Friday, July 18, 2008

Rounding up the working week here at NOT PC

If you missed your fix of NOT PC this week, then don't worry ... too much. Here's what writers, readers and ranters in the comments section decided were the best half-dozen or so posts here this week:

  1. Making nanny state bigger one dead rat at a time
    National might think they're being smart with their 'me too' election strategy, but but leaves a hole a Labour strategist could drive a truck through -- and probably will.
  2. NZ ~ 100% there for the taking!
    Plans have just been uncovered of a new Australian Federal Government initiative for the 'closer economic integration' of New Zealand. Visit InvadeNewZealand.Com for details.
  3. REVIEW: Little Bushman & Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, (Auckland Town Hall)
    Crikey, this was good!
  4. Chrysler Building - William van Allen
    New York's Chrysler Building is now Abu Dhabi's Chrysler Building -- an unintended consequence of Keynesian economics and environmentalist anti-development policies.
  5. ECE: Me too.
    National has just released its policy on early childhood education. It varies not a whit from every other National policy.
  6. Let's all have inflation to go
    Some people still think the Reserve Bank fights inflation. Poor saps. Here's the history of NZ's inflation, in a graph...
  7. It's not peak oil, it's peak politics
    It's not the earth's capacity to deliver more oil that is at threat, but our capacity to extract more oil from it. The market can solve the energy crisis, but only if we actually have a market.

Enjoy! And don't forget to check out this week's Objectivist bloggers' roundup over at Noodle Food and, if you still want you say say on the issue I've studiously avoided here, head over to Lindsay Perigo's site and join the ongoing debate about Tony Veitch.

And finally, in the wake of US government bailouts of every bank they can think of with as much created credit as they can get away with, and the NZ government's $750 million bailout of the Reserve Bank's failing foreign exchange dealings, here's the quote of the week, from The Onion:

WASHINGTON--A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.
"What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution." [Hat tip Jeffrey Tucker].

Makes you wonder who's the real satirists! Have a great weekend.

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Beer O'Clock: Hop Heavyweights

Hop aboard the heavyweight hop express with your robust conductor Stu from SOBA.

pc_Hop Heavyweights This week I sidestep the wheat beer article I promised in my last Beer O'Clock post – because either a) I left it at home, or b) the dog at my homework (pick one) – and tell you about Hallertau Maximum Humulus Lupulus and Epic Armageddon… the two hoppiest beers ever available in New Zealand.

Fresh from a trip to the World Beer Cup in San Diego, with tongues still numb from an excessive amount of hoppy American-style India Pale Ales (IPA), Luke Nicholas of Epic and Stephen Plowman of Hallertau hatched the plan to brew up a heavyweight IPA challenge.

This hop heavy battle is more than just brewery versus brewery, it is New Zealand versus the world. Hallertau’s Maximum Humulus Lupulus uses New Zealand malt and hops exclusively, while Epic Armageddon uses English malt and American hops. No matter where the ingredients come from, both beers promise to be ridiculously hoppy.

These beers will not be cheap. If you think the price of petrol has risen dramatically, you should be glad you are not buying American hops. 'Peak hops' is hitting much harder than 'peak oil' [especially considering one of these is bogus - Ed.], with brewers paying up to nine times what they were paying a year ago for hops.

Added to that, the price of European malt is also on a strong rise. Armageddon looks to be the beer equivalent of purchasing a Liebherr T 282B to drive to work in – hedonistically fun but hideously expensive. Both beers weigh in around 7% and, as such, their price tag also contains a stupefying amount of excise tax.

The beers are both on tap at The Malthouse right now. They’ll soon be on tap at Hallertau in Auckland, and the word on the street is they might be at Galbraith’s too. If you can’t get to any of these places, you’ll have to travel to San Diego to find beers this hoppy … good luck.

Slainte mhath, Stu

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So when can you watch AFL?

BOttensR052006_1 A few intelligent people have asked me recently how to find out which AFL games are broadcast internationally, since like all thinking people they'd like to get a dose of the world's most libertarian sport, but local guides like NZ's Sky Guide have proved notoriously unreliable.

I'm happy to provide the answer. Head to the AFL's site, click the link to the Broadcast Guide, and then mosey around until you see the button for the International Viewing Guide. This downloads a PDF giving you all the AFL's games broadcast all around the world.

And just to help you out even further, the game broadcast this week in NZ is the contest between Port Adelaide and local rivals the Adelaide Crows, showing on Sky Sport 3 at 5pm -- which means unfortunately that we'll have to hear reports about the the long-awaited top-of-the-table clash between Geelong and the Bulldogs on the 'net on Monday.

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Say "No" to the public-service pushers!

Why do so many eager, fresh-faced intelligent young graduates take their hard-earned degrees (I'm talking here about those few who do work hard, and can parse sentences) and with the whole world as their oyster and opportunity their friend, choose instead to take up a comfortable berth in the civil service -- where instead of being productive themselves, they spend their time, energy and intelligence devising schemes that get in the way of those who are?

Why the hell do they do this?

Sure, there's money involved -- with Wellington wages in the last few years going through the roof compared to other regions, it's easy to see that. But even if you choose to ignore where that money comes from and how it's extracted from those who produced it -- even if you choose to ignore that you're a parasite on those whose productivity your own work is daily diminishing -- you must know that sort of money won't last, and even if it did, does it pay for a life of soul-destroying boredom in places where incompetence and sloth are a way of life?

What sort of person gives up a life of productivity and profit-making for a career in the bureaucracy and a gold watch on retirement, and why? Because of some sort of mission? Do they think that bureaucrats move the world by the simple expedient of getting in our way? -- which, let's face it, is all they're able to do with distinction.

It sure beats the hell out of me, and maybe some bureaucrats who've voluntarily grasped the poisoned chalice can post your own reasons in the comments, but Jeff Scialabba suggests it's because of a phony dichotomy between profits and 'public service' -- a dichotomy that a new ethic of sacrifice is encouraging, at least in the U.S. In his post The Next Hot Career Choice: Self-Immolation posted at The Undercurrent, he notes that

terms like “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” make self-sacrifice palatable, and sidestep the fact that careers in the public sector are predominately low-paying, emotionally straining, and offer little chance of professional advancement. Those who argue in terms of the false alternative between pursuing wealth vs. serving the community ignore the real issue: career as personal fulfillment vs. career as self-sacrificial duty.
So why would anyone advocate this false alternative? Why do university administrations and career counselors frame the issue in terms of wealth vs. service? They frame it in this way because it is precisely self-sacrifice that they want to push. The moral ideal they advocate is not to help others, but to sacrifice oneself in the helping of others.
[But] i
f the good of others is truly the public service pushers’ goal, then why do they decry business as antagonistic to their mission? As evidenced by profit-seeking businessmen throughout history, an individual’s selfish pursuit of wealth in a capitalist society raises the level of prosperity of others ... consider Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two giants of capitalism that have had a profoundly beneficial impact on the way we live. How many products and services remain in existence for you to enjoy because of the savvy investments of Mr. Buffett? How many jobs have been created? How much more productive is the world because of the growth of the personal computer, initiated and guided by Mr. Gates? How many lives have been saved by the technological advancements the computer has fostered?
Yet at what point were Gates or Buffett ever upheld as models of moral action? Despite bettering the lives of billions through the selfish, insatiable pursuit of wealth, never was so much praise reaped upon them as when they chose to give their earnings away, when they turned away from practical action undertaken for the benefit of their own lives and chose to sacrifice that wealth for the good of others...

If there is a good and valid selfish reason to pursue a career as a parasite, then it sure as hell escapes me. But to choose to be a parasite as a means of “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” is to stretch the English language too far, and to overlook that, as Mr Scialabba concludes "it is not kindness, not generosity, not good will towards others that the public-service pushers proselytize to students. It is sacrifice—the sacrifice of their goals, their dreams, their values. Students should answer these calls for self-sacrifice with a resounding 'No,' and should get on with the business of choosing whichever career they find most personally rewarding."

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Scientists for sophistry

What was once a serious group of objective scientists, the 'Royal Society of NZ,' now appears little more than a partisan, muck-raking rabble less interested in the supposed objectives of fair or responsible comment on scientific matters than they are in protecting their sources of funding, which for the most part (with most of the Society's luminaries) is based on peddling the warmist litany.

A recent press from the Society's "Climate Committee," consisting entirely of persons whose livelihoods rely upon the maintenance of the warmist myth, was issued in response to an increasing sea of doubt in the warmist litany -- in the Society's words, "the controversy over climate change and its causes, and possible confusion among the public." This "confusion" is manifested in the likes of polls that show the bulk of the public considers the likes of the Society's luminaries to be talking nonsense. Which they are. And increasing evidence that global warming promises have become "a gushing source of national hypocrisy. It's politically incorrect to question it, and political suicide to do anything about it."

Dr Vincent Gray is one former member of the Society who has resigned in protest at the public statement, which purports to be "a statement to make absolutely clear what the evidence is for climate change and anthropogenic (human-induced) causes." As Dr Gray points out, it is nothing of the sort.

Science has been politicised, and the Society's own press release is a measure of how much. I urge you to read both the original presser and Dr Gray's response.

UPDATE 1: There's no smoke and people should be fired says Dr David Evans, former consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.
I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector...
When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.
The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly?
As he goes on to record, the evidence has quote simply never arrived, and "since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?'
There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts...
Read on here for Dr Evans' exposition of the facts that changed his mind.

UPDATE 2
: John Lennon would disapprove, as to would anyone with an ounce of musical taste, but there's a chap here at YouTube who would like you to Imagine a World Without Global Warming. Perhaps that should read, 'Imagine a World Without Global Warming Hysteria'?

UPDATE 3: Read Christopher Booker's entertaining take on the empty words spewed forth into the oriental air at the recent G8 summit. "As well as having no idea how they could achieve such an absurdly ambitious target [as their trumpeted but far from serious fifty-percent reduction og emissions by 2050], they may inflict immeasurable damage on their economies just by trying to do so," says Booker.

UPDATE 4: As NZ's emissions trading scheme still falters for a lack of political support, folk elsewhere are beginning to realise the buying of carbon indulgences has the very opposite effect to that which emission trading supporters. See Justin Danhof's report and explanation of why cap and trade could backfire.
Simple answer: It's our old friend the law of unintended consequences again, which probably helps explain why the European Union's cap-and-trade system isn't working, and why NZ's never will.

UPDATE 5: Comedian Dennis Miller points out that it's weird when you're the only one at a dinner party who's not convinced New York City is going to be underwater by 2057 -- didn't people like this used to be derided as cranks?

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Hanna House - Frank Lloyd Wright

usca37387

usca35293Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House in San Francisco was voted by the AIA as one Wright's seventeen most treasured buildings -- known as the 'Honeycomb House' because of its hexagonal module, which Wright used to nestle the house around the hill, and to make movement within the house easier, relaxed and more 'human.'

In the Architectural Record Wright described the hexagonal module as "a pattern more natural to human movement.
hanna2 Usonian Details

flwhan3dThe house is also a prime example of the vertical layering of Wright's interiors -- horizontal expanse, then ceiling decks, then roof and clerestory windows above -- and his idea that a house should be like a living thing, changing over time as the circumstances of its occupants changed. hanna_floorplan

The light-weight ply partitioning (right, click to enlarge) and the unifying hexagonal module made renovations, not so much painless, but at least easy to unify thematically, as two incarnations of the floor plan (left) indicates. The crucial thing in building in the expectation of change is that the essence of architecture is the space within, space for life, and as our lives change so too should our shelter. Says Wright,

"What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying taste of the various lords of mankind? I think not.
"No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit....
"Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change. That is really architecture."

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's not peak oil, it's peak politics

Those economics ignoramuses in the Greens are still attempting to make political capital from "the end of Peak Oil" -- and Helen Clark, being nothing if not desperate, has been continuing the cry.

They're either ignorant, or desperate for attention. "It is not the earth's capacity to deliver more oil" that is at threat, points out Jérémie T.A. Rostan, "but our capacity to extract more oil from it." The worldwide problem isn't too little oil, it's too much politics.
With about a half-a-century's worth of proven oil reserves, the problem is not in bringing on new production. Resources are ample. "The problems are not so much below ground as above it," i.e., "not geological, but political." The problem is that governments forbid access to resources that they themselves fail to manage properly, and they impose barriers on private companies' investments in surplus oil production capacity — i.e., to the satisfaction of consumers' energy needs.
The political problem effects both supply and demand.

Demand is rising in developng countries, true, but it is rising fastest in places that actually subsidise fuel prices -- "those emerging nations that also subsidize fuel prices, such as China, India, and — increasingly — the oil-producing nations themselves." In contrast, the data in BP's review show that 'consumers in Europe and North America are already responding to high prices by moderating demand'." (The same demand story is recorded here in NZ, where the price of petrol rose 7.3% and diesel rose 16.2% over the three months to May, while the value of fuel sales only rose 0.1% [ref, TVHE], and fuel taxes fell not a jot.)

Meanwhile, in the face of all this demand, and contrary to Economics 101 which tells us that all thing being equal greater demand leads to greater supply, worldwide supply is actually falling.
The recent upward trend of oil prices, [explains BP's chief executive Tony Hayward] is mainly accounted for, not by speculation, but by falling production. "Production by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries," he writes, "fell by 350,000 barrels of oil a day last year."

In fact, global oil production started a downward trend in 2005.[3] Now, the question is, how on earth is it possible that global oil production responds as weakly as it does to such strongly rising prices — $135 for a barrel of oil in 2008 being nearly twice the price of a year earlier.

No, it's not peak oil. It's peak politics. Notes Rostan,

Sadly, far less than 10% of the world's oil reserves are in countries that allow private companies to operate freely. This means that the latter and, through them, consumers, are denied access to far more than 90% of the world's oil reserves. State-owned companies control more than 65% of the world's oil reserves — e.g., in Saudi Arabia. As for the 25% left, they are mainly situated in countries such as Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc., where, because of above-ground political factors, private Western companies have the greatest difficulties working efficiently...

This is the reason that Economics 101 is not able to work. All things are very far from being "equal." It's not Big Oil that's screwed the pooch, it's big politics. Oil companies are being prohibited from exploring and drilling for new oil, and the production of 90% of the world's existing fields is controlled by thugs like Chavez, Putin, Ahmedinejad and the House of Saud.

The thugs have different, if not perverse, supply incentives. The incentive for politically-driven oil producers is not to produce more oil when demand rises, but to produce less. The less that's produced, the more power the thugs have. All things in politics are very much not equal -- like Winston Peters on steroids, they like being the centre of attention, however they have to do it.

Just to conclude, then, with your lesson for today: It is not the earth's capacity to deliver more oil that is at threat, but our capacity to extract more oil from it." In other words: it's not peak oil, it's peak politics. The market can solve the energy crisis, but only if it's allowed to work.

Tell Jeanette and Helen next time you see them.

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All care, no responsibility -- and no privatisation

acc You'll have heard it reported that National have finally announced a policy that distinguishes the from Labour: if elected, they'll be privatising that bloated bureaucracy ACC.

Sadly, those reports are wholly incorrect. 'Privatise' means "to sell off; to denationalise; to transfer to private ownership."

Unfortunately, National hasn't pledged to privatise ACC at all ... all they've said is that they're willing to open it to competition.

And they haven't even promised to do that; all that they've promised to do is investigate the possibility of opening up ACC to competition ... and this investigation will apparently take three years.

So the reports of a spine are premature.  They're timid even in their timidity.

The latest policy is still replete with timidity.  There's no sign that what is effectively a payroll tax on all employers would be removed -- a payroll tax that is essentially a top-up to the welfare system.  There's no sign that the socialised 'all care, no responsibility' situation would be completely removed.  There's no sign that the compulsion element of workplace insurance would be removed.  There's no sign that victims of incompetence would be able to hold those responsible for their injuries accountable -- incompetence would still be socialised. 

Sure, removing ACC's monopoly over workplace insurance would see premiums plummet, just as they did in the late nineties when the ACC's monopoly was last removed -- and as premiums plummeted so too did the number of workplace accidents, just as rehabilitation and 'customer care' improved markedly. 

Safe employers would no longer need to subsidise the unsafe to the extent they do now, but compulsion is not going to be removed, employers will still be subsidising sporting injuries and the like, and being able to sue those responsible for your injuries will still be illegal.

As long as the ethic of 'no responsibility' and the element of compulsion remains, then even if competition were removed we'd still be the only place in the world with a system that socialises incompetence.

NB: It's worth reminding yourself that the only place in the world that has compulsory 'no fault' insurance is New Zealand.  That's no accident.  No one else wants it.

The shriller opponents of so-called 'no fault insurance' being removed, which it isn't, point to places like the US where the ability to sue those responsible for injuring you has led to outrageous payouts and the enrichment of that class of lawyers known as ambulance chasers.

But as David Littel points out in The Objective Standard, the outrageous payouts and the rewards for ambulance chasing -- the serious problems with the US system -- are not a problem of too much freedom but too little.  American law has become so poisoned by the destructive doctrine of "vicarious liability" and the use of law to achieve social ends instead of corrective justice, that American tort law can now only be described as a weapon of injustice. 

And in any case, it's not what's proposed for New Zealand.

UPDATE:   Says Liberty Scott:

[When] John Key says National will "investigate" opening the ACC Work Account to competition, you have to wonder why it is so insecure about a policy that it implemented, whilst a minority government, in 1999. A policy Labour gleefully repealed, with legislations overriding commercially negotiated contracts and effectively banning the private sector from providing ACC services that it had offered. Why isn't it even mentioning the ACC Motor Vehicle Account, which at the time was in the "investigate opening to competition mode"? I mean seriously, why is providing competition to a government monopoly something that so frightens John Key?

He's right, you know.

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iPhone icons

1-iphoneiconblacktext0522 If you've ever wondered how the neat new icons on your iPhone were created, then this article written by their creator, Felix Sockwell is for you.

[Hat tip Prairie Mod]

Have another cigar

JibJab It's time to choose another president, time for another advance auction of stolen goods, time for some campaigning -- time, in other words, for another Jib Jab at the clowns running for power (with appropriate apologies to Bob Dylan, of course.).

Click here for another hilarious Jib Jab pisstake.

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'Earth' - Yoyita

lateral-front

A small clay figure just 15” by 10” by 10” about which I know nothing, not even the sculptor. I found her here while searching for something else, and she jumped out and said "I'm yours."

Back Earth-front-2

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bring on the artistic dead rats

Labour's arts, culture and heritage policy is to make the poorest taxpayers pay for the 'art,' 'culture' and 'heritage' favoured by the middle classes. It's a form of middle class welfare that pays off in establishing an establishment that feels duty bound (mostly) to blow timely air kisses towards their paymasters.

So that's Labour's policy -- to make people pay for TV programmes they don't watch, artists they don't rate, symphony orchestras they don't listen to, and operas they don't attend (Lord knows I love going to the opera and the NZSO, but that's no reason to make other people pay for it). Now National has released their own arts, culture and heritage policy for Election '08, and like every other National policy for '08 it can be summarised in just two words:

"ME TOO."

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ArchiCAD 12

Just back from the launch of the latest upgrade to the world's best architectural CAD software.

I'm looking forward very much to seeing greater speed, better stair creation and 3d annotation. Excellent!

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'The Homecoming Marine' (1945) - Norman Rockwell

Homecoming_Marine

I must confess that I generally care little for the paintings of Norman Rockwell, but I care plenty for the masterful analysis of art. Nick Provenzo's illuminating discussion of this Rockwell classic, of what seems at first glance just a simple naturalistic painting, is a signal lesson in how to begin analysing a figurative painting -- or any real artwork. It's first rate.

The key is to understand that nothing in art is accidental -- the artist has chosen everything with some purpose in mind. Everything is intentional; it's the viewer's task to answer the why.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Drilling for lower prices

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House says President Bush is planning to lift an executive ban on offshore oil drilling.

And not before time. Everybody hand-wringing about inflation should support this. As Walter Williams pointed out recently, as long as the U.S. Congress holds up the production from new and exiting fields, then prices will remain high, and the US Congress remains "OPEC's staunchest ally."

It won't even take drilling to start for prices to drop. As soon as the US Congress legalises offshore drilling, the expectation of future production will cause the the price of future oil to drop -- a drop that will feed through to present prices.

"We can't drill our way out" of the problem of high oil prices? You bet we can.

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Making nanny state bigger one dead rat at a time

When one points out to would-be National voters all the dead rats John Key is making them swallow, they suck it up, wipe off their chin, and talk with glazed-over enthusiasm about the new age that Flip Flop Boy is going to usher in once the present dishonest corrupt government is replaced with another one of different hue, but similar policy outlook.

The dead rats are worth it, say the strategists. If we don't frighten the horses, then we'll come stampeding home come November. The dead rats are worth it, agree the poll respondents -- just as long as the dishonest corrupt government is our dishonest corrupt government.

As a strategy it's barmy, and just crying out to be sucker punched.

You see, it's not just the dead rats of the past that you and John Boy are going to swallow -- and here I'm talking to those of you dopey enough to swallow this 'appeasement as election strategy' strategy -- you need to think about all the dead rats to come.

Yes, you've sucked up all the dead rats served up so far when you thought you had to, and you've even swallowed on occasions. You've said to yourself, "I can accept this," while holding your nose and swallowing ... but smart Labour Labour strategists will already be drawing up lists to try and see if you'll also swallow this, once John Boy plants his 'me too' kiss upon it.

If you were a smart Labour strategist (and in this context 'smart' only means 'smarter than Murray McCully, so we're not talking rocket scientists here), you wouldn't be complaining that Key's "innoculation" of National's "scarier" policy positions makes it hard to paint them in the privatising, Roundtable-hugging way you'd like to be able to, instead you'd be observing the me-tooing with glee, and looking for a chance to use it.

How? By making nanny state bigger one dead rat at a time.

The smart Labour strategist would already be drawing up a list of election bribes so rat-like in their cunning, so obviously socialist in their aim, that John Boy and his supporters will be left with splinters on both cheeks as they try to perch on both sides of an irreconcilable fence in response.

Labour can't lose here, if they do it right: if John Boy and the Flip Flop Team do keep signing up to the dead rats -- and the latest student election bribe may be just a trial balloon in this respect -- then the election agenda for the next three months and the policy agenda for the next three years will both be set by Labour strategists, with all the growth in nanny government that will ensue, and all the election bribes that implies -- and all the drop in support for the Flip Flop Boys that can be predicted as even the blindest blue-tinged supporter realises that the effect of his party's strategy is that his party's leaders are in reality batting for the other team.

Socialism to the left of me, socialism from the right -- how could a Laborite really lose?

The job of the smart Labour strategist will be to find that 'equilibrium' point at which the dead rats being swallowed by the Blue Team start to choke their blue-tinged support, and then just go a little bit more. 'More,' in this case, meaning more bribes, more nannying, more socialism.

The job of the smart National strategist -- if such a person actually exists in their 'zero from three' strategy team -- should be to realise this now, several weeks before the election, while there's still time to promote a vision in which National actually represents a significant policy alternative.

And the smart National voter? That's another oxymoron. If more bribes, more nannying and more socialism is what you want, then keep right on supporting the Blue Team's 'me too' strategy. As long as you do, they'll keep right on offering it, as indigestible as that will eventually prove to be.

UPDATE:  Another dead rat has just washed up on the electoral beach: Liberty Scott reports "Labour has now pledged over $400 million of your taxes (not petrol tax but general tax) to pay for the frightfully expensive Transmission Gully motorway. This doesn't even cover half the cost."

And John Boy's response?  "Me too."

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We're with stupid

Earnestness, observed PJ O'Rourke, is just stupidity sent to college. Labour must be listening, since it wants to pay for more stupidity to be sent to universities already overflowing with it.

It is understood [reports Colin Espiner in his best passive-verb voice] Labour is considering a massive boost to the student allowance scheme, including a payment of some $350 a week for study courses of 35 hours a week or more. That would put student allowances far ahead of any other standard benefit payment.

This is so obviously a bribe aimed at unthinking students, paid for by you in your capacity as taxpayer and ripe suck, that one can only wonder:

  1. Does anyone seriously still believe that more student welfare will raise the quality of students who attend universities? (Here's this morning's example of the sort of drivel produced in what were once places of learning -- do we really need more numb nuts paid with our money to produce even more of this crap? )
  2. How long will it be before John Key says "me too"?

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Why you shouldn't give a Fannie Mae

Contrary to popular economic wisdom, the collapse of the appallingly named American welfare lenders 'Fannie Mae' and 'Freddie Mac' would not be a disaster to be measured against the Vandals' sacking of Rome, as some breathlessly illiterate commentators suggest.

These two government-created behemoths "own" ninety percent of America's "secondary" mortgage market -- in other words, cheap credit doled out to make up the difference between what house-buyers wanted, and what they could really afford. This is the junk mortgage market primarily responsible for creating the housing bubble with the money pumped out by the Federal Reserve's printing presses, which have been running hot for a decade.

Without all this extra credit, created by 'The Fed' out of thin air, and without these two bloated bureaucracies, created way back in the thirties by Franklin Roosevelt's 'New Deal' panjandrum, the housing bubble would likely never have happened as it did.

The counterfeit capital doled out through Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) amounts to middle class welfare for house-buyers . The delusion of inflationism -- the process by which prosperity is 'assured' by expanding the money supply while strangling production -- allowed everyone to believe this was sustainable.

It isn't. The $5 trillion bubble is about to burst. The real disaster, as Lew Rockwell points out, is not the bursting but the politicians who want to bail out the bubble with even more printed money -- as if the salve of ever more printed money will be able to turn stones into bread, or bubble into balm:

Here is John McCain:
"Those institutions, Fannie and Freddie, have been responsible for millions of Americans to be able to own their own homes, and they will not fail, we will not allow them to fail … we will do what's necessary to make sure that they continue that function."
Not a single Democrat disagrees.
As with the S&L fiasco from years ago, the case of the housing bust followed by the trillions in taxpayer liabilities for the disaster will again be cited as a case of "the shock doctrine" and "disaster capitalism" in which the elites make fantastic amounts of money at the expense of the little guy. The critique will be mostly solid but for the one most important point: this kind of fiasco would not happen in a free market. It happens because government, through credit creation and guarantees, makes it possible.

It was not capitalism that created this mess, it was the vial of government poison that everyone has been drinking. Time to go cold turkey, not to keep brewing more.

UPDATE: The bailout of Freddie and Fannie has got investor Jim Rogers outraged.

The U.S. economy is in a recession, possibly the worst since World War II, Rogers said. "They're ruining what has been one of the greatest economies in the world,'' Rogers said. Bernanke and Paulson "are bailing out their friends on Wall Street but there are 300 million Americans that are going to have to pay for this, and 6 billion people in the world who are going to have to pay for it.''

See him explain it all in his usual colourful fashion at the Mises Blog.

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'The Wave' - A-Cero Architects

wave1

Designed by A-Cero Architects of Madrid for a site in, where else, Dubai -- The Wave links its slender 'stems' together in a 'torsional wrap' to give movement to what will be the tallest structure designed by Spanish architects, and what's being called the world's first 'sea-scraper.' 'Floor plans' are below.

1590_4_1000 A-Cero Wave 4

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Let's all have inflation to go

Some people still think the Reserve Bank fights inflation. Poor saps. Here's the history of NZ's inflation, in a graph. Just take a look at what happens to inflation once a) the gold standard was 'suspended' in 1914, and b)when the Reserve Bank is established in 1934. Now, we're all aware that correlation is not causality, but seems to me that the fans of central banking have some explaining to do.

UPDATE: I should have let you know the context for the graph. It was prepared by Bryce Wilkinson from Wellington's Capital Economics Ltd, and referenced in this February article by Frederic Sautet: 'The Disastrous Effects of Central Banking: Let’s Get the Story about Inflation in New Zealand Straight.'

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Understanding independent front suspension

Every modern car on the road has 'INDEPENDENT FRONT SUSPENSION,' but many do not know exactly what this means, or how exactly this tremendous innovation works. Essentially, both wheels are independent of each other, hence that expression. For a superb demonstration of how a pair works in harmony, watch this German commercial for the Nissan Pathfinder -- a moving experience which should benefit your understanding of this fine piece of engineering. Best explanation I've seen. These Germans know what they're doing.

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Down one.

Libz leader Bernard Darnton confesses "I'm a spiny ant-eater"

Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton confesses in this interview with Wellington's Capital Times to being a spiny ant-eater. Who knew?

Q: Should central government contribute more money to the Transmission Gully project than it has already committed?
No. The Transmission Gully project is a wildly overpriced boondoggle that will contribute nothing to fixing Wellington transport. The trouble is that politicians prefer enormous shiny projects - regardless of whether they work or not - to small sensible ones, such as the numerous upgrades that are already relieving congestion on the coastal route. If gold-plated projects like this and the billion-dollar tunnel under Helen Clark's electorate were abandoned taxes on petrol wouldn't need to be 70 cents a litre.

Q: What book are you currently reading?
'
Culture of Fear' by Frank Furedi. Furedi contends that despite being healthier and safer than ever, our culture is suffused with fear. We fear bird flu, pesticides, and paedophiles, even though none of these is ever likely to harm us. We fear that we're incompetent to deal with problems, leading to an infestation of mediators, facilitators, counsellors, and similar nonsense professions. In politics people demand government protection from all manner of imagined ills. We trade real freedom for false security.

Q: What is the key issue Wellington will face over the next three years?
The biggest issue facing Wellington and New Zealand is resource management. Whatever your pet topic is - transport, energy, or house prices - the Resource Management Act has an impact, usually negative. New roads and power stations are delayed or prevented by the RMA. The recent housing boom, and hence bust, was caused by restrictions on land use. Businesses use the RMA to stymie competitors rather than to protect the environment. Protecting property rights rather than “managing resources” would fix all this.

Q: Is the public service bloated and overstaffed or under-resourced given its importance to society?
The public “service” is grossly overstaffed. Bureaucracy is a parasitic growth that lives off the productive sector and it should be slashed. There's a myth that the government “runs the country”. In fact the government's usual role is to get in the way. Those who really run the country are the entrepreneurs, plumbers, and truckies. Without them the country would grind to a halt. It's hard to imagine that a few thousand communications strategists and policy analysts would be missed.

Q: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
A pangolin. Standing for Libertarianz is a bit like being a pangolin. Nobody's ever heard of pangolins either. Pangolins – or spiny anteaters – have thick skins, something that's necessary both in the sub-Saharan forest and the Aro Valley Community Centre election meeting. Like good libertarians, pangolins aren't aggressive but will defend themselves if required. Allegedly, the problem-solving section of a pangolin's brain is highly developed, essential for finding food at night and rolling back the nanny state once elected.

Culture of Fear Revisited: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectation
by Frank Furedi

Read more about this book...

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He said "Sloppy"!

I have to say it's always amusing to hear Winston Peters lambast his accusers by calling them "lazy," guilty of "sloppy journalism" and claim the evidence against him is just "malicious lies." It's doubly amusing -- since as everyone knows this is a man who is a complete stranger to details with a near-total aversion to hard work, who can't lie straight in bed.

The primary problem Peters now faces is his own "sloppiness" with the truth (did the Cook Strait ferry ever run aground as he said it did? was anything ever found at the bottom of the Winebox as he claimed? did he really refuse the baubles of office as he promised? was the man with the illegal Winston First sign just "an enthusiastic supporter" who Winston said he didn't know? did Owen Glenn ever give him money, which Winston said he didn't)*; his own party's sloppiness with donations, and who may or may not have deposited what, and when (or not); and his own abject dishonesty in stealing money from the taxpayer to fund his last election campaign, and his childish games ever since in refusing to pay it back.

"Sloppy"doesn't begin to describe the dishonest poseur.

Here's Devo with a song for Winston: 'Sloppy.'

UPDATE 1: The Hive suggests the last job for the Serious Fraud Office before its demise should be investigating the Glenn loan or non-loan to NZ First. That would certainly motivate the SFO troops!

UPDATE 2: The conspiracy theories have started. I just received this in my inbox:

Now, I might be drawing a long bow here, but what if OG’s donations to NZ First were a set-up from the start?
What if he made donations under the direction of the Labour Party to NZ First as an insurance scheme for Labour?
Maybe, Peters either knew about the money but wanted to keep it quiet – why, we don’t know. It seems odd seeing he backed the EFB.
Or, Peters didn’t know about the money, it arrived in NZF’s bank account anyway, and Winston has been made to look a fool when OG comes out stating that he gave NZ First money.
Peters is caught with his fly down after denying the donations publicly, and Clark and Labour cut Peters loose when he looks like he’s becoming a liability.
A year or two ago I wouldn’t have considered something so outlandish, but after seeing Labour in action, I think nothing is beyond the realms of possibility.

Frankly, I think the ability of the Labour Party to organise anything suggests cockup more than conspiracy. But it's entertaining to speculate.

UPDATE 3: Frankly, you can only laugh when you hear Helen Clark saying it's not her job to investigate since Winston Peters's problems are "not the Labour Party's business" and she is "not a private police force" as she did just now on Newstalk ZB, since in the last nine years every goddamn thing anyone in this country does has been deemed to be "the Labour Party's business" -- that is, every goddamn thing except the behaviour of her cabinet ministers -- and she and those same cabinet ministers have unleashed unprecedented police power against productive, hard-working New Zealanders and their families.

And she might reflect too that If she's used the phrase "not the Labour Party's business" more liberally over the last nine years, she might have more support now.

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* The answer to all of these is of course the very opposite of what Winston said was the case. When it came to the crunch, it was found Winston had no evidence to back up any of his self-serving tilts at the headlines, or to do what he said he would -- and now the emails have come out between Owen Glenn and his PR man, they seem top confirm Dail Jones's claim last year that a donation of around $100k was deposited into the NZ First back account in December last year.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

REVIEW: Little Bushman & Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, (Auckland Town Hall)

Crikey, this was good. Starting with an Ornette Colemanseque sax jam sounding a little like Lou Reed's 'Bells,' and finishing with a folksy Led-Zep-goes-bushman romp, Warren Maxwell and his band played a winning evening of music with the APO that wore its influences on the sleeve, and always had the heart in the right place. It was a joy to witness.

A former Trinity Roots lead, the sweep and textures of Maxwell's psychedelic-cinematic songs lend themselves beautifully to the orchestral experiment initiated by the APO and local composer John Psathas, who arranged Maxwell's pieces for orchestra and band. It worked. It worked damn well. There were a few worrying moments when it might have been Spinal Tap in their 'free jazz phase' up there -- just moments, however, which were gloriously swept away with soaring melody, or riffs that nibbled their way up from within to sweep to glory over the sea of sound.

It was a neat night, and (like Maxwell's music), the very best of Enzed -- kiwi through and through. Amid all the concern for the future of New Zealand, the night, the songs, the audience and orchestra -- an audience including young hoodie-wearers in awe of the orchestra and of Maxwell's music -- all seemed to say, "We're going to be okay."

I loved it. Here's an interview to give you some idea of what you missed.

UPDATE: See, it wasn't just me; the Herald thought it was special too:

This is one of those once in lifetime gigs you're unlikely to see the likes of again...

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Owen who?

Confused about Owen Glenn -- about why he's relevant to NZ politics, and what his behaviour and treatment says about NZ politicians? Then read David Farrar's short summary, 'Some facts about Owen Glenn.'

Welcome to 'Sunday Star Times' & 'Herald' readers


Hi there, and welcome to NOT PC --- and to NOT PC's posts on Education.

Check out the Libertarianz' transitional education policy here at Libz TV. Read the full Libertarianz education policy here. And here's just a few of my favourite posts on the subject here at NOT PC...
NB: Libertarianz advertising is entireley funded by the voluntary donations of supporters. If you want to help support Libertarianz advertising this year, including the weekly promotion of Libz transitional policies in the Sunday Star and elsewhere, then head here to donate. Thanks.

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