Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bernanke tries another moonshot


Bernanke’s QE3 moonshot last week--a promise to pour $50 billion a month of money created out of thin air into US mortage markets until something happens, he knows not what--has already got local morons calling for the same non-golden shower to be sprayed around markets here. In the hope, perhaps, that some of that stream will splash out on them. Who nows?

Detlev Schlicter explains a few of the many hazards of not just out and out monetary inflation quantitative easing, but the dangers of stimulus, to infinity and beyond:

There was a beautiful symmetry to last week’s policy announcement by the Fed. Precisely a week after the ECB had pledged its commitment to unlimited purchases of Euro Zone government bonds, the Fed declared that its new round of debt monetization – ‘quantitative easing’ or QE3 – would be open-ended.
Unlimited, open-ended. The concept of stimulus has certainly evolved since the crisis started… “We will do whatever it takes” was a phrase that was much used in the early part of this crisis, around 2008. No doubt it was meant to instil confidence, yet it is one of the scariest things a policymaker can say. If policies go wrong – or have unintended consequences, as they always do – the costs are born by society. We should be concerned if those who are entrusted with the privileges of state power declare that they will use these powers without limits – the power to tax, the power to regulate, the power to legislate, and the power to print money. On Thursday Bernanke declared that he would not stop his policy until it has the results that he believes it should have…
    The decision for unlimited QE is also a sign of defeat. QE2 had not delivered what Bernanke had told us it would…  Stimulus sounds harmless but every stimulus is intervention. And the iron law of intervention is that once you intervened you have to intervene again, you cannot just stop the intervention without undoing the results of previous interventions. QE is state intervention in the market. There is no natural end to it. Bernanke de facto admitted that much last week…
    Avoiding the collapse of the financial house of cards has been one objective of monetary policy in recent years, but simply maintaining the financial system in a state of arrested collapse is not enough. We need growth. And the Fed has only one means of creating growth, that is, by artificially cheapening credit and massaging various asset prices up and their yields down with the help of the printing press. That is obviously the same policy that got us into the crisis in the first place…
    The bottom line is this: QE is no longer unconventional. It is the new normality. The central bank not only manipulates – persistently and systematically – short term interest rates and the supply of bank reserves so that credit remains constantly cheap, it now also manipulates the shape of the government yield curve, the cost of state borrowing, and risk premiums in the mortgage market. All of this requires ongoing balance sheet expansion at the Fed and open-ended money printing. And there is no exit strategy.
    This will end badly.


Well, some economists

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On conflict

“There is no conflict of interest among men who do not desire the unearned…”
    - Ayn Rand


Get your own poster here.

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: How Economies Grow And Why They Crash (Part 1)

Due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e., me being completely forgetful) I forgot to invite you yesterday the Econ discussion with the Auckland Uni Economics Group.  But don’t panic—if you missed it, I have a solution!

First, here’s what we talked about last night:

Our next subject will be a 'two-parter', explaining the boom and bust cycle said to be a natural feature of mature economies.
Part 1: Hayek v Friedman: How Economies Grow
      Part 2: Hayek v Keynes: Why They Crash

We start out by explaining how economies grow, contrasting Hayek’s growth theory with that of the Chicago school economists, of whom Milton Friedman was the best known. What does growth look like? What exactly grows? And what’s the difference between growth and progress—and how do the two schools differ on this and other related questions?
Then we will look at what economies crash. Why bubbles burst, booms turn to bust, growth turns to capital consumption. And how exactly did Hayek and Keynes differ on what causes and continues downturn.
Don’t miss this two-part discussion, which should help integrate the material we’ve discussed over recent sessions.

Notice, it is a discussion in two parts, so if you get along next week you’ll get to hear the punchline.

But even better: the guts of what we talked about last night can be easily tracked down online! 

Here’s a link to a comic book explaining, well, just what the title says. (Yes, Virginia, Irwin is Peter’s dad.)


And here’s two of Roger Garrison’s recent lectures at the 2012 Mises University (if you’re keen, you can see all 21 lectures here), on which much of last night’s lecture was based.

So don’t fret. Enjoy!

Monday, 17 September 2012

National is just managing retreat

Last week I posted a request. I blogged asking National Party supporters to tell me, after nearly a term-and-a-half in office, what they considered the Key Government’s greatest achievement. I got just 12 responses. Out of which, only three were from National voters.

Now, this might mean I have very few National-voting readers. That’s possible.  But according to my Statcounter, roughly 3,355 people read that post, many of whom must surely be National sympathisers. Yet they didn’t bother to comment.

Now, I don’t want to make too much stew from just those few onions (unlike the Australian academic who on less evidence would like us to think climate skeptics also wear tinfoil hats). But I was fascinated by the two I deemed the “winning responses”; from Simon…:

In 10 years time National will be remembered for slowing the train down for a few years before it gathers steam again under Labour and finally crashes off the tracks.

…and from Blair, who declared National’s biggest achievement to be:

Keeping Labour out of power. Not much I know…

He’s probably right on both counts. That it isn’t very much. And it is their biggest "achievement."  Not anything they've done themselves, simply what they've not allowed the red team to do.

In other words, their biggest achievement while in government is being in government.

Put one way then, it is just power for power's sake. But put another way, it's an admission of something very serious indeed—which is an acceptance of intellectual impotence: that they have neither ideas for reform nor courage to carry them out.  A recognition that the other team have all the ideas, and the best National can hope to do themselves is to be a speed hump in their road.

Very low horizons indeed for a party whose founding objectives were stated to be:

To promote good citizenship and self-reliance; to combat communism and socialism; to maintain freedom of contract; to encourage private enterprise; to safeguard individual rights and the privilege of ownership; to oppose interference by the State in business, and State control of industry. 

Very low horizons indeed—particularly when there is abounding intellectual ammunition on every one of those policy fronts sufficient not just to hunker down in a foxhole waging a war of managed retreat, but to advance boldly on all fronts.

Which tells me that the real political battle is still one of ideas. Unfortunately, while the teams wearing red and green know that, the team wearing blue still doesn’t.

The End May Be Closer Than You Think

imageGuest post by Douglas French

We hear plenty about fiscal cliffs, the problems in Europe, and out-of-control government budgets every day. But tucked away in our comfortable homes, watching satellite TV and living the dream, these threats to interrupt our good life seem to be only abstractions.

Books about an impending financial collapse are a dime a dozen, and besides, we're already done the collapse thing. Thanks to Ben Bernanke's money geyser, we can all get cash from the corner ATM, and live happily ever after.

Don't bet on it.

The 2008 crash was just the beginning of the end, according to John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper, authors of the readable, yet sobering Endgame: The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything.

Plenty of financial commentators and prognosticators want to treat this Great Recession as the average garden-variety gully washer. OK, stocks and real estate went down in price, now buy them and watch patiently while they go up. Of course, that boat has been missed in both regards. Stocks have more than doubled and house prices are bouncing.

The authors make the point that the entire world is connected. If you think Greece can collapse without repercussions on this side of the pond, you're wrong. The problem is debt. The Greeks didn't fund their own debt, the European banks did. And when that debt goes bad, so will the European banks. It will be 2008 all over again and then some.

Government debt, corporate debt, personal debt: It's all been piling up for 60 years. This debt must be liquidated. Piling on more debt on top of defaulted debt, recognized or not, will not solve the problem. Central bankers and government bureaucrats haven't figured that out yet, but investors must understand. Their financial lives depend on it. Thankfully, Maudlin and Tepper not only make their case convincingly that more trouble is ahead, but provide advice on what to do to protect yourself.

People make the mistake that the past provides a good indication of what the future will be. Aptly, the authors begin the book with a quotation from Jean Monnet: "People only accept change in necessity and see necessity only in crisis."

This goes especially for politicians, who talk about fixing the debt crisis when we all know nothing will be done until there is a crisis. After all, while they don't always act like it, politicians are human.

It takes a Minsky moment to wake the world up, and there are plenty of those coming. The economist Hyman Minsky did plenty of great work framing the causes and series of events leading up to financial collapses. The overriding Minsky message is that financial stability breeds instability, or as the authors repeat throughout Endgame, "The more things stay the same, the more complacent we get, until Bang!"

What that "bang" will look like is an open question that the authors don't exactly commit to. That's what makes Endgame such interesting reading. Mauldin and Tepper don't try to cram a point of view down the reader's throat. Will we have deflation? Or will it be inflation, or even hyperinflation?

The authors don't pretend to be clairvoyant. They make compelling cases for each possibility. What they believe for sure is that volatility will roil the financial markets going forward. Stocks for the long term -- or anything for the long term, for that matter -- is a prescription for a money-losing disaster.

The bond market will be tested, despite the world's deleveraging. Not even Japan has a homegrown source of bond demand anymore. The day will come again when cash will be dear as countries and corporations compete for funding. This will turn the notion that it is economic strength that forces interest rates on their head. Punk economies will lead to even greater strain on government receipts at the same time more money is needed to service debt.

There are two ways for governments to default: outright repudiation and inflating the debt away with central bank money creation and monetization of the debt. The latter is the modern solution for governments that can print their own currency, such as the United States. Greece doesn't have this luxury. Nor does California.

But how long can the Fed keep buying U.S. Treasuries with impunity? In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece this spring, former Treasury official Lawrence Goodman wrote,

Last year, the Fed purchased a stunning 61% of the total net Treasury issuance, up from negligible amounts prior to the 2008 financial crisis. This not only creates the false appearance of limitless demand for U.S. debt but also blunts any sense of urgency to reduce supersized budget deficits.

The Fed has taken the place of Japan and China as major buyers of Treasury debt, and in time, the results will be catastrophic.

This information comes after the 2011 publication of Endgame, and I can't help but think the author's chapter on the potential for U.S. hyperinflation might be different, given the latest information concerning Bernanke's bond-buying spree.

imageThe authors devote a chapter to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff's book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. In addition to quoting liberally from that book, Reinhart and Rogoff sat down for an illuminating interview. For those who look at the Japan experience and believe America has plenty of time to work itself out its problems, the authors of This Time think differently. Even John Mauldin was shocked and scared by what they have to say.

For the most part, Maudlin and Tepper manage to stay away from debates about what should be done to fix the problem. For example, advocates of the Austrian School of economics (like this writer) say get rid of the Fed, let the banks fail and let the system cleanse itself. The authors don't have time for this sort of ivory tower theorizing. "We find that a boring and almost pointless argument."

After all, "The people in control don't buy Austrian economics," they explain. "It makes for nice polemics, but is never going to be policy."

Well, fair enough. Instead, Mauldin and Tepper use 100 pages to lay out what the end of the debt supercycle will look like in various countries and regions around the world. Unfortunately, in this section, they drift into policy suggestions that require more government, rather than less, and their claim that it was the gold standard that lengthened the Great Depression is just not true. It was instead FDR's massive government intervention that kept the economy from correcting and, in turn, reviving.

While the authors' outlook is grim, in broad strokes, they provide investment advice for both the inflation and deflation scenarios. And ever the optimists (at least they keep telling the reader they are optimistic), they end on a high note, reminding us of the many technologic advances that make our world amazing today and speculating that future advances will be just that much more incredible.

Governments cannot print their way out of this mess. The end may be closer than you think. Read Mauldin and Tepper to get ready.

Douglas French is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Supply of Money, the first major empirical study of the relationship between early bubbles and the money supply through the lens of Austrian Economics. It is the only book to solve the most famous bubble in history – Tulip mania.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

So sayeth the religion of peace…

Reading this morning from the holy book of the religion of peace…

  • image"As for the Disbelievers, Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom.” 2:6-7
  • "“And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon [Jews] and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah's revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully.”2:61
  • “The curse of Allah is on disbelievers.”2:89
  • “Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers.” 2:98
  • "Fight in the way of Allah." 2:190, 2:244
  • "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful.   And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah." 2:191-2
  • Allah says that you must keep fighting until there is no more persecution and everyone on earth is a Muslim. Then you can stop killing people. 2:193a
  • But if there are any wrong-doers around after you've killed off all the disbelievers, persecutors and aggressors, then you'll have to kill them too. 2:193b
  • "“Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.” 2:216
  • "“Lo! those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah… promise them a painful doom.” 3:21
  • "“And believe not save in one who followeth your religion.” 3:73
  • image"Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority." 3:151
  • "So those who … fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow - A reward from Allah. And with Allah is the fairest of rewards.” 3:157
  • “Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead."
    (Quoted by Osama bin Laden in his 'letter to America' regarding the 11 September 2001 attacks.) 3:169-171
  • Those who die fighting for Allah will go to heaven. 3:195b
  • "Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged."
    Quoted by Osama bin Laden in his 'letter to America' as a justification for the 11 September 2001 attacks. 4:39
  • "Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward." 4:74
  • "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…" 4:76
  • "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks." 4:89
  • "“Ye will find others who desire that they should have security from you, and security from their own folk. So often as they are returned to hostility they are plunged therein. If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace nor hold their hands, then take them and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.”4:91
  • "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah [jihad] with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight [jihad] Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward." 4:95
  • image"And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain..." 4:104
  • "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement." 5:33
  • Allah will test believers to see if they are afraid. Those who fail a second test will suffer a a painful doom. 5:94
  • Let the idolaters kill their children. It is Allah's will. 6:137
  • "Taste the doom for what ye used to earn." 7:39
  • "We cut the root of those who denied Our revelations and were not believers." 7:72
  • "How can I sorrow for a people that rejected (truth)?" 7:93
  • "Why preach ye to a folk whom Allah is about to destroy or punish with an awful doom?" 7:164
  • Those who deny Muhammad's revelations are like dogs. 7:176
  • Those who deny Muhammad's revelation are evil. 7:177
  • "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." 8:12
  • "O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey's end." 8:15-16
  • Those that the Muslims killed were not really killed by them. It was Allah who did the killing. 8:17
  • "And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah." 8:39
  • "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember." 8:57
  • "And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah's Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape.  Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy." 8:59-60
  • "O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight..." 8:65
  • A prophet may not take captives until he has made a slaughter in the land. 8:67
  • "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush..." 9:5
  • Those who submit and convert to Islam will be treated well. (Those who don't submit will be killed. See previous verse.) 9:6
  • Treat converts to Islam well. (Kill those who refuse to convert. See 9:5) 9:11
  • "Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace..." 9:14
  • Fight against Christians and Jews "until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low." 9:29
  • The "Religion of Truth" (Islam) must prevail, by force if necessary, over all other religions. 9:33
  • If you refuse to fight, Allah will afflict you with a painful doom. 9:39
  • "Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah [jihad]! That is best for you if ye but knew." 9:41
  • imageFight the disbelievers and hypocrites. Be harsh with them. They are all going to hell anyway. 9:73
  • Non-muslim who pretend to believe (so they won't be killed by Muslims) are unclean and will go to hell. 9:95
  • "Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme." 9:111
  • "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness." 9:123
  • "His doom cometh unto you as a raid by night." 10:50
  • "And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction." 17:16
  • Parable laying the theological groundwork for “honour killings” [sic], i.e., “an innocent soul slain who had killed no man” because “his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. And we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy.”  18:65-81
  • The people cried out for mercy, but Allah killed them anyway. 20:15
  • Whoever thinks that Allah will not give Muhammad victory should go hang himself. 22:15
  • "Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them [jihad] with the utmost strenuousness..." 25:52
  • Stay away from poets. The erring follow them. 26:224
  • "If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while.  Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter." 33:60-61
  • Those who challenge the revelations of Muhammad will have a painful doom. 34:5
  • Allah hates those who ignore his messengers. 34:45
  • Only the "single-minded slaves of Allah" will be saved from the doom. 37:127-8
  • In whatsoever ye differ, the verdict therein belongeth to Allah." 42:10
  • image"Those who reject Allah follow vanities, while those who believe follow the truth from their lord.  Thus does Allah set forth form men their lessons by similitude.  Therefore when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make [them] prisoner.” 47:4
  • "Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost [Shakir: "have the upper hand"] for Allah is with you." 47:35
  • If you refuse to fight for Allah, he will punish you with a painful doom. 48:16
  • "There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick [that they go not forth to war]. And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom." 48:17
  • But if you're willing to fight for Allah, he will provide you with lots of booty. 48:19-20
  • "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves." 48:29
  • "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way." 61:4
  • "He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist." 61:9
  • "O ye who believe! Shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous Penalty?- That ye believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that ye strive (your utmost) in the Cause of Allah [jihad], with your property and your persons: That will be best for you, if ye but knew! He will forgive you your sins, and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eternity." 61:10-12
  • "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites [jihad], and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end." 66:9

imageAnd then there’s the Hadith, i.e., the alleged anecdotes of Mohammed and his fellow founders of Islam…

  • Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah'.  And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally." Bukhari, 8:387
  • Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” Bukhari, 52:177
  • The Prophet... was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." Bukhari, 52: 256
  • Allah's Apostle said... “I have been made victorious with terror.”' Bukhari, 52: 220
  • The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist).” Abu Dawud, 14:2526
  • imageThe Prophet said: Striving in the path of Allah [jihad] is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious.” Abu Dawud, 14:2527
  • The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah." Muslim, 1:30
  • The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Muslim, 1:33
  • Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is the best? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Belief in Allah and Jihad in His cause..." Muslim, 1:149
  • He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa'id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!" Muslim, 20:4645
  • The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: “One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihid died the death of a hypocrite." Muslim, 20:4696
  • The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, "Kill any Jew who falls under your power." Tabari, 7:97
  • imageAnd Mohammed said, "Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us." Tabari, 9:69
  • Allah said, “A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.” Ibn Ishaq/Hisham, 327
  • And Mohammed said before a raid, “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah." Ibn Hishaq/Hisham, 992

Yea verily, these are the revelations of the religion of peace.  Yesterday in Sydney, we saw some more of its fruit:


[Hat tip Skeptic’s Annotated Quran, and Religion of Peace]


PS: So perhaps you’re saying, “Oh, violent jihad is only one interpretation of Islam.” Yes, it is: Mohammed’s interpretation.

PPS: And I bet some of you are saying, well, at least the Bible isn’t as violent. Not true.

But at least the West enjoyed an Enlightenment, where we could begin to break free of its shackles.

Friday, 14 September 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: It hasn’t been a peaceful week

Knowledge is power. Here’s some reading from around the traps.

A sad story with a happy ending. “A New Zealand man who admitted helping his chronically ill wife die has been discharged without conviction.” Thank goodness. But the right to voluntary euthanasia should be enshrined in law, not left up to the discretion of a judge skating the edge of the law to deliver justice—with all the final comforts it denies the loved one, and all the necessary legal safeguards it must flout.
Man avoids conviction for helping wife die – NEWS.MSN

“It was a great disappointment that Justice Venning was not prepared to declare NIWA’s data adjustments to be a breach of the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992.
    On the law, the Judge found that any review should be ‘tolerant’ and ‘cautious’ because NIWA was ‘a specialist body acting within its own sphere of expertise.’ He declined to rule on the disputed science…
   Where does this now leave the NZ Climate Science Coalition’s long-term effort to show that the NIWA temperature adjustments are wrong?”

The Green Party is perpetuating the claim that development beyond Auckland’s “city limits” imposes a high cost on ratepayers—ignoring the impact on affordability for new home-owners priced out of the market. Phil McDermott responds with facts.
The Answer Is Urban Consolidation – What Was The Question? – Phil McDermott, CITIES MATTER

No point propping up newsprint says Steven Joyce in Kawerau, we'll prop up biofuel instead. Nek minnit...
EU going cold on biofuels. – CATALLAXY FILES

I’m still calling for National supporters to tell me what they consider the Key Government’s greatest achievements. I really do want to know, you know.
Calling all National supporters – NOT PC

* * * * *


Near-simultaneous attacks on US embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia … all on the anniversary of 9/11, and all are “spontaneous”? Give me a  break. “There was nothing spontaneous about these attacks. They were planned.”
Come and Get It, Hillary – Edward Cline, RULE OF REASON
Muslim rioting, violence in Israel, Gaza, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Iran and Kashmir – Robert Spencer, JIHAD WATCH

The attacks “had no reference to the current film, which means that they simply searched for anything to use as an excuse.”
Arabic Sources Reveal the Truth Regarding Attacks on U.S. Embassy in Egypt – WALID SHOEBAT
The 9/11 attacks on the US embassies were not about a movie – CAROLINE GLICK

The first reaction of American political leadership? “To condemn the Christians who made the film and to reject the principles of the First Amendment.” It’s a new age of censorship (and, contrary to the link, it’s not just Obama). “The film is just a pretext, argues Robert Spencer. “This is an all-out push to intimidate the West into restricting speech so that Islam and Muslims are established as a privileged class beyond criticism.”
The Second 9/11: Today will go down in infamy as the day our government became our enemy 
Guardian calls for free speech restrictions in wake of jihad murder of U.S. ambassador – Robert Spencer, JIHAD WATCH
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asks preacher not to back anti-Muslim film – AP
UK's Channel 4 cancels Islam documentary screening after presenter threatened – DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)
The Tragedy of Alexandria’s Book Market - NERVANA
All For One – Amit Ghate, THRUTCH

“Forgive President Obama if he seemed a bit shell-shocked during his brief statement Wednesday on the murderous attack against an American consulate in Libya. In June 2009, he had grand plans for harmony between East and West. In a celebrated speech delivered in Cairo, Obama spoke earnestly about the need for the West and the Muslim world to look past old hostilities and suspicions.
And then on Tuesday night, his grand vision came crashing down.”
The second 9/11 illustrates futility of groveling for peace – Editorial, WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Deconstructing Obama’s Cairo Speech – THE DAILY BLADE (2009)

Meanwhile, “the debate over Iran's nuclear program has become so feckless -- so disconnected from reality -- that perhaps it's time to inject a dose of what those of us who served on the national security side of the Reagan administration used to call "real-world intelligence…. Of course Iran is building a nuclear bomb; the evidence is obvious and overwhelming. The only purpose of those leaked National Intelligence Estimates asserting that Iran hasn't actually made the decision to build a nuclear bomb, and of similar leaked documents from European intelligence services, is to prevent what the analysts fear would happen. They're afraid that if they officially judge Iran to be on the verge of having a nuclear bomb, political pressure for a military attack will become irresistible. They want to delay action until it's too late, so we will be left with no choice except to live with a nuclear-armed Iran.”
A Dose of Real-World Intel on Iran – Herbert Meyer, AMERICAN THINKER

“The capacity for unclouded enjoyment...does not belong to...
fools; an inviolate peace of spirit is not the achievement of a drifter.”

- Ayn Rand

The negative feedback cycle of welfare payments make it obvious that money alone is not a value: it can’t replace the spiritual value of engaging in a productive life.
The Corrupting Influence of Entitlements – Amit Ghate, THRUTCH

“What governs politics is not policy details but ‘the vision thing’–a vision of right and wrong, good and evil. It’s the morality, stupid. The Democrats seem to know that.”
Obama Hears Your Whining, And He's Here to Help You Out – Harry Binswanger, FORBES

“Steven Keen is going around the country right now explaining the many, many evils, as he see them, of standard economics. That the majority of economists don't agree with Keen will not come as any surprise to most people. One person who has done a great service in debunking Keen's ideas on Debunking Economics is Professor Christopher Auld.”
Auld keen on debunking Keen – Paul Walker, ANTI DISMAL

The Greek government may be ready to offload some of the country’s last assets.
Greece may lease some of its sovereign islands to help pay the bills – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

image“’The income of the typical U.S. family has fallen to levels last seen in 1995, a long and pernicious slide that likely means it will be a generation before Americans regain the peak income levels reached at the close of the ’90s.’ While one should always be careful using median income figures, the data is consistent with and can be best understood when combined with a capital-structure macro model of the economy.” Which is to say, not only has all that capital consumption of the last decade-and-a-half not made us any richer, but …
New Evidence Supports an Austrian Business Cycle Interpretation of 1995-2012 
– John Cochran, CIRCLE BASTIAT

Um, David Cunliffe seems to think the ministers who are driving economic and finance policies in the National Government are dyed in the wool Chicago economists. Disciples of Milton Friedman. No, he really does.
The cult of National Party economics – David Cunliffe, RED ALERT

Meanwhile, David Parker seems to think the former central bank governor Don Brash “is a Hayek disciple”—apparently unaware Hayek received his Nobel Prize for explaining how central bank meddling is the primary cause of capital consumption and the business cycle. Still, Parker also thinks Hayek was a Friedmanite on today’s central-bank monetary meddling!!-so whatever Parker learned on his world trip, it wasn’t economic history.
Meeting with Joseph Stiglitz – David Parker, RED ALERT
Hayek on the Business Cycle – Joseph Salerno, MISES INSTITUTE
John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and F.A. Hayek Compared – Jonathan Mariano, TRIPLE PUNDIT

The deficit is not not the biggest problem; the biggest problem is the spending. “Ultimately what matters for the economy is not the size of the budget deficit but the size of government outlays — the amount of resources that government diverts to its own activities.”
Is the "Fiscal Cliff" a Threat to the Economy? – Frank Shostak, MISES DAILY

The UK is the only country surveyed where more people want to increase govt spending than decrease it. But only just.


And in other news over night…

The US Federal Reserve announced that will buy $40 billion dollars of mortgages per monthindefinitely.
As Predicted, Bernanke Launches QE3 ... Which Will Destroy the Economy – “George Washington,” ZERO HEDGE

XaiUx As Predicted, Bernanke Launches QE3 ... Which Will Destroy the Economy
Image via Zero Hedge

So that’s both the US and Europe’s central banks rapidly throwing money out the window then.
Draghi Acts: Is It Inflationary? – Jeff Harding, THE DAILY CAPITALIST

Any wonder the NZ dollar just spiked above US83c?

“Few of the many analyses on Federal Reserve policy consider the psychology of diminishing political and financial returns of Fed promises.”
Psychoanalyzing The Fed – Charles High Smith, ZERO HEDGE

“Nowadays, the Fed gives banks digital transfusions of money to lower long-term interest rates, which result in … Not much bang for trillions of bucks… Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke evidently thinks that driving up the stock market will quicken the animal spirits of the affluent 20 percent who own 93 percent of equities, and this “wealth effect” will spur economic activity, eventually benefiting others. So, the interest rates Barack Obama favors are a form of the trickle-down economics he execrates.”
A different kind of inflation problem – George Will, WASHINGTON POST

“Here is how it is with Keynesian policy. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Everywhere you look, there are debt and derangement, direct consequences of the Keynesian expenditure of the past three years…
Economic theory hasn’t kept up with policy so most textbooks still peddle C+I+G and teach about the importance of aggregate demand…. It is value adding production that creates growth and employment, not increased spending on anything. Most people are too polite to say it, but macroeconomic theory is now about as flat earth as it could possibly be.”
Fool me twice, shame on me – Steven Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

Not just the last three years. The result of 99-years of Federal Reserve type playtime economics? “In the entire ‘developed’ world, there is only one country that runs a budget surplus, even as the entire ‘developed’ world is now, according to the Reinhart and Rogoff definition of sustainable public leverage, insolvent.”
99 Years Of Keynesian-Monetarist "Winning" – Tyler Durden, ZERO HEDGE

Let’s remind ourselves shall we…
The Economic Consequences of Cheap Money – Ludwig Von Mises, THE CAUSES OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS

And in case you needed explaining again how Quantitative Easing works, here’s Mr John Clark.

So, Yaron: How Would One Phase Out The Federal Reserve?

And now for something completely different…

Yes, you can help this poor Nigerian astronaut collect his $15 million in back pay.
Won’t you help a poor Nigerian astronaut who just wants to come home from space 

There can be poetry in profanity.
On cursing – Tom Jacobs, 3 QUARKS DAILY

imageGood news still happens. Let’s celebrate some of the successes of children taught in Montessori schools.
The Montessori Mafia – WALL STREET JOURNAL

Yaron Brook has a new book!  Here’s the introduction.
Introduction to  Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government 
– Yaron Brook, LAISSEZ FAIRE

Do orchestral conductors do anything useful? Science discovers the truth.
The science of conducting: Von Karajan was right – THE ECONOMIST

“As a former Waldorf class teacher, I've seen first hand how unchecked screentime from films, tv and computer games can adversely affect young children as they grow, but I also believe in doing what I can as a parent to educate and turn a potential problem into an opportunity.”
My Favorite Films for Children — Maxwell's Finds – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, APARTMENT THERAPY

“An exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program to build the world's most accurate maps.”
How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything – THE ATLANTIC


No, I’ve never procrastinated either. Ahem. Dr Diana Hsieh discusses why you find yourself washing your windows when you’re supposed to be getting that report finished. 
The Problem of Procrastination – Diana Hsieh, PHILOSOPHY RADIO [AUDIO]

In today’s world, the income of one parent in each family goes out just to pay the tax bill. And what about the cost of those kids!
Dummy's guide: the cost of raising kids – THE AGE

A sad day. The greatest fullback in the history of AFL retires.
Matthew Scarlett tribute – GEELONG CATS
Brian Cook called him "The Senator" – HERALD SUN

First Wellington, then the world!
St Kilda will host Sydney in New Zealand on Anzac Day – HERALD SUN
AFL's four points to be earned on foreign shores for first time – WORLD FOOTY NEWS

31 life skills every young man needs to know.
Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Life Skills in 31 Days – THE ART OF MANLINESS

Did you wonder how two British newspapers reported one of the biggest politically-driven cover-ups in modern British history.  I did:


It’s not the full and justifiably famous ten-minute blast from the Carnegie Hall, but with Gene Krupa, Harry James and Benny Goodman (natch) this still rocks like a bastard.

Jimmy Lunceford tries a special kind of mazurka.

Glenn Miller (in the guise of Jimmy Stewart) swings the US Army.

I have her newest album, but it hasn’t grabbed me yet. Head here to watch Amanda Palmer’s full-concert party-on-the-internet album launch to check it out yourself. And enjoy this classic, which has nothing at all to do with soccer.

[Hat tips to Edward Cline, Thrutch, Geek Press, Don Watkins, Lindsay Perigo, Marginal Revolution, Small Dead Animals, Amanda Morrall, Jeremy Vine, Faisal Islam]

Thanks for reading,
And have a great weekend.

PS: Wellington is indisputably the country’s craft-beer capital. Not least because it is the capital. So celebrate a trilogy of beer epiphanies from famous Wellington beer personalities.
Great Beer Epiphanies 3: Lester Dunn and Matt Kristofski 
Great Beer Epiphanies 2: Mike Conroy and Matt Warner
Great Beer Epiphanies 1: Michael Donaldson and Brayden Rawlinson– Neil Miller, MALTHOUSE BLOG

And the reason for one of those epiphanies:


Happy drinking!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A vile litany gains another entry in Libya [updated]

“If your religion is worth killing for, start with yourself.”
- Gerry Duggan

With yesterday’s vile atrocity in Benghazi, we can add another entry to a long list beginning more than half-a-century ago.

Each of these direct attacks on the west was met with appeasement, apology and capitulation. Each of them resulted in the (correct) assessment that the west was morally weak, that there would be no negative consequences for either perpetrators or supporter, and emboldened further escalation. By surrender, each of them invited escalation.

The invitation was enthusiastically taken up.

The attacks on September 11, 2001 and after saw the culmination of this attitude, and an outbreak of massive, violent and orchestrated attacks on civilians.

These are just a few, a very few, of the murders of innocent people perpetrated by followers of Islam.

There have been several blood-soaked new entries in recent years in this litany of Islamist-driven death and destruction.

The latest is the murder in his country’s Libyan Embassy yesterday, in other words on American soil, of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three colleagues, by a mob wielding rocket-propelled grenades—an armed calling itself the ‘Islamic Law Supporters,’ who were said to have been directed towards the Embassy by Libyan police.

Killed over what?

A satiric movie about Mohammad and the poisonous fraud of Islam that few Americans even knew about? Or was it about the death by drone of a Libyan Al-Qada leader?
Who knows? Who cares? This is Islam at its best. This is Islam and Muslims shining through. Muslims don’t need an excuse. The Koran tells them so.
Trying to sift through the multifaceted motives for the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi is as pointless as sorting through the ruins of the World Trade Center on 9/11, 2001 searching for the identities of the plane hijackers. Once it was known who supported, funded, recruited, and triggered the attacks, why waste any time trying to identify the expendable "martyrs"?
It was the ideology that launched the attacks, in 2001 and in 2012. It was the ideology that has launched such attacks ever since the plane hijackings of the 1970's. It was behind the Munich massacre and every casualty-strewn bombing and murder spree committed in the name of Islam for the last five decades…
[T]he cause was immaterial. This was just Islam doing what it does best: killing and destroying.

We are at war.

Like it or not, we, the people of the west, are at war with people—people? with inhuman savages!—who wish to see us bleed, beheaded, destroyed.

It's a different war than we're used to, an asymmetric war -- a so-called fourth-generation war -- so some folk still don't recognise we're even in a state of war (or don't want to recognise it), but the fact remains we are under sustained attack and have been for some time.
That's not scare-mongering, that's just the way it is. Like it or not, we are at war. We didn't start this war, but a litany of appeasement by those under attack has fanned its flames, encouraged the attackers and emboldened the growth of violence.
It's not caused by the war in Iraq, by an expansionist US foreign policy, by a search for new oil fields or pipe lines, any more than it is caused by the drawing of cartoons, the making of movies, or the public burning of copies of The Koran. It was started by Islamo-totalitarians who by their own admission "worship death" as we in the west worship life; who want the prosperous, freedom-loving west dead, as dead as their own dark souls; and who see the cowardly west as easy prey.

On these last point at least, they're right. We are easy prey. And there is an essential difference between the essentially individualistic, prosperous, freedom-loving civilisation of the west and the stone-age culture that has declared war on it. Said Osama bin Laden on behalf of those who declared war:

“We love death. The [west] loves life. That is the difference between us two.”

On that, we agree.

Allahu Akbar my arse.

In the name of those who do love life and who treasure the life-loving civilisation of the west, on this anniversary week of the most visible attack on the west and all it stands for we should consider all that led to it: a series of snubs, trial balloons and atrocities by Islamists and Islamist sympathisers, the tepid and pathetic response to most of which emboldened those who love death to even greater atrocities, and the supporters of the death-worshippers to even greater support, both financial and logistical.

Just as it did in the thirties, turning the cheek to violence led not to peace but greater savagery—with the savages secure in the knowledge that cheek-turning was the best the west would do. Purveyors of violence can smell fear; they can smell weakness; they smell it and they prey upon it—just as they can in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the unacknowledged sources of so much Islamic savagery; just as they can in Afghanistan where the weak-kneed “nation building” is coming to an end without any end to the savagery the Afghan mission was supposed to have wiped out; just as they have now in Benghazi where, with the revelation that Ambassador Stevens was slaughtered by the very jihadists who  had gone there to aid, in an embassy lying entirely unprotected against barbarian incursion, the failure of US foreign policy almost seems complete.

So, like cockroaches, the disciples of brutality will feed off another example of western weakness—just as they have for over fifty years, where they've had an awful lot of food to sustain them and make them stronger.

What will stop the savages? Recognition, for a start, that we have an enemy. That this enemy has a name, a specific religion, and a specific blood-soaked anti-human ideology. That this enemy has incubated this hatred of the west for centuries. That his savagery cannot be successfully resisted with appeasement, hand-holding and clumsy attempts to censor or airbrush away those who point out the truth about Islam, but only by continued resistance to the savagery of it adherents, and understanding they are emboldened by weakness to think they might succeed. Obama pledged yesterday:

We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice will be done. Make no mistake, justice will be done.

If he means it, that would be something. But meaning it, really meaning, and going through with it,needs a 180-degree U-turn.”

We have to reverse years of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Carter when it comes to the Middle East—and immediately.
    Until or unless that happens, the rising tide of Islam—a religion whose Koran actually calls for the literal genocide of non-Muslims worldwide—will continue to act as a moralistic and physical wrecking ball to civilization as we’ve known it. It's the Koran, stupid.

He, and all western leaders, must recognise that to 'respect' the religious beliefs of those who wish to kill us is suicidal nonsense.  Which is to say they will need to recognise Islam for what it is.

Which is Islam.

Which is not a religion of peace.

When it comes to the defeat of totalitarian Islam, there truly is no substitute for victory.

America successfully targeted, dismantled, and discredited a warring enemy's ideology once before. I fear however that the knowledge to do that again, to Islamism, is now long gone from the corridors of power.  But I fear too that there is no other way.

* * * *  *

Cartoon by Blunt

[Hat tips to Michael Caution, Edward Cline, Noodle Food, Bosch Fawstin, Harry Binswanger, TOS Blog, and the late John David Lewis. The opinions expressed here are, however, my own.]

imageUPDATE:  Hope?  Buzzfeed has 15 Photos Of Libyans Apologizing To Americans, (that’s one of them, on the right) about which Diana Hsieh says:

These signs make me just a tiny bit happy and hopeful. To anyone who thinks that Islam cannot fundamentally change because it's forever bound to its texts, you need to study the history of Judaism. The destruction of the second temple by Rome (after a hiccup or two) hugely transformed Judaism -- from an aggressive, fundamentalist, and political religion to a peaceful, and studious, and accommodating one. That was a win for civilization... and particularly for Jews. (Alas, the Christians were not as civilized as they could and should have been in response.)