Tuesday, 30 August 2005

ACT Party sell their principles

It's true. And you can start the bidding at just $1. See.

The advantage of speaking for the speechless

Too many people spend too much of their time speaking either on someone else's behalf or as a spokesman for people or things who can't speak for themselves, and they spend too much of our time telling us what we should be doing on behalf of those they claim to speak for. And in the name of those "without a voice" they often seek to silence those who do.

There is a special status in law and in our culture given to advocates who claim to speak for the voiceless. They get extra kudos, legal aid, sympathy, headlines, moral stature ... and just sometimes (and just coincidentally) they also get themselves a job for life.

Look for example at politicians who like to claim they speak for the disadvantaged, even as they disadvantage all of us by putting their hands in our pockets -- naturally too ensuring they advantage themselves by doing so. Or politicians who say they 'speak for their people,' even as their actions serve to further impoverish the people they claim to speak for. Why don't these claims and the consequent theft and impoverishment caused receive any decent scrutiny?

Or look at high-profile activists, like for example Cindy Sheehan, who claims (or allows others to claim on her behalf) to speak for "an invigorated anti-war movement." As Rick Moran asks, where exactly are all the protesters she is supposed to have inspired? [Hat tip SH] Why do claims like this get traction, unless it is that the views of activists like Mother Sheehan reflect those who so breathlessly report their activities and opinions?

And what about those busybodies who claim to speak for "future generations," as if they somehow have a direct line to what future human beings are going to want at some unspecified time in the future. Why do they get taken so gosh-darned seriously? Who's to say that 'future generations' won't think they're all bloody idiots with an anti-human agenda who should have been silenced with a gag and a bucket of paraquat?

And how about those that claim to speak for other species, or for wild and beautiful landscapes, or for the heritage values, spiritual values, cultural values, or moral values of the community. Why do these people get headlines and hegemony when the communities, species, trees, rocks and mud puddles they claim to speak for haven't ever given them any mandate to speak on their behalf?

How do they all get away with it, and why do we let them?

When you are speaking for the speechless, the best thing about it is that the speechless can't speak up for themselves to tell you when you're talking nonsense -- which is precisely why so many idiots are attracted to this kind of advocacy. Your idiocy is trumped by the fact that a) you have a mandate (or claim to), and b) you care (or claim to). When the things and people you claim to be speaking for can't contradict you, you can in short have it any way you want since what you say goes. It's your opinion that matters, and your opinion has all the moral force of those you claim to be speaking for, but without the need to convince them that you're making any sense.

So if you're speaking for the speechless, speaking for the unspeakable, speaking for those who wouldn't let you if they knew, or speaking for those who know you're an idiot but just don't give a shit, then don't pretend you're speaking for anybody who has specifically endorsed you. Tell people instead who you are really speaking for. Yourself.

Vote Eco-Fascism!

A new website has been created that asks you to Vote for the Environment! Actually, it says it asks you to "vote for the environment" but what it actually asks you to vote for are authoritarians and troglodytes claiming to speak on behalf of 'the environment,' since there is nothing anywhere to indicate that the website's creators realise that the best protection for environmental values is not authoritarianism and command-and-control but instead the recognition and protection of private property rights.

The websites creators ask you to endorse political parties that promise to (among other things):
  • give lots more money to DoC and other selected government agencies and other quangoes;
  • increase the carbon tax, and to prevent the construction of coal-fired and nuclear power stations;
  • increase the indoctrination of impressionable school-children with the religiosity of 'sustainability';
  • ban the introduction of GE;
  • endorse the theft of private land by allowing public access over it;
  • make the Resource Management Act more onerous.
The underlying assumption is an antediluvian one that government action always works, that private property rights don't, that the 'tragedy of the commons' never happens, and that the more action government takes the better. Naturally, the FrogBlog is excited by it all.

There used to be a joke told by DoC workers, that the best way to eradicate possums would be to give possums to the Department of Conservation to protect. True too. Perhaps in this spirit DoC could instead take on the job of advocating for this form of antediluvian authoritarianism, while some of us at least get on with advocating for private property rights.

While you're thinking about all that, have a look at a whole bunch of quotes about property rights and freedom, my own recent speech on the subject, and an organisation that realises that when it comes to environmental matters, property rights do matter.

Perhaps you could cast a vote for that.

God gadgetry

Some great Gadgets for God available here. What a great service! Make sure you send Bishop Brian a mailing list.

My personal favourites are the Talking Jesus Action Figure and the inspirational Mother Theresa Singing Doll, the practical yet spiritual Glow Grave, and the eminentlypractical 'Jesus Saves' Air Freshener -- which should really have a 'Jesus Saves' bog roll to go with it, shouldn't it.

Order now for Father's Day, or buy these if you have a teenage child's birthday coming up.

Funding racism, or not

Bloggers and politicians have been in apocalyptic mood over Brash's frankly rather timid proposal to end some race-based funding, to review some race-based government departments, and to speed up the Waitangi gravy train.

The welfarism and government favour won't exactly end under National, it will just be ... diverted. That hasn't stopped an outpouring of vitriol accusing Brash of everything from what Hitler did to the Jews (Harawira), to sending Maori back to Hawaiiki (Tze Ming), to "stripping Maori of their rights" (Idiot/Savant), to "teaching illusion" (John Johansen via the Frog), to delivering "a new jar of snake oil" (David Slack), to "Maori bashing" (Tariana) to taking the very bread out of the mouths of poor brown people everywhere who just can't survive without special favours and truckloads of money from the government (that one I just made up).

This is a view that all good things including wealth, favour and our only chance at piles of money come from government, that all wealth is doled out from on high -- arriving in our laps like manna from government-heaven -- that our belonging to a group is our way of receiving these boons, and government turning off the tap for these boons is turning off our only access to wealth; indeed, turning off our access to what we need for our very survival. It is the view that Other People's Money is the only recognised route for wealth and riches -- which was the view tested in court by Donna Awatere on a smaller scale, and found to be something called theft.

It is a view that denies the reality of where wealth comes from, and what makes freedom possible: the spirit of enterprise, and the philosophy of individualism. Such a spirit and such a philosophy is the antidote to the predictable collectivist poison spewed forth over the last eighteen hours.

Top ten reasons for the war in Iraq

Christopher Hitchens argues in 'The Weekly Standard' that the war in Iraq is not just A War to Be Proud Of, but that the case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Powerline summarises the top ten reasons for his positive assessment here. Surpisingly, Hitchens credits Tony Blair as the only statesman from the nineties to emerge from the decade with any credit on this front...

Monday, 29 August 2005

Brash talks "review" not abolition

This news item could have been written this morning:

Brash calls for "review" (a "look at", not abolition) of the five Maori Government agencies. In response, Jeanette Fitzsimons has called him a Maori-basher, and Hone Harawira has called him a racist and his policies similar to those of Hitler and Australia's Pauline Hanson.

By contrast, the Libertarianz have called him (or should have by now) too damn soft. And he is. Don't "look at," don't "review": Abolish. If he's serious that there should be one law for all, then they really have to go. If he's not, then why has he brought it up at all.

When Joneses get wet

It's hard being both wet and a contrarian. It's even harder juggling being a pillar of the establishment, a 'gadfly,' and a fiction writer who relies on vanity publishers for being published and his remaining friends and his agent's wife for endorsements.

Poor old Bob Jones -- poor in the sense of being a sad bar steward -- old in the sense of being irrelevant, senile and losing his hair -- sounds increasingly desperate these days when he tries to find things about which to be contrary. Fat girls in Albany and Social Creditors were two recent if irrelevant targets. The Auckland and Massey University Philosophy Departments were unlikely recent recipients of his largesse.

From time to time he's also taken a pop at local libertarians for being variously cheap, Jehovah's Witnesses and (poor dear) rude to him. He's always been unhappy that Libertarianz have 'pinched' his libertarianism, and now he's having a pop at the "scruffs" Libertarianz have fronting for us in our TV ad. I'll let Bob himself make his current case, ranting in the Herald about how he "watched in amazement, the one-hour free television time party broadcasts as the last 20 minutes were given over to the nutter parties, all allocated a minute each."
Next up, a couple of scruffs took turns chanting how they would wipe out the bureaucracy, taxes et al - these being the Libertarians. No lads, you won't do that, or indeed anything with your lives, unless you toss away your Ayn Rand bibles and get on with actually living.
Poor Bob. He's had a bee in his bonnet for years about liberty, Libertarianz, Ayn Rand and the The Free Radical -- he used to bitch for example and tell FreeRad editor Lindsay Perigo to "stop putting all that Ayn Rand stuff" at the front of each Free Radical -- and bitter because we Libz have taken the freedom part of the New Zealand Party's 'Freedom and Prosperity' line and run with it after he'd forgotten it himself. Not that he was ever over-excited about freedom himself, really.

Sir Robert, as this pillar of the establishment is called these days, was variously an enthusiast for Muldoon's inflationism, and for a State Art Bank to "encourage local painters, sculptors etc." Sir Robert was also of course one of the founding, if not the only, members of the New Zealand-Soviet Union Friendship Society, that bastion of freedom, rectitude, Ladas and good taste. No 'scruffs' allowed in there! Nor sane persons either.

It's a shame Bob's humour & fun desert him when he confronts principle, and that good sense deserts him when he confronts the blandishments of university philosophy departments; it's a shame too that he now gets so anal and conventional over something as wet as wearing a suit. It probably comes with age, irrelevance, and all that hair-dye he used to use when he still had something on which to use it.

A 'new' haka. Yawn.

What does it mean when two teams line up to begin a game that at its highest level demands intelligence, skill and athleticism, and one of those teams then starts dancing about in a celebration of tribal savagery while the other looks on in quiet amusement. Tribal primitivism on one side; brains on the other. And on the sidelines, lots of idiots excited at a new display of thuggish aggression.

It's not my idea of good sporting entertainment, and as I usually go to the bar when my team starts dancing around like that I missed the 'new haka,' which was no doubt just as primitively tribal as the previous haka, which celebrated as I recall a bloke hiding under his wife's skirts. You can see the new haka if you must here at the NZRU site, and read the 'lyrics' here.

Remember when David Campese once kicked a ball around behind the goal posts while the All Blacks grunted and groaned down the other end of the field? Remember how upset everyone got about his 'disrespect.' I look forward to the Wallabies doing something similar this weekend while their opposition waste their time threatening violence upon themselves. It might be one victory that would be possible for a Wallabies team otherwise unlikely to be challenged by needing to deliver too many after-match victory speeches.

When abolishing racism is racism

Can someone tell me how exactly "abolishing the [Maori] seats would... hurt social cohesion in New Zealand," or is the Greens Frog Blog (sorry, frog blog) talking:
a) "the politics of racial divisiveness"
b) racist nonsense
c) gibberish
d) spin.

Peters on the slide

I enjoyed watching Winston Peters nearly lose Tauranga on Election Night 1999, and as scuttlebutt has had his present support in Tauranga being slightly fragile I've been quietly looking forward to seeing him wriggle again on the evening of September 17 . The Herald this morning shows just how fragile his support really is, and how much he might be wriggling. Answer: A lot.

This is not the kind of change his billboards have been talking about, is it?

Density in the Hutt Valley

Someone at Business Hutt Valley either has a sense of humour, or they're happy clappers for Jesus. Have a look at this scan of their Election Forum brochure, and see if you can spot anything even slightly odd.

(Sadly, the Density Church site to which I was going to link seems to have disappeared. Bishop Brian's lawyers clearly have a lesser sense of humour than Brian's alter ego Brian Tamariki.)

A nail-biting weekend of sport

The best thing about watching England play Australia is that you want them both to lose, and one of them usually will. With the competitive way they're both presently playing cricket the Ashes series has now presented three results, out of four games, that have gone right down to the wire, and given results each time about which a NZer can feel very happy.

The weekend's Ashes contest delivered another nail-biter, as much of one as Saturday night's Tri-Nations victory over the Jaapies. But am I the only one who enjoyed the rugby more than the new haka? Sheesh, what a lot of talk about a new celebration of savagery.

Libertarian basics

One thing I reflected on over the weekend was that every libertarian has their own way of presenting the libertarian argument. There are as many styles of presentation as their are libertarians.

For example, Arnold Kling at TechCentralStation has a much gentler style than I do. You'd never find him arguing that the world would be a better place when the last politician has been strangled with the guts of the last bureaucrat. Instead, he will say things such as:
I believe that you will find that when government power is held in check, people solve problems by creating institutions that are less coercive and more effective. That is not a utopian vision. It is not an irrefutable proof. But for me, it is a sound basis for libertarianism.
Read Arnold's Libertarian Basics if you prefer the gentler method of argumentation.

Building Act brings building delays

More red tape from the Building Act 2004 is starting to catch up with builders, as I said back in May it already was. Today's story comes from Ashburton, with builders explaining that the
"grindingly slow consents process" is leading to huge delays. ... “What we are setting up is a culture that won’t go anywhere without a piece of paper.” And that hefty paperwork requirement, while aimed at improving quality, would ultimately serve to slow the system down...
As I've also said before, don't take consent figures into account when you're claiming that the economy is heading south.

Sunday, 28 August 2005

Idiocy and more

Deborah Coddington's Herald on Sunday piece today shows that she's getting back her writing mojo -- it's almost good enough to have been in The Free Radical, where all her best pieces have been. Sadly though, you won't find it online. You'll have to rush down to the dairy and buy one.

Her comments on the stupidity of the Building Act amendments are as good as Hone Harawira's published comments on Donna Awatere's fraud conviction were idiotic. Her conviction was racist, said Hone. "There are too many Maori in jail and they can't all be criminals," said Hone. Perhaps some are just visiting?

Harawira will probably be in Parliament after this election. No doubt he will rival Keith Locke and Mike Ward for the number of quotable idiocies offered per week.

Northland campaigning: Property rights

I've been speaking in Whangarei and Kerekeri over the last couple of evenings on the subject of property rights, with Helen Hughes (Hooch) and Julian Pistorius as my fellow campaigners.

Here's the text of my basic speech. Enjoy. :-)

[Ad-lib introduction]

Protection of property rights is amongst the chief reasons for which governments are constituted, yet successive NZ governments over recent years have not only ignored your property rights, but have actively sought to remove them.

New Zealanders who once themselves understood the crucial importance of property rights now seem bemused by their lack, until perhaps they themselves find they can’t build on their own property, can’t cut down their own trees, can’t use their property in ways they always have, or find that control of their property has been passed to someone else … and that someone carries a clip-board and must be called ‘Sir’ … and we must pay that person for the privilege of asking them permission to do what we want to on our own land.

It’s not right.

Author Ayn Rand once observed that when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know that your culture is doomed. Aren’t we there now?

The productive have been asking permission from the unproductive in order to produce … and you haven’t been getting it, have you. Not without a fight. Not without iwi consents. Not without a large legal bill, and several weeks spent with a consultant.

There is a litany of projects across the country – projects both large and small --that have never and will never get of the ground – permission having been sought at great time, energy and expense, and permission never having been granted. The number of large infrastructure projects completed in the last ten years can be counted on the fingers of one foot.

There is a litany of projects both large and small that are just stillborn; never to be attempted, as people realise that there’s no point in planning projects and paying for consultants and for permission that will never be granted.

And there are people who have now realised that their land is no longer their’s, since ownership means nothing when you must ask someone else’s permission in order to use that which you own.

It’s not right.

We’ve lost our property rights, and we’ve lost the understanding of why property rights are important. What we’re losing is part of our heritage: part of what made the West rich, and part of what protected our freedom, our liberty, and our lives.

From as far back as the Magna Carta, there has been an understanding that private property deserves and requires protection. Such protection became part of the common law tradition brought to New Zealand in 1840. The rights and privileges granted by the Treaty assumed the context of contemporary common law protections, which have now largely been lost.

As time passes, it has become more evident that private property rights are among the most fundamental and most valuable rights. Indeed, as author-philosopher Ayn Rand argued, property rights are not just among the most fundamental right, without them no other rights are possible:
The right to life (said Ayn Rand) is the source of all rights--and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave...
Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the other rights: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he does earn it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.

And it is the material values we each produce that keep us alive, and allow us to flourish.
Unlike other animals human beings cannot survive as we come into the world; in order to stay alive and to flourish we each need to produce and to keep the fruits of our production. If our minds are our means of survival – as Julian Simon used to say, our Ultimate Resource – then property is the result of applying the creative potential of our minds to reality in order to enhance our lives. The property we produce in this manner needs legal protection in order to secure our survival. Without legal protection, we must battle today to protect that which we struggled to produce yesterday.

The need for a legal framework protecting property has been long ignored or taken for granted by economists and legal theorists of all stripes, but its importance is slowly being re-understood by contemporary thinkers. Tom Bethell’s landmark book The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages traces successes and disasters of history consequent upon the respective recognition or denial of property through the ages: Ireland’s potato famine, the desertification of the Sahara, and the near-disastrous US colonies at Jamestown and Plymouth can all be traced to lack of respect for property argues Bethell.

In his book, he identifies four crucial blessings of property
that [he says cannot easily be recognised in a society that lacks the secure, decentralised, private ownership of goods. These are: liberty, justice, peace and prosperity. The argument of [his] book is that private property is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for these highly desirable social outcomes.
Property rights then give us a Turangawaewae , a firm place to stand deserving of legal protection. Their full legal and constitutional protection is crucial, in order to ensure that their protection is not taken away by arbitrary legislative fiat, as has happened over recent years.

Private property rights do not just protect us; they provide the strongest possible protection for the environment, since owners with clearly defined and secure property rights have a strong incentive to care for their land. Our property rights act like ‘mirrors,’ reflecting back on ourselves the consequences of our own actions. They also give us the power to act as guardians against abuse by others – specific legal power to act against those who would damage the environmental values of our property. However, as property rights are eroded people become less willing to invest in good stewardship because they are uncertain as to where the benefits of their labours will finally accrue. Most damage to the environment is the result of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ whereby people are encouraged to ‘take the last fish’ or ‘cut down the last tree’ because if they don’t, then someone else will. Property rights solves the ‘tragedy of the commons’ by defining ‘whose tree’ it is, and by giving secure legal protection to those planning longer range by planting trees.

As Hernando de Soto argues, property rights extend people’s time horizons by allowing them to plan longer-range rather than shorter. In jurisdictions in which property rights are not secure, he writes, it will be observed that people will build their furniture before they build their walls or their roof. The reason for this is that without the protection of property rights, such short-term action is rational: property in such a jurisdiction needs to be kept mobile as property cannot be kept secure. As property rights become more secure time horizons become longer, and planning can become longer range.

Contemporary Abuse of Property Rights by Legislative Fiat

The most glaring example in recent years of the destruction of property rights by legislative fiat is that of the Resource Management Act (RMA). In all the nearly five-hundred pages of the RMA there is not one reference to property rights – not one! -- yet it is people’s property and their use of it with which the RMA deals directly.

This absence might not be of such import, and not encourage so many abuses, if there was universal understanding of the importance of property rights – but there isn’t -- or if there were constitutional protection for property rights. But there isn’t. If there had been, we would never have got the RMA. Unfortunately, the importance of property rights is understood today only by freedom’s adversaries – and valued only by their absence.

Karl Marx understood the importance of property rights, which is why he made the first point in the Communist manifesto – point number one – the abolition of private property. As Leon Trotsky long ago pointed out with some glee, where there is no private ownership individuals can be easily bent to the will of the state under threat of starvation or worse. Only ghosts can survive without property, human beings cannot. The enemies of freedom understand this point. It’s time the rest of us understood it too, and its high time we shouted out our demand to the rooftops that we have our freedom and our property rights back. High time! Who’s with me?

Now I have to tell you, you won’t get back your freedom and your property rights without a struggle. And you won’t get them back at this election.

Every election is an advance auction of stolen goods, perhaps this one more so than any other in recent years. Not one party is offering you your freedom and property rights … except Libertarianz. Not one party is promising to abolish the RMA … except Libertarianz.

All the other parties have at least recognised that the RMA is a problem, but none understand that the problem is that the RMA doesn’t protect your property rights … it does them over. As I said, in all its five-hundred odd pages, the RMA doesn’t even mention property rights. Not once. Little wonder that there is a problem. The common law has seven hundred years of sophistication and success in protecting both property rights and the environment; the RMA has a record of just ten of doing them over.

So how do the other parties propose to fix the problem of the RMA? Let me summarise: The Greens want to ensure the RMA gives greater rights to trees, rocks and mud puddles, and even greater rights to those who claim to speak for them. The Labour Party want the Greens in coalition and promise window-dressing as a minimum, the Greens’ agenda if they have to. The National Party… in the words of National’s Nick Smith, a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with, a man who calls the RMA “far-sighted environmental legislation” the National Party is offering you (in his own words) more window-dressing and more bureaucrats. And the ACT Party? ACT aren’t really sure what they’re offering, but they do know it will involve more consultants.

They’re all offering you more of the same, only more so. But not the Libertarianz. With Libertarianz the RMA would be gone by lunchtime. (Maybe even morning tea.) We promise a stake through the heart of the RMA. We promise the reinstatement of common law protection of your property rights. We promise you your freedom.

At this election and every election, you have just two fundamental choices: Nanny State in several difent guises, or personal freedom, and the Libertarianz.

There is no other choice. Any other vote is a vote for more of the same. Any other vote, especially a vote for something your don’t even believe, IS a wasted vote.

Only Libertarianz promise to get govment out of your pocket, out of your face, and out of your life. Permanently. And only Libertarianz understand that it is a cultural change that is needed in order to make that happen. Your vote, and your support, will help us make it happen.

Saturday, 27 August 2005

More stupidity

Another reason in this morning's Herald to separate School and State.
All student teachers will have to prove they can pronounce Maori in order to graduate, under Labour's Maori policy launched yesterday...Dr John Langley, dean of the education faculty at the University of Auckland, said he believed all children should be taught Maori in schools and this would be the first step towards achieving that. "I'm sure it would put people off [becoming teachers] but progress is not made on the basis of public opinion."
'Progress' for people such as this is apparently made by imposing one's values upon impressionable children in the State's factory schools. Time to take back the schools from the self-anointed elite.

Friday, 26 August 2005

Taking the P.I.S.S.

Speakeasy takes the P.I.S.S. this morning.
Why don't you join them outside for a puff?

Peace through appeasement

Will Israel's withdrawal from Gaza lead to peace, prosperity and lashings of milk and honey all round? Not on your life, says the Ayn Rand Institute:
The Gaza withdrawal is a deadly act of appeasement toward Israel’s committed enemies: the Palestinian Authority (PA), its rabidly anti-Semitic Palestinian supporters, and other Arab regimes throughout the Middle East. It will only increase their hope and ability to achieve their long-standing goal: the obliteration of Israel.
You'd think the appeasers would have learned from their poster-boy Neville Chamberlain. Peace in Our Time? Not a chance. Not like this. Rewarding aggressors only invites more of the same; a lesson that has to be learned again in each succeeding generation.

Why is oil so gosh-darned expensive?

Common sense on the 'oil crisis' from Thomas Sowell:

Why, then, are oil prices so high? There is no esoteric reason. It is plain old supply and demand. With the economies of huge nations like China and India developing more rapidly, now that they have freed their markets from many stifling government controls, more oil is being demanded in the world market and there are few new sources of supply. What should our government do? We will be lucky if they do nothing....
Sadly, "nothing" is what they never do. "Nothing" would have been good.

Today production is being held back, not by price controls, but by political hysteria whenever anyone suggests actually producing more oil ourselves. Organized nature cults go ballistic at the thought that we might drill for oil in some remote part of Alaska that 99 percent of Americans will never see, including 99 percent of the nature cultists.
People used to ask whether there is any sound if a tree falls in an empty forest. Today, there are deafening political sounds over oil-drilling in an empty wilderness. Nor can we drill for oil offshore, or in many places on land, again for political reasons. Nor can we build enough refineries or even build hydroelectric dams as alternative sources of power.

The problem is not for government to solve, except as always by getting the hell out of the way. Sadly, and again as always, don't expect that to happen any time soon. Pierre Lemieux makes the same point here with more graphs and figures, and takes the long view on the recent price hikes.

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Fraudulent Spice

Scary, Posh, Thingy and Baby Spice to the left. Fraudulent Spice to the right.

Sisters are doin' it for themselves apparently.

New blogs

The New Zealand blogosphere presently rejoices in both Frog Blog, and Prog Blog, the former the official Green Party blog espousing authoritarian environmentalism, the latter the official Jim-Anderton-kissed-my-baby blog.

Other party blogs, official and unofficial, are not as snappily named as these two, which some have seen as a missed opportunity. Until now. Some exciting new blogs have recently taken up the nomenclatural baton adopted by the two blogs of the authoritarian left:

Wog Blog: Run by a NZ First lackey to tell success stories of immigrants returning to their home country.

Flog Blog: A Christian Heritage Party blog telling stories of how different moral crimes can be fixed with judicious lashings of corporal punishment.

Clog Blog: A blog chock-full of thigh-slapping Dutch jokes and humour. Run by Harry Duynhoven.

Dog Blog: Regularly updated to highlight some of the beautiful women in the Labour Caucus, before they're airbrushed.

Hog Blog: Gerry Brownlee's diet blog. (Irregularly updated.)

Jog Blog: Bill English's exercise blog.

Log Blog: Blog run by the Ranfurly Shield holders.

Bog Blog: A blog discussing failed Private Members Bills before they're finally flushed down the toilet of history. Occasionally of an evening posts examples of post-modern art.

Nig Nog Blog: Paul Holmes's blog paying homage "to Koffi Annan and other cheeky darkies."

Fog Blog: Wet, thick and concealing -- David Benson-Pope's regular online confessions.

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

That old green-eyed envy tax

Guest commentary today on Labour's Envy Taxes:

Why do so many bleat so much when 'the rich' receive a pledge to get some of their own money back, and why do those same people bleat so little (or even crow a lot) when someone else pledges to keep taking a lot from everyone with one hand, while doling out the booty as benefits with the other hand.

And why do so many still misinterpret or misunderstand the difference between getting back money that they earned and was taken from them, from money that they never earned that is being given to them?

Anna at ECB explains quite clearly that tax cuts benefit those who pay tax, and if you pay a lot of tax then of course a tax-cut will give you more in dollars than it would for someone who doesn't pay a lot. "Why is this so difficult to understand?" she asks. "Why is it that people think they are entitled to a greater share of other people's money?"

Answer in one word: Envy. It's a killer. If envy was taxed we'd all be able to vote ourselves rich.

Tuesday, 23 August 2005


Sorry folks, blog-very-lite at present; got a few things to deal with. Normal transmission will be resumed ASAP.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Site Poll: Who gives a shit about 'nuclear free'?

As Nick Smith is far and away the most odious politician in the former parliament, for reasons canvassed here numerous times (here's one such time) and as evidenced by the very scientific poll result below, I've added a new poll now to see whether any of you really give a shit about New Zealand being nuclear free. Helen thinks you do. Don is too scared to say otherwise (in public). But do you really give a shit? Or would you rather see some sense applied to the subject? Vote now!

Results of the Previous Poll: Who is the Most odious politician in the present parliament?
Nick Smith, Brat Pack 74 votes
Michael Cullen, Hard Labour 69 votes
Keith Locke, Watermelon 60 votes
Trevor Mallard, Hard Labour 57 votes
Muriel Newman, Association of Compulsion Touters 34 votes
Tony Ryall, Brat Pack 29 votes
Other 10 votes
I love them all 3 votes

Helengrad Libz giving it some

Luke Howison sent me these photos to show what the Wellington Libz have been up to:


Isle of the Dead

'Isle of the Dead,' Arnold Boecklin

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Lange: A reprise

As Lange's death was the news that dominated the week, and as I've been asked many times about my views on his passing, I'm re-posting a link to what I wrote a week ago: The Enigma That Was Lange.

Amidst a sea of sycophancy, to me it still reads well a week after writing it.
All 100 NZ political bloggers have offered their own tributes to David Lange. For once I'm going to bow to pressure and do the traditional thing and offer some of my own memories. For me, Lange was a huge disappointment...
Read on here.

Related reading: What exactly took place under the Lange Government? What was the nature of the reforms, and were they as substantial as claimed both by their architects, and their oppononents. The best summation I've seen is Lindsay Perigo's speech for the 1996 Institute for Objectivist Studies Summer Seminar, In the Revolution's Twilight.
With reason and wit, Perigo summarizes New Zealand's market reforms, while countering some U.S. libertarians who believe these reforms represented a veritable revolution. Indeed, Perigo explains how the various reforms have ultimately failed — and describes the philosophical revolution it will take for liberty to succeed.

Saturday, 20 August 2005

Libz TV ads: Who Owns Your Life?

I'm as pleased as punch, as happy as Larry, and as excited as a nun in a soapy bath* to announce that the Libertarianz' opening TV address will be
a) broadcast tonight on TV One, between 7:30 and 8:30; and
b) if you want to avoid all the other dross on over that hour, you can also find it here at the Libz website, along with the Libz cinema ad. (Feel free to send the link far and wide.)

As the ad says, at this election you have just two real choices, Nanny State in at least a dozen different guises, or Libertarianz -- a vote for yourself. Who owns your life? You do. Vote Libz if you want to wrestle it back from Nanny.

NB: The five-second ads will be up there shortly as well (or you can have a look at the rough cuts here).

*Two nuns in the bath. First Nun: "Where's the soap." Second Nun: "It does, doesn't it." (Think about it.)
Tags: Economics Education

Hands up who wants to play Rock, Paper, Saddam

Looks like at least one former dictator wants to give the game a go.

Nothing like laughing at former dictators is there.

[Belated hat tip Berlin Bear.]

Searching for property rights

"A major revamp of the popular Quality Planning website was launched [Thursday] by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs. The website www.qualityplanning.org.nz provides a fast, one-stop shop for people who work with the Resource Management Act."

We know this is all true because Marian said so. And she wouldn't lie, would she now. In truth, the website does offer a comprehensive collation of all the legislation in New Zealand affecting property.

So, just for the hell of it, I searched for the phrase "property rights." The results of the search were not, I'm afraid, very encouraging. Not at all. Just 4 hits, none talking about protection of property rights -- to be fair, this is four more references than appear in the Resource Management Act itself, so we mustn't grumble.

So then I searched for a few other terms and phrases: "Impose" had 75 hits; "restrictions" 52; "confiscation" 2; "seizure" 5; "conviction" 5; "imprisonment" 5; "fines" 34; "levy"14; "penalties" 7; "charges" 79; there were 28 hits for "Waitangi," and finally there were exactly 16 hits for "kaitiakitanga," and 216 for the word "enforcement."

Thanks for the website Marian. I think the nature of this country's planning legislation is now very clear -- all too clear. I'm only pleased there were no hits for the word "jackboot." Need I say again that this country's planning law needs a stake through the heart.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Some sense on tax

Now here's a guy making some sense on tax. :-)

A Friday night drinking game

DPF has a good drinking game for a political Friday night of debates and Campaign Openings. A lot can happen between now and this evening, of course, with pork being flung around with such profligate abandon that you might expect to see Mike King appear soon with some friendly advice on how to cook it all up.

Let's see if John Key can make sense later today of how Cullen has cooked the books...

[REVISED UPDATE: It's now been confirmed that the Libz TV Opening Address will be broadcast ON SATURDAY NIGHT on TV One between 7:30 and 8pm. Tonight is apparently confined to the Big Two parties.]

A conversation on drug policy

A decent copy of the conversation on drug policy with Dr Richard Goode of the Libertarianz and Nandor Tanczos of the Green Party on Russell Brown's 'Wire' is now available. Good listening.
[Hat tip Russell Brown.]

Roll out the pork barrel!

Simon Collins at the Herald has tried to sum up the cost of Labour's promises so far. He's understated the budgeted costs, and also I think well understated some fairly savage social effects of Labour's new 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package -- its plan to make beneficiaries of up to three-quarters of the country's families.
The Labour Party has promised to spend an extra $911 million a year on its election pledges so far...

Yesterday's $438 million a year in extra family support by 2008-09 comes on top of $300 million a year to write off interest on student loans, $81 million for extra cataract, knee and hip operations, $50 million for a rates rebate for low-income home-owners, $25 million for extra community police and $17 million for 5000 new modern apprentices.
Labour is awash with cash, and Simon hasn't even begun to tot up all the spending promises. The student loans bribe has been costed at over a billion dollars by Westpac economist Brendan Donovan -- that on its own outdoes Simon Collins's total figure.

And what of the promise to spend $500 million that was 'found' to be lying around to build more roads (despite Fletcher's CEO pointing out that road-building capacity is at its limit). And what of the Kyoto balls-up, looking like a $1 billion bungle.

These figures are all looking mighty big -- much bigger than Simon's paltry $911 million a year. A rough calculation puts the spend-up so far at about $3.2 billion. This is bribery on a Muldoonist scale, and promised at a time when the 'fiscally prudent' Doctor Cullen has been warning there is "no extra cash to spend," "no money to splurge," "no fat to trim." None at all. Not a bit.

What he didn't mention was the enormous barrel of pork out the back he was planning to roll out and uncork.

And one further cost those figures above don't measure: the 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package announced yesterday will cement in place the existing social structure of the country for a long time to come. If your family is receiving Welfare for Families largesse, and you earn an extra dollar, that dollar will be taxed at up to 95.2%. Who will want to earn that extra dollar? Who could?

As Rodney Hide pointed out, even under Labour's 'Welfare for Families 1.0' package families "can’t improve their lot. Michael Cullen and Steve Maharey have frozen their income... It doesn’t matter how hard you work – you can’t improve your lot. It’s doesn’t matter either if you slack off -- your income stays much the same." As I pointed out of the earlier release of 'Welfare for Families 1.0', this is creating a class system, something to which Labour purports to be opposed. Yesterday's announcement if implemented would calcify New Zealand's class structure forever, the only way up for a New Zealand family will be to uncork another baby.

So who exactly is targeting dumb people then? Labour Party President Mike Williams said of National's TV ads that there just aren't enough dumb people around to be attracted by them. So who the hell is he expecting to be attracted by this outpouring of pork.

This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, your family, or your children are being bribed, and whose future you will be selling out.

Growing up on a benefit

"Seventy-five percent of New Zealand families will have targeted tax relief [through Working for Families]," says Little Steve Maharey on Newstalk ZB. Problem is, 'Working for Families' is not 'tax relief,' it is a benefit. It is welfare. It is a hand-out.

What this means then is that
thanks to this Nanny Government, 3/4 of this country will soon be on the mooch. Nanny is promising to provide, and they expect the voters to reward them accordingly.

As Barry Soper commented of this billion dollar spend-up, "the bung is well and truly out of the pork barrel." If successful, this Government will have used that pork barrel to turn us
in just two terms from a nation of sheeple, to a nation now almost completely sucking off the state tit.

Do you
really want to be a beneficiary? Do you want your children to grow up being beneficiaries? Little Stevie does. Michael does. Helen does.

Do you?

Whose money is it?

With Helen Clark's promise of new election bribes in an attempt to gazump the imminent 'pre-announcement' of the Nats' plan for tax cuts -- and given the almost pathological inability of some bloggers, politicians, commentators and assorted idiots to tell the difference between a handout and being stolen from a little less -- I figured it might be a good time to reflect on whose money it is that is being taxed and given away.

"It's Your Money!" by Fulton Huxtable was published in The Free Radical in 1999, but has become more prescient by the day as the sheeple of this country wake up to whose money it is that this Government is spending, and the Opposition is promising to spend. Whose money is it? Yours of course:

Consider the logical implications of the idea that your money is yours. Money is a repository of the time in your life it takes you to earn it. If your money is yours, then it means the time in your life it takes to earn it is yours. If your life's time is yours, then your life is yours, yours by right and not a single minute of it should be taken from you without your permission.

If your money is yours, then you, not others, have the right to it. If your money is yours, you, not the state, have the right to control its use and disposal. If your money is yours, then you have the right to spend it as you please and no one — not the state or your neighbours — has the right to forcibly direct how your money is spent....

If statists lose their claim to your money, then they will lose their battle to bring you under their control.
If you want to win the battle against statists who seek to deprive you of your rights and freedom, then fight to spread the idea that your money is yours. We need a rising chorus of voices chanting: "It's my money." If we begin to hear this, it will be the best news for freedom that we have seen in decades.
Too true -- and we are hearing it around the traps, aren't we. I just hope that John Key and Don Brash can hear it. I hope, but I expect very little from either. Three packets of chewing gum? Four or five? (Vote here, if you like, and see how much of their own money others think they'll get back from Key.) And as you're listening to Key's "pre-announcement" of how much he plans to spend if you vote for him, might I suggest you have in mind PJ O'Rourke's explanation of where that money comes from that governments promise to spend:

.... all tax revenue is the result of holding a gun to somebody's head. Not paying taxes is against the law. If you don't pay your taxes you'll be fined. If you don't pay the fine you'll be jailed. If you try to escape from jail, you'll be shot. Thus, I - in my role as citizen and voter - am going to shoot you - in your role as taxpayer and ripe suck - if you don't pay your share of the national tab. Therefore, every time the govt spends money on anything, you have to ask yourself, ‘Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?’

Would you?

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Lake Tekapo

'Tekapo,' Chrissie Chisholm.

Shame about the date stamp.

The right to self-defence

Now this I do like: Stephen Franks presenting "a medal to Auckland man Michael Vaimauga, who was arrested for assault after he stopped a burglar breaking into a shop." Good on him.

'The state has no right to punish citizens for defending themselves and their property when the state cannot defend them,' said Mr Franks." Quite true. My concern however with the carefully written policy Mr Franks has written for ACT is that it is silent on the right to use a gun in self-defence. Why is that I wonder? He almost said as much here in his otherwise excellent defence of Paul McIntyre, but held back. Why, I wonder?

My own view on this is that "
all citizens have the right to self-defence and the right to possess the means of self-defence." As I said just the other day, as long as the means of self-defence are disallowed us, we have no right to defend ourselves. We can only hope that a trained kick-boxer might be around to help us out of a jam. Fortunately, Libertarianz recognise this as well.

A 'whiff of Orwell' across NZ schools

Confirmation today that "The Education Ministry will introduce values to the national curriculum, as parents fail to teach them at home." That at least is how The Dominion describes the move by the Ministry to have New Zealand's government schools teach the Ministry's chosen values.

As a good friend of mine said when this was first announced, there's more than a whiff of Orwell about this. Best to effect a complete separation of school and state, for reasons I argue here.

Taxathon jib jabbery

National's new Taxathon TV ad has adopted the style of the Jib Jab satires e-mailed around before the US elections. Remember them? This one, 'I Wish I was in DC,' and this one, 'Your Land'?

The Jib Jab guys also made this ad to make people believe Budweiser is drinkable. That has surely got to be an even more difficult job than making fun of Labour politicians.

What did I think of National's ad? Funny. But funny once. And it does set up expectations about tax that National just aren't going to be able to meet. If Cullen is Wastemaster General for spending just over $50 billion a year, what is Key going to be if he spends just under $50 billion? Wastemaster Minor? It's still an enormous wedge taken out of our pockets every year.

So, funny as it is, personally I preferred the Libz ads, even in rough-cut. But then I would say that, wouldn't I. ;^)

(There's no point in talking about the Labour ad. Yaaawn.)

[UPDATE: The Humphs have screen grabs of the Nats' ads. And the Three Point Turn crowd have some, ahem, early versions of the Lab-Nats' campaign ads. Dont miss them.]


Apparently a game being played by graphic designers back in May was to "design a logo and get it approved without the client realising it's a big spurting penis." See.

Why am I telling you this? Because the game is currently being played in Wellington's Cuba St, using a picture of Rodney Hide's head.

People can be cruel, can't they.

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Raising the flag from space

Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite took this photo of a patriotic corn maze in Colorado. The design depicts the U.S. Marines raising the American Flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima in World
War II. Click the link, and then the photo to enlarge.

[Hat tip Robin T.]

Drug debate on bFM

Here is a very bad recording of the Nandor v Libz drug debate this afternoon on bFM, with Russell Brown as host. [Hat tip Julian Pistorius for the recording.]

Rewarding terror

Hamas leaders view the forced removal of Israeli citizens from their own property as a Hamas victory , and as an endorsement of their tactics of terror.

Says an ebullient Ahmed al-Bahar, a leading Hamas thug in Gaza,
Israel has never been in such a state of retreat and weakness as it is today following more than four years of the intifada. Hamas's heroic attacks exposed the weakness and volatility of the impotent Zionist security establishment. The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream, and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state.
Another spokesman for Hamas terror says of the property eviction that it is ""due to the Palestinian resistance operations. … and we will continue our resistance." Talk about rewarding terrorists. And you'll be as pleased as Cox and Forkum to note that the evictions have brought Hamas leaders together and out of hiding in a bid for control of the Gaza Strip, which puts them in direct conflict with the Palestinian Authority, who have recently been making moves of moderation.

Israel is playing into the hands of Hamas, and in the process is betraying the property rights of its own people and the moderates in the Palestinian Authority. Shame.

Worst investment for a career

Some careers just aren't going to make you rich. CNN Money has the goods on 'Big Jobs That Pay Badly.' Figuring highly on their list are the jobs of architect, chef, and academic research scientist.

"There are some jobs," they say, "you should take only if you really love the work because the investment you make to get the job and the hours you keep aren't necessarily commensurate with what you earn."

Tell me about it. The figures quoted are American, which probably overstates what these careers are worth in New Zealand.

Drug use is not a victimless crime

"Drug use is not a victimless crime" argued a friend recently. Drug users harm themselves and other people too, said my friend; they are all victims.

Well, as I've explained before, yes it is a victimless crime. Drug use may well make of the user a 'victim,' but as long as nobody initates force against another, no crime is involved.

As I explain here, a crime is when somebody does initiates force, or its derivative fraud, against someone else: Cue Card Libertarianism - Force In fact, that's what moral governments are set up for: not to protect us against ourselves, but to offer protection for each of us against the initiation of force by others. This gives us the 'moral space' in which to live our own lives in our own chosen way, as I point out here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Government

Being free gives no guarantee of success. Freedom means we are free to succeed, and also free to fuck up. 'Free to get it right' means you must also be free to make mistakes. And being free means we must take responsibility for our actions and our mistakes, as I argue here: In Dreams Begins Responsibility

So if you want freedom for yourself to win or to fail, then you must accept that same freedom for others too, which means you must accept freedom right across the board. You may disagree with another person's choice of recreational activity, but you are not morally entitled to bring down the weight of government force against them just for that.

Freedom is not something that you can cherry-pick; not something from which you can pick or choose according to your own prejudices; freedom is indivisible: allow a government to take freedom over here, and you have given it the power to also take freedom over there. Pretty soon freedom becomes challenged and tied up in all directions, and big government gets biggerand better at tying us up.

By that standard, any man's battle for his own freedom is our own battle too. So a 'victimless crime' is one in which no force has been initiated against anyone else. If you choose to inflict harm against yourself that's your business. ~If~ you do. Drug use is a victimless crime--the classic textbook example of a victimless crime-- as I say here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Drugs

Further, in the present environment of prohibition, it's no accident that organised crime and petty crime is intertwined, nor that organised crime is heavily involved with providing something that is illegal. It's interesting that people such as Eddie Ellison, former head of the Scotland Yard Drug Squad, says he and many other British policemen have now come to the conclusion that practical policing means that drugs should be made legal. Making them legal, says Eddie and other practical policemen like him, removes drug profits and the control of drug quality from criminals and corrupt policemen, and slashes the costs enormously -- removing the need to steal to pay for drugs, and removing the criminal connection between drug supply and drug use.

Removing drug laws from the books means police can concentrate on protecting you and me from real crimes that ~do~ involve the initiation of force, instead of spending time, energy and effort on people committing 'crimes' only against themselves -- 'crimes' which are never going to stop: If it's not possible to keep drugs out of prison, then how in hell are you going to keep them out of people's home?

Frankly, too many people have a blind spot on this subject. Admit it. You do. Arguing for legalisation of drugs is not an endorsement of using drugs, any more that arguing for freedom of religion is endorsing going to church.

It's simply arguing for freedom.

People will still say, "don't expect me to be happy paying for other people's lifestyle choices." Neither should any of us be made to, and there perhaps is the nub. None of us should be paying for the lifestyle choices of drug users, but nor should we for the lifestyle choices of racing-car drivers, skydivers, alcoholics, left-wing academics, people who eat too many pies or church-goers.

The problem here is not with drug use per se, nor with the misunderstanding of victimless crimes: the problem lies in the ethic and existence of the welfare state, which demands that you do pay for the lifestyle choices of others. When I hear the objectors to drugs call for the demise of the welfare state, I'll know they've understood the issue.

Here's the crux of it all: As long as people are using drugs without initiating force against anyone else and they're taking responsibility for their actions, then what they do is entirely their business. It's not yours. It's not mine. And it's not the business of Jim Anderton or any other Drug Czar either.

If users or suppliers ~do~ initiate force, then they should be convicted for that, and without any bullshit about 'diminished responsibility' either.

But convictions for crimes in which there is no physical coercion is a victimless crime. That ain't hypocrisy, that's the truth of it. Drug use is a victimless crime.

So now let's translate the objection that my friend really has to legalising drugs. She says "Drug use is not a victimless crime," but what she means is "I don't like drugs." Fine. Her business. I don't like Pink Floyd. But I don't demand that anyone write a law about it, nor do I ask for the criminalisation of otherwise law-abiding Pink Floyd users. There are many objections one can make about Pink Floyd users, but making them criminals is not a valid action.

Taking delivery

A proud Phil Pacey of Pacey Trucks in Otahuhu, takes delivery of his Libz billboard. Onya Phil.

Slip me a line of you want one for your front yard. (You can email me at organon at ihug dot co dot nz.) As they say, this offer is for a limited time. Don't miss out. ;^)

Free beer

First the good news: There is one glass of free beer available today at most pubs in New Zealand.

Now the bad news: The beer is DB. Story here in the Herald.

Ending slavery

It has become somewhat fashionable of late to knock Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and to pillory Lincoln himself as some kind of neo-fascist. As Thomas Sowell says sadly, "today we see the spectacle of pygmies sniping at this giant."

Sowell takes to task these pygmies with their ahistorical criticisms :

People who indulge themselves in this kind of self-righteous carping act as if Lincoln was someone who could do whatever he damn well pleased, without regard to the law, the Congress, or the Supreme Court. They might as well criticize him for not discovering a cure for cancer.

Fortunately, there is an excellent new book, titled "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" by Professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College, that sets Lincoln in the context of the world in which he lived.

Once you understand the constraints of that world, and how little room for maneuver Lincoln had, you realize what courage and brilliance it took for him to free the slaves.

Just one fact should give pause to Lincoln's critics today: When Lincoln sat down to write the Emancipation Proclamation, the Supreme Court was still headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, saying a black man had no rights which a white man needed to respect...

Professor Guelzo's book does more than give us some sense of realism about a major event in American history. Perhaps if we come to understand the complexities and constraints of Lincoln's turbulent times, we might not be so quick to seize opportunities to reduce other times -- including our own -- to cartoon-like simplicities that allow us to indulge in cheap self-righteousness when judging those who carry heavy responsibilities.

Perhaps those people that enjoyed this poorly-written smear of Lincoln should give Sowell's points, and Guelzo's book, some much needed thought.

PS: Here's a question for you: How many know who the chap is in the picture above next to Old Abe? Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Catlins Sunset

Catlins Sunset, by Chrissie Chisholm.

Nandor v Libz on bFM

Tomorrow afternoon on bFM's 'The Wire,' Russell Brown, Nandor Tanczos and Dr Richard Goode will be discussing Libertarianz's cannabis policy -- released today -- the Libz drug policies in general, and the various wrong, hallucinatory, and frankly bizarre utterances on the subject by Peter Dunce's Benighted Future Party.

People outside Auckland can listen in here.

[UPDATE: Readers and comments-people might wish to read my earlier Cue Card Libertarianism -- Drugs piece in order to confirm that, yes, we do mean it and yes, legalisation is both practical and principled.]

A pre-announcement of National's Tax announcement

DPF has announced the announcement (and also the pre-announcement) of National's tax announcement. If you know what I mean.

"National's tax policy,' he says, "is going to be released in Auckland on Monday (22 August)," but not before a "pre-announcement" this Friday of what to expect.

Get those sharpened pencils ready for a good fisking -- this announcement will quite possibly be the most crucial day of Election 2005. So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements.


Podcast takes free speech destroyers to task

Julian Pistorius has a podcast, or Libcast, which takes both Blitzkrieg Bop and the didgeridoo to Peter Dunne's poke at free speech last week in his bid to get in front of TV3's cameras, and a comment on the legion of free speech destroyers appearing in his wake.

Listen in here to NZBFree.

Students walking for democracy

I wrote a few weeks back about how a committed organisation of students has been fomenting democratic revolution across Eastern Europe and successfully liberating their countries. Unlike our own students here in NZ who, the latest Listener points out, still live at home with their parents in large numbers, these youngsters are getting off their arses and fighting for their freedom. And they've been winning.

President of American organisation Students for Global Democracy (SGD) Charlie Szrom is part of that network, and has written me seeking support for student organisation Zubr in Belarus and their BELL Campaign to remove "the last dictator in Europe, a man named Alexander Lukashenka," and support also for SGD activists in Nepal, Burma, Azerbaijan, Iraq and the Ukraine.

"[To] highlight the crisis of democracy in Belarus, give moral support to dissidents there, and to raise funds for pro-democracy activities" in Belarus and elsewhere Charlie and the SGD is organising a Worldwide Walk for Democracy this October, and they want your help.

If you want to help Charlie and the people of Belarus by organising a Walk in your city and taking part in the international SGD video-conference then you can drop Charlie a line at studentsforglobaldemocracy@gmail.com, or at least put an SGD button on your site like I have.

It's the least you can do really.

Clearing out property in Gaza

See, here's why I can never get so all-fired excited about supporting Israel as a haven of freedom.

Yes, Israel is in many respects a beacon of freedom and individualism amidst a sea of tribal dictator-worship, but the Israeli state still has a tendency to view its own citizens much as a feudal lord once viewed his serfs.

In clearing people out of their own homes in Gaza at gunpoint Sharon's Government is just ignoring property rights and the title deeds of Israeli citizens, and frankly is just doing what Mugabe is doing several thousand miles further south. At least former PM Netanyahu resigned in protest at this blatant outrage, a heavy-handed treatment of individuals and their property that makes them nothing less than vassals of the Israeli state.

Cox and Forkum (whose cartoon that is above) have background here, and here.

What's forgotten in this talk of a Gaza Strip "occupied"by Israel is that the Strip was taken in a defensive war fought against Arab nations that continue to reject Israel's very existence, and kept as a defensive measure against further attacks by same. As a strategic move, I agree with Daniel Pipes that giving it away sucks:
Given that about 80% of Palestinian Arabs continue to reject Israel's very existence, signs of Israeli weakness, such as the forthcoming Gaza withdrawal, will instead inspire heightened Palestinian irredentism. Absorbing their new gift without gratitude, Palestinian Arabs will focus on those territories Israelis have not evacuated... The retreat will inspire not comity but a new rejectionist exhilaration, a greater frenzy of anti-Zionist anger, and a surge in anti-Israel violence.
Giving it away sucks. And bulldozing the property of Israel's citizens in order to make this strategic blunder sucks big time.

Eco's latest

I'm as eager to get my teeth into Umberto Eco's latest as so many others were to get into the latest Harry Potter.

Eco writes with what Jose Louis Borges calls both "algebra and fire" -- in love with learning and with language, Eco constructs his many-layered stories with the ingenuity of a crossword puzzle. A professor of semiotics in his day job, Eco does sometimes make me wonder if academics simply have too much time on their hands, but if all post-modernists were as witty and sharp as Eco, I could easily be seduced.

What a ride he takes the reader on. What a labyrinth. I can't wait to try and decode this one.

Monday, 15 August 2005

Four Last Songs: Jesse Norman

Not a piece of visual art tonight, but instead an aural wonder. Norman's rich, warm voice caresses Richard Strauss's songs of wistful longing, and (if you get the CD version) makes a wonder of Wagner's aching love songs. Sheer, unabashed beauty.

Velcro gloves alert

Ahem. An Australian with an Irish name has been charged with having sexual relations with a rabbit, animal cruelty, bestiality and drug offences following the deaths of 17 rabbits and a guinea pig. (I swear I am not making this up.)

Australian newspapers have insisted on describing Brendan Francis McMahon, 36, financier of North Sydney as "New Zealand-born" but as these are the same newspapers that have recently taken to including the Ashes results on page 19, inside column, we know how much we can trust them.

The Sydney Morning Herald may use a headline of 'NZ Bachelor on Rabbit Sex Charge' in order to take the heat off Irishmen and Australians, but I can still remember:
1) The Donegal pub owner who was arrested of running a brothel in a house behind the pub. The house contained six sheep.
2) This song (one verse of which is below) which was inordinately popular in Australian pubs in London some years ago:
How much is that hamster in the window?
How much is that masking tape?
My last hamster had
A nasty accident.
I do hope this hamster don't break.
Never trust an Australian. Especially with your pet. ;^)

Support for property rights

When property rights are regularly under attack both here in New Zealand and around the world, it's a pleasure for once to support a move in a direction that protects property rights rather than violating them. Gordon Copeland's Private Members Bill to add property rights to New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act is such a move, and my submission in support on behalf of Libertarianz can be found here.

(To hear my short expression of support click here. To read my earlier expression of support, click here.)

The enigma of David Lange

All 100 NZ political bloggers have offered their own tributes to David Lange. For once I'm going to bow to pressure and do the traditional thing and offer some of my own memories.

For me, Lange was a huge disappointment.

I first met him at my school prize-giving at which David Lange MP was speaking as the old-boy-made-good, and I was required to shake his hand and get a gong. He'd just delivered a speech in which he informed all of us that 'computers were going to make us all redundant' so we'd 'better get used to being out of work,' so as I'd immediately concluded he was an idiot I wasn't too fussed at getting anything from him.

Neither was I too excited at hearing him deliver that same silly speech three times that year at different events around the local traps. Too me he seemed a buffoon, however good his oratary.

Now for once here I'm going to agree with Willie Jackson. Even if I thought little either of him (or of Rugby League), as a Mangere boy myself I have to confess it was a blast having Kiwi league reps living down one end of the road and the Prime Minister at the other.

It was fun too seeing Lange out and about in Mangere, eschewing the usual Prime Ministerial airs and graces, driving himself around, doing his own shopping and blustering away over my friend's fence (my friend, for his sins, lived just next door to the Lange family).

I didn't vote for Lange on the only chance I got -- as I recall I was one of twelve in Mangere that voted New Zealand Party in 1984 -- but I can't have been the only non-Lange voter to have been thrilled to see a Prime Minister announced on the stage of the local flea pit. Lange himself observed that last time he'd been on the stage of the Mangere Metro he'd been playing a block of cheese, which is where he ended up as Prime Minister really, and some of us reflected to ourselves that on a normal Saturday night at the Metro there would probably have been a Bruce Lee double feature playing, not the public crowning of the country's political leader.

A Bruce Lee double feature could easily be the metaphor for that Lange government. After the Polish shipyard of the Muldoon years, almost any other government would have been an improvement, and the Lange government certainly was. But what began as revelation ended only as sad disappointment. Enter the Dragon, then exit stage left, pursued by assorted demons.

Lange's wit and oratory saw him as salesman for the necessary reforms undertaken by his government, but it was never clear that Lange himself understood what he was selling. He himself delivered Tomorrow's Schools and any number of completed crosswords, but to me his call for a cup of tea came when he woke up and realised for the first time what was going on under his stewardship.

What had been going on was mostly to the good, but not to Dave once he realised what was afoot.

At that time I worked for two years pumping gas at a service station just outside Wellington's government centre at Tinakori Rd, and those were the two years in which the public service was devastated by the reforms of the Lange Government.  "Devastated' if course being the word used by the public "servants" who weer feeling the cold wind of reality up their arse.

I have to tell you personally that it was thrilling having all those bureaucrats drive in on the way home to Wadestown and share with me that they'd just been sacked. I tried each time to express disappointment for them... at least on the outside. But, I confess, it was difficult.

If Lange had really understood what his ministers were doing I would have been a fan, but his intelligence was never really directed at analysing and understanding issues. How easily for example was he -- and indeed the whole NZ left -- diverted by the nuclear ships sideshow.

The adulation and international attention for his egregious anti-ANZUS stand saw Lange blossom, but as his wit and one-liners increased his grip on the realities of NZ political life did the opposite.

In the end it seems to me he was still the fat boy who needed to crack jokes and play the fool in order to be liked, and that was where his energy and intelligence became largely directed. He was in the end a disappointment because he never seemed to grow beyond that. As he said himself in his valedictory speech,
I have developed that Greek model of the fool: the person who, in mocking self-deprecation, can challenge conventions and orders - get away with mocking his mates, actually, without being regarded as a complete traitor - and may sometimes be able to get to the truth of a matter.
"Sometimes" was too few times. His biography by all accounts reflects this as well: long on bitterness and acerbic observations on his colleagues; short on analysis and reflection and real understanding. 

That was in the end perhaps his tragedy, that he never grew beyond his childhood demons, and his need to be liked above all else. 

And so did the man eventually became servant to the boy.

[UPDATE: A different sort of eulogy from The Age today, questioning the Lange foreign policy legacy. Hat tip to Che Tibby, who choked in his corn flakes as he read it, so you know it must be good.]