Tuesday, 18 November 2008
How are government "stimulus" packages supposed to work? Jeff Perren points to an answer in the Wall Street Journal: "Government stimulus bills are based on the idea that feeding new money into the economy will increase demand..." But identifying where the government gets the money from explains why such stimulus doesn't work the way it's supposed to, if at all. Says Jeff:
I strongly urge everyone to read the entire article, which uses "infrastructure spending" as an example.
There should be no subject more topical for a NZ taxpayer.
Meanwhile, the Onion asks whether the government should stop dumping money down a giant hole [hat tip Berend].
UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's Lynne Kiesling on prospective attempts to build a better economy by mis-allocating (or destroying) capital. To paraphrase a popular recent ad campaign, "No We Can't." [Hat tips Art Carden and Will Wilkinson]
I'm very happy to post the first post from another of my new regular contributors here at NOT PC: Susan from libertarian headquarters. Sadly, the subject is not such a happy one ... it's this weasel here:
Prime Minister-designate John Key announced his Cabinet yesterday ahead of being sworn in as New Zealand’s 37th Prime Minister this week. It’s a big Cabinet, consisting of 28 Ministers and Associate Ministers for everything, by the looks of it, except for Africa itself. Although if Bob Geldof had his way …. but I digress.
All the usual suspects are there, along with the truly stupid Ministries of Arts & Culture, Rugby World Cup and, of all things, Disarmament. I thought there was nothing left to disarm, but there we go. The patronising Ministries of Women’s and Pacific Island Affairs still exist and ACC does not look to be privatised in the near future, more’s the pity.
And Nick Smith acquired the Environment portfolio, which was such a sure bet that the TAB would not have been interested. Which makes him the new Minister for the RMA.
It’s true that his skin has been forest green for some time, but rather than ease up a bit, he has only become more fanatical as time goes by. Nick’s positively in love with nature, which is great. So am I. But his prescription for its survival is very different from mine. Nick’s environmental values would not be out of place in the Green party. And that alone should worry any working New Zealander with at least half a functioning brain. For an example of what can happen – quickly - when zealotry prevails, let me take you on a wee trip around the British countryside under New Labour.
The last decade of British country life has seen angry clashes between supporters of traditional country pursuits and the “antis,” the latter of which are lead by violent, well-organised, urban protestors who have a hatred of the former that verges upon the pathological.
I spent a long winter in rural North Yorkshire 25 years ago. I learned two things about the fox: 1) that it has no natural enemy, and 2) that it is not a cute dog. On the contrary, it’s a lethal killing machine. It kills for fun, not for food. If a fox gets into a henhouse, it will leave nothing alive.
Personally, foxhunting wasn’t my favourite thing. But it was the countryside’s method of keeping fox numbers at manageable levels. It is not easy to catch a fox; it is notoriously quick and the hounds track by scent rather than sight. They are killed (by hounds) with one quick blow to the neck, not the messy, protracted affair as the antis would have you believe. The pursuit provides employment for thousands and has been enjoyed for centuries.
Clarissa Dickson Wright of Two Fat Ladies cookery fame, in her superb autobiography Spilling the Beans, states that the ban on foxhunting came about largely as Tony Blair’s quid pro quo for the invasion of Iraq, in order to appease his party’s extreme. Fox numbers have obviously risen markedly since, resulting in increasing stock losses for farmers and small-holders alike and the adverse implications thereof.
Dickson Wright has become something of a spokesman for the countryside movement. After the death of her on-screen partner Jennifer Paterson, she co-hosted a television series for the BBC entitled Clarissa & the Countryside, with each episode concentrating on a particular rural subject. It was very well-received and she quotes one instance where the editor of “Scotland on Sunday,” after watching an episode on the requirements of the grouse moor, printed an article bemoaning his ignorance as to the moors’ necessity in being managed for longevity and retracting previous critical editorial. It is interesting to note that, in spite of her roaring success in this country with Two Fat Ladies, the rural series was not purchased by TVNZ. Guess it didn’t sit well with Labour’s Charter, eh…
There is also the UK ban on shooting birds of prey, which has resulted in the rapid decline in the numbers of smaller British birds as their larger counterparts vie for food sources. Additionally, the birds of prey attack ewes by blinding them so as to easily prey upon their newborn lambs. The interference from Whitehall has negatively impacted upon the lives and livelihoods of thousands and been the ruination of many.
Now all this might seem like it's half a world and a different political party away from Nick the Dick, our new Minister for the Environment, but the essentials remain the same, i.e., the essence and ramifications of interference by central planners upon YOUR property and, perhaps, YOUR livelihood under the banner of protecting the environment. And with the weasel having been given the added portfolio of Climate Change in addition to that of The Environment, you can bet your ever decreasing dollar that Nick Smith has every intention of stamping his mark upon New Zealand, both rural and urban.
Oh, and regarding ACC? He’s got that, too. Just thought you’d like to know. ;)
* * * * *
By the way, Clarissa Dickson Wright is the daughter of the brilliant heart surgeon, Sir Arthur Dickson Wright, who was also a brutal alcoholic. Her mother was an Australian heiress. Clarissa studied for a law degree and remains the youngest woman in UK legal history to be admitted to the Bar, aged 21. She was a contemporary of Tony Blair and Jack Straw, among others. Her autobiography Spilling the Beans is an extraordinary read and, to quote one of the many favourable reviews, it left me flabbergasted. I highly recommend it.
NB: More posts here detailing what this pillock plans for the RMA -- in short, bugger all:
- Put Smith down, and move him away from the Cabinet! - NOT PC
- Nats' RMA confidence trick exposed - NOT PC
- National's RMA Policy "like a chocolate-coated turd" - NOT PC
UPDATE: "Snap quiz: how many ministries does the New Zealand government have, as in Minister of This and Minister for That?" For answers, head to the Kiwi Polemicist, who's "undertaken the herculean task" of writing a list of them all: "as you read consider not only the number of ministries, but also which areas of your life (and other people’s) that our slave masters deem it necessary to manage."
Leastways, that's where painter Michael Newberry is now, working on some 'plein air' paintings in the California sun -- meaning small paintings (these shown here are just 9"x12") that are painted very quickly in the open air.
In his plein air paintings, Michael is always looking, he says,
to explore, to have fun, and to try new things. I try new color combinations, new ways of composing things when I’m working on a major work. So I’m adding that element to it as well. I think that my body of work will be significant in that there are hints of discovery and innovation throughout everything that I am doing.
If you'd like to purchase one of these jewels, you can contact Michael to arrange it. Newberryworkshop@earthlink.net.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Kiwiblog has the complete list of Ministerial announcements. I've already made a strong start at slagging them all off -- and I trust I'll get around to completing the full set before too long -- accountant Mark Hubbard helps out by putting the boot into Peter Dunne-Nothing, who retains his job as head of the mafia.:
I note with horror that Peter Dunne is probably to keep Revenue. Disaster.
He has been a weak Minister, which normally would be good, however, IRD is the most powerful Department of all and desperately needs to be reined in.
Over eighteen years of practice I have been stunned by how callous IRD have become over the last three years, wielding their penalty system with a viciousness that is obscene. They will destroy the individual for no other reason than that they can; even when they will admit their interpretation of whatever applicable law makes a mockery of the intention of the legislator (and normally that intention was evil enough).
With Dunne back in, nothing will change, and the war on the productive sector, where it really matters, will in fact gather pace. And not even for any such misguided (im)morality of the much bloodied altar of the 'common good', it's much more cold blooded than that - again, it is simply because bureaucrats can use what has become a very badly drafted Act, and are not bound to their own word, or past practice, and they can destroy, and do, because they can. No other reason necessary.
And be warned, they seem to have developed, particularly, a disliking for the rural sector, which they judge as having had too many concessions in the tax law: as soon as a Department passes judgment such as this, independent of its Minister, and worse, on the only sector keeping our economy afloat, then we are in dire times indeed.
I am gutted at this decision. As far as I'm concerned, the next three years represent the continuation of tyranny, just as I always thought it would be under the populist Key.
Why's everybody so gosh-darned excited about Sharples and Turia getting high profile Ministries -- Maori Affairs for Sharples; Associate at Social Development for Turia -- with uncapped budgets to match?
Remember, these are still the same people who want rangatiratanga -- which to them means 'independence' at your expense. They still want something for nothing. They're still tribalists and collectivists who think government should "fix everything, fund everything and give 'whanau' the power to veto anything in their communities."
Remember that Tariana didn't leave Labour just for objecting to the Foreshore and Seabed Act -- she'd already been sacked as a minister for making up that nonsense about a "holocaust" in Taranaki. And Sharples is still the same idiot who said that the "police raids" that netted the Te Qaeda tribalists "set race relations in New Zealand back one-hundred years" (as I said at the time, "I wish!")
Remember that, as Lindsay Mitchell reminds us,
Tariana's solution to the relative poverty that many Maori children experience is to increase benefits. John Key has given her a role in which she can promote that solution.
Good old John Boy. So generous with putting these people in charge of spending your money. Sharples and Turia haven't changed at all -- as Cactus Kate alos reminds us. All that's changed is that National's thirst for power at any expense now puts them firmly inside the tent, instead of outside the tent where Clark left them.
Here's a message from former slave Frederick Douglass to Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia and anyone else who wants to 'do something' for 'their people.' They would do well to have the words printed out and engraved and fixed on a plaque on their office walls:
Everybody has asked the question . . . ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!
It's a message that is clear and unambiguous -- and just as relevant here and now as it was there and then. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]
UPDATE: Incidentally, I love Oswald's prescription for anyone who's Ministerial title contains the words Cultural, Woman's, Children's, Auckland, Racing, Race, Climate or Gender. That would be a start.
Heh heh. It's nice sending out a few emails and getting this reply back from the Ministerial Office of Winston Peters:
This email account to be closed shortly
Office of Rt Hon Winston Peters
In other words:
longer known at this address.
Make your day. Send one yourself to Ministerial.Office.of.Rt.Hon.Winston.Peters@ministers.govt.nz
NB: And if you haven't already heard this joke...
Attendees at New Zealand's factory schools have been so dumbed down they're now barely able to read, let alone digest Shakespeare. Callum McPetrie, one of the few youngsters still able to read and to understand what he's reading argues that the answer to the problem is not to abandon the teaching of Shakespeare, along with basic content in maths, history and business studies, but to stop the dumbing down.
He's right, you know. And his piece is definitely worth a read -- particularly by whichever minister is about to take on the ministry and the teachers' unions: The Last Tragedy Of Shakespeare.
UPDATE: The brilliant Bernard Levin takes the brief for Shakespeare, opposing in one sentence the MEd's sentence of oblivion for better learning:
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.
To quote the great philosopher Tom Waits, "The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away." David Farrar has all the small print about the 'coalition' deals between National & Act, National & Peter Dunne Nothing, and National and the Maoris. I'm going to try and digest the details before commenting too much, and suggest you do the same.
In the meantime, how about thinking about a decent acronym for the new National/United/Maori/ACT Government? NUM-nuts is the best I've thought of.
UPDATE 1: From the NACT agreement:
"National agrees to a review by a special select committee of Parliament of the current Emissions Trading Scheme legislation and any amendments or alternatives to it, including carbon taxes, in the light of current economic circumstances and steps now being undertaken by similar nations."
On the surface, this is great news. But I wonder which party, ACT or National, the "review" of the Emissions Trading Scam is intended to protect? That is, is it a review designed to quietly extinguish the scheme, as I would like, and on which ACT campaigned? Or to delay implementation of National's own ETS scheme?
And when will we know for sure?
In any case, the Appendix to the NACT agreement gives more details of the terms of reference for the proposed Climate Change Select Committee, which potentially offers plenty of scope to "hear competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change from internationally respected sources and assess the quality and impartiality of official advice" -- i.e., to point out the many warmist myths on which policy has to date been prepared.
One would hope that such a committee would prove as impartial and objective as the Royal Commission that so glorious kicked the Genetic Engineering bogey out of the park. "Technology is integral to the advancement of the world," they said. "Fire, the wheel, steam power, electricity, radio transmission, air and space travel, nuclear power, the microchip, DNA: the human race has ever been on the cusp of innovation. Currently, biotechnology is the new frontier. Continuation of research is critical to New Zealand's future."
I look forward to a similarly ringing burial of the warmist mantra.
UPDATE 2: Blair M likes the NACT Agreement. Gives ACT a soapbox and the Tories a spine, he reckons -- although it could also be a 'Public Choice form of National 'privatising their gains' and nationalising their dead rats by blaming them on the smaller party.
UPDATE 3: And Lindsay Perigo congratulates Rodney Hide on his Local Government appointment, although he doesn't seem to realise the portfolio doesn't unfortunately cover the RMA. That's Environment. And the loathsome Nick Smith's got that portfolio sewn up -- he's the worm who calls the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation."
It didn't occur to me that Paulson might blow through the whole $700 billion on other Super Highly Important Things before getting around to spending a cent on what (he told us) was necessary to avert a worldwide financial collapse.
Friday, 14 November 2008
Another round-up of the week here at NOT PC. And what a week! I recall something about an election, with all its lingering aftermath ...
If you haven't yet had time to catch up on the gold-plated goodness that was NOT PC this week, then here's what other regular readers seemed to like (and if you'd like to get this weekly 'Best of' emailed to you, then why not sign up here at Yahoo. What's to lose?):
- The global financial/economic crisis: causes & solutions
A guest post and a great summary of the global financial and economic crisis: it's real causes and the only long-term solution. Yes, it was from last week -- but it's still ranking through the roof!
- "Vote like you mean it!"
Another guest post (yes, the guests really are kicking my arse, which is why you'll see more of them next week). In case you hadn't noticed, a vote for what you don't believe in is always going to be a wasted vote.
- Emissions Trading horse-trading
An open letter to every western politician who wishes to sacrifice industry to ignorance, which is what all the Emissions Trading Scams will do, from whichever party they're introduced. Read on here for the best summary of the collapsing warmist science you'll see this side of thirty-years of static temperatures and increased Arctic sea ice -- and the best article possible to send to local politicians contemplating slapping our economy in environmental irons.
- Will regime change mean blog change?
So what happens to the local blogosphere now "change" has come and Helengrad is no more? What especially is going to happen to all those Helen-haters now that Helen has gone?
- NOT PC's voting guide for Saturday
Well, that worked, didn't it. You didn't even vote for Judith Tizard like I asked. Slackers.
- Post-election reflections
A few things to think about now that we meet the new boss -- who sounds suspiciously like the old boss, don't you think?
- Absolutely, positively irritating
No, not the positively off-putting politicians who've dominated our lives and TV screens for what seems like months, but the irritating phrases that dominate meetings, conversation and too much for your TV time. We have all the most irritating that are fit to print.
- What's this "equality of opportunity" nonsense we're now hearing?
They've got no "bottom lines" but we keep hearing the incantation of a new National mantra: "I really believe in the equality of opportunity for all, not the equality of outcome." Just WTF is going on here, and why the "equality of opportunity" the wrong goal to pursue?
Lots of good reading there, and plenty of intellectual ammunition with which to fill up your shot bag. Read like you mean it! :-)
Enjoy your weekend!
Neil the Beer Man give you the benefits of his experience of American beers. He drinks Bud Light so you don't have to, and Green Flash 'cos he can.
American beers have an appalling reputation internationally based largely on the fact that 80% of them are, in fact, nonsense on stilts. However, that accusation can be levelled at a number of countries' beers -- often a nation’s most popular or most famous beer is nothing like their best offering.
I have to confess that I did try Bud Light during my stay in America. Somewhat reluctantly, I had a taster glass of the stuff at my hotel. Robert the Rather Excellent Barman commented that this was the first time he had ever poured a tasting glass of Bud Light. It had a faint, distant nose of apple, a watery thin body, hints of apple juice and virtually no bitterness at the end. It was the very epitome of insipid.
Robert agreed with my tasting notes and explained that was precisely why he liked Bud Light so much. “It is like drinking water with alcohol in it – in a good way!” he exclaimed. The best beer he had available, from a pretty poor line up, was the Red Hook Long Hammer IPA. This beer at least had some juicy citrus notes and a firm bitter finish. Going from the Bud to the IPA was like the difference between night and day, hop illusions against hop flavour, real beer versus fizzy pop. That said, the Hammer was still more easy-drinking than intensely flavoured.
For intense flavours, the place to go is Green Flash Brewery. The catchy name refers to a rare natural phenomenon which can happen to the sun at sunrise and sunset near the ocean. Many people never see a green flash.
The brewery, founded by Mike and Lisa Hinkley, has been operating for just over six years and the simple, industrial-looking brewery is located in Vista, California.
It is just incredible what they coax out of their brewing tanks. As an unreconstructed hophead it is probably my favourite brewery in America. Mike told me that “hoppy beers are what we are known for and we are very happy with that!”
I started with the Anniversary Double IPA which was a special brew. I wrote that “it was as if a car load of hops had done a drive-by shooting on my palate.” Steve Plowman from Hallertau actually lost the power of speech when he tried it. It is so hoppy. It is so brilliant.
One of Green Flash’s signature beers is the West Coast IPA which weighs in at 7% and boasts a staggering 95 units of bitterness. I noted that it was “juicy, grapefruit, malty, full, big hops, late burst of intense bitterness and very, very tasty.”
Next was Le Freak, a 9% Belgian style strong ale with American dry hopping. Sadly, it was as confused as it sounds and my sole comment was “odd.” Personally, I like both styles but they just don’t work well together.
Perhaps the most extraordinary brew was the 2006 vintage of their Barleywine. It is a rare hoppy barleywine which boasted a phenomenal 10.9% alcohol and 85 units of bitterness. I thought it had a “surprisingly light body, sweet caramel, plenty of hops on the nose and at the end. Real bitterness. Very unusual but works well.”
Several people commented that the beers were so hoppy it feels like they are cleaning your teeth. Green Flash certainly uses a distinctive and generous combination of Nugget (herbal) and Simcoe (passionfruit) hops. There is something about a really hoppy beer which can make you smile like a fool – I coined the phrase “hop zombie.”
I thought I had coined another gem with my clever note that “Green Flash was the hoppiest place on earth.” My only concern at the time was being sued by the good people at Disney. Then it turns out that a great bar called O’Brien’s has been using that tag line for years. I’d probably seen it on a t-shirt the day before. The search continues…
Visit Realbeer for all your best beer news and info
Reader Ann makes a perfect point about National's broadband boondoogle:
One of National's promises was the faster broadband network. Way up north in Whangarei of all places, they're soon going to have (supposedly) the fastest broadband in the country. [Story here.] This is due to Telstra Clear and a company called Northpower, who are installing that super-cool, ultra-fast fibre whatsit network to help make their company more effective, and had the brains to make it much larger than their requirements, leasing the excess back to an ISP, and from there, to consumers in the CBD.
A great example of a private company getting off its arse and doing something rather than sitting back for the government to come along and fix things with a magic wand - usually a fucked up inefficient magic wand that takes years to get going, and gets tied up with red tape and regulation anyway.
Not to mention the courage it takes to invest in broadband when the whole area is a already a combination of political football and electoral bribe. Good job, and good post.
It changed how Ellington viewed his own artistry, encouraging him to experiment further beyond the danceable sounds audiences typically expected of black artists in the jazz world. And in the US, Ellington's 1933 British tour significantly pushed forward the idea of Americans finally accepting their own music as a serious art form.Richly deserved. :-)
The band were shocked by their reception. British audiences bestowed the kind of respect usually only accorded classical artists, five- to 10-minute ovations before the band played a note.
PS: If you're an Ellington fan then don't forget to check out the The Independent's photo gallery accompanying the article. And if you're not an Ellington fan, then you should be. Here's 'Mood Indigo.'
UPDATE: What's happened to black music since Ellington! As I re-read this post I remembered Ed Cline's reflections on how "The great black musicians who contributed to American culture, e.g., Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Louis Armstrong, have apparently been disowned in favor of the malevolent "dissing" and droning of "rap."
"Rap," of course, cannot even be considered as music. Taking together its belligerent tone, its monotonous, metronomic beat, obscene and homicidal "lyrics," and confrontational delivery, it is simply a species of malevolence.Beautifully put. It's worth reading Cline's 'Why the Music Died' if you want to get a handle on how a culture that once revered 'Maple Leaf Rag,' 'Mood Indigo,' 'Flying Home' and 'Stardust' now listens with ear-destroying in-your-face malevolence to 'Suck My Dick, Bitch,' 'Murder Avenue,' and 'Bitches Ain't Shit.'
That's the 'reasoning' of GM, Ford and Chrysler in response to signs that consumers don't want what they're producing: their business model is failing, and in response they're calling for the same bailout crack the banks got.
Talk about moral hazard! Looks like everyone's been getting the right message from the multi-trillion dollar 'rescue' packages: that the US Congress is the ATM machine that can!
And of course the car-makers have friends in the US Congress who are desperate to
Fact is, no business is "too big" too fail. The bigger they are, the more important it is that the resources they using aren't being mis-used -- and there's no worse use than producing stuff too few people want to buy at a cost that's more than they want to pay.
There's nothing wrong with bankruptcy -- the real assets don't go away, they're just put to better use. If the capital tied up in the failed business model run by the car-makers can be put to better use by someone else, then a bailout simply slows down the necessary conversion. I'm with Briggs Armstrong on any bailout for these knuckleheads:
The basis of GM's claim is essentially that they are too big or too important to fail due to their massive labor force. But how massive is their labor force relative to other American companies? It may be surprising that the following companies employ a larger number of workers than GM: Target, AT&T, GE, IBM, McDonalds, Citigroup, Kroger, Sears, and Wal-Mart. It is also worth noting that Home Depot, United Technologies, and Verizon all employ nearly as many workers as GM.
The question must be posed: Should the government bail out all 12 of these companies and, if so, at what cost?
It is unethical to force taxpayers to pay billions of dollars in order to bail out a company with a failing business model. After all, they cannot even claim, as banks did, that it is an industry-wide problem. Because if it were industry-wide, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Volkswagen, etc. would all be joining their American counterparts on Capitol Hill with their collective hands out.Exactly right.
For years GM and Ford have produced a product that consumers do not value as much as the product provided by their competitors. Rather than changing their products or business model, they instead spent small fortunes on lobbyists. If the government does bail out GM, rest assured that this will not be the last time. But even if the government gives GM a check every week, there will come a time when no amount of government money will be enough to save them.
UPDATE: Great comment from LGM:
Now there is only one option [the auto industry sees]: Government's got to do something about it. In a sense they are correct. The government does have to do something. It must get out of the way and stop molesting industry.
He used to be all over the telly, an enthusiastic naturalist inspiring viewers with his wide knowledge of love of the outdoors.
And then he became a climate skeptic. And his career suddenly started to bomb.
A respected botanist and the author of 35 books, he had presented around 400 programmes over the years and was appreciated by audiences for his boundless enthusiasm.Read on here for his story, which shows the price that can be paid "for not toeing the orthodox line on climate change."
Yet for more than 10 years he has been out of the limelight, shunned by bosses at the BBC where he made his name, as well as fellow scientists and environmentalists.
His crime? Bellamy says he doesn’t believe in man-made global warming.
Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.
A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear, A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
In word, or sigh, or tear--
O Lady ! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd,
All this long eve, so balmy and serene, Have I been gazing on the western sky, And its peculiar tint of yellow green : And still I gaze--and with how blank an eye !
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars ;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen :
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue ;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are !
My genial spirits fail ;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast ? It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west :
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.
O Lady ! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live :
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud !
And would we aught behold, of higher worth, Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,
Ah ! from the soul itself must issue forth A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud Enveloping the Earth-- And from the soul itself must there be sent A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth, Of all sweet sounds the life and element !
VO pure of heart ! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be !
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady ! Joy that ne'er was given, Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life, and Life's effluence, cloud at once and shower,
Joy, Lady ! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower
A new Earth and new Heaven, Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud--
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud--
We in ourselves rejoice ! And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight, All melodies the echoes of that voice, All colours a suffusion from that light.
VIThere was a time when, though my path was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress, And all misfortunes were but as the stuff Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness : For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth :
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth ;
But oh ! each visitation Suspends what nature gave me at my birth, My shaping spirit of Imagination. For not to think of what I needs must feel, But to be still and patient, all I can ; And haply by abstruse research to steal From my own nature all the natural man--
This was my sole resource, my only plan :
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul...
Thursday, 13 November 2008
...and therefore, says the Law Society, perfectly suited to be a lawyer:
Former Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards has been granted the certificate of character he needs to be admitted to the bar as a lawyer.
And lawyers wonder why people make jokes about them.
UPDATE: Says Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn:
The New Zealand Law Society has decided that Clint Rickards is a "fit and proper person" to practice law. I can think of no better demonstration of the utter moral bankruptcy of the legal profession.
He's right you know. If this doesn't convince you then let HL Mencken make the argument:
All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.
I'm very pleased to report the unlikely appearance of Ayn Rand on the BBC, sometimes called the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, in a programme considering her enduring impacted, presented by the unlikely figure of the odious Michael Portillo!
UPDATE: Kaiwai has produced an M4a file of the programme you can download to your iPod. Head to his blog to download.
I have great pleasure in welcoming Bernard Darnton to the regular NOT PC roster -- and he'll be here every Thursday to give you a regular fix! He's not PJ O'Rourke, but ...
On Saturday night I ungraciously raised a glass to Helen Clark’s demise, but there is one thing I will mourn. The useful life of that wonderful neologism “Helengrad” has come to an end. The siege of Helengrad is over although, oddly, it was the besiegers who were the ones swallowing the dead rats.
Coined by a caller to Lindsay Perigo’s Politically Incorrect Show many years ago, the word “Helengrad” captured the mood of a decade perfectly. The search is on for a replacement.
Given that John Key’s stated policies are indistinguishable from Labour’s, a similar derivation is in order. Key claimed that he would oppose interest-free student loans with every bone in his body; it’s now National Party policy. Those vertebrae are missing in inaction. He later called Working for Families “communism by stealth”; a week later it was National Party policy. Previously, when I’ve referred to National MPs as spineless communists it was overblown rhetoric. Now I just repeat what’s in their own press releases.
So – out comes the Russian atlas and I begin the quest for my own little corner in the dictionary of Modern English. There isn’t much. Key-katerinberg? Vlad-Key-vostok? Key-ev? Perhaps – and I apologise in advance for this – Ta-John-Key-stan? None of them work. They’re clumsy; they try too hard, or don’t try at all. “Helengrad” feels right in your mouth, even if it sticks in your throat.
Even if there was a perfect verbal fit it still wouldn’t work because John Key is just too smiley. It’s impossible to imagine him as one of those miserable specimens propped up atop the Kremlin wall on May Day watching the SS-18s trundle past.
He looks much more like one of those nice friendly chaps you’d happily give a seven-hundred-billion-dollar bailout to.
Ignoring his policies, which I try to do, John Key’s smiliness does make people feel optimistic. His ascent to the premiership has given hope to a generation of schoolboys – boys who have never thought it possible that a male could make it into the top job in this country. For years now, boys in New Zealand schools have failed to perform well. Surely Key’s aspirational trajectory, on behalf of lads everywhere, will encourage these boys to do better. Years from now they will show off their NCEA certificates proudly emblazoned with “Not Underachieved”.
Rumour has it that behind the smile is a man of steel, which would be a nice technical acquittal on the “every bone in my body” charge. We haven’t seen this steely frame during the campaign. In fact, if someone had paid John Key twenty dollars every time he did a back flip he’d be a wealthy man. But he’s going to need that steel to face the economy.
Key’s supposed financial acumen is going to be vital if we’re to get through the current recession. My biggest fear is that he ignores what he knows is best and instead pursues an economic populism that will just make the problem worse. More deficit spending and the rewarding of the guilty will turn a recession into the meltdown I have no desire to live through -- and this will be painful: John-obyl.
You can never have too many articles pointing out the many myths of the Great Depression:
- that President Herbert Hoover was a laissez-faire Republican who clung to the idea that markets were basically self-correcting (he wasn't; he was a meddler).
- that the stock market crash in October 1929 precipitated the Great Depression (it didn't, the problems occurred much earlier.
- that where the market had failed, the government stepped in to protect ordinary people (it didn't, it made things worse).
- that greed caused the stock market to overshoot and then crash (it wasn't greed that caused the boom, it was inflation of the money supply).
- that Franklin Rooselvelt's "enlightened government" pulled the nation out of the worst downturn in its history (it didn't: FDR's over-taxing, over-regulation and the regime uncertainty created just made things worse).
Paul Walker at Anti Dismal hosts the latest timely rejoinder to the myth Big Government Rescue. I loved the excerpt of Franklin Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary in May 1939, recognising failure after ten years of big-government failure:
"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot!"
Roosevelt tried everything in the big-government handbook, everything that's being talked about today including stimulus spending, welfare increases and massive public works, and it all failed -- everything except taking his hands off. By November 1937, when other economies were recovering and the American economy was entering a 'depression within the depression,' FDR was tearing his hair out, complaining to his cabinet, "I'm sick and tired of being told by Henry [Morgenthau] and everybody else what's the matter with the country while nobody suggests what I should do."
"This," says historian John Flynn,
"settles for history the fact that after seven years in the White House Roosevelt had made no impression on the depression, that he had merely proved the unemployed with doles -- a poor and meagre substitute for jobs -- and now in the presence of the seemingly ineradicable shadow of depression, he blamed his advisors."
But still the myths survive.
UPDATE: Putting a human face on the American Depression is blog reader and movie-maker Frank Thomas (website here), who's just sent me this YouTube presentation of his brother's song 'Pennyland.'
In Thomas's words, "This is not meant as a political statement, but rather as an attempt to put a face on something that so often appears academic."
I said a few weeks ago that John Boy's blandness had the effect of making him a blank canvas on which people projected their own hopes, dreams and wishes -- regardless of the evidence to the contrary from the Nats' bland policy mush and from John Boy himself.
The Double Standard has a list of just some of the reasons people voted for the blank canvas, and what they now expect to receive in return:
- more rapid growth
- higher wages
- better healthcare
- better education
- lower interest rates
- lower inflation
- lower crime
- no reductions in Super
- fewer people on benefits
- no more ‘power crises’
- repeal the ETS
- no cuts to Working for Families
- no blow out in government debt
- more infrastructure investment
- reduced poverty
- cleaner waterways
- no abuse of the 90-day no work rights period
- no dysfunction from privatised ACC
- repeal the amendments to s59
- longer prison sentences
- bootcamps stopping youth crime
- lower tax
- ultra-fast broadband to the home in a few years
- lower greenhouse emissions
- fewer core public servants
- improved public services
- higher savings rates, more sign-up to Kiwisaver
- no sale of Kiwibank
- cheap toll roads
- no more congestion
- lower emigration
- no government scandals
- no trouble with support parties
- Herceptin funded
- no individual case failures of health, education, or other government services
- investment in Kiwirail
When do you think these voters will begin to get the feeling they've been cheated?
Great news for fans of Michael Newberry's work. Says Newberry:
Over the years many of you have suggested it would be great to have economical prints of my best-loved works. Until now the venture was unpractical, but with the tremendous advancements in printing quality, speed, and computerization it's possible to offer a quality image at a good price.
Imagekind offers exceptional printing, customized framing, inexpensive shipping, and 100% money back guarantee. The convenience is incalculable--you get a super deal and I am free to concentrate on making my art. Definitely a win/win situation.
The first print I am offering is Sculptress (shown above). Click the link or the image to take you Imagekind gallery. There you will be able to see my suggestion for framing and size, but then you can modify that to fit your needs--I think you will find it fun.
If you have any questions about the prints don't hesitate to contact Michael at 646-240-5675, or at email@example.com
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Lady Lavender shares her joy: her "Princess of the House" had a liver transplant when she was 4.5 years old, and now five years later she stands "as a proud mum of a 10-year girl who battled other normal kids to take 1st place in the 100m and 200m sprints among Year 5 girls in her school. This, for me, is a pretty fine endorsement that she is 'normal'."
But I meant it when I said she really wants to share her joy. She wants another family to feel as she does, and for another kid to feel like her Princess. A youngster called David Poa. A "sweet, cheeky, mischievous boy who is also funny, charming and endearing," who really, really, really needs an intestinal transplant – which is not available in NZ. He needs to get this transplant done in the US. He has been accepted by specialists in Omaha-Nebraska for an assessment, and likely wait-list for a transplant.
There really are two Johns, and Liberty Scott points out what one John can learn from the other -- i.e., what Key can learn from Banks.
John Key could do worse than emulate the Auckland City Council under John Banks and Citizens & Ratepayers. Together they are slashing spending ... with the intention of keeping rates under check.
Good advice. It's like battening down for the coming storm.
Here's engineer Brian Leyland's piece in yesterday's Dom Post arguing that sunspots spell the end of the climate myth. Leyland is unequivocal:
Government policies on greenhouse gases, carbon trading and promoting renewable energy are based on the beliefs that the world is warming due to man-made greenhouse gases; that promoting renewable energy will make a substantial difference to New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions; and that if New Zealand reduces its greenhouse gas emissions it would affect the world climate. All these beliefs are not true.
The evidence is unequivocal. Measurable, let alone dangerous, manmade global warming is not happening, and is not likely to happen in the future.
Yet with the evidence against it and the economy already in peril, this new government is still relentlessly pursuing its own version of the Emissions Trading Scam -- a manmade response to global warming that will put a handbrake on growth as effective as anything Keith Locke could do.
Which means you, dear readers, need to send every member of the new National, ACT and United caucuses (the last now meets in a telephone booth on Molesworth St) a strongly worded message telling them not to support any ETS if they ever want your vote again. And send them with your covering letter Christopher Monckton's 'Open Letter to John McCain' - the best, most concise, most up-to-date summary of both the peer-reviewed science on the climate myth and the economic damage that will result from responding to the myth.
Perhaps you could recommend a more rational response, one that will allay their fears that our trading partners must see us doing something, and at the same time call the bluff of warmist zealots. Something along the lines, I'd suggest, of a carbon tax linked to real global temperatures. You might call it a Kyoto Plan with a difference...
UPDATE: I love the way Leyland deals with the "consensus" argument:
It is often claimed that because a "consensus" of scientists agree that manmade global warming is happening, it must be true. This is nonsense for two reasons. The first is that many distinguished scientists strongly disagree. So, by definition, there is no consensus.
But even if a consensus did exist, it would make no difference to the real world. For instance, it would not be hard to find a consensus of reverends who firmly believe the world was created a few thousand years ago. But the existence of this consensus would not stop evolution in its tracks.
So what happens to the blogosphere now "change" has come and Helengrad is no more? What especially will happen to those blogs whose chief reason-for-being is Helen hatred -- where to now for them?
Seems to me The Double Standard will move from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive down to EPMU headquarters; Tumeke will move from hating John Key and George Bush to really, really hating John Key; The Hive will change from delivering boring gossip from outside the tent to boring gossip from inside the tent; the men and women of Public Address will gradually realise John Boy is one of them (especially if Key-Wee-Broadband means they can download even more stolen films); Comrade Chris Trotter will hate even more hyberbolically (at least until he realises that John Key is further left than Phil Goff) and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy -- which is to say Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, No Minister and the odious Matthew Hooton -- well, they'll just quietly transform the Conspiratorium of Right Wing Opposition into a Softcock Centre-Right Blancmange sending out trial balloons for their masters between frequent encomia to blandness and big government.
Which is to say they'll find it hard to go from opposition to government when everything their government is doing is the opposite of what they once said they stood for. Which means both they and their readers will slowly lose interest.
Remember what happened to Jordan Carter's blog? That's their fate right there.
And this blog you're reading now?
No change at all in substance. John Boy was never our hero, so we don't see regime change as much change at all really. We'll still be attacking every slippery form of government coercion and praising the very rare moments of new freedom -- but you will begin to notice a few changes as it transforms itself to become NOT PC 2.0. Exciting, eh.
The biggest change is the addition of more regular contributors to the stable allowing me to use the Royal 'We' more accurately: which means that in addition to our regular Friday Beer O'Clock posts from maestros Stu and Neil, there'll be other weekly posts from regular contributors ... contributors to be announced very shortly.
The first post starts tomorrow, by NOT PJ: 'Mourning Helengrad' ;^)
UPDATE 1: Oops! After sending out his last epistle declaring treason on us all, Comrade Trotter is hanging up his keyboard in his own hyperbolic fashion: "the New Zealand Left has woken up to its very own 9/11," he says, disappearing up his own hatred and demonstrating at the same time why he's no longer taken seriously.
UPDATE 2: It seems you can't underestimate the ability of the Hard Left to be a caricature of itself. Read RESISTING THE NAT-ACT JUNTA- What is to be done? at Socialist Aotearoa to see what I mean. They appear completely unaware of John Key's plan to bore us so much with politics over the next three years that we'll forget there's even an election planned for 2011.
UPDATE 3: And the predictable post-election collapse of the blogosphere continues: Matthew Hooton has also hung up the keyboard and will, no doubt, be taking his slimy presence off to the Beehive.
UPDATE 4: Ah, after a five-day Moet binge with a gaggle of fawning Tories (see evidence at right from Tumeke!) Cactus Kate has woken up (finally) with liver damage, a raging hangover and her own thoughts on the future of the blogosphere: "With the change of administration blogs will need to change as well," she says, "Here are my predictions."
They're harsh, but (mostly) fair.
John Key told Campbell in a chatty, mates-together to-camera the other night that he wasn't interested in the Labour mantra of "equality of outcome"; he intended instead to pursue "equality of opportunity." His multiple dissemblings over the Maori seats (to abolish or not to abolish, that is the sixty-four seat question) has made it clear he has no bottom lines, but the "equality of opportunity" talking point was one that was raised in the campaign by David Farrar, raised again this week by John Key, and recycled just yesterday by National's ambitious Auckland Central bimbo Nikki Kaye: "I'm a National member because ..." says the Blonde Ambition, sniffing the air for clues ... "because I really believe in the equality of opportunity for all, not the equality of outcome."
Is this already a Labour-Lite talking point then? Once is happenstance -- twice is surely design -- the third time must surely be evidence of collusion, especially by one so ambitious as Ms Kaye.
But is it a reasonable goal to pursue? Is it even a good thing? No, says George Reisman, it isn't. It is no more reasonable to pursue equality of opportunity through the use of government force than it is equality of outcome: both of these are simply misguided attempts to use government power against the facts of reality.
The fact is that people are not born equal, and they can't be made equal by government decree -- and nor can the opportunities that are open to them. A responsible government should pursue neither the closing of gaps nor the equality of opportunity -- the result of both is merely new positions of privilege, a new aristocracy, and destructive nonsense like affirmative action and racial quotas.
What it should pursue instead is the ending of privilege and the removal of government hurdles to individual action.
In other words, it is not equality of opportunity that a responsible government should pursue but freedom of opportunity. That's really what it means to have one law for all. "Let us consider what opportunities actually are," suggests Reisman, "and then establish some important facts about them."
"An opportunity is merely an occasion on which successful action is
possible. It is a situation that an individual can take advantage of to his gain.
What needs to be realized about opportunities is, first of all, that there is
no scarcity of them; they arise again and again. The second thing that needs to
be understood is that what is important in connection with them and deserves
to be fought for, as a matter both of justice and universal self-interest, is not
that vicious absurdity “the equality of opportunity” but the freedom of opportunity.
... what needs to be understood about opportunities is that they can be and regularly are created by individuals. Indeed, opportunities are themselves products of human thought and action..."
Opportunities are everywhere. It's not the abundance of opportunities that is a problem, but the paucity of vision that is unable to see them.
"Let us consider the abundance of opportunities. An opportunity exists
every time there is the possibility of improving oneself in any way. If one is
penniless and there is an unfilled job available that one has the ability to fill,
one has the opportunity of ending one’s pennilessness. If one has a job, and
there is any better job available that one has the ability to fill, one has the
opportunity to improve one’s position further. If there is any skill that one
does not possess, but is capable of learning, then one has the opportunity of
adding to one’s skills.
In fact, in the nature of the case, the economic opportunities potentially
open to the individual far exceed his ability to exploit them, with the result
that he must choose among them, selecting some and rejecting others. This
follows from the fact that there is always room for improvement in the
satisfaction of man’s wants, and that the basis for carrying out such improvement
is the performance either of more labor or of more productive labor.
In other words, built into the fact that man’s wants can always be satisfied more
fully or better is the opportunity for the performance of more labor as the
means of satisfying them more fully or better, and the opportunity for improving
the productivity of his labor.
... it follows that in the nature of things there are potentially limitless
opportunities both for increasing employment and for raising the productivity
of labor, for there are virtually limitless possibilities for improvement in the
satisfaction of man’s wants. Indeed, the potential opportunities for employment
always dwarf man’s ability actually to work, which is the major reason
that he must be concerned with raising the productivity of his labor.
People may wonder, of course, how it can be true that there are virtually
limitless employment opportunities and yet, at the same time, the world in
which we live is characterized by chronic mass unemployment and the
experience of millions is that they have no opportunity for work. There is a
simple reconciliation of these facts. Namely, misguided laws and social
institutions deny man the freedom of exploiting the opportunities for employment
that the nature of reality offers him, and so force unemployment upon him.
The problem of unemployment [about which we're going to see a lot more very soon] is is the result of the violation of the freedom of opportunity -- i.e., the violation of man's freedom to exploit the opportunities that that reality offers him.
The freedom of opportunity means, to be precise, the ability to exploit the opportunities afforded by reality, without being stopped by the initiation of physical force.
That's a great definition: "the ability to exploit the opportunities afforded by reality, without being stopped by the initiation of physical force." And as we know, the biggest initiator of physical force bar none is the government.
People are unable to find work not because there is no work for them in reality, but because government and labor-union interference, based on the initiation of physical force, prices their labour beyond the reach of potential employers ... [specifically through] inflation of the money supply ... coupled with so-called pro-union legislation.
So if the new Key regime wants to do a decent job on this score, to promote the freedom of opportunity, then it must work urgently towards removing those misguided laws and social institutions that while building up a chosen few, restricts every other New Zealanders' freedom of opportunity.
But that would assume it regarded freedom of opportunity as a goal worth pursuing, or even understood its desirability.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns on the Western Front went silent, and World War I was officially over.
Lest we forget.
[Image from Charles Sargeant Jagger's Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London.]
Oxford University researchers have done us the service of compiling the top ten most irritating phrases in the English language. Story here. They are, in order:
- At the end of the day
- Fairly unique
- I personally
- At this moment in time
- With all due respect
- It's a nightmare
- Shouldn't of
- It's not rocket science
No, it sure ain't. I can add a few irritating favourites of my own to the list:
- No brainer (which I've found is usually descriptive of the person using the phrase)
- Going forward (usually used by people making excuses for going backwards)
- Think outside of the box (always used by people resolutely anchored to the status quo)
- It's all good (no, it can't be -- everything has some cost)
Any other annoying "favourites" you'd like to share?
CONTINUAL UPDATE: More phrases that might, like, piss you off for sure (thanks commenters):
- Myself (when the correct word is I or me)
- Absolutely unique
- It ticks all the boxes
- Basically ... (especially when mispronounced)
- Touch base (we're not playing fucking baseball, arsehole)
- Whatever (usually followed by a shrug)
- D'you know what I mean?/Do you get what I mean? (you know)
- Have a nice day...
- I know its none of my business, but...
- I'm not racist, but...
- In terms of
- Big as/sweet as
- Impact (if used as a verb)
- Workshop (when used as a verb)
- Tasked (you have to mangle it to even use it as a verb!)
- Paradigm shift
- Worst case/best case scenario
- I hear what you're saying
- It's so, just, like, you know, surreal!
- Problematic (what's wrong with saying "Difficult"!)
- Strategy (what's wrong with "method"?)
- Data/criteria (they're plurals, dammit)
- Getting your ducks in a row
- My bad
- That's how we roll (especially by someone over twenty-five)
- It's not fair" (so?)
- Social justice (an oxymoron for morons)
- Take it on board (do I look like a truck?)
- Well grounded (you've attached the earth wire?)
- The bottom line is... (the end of the page, aresehole)
- "We" when you mean "I"
- Ramping up