Friday, 6 December 2013

Friday Morning Ramble: The ‘Demeaning Power of PISA’ edition [updated]

UPDATE:  “When it comes to national leadership at a time of fragility and transition, so much seems to depend on the luck of the draw. Will a country find itself with a Milošević or a Mugabe; an Atatürk or an Arafat; a Rabin who can see and seize the moment, and change course, or someone who never will?
    “South Africa was lucky – almost miraculously so – to have had Nelson Mandela. His memory will be cherished for as long as history continues to be written…”
 Mandela for the Ages – former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, PROJECT SYNDICATE


This week’s 2012 PISA results should, and did, send shockwaves around the country.
New Zealand’s PISA shock – Rose Patterson, NZ INITIATIVE

“But Pisa is not really about raising the standards of education; it is about raising the standards of training… To question the role of Pisa [however] is not to call for complacency about the challenges facing schools in Anglo-American societies. There are some very important problems facing educationalists.”
Pisa: Top of the Class for Dumbing Down – SPIKED
Cue Card Libertarianism: Education – NOT PC

Nick Smith hands over a further $31 million simply to “bring 500 houses to the market earlier.” That’s $62,000 taxpayers’ money per house to make them “affordable” for buyers. Call it the “Holden solution.”  Because that worked so well for affordable cars.
Housing Minister announces further $31 mln to allow faster progress on 3000-house Auckland development – INTEREST.CO.NZ
"The Shape of Affordability in the Modern City" – NOT PC
Holden reveals billions in subsidies – ABC, April 2013
Holden delivers subsidy ultimatum – BUSINESS SPECTATOR

“The Constitutional Review Panel has delivered its final report to the Government and its main recommendation is that the "conversation" about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements continue.”
Support for republic weak: report – Audrey Young, NZ HERALD
Constitutional Recommendations – David Farrar, KIWIBLOG

Yah, boo, sucks, says commentator. In your face, say respondents.
Constitution, reviewed – Steven Price, MEDIA LAW JOURNAL
Greater privileges for Maori still on the agenda – Tom Johnson, YAHOO NEWS

“The report of the government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel, released yesterday, merely replaces instant execution with death by a thousand cuts…”
Constitution report death by a thousand cuts – David Round, SCOOP

ACT is in search of a new leader. The “liberal right” may also be in search of a new party. Eric Crampton has a theory.
Party time – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

So, good news then.
Kiwi women drinking more heavily, more often – NEWSTALK ZB

Really? So where’s Quiet Earth then?
The best New Zealand movies ever made – NZ On Screen, STUFF

You really want government managing your stuff? Not even with PPPs. “People often lament the waste, corruption, and downright absurdities of government enterprises, wondering why they can’t be ‘run like a business.’ Yet economic theory shows that this is no mere accident.” Take the roads, for example…
Why Government Doesn't—and Can't—Manage Resources Like a Private Business – Robert Murphy, ECON LOG

“We have the best government that money can buy.”
– Mark Twain

Amazon Drone. Possible or not?
A Drone Delivery Expert Answers the Big Questions About Amazon's Plans – ATLANTIC
Amazon Promises Package Delivery By Drone: Is It for Real? -  IEEE SPECTRUM

So there’s growth in one part of America, anyway.
Washington’s Battle of the Skyline – Ethan Epstein, CITY JOURNAL

“Ukraine has every reason to turn its back on a Russia that still celebrates, rather than confronts its Soviet past.” – Liberty Scott 
The Political Famine of 1932-1933" – GNOSTIC LIBERATION FRONT

This is what Cronyism looks like, Example #345,6768,956.
General Electric’s Crony Capitalism – Hunter Lewis, MISES DAILY

“One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that "bubbles look like this" … But you don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening.  It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain.”
15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble – Michael Snyder, ECONOMIC COLLAPSE

It is ruinously difficult to start new industrial projects because of anti-industrial, “green” policies. So why do so few industrialists, and those who industry keeps alive, bother to speak up for themselves?
The Industrial Manifesto  - Alex Epstein, CENTER FOR INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS

“Within a recent discussion of the superior ability of capitalism to improve the general welfare, John Stossel describes an amusing encounter…”
Altruism vs. Philanthropy – GUS VAN HORN

“A lot of people don’t think about the connection from liberty to experimentation to thriving, and default to expecting ‘the government’ to solve collective problems. In general, people pay too much attention to politics.”
“That—that—is what we are for: voluntary associations, in all their richness and bewildering complexity” – Lynne Kiesling, KNOWLEDGE PROBLEM

Reason #117 for the disappearance of genius under dictatorship: “Ruling a herd of mediocrities is much easier than ruling independent individuals.”
The genius cog in the system – STEPHEN HICKS 

“Want to see: a Christmas episode where someone learns
the true meaning of Christmas episodes.”

- Jaime J. Weinman

Hayek on Keynes: “brilliant and creative, but ignorant of economics literature.”
Hayek on Keynes’s ignorance of economics – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

What’s the key function of banks? Money creation.
Fractional Reserve Banking: How to Create and Destroy Money – Matthew Kerkhoff, FINANCIAL SENSE

The Welfare State couldn’t live without it. But the Welfare State is a "new road to serfdom" from which escape will be increasingly difficult if we do not do all that we can to stop it.
The Menace and Immorality of the Welfare State – Richard Ebeling, EPIC TIMES

If wealth is being destroyed, how come we’re not seeing it?
Today’s wealth destruction is hidden by government debt – Philip Bagus, COBDEN CENTRE

You say you want a revolution? You first, says Simon Cowell.
Simon Cowell tells Russell Brand to give up his pay – NEWSTALK ZB

Challenge yourself this weekend…
Topics in Intellectual Property: The Computer and Biotech Revolutions (MP3 download) – Adam Mossoff, ARI E-STORE
Why Should Business Leaders Care about Intellectual Property?—Ayn Rand’s Radical Argument – Adam Mossoff,

From the creative minds of those who produced the Hayek v Keynes rap. Are you ready to Deck the Halls With Macro Follies? (“To help appreciate the video, here are a few bits of background to catch the full flavour of just how beautifully done it is.”

Great news. “The CDM is one of the only truly global carbon markets.” Bad news. “Each CDM was worth 20 euros in 2008. Now they are selling for 50c.” Tell Nick Smith.
UN $315 billion CDM carbon market comatose after Warsaw. It may last years – JO NOVA

You say we should embrace the theory of global warming because of scientific “consensus”?  Then this could be awkward.
Scientists increasingly moving to global cooling consensus – Jack Minor, U.S. FINANCE POST

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to destroy 6 tons of confiscated ivory. Upping the price for ivory, and  incentivising ivory hunters to hunt for more. [I just said “incentivising.” Ouch!]
 Does destroying ivory really save elephants?  - Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, PERC

“Dear NASA, President Kennedy just wasn't that into you.”

Great buildings made some great movies, now commemorated in great poster art… [a point to the first reader to identify this house. No cheating now]


“Researchers say the average woman speaks 20,000 words a day, and the average man speaks 7,000.” I just pass on the news without comment.
The talkative sex – STEPHEN HICKS

Meanwhile, “the American English speech variant known as uptalk, or ‘Valley Girl speak’ – marked by a rise in pitch at the ends of sentences – is typically associated with young southern Californian females.” Until now. Thank you Frank Zappa.
'Valley girl speak' extending to males – SCIENCE DAILY

OAD_issue1_coverI’m starting to wonder now how mine looked when I was a kid. ( I did ask for a trumpet once, I recall.)
My Kid's Insane Christmas Wish List, Annotated – Drew Magary, DEADSPIN

If you’re anything like me, this will just the job for your Xmas stocking.
Introducing The Organic Architecture + Design Archives – PRAIRIE MOD

Don’t run. Life’s worth it. (Remember what happened to the world’s first marathon runner!)
Why You Should Think Twice About Running That Marathon: A Cardiologist Explains – Dr Joel Kahn, MIND BODY GREEN

What tattoos might look like if they were honest
If Tattoos Actually Told the Truth – CRACKED

How technology helps everybody.  Example #1,657, 356.
Sign-Language Ring, Bracelet Translates Hand Movements Into Spoken Language – ECOUTERRE

No-one does snark like a music reviewer reviewing the book he was denied the invitation to write.
Cape Reinha with ice axes – William Dart, LANDFALL REVIEW

Like Irish yachting commentary…

There’s too much liking going on at Facebook. Let’s remedy that.
How To Find Out If Your Facebook Friends Hate You

More from the FFS Files.
NYC Health Commissioner Says E-Cigarettes Must Be Banned Because They Look Like the Real Thing – Jacob Sullum, HIT & RUN

Your cat recognises your voice. It just doesn’t give a shit.
Cats recognise their owners' voices but never evolved to care, says study – INDEPENDENT

Just in time for Christmas.
10 Always Entertaining Party Games – APARTMENT THERAPY

The law every student should learn.
Benford's Law And The Art of Succeeding in Multiple Choice Tests – M.I.T. TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

Nagging, insistent, and now stuck in my head. Thank you Messrs Shelley & Devoto.

Robert Fripp and Barry Andrews do disco.

Lanza drinks.

The Vagabond King: Drinking Song by Mario Lanza on Grooveshark

Perlman meditates.

[Hat tips Geek Press, Catotheyounger, NZ On Screen, Libertyscott UK, Eduardo Stordeur, Taylor Davidson]

Thanks for reading,
And have a great weekend!
See you tonight at One Man Bannister (and watch out for live blogging on Sunday of two bold new beers from a brash new craft brewery…)


  1. If you are going to get stuck into the Holden car manufacturer for receiving government subsidies you ought to be consistent and mention how it is that the entire Australian superannuation "industry" receives subsidy for example; even more important and unlike Holden which is tax recovery, this really is a total subsidy. It is likely you had no idea about this though. You ought to. It is of far larger magnitude and greater import than the car industry by a considerable margin. Actually the Australian super game is in deadly trouble (like your own Kiwi Saver is- watch out because they are going to make that one compulsory to try and save it!). The contributors are going to get fleeced. For a while they'll think they are OK as the government pours in the cash to keep it all going, but in the end the whole sector is a non-productive Ponzi pyramid scheme and contributors get done. There will be absolutely nothing to show for it either, not even one built car or house or anything else. Back at Holden cars; what they are engaged in is tax and impost recovery. They manage to get a portion of the revenues stolen by government returned. What the demise of Ford and others has demonstrated is that the weight of government is too great for manufacturers to hang on indefinitely, as things are presently. The car making business is one of the most competitive in the planet. Even those who are held to be most successful at it find it necessary to get in bed with their own governments and others to ensure they can continue. But you didn't know that either. You should. Check out Toyota, VAG, Daimler Benz AG and so on. For any of them to continue with manufacturing anywhere on the planet they must work to make sure government taxes, regulations and imposts of various types are minimised or the losses are recovered by what you would identify as "subsidy". Remember this, Australian car and car component exports are generating over $3 billion AUD every year, the majority of it Holden or Holden related. In 12 years the Holden cars people managed to claw back from government nearly $2 billion in taxes paid and various imposts levvied. So what? Good on them. They alone have been fleeced for way more than this amount. I'll put on my prediction hat on now. Here is what is likely to be going to happen. The government is going to keep screwing Holden and Toyota. They will eventually cause shut down of manufacturing operations in Australia. The effects will include tens of thousands of people out of work with the majority unable to find anything for years to come if ever. Then also comes more trouble. The upstream suppliers and downstream services downsize and collapse. Put that figure in the hundreds of thousands of people wiped out. The trouble with the entire situation is that economics theorists, business critics, political pundits and the rest of the twitterati blow-arse on about "subsidy" without any familiarity with what is going on and they miss the main problem- the nature of government. It is to be hoped to that they'll be honest enough to notice the destruction of lives their ignorance contributed directly towards.


  2. Peter

    Not justifing cronyism. That is not what this is about. What you are seeing is the destruction of the productive sector in Australia by government. The car companies here have managed to survive for a while by seeking return of lost monies by a robbed-revenue recovery scheme. Even with that they are unable to support the weight of the burdens placed on them. So now comes some hurt.

    Meantime it is astonishing that the Ponzis run on and on without comment. They truely are getting subsidy. In their case the subsidy is to keep them around long enought that the insiders get clean away scot free. It is the same way that these things happen at home. Only there most people don't realise any better. What is the excuse for NZ Kiwis?



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