Saturday, 4 April 2009

The “good news” about what came out of the G20? [updated]

Who’s kidding who.  “There is no good news about what happened yesterday,” says Yaron Brook. “Basically what’s going in London is world leaders have come together to establish a kind of global socialist system.  .  .  There was no one there representing capitalism, because capitalism is the dirty word right now.”

UPDATE:  “Say Cheese,” says the Rational Capitalist, who, when he first saw the picture at right thought it must have been “a doctored photo created to mock the absurdity of this meeting. “

When I realized it was not a joke it dawned on me that it is actually a perfect concretization of what is happening. I think that the frivolous connotation of the photo is the result of several related factors…

The most telling of those factors being, as the Rational Capitalist notes in a fine piece [hat tip Per-Olof Samuelsson], that these men are all pragmatic power-lusters, for whom action without thought is  their only absolute, and power over others their greatest joy – which explains both the photograph and their plan, said by Gorgon Brown to mark the emergence of a “new world order.”  An “order” in which stimulus is king, faking reality is paramount, and a crackdowns on tax havens is more important than addressing the real causes of economic collapse.

“Never waste a good crisis,” is the motto of the pragmatic politician, which is the only way to explain the link between a banking insolvency crisis and cracking down on people trying to keep their own money.

As Eric Crampton notes [hat tip Anti Dismal], it makes sense only in “Higgs sense,” in which (contra Klein) crisis is the health of the state.

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Friday, 3 April 2009

Best NOT PC over the last week . . .

If you missed out on your daily NOT PC fix over the last seven days or so, here’s what ranked best with readers who didn’t:

Have a great weekend!

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Beer O'Clock: Founders' Tall Blonde

Having just consumed a superb Tall Blonde at lunchtime (after which I had a beer, ha ha), I resolved that we'd promote it here this afternoon.

A lot's been said about it, and to be perfectly fair very little of what's been said is very important.

The beer itself is certified organic, vegan, GE-free and kosher. Yes, kosher: it has received the Karshrus Certificate from some crowd called the Kosher Kiwi Licensing Authority in Wellington. All that, and it tastes good too, which is probably what's most important.

Established in 1998, Founders was the first brewery in the country to be certified organic. Their beers also conform to the Bavarian Beer Purity Laws of 1516. Which means it tastes good.

The head brewer at Founder’s is John Duncan, a fifth generation brewer -- which means he knows how to brew beer that tastes good. He also says, "we try to operate our business to minimize the negative effects on the environment. We bottle our beer in reusable bottles, use minimal packaging and recycle our brewing byproducts into organic compost through a worm farm. Our spent grain gets used as stock feed.” Despite this, his beer still tastes good, which is no mean feat when you attention is not fully where it should be.

A "zesty blonde lager," the Founder’s Tall Blonde (4.2%) is one of their best selling beers. It's described as a "European style rich golden lager" in which four malt varieties and two types of hops are crafted together to make a full bodied "hoppy" beer. Golden yet slightly cloudy in the glass, it has a fresh nose of hops and spice. In the glass, it has a firm body and a big, bold, bitter finish. That's how one beer scribe described it who enjoyed it.

"A grainy, grassy hop character in the aroma. An austere palate with a high bitterness – unbalanced for a golden lager but nice if you like that sort of thing." That's from another scribe, who didn't quite so much.

I did. Very much.

It tasted good – the ultimate measure of a beer.

It went very well with my lunch, and I look forward to emptying another re-usable bottle or two later on. Buy it here at the Beer Store.


Pictured above is a tall blonde. At right is a golden lager.

DISCLOSURE: In the spirit of this organic, vegan, GE-free and kosher beer, this post has been well recycled from this one here. I'd hate to see such writing just end up in a landfill somewhere.


Friday morning ramble [updated]

  • “Let it not be said that the politicians gathering to celebrate an orgy of Keynesian delinqency and transnational socialism are letting this current financial crisis go to waste,” says Samizdata’s  Jonathan Pearce after the G20’s announced crackdown on “those pestilential things, tax havens.”  Read Never let a crisis go to waste, eh?
  • Paul Walker examines the government’s broadband plan, and finds –wouldn’t you know it—several problems:
    Muldoon is dead, long live Muldoon.
  • Financial planning with “happyness” as your goal means making money fit your purpose, not making your purpose money: The Pursuit of Financial “Happyness”.
  • Liberty Scott compares the National-led government’s performance against his post-election advice.  Point number one: “John, sorry to say it but told you so. How many more swings at the ball is Nick Smith going to be allowed before you realise what a liability he is?”
    Read:  John Key starts to figure out Nick Smith.
  • Government stimulus packages are not ways to deal with economic reality, says Ed Younkins.  Quite the reverse. Government Stimulus Packages are Attempts to Deny Reality.
  • Mathew Parris picks up where Daniel Hannan left off in castigating British PM Gorgon Brown, and offers some helpful advice:
    Do the honourable thing, Mr Brown. Run away.
  • Michael Labeit looks at the socialist agony that is Cuba.
    Read: On Celebrating 50 Years of Marxist Misery.
  • Ari Armstrong looks at the socialist agony that was the Great Depression—surveying Amity Shlaes's History of the Great Depression: Lest We Be Doomed to Repeat It.
  • Diana Hsieh explains the the distinction between legislation and regulation:
    Laws Versus Regulations.
  • Alleged economist Paul Krugman and aspiring state-worshipper Brad De Long both demonstrate they still don’t understand Austrian economics, even though, as Bob Murphy gently explains, Austrians Can Explain the Boom and the Bust.
  • We are seeing The End of Mainstream Economics says Icelandic economist Gunnar Tómasson in this fascinating interview.
  • What the economy needs, says Onkhar Ghate, is Ayn Rand. “If Ayn Rand’s philosophy of rational self-interest is irrelevant today, then so is the Declaration of Independence.”
    Read (and join in the debate): The Economy Needs Ayn Rand.
  • Paul McKeever offers some advice For the Aspiring Politician: What to Study.
  • Bubble, bubble, history and trouble.  Douglas French examines some of history’s famous economic bubbles and discovers, guess what?  That the likes of the tulip bulb mania and the Mississippi bubble were both results of  government intervention that dramatically exploded the money supply: “Although these episodes occurred centuries ago, readers will find the events eerily similar to today's bubbles and busts: low interest rates, easy credit terms, widespread public participation, bankrupt governments, price inflation, frantic attempts by government to keep the booms going, and government bailouts of companies after the crash.”
    Read Doug French Solves the Mystery.
  • Frank Shostak looks at Timothy Geithner’s trillion-dollar “toxic assets” protection plan and asks Would Cleansing Banks' Balance Sheets Kick-start the US Economy?.
  • Know why the G20 were so keen to have everyone act in concert.  Simple.  As Frankfurt banker Thorstein Pollett explains There Will Be (Hyper)Inflation.
  • Oh, and by the way, keep an eye out for Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights discussing the G-20 summit on the Glenn Beck program on Fox News Channel later today. The program starts at 5 p.m., Eastern time (2 p.m., Pacific time)—if Glenn lets him get a word in.
  • And finally, here’s a collection of the world’s most unromantic album covers: 
    25 Really Unromantic Album Covers .

UPDATE 1: NBR editor Nevil Gibson has two cracking links as a background to the decades-long Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict:

  • Israeli academic Gerald Steinberg has this backgrounder putting the Israeli perspective.
  • “Meanwhile, a stinging denunciation of the Arab world’s policy of keeping Gazan residents as stateless refugees has come from Nonie Darwish, the Gazan-born author of Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
        “Mrs Darwish says Arab policy has made Gaza a prison camp for 1.5 million people for the past 60 years.
  •     Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel. Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. 
    Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain ‘Palestinian’ even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.
    This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis.”

    “Mrs Darwish also says it is a conscious policy to over-populate Gaza by rewarding families with many children. Gaza, it must be recalled, is getting $US4.5 billion in foreign aid without strings that would resolve the refugee issue or curb its ridiculously high birth rate.”

UPDATE 2: “Are we heading for Weimar 1923 rather than the USA 1932?” asks the Telegraph.  More trillions poured down more black holes suggests we all are.

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Destruction of Leviathan – Gustav Doré



Engraving unashamedly swiped from the Dim Post.  Sentiment direct from the heart.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

B3 Bloggers' Bar Bash tonight

Oops!  Nearly forgot to remind you about Annie Fox's B3 Bloggers' Bar Bash tonight at Galbraith's.  Here's Annie's invitation:
It can be a lonely life, that of the blogger, as we thump away on our keyboards so we can inform, amuse and yes sometimes even bore our fellow man.

But fear not, we have a solution: bloggers are welcome to join the Bloggers Bar Bash - B3 - which is to be held the first Thursday of every month. The next B3 is on the the 2nd of April from 6.30pm onwards at Galbraiths, 2 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.

There are many seating areas in Galbraiths, so you may need to look around. Last time we were outside, but it might be too cold/wet for that? Peter and I have committed to attending so just look out for me in the head scarf and Peter, he's tall.

Non-Dorklanders: please stop in whenever you are in town, it would be great to meet you.

Frankly frightening

This is frankly the most frightening thing you're going to read this week [hat tip Gus Van Horn]:
 Financial Rescue Nears GDP as Pledges Top $12.8 Trillion
The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.

New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation's gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008. [bold added]
See, this is why all the loons are calling on the G20 to enact a "globally coordinated recovery plan": because if their currencies all go down the toilet together, it's less obvious.

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Blog stats for March: The “bubble” edition [updated]

    A distinct jump in visitors this month, despite the feeling in more educated quarters “that NotPC kind of exists outside the rest of the blogosphere in a bubble of it’s own.”  (But surely not an economic bubble – too likely to pop!) 
    I kind of like the idea that NotPC exists outside the mainstream: visited by many but mentioned by few (and rarely in polite company).  That site that’s there to scratch readers’ capitalistic itches – or, as JC puts it, to “tweak [people’s] libertarian tendencies” – but to be honest I’d always thought of it more as a sort of electrode to the nipples than either of these far-too gentle metaphors.  Guess I’ll have to try harder.  
    Anyway, here’s the stats for how many were scratched this month:

NZ Political Blog Ranking for NOT PC in February: 3rd (January: 4th)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 575th (February: 699th)
Alexa Ranking, world: 291,338th (February: 315,648th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1695/day (February: 1422)
Unique visits [from Statcounter] 48,294 (February: 40,126)
Page views [from Statcounter] 69,568 (February: 58,237)

Top ten posts for February:

Most commented upon posts

Top referring sites:
Search engines 6267 referrals; No Minister 1226; Kiwiblog 1003; Tumeke 383;  Libertarianz 346; SOLO 214; Strike the Root! 205; Facebook 180; Liberty Scott 176; Home Paddock 144; Standard 136; Anti Dismal 128; Roar Prawn 124; Barnsley Bill 122; Lindsay Mitchell 111; Crusader Rabbit 110
Top searches landing here:
not pc/peter cresswell etc 907; causes of global financial crisis 485; when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce 168;  toxicity of environmentalism george reisman 131; john galt speaking 126; earth hour scam 92; barack teleprompter 86; nude olympians 73; libertarian constitution 72; broadacre city 66; bavinger house 57
They're reading NOT PC here:  
I still await my first reader from Alaska…
Top countries/territories (from Google Analytics)
NZ 38%; USA 26%; Australia 4.8%; UK 4.7%; Canada 2.8%; Germany 1.3%; Italy 1.2%; India 1.0%; 
Top cities
Auckland 23%; Wellington 5.7%; Christchurch 4.6%; Sydney 2.4%; London 1.8%; New York 1.4%; Palmerston North 1.2%; Melbourne 0.8%; Hamilton 0.7%; Dunedin 0.5%; Los Angeles 0.5%
Readers' Browsers
Firefox 47%(45); IE Explorer 40%(41); Safari 9.3%(8.2); Chrome 2.8% (2.6); Opera 1.8%(2.2)
Readers’ OS
Windows 83%;  Mac 13.8%; Linux 2.3%; iPhone 0.4%
Readers' Connection Speeds
Unknown 38%(38); DSL 32%(32); Cable 18% (18); T1 9.5%(9.2); Dial-up 2.4%(2.7)

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading and linking to NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

PS: Just for interest, to those who’ve been discussing what Alexa shows about about the Sub-Standard’s readers, my own Alexa figures show my top four countries for visitors are NZ, Netherlands, USA and India (India ranking at 5.8%), whereas my Google Analytics show it as just scraping into the top eight, and in the Statcounter figures India doesn’t even make the top twenty.

So perhaps this just means nothing more than that a lot of Indian readers have the Alexa Toolbar on their computers, huh? 

UPDATE: By the looks of Bernard Hickey's rocketing stats -- cracking one million page impression for March --if he was included in Tumeke's blog rankings he'd easily romp into number two spot, with a bullet!

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Owen McShane on the ‘Super’ City [updated]

Owen McShane sent me these thoughts on the proposed Auckland Uber State “super” city:

We are scared this depression will lead to trade protection - like the last one did.

We should be more afraid that it leads to Fascism – like the last one did.

The Royal Commission’s report on Auckland Governance is Fascism from A to Z. (You have to read the whole 800 pages, and know something about the theory of Fascism to appreciate this.)

One Uber City, One Uber Mayor, reflects the classic fascist position of “strength through unity.”

The term “Fascism” comes from the Latin fasces which was a symbol carried by the early Roman Victors – an axe wrapped in a bundle of bound sticks, reflecting the idea that a stick can be broken one at a time, but when bound together the sticks become strong.

So we have the idea of the Uber City needing to be strong to deal with Wellington and to “speak with one voice.” Amalgamation is normally driven by the desire to reduce costs but we cross the line when it is designed to increase the “strength” of the City State.

So we have the proposal for One Uber City, with one Uber Mayor, so that the City State “speaks” with one voice, and strikes one rate, and has one plan. And the people cannot appeal anything in the plan. After all it must be perfect having been made by the Uber Mayor’s uber team. And of course the “Urban Form” Plan promotes the monocentric city model even though Auckland is naturally becoming multi-nodal as are the vast majority of cities in the world.

I approve of one RMA plan with one set of environmental standards [Ed: “Not I,” said your editor] but we are talking about a plan to manage “Urban form” to reflect an aesthetic ideal of the vision for Uber Auckland. After all, Fascism is essentially an aesthetic theory.

The Commission says we must all live at high density to ensure the viability of public transport because high density living and public transport is more energy efficient than low density and motor cars. Neither statement is true.

And of course we must build no more roads – because cars set us free.

And naturally, the Uber Mayor will get the trains to run on time.

But the commission recognises that this is difficult and will require rigorous “enforcement” because we have the wrong “attitudes” and these bad “attitudes” must change – or be changed. So Aucklanders must be socially engineered to gain the right attitudes, presumably using the social budget allocation recommended in the report.

We don’t need the Jews as the enemy of the state any more. The 21st century “polluters of the pure” are those who don’t turn their lights out for Earth hour, who want to have a decent shower, and use plastic bags and drive cars – and of course farm belching cows.

The document never mentions the wants or desires of the people. The people’s actions must serve the state and they are subservient to the needs of the city state. Fascism allows the people to own their property and the means of production, distribution and exchange, but they are all required to use their property to promote the strength of the State.

The report sets up a powerful republic with an all powerful “President” but without the countervailing discipline of the US constitution and Bill of Rights. The six city mayors would be a joke.

They get their main funds from the Uber Mayor and so would challenge the Uber Mayor at their peril. However they can raise funds from charges for resource and building consents. Guess where that leads?

Fascism is largely an aesthetic theory so the Commission recommends that every significant development in the region must be approved by an Urban Design Panel. (ie an urban design censorship board.)

The problems with infrastructure will probably be solved by the RMA reforms and setting up a few region-wide service organisations to manage water and sewage etc - preferably on a fifteen year franschise so they compete like the French do.

We tend to confuse democratic form and function with engineering form and function - but that is a fascist view because they see Government as a design process.

Lange decided to use the famous 4000 page Social Services review as a doorstop.

This piece of Labour (or work) is only 800 pages but would keep the door open for some sensible ideas and democratic reform.

And as Owen said in his draft version: “Won't it be remarkable if Rodney Hide becomes responsible for
establishing the first Fascist State in NZ?”

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NOT PJ: In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency

Bernard Darnton reckons the winner of this year's best April Fool's joke is the Department of Labour.

If milk is required during your flight, breasts will drop from the overhead compartments. Pull the breast towards you and begin to suckle. Ensure your own nipple is fitted before attempting to assist others.

If you’re planning to fly into New Plymouth or Invercargill (International) Airport, you might want to check up on what time little Jimmy’s feeds are due.

Yesterday the Employment Relations (Breaks, Infant Feeding, and Other Matters) Amendment Act came into force. The day before yesterday the Civil Aviation Authority was in a panic, suggesting that five regional airports might have to close for periods during the day when the air traffic controllers were off having a smoke or nursing their infants.

If they double timed by smoking while they were feeding their infants the problem could be partly alleviated but the union won’t hear of it.

In the old days (i.e. on Tuesday) air traffic controllers used to take their breaks between landings. Traffic at Invercargill (International) Airport – gateway to, umm, Tuatapere – hasn’t quite lived up to Tim Shadbolt’s grand hallucinations so snatching a few free minutes hasn’t been a problem until now. That was all buggered up by the Employment Relations (Blah, Blah, Whatever) Act, which operates under the assumption that someone in Wellington should dictate every detail of your day.

Now it’s work to rule, damn the inbound aircraft, I’m off for a pie. Or to nurse little Jimmy. (Exactly what this about-to-be-fed infant is doing in the airport control tower while he’s not being fed isn’t clear. Neither is whether it’s a good idea having aircraft guided to their safe harbours by someone who’s only managed thirty-five winks in the last four months.)

Last minute disaster was averted yesterday when the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association, who also agitate on behalf of air traffic controllers, agreed not to demand breaks during the five minutes a day that some of these airports see action. But rest assured that this crappy law dangles by a filament of goodwill, like the turd of Damocles over the next round of pay negotiations.

Whilst common sense prevailed at the airports, the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association was being its usual obstreperous self. School days could be extended past 4pm if the union gets its wish that the newly mandated breaks be taken in addition to already negotiated “non-contact” time. If these new provisions went into effect, teachers could get up to thirteen weeks and twenty minutes off a year.

There’s always a flurry of panic the day before these laws go into effect as it becomes clear what the legislation actually contains. It never occurs to any of the legislators who pass these laws that their grand schemes might have side effects. How many absurdities do we have to live though before Parliamentarians will wake up and say, “Holy Crap! I just realised everything I do – even the well-intentioned stuff – is bloody stupid! I’d better stop interfering right now!”
My advice to our representatives: Next time you think there’s an emergency, take a deep breath before attempting to assist others.
* * Bernard Darnton's NOT PJ column appears every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: In the Land of the Free

Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath recalls some highlights of his recent pilgrimage to the Land of the Free – Hong Kong

It was my privilege over the past week to stay in the western district of Hong Kong Island as a guest at the home of my partner’s brother and his wife.

Hong Kong, or more fully the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, accommodates seven million people on eleven hundred square kilometres of land - over six thousand people per square kilometre, four hundred times as densely populated as New Zealand. It has little in the way of arable land and few natural resources. But it has been ranked number 1 for the last fifteen years on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. The climate is temperate in comparison with the rest of South East Asia. All in all, it’s an easy place in which to live and work.

On two of our days there, my partner and I attended the latest round of the IRB Rugby Sevens. Despite seeing New Zealand bow out in the quarter finals to Kenya, there was much to enjoy. I love seeing an underdog win, and it was stirring to see the Hong Kong team beat first Tonga and then Portugal, who later went on to win the Plate and Bowl finals respectively.

On the afternoon of the second day, in between the games, I gazed over at the electronic scoreboard and noticed a series of advertising slogans appear on the screen in giant lettering:

Low Taxes. Rule of Law. Small Government. World’s Freest Economy. Free Flow Of Information. The list went on. But it did feel a bit strange. Here was a government department openly advocating laissez-faire free market capitalism. I never thought I would see such a thing, but there it was. A moment I wish all my libertarian friends and acquaintances back in New Zealand could have shared.

In my view, life in Hong Kong is as close to true freedom as most people from my generation are likely to experience in their lifetime, because the government over there walks the talk. There is huge emphasis on the Rule of Law. All are equal before it and English common law prevails. There is a police force of adequate size – three and a half times that of New Zealand. Crime rates are low and one feels very safe wandering the streets. For the last 25 years, Hong Kong’s International Arbitration Centre has been a leading disputes settlement forum.

Low taxation is possible because funding from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and other sources, covers a large part of the cost of infrastructure. Over two billion New Zealand dollars a year is used by the Jockey Club alone to fund hospitals, schools and roads. It gives another quarter of a billion NZD to various charities. Although the HKJC has a legal monopoly over gambling in Hong Kong (including sports betting and a national lottery), a number of casino boats cruise just beyond HK’s territorial limits.

A perusal of the Hong Kong Department of Legalised Theft’s website is certainly an eye-opener. Personal tax rates are miniscule by New Zealand standards. Many pay a tax rate of between 15 and 17% on income, but there are tax deductions such as a ‘basic allowance’ of $HK100k, plus a standard 75% tax reduction(!) up to a limit of $25k to help low and middle income earners. Thus on an income of $884k, one could pay less than $69k in tax. Mouth watering stuff! There is no requirement for employers to withhold your earnings as PAYE; you keep the money and pay the tax yourself twice a year. There is no GST, capital gains tax or withholding tax on dividends or interest. And so on. The simplicity of the Hong Kong tax system is obvious, in that their entire tax code is contained in 200 pages of print; in contrast, that of the United States runs to over 44,000 pages, much of it written in blood. And get this: if the Hong Kong IRD discovers a way for you to pay less tax, it will advise you how to avoid paying more than the minimum possible under the law and post you the appropriate papers you need to redo your tax return! Contrast that with their New Zealand bloodsucker counterparts who are charged with collecting the maximum revenue possible, despite their disgusting bullshit slogan (which they now seem to have ditched) about being “fair”.

Hong Kong has small, almost corruption-free government - unlike many other parts of South East Asia - thanks to its Independent Commission Against Corruption, which has been a model upon which other countries have based their equivalent statutory bodies.

Free trade is the lifeblood of Hong Kong. There are no tariffs, trade barriers, restrictions on investment, foreign exchange controls, minimum wage (except, I am told, for foreign-sourced domestic servants!) and no xenophobic restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses or land. In other words, with a few isolated exceptions, this is free market Nirvana.

Infrastructure in Hong Kong is modern. Broadband internet is available to 98% of households, from five competing ISPs. The privately-owned deep water harbour container port charges some of the lowest rates in the world, hence has the second highest throughput. The train system is great and co-ordinates well with the airport. There are some stunning bridges and skyscrapers. There are very few monuments to dead dictators.

There is constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech and of the press. There is no government censorship of print, the internet, or anything else.

Needless to say to anyone who has visited Hong Kong, tourist goods can be obtained at very reasonable prices if you use night markets such as Stanley’s and the Ladies’ Market. There appears to be less evidence of intellectual property rights violations, with fewer rip-offs of copyrighted brands.

I was fortunate enough to socialize in some very civilized establishments, among them the Hong Kong Football Club, where my host had the distinction of training for a few seasons in the 15 a side national rugby team, including one year as captain.

Here is a country that was colonized by the British and for better or worse took on much in the way of British customs and institutions. However while many ‘expats’ still work in senior positions in Hong Kong’s banking and finance industries, the wealthy elite arise almost exclusively from the (Chinese) indigenous race. So different to New Zealand!

The take home message from all this is: some time in your life, get your ass over to HK and see what glorious achievements are possible if people are given the freedom that is rightly theirs.

Finally, thanks to Grant and Amie for putting us up in HK and showing us a great time. And to KPMG for providing seats and hospitality at the Sevens. (For those in the crowd without private sponsorship, the beer cost $NZ38 a litre!!)

See y’all next week!


No cheers for Helen Clark

No, I won't be joining the chorus of back slapping and standing ovations for former Prime Minister and handbrake on the nation, Helen Clark, as she heads off to more exalted climes.

Yes, she's got to the top of her own particular greasy pole, but it's not a climb I've admired nor a 'pole' I respect.

There is nothing good to say about the United Nations, which she now joins, and very little good to say about the career that got her there.

I can admire her intelligence, but I deplore what she's done with it.

Unlike those faux opponents who are once berated but are now glad-handing her -- and who in doing so reveal themselves as having fundamentally similar values -- I regard her as a cancerous and corrosive individual (and I use those words intentionally) whose life's work has made government bigger, and New Zealanders demonstrably less free.

New Zealand is all the better for her departure.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

'This is John Galt Speaking'

The fine folk who put together the stirring short video 'This is John Galt Speaking' have spent time and money updating it. It's brilliant!

Fairfacts Media has the show. Don't miss it.
"You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you
are going to hear."

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And a blogger waits

While the Key Government promises a nearly country-wide, $1.5 billion broadband experiment of fibre to the home, a blogger waits.

A grown adult, a married man, a blogger who just wants to run his business and do what people do online. I give you Blair Mulholland, who -- while Steven Joyce promises the earth and a whole new bureaucracy this morning (unless you live on the West Coast) -- is reduced to blogging from his Mother's computer, and from the free ones at the Whangaparaoa Library because, because . . . well, let Blair tell you:

If telecommunications companies think someone is going to steal their networks,
they won't build any more of them! It's really simple. Now we are stuck with
waiting for the government to waste my tax money building something that every
private interest is now too scared to.

Remember when the government effectively nationalised Telecom's network and you all cheered? You're paying for that now with reduced property rights protection and decreased service, just as you'll be paying for National's promises with money that could have been spent on tax cuts.


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Another election promise broken

Significant tax cuts were a key election-winning promise for National, remember?

And now they want to recant on that promise, just as I told you they would back in October. “Economic conditions” and a projected "decade of deficits” make it impossible, say Prime Minister John Key and his Finance Minister Bill English, to deliver the latter two of the three rounds of tax cuts they promised so loudly back in November.

Excuse me boys, but isn’t it the case that these tax cuts, promised less than five months ago, were a key reason that the public gave you the jobs you have now? Shouldn’t you be doing now what’s necessary to do what you promised then?

Isn’t it just a bit rich to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver what you promised back before the election, because it was obvious back then to anyone with eyes to see that economic conditions were going to make it necessary to cut the government’s coat according to the cloth it could afford.

To say that it wasn’t obvious to you back then is not an excuse not to deliver now, it’s a reason for your supporters to realise that you're either not competent enough to do your jobs -- since the whole world and his grandson could see back in October what was coming -- or else you’re a pair of liars.

No other alternative explanation is possible.

There is a strong case to be made for incompetence, though this jury is still out. For example, this fiscal fool English cites Treasury's projected "decade of government deficits" as a reason not to cut taxes. But you knew about these deficits back in October, Bill, and you committed then to stay on course with your tax cuts. And you completely fail to realise, Bill, that deficits are not inevitable – they depend, in the final analysis, on the commitment and integrity of the finance minister. Deficits for a whole decade simply mean that your government plans to spend more than it takes in for a whole decade.

Is that sensible? Sound? Competent?

To say that the projected “decade of deficits” makes it "impossible to deliver tax cuts" is to say that you have no idea how to bring your own spending under control at a time when spending restraint has never been more necessary – at a time when it’s clear enough to anyone who can add that the way to remove those deficits, and to do what you promised, is to cut the level of your spending to fit the new depressed realities.

Why can’t you do that, Mr English?

In fact, the economic conditions we now face make tax cuts not less urgent but more urgent. They make it even more essential that you keep your damn promises, not less.

They make it even more necessary that everyone look to their knitting and cut out waste. They make it even more urgent that businesses are given significant tax cuts, to help them lower their costs and survive the recession. That wage earners are given significant tax cuts to help them pay their bills and ride out the recession. That ministers do everything they can to make permanent and slashing cuts to their budgets, and senior ministers look to cut whole areas of wasteful spending of their books. Family's Commission and Ministry of Hairy Women's Affairs, anyone?

Frankly, it’s not enough to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver a key election commitment, Mr English. Either admit you’re incompetent, or that you’re a liar, or get you head around the cuts you need to make and then make them, and deliver what it was you promised.

Either do that, Mr English, or get the hell out of the way for someone who can.

NB: Read this post from early October last year to see that Key and English were either lying back then about their promises or they're incompetent now to fulfil them. There are no other alternatives, are there.

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ACC not nicked, not yet

Struggling ACC minister Nick Smith explained to Radio NZ this morning that opening the Workers Account of ACC up to competition is “not a priority.”

So I have to ask Mr Smith as respectfully as I can, “Why the hell not, you moron?”

After all, the whole of ACC is in a shambles – and not just the Workers Account, which is only one third of the whole creaking, shambolic, law-unto-itself bureaucracy – so why the hell wouldn’t you make it possible for private business to save other businesses money by taking themselves and their business away from this morass?

And after all, opening up the whole of ACC to competition – and not just the Workers Account – was a key manifesto commitment of your party. So why the hell wouldn’t you do what you said you were going to do, why not open up the never-listen, never-tell, never-ever-respond bureaucracy, especially when the shambles you’ve discovered since the election should make it even more necessary to stop money going down the bureaucratic black hole of this accident-waiting-to-happen.

And finally, since Labour and its lackies are accusing National of preparing ACC for privatisation, rather than just for being opened up to competition - doing it so successfully that everyone all but believes it - then why the hell wouldn’t you just do that anyway? Why the hell wouldn’t you remove the monopoly, remove the ridiculous “no-fault” law that props up this bogus industry and keeps a failed monopoly in place, and then get what you can for an organisation that is nothing but a drain on every business and every person in the country.

At least, that’s what you might do if you weren’t a struggling minister with a big-government fetish and a meddler's sense of power lust. Changing the board members is just shuffling deck chairs on a sinking disaster. The lifeline NZ business needs is to have this dying leviathan taken outside and shot.

Time for you for once to have some courage.


Congratulations to a fine government [update 2]

On reflection this morning, I have to concede that despite my carping this new government is doing a wonderful job, in very trying circumstances.

They've shown they're prepared to make the hard decisions in difficult times, and are working to make New Zealand a freer, happier and more prosperous place.

They've shown they will listen when we call for changes to the RMA.

They've realised that only government action can do what's necessary to get broadband to all New Zealanders.

They've shown they're not ideologically hidebound by resisting calls to slash government spending, and recognising that economic conditions will not make any more tax cuts possible.

They've shown they're prepared to make difficult decisions on the environment -- and discouraging plastic bags is only a gratifyingly small step from renewing the necessary bans on lightbulbs and wasteful shower heads.

In their first-hundred-days programme they put in place a programme more radical than anything previously seen in this country, which has beyond doubt better placed us to meet the recession than any country outside Iceland -- and everything since has made it clear there is a well-thought out, integrated solution to face the ship of New Zealand Inc. into the recessionary waves, and ride it through to freedom and prosperity.

I'm a fan. I've been convinced. And later this morning I'll be sending off my membership application to the nearest National Party branch. I invite you to join me.

Hail to the Chief!

UPDATE 1: In related news, and as an indication of the principled approach this fine governmnt has taken in difficult times, news has emerged that later later today National will be announcing that they are appointing Michael Cullen as Governor of the Reserve Bank. "His appointment," says David Farrar, "is part of Key's strategy to appear magnanimous in victory and use talent from all parties."

A brilliant move.

UPDATE 2: Who am I kidding? I wouldn't piss on this lot if they were on fire. They've done nothing, nothing, in any direction that will make a blind bit of difference to increasing freedom or prosperity -- or to get Nanny off our backs.

Even their meddling is timid.

Quite how some folk around the traps can be be cheerleading for this pathetic gallimaufrey of Tory tossers is beyond me. Surely your joy at seeing Clark and Cullen go is behind you now? Isn't it time to start seeing this new lot for what they are?

The likes of Nick Smith and Richard Worth are not an aberration. They are this National Government. Wake up.

‘Bionic’ Tower, Shanghai – Eloy Celaya


By “bionic” is meant studying the “structures and processes in biological phenomena” to “develop, perfect and humanise” man’s environment. (What, in a less high falutin’ way, we used to call “learning from nature.”)

The Shanghai Tower project is conceived as a “vertical city” for up to 100,000 inhabitants distributed through twelve vertical “neighbourhoods” of 80m each, surrounded by a “"Base Island"  of 1000m diameter.

More information here at the promoters’ site, and here at a collection of twelve “bionic” buildings including this one.

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

"Is the Government in the Car Business?”

"Is the government in the car business?”  “Hell, no,” says Yaron Brook in this video interview at Pajamas TV:
Obamanomics vs. GM & Chrysler, and The Proper Role of Government.

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Bailout bingo with ‘South Park’ [update]

As Tim ‘The Weasel’ Geithner announces plans to bail out even more over-leveraged banks, Stan from ‘South Park’ discovers how Team Obama and the Treasury Department decide to spend all their trillions [hat tip Samizdata].

[NB: The churlish blogger mis-named “Adam Smith” points out in the comments he posted this before Samizata.  So there.]

UPDATE: A reader points out another Southpark connection to Geithner: that of The Weasel’s striking resemblance to the character “Squeak” (right) in SouthPark creators’ movie Baseketball.  “Tell me Squeak doesn’t look like a young Geithner,” he says.

Squeak plays a loser that everyone shits on, a dork and can do nothing right. (So the resemblance isn’t just paper thin.) Here is a short clip of the movie to give you a taste of Geithner’s … I mean Squeak’s … character. See what you think.  Is Geithner Squeak?

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Free Speech vs Russel Norman

The Greens’s Russel Norman makes it abundantly clear in an email to researcher Bryce Edwards why the Greens under Norman’s leadership were, and are, such enthusiastic supporters of the free-speech-killing Electoral Finance Act.  The reason is simple enough: because the ginger whinger is so violently opposed to free speech.

David Farrar has the story.

Perhaps Green supporters should be changing both their leaders, instead of just one?

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Whuck me, it’s W(h)anganui

Has there ever been a time when so much whucking whoolishness has been spoken at such length about a subject that could be less important?

Whrankly, Mr Mair, I couldn’t give a damn.  If this is really the most important issue on which you have to whocus, then there can’t possibly be very much of any importance going on in your world.

Get a whucking life.

Put a bag over it & call him done

NickTheDickAsk and you shall receive” says Cactus, as Key Sticks A Bag On Nick Smith's Head: “Mr Key said there was no way he was going to support a charge t[on plastic bags] that was in effect a tax going into the coffers of supermarkets.”

Albeit this is a bag that is still open: "My preference is to find a voluntary and industry-led solution," says John Boy – which is hardly the primary objection to Nick’s nannying; nor is it the most fundamental objection that the bag tax would go to help supermarkets’ bottom lines.  It would be no less iniquitous if it were going to pay for minister’s trips overseas [on which more here].

Nonetheless, I join in Cactus’s call that someone else, anyone else, should now be given the environment, RMA and climate change posts. “No more namby pamby Ministers. Nick Smith can go and hug a tree with women sporting houstaches.”

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Earth Hour follow up: the ‘Atlas’ point

home_right_default Keith Lockitch from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights explains that Ayn Rand’s best-selling novel Atlas Shrugged isn’t just directly relevant “to our economic woes and our government’s response.” The novel’s relevance to current issues extends far beyond the financial crisis, says Keith.

    Consider the phenomenon of Earth Hour . . . which I criticized in a recent op-ed. During Earth Hour, participating cities turn off the lights of major skylines and landmarks to signal a commitment to fighting climate change. In my article I discuss why I think this is a travesty.
So how does this relate to Atlas Shrugged?

Read on here and find out: Earth Hour and Atlas Shrugged.  And listen to Keith on ‘The Schilling Show’ discussing the real meaning of Earth Hour’s events. Check it out here.  (Keith’s interview starts just over halfway through.)  He makes his points very clear:

    The notion that we face some sort of planetary emergency that goes beyond anything we’ll ever be able to cope with – that is not supported by scientific evidence. . . The kind of threats we face from government policies that people want to impose in the name of fighting ‘climate change’ pose a far greater risk to liberty and to our enjoyment of life than anything that might ever happen to the climate. . .  
    The biggest threat is our forced reduction in our use of energy . . . the claim is we’ll somehow make it up with windmills and solar cells, but the physics of that just doesn’t work out. . .

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The 2 biggest obstacles to economic recovery . . . [update]

I an article I linked to yesterday, George Reisman explained how falling prices, far from being deflation, are actually the antidote to deflation. They are the antidote, he explained,

because they enable the reduced amount of spending that deflation entails to buy as much as did the previously larger amount of spending that took place in the economic system prior to the deflation.
    Despite the fact that the freedom of prices and wages to fall is the simple and obvious way to achieve economic recovery, two fundamental obstacles stand in the way. One is the exploitation theory of Karl Marx. The other is the doctrine of unemployment equilibrium, which was propounded by Lord Keynes.

Both bad ideas have been embraced by the world’s politicians and economic advisors. Read on here to see both briefly explained, and resources offered to have them thoroughly debunked: The Fundamental Obstacles to Economic Recovery: Marxism and Keynesianism.

UPDATE: “Keynesians are witchdoctors,” says Peter Schiff.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Missing the Point

Susan Ryder discovers that never have so many so often missed the point . . .

susanryder When I was a member of Toastmasters International, I could never understand how others had difficulty in finding topics for their speeches. It was the most common gripe. Not for the first time, I found myself marching to a different beat in that I had precisely the opposite problem: numerous options from which to choose only one.

Nothing has changed in the interim. When it comes to penning this weekly post, I usually have a few ideas floating around. Occasionally though, they’re all discarded for something completely different by the time I sit down to work.

And so it is today.

I’d been toying with a piece on advertising – painful television ads in particular – but the lovely Bernard Darnton beat me to it, or at least acknowledged it in last week’s terrific post, “NOT PJ: Wheel of Misfortune.” (If you missed it, I highly recommend it - after this!).

And lately I seem to have done nothing but run into Che Guevara. Not literally, of course – that would be silly – and not only that damn image from 1960 either, but repeated mention of the odious communist in books, newspapers and magazines. As such, I felt a rant coming on, but not today, Josephine. The ads and Che will keep.

Yesterday’s Newstalk ZB programmes had callers consumed with the notion of One Council to Rule Them All in Auckland. Most appeared to be against the plan, preferring to retain the status quo, but all were vehement as to their respective opinions.

Nobody proffered the idea of, God forgive me, a third way. A real alternative. Nobody thought of questioning state control altogether via the abolition of councils with subsequent services being conducted by private enterprise. To weigh up the pros and cons of one big council versus several regional councils is like discussing the pros and cons of Stalinism and Maoism.

The truth is that both are disastrous. It is not a question of "which" council is better. It's whether the state is better at delivering services than private enterprise. And that question was answered, definitively, when the Soviet Union fell over and didn’t get up again. Next!

A bit earlier, ZB breakfast host Mike Hosking was singing the praises of paper shopping bags in light of Nick Smith’s touted 5c tax on plastic bags. “Groceries look good in brown paper bags!” he cried. Well, the man has a point. Heaven forbid that my groceries don’t ‘look good.’ Sports reporter Tony Johnson, announcing a preference for reusable bags, went even further suggesting a 10c tax on paper bags and an outright ban on plastic bags, citing that “Ireland doesn’t allow plastic bags at supermarkets and we shouldn’t either!!” So there.

But hang on a minute. Tony can’t have been paying much attention at high school. He’s forgotten that back then the Sandalista parents of today’s Greenies waged war against the paper bag for its notorious tree-chopping crimes, which went on to play a part in the subsequent growth of … plastics. Holy renewable forests, Taxman! There’s just no pleasing tree-huggers!

Of course Mike, Nick and Tony could all just mind their own business and leave others to do the same, but that would be too simple. Next!

Smoking and Smacking. The banning of a) smoking in privately-owned commercial premises and b) smacking one’s children, quickly developed into arguments over the issues of a) second-hand smoke for patrons and staff alike, and b) smacking or not smacking one’s children as a means of appropriate discipline.

Wrong again and wrong again. The issue; the only issue; is and always was one of state interference. It’s the same with arguments regarding the teaching of creationism in schools, the location of a new sports venue or the ‘merits’ of various forms of taxation.

Privatise education and let individual institutions dictate their own curricula. Remove the government from sport and allow private investors to construct their own facilities. And “fair taxation” is an oxymoron – not that you’ll find that particular example in high school English classes.

The point of today’s Gospel is the question of why we seem to so often miss it.

* * Susan Ryder writes every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

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London City Hall – Norman Foster [updated]


Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council in 1986, and with it the job and power base of the loathsome ‘Red Ken’ Livingstone -- a popular move that began the neutering of what she called later “the left-wing municipal socialists and their front organisations,” “returning their functions (which we had already limited) to councils closer to their people.”

Auckland is just about to do the reverse.

GLC-DebatingChamber When Tony Blair’s Government reconstituted the folly in 2000, the first “Mayor of Greater London” -- a position only barely accountable to the Greater London Authority -- was the newly resuscitated Red Ken Livingstone.  And his “home” was this Glass Egg, built to house the house the new Authority’s debating chamber and its ever-burgeoning number of bureaucrats, which cost Londoners the princely sum of £43,000,000.

london_cityhallAlmost his first move was upon moving into this new monument to the new bureaucracy, designed by Norman Foster, was to impose on Londoners driving in and out of central London a swinging tax to pay for the palace and the busybodies within.

Naturally, the 440 stickybeaks and paper shufflers which the building was designed to house have exploded in number since then.

And this political model of wretched profligacy is now to be replicated in Auckland.  With, undoubtedly, an architectural one to follow.

Rust never sleeps.

London’s new City Hall . . . suffers from fatal delusions of grandeur. . . It is a medium-sized office building on steroids, pumping itself up to landmark scale. Trying to look like something else. And of course it is something else, another phenomenon of our times: a camera-friendly visitor attraction.

Because this is also architecture as set design.

Very, very expensive set design.

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Monday, 30 March 2009

No wonder builders, home-owners and designers are FRUSTRATED!

From the Why-Did-We Bother-File come these two reports from home builders on the comments section of NBR’s website, in a post on falling building consent numbers. I think the prevailing emotion is  . . . frustration.

    I’m doing my bit and building a house. I can see why people are not bothering, you are seen as a cash cow by everyone. Gst, council fees, contractors, building firms everyone looking to make a buck takes a shot. Then you have the uncertainty of RBNZ. Thought at least I would have a cheap mortgage.........not any more. . .

Lacking of consents
    In November 2006 I instructed my architect to draw up plans for 2 minor additions.
   1st, an increase of 28 sq M on the 2nd story so with no increase in "site coverage" so no problem? Well it took a year to sort out all the "new" boxes that needed ticking.
    2nd, a small canopy to protect the entry from the west that required about 12 sq M of concrete (impermeable) BUT we were up to the arbitrary limit so that required a "Building Consent" (at TWICE the cost of the bloody concreting) and the consent of neighbours (WHY???)   Then "Tech Drawings" This is where ACC "advisors" became involved and started "looking" for problems to justify their snout being in the trough. They had no problem with the canopy, BUT they could find all sorts of (minor) "difficulties" well outside of their reference. Like trying to redesign the turning circle for vehicles, and vague references to the already approved (and completed) upper story as - now somehow - it contravened the (new) height to boundary ratios.   If the original upper story (built ~ 1960) contravened the latest code. WHO BLOODY CARES NOW. Nobody has ever complained. And to cap it off this contravention was only a couple of cm!!!
Now I'm required to concrete about a 70 sq M area to suit their 'turning circle' crap, adding further to the impermeable area on the site.
    Is it any wonder the "consents" are reducing.

None at all.  I’d wager every one of the 1089 new holders of residential consents would have a similar story, not to mention the thousands of us who are still waiting to get one (and if you think consents from Auckland are hard to get now, just wait until new “super” city makes everything more “efficient”).  Frankly, when the construction costs so high of a new house (so much of it inflated by regulation) is still more than the selling cost, it’s a wonder anyone’s venturing out at all.

The government is still killing building.  And they’re still ignorant as hell that they are.

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Come in Frank Gehry, your time is up

You can just imagine how disappinted I was to hear that for purveyor of egregious architectural megalomania Frank Gehry, 2008 was something of an annus horribilis.

"For years the architect has been lauded for ushering in a new cultural era," says Nancy McDonald in Maclean's magazine. "But the climate appears to be shifting... Either the guy's a genius, or he has us all fooled."

This is only a partially rhetorical question.  As Robert Tracinski noted a while back: 
For a man feted as the greatest living architect, Gehry's style is surprisingly one-note. Almost all of his buildings look like giant piles of crumpled tin foil. Their most interesting feature -- the interior spaces tend to be giant blank boxes -- is an exterior cladding of titanium sheets folded into wild, discombobulated shapes. These are supposedly works of "abstract sculpture," but in fact they are carefully designed to achieve a specific effect: not to look elegant or graceful, but to look jumbled, chaotic, nonsensical. . .
Nonsense only sells for so long.  Turns out that you really can only fool some of the people some of the time.

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Nanny Nick taxes bags [update 3]

National Cabinet Minister Nick Smith intends to impose a new tax on the modern world’s cheapest, cleanest, most efficient form of packaging: the supermarket plastic bag.

As Liberty Scott says, Nanny Nick is just “the Green Party's Cabinet Minister in drag.”

UPDATE 1: Good to see opposition around the blogs:

  • I thought Nanny had got the sack!” says Fairfacts Media.
  • Fantastic Plastic” says MacDoctor.
  • “Has the government not realised that Nzers are sick and tired of government telling them what they can and cannot do in their daily lives.  It will be just like the light bulbs and showers issue,” says Whale Oil.

UPDATE 2: Susan points out the obvious to Fairfacts:

"I thought Nanny had got the sack".
Whatever gave you that idea? John Key thinks Nanny State starts and stops with lightbulbs.
Hate to say we told you so, but your blue glow was always decidedly mauve ...

And from Cactus: “Nick Smith pollutes New Zealand with yet another stupid namby-pamby idea
Save the world - one plastic bag at a time. Spare me the gibberish.”

UPDATE 3:  "Just like a bad sitcom National has its own token greenie, MP Nick Smith," says Madeleine.

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Nothing to fear about falling prices

Imagine a place where producers are surging ahead and everyone’s benefitting – a place where technology is making more and more and better products; where food is coming out of the ground in increasing amounts thanks to improved agricultural techniques; where access to housing is getting easier and easier thanks to radically improved construction techniques; where new inventions and new technologies are making travel easier and cheaper.

This would be a great place to be, wouldn’t you think?

Well, not if you’re an economist it wouldn’t.  At least, if you’re an economist like Neville Bennett, writing today at Bernard Hickey’s place, you’d be wringing your hands and talking about “deflation.”  To an economist like Mr Bennett, the world of the late nineteenth century, in which we experienced gently falling prices for most of the four decades to 1914 – which means gently rising real wages -- is not something to embrace, but something to fear.

Sad but all too true.  This is what real prosperity actually looks like: goods becoming more abundant, while the price of goods becomes ever cheaper:
6a00d83451eb0069e200e55074d96c8833-800wi You’d think this would be something to celebrate, wouldn’t you [click on the pic above to enlarge].  And most of us would be.  While we were enjoying the increasing prosperity and rising real wages, however, Mr Bennett and his anti-deflationist confreres would be huddling in the shadows talking about “a technology, called a printing press” that would enable them to banish the spectre of “deflation,” and the rising prosperity with it.  (Sadly, it was those confreres who took over from 1914 on, kicking off the inflationary century that followed (right).)

Paul Walker at Anti Dismal rightly banishes the anti-‘deflationary’ foolishness, explaining the difference between “good” deflation and “bad” deflation.

And George Reisman explains why even in bad times falling prices is not a bad thing – that falling prices are not in fact deflation but the antidote to deflation.

Please recommend the reading to someone you know, before they’re put wrong by the likes of Mr Bennett.  And when someone tells you that falling prices are always bad, just think back to that graph above, and remember what was happening to real wages over that period.

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One city, one neck, one noose [update 3]

With one-third of the country’s population under imminent threat of peremptory amalgamation -- everyone from Port Waikato in the South to Kaipara in the north all answering to one group of busybodies -- I can only agree with Lower Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy, who says this isn't a “local” government issue any more, but almost a separate state.

A “super” state, with a super bureaucracy.  Taking the “local”out of government, and replacing it with a centralised behemoth.

It’s argued one behemoth will improve our lives. “That is a big step forward,” says David Farrar, getting one word out of six right. “One level of rates. One district plan. One set of resourcing consents. One set of bylaws. One Council to decide things.”

He says all that like it’s a good thing.  The eight councils in the Auckland region are already out of control – since the passing of Sandra Lee’s Local Government Act a decade ago (which, without any sense of irony, gave them all a “power of general competence”) not one has managed to restrain themselves from increasing the rates burden every year. If they can, they will. So we can expect:

  • One level of rates increases . . . with even less prospect of protesting the imposition.
  • One district plan . . . under which Nick Smith’s RMA reforms will make it even harder to protest the intrusions.
  • One set of resourcing consents . . . with not even competition between regions to keep down the enormous cost and delay in these consents.
  • One council to decide things . . . one council  deciding things for one million people.  With the “local” taken out of government, how much listening do you think the decision-makers will be doing with those on whom their decisions will impact? 

“One council to decide things” sounds to me like  one city under one ego-driven set of councillors telling one million people what to do: one city, one neck, one noose – with nowhere in Auckland to which to escape.

And who’s kidding whom about “efficiencies”?  You really think any of the planners, bureaucrats and jobsworths will lose their jobs in amalgamation?  You really think a bigger bureaucracy will be more efficient?

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams is not known for saying anything worth a pinch of shit, and once again he’s off the money in saying “job losses may be inevitable” because of the “overlapping” that would occur with an amalgamation.  If he really thinks that then he’s a bigger cock than even Whale Oil previously thought.

And so are all those who agree with him.

Jobs and efficiencies in bureaucracies advance in reverse order to the increasing size of the bureaucracy, with the factor of increase being squared.

When Auckland’s borough councils were amalgamated back in the late eighties,  they were reduced only in the number of councils, but not in the virulence of their bossiness or the number of bureaucrats with their feet on our throats.  The number of councils was reduced by around a quarter, going from around thirty or so to eight, but the factor of intrusion and aloofness was advanced by at least sixteen.  Applying the same formula to the now proposed amalgamation – the factor of reduction being squared --  there’s a frightening prospect in store for Aucklanders. 

Absolutism limited only by inefficiency.

No wonder that the man responsible for the late eighties amalgamation, Michael Bassett, is against the utterly misnamed “super” city idea.

Apply that same factor to everything involved with the council.  To the size of the new building they’ll need to occupy.  To the number of bureaucrats infesting the place.  To the speed and general snottiness with which your resource and building consent applications are processed.  To the size of the ego of the new “elected mayor”-- who will effectively be the second most politically powerful person in the country, but with even fewer restraints on that power than the Prime Minister.

Imagine your own personal political hate figure occupying that throne, and examine how you feel about it.

When London got their first “Mayor of Greater London,” a position barely accountable to the Greater London Assembly, it was the newly resuscitated Red Ken Livingston, whose first move was to ban driving in and out of the central city while embarking on an orgy of monument building.  The next (and current) “Mayor Greater London” is an ego-drive cock in a urine-coloured fright wig whose first move was mini-prohibition on the tubean illiberal, intolerant buffoon with his own authoritarian agenda.

I don't think we want that here, do we?

I know, and you know, what we can expect out of this.

We can expect a bigger city.

With a bigger rates bill.

A bigger bureaucracy.

And with a bigger cock on top than even North Shore can currently manage.

UPDATE 1: Turns out I was wrong about Bassett. About more than one thing.  You can’t take the ‘big government’ out of a former cabinet minister.

UPDATE 2: Corrected London information.

UPDATE 3: Liberty Scott offers Yet another reason for Auckland not to be a supercity: “Gary Taylor likes the idea.”

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