Monday, 5 October 2015

Oregon shooting: The root cause

The step-sister of Oregon’s mass-murderer said the shooting didn’t make sense. “All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy,” she told KCBS-TV. This is key to understanding the crime’s root cause, suggests Dr Michael Hurd:

“All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy,” she told KCBS-TV.
    [The murderer]’s step-sister (like most people) thinks self-sacrifice is a virtue. But when you have no rational concern for your own interests, you don’t have much of a life, you possess no self-esteem, and you have nothing much to live for; mix those qualities with a tendency and fascination for violence, and you’ve got a recipe for tragedy...
    ...Another of [the murderer]'s blog articles reportedly lamented materialism as preventing spiritual development. He probably did not like capitalism, since he condemned materialism. People who detest capitalism tend to detest America most of all. They see millions of others having a reasonably good time in a cultural and economic environment they consider rotten to the core. In some, the festering hatred turns to violence, but the hatred towards America (by Americans, especially younger ones) is probably more widespread than most of us realise.
    Anti-materialism, anti-capitalism. Anti-individualism. These are the dominant themes of many public schools and certainly most of academia, with regard to philosophy, culture, social/behavioural science and the humanities. Could these ideas be toxic and unhealthy? Not as an excuse for violence, but as an explanation for mental unhealthiness which only varies in degree from one young person to another, unless they reject those ideas?
    ...Again and again, these shooters are young men who seek out educational settings. It’s almost as if they’re trying to tell us something, in a dark and twisted way: “The ideas you’re teaching us are wrong, toxic, silly and unfounded. See what you’ve created?”

Read the whole article: Whatever Happened to the Search for “Root Causes” of Crime?, Dr Michael Hurd.

RELATED POST: The Arrogant Ignorance of Supporting Gun Control, Dr Michael Hurd (2013):

The arguments for gun control or gun confiscation basically boil down to this: “If guns were illegal, they would not be available. If they weren’t available, people like that crazy killer in [fill-in-the-blank-with-location-of-latest-shooting-here] would not be able to use them.”
    This assumes that a crazy psychopathic killer, hell-bent on murder, would let an obstacle like finding a gun legally stop him. This is absurd…
    The people who claim that violence can be controlled by outlawing guns show how little they understand about the nature of criminals and criminal psychology.
    I suppose this is why the self-same people who favour gun confiscation are the very same ones who plead for all manner of excuses for criminal behaviour. They tend to be the same type of people who feel that everything and everyone is responsible for criminal behaviour, other than the criminal himself.
They can’t understand, or perhaps don’t want to understand or come to grips with, the psychology of evil. It’s admittedly disturbing to try and do so. But this is no excuse for eliminating the right of the nonviolent, noncriminal majority to protect themselves from violence by making it harder or impossible for them to purchase weapons for self-defence.

Made from oil

Just a small fraction of the many things you probably take for granted …

Here’s just a partial list, 144 from over 6000 everyday products, that you probably didn’t know were made from oil …

[Pic by Calgary Herald]

No, Sweden Doesn't Have it Figured Out (with Johan Norberg)

Guest post: Tom Woods interviews Johan Norberg

imageBernie Sanders,” Tom Woods writes, “United States senator from Vermont and self-described socialist, has surprised everyone with the vigour of his 2016 presidential campaign, both in terms of size of his crowds and the strength of his fundraising.
    “His message, on the other hand, is garden-variety leftism, particularly in economics, where he speaks as if the private sector can be ceaselessly burdened with no ill effects on anyone, except a bunch of greedy fat cats who deserve what they get.”
     One of the garden-variety myths the moron is peddling is about Sweden and the alleged success of their brand of welfare-state socialism. As Scott Sumner
points out:

The heart of the Democratic Party is now with Bernie Sanders, whatever the polls show. And let’s not have anyone accuse me of McCarthyism, he calls himself a “socialist.” When asked, the head of the Democratic Party couldn’t think of a single difference between socialists and Democrats. And please don’t insult my intelligence by talking about Sweden. Sweden is not a socialist country. Venezuela is socialist. When Sanders starts advocating free trade and investment, liberal immigration rules, privatization, zero inheritance tax, 100% nationwide school vouchers, a $0/hour minimum wage rate, then come back to me with your Sweden talk. For now, he just wants the bad parts of Sweden.

In the first chapter of his latest book Bernie Sanders is Wrong, [which he’s made available for free download]Tom Woods asks Swedish author, lecturer and documentary film-maker Johan Norberg about the truth behind what everyone hears about Sweden …

WOODS: Sweden comes up with surprising regularity in the United States, and it comes up not because people have some interest in Swedish history and culture, I’m sorry to say.

It’s because they want to use Sweden as an ideological bludgeon with which to beat people who are skeptical of state power. So I want to talk to you, as somebody who was born in Sweden, who is speaking to us from Sweden right now, and who is very knowledgeable about Sweden, to help clear this up for an American audience.

Are Swedes aware that their society is held up as a model for how political organization and the economy ought to be arranged?

NORBERG: I think we are aware of that. We have noticed throughout the years that people actually tend to like Sweden for some reason, perhaps because we’re kind of small and insignificant, and we’re not very threatening. So people tend to think of Sweden as a nice, decent place, peaceful. We don’t bother people.

And then they tend to like different aspects of what they see. I think of Sweden as a kind of Rorschach test, a kind of psychological test where you have some ink which doesn’t portray a particular picture or anything, but you see what you like to see.

You see what you think about in the back of your mind and in your subconscious. So some people see this as a nice, open economy – a globalized, free-trade economy. Others look at the government and think, oh, it’s the perfect, big government, socialist country. And others see other things. It could be free love or the pop music. People tend to like Sweden. That’s something we’re very aware of.

imageWOODS: You have an article alleging that Sweden actually succeeded economically not because of welfare state spending and government intervention, but both in spite of those things and prior to those things. So can we go back and look at the history of Sweden?

When do we begin to see robust economic growth, and what was the role of the state at that time?

NORBERG: When you start to think of when Sweden was really a successful economy that the rest of the world looked at, you begin to notice Sweden in the 1950s, ’60s. In 1970, Sweden is one of the richest countries on the planet. I think the per-capita income is the fourth most prosperous on the planet, and that’s after a 100-year period of rapid economic growth – one of the fastest in the world.

Probably only Japan beat us during those years. So you would have to say that this starts sometime in the 1870s, which is interesting, because at that time Sweden had gone through a liberalisation and deregulation process.

Between 1840 and 1870, we had a major political movement of classical liberalism, of a laissez-faire liberal attitude where they wanted to reduce government to open up to free trade, deregulating industry and so on.

And it’s sort of a funny anecdote: the minister of finance, who was one of the pioneers of these reforms, left in the mid-1860s after having really liberalised and opened Sweden up, and his opponents said, oh, now you’re leaving because you don’t want to see the failures that you brought upon us and the problems that Sweden will experience after these reforms.

imageBut what happened was that growth really took hold. If you want to look at one particular set of numbers, between 1860 and 1910, right before the First World War, real wages in Sweden increased by 25 percent per decade in manufacturing. That’s much faster than before and much faster than afterwards -- which is interesting, because that’s 20 years before the Social Democrats ever got power in Sweden.

So the real boom happened during this laissez-faire period. Public spending was still below 10 percent, and Sweden was one of the most open economies in the world.

WOODS: This seems to be a common feature of a lot of left-wing commentary. They’ll look at a snapshot of a society in a particular year without looking at the video, so to speak, of that society. What had been going on prior to that snapshot?

We see this in the debates over the regulatory state in the U.S., for example. We’ll look at a regulatory agency, and we’ll see that after they created it, the result was that – for example – there were fewer workplace fatalities. What they don’t ask is: what was the already existing trend in workplace fatalities before we got this agency? And it turns out that workplace fatalities were already falling dramatically! Likewise, in the story of Sweden, we don’t get what you just told us about the growth in wage rates before all the interventions came, but that’s three-quarters of the story!

NORBERG: Exactly. That’s an incredibly important point. A lot of people look at Sweden and say – and especially, they used to do that when we were at the peak of the big government and the welfare state in the 1980s – look, Sweden is very prosperous, and at the same time, taxes and spends heavily. It’s a very almost socialist economy, and yet they are rich. Why is that? Well, it reminds you of the old joke: how do you get a small fortune?

Well, you start with a big one, and then you make a couple of mistakes, and then you end up with a small fortune. We had this tremendous growth during the years when Sweden had the most open economy and the smallest government. Even when the Social Democrats began to get power in the 1930s, they understood this economic model, and they didn’t want to interfere too much. They were actually heavily influenced by a couple of famous classical liberal economists.

[TW note: “Classical liberalism” refers to 19th-century liberalism, which was much closer to modern libertarianism than it was to modern American liberalism.]

imageSo most of the time, they were open for business and chose free trade. As late as the early 1950s, Sweden had lower taxes and less public spending than in the United States and the rest of Europe, and that gives you a perspective on why this happened. You built this big fortune under these circumstances.

In early 1970, Sweden was one of the richest countries, and then the Social Democrats began to hike public spending, increase taxes, and so on, but they could do that only because we already had that wealth because of this free-market period -- and also, obviously, because Sweden had stayed out of two world wars. That meant that our industry was intact, we exported to both sides, and the young men of the country were still alive and able.

WOODS: I think a skeptic might come back at you and say, if Sweden really had been doing that well, then how could the arguments for the welfare state have gotten any traction?

NORBERG: Yeah, and that is a good question. It’s one that both historians and economists think about quite a lot when that happens, but actually, it follows a fairly normal pattern in most countries around the world.

You get rich, and then you begin to take that wealth for granted. He who has satisfied his thirst turns his back on the well in a way. You begin to take it for granted. You don’t think of the preconditions for creating more wealth, building these new businesses, and the kind of fierce competition and openness that it takes.

So instead, you begin to demand all of it at once. You begin to build these pressure groups who want more access to this wealth and more evenly distributed wealth. And that’s, I think, what began to happen in the 1970s. We were so rich so that we thought that we couldn’t make any mistakes anymore.

We could throw out the economics textbooks, and we could begin to think of other things, like a fairer distribution of wealth, how to make sure that everybody got a piece of the action.

imageWOODS: And that is one of the arguments that is made by American progressives today. They will say: whatever else you can say about Sweden, it has more economic equality than we see in the United States.

NORBERG: And that is true, partly because of more redistribution. But also, even here you need some historical perspective to understand where we’re coming from. Sweden had a fairly equal distribution compared to many other countries during this openness period as well, partly because it’s a very small country -- even today just 10 million inhabitants -- and a homogenous country, which meant that there weren’t these huge diversities when it came to wealth. Sweden didn’t even have a feudal period like the other European countries.

So we were all, in a way, property-owning farmers when we started out. So we had a history of more equality, more trust, societal trust, between people. This social trust, though, also made it easier for people to accept bigger government. Because when that happened in other places, people were very suspicious: what happens when they take our money away? Will they just divert it to their own use?

Will it be inefficient? Will it be bureaucratic? Well, Sweden has always had in a way a fairly efficient and non-corrupt public sector and civil servants. And a lot of trust: you don’t think of the government historically as someone who is there to loot and take it all away from you. They’re more like your neighbours, in a way.

So you trust them, and then you trust them a bit too much. And of course, all power corrupts in some way. And that’s what happened during these years, when the government grew rapidly in the 1970s and the 1980s and public spending actually doubled in just two decades, from 30 percent to 60 percent. That was really the start of the welfare state in Sweden.

Click here to download your FREE copy and keep reading…

Johan Norberg -- a native of Sweden, a classical liberal and a globalist -- is an author, lecturer, and documentary filmmaker.  Visit his website at
This post first appeared at Laissez Faire Books.

England’s options


After England’s embarrassing exit from their own Rugby World Cup tournament even before the knockout stages have started – did we mention they’ve had their worst tournament in a history of bad tournaments – “a catastrophe for country and RWC” says the hyperbolic UK press – the Telegraph suggests teams England supporters could get behind now their own sub-standard team has been dumped. Because, frankly, all the other options are going to give a fan much more fun.

Prospects include the French, who’ve had to endure Croydon; the Japanese, whose joyous giant-killing has already installed them as most fan’s second-favourite; and the Scottish, because “English and Scottish fans have a long history of friendly co-operation.” Oh, and of course New Zealand, if “my friend, you are a glory-hunter.” Like these young ladies…


[Pics by Telegraph]

UPDATE: Wanted …


Quote of the Day: On Europe’s alleged no-go zones

“I had an opportunity today to travel at length to several banlieues (suburbs) around Paris, including Sarcelles, Val d'Oise, and Seine Saint Denis. This comes on the heels of having visited over the years the predominantly immigrant (and Muslim) areas of Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, Berlin, and Athens.
    “A couple of observations:
    “For a visiting American, these areas are very mild, even dull. We who know the Bronx and Detroit expect urban hell in Europe too, but there things look fine. The immigrant areas are hardly beautiful, but buildings are intact, greenery abounds, and order prevails.
    “These are not full-fledged no-go zones but, as the French nomenclature accurately indicates, "sensitive urban zones" [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]. In normal times, they are unthreatening, routine places. But they do unpredictably erupt, with car burnings, attacks on representatives of the state (including police), and riots.
    “Having this first-hand experience, I regret having called these areas no-go zones.

~ writer on Middle Eastern affairs Daniel Pipes, whose website first used the term “no-go zones,” and who originally blogged about Zones Urbaines Sensibles back in 2006 and then revised his viewpoint after seeing some of them first-hand in 2013.
From the SNOPES’ post: ‘Caliph-ain't’ debunking the trope of so-called ‘no-go zones.’

‘The Soldier of Marathon Announcing the Victory,’ by Jean-Pierre Cortot

5531_1134311232211_1060216879_30323582_8045715_nYou all know the  story, or should do.

This is Cortot’s evocative depiction of the moment when the soldier, Pheidippides, arrives in Athens having ‘run his last race’—bearing the news as he expires that Greece has triumphed over the invading Persian army.  Browning immortalised the story in verse.


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday Quote of the Day: Religion & philosophy

Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by aesthetics.
It is not a question of whether man chooses to be guided by a comprehensive view: he is not equipped to survive without it. The nature of his consciousness does not permit him an animal's percept-guided, range-of-the-moment form of existence. No matter how primitive his actions, he needs to project them into the future and to weigh their consequences; this requires a conceptual process, and a conceptual process cannot take place in a vacuum: it requires a context. Man's choice is not whether he needs a comprehensive view of life, but only whether his view is true or false. If it is false, it leads him to act as his own destroyer.
    “In the early stages of mankind's development, that view was provided by religion, i.e., by mystic fantasy. Man's psycho-epistemological need is the reason why even the most primitively savage tribes always clung to some form of religious belief; the mystic (i.e., anti-reality) nature of their view was the cause of mankind's incalculably long stagnation.
    “Man came into his own in Greece, some two-and-a-half thousand years ago. The birth of philosophy marked his adulthood; not the content of any particular system of philosophy, but deeper: the concept of philosophy—the realization that a comprehensive view of existence is to be reached by man's mind.
    “Philosophy is the goal toward which religion was only a helplessly blind groping. The grandeur, the reverence, the exalted purity, the austere dedication to the pursuit of truth, which are commonly associated with religion, should properly belong to the field of philosophy. Aristotle lived up to it and, in part, so did Plato, Aquinas, Spinoza—but how many others? It is earlier than we think…
    “The task of philosophy requires the total best of a mind's capacity; the responsibility is commensurate. Most men are unable to form a comprehensive view of life: some, because their ability is devoted to other professions; a great many, because they lack the ability. But all need that view and, consciously or subconsciously, directly or indirectly, they accept what philosophy offers them.”
                      ~ Ayn Rand, from "The Chicken's Homecoming" in The Anti-Industrial Revolution 
                                         [hat tip Anoop Verma]

Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday Morning Ramble, 2.10.15

Auckland drivers shut out by new builds, new council projects. Drivers can get stuffed, says council.
Aucklanders told to ditch cars as huge CBD build nears – STUFF

“’But I believe being a Maori in Enzed is a more negative experience. All that compulsion to live by the myth of whanau, hapu and iwi. Ask many Maori who have moved to Australia; they'll tell you living as an individual is infinitely better. If I was a benign dictator I'd pack every Maori off out of the country so they could realise what a wonderful thing it can be to be Maori and Kiwi and individualistic at the same time. Many of our Maori leaders have to invest in this potential and step away from the Champagne tap.’”
Alan Duff rides again – LINDSAY MITCHELL

“It looks like New Zealand's version of three-strikes for criminal offending is working. Here's Graeme Edgeler's analysis…”
3 Strikes – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR 

“The rest of the world seems to be trying to ignore it, but slowly and surely the United States of America, until recently leading the charge in the war on drugs, is legalising marijuana possession. Twenty states, from Alaska to Vermont, have already decriminalised adult cultivation and use of cannabis.
    “If Kaikohe businesswoman, community leader and mother Kelly van Gaalen knows about this, I'm sure she would have had a wry chuckle to herself about the irony of it all as she was taken away to begin her two-year sentence for possession of cannabis for supply...
    “Meanwhile, back in the US, guess what hasn't fallen in? That's right - the sky.”
Our weed ban is simply dopey – Paul Little, NZ HERALD

“Is Council’s position really that pool owners should have fewer rights than criminals?”
Swim – Eric Crampton, THE SAND PIT

“Those damn Chinese. Coming over here. Taking our jobs. Driving up house prices. And... you know... donating $10 million to cancer research!”
$10 million gift for cancer research in Auckland – AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY

“Recent data prompt economists to warn Australia may be ripe for first recession in 24 years.”
Is Australia Sliding Into Recession? – WSJ

“The early weeks of a world cup are like a Monkees album. There’s some classics all right, but plenty of filler too. Before it gets better, here’s what’s happened in the first fortnight… The hosts were as tentative as an Englishman trying to get a French waiters’ attention … and South Africa looked as organised as Alan Donald running a quick single.”
Rugby’s coming home, and potentially leaving again quite quickly - SPORTREVIEW.NET.NZ

“An error in the promotional materials means the All Blacks will have to perform a haiku before each of their remaining matches in the Rugby World Cup. Cup organisers apologised for the mix-up, but said consumer protection rules meant their hands were tied.”
Typing error means All Blacks will perform pre-game haiku – EVENING HAROLD

Immigrants breeding more kids who will soon take over the country!!!! Well, not in Sweden at least.
Childbearing among foreign born – before and after migration to Sweden – SCB STATISTICS SWEDEN

Top country of origin by state and year.” And now, with interactive map!
From Ireland to Germany to Italy to Mexico: How America’s Source of Immigrants Has Changed in the States, 1850 – 2013 - PEW RESEARCH CENTER

He’s wet, he’s not funny, but with “millions of migrants seeking asylum in Europe face hostility, racism, and red tape. John Oliver does one admittedly tiny thing for one of them.”
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Migrants and Refugees – DAILY MOTION


West Berlin policemen and East German soldiers face each other after a young girl made it across the border, 1955. By conservative logic, she should've been forced back to East Germany because she could've been a communist…

Humans without borders …

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“Irrational regulation and green posturing are the real causes of the Volkswagen debacle.”
VW: a panto of green politics - Paul Seaman and James Woudhuysen, SPIKED

Fake markets are easy to scam, because no one really wants or cares about “the product”.
“Green” cars cause real pollution, and now scamming fuel economy too. Half the CO2 “cuts” are imaginary. – JO NOVA

“The Turing Pharmaceuticals scandal tells us very little about capitalism, but it does tell us a lot about the perverse incentives that regulation can create.”
Bad Regulations Create Inequality, Hurt the Poor, and Reward Unethical Business – Will Wilkinson, ANYTHING PEACEFUL

“Ann Coulter, twit.”
She Said What? – P.J. O’Rourke, WEEKLY STANDARD

“One of America's greatest novelists predicted Trump 80 years ago .”
It really can happen here: The novel that foreshadowed Donald Trump’s authoritarian appeal – Malcolm Harris, SALON

"It is the power of the human mind, especially in science and engineering, that has brought about the benefits of our modern world. Yet where are the parades, the speeches before Congress, and the celebrations that recognize the sources of such benefits and encourage reason and achievement as foundational values in our culture? Why do so many seek hope in faith and otherworldly miracles when real achievements—“miracles” of the human mind—are all around us? Why do so few understand that training minds and encouraging entrepreneurship is the best way to ensure a healthy, prosperous future? With all the enthusiasm we see for the Pope, where is the enthusiasm for the actual creators and achievers in our world?"
Pope Francis vs. the Cure of Reason – Ed Hudgins, SOLO

“Few Latin Americans have enjoyed the economic freedom that Pope Francis prefers to denounce.”
Show Me the Way to Poverty – Dylan Pahman, OIKONOMIA

“The power of market transactions makes all the difference in lifting people out of poverty.”
Putting a human face on economic freedom in South Africa – ATLAS NETWORK

"There is increasing speculation that Uber’s long-anticipated initial public offering could be valued at $100 billion, a value that has been created by undercutting the prices of traditional taxis and offering more and better service. If that’s how much wealth can be generated just by rediscovering the laws of economics in this one narrow area, think what could be accomplished if we do it for the economy as a whole.”
The Free Market: It's Like Uber, But for Everything – Robert Tracincski, THE FEDERALIST

“Barriers like these make it harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs, particularly minorities, those of lesser means and those with less education.”
License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing – I.J.

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Yes, this is what history demonstrates.
Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data – GUARDIAN

All too frequently forgotten.
The Human Cost of Socialism – Richard Ebeling, GUS VAN HORN

““Many people, without thinking about it, like the corporate tax because they think it is a tax on greedy billionaires. In fact, the corporate tax is paid by consumers in the form of higher prices and by workers in the form of lower wages and fewer jobs. It results in less investment in new plants and equipment and fewer new goods and services — which is why most tax economists view it as a bad tax. Investors are also hit by the corporate tax, but they have many options, including investing elsewhere or just consuming their savings, which hurts economic growth and future job creation.”
Global Tax Bullies – Richard Rahn, CATO

F. A. Hayek and the peculiar problem connected with what we call capital…
Pure Theory of Capital (excerpt) – F.A. Hayek, GOOGLE BOOKS

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Human Progress – Marian Tupy, CATO

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“My love of fossil fuels comes from a very deep love of human achievement and human life.” Alex Epstein talks to Stefan Molyneux:

“For the true believer, it is too awful to even consider that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology could be exaggerating global warming by adjusting figures. This doesn't mean though, that it's not true.”
You don't know the half of it: temperature adjustments and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology – Jennifer Marohasy

"The science is in…"
Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat – James Taylor, FORBES

“Paul Ehrlich’s apocalyptic rhetoric was dealt a crushing blow by economist Julian Simon who argued that humans are not only mouths to feed, but also hands to work and brains to think up new solutions. Prior to the emergence of humanity, Simon and others had long pointed out, the Earth was replete with fertile soils and hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, but there were no resources. It was human action that turned otherwise useless physical stuff into valuable things, a process that could go on forever as it was ultimately powered by the always renewable and expanding human intellect. Creative and entrepreneurial populations could thus grow almost indefinitely as, building on past advances to which they added new ideas, they would find ever better ways to feed themselves and improve overall standards of living. Any notion of natural limits or “carrying capacity” was therefore nonsensical.”
No limits to growth – Pierre Desrochers & Vincent Geloso, FINANCIAL POST

"... what if there were a dataset of temperature that was so well done, so scientifically accurate, and so completely free of bias that by its design, there would never be any need nor justification for any adjustments to the data?
Such a temperature record exists, it is called the U.S. Climate Reference Network, (USCRN) and it is also operated by NOAA/NCDC’s (NCEI) head administrator.
”But while publicly accessible, this data is never promoted by NOAA or any other government organization, never mind the IPCC.
All datasets used to "prove" man-made global warming ignore this data completely and 99% of the data they are based on have been "adjusted" and "homogenised" repeatedly, each adjustment further showing increased warming trend.”

Hank Rearden is Korean. His name is Hansoo Kim.
Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium – POPULAR MECHANICS

“With a troubled past, Cambodia’s bustling capital is today a naturally occurring marvel.”
Phnom Penh, City Interrupted – Kris Hartley, THE DIPLOMAT

On its face, sounds worryingly like Conrad Black's disgraceful love note to FDR. Review however suggests this book has real meat.
Niall Ferguson’s ‘Kissinger. Volume I. 1923-1968: The Ideal­ist’ – NEW YORK TIMES

“This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the publication of the Danish cartoons that sparked a crisis and a discussion on the importance of free speech. ARI champions the unconditional right to the freedom of speech. Read more about this crucial right …”
Freedom of Speech: We Will Not Cower – Onkhar Ghate, VOICES FOR REASON

“Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders.”
The evil empire of Saudi Arabia is the West’s real enemy – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, INDEPENDENT (UK)

“At the United Nations two days ago, Obama said waging war against such terrorist groups won’t accomplish anything. “Ideologies are not defeated with guns,” Obama told UN delegates. “They are defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision.” What happens if the ideology is openly and consistently committed to violent actions against others who do not agree?”
Peace Through Weakness Will Never Work – Michael Hurd, DR HURD.COM

“Dear anarchists,
Please stop asking me to go the Mises Institute to learn about anarchism.
Justin Templer”

image“The driving force of the market is not material; it is a product of the individual human mind.”
Mises in the Digital Age – Jeffrey Tucker, F.E.E.

If you could wave a magic wand and make one or two policy or institutional changes to brighten the U.S. economy’s long-term growth prospects, what would you change and why? That was the question asked to the 51 contributors to this volume.”
Reviving Economic Growth: Policy Proposals from 51 Leading Experts – CATO STORE

“At this point 15 years ought to count for something. After all, we have now used up one-seventh of this century. So you can’t say its too early to tell what’s going on or to identify the underlying trends.”
15 Years Of Stimulus—–Nothing To Show – David Stockman, CONTRA CORNER

“The recent debate surrounding Fed policy is whether or not they will start to ‘normalise’ interest rates by beginning with a rate increase ...  I contend that this debate is somewhat moot, especially once the market has initialled a waterfall selloff.”
Why the Fed can’t stop the next market crash – Gregg Jamke, TAO MACRO

“[The debt load] is not manageable at all, because thanks to Yellen and her merry band of money printers, we are not paying the true cost of the debt. This year, it’s $230 billion on $13 trillion of public [debt]. That’s 1.75%. That’s ridiculous. When it normalizes – which it will someday – we’ll be paying $400-500 billion more at a minimum. So I blame the Fed. The Fed is the number one culprit in this whole fiscal paralysis, because it’s told all the politicians, ‘You can kick the can, you can dodge the bullet.’”
The US Is a “Fiscal Titanic” with the Fed as Captain (Video) – SCHIFF GOLD

“Newly printed money. Of course. When isn’t that the answer? Adding water to milk does not produce more milk. It only produces the illusion of more milk.”

Time for a recap …
Who caused the global financial crisis? An inconvenient truth. – Vinay Kolhatkar, NOT PC
Why The Glass-Steagall Myth Persists – Yaron Brook & Don Watkins, FORBES
“We didn’t see the economic collapse coming.” Yeah right. – NOT PC
The Governor resigns. Not before time. – NOT PC
The Global Financial/Economic Crisis: The True Causes And Only Long Term Solution – David McGregor, NOT PC
The Illusion of Wealth: Ludwig von Mises on the Business Cycle – NOT PC
As good as gold? Or as bad as paper – NOT PC
“Let Me School You in My Austrian Perspective” – NOT PC
What You Must Read About the Great Depression – David Gordon, MISES DAILY

“The natural rate of interest is a rate that emerges in the market as a result of borrowing and lending activity and governs the allocation of the economy's resources over time. The neutral rate of interest is a rate that is imposed on the market by wisely chosen monetary policy and is intended to govern the overall level of economic activity at each point in time. Exploring this distinction and its implications can go a long way toward understanding the current state of Federal Reserve policymaking and the difficulties that a central bank creates for the market economy.”
Natural and Neutral Rates of Interest in Theory and Policy Formulation – Roger Garrison, MISES DAILY

“In the more heavily regulated industries, costs are skyrocketing. In other industries, costs are falling, sometimes at ridiculous paces: Think USB drives. Technology naturally pushes costs down, while the Federal Reserve pushes them up.”

Surveys the ills of government-run schools, shows the general superiority of private schools, and zeros in on the reason for the difference.
The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools – Andrew Bernstein, THEOBJECTIVESTANDARD.COM

“I choose a Montessori school for my son almost as an act of faith. At that time my knowledge of the method was null, besides having heard of small chairs and colored beads. But seeing my son happy day after day encouraged me to study and deepen the Montessori’s ideas. What I had discovered astonished me as a father and as a scientist. As a father, I found how children are really respected and prepared for the future. As a scientist, I found solid scientific foundations for everything Maria Montessori proposed.”
Montessori, why not? – MARIO VALLE

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture: Green Design Before Its Time

“The Building Grows Out Of The Landscape As Naturally As Any Plant; Its Relationship To The Site Is So Unique That It Would Be Out Of Place Elsewhere." —Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright's Organic Architecture: Green Design Before its Time – Casey Neal, BRITTON BLOG

“Find out more about Frank Lloyd Wright with these additional resources…”
Modern Home Designs by Frank Lloyd Wright – INTERIOR-DELUXE

“In a world full of turmoil and uncertainty such as ours, fine art can provide emotional fuel to sustain positive, life-affirming, universal, humanistic values. Because all art acts as a shortcut to our most fundamental premises (whether good, bad, rational, or irrational), it possess irresistible vitality and puissance for both immediate “gut” impact and lasting resonance.”
Romantic Realism: Ideas and Emotions in Art – Alexandra York, NEWSMAX

“Every town has a dozen guitarists or bass players that could play in a top group, but circumstances didn’t work that way. You're better off engaging with the thing for the reason you want to do it, because the universe will give you what it wants. You better be putting your belief into something that’s meaningful and sustainable, which is your relationship with yourself."
"Talent Is Vastly Overrated": Billy Childish's Anti-Guide to Succeeding in the Art World – ARTSPACE

Summer is here! From eating hamburgers to getting rid of pesky ants, this video will make you smack your forehead wondering why you didn’t know these things before.
Ants Ruining Your Summer? Watch How EASY It Is To Get Rid Of Them!  - METASPOON

Philosopher Leonard Peikoff presents the essentials of Ayn Rand’s philosophy to a group of students, then answers their questions. Peikoff, who was Rand’s friend and associate for three decades, is the author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand -- 42-minute lecture followed by a 33-minute Q&A session.
Questions and Answers:
0:45:21 Q&A#1: How can selfishness be compatible with respecting other people's rights?
0:48:09 Q&A#2: Does the term "objective" have different meanings?
0:50:17 Q&A#3: Who would regulate the economy under laissez-faire capitalism?
0:54:53 Q&A#4: Are people programmed by the culture they are raised in?
0:57:57 Q&A#5: What will happen to the needy under capitalism?
1:02:55 Q&A#6: Does government have a role in disease control and education?
1:06:11 Q&A#7: Who would fund medical research if government didn't?
1:08:35 Q&A#8: How do you know that reason is the only means of knowledge?
1:11:27 Q&A#9: In what sense is religion opposed to morality?
1:14:05 Q&A#10: Can our senses fool us, as in the case of optical illusions?
1:15:15 Q&A#11: Why do virtues have to be practiced consistently?

At Massey University, when they say “free stuff” what they mean is “paid by students to pass the class.”

For those about to party, we salute you.
AFL Grand Final Overseas Party Finder – AFL

Thursday, 1 October 2015

World’s most libertarian sport: Grand Final this Saturday! #AFLFinals

Yes, folks, instead of just watching NZ push around the fatties from Georgia this weekend, you get to enjoy the Grand Final of the world’s most libertarian sport, the culmination of the AFL year!

Watch it live on Skysport, on TVNZ’s Freeview 13, on WatchAFL, or you can get down to one of functions in NZ’s main centres where there’ll be bar tabs, BBQs and drink specials throughout the afternoon.

Wellington: Five Stags, Dixon St, Wellington
Christchurch: Redwood Tavern, Redwood.
Dunedin: The Terrace Bar, 6 The Octagon, Dunedin.

And in Auckland, you can join me and Auckland’s AAFL clubs at The Empire Tavern:

Tickets are available on the door, or through your local AAFL club.

See you at The Empire



West Coast v Hawthorn
Saturday, October 3, 5.30pm NZT at the MCG

TV Coverage begins, 3.00pm on the following channels:

TVNZ POP-UP. Freeview Channel 13

Sky Sport 3

Deluded, deranged, defeated [updated]

If you’re feeling a little aggrieved that I’ve had to apply comment moderation here for only the second time in the blog’s ten-year history, settle back and understand the reason why.

By way of example, and frankly for your own reading amusement, I have to share with you just some of the bleatings of madness—i.e, just a few of the many, many interjections from one particular loon posting from L.A. over the last two weeks who’s been commenting continually, spamming the comments (or trying to), with no hope of the spam ever rising to the surface and being published. (White supremacists can publish their trash elsewhere without me providing them with a megaphone.)

You have to laugh, really. But as entertained as I have been by the bile, it’s still annoying for you lot to have to endure the moderation until the loathsome loon decides to linger no longer. In the meantime be entertained while being simultaneously repelled ….



Similar to Redbaiter’s bile when he came here on a tear a year or so ago, but not even half as entertaining. And that’s just a small part of a couple of week’s worth of lunacy now sitting in my spam filter, most of it emanating from this entity in Irvine, California:


UPDATE: Just some of the droppings from this morning’s sackload of shit . . .


Central Banks Don't Dictate Interest Rates

Guest post by Frank Shostak

According to mainstream thinking, the central bank is the key factor in determining interest rates [and interest rates haven’t been this low since 3000 BC]. By setting short-term interest rates the central bank, it is argued, through expectations about the future course of its interest rate policy influences the entire interest rate structure. (According to expectations theory (ET), the long-term rate is an average of the current and expected short-term interest rates.)

Note that in this way of thinking, interest rates are set by the central bank; individuals have almost nothing to do in all of this and just mechanically form expectations about the future policy of the central bank. (Individuals here are passively responding to the possible policy of the central bank.)

Time Preference Is the Driving Force

But the great Austrian economists Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises suggested otherwise, concluding that the fundamental driving force of interest rate determination is not the central bank at all, but an individual’s time preferences.

What are time preferences? As a rule, people assign a higher valuation to present goods versus future goods.The degree of this preference for present over future goods is the degree of an individual’s time preference.

The result of this is that present goods are valued at a premium to future goods. It is this valuation that sets natural interest rates[which, as a consequence, are always positive and cannot be negative].

This valuation stems from the fact that a lender or an investor gives up some benefits at present. Hence the essence of the phenomenon of interest is the cost that a lender or an investor endures. On this Mises wrote in Human Action,

That which is abandoned is called the price paid for the attainment of the end sought. The value of the price paid is called cost. Costs are equal to the value attached to the satisfaction which one must forego in order to attain the end aimed at.

For instance, an individual who has just enough resources to keep himself alive is unlikely to lend or invest his paltry means. The cost of lending, or investing, to him is likely to be very high — it might even cost him his life if he were to consider lending part of his means. So under this condition he is unlikely to lend, or invest even if offered a very high interest rate.

Once his wealth starts to expand however, the cost of lending — or investing — starts to diminish. Allocating some of his wealth toward lending or investment is going to undermine, to a lesser extent, our individual’s life and well being at present. From this we can infer that anything that leads to an expansion in the real wealth of individuals gives rise to a decline in the interest rate (i.e., the lowering of the premium of present goods versus future goods). Conversely, factors that undermine real wealth expansion lead to a higher rate of “natural” or originary interest.

Time Preference and the Demand for Money

In the money economy, individuals’ time preferences are realized through the supply and the demand for money. The lowering of time preferences (i.e., lowering the premium of present goods versus future goods) on account of real wealth expansion, will become manifest in a greater eagerness to lend and invest money and thus lowering of the demand for money.

This means that for a given stock of money, there will be now a monetary surplus.

To get rid of this monetary surplus people start buying various assets and in the process raise asset prices and lower their yields. Hence, the increase in the pool of real wealth will be associated with a lowering in the interest rate structure

The converse will take place with a fall in real wealth. People will be less eager to lend and invest, thus raising their demand for money relative to the previous situation. This, for a given money supply, reduces monetary liquidity — a decline in monetary surplus. Consequently, this lowers the demand for assets and thus lowers their prices and raises their yields.

What will happen to natural interest rates as a result of an increase in the money supply? An increase in the supply of money means that those individuals whose money stock has increased are now much wealthier, or feel so.

Hence this sets in motion a greater willingness to invest and lend money. The increase in lending and investment means the lowering of the demand for money by the lender and by the investor. Consequently, an increase in the supply of money coupled with a fall in the demand for money leads to a monetary surplus, which in turn bids the prices of assets higher and lowers their yields.

As time goes by the rise in price inflation on account of the increase in the money supply starts to undermine the well being of individuals and this leads to a general rise in time preferences. This lowers an individuals’ tendency for investments and lending, i.e., raises the demand for money and works to lower the monetary surplus — this puts an upward pressure on interest rates.

Monetary Policy and Real Wealth

In a market economy within the framework of a central bank, the key factor that undermines the pace of real wealth expansion is the monetary policy of the central bank.

imageIt is loose monetary policy that undermines the stock of real wealth and the purchasing power of money. We can thus conclude that a general increase in price inflation — resulting from an increase in the money supply and a consequent fall in real wealth — is a factor that sets in motion a general rise in interest rates. Meanwhile, a general fall in price inflation — in response to a fall in the money supply and a rise in real wealth — sets in motion a general fall in interest rates.

Furthermore, an increase in the growth momentum of the money supply sets in motion a temporary fall in interest rates, while a fall in the growth momentum of the money supply sets in motion a temporary increase in interest rates.

The Invisible Natural Rate of Interest

The main problem here is that the natural interest rate can't be observed. How can one tell whether the market interest rate is above or below the natural rate?

Important news: There is no downside to coffee!

When the sweet poison of the Treacherous Grape
Had acted on the world a general rape; …
Coffee arrives, that grave and wholesome Liquor
That heals the stomach and makes the genius quicker.

Had your second cup of coffee yet this morning? Don’t worry, I’ll wait, because it (that cup) is important . . .

All set? Then here’s your news: Every cup of coffee is good for you.

Even better: There’s very little evidence that any cup is bad for you.

Harvard researchers have been putting the hot drink brewed from the noble bean under the microscope, and have confirmed it to be one of humanity’s greatest boons, and confirmed “no link between higher blood pressure and coffee and … some suggestion that it improved blood pressure.”

The work at Harvard is just part of an emerging picture of coffee consumption as a potentially powerful elixir against a range of ailments, from cancer to cavities….

  • lowers levels of liver enzymes and protects the liver against cancer and cirrhosis
  • protects against Parkinson’s disease…  four or five cups of coffee daily cut disease risk nearly in half compared with little or no caffeine.
  • reduced risk of suicide
  • lower risk of basal cell carcinoma
  • reduced type 2 diabetes risk
  • lower risk of a deadly form of prostate cancer for men
  • drinking four or more cups a day lowered the rate of depression among women; and
  • even heavy coffee consumption did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and that three to five cups of coffee daily provided the most protection against cardiovascular disease.

In short, for “a coffee-drinker compared to non-drinker there is about a 10-15% lower mortality rate.”

Not only that, but coffee helps you think better. What’s not to love!

Yes, these data are mainly correlative rather than causative -- “though the links between coffee and better health have become considerably clearer, what exactly confers the benefit remains murky,” although researchers have “traced coffee’s fingerprints to the human genome, discovering six new genes related to coffee consumption and reconfirming two others found earlier”—but they are compelling.

And one result you can test immediately all on your own: “That first cup of coffee in the morning is happiness,” says one researcher. “It’s a real joy.”

Your third isn’t so bad either.


[Hat tip Anoop Verma & Paul Hsieh]

“Price-to-income ratio the key issue for housing affordability,” says council economist [updated]

Auckland council’s chief economist has written a personal report on Auckland’s housing bubble burgeoning problem with unaffordable housing.

The good: identifying that median house price as compared to the city’s median income is a key measure of how affordable or unaffordable housing is in this big little city. Auckland’s present price-to-income ratio is approaching ten-to-one. He argues that by 2030 that should be nearer five-to-one.

The risible: the fellow speaks a foreign language. “The report identifies a range of levers … that could be considered … employing a multi-layered collaborative approach that uses the best mix of the available tools we have.”

The bad: as his talk about “tools” tends to indicate, he’s still of the top-down school, his many “levers” revealing him to be another timid tinkerer who’s part of the central-planning persuasion, the unintended consequences of all those tools with their “unified approach” and “joined-up thinking” having delivered us the present rather pressing problem. One looks in vain from any of them for the simplest solution of all: recognise property rights and then get the hell out of the way. But I shall scour the present report more thoroughly in case I missed that ringing phrase amidst all the buzzwords.

UPDATE:  The Property Council likes the report:

Property Council strongly urges Auckland Council to adopt:

  1. Explore the greater use of targeted rates to fund and finance infrastructure growth.
  2. Collaboratively review transport policy, legislation, planning to ensure it supports Auckland’s housing surge.
  3. Omit excessive restrictions on urban design unless benefits exceed costs.
  4. An advocacy plan to consider replacing joint and several liability with proportionate liability…

We call on Auckland Council to embrace the report’s findings… Auckland desperately needs integrated infrastructure and urban planning that complements and supports residential development.

What Auckland and this country actually does need is a Property Council that would tell the urban planners to go to hell—not one that would meekly accept non-excessive restrictions on design and development, or who would applaud yet another layer of bureaucracy in Christchurch.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Let Chris Brown in town [updated]

As Voltaire might have sung, “I disagree with what you auto-tune, but I defend to the death your right to do it in Auckland.” (If Auckland is where he’s booked to play; I have no idea, and even less interest.)

Anyway, Mark Hubbard makes the case “for letting Chris Brown in to perform his execrable music”:

It has nothing to do with Chris Brown.
    He has ‘done his time’ for his crimes. End of.
    After that, I don’t want politicians and bureaucrats deciding who can, and cannot, come into New Zealand. It has to be left up to the choice of the individuals of New Zealand whether they want to see, buy tickets, or whatever interaction they desire, with people such as Brown when they are in-country…
    Chris Brown must be free to bring his shite show to New Zealand, because if politicians [and, you know, the commentariat] get to choose who crosses our borders, New Zealand is not a free land and we all are living in Progressivestan.

Any questions? Because Mark has probably answered them.

UPDATE: Russell Brown appears for the prosecution.

We should begin by making clear exactly what Chris Brown did to Rihanna in 2009. He has not “been accused of being involved in violence against his partner” as Dame Tariana Turia bizarrely said yesterday. And his actions were not “considered only odious enough to warrant community service” as a hapless post on The Daily Blog claims. . . .

Bill English on price signals, planning and housing affordability

Yes, I’m as surprised as you are: Bill English has been caught making sense. A sentence I never thought I would write.

I blame his advisers.

His speech last week on housing affordability to was so uncommonly good it deserves the small publicity it quickly acquired, and its author (whomever it might might be) deserves credit.

Essentially, his speechwriter(s) pointed out that the market is excellent at delivering price signals, but the government (central and local) has been even more excellent at restricting the housing market’s ability to act on those signals until too late.

It takes around eight years for the housing market to respond to a shock to demand.

In part that is because changes to council plans can take years, in some cases over a decade.

Resource consents on a housing development regularly take 18 months, including pre-application times excluded from the official statistics.

When combined, those very real delays can exceed the length of the house price cycle.

The point is that when the supply of housing is relatively fixed, shocks to demand – like migration flows increasing sharply as they have recently – are absorbed through higher prices rather than the supply of more houses.

Long lead times in the planning process tend to drive prices higher in the upswing of the housing cycle.

And those lead times increase the risk that eight years later, when additional supply arrives, the demand shock that spurred the additional supply has reversed.

The resulting excess supply could produce a price crash. (Emphasis mine.)

It is the warning about a price crash that sat people up. It is the reasoning behind it that makes the whole piece worth reading.

NB: Others comment:

  • Eric Crampton calls the speech “excellent”—not something I’ve heard him say before about anything said by a Finance Minister—and comments on the speech’s point “that policy itself generates external costs that are underappreciated.”
  • Lindsay Mitchell noted the frightening fact that
            60 per cent of all rentals in New Zealand are subsidised by the Government.
            Six out of ten rented homes are subsidised by the taxpayer…
            [T]he rental property market is still heavily subsidised and still not working.