - until the government has no choice but to arrest you, after which you return to same scene and repeat until someone gives. You win if the other guy blinks. Were I trying to discomfit Wall Street, I'd be blocking the doors of the major financial houses.

But what I'd really do is to forget Wall Streeters; they are mostly only symbiotic parasites stuck in the guts of the Washington overlords. And so, speaking only hypothetically here (because one would never advocate an open uprising against one's own government), were I leading the Occupy Wall Street mob, I'd have them on the next bus to the Golden City of Oz. And once there, I'd hand out chains and padlocks for the mob to lock themselves, like early Christmas ornaments, to the gates of the White House and to the front of the congressional hive.

That, however, probably won't happen. Instead, I suspect these directionless 'shrooms will remain largely hunkered down in their little park, venturing out only occasionally to be joined by sport rioters with no larger purpose than shouting out in a crowd, until the Northeastern winter picks them off one at a time.

"Hey dude, where you going?"

"Ah, er, out for a latte."

"Really? You sure? That's what the last hundred people said, and they never came back. "

"No man, seriously, I'll be back.  Seriously."

And so, rather than ending with the bang of exploding tear gas canisters and the strident sirens of paddy wagons, I expect OWS to end one day after the few remaining protest leaders, staring at each other across the leftovers of last night's falafels, realize they are pretty much alone and shuffle off muttering something about the need to get a job.

If you sense a certain disappointment in my remarks, you would be right.

For starters, the protestors provide such tangible proof of the failure of the US educational system. Things have gotten so bad, so politically correct, so politicized, so degraded by teacher bias, so removed from the hard sciences, so enamored of the big lies, that the vast majority of rank and file down at Zuccotti appear almost devoid of reason - and therefore rationality - about what it is they are doing.

Secondly, I'm disappointed because if there was ever a good time for a protest - against the sovereign states with their constant meddling in their economies, in starting wars, tampering with justice, interfering with the personal pursuit of happiness, and regulating business out of business - it is now.

Unfortunately, if there is a unifying theme even remotely present in the OWS movement, it is that the government needs to meddle more, not less.

If I wasn't so lazy, or maybe indifferent, I might suggest a counter-demonstration with a simple slogan:

Stop Meddling!

Concise and straightforward. Better, because from the standpoint of organizing, it opens up a wide vista of potential protest locales. The Fed, the FDA, the Congress, the Treasury, the White House, the State Department, the Department of War... why, the list is (sadly) almost endless at this point.

And it wouldn't start on Wall Street, but about 227 miles south.  In Washington.

Unbreaking news: New poll

More unbreaking news for you, this time: the latest opinion poll with 100% agreement.

The mystery of currency creation

Ever wondered about the mystery of currency creation? Given that the way currency is created is behind so many of the world’s problems in the four decades since the world went permanently off gold—you know, massive inflations, massive instability, the theft of your savings, the Great Financial Crisis…

So here you go, mystery explained in six minutes by Rich Dad advisor Mike Maloney, explaining how currency is created through "fractional reserve banking," and why the banking system “is a pyramid scam of epic proportions.” The video is only 6 minutes long but, as David McGregor at Sovereign Life says, “you will learn more in that time about the root cause of our economic problems than thousands of hours watching the news on TV.”

Portraits, by Richard Schmid


Richard Schmid’s portraiture is bold and energetic, seeming to come out of the raw canvas like a thunderbolt.


Thanks to Jasmine and Jesper for putting me on to his work.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Poor old Banksie

Poor old Banksie. There are complaints about the traps that Labour have stooped to “dirty tricks” in their attempt to smear ACT’s Epsom candidate John Banks.

Amusingly the so-called “dirty tricks” involve posting around the electorate flyers quoting the candidate, and posting online his fiscal record while in office–all very helpful you would think to a candidate whose billboards boast his “experience” as his best feature.

Yet his record has less than meets the eye; leastways, less than met the eye of Don Brash and the ACT selection team when they selected “Banksie” as their candidate in their must-win seat. Because they apparently didn’t know when they selected him what everybody else knew long ago: That Banksie is a bigot. That Banksie is a spendthrift. That if he wants to run on his “experience,” then he can expect his past experiences to come back and bite him.

 His statements quoted on the pamphlets would bad enough, especially for any candidate representing a purportedly “liberal” party.  But it his fiscal record as Auckland mayor that should frighten the socks off anyone voting for him in the hope that the ACT Party represent fiscal responsibility.

If there is a surprise for me in Epsom [writes Labour's Epsom candidate David Parker, accurately], it is that so few people knew that John Banks tripled Auckland City Council’s debt during his last three years as Mayor. This recent history is very damaging for Key as well as Banks, given their repeated assertions that they are fiscally responsible and Labour is profligate.
The reality that Banks was “borrow and spend” will get through. I am telling everyone! Every letter box in Epsom will get this message…
    The reality is that Banks’ very public record is there to haunt Key and Banks. The man who claims Muldoon as his hero has the worst economic record of any Mayor, ever, in the entire history of New Zealand.
    While the last Labour government ran budget surpluses and reduced government debt, this is what John Banks did to Auckland:

        Auckland City Council debt more than trebled in his last 3 years as Mayor!
            2007          2008         2009                31/10/2010
            $135m      $322m      $499m             $738 million !!!!!!!!

This was all pre amalgamation [and therefore represents the debt racked up just for the much smaller original Auckland City Council], and resulted in three credit downgrades for the council from Standard and Poors (from AA+ to AA-).
The Act spin that debt increased because the old Auckland City was borrowing for the new City is untrue. (That extra $416m of borrowing in the 2010 year took Auckland City Council debt to $1,155m at the time of amalgamation, but is excluded from the above figures.)
   So John Banks certainly does not stand for fiscal responsibility.

He sure doesn’t.

One can only wonder about ACT’s sickening pragmatism in selecting this bigoted moron as their candidate in the first place.

Feeding the 99% plus [updated]

Peter Schiff visits the #OccupyWallStreet crowd to debate capitalism with them, arriving under a banner reading “I Am The 1% … Let’s Chat.” “Schiff had plenty of takers,” recounts John Hayward at the Human Events blog.

The ensuing encounter is a master class on what happens when a serenely confident man, with full command of his facts, talks to a passionate mob of clueless wonders who don’t know a thing about their supposed cause, and don’t think they should have to… Schiff doesn’t just engage these people, he short-circuits them.  You can see one or two of them making a visible effort to think, which they abandon after realising it’s easier to chant slogans.

Schiff’s basic point, which is grasped but dimly: capitalism does not need to be fixed it needs to be restored. But there is at least one point of agreement...

(At least he found folk to debate. Across the Atlantic it’s more a case of #UnOccupyLondon as it turns out the “occupation” is really by a bunch of empty tents. HT Phil S.)

Here’s something else the #OWS crowd (and most of today’s politicians) need to get to grips with:  “What the protesters [and the politicians] do not realize is that the wealth of the one percent provides the standard of living of the ninety-nine percent… all of us, one hundred percent of us, benefit from the wealth of the hated capitalists. We benefit without ourselves being capitalists, or being capitalists to any great extent.”

How so?

Because, explains George Reisman,  the vast majority of the wealth owned by the so-called “one-percent” is not held in the form of candy bars or champagne bottles, but in the form of the capital goods and equipment that produce the consumer goods on which we (and the protesters) all depend—capital goods that only come to represent wealth to the extent they are used to produce the goods and services people, in their capacity as consumers, really want.

_QuoteThe protesters have no awareness of this, because they see the world through an intellectual lens that is inappropriate to life under capitalism and its market economy. They see a world, still present in some places, and present everywhere a few centuries ago, of self-sufficient farm families, each producing for its own consumption and having no essential connection to markets.
    In such a world, if one sees a farmer’s field, or his barn, or plow, or draft animals, and asks who do these means of production serve, the answer is the farmer and his family, and no one else. In such a world, apart from the receipt of occasional charity from the owners, those who are not owners of means of production cannot benefit from means of production unless and until they themselves somehow become owners of means of production. They cannot benefit from other people’s means of production except by inheriting them or by seizing them.

But in the modern world (at least, to the extent that the so-called “one-percent” are not simply milking government subsidies and bailouts, which is how Russel Norman, Bill English & David Cunliffe all seem to think business should work), all of us benefit from the private ownership of their means of production whoever owns them—just as long as the owners are left free to produce and innovate. We all get the benefit of their production, both as buyers of the products of those means of production, but also as sellers of labour employed to work with those means of production.

_QuoteThe wealth of the capitalists, in other words, is the source both of the supply of products that non-owners of the means of production buy and of the demand for the labor that non-owners of the means of production sell. It follows that the larger the number and greater the wealth of the capitalists, the greater is both the supply of products and the demand for labor, and thus the lower are prices and the higher are wages, i.e., the higher is the standard of living of everyone. Nothing is more to the self-interest of the average person than to live in a society that is filled with multi-billionaire capitalists and their corporations, all busy using their vast wealth to produce the products he buys and to compete for the labor he sells.
    Nevertheless, the world the protesters yearn for is a world from which the billionaire capitalists and their corporations have been banished, replaced by small, poor producers, who would not be significantly richer than they themselves are, which is to say, impoverished. They expect that in a world of such producers, producers who lack the capital required to produce very much of anything, let alone carry on the mass production of the technologically advanced products of modern capitalism, they will somehow be economically better off than they are now. Obviously, the protesters could not be more deluded.

This is not just hyperbole. The world the protesters yearn for (and which the politicians are only to eager to deliver) is one in which multi-billionaire capitalists and their corporations are increasingly and ruinously shackled. We have everything to lose by that, and only the chains of penury to gain.

We are all better off by multi-billionaire capitalists and their corporations not being shackled; not being stolen from (or subsidised); but instead being left free to produce, free to innovate, and of course free to fail. Indeed, our very well-being depends on the freewheeling production and creative destruction of capitalism. History itself shows that this is so:

_QuoteThis can be seen in the fact that today, the average worker works 40 hours per week, while a worker of a century or so ago worked 60 hours a week. For the 40 hours he works, the average worker of today receives the goods and services comprising the average standard of living of 2011, which includes such things as an automobile, refrigerator, air conditioner, central heating, more and better living space, more and better food and clothing, modern medicine and dentistry, motion pictures, a computer, cell phone, television set, washer/dryer, microwave oven, and so on. The average worker of 1911 either did not have these things at all or had much less of them and of poorer quality.
    If we describe the goods and services received by the average worker of today for his 40 hours of labor as being 10 times as great as those received by the average worker of 1911 for his 60 hours of labor, then it follows that expressed in terms of the amount of labor that needs to be performed today in order to be able to buy goods and services equivalent to the standard of living of 1911, prices have fallen to two-thirds of one-tenth of their level in 1911, i.e., to one-fifteenth of their level in 1911, which is to say, by 93 1/3 percent.

The problems in recent years have not been due to the rampant running amok of multi-billionaire capitalists and their corporations, but the opposite: the running amok of regulators, subsidisers, bailout merchants and money printers—all of them keen to shackle winners, subsidise losers, and print more of the same collapsing currencies whose printing led us directly to world disaster. Concludes Reisman,

_QuoteThus, however ironic it may be, it turns out that virtually all of the problems the Occupy Wall Street protesters complain about are the result of the enactment of policies that they support and in which they fervently believe. It is their mentality, … and the government policies that are the result, that are responsible for what they complain about. The protesters are, in effect, in the position of being unwitting flagellants. They are beating themselves left and right and as balm for their wounds they demand more whips and chains. They do not see this, because they have not learned to make the connection that in violating the freedom of businessmen and capitalists and seizing and consuming their wealth, i.e., using weapons of pain and suffering against this small hated group, they are destroying the basis of their own well being.
  However much the protesters might deserve to suffer as the result of the injury caused by the enactment of their very own ideas, it would be far better, if they woke up to the modern world and came to understand the actual nature of capitalism, and then directed their ire at the targets that deserve it. In that case, they might make some real contribution to economic well being, including their own.

Read Reisman’s thorough critique of the economic fallacies behind the #OWS movement:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

This one’s for relief. The next one’s for joy.

25rugby-image3-articleLargePicture ex New York Times

The wait is over.  The nerves assuaged. The World Cup jinx shattered. On Sunday night we  could finally party like we’d wanted to in 1991, ‘95, ‘99, ‘03, and ‘07. The long wait for a Wold Cup was was finally over, and the partying could start in earnest.

The moment when it came was explosive. Strangers were hugging strangers. People you didn’t know wanted to tell you every World Cup loss they’d been to, and how this one made it all better. Everyone was cheering Stephen Donald to a standstill (Stephen Donald!), and folk who knew better were singing along with gusto to a Freddy Mercury song to which in younger days they’d sworn eternal hostility. (Yes, I confess,  I was there too.) Hell, there were even people cheering Steve Hansen to the rafters for his cunning lineout move, and others could be heard thanking Helen Clark for getting the Cup here in the first place.

There was joy aplenty, but not unalloyed joy. It was joy heavily tinged with relief—and not just because the victory was so narrow, nor because the French team had fought so heroically, and so nearly successfully, to deny the ABs the victory.  It was relief that after twenty-four years the moment was finally here; that the Cup we’d thought we owned was finally ours; that for four years we could say our team are not chokers, they are the Wold Champions!

Let’s just say those last five words again, just because they sound so good: They are the World Champions!

It seems a long wait. Twenty-four years, and within that an inexorable four-yearly cycle in which the nation’s psyche was dissected anew with every semi-final and quarter-final disaster. It was hell, wasn’t it.

Yet perhaps this narrowest of victories—so sternly fought for; and with all our home ground advantages so narrowly and heroically won—might just tell us all the lesson we needed to learn: that to win a World Cup, in any code, is surely a task as hard, as tough, as the victory when it’s achieved is sweet. And more: that all those years of crying at our failure cut so deeply because all that time we thought the trophy was ours by right; we learned on Sunday that the trophy needs to be fought for, and fought for with every last sinew. (As Matt said in yesterday’s comments, “You're a world champion if you can take what that French team threw at NZ and prevail.”)

Perhaps now we’ve  won it in the tensest of struggles to a team everyone was unaccountably ready to write off we might now realise how difficult the task of raising the Cup really is, and we can perhaps prepare to forgive some of those on whom we’ve poured scorn in failures past. (Okay, maybe not John Mitchell, but if Stephen Donald can be so rapidly rehabilitated … ?)

Now we’ve got the monkey off our backs we can reflect that we never really owned the World Cup at all, and victory in its pursuit is sorely won, and so much more worthy of celebration for all that.

Which means next time we can celebrate with pure joy, and not just with relief.

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.

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