We plan on helping make that happen. . .
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
We plan on helping make that happen. . .
Remember all those arguments about Obama’s “stimulus” package recently, and we had all those learned economists arguing about how much stimulus was needed, and just what the multiplier would be – was it 1.256, was it 1.500.
Remember how all the truckloads of borrowed/printed/taxed money was going into so called “shovel-ready” projects that were just waiting for the shovel loads of dosh to get cracking?
As it turns out, most of that money is going where government always puts most of its money -- into fat paychecks for social service bureaucrats.
I’ll leave it as a exercise for you to work out what the multiplier will be for that. [Hint: you will need to subtract both the “opportunity cost” of taking the money out of the balance sheets of productive taxpayers, and the economic drag of new bureaucrats on economic activity.]
Rodney Hide plans, as Local Government minister, to insist that councils hold a binding referendum before they engage in “non-core activities” that invariably lose ratepayers’ shirts.
You know the sort of thing. Building shopping malls. Backing a Beckham soccer game. Promoting ‘My Fair Lady.’ Electing Dick Hubbard.
Sounds seductive, doesn’t it. Having a vote on which particular black holes council throws your rates.
But just because a majority votes to attack the wallets of a minority, it still doesn’t make it right – particularly when under the current system non-resident ratepayers who are paying for it all don’t get to vote, but non-ratepaying residents do. (Talk about taxation without representation!) And since very few people even bother to vote on council elections now, let alone if there were one election a week, how easy would it be to hijack such a vote?
No, I’ve got a better idea, Rodney. Why not simply prohibit councils from engaging in “non-core activities” altogether?
It wouldn’t be that hard – simply remove the “power of general competence” that Sandra Lee’s disgraceful 2002 Local Government Act granted them by overturning that Act. Given the complete and demonstrated incompetence of local government the concept is an obvious oxymoron , and its imposition ultimately violates the constitutional principles of Westminster government
The chief architect of our Westminster system of government, John Locke, called the granting of a "power of general competence" beyond “non-core activities” the exercise of power beyond right – although he put it slightly differently:
As usurpation is the exercise of power [said Locke], which anybody can have a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to.
The principle says nothing at all about referenda. It doesn’t say “which nobody has a right to unless enough people send in a postal ballot.”
There’s nothing heinous about restricting the activities of local government by law. All political power should be subject to legal control – delineating what powers governments have a statutory right to, and prohibiting other actions for which it has no right.
In fact that’s been a basic principle of the Westminster system for centuries – like all our traditional constitutional protections, one observed more in the breach than the observance: that citizens may do anything they wish unless prohibited by law, whereas governments may do nothing at all unless empowered by law.
This long-established constitutional safeguard was overturned by Sandra Lee in the 2002 Local Government Act, and should now be set upright again by this minister.
“Aw, wouldn’t it be luvverly!”
NB: I understand that Rodney’s advisory board is having trouble defining what “core activities” might look like. Since it’s impossible to be so descriptive – and the more that’s written the more loopholes you produce, here’s some simple suggestions to do the job that’s needed. Anything here you’d object to?
- Eliminate the ability of non-ratepayers to vote in all local body elections;
- Reintroduce non-resident ratepayer vote;
- An immediate and permanent cap on the ratings levels of councils at existing monetary levels;
- Require that the 25% of councils each year that tax ratepayers at the highest level per ratepayer be required to reduce rates to the level of the lowest council;
- Require the abolition of all general rates differentials (e.g. higher rates for commercial properties vs. residential), with the current lowest general rating category applying across the board;
- Eliminate targeted rates in favour of direct user charges;
- Eliminate local authority petrol and diesel tax;
- Immediately prohibit all councils entering into any new commercial or non-commercial venture of any kind, and require that all existing trading activities of councils (including roads) be transferred to Local Authority Trading Enterprises;
- Prohibit ratepayer funding for any activities of any Local Authority Trading Enterprise;
- Prohibit new council borrowing. Existing debt repayments will only be able to be made from existing revenue sources, including privatisation;
- Prohibit councils making bylaws that interfere with individual freedoms and private property rights;
- Require that all councils when acting under their statutory obligations under the Resource Management Act, fully respect all private property rights;
Yes, that would severely curtail the revenue streams of local government, and drastically restrict council’s non-core activities. But isn’t that the point?
- So David gets out and is asked what he plans to do first - "Go to Kentucky Fried," says he, "I could murder a family pack."
- Apparently Joe has got a job lined up for David. As a photographer, specialising in family shots.
- David Bain should play for the All Blacks in the vacant number ten spot. He’d the leave the other first-five for dead.
- What do David Bain & Dick Hubbard have in common? They’re both cereal killers.
- Joe Karam got awfully scared when David Bain said he was starting to see him as a father figure.
Add your own in the comments. :-)
[A post from our roving correspondent Willie Seabrook]
With all the excited reporting over the free-market/conservative/right wing party victories across Europe (and you can throw in NZ too) we should be expecting a whole bunch of free market reforms from these hands-off free-market parties, right?
Since the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Geert Wilders, Silvio Berlusconi, John Key, The Freedom Party, The Jobbik Party all represent capitalism, don’t they, then surely we should expect stuff like tax cuts, deregulation, privatisations and big reductions in entitlement programs – and huge reductions in deficits.
Or what the hell is the point?
You can’t bank on the Wales, says Susan Ryder, no matter how long you wait.
I speak of environmentally-friendly advertisements. Especially those on television.
Not that I dislike clean products for the sake of it. I don’t. It makes good sense to utilise clever, cost-effective, waste-reducing technology. One of my favourite television programmes is the UK’s Grand Designs, which often features fabulous new concepts in engineering and home design. My problem is that I detest bandwagons and those who jump on them, not wanting to be left out. It smacks of group-think and collectivism and Nick Smith. Enough said.
But it’s really too much when trading banks get into the act. Stephen Fleming selling me an efficient heating system is one thing – he’s making a bit of money by doing so and that’s fine and dandy – but being preached to by the bloody banks is, cough, a bit rich.
I speak of the latest Westpac ad. It screams sustainable-this and sustainable-that, although what that has to do with banking is puzzling. If there was ever an industry that was unsustainable, it would be one that indulged in fractional reserve banking. And if there was ever a bank that was unsustainable, it would be one that confused ten thousand with ten million too often.
“Sustainable” is the Greenspeakers’ favourite word. As long as something is sustainable, you can’t go wrong. Even Helen Clark proved that in the end. She peppered her speeches with “sustainable” so often last year that she lost New Zealand but gained the world. It was a bit like losing your purse, then winning Lotto. Or asking for ten grand and getting ten million.
So Westpac is officially on board Mother Earth. Well, kumbayah kids and light a candle. It’s a beautiful thing.
If only. I don’t bank with Westpac, but I have reason to visit a branch every so often. Like all banks, they make a really good impression of treating their customers with disinterest at best. Never mind how long the queue gets, don’t, whatever you do, put more tellers on. Which reminds me of a wee story ...
Earlier last year I was at Sylvia Park, a large shopping centre in South Auckland that features all the banks. I had to make a deposit at Westpac but saw there was a queue of five or six customers waiting for two operational tellers. I chose to run another errand in the interim and arrived back nearly ten minutes later.
Nobody had moved. I joined the line and glanced at my watch. From a few feet away, it seemed that both customers at the counter had problems that took some resolving. Another five minutes passed with no movement and I was starting to get cheesed off.
In the interim I counted five staff wandering behind the tellers at the back of the bank. Nobody was in a hurry; they were ambling. They would invariably glance at the immobile queue and carry on walking. The possibility that waiting customers might quite like to be served before closing time didn’t seem to occur to them.
Out in front, standing in front of an information counter bereft of customers, wearing the most incredibly high heels was Russian Bride. I called her that because she looked like one. She had more makeup than Max Factor, with that arched expression of boredom and disinterest that Eastern European women have perfected. In spite of having nothing to do, and to doubtless ensure its continuance, she successfully managed to avoid meeting the gaze of a single customer in the rapidly growing queue.
New Zealanders are generally very polite people and so am I. But I don’t appreciate being ignored. And sometimes, people just need a bit of encouragement ...
“Look, I have things to do – and I’d like to be served sometime today,” I called out to Russian Bride. “This queue hasn’t moved in ages – and I’m sure these other customers have things to do, too! Is it possible to get some service please?!”
The floodgates opened. “Yes!” said the Indian man in front of me. “This lady’s right! We’ve been waiting here for more than ten minutes! It’s not on!”
“And I came past about a quarter of an hour ago,” said a woman behind me, “and the same lady is still waiting at the front of the line! I’ve got two kids to collect from school and I’m going to be late!” - together with cries of agreement from the others.
The mutiny stunned Russian Bride, but not enough to get her to move. She resumed her position of ignorance.
“Excuse me!” I said. “We’d like some service and we’d like it now, please. Perhaps you could go and find those staff I’ve seen wandering out the back there. Two would be good, but three would be ideal!”
Instead of getting on with it, she shot a look of pure venom at me. Big mistake. She left me with no choice but to remove my virtual gloves.
“Hey, this isn’t bloody Candid Camera! Take your high heels off and get out the back and get some tellers, please! NOW!”
By this time, I was thoroughly enjoying myself, the other customers taken up the call and, more importantly, had caused staff to come running. They managed to staff two more tellers, the others went back to their ambling and that was that.
I wouldn’t mind waiting if they just acknowledged the queue with a “sorry about the wait, we’ll be with you as soon as we can,” but none of them do that. This isn’t a whinge about Westpac specifically, because they’re all guilty of not giving a toss.
The BNZ has flying pigs and the National Bank has Black Beauty turning up at weddings. The ANZ has a bloke scoffing “lingueeeni” and the ASB has Goldstein. And having dispensed with the smug arse on the megaphone, Kiwibank now has the world’s most irritating woman berating foreigners. They spend a collective fortune telling us day after day how important we are – and now how important the bloody planet is – when we just want to be served.
It’s nothing new. Twenty odd years ago, 60’s pop singer Peter Noone was in Auckland starring in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. After waiting ages in a Queen Street bank queue that stubbornly refused to move, he shouted in frustration: “Where the hell are we? Poland?!”
* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *
For me, the point of looking at art is not to learn history or sociology, and it’s certainly not to wow other people with your knowledge. At its best, looking at art is pure pleasure. Even when it’s not pure pleasure, I enjoy figuring out why it’s not.
Notice that a concentrated look at art is the last step in [my] list of suggestions, not the first.
You can take your child to the great museums of the world for hours on end, but if he can’t focus on what he’s seeing, and if the two of you can’t talk about what you’ve seen, what’s the point?
Read on here for those five simple tips.
And I confess. I’ve softened. I’ve added a few pics of art (from Van Gogh, Leonardo, Mondrian and Monet respectively) that youngsters regularly respond to. See how you go with yours.
Monday, 8 June 2009
- Farmers managing director Rod McDermott said the company wanted to give back to the communities in which it had operated for the past 100 years.
- A "partnership with prisoners" that will deliver "a great opportunity for the men to give back to the community"
- A former primary school principal "looking to find out how I could give back to the community"
Like many other people, I am troubled by this phrase when I hear it.
The usual scenario: A successful person makes a donation to a worthy cause but downplays any praise by saying “I’m only giving back.”
The usual gentle rejoinder is to point out that the phrase assumes that the giver has taken something from others in the first place — he’s borrowed or stolen something and in “giving back” is merely restoring it to its rightful owners. That zero-sum assumption is usually untrue: most donors have earned what they have. So the phrase “giving back” contains within it an injustice: a false accusation.
Yet there is more to it: the phrase also denies the benevolence of the giver. If you are only giving back what is rightfully someone else’s, then you do not deserve any special praise for your action. Your benevolence need not be acknowledged or honored.
So the phrase really is a double injustice: it implies that you do not deserve what you have and it denies you any credit you deserve for your benevolent act. (Or to put it abstractly: It is the imputation of an undeserved negative and the denial of a deserved positive.)
So far so bad.
But it gets worse.
Is the fundamental issue of our time the conflict between left and right, as many commenters here at NOT PC maintain?
Speaking as if yesterday, instead of forty-five years ago, former Democrat Ronald Reagan gives the answer during Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign:
“You and I are told we must choose between a left or right. I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order - or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. . . ”
Discuss, perhaps after watching the speech that deservedly brought Reagan to national political prominence – one of the best political speeches of the last half-century, and all without a teleprompter! [Hat tip Angelia]
Jonathan Krebs of the Law Society is bleating this morning about two former jurors on the Bain case who hugged David Bain after the trial, and then joined Team Bain’s after-match party back at the Bain HQ.
This is "a bad look" says Mr Krebs. Asked to explain what’s actually wrong with it, Mr Krebs could only say that it is "all about appearances" (and I feel obliged to point out that much the same might be said about lawyers’ honesty).
But in fact this is not “all about appearances” at all. Whatever Mr Krebs or I or anyone else thinks about the jury's decision, they had all the evidence in front of them to make their decision and we did not.
And once that decision is made their job is done. At that point they become former jurors and are free to do whatever they like, with whomever they like, at whatever time they like – without having to ask Mr Krebs whether or not it looks okay to him.
And if it really were all about appearances, then I feel obliged to point out that this is the same Law Society that decided after Clint Rickards was sacked by the police that if he was unfit to be a policeman then that he was at least of sufficiently "good character" to pay his dues to the Law Society. The same Law Society continually demanding that taxpayers be dunned even even more to make up their members’ already vastly inflated legal aid bills.
Not a good look at all, Mr Krebs.
UPDATE: Obviously short of a headline, Labour’s Lianne Dalziel joins the Krebs chorus about the honesty or otherwise of former jurors.
Ironic, really, since the appearance of the Labour Party’s honesty over both the Pledge Card and the Electoral Finance Act – over more specifically, the obvious lack thereof – was what eventually brought the last Labour Government down. Ms Dalziel would be well advised to pay attention to what does matter, not what doesn’t.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Dakta Green from the Legalise Cannabis Party confessed to the policemen in the room that he might have smoked weed. (Apparently they followed him home to check.)
Julian Pistorius from Libertarianz confessed he is disgusted by politicians wanting to bulldoze people’s homes.
Melissa Lee confessed to wanting to recriminalise prostitution – and not knowing what she wants on smacking.
Russel Norman confessed to “growing lots of greens upstairs in his flat” – to loud laughter from Libz and Legalise Cannabise folk in the room.
John Boscawen from ACT confessed (speaking of compulsory superannuation) that "to have 25 years of freedom when you are 65, it is necessary to have 40 years of compulsion."
And David Shearer confessed to having “pictures of dogs copulating” in his possession. Whatever the hell that was about.
And that was True Confessions tonight in Mt Albert.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Barack Hussein Obama, boy, that’s the new cat’s name notes Toby Harnden at The Daily Telegraph.
Barack Hussein Obama. Say it proud. Say it out loud. The middle moniker that dared not speak its name during the election campaign is now front and centre of the US president's attempt to woo the Muslim world, the theme of his visits to Riyadh on Wednesday and [his speech in] Cairo [this morning]. . . To say Barack Hussein Obama - BHO for short - now appears to be the height of political correctness.
The Obama Administration is now embracing its “inner Muslim” in Cairo – the home of Al Qaeda’s hero and the murderous Muslim Brotherhood (whose representatives were invited to the afternoon of apology) – speaking at an institution whose Grand Sheikh, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, has given his approval — on Islamic grounds — to suicide bombing, in an attempt to do what Neville Chamberlain couldn’t do in similar circumstances: to fake reality sufficiently to avert a conflict that in this case was declared decades ago.
No wonder those he is trying to appease see him as insufferably naive.
While he talks of a “new beginning,” he shows no conception how such a beginning might be made – and simply continuing the pretence that we’re dealing with a “religion of peace” won’t cut it, I’m afraid. If the atrocities committed in recent years were truly carried out in the name of a “religion of peace,” then I’d sure as hell hate to se what they’d have been doing if they followed a religion of violence, savagery and blood lust.
Quite frankly, the Obamessiah shows no idea he knows what needs to be done, an ignorance of history so complete as to be wilful, and no conception that appeasing radical Islam will only stoke its flames.
He promises to “fight negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” yet only to “relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.” [My emphasis.] Does anyone else see a dangerous imbalance there? Or an abject ignorance of the real truth about the “religion of peace.” Bosch Fawstin does: “If Washington P.C. fought the enemy the way they fight the truth about the enemy....... “ Here’s a question that gives you a clue about the truth:
Which religion has a doctrine of warfare, begun and practiced by its founder, against all unbelievers, to be waged by the faithful until all mankind submits:
G. None of the above
“We will have peace with the Arabs,” said former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, “when they love their children more than they hate us.” Until BHO Boy understands that goes double for Islamic totalitarians, then he’s an ally of our enemies and not our friend. To quote a recent Thomas Sowell column:
President Obama is acting as if this [and related conflicts are] something he can finesse with talks or deals. Worse yet, he may think it is something we can live with.
Burke had something to say about things like [this]: "There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief." Acting -- not talking.
Here’s a few good pieces analysing the most important foreign policy speech for this political term – a Speech that Will Live in Infamy – and the perfidy of a man now officially confirmed by Rasmussen polling as being President Zero:
- For that Cairo Speech, Obama Gets an "F" in History - VITAL SIGNS
- The End of America’s Strategic Alliance with Israel? - Caroline Glick
- Respect this, Zero - JIHAD WATCH
- Obama's Cairo Nonsense - HUGH FITZGERALD
- Platitudes and naivete: Obama's Cairo speech - ROBERT SPENCER
- Islam versus Peace – Bosch Fawstin, SOLO
- Obama’s Cairo Speech: Appeasing Radical Islam? - Yaron Brook, AYN RAND CENTER
- Obama to Muslims: We share common principles - LIBERTY SCOTT
- Edmund Burke and President Obama - THOMAS SOWELL
- Outreach or Overreach? - TONY PERKINS
- Daniel Pipes, Bat Ye’or et al on ‘Criticism & Conciliation’
...Buried within the text, possibly in the hope that few would notice, was an effective acceptance of Iran's nuclear ambitions: "No single nation should pick and choose which nations should hold nuclear weapons." Mr Obama did warn that an Iranian bomb could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. However, the Cairo speech did not include the threat of action against the Islamic Republic – not even sanctions. The message was clear: the US was distancing itself from the resolutions passed against Iran by the UN Security Council.Which will include an increasing number of former friends.
As if all that weren't enough, Mr Obama dropped words such as "terror" and "terrorism" from his vocabulary. The killers of September 11 were "violent extremists", not "Islamist terrorists". In this respect, he is more politically correct than the Saudis and Egyptians, who have no qualms about describing those who kill in the name of Islam as terrorists.
Mr Obama may not know it, but his "Muslim world" is experiencing a civil war of ideas, in which movements for freedom and human rights are fighting despotic, fanatical and terrorist groups that use Islam as a fascist ideology. The President refused to acknowledge the existence of the two camps, let alone take sides. It was not surprising that the Muslim Brotherhood lauds him for "acknowledging the justice of our case" – nor that his speech was boycotted by the Egyptian democratic movement "Kifayah!" ("Enough!"), which said it could not endorse "a policy of support for despots in the name of fostering stability".
In other words, the President may find that by trying to turn everyone into a friend, he has merely added to his list of enemies
Friday, 5 June 2009
Beer writer Neil Miller talks up an Epic brewing battle, the fruits of which might just be worth travelling to Wellington to sample.
The world has always loved a great battle - David taking out Goliath, the armies of Rome battling the Vandals, the Royal Air Force defeating the Luftwaffe, Ali versus Frazier, George W Bush against the English language…
In July 2009, one of New Zealand’s most heated brewing rivalries will be re-kindled at the Second Annual American Pale Ale Challenge. Two of the country’s best brewers will each produce an exclusive hop-fuelled and American-inspired pale ale looking to knock their opponent to the floor. Round one last year was a hard fought match with no clear winner declared. On 17 July at the Malthouse in Courtenay Place it’s round two.
Cue the voice-over which sounds quite a lot like Michael Buffer but clearly isn’t for exciting copyright reasons:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages. The Malthouse, in association with Colin the Handsome and Softly-Spoken Scotsman, is proud to bring you the rematch that everyone wanted to see. It’s The Imp versus The Plough and this time it’s personal! Brewing out of the blue corner, from Epic Brewing Company, the man who put the twit into twitter, Luke “The Imp” Nicholas! And his opponent, brewing out of the red corner by way of the Hallertau brewpub, the Nature Boy Steve Plowman! Let’s get ready to rumb…”
Let’s get ready to get sued if we go too much further down that track. The key point is to put 17 July 2009 into your diaries right now because it will be a hoppy main event.
As a style, American Pale Ales (APAs) are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand. They tend to be far hoppier and stronger than traditional pale ales and make extensive use of assertive American hops. Probably the first APA I tried was Little Creatures Pale Ale from Fremantle, Australia. The Little Creatures brewery is housed in a former crocodile farm and the name is a reference to the live yeast which is left in the beer. They are totally committed to using the best American hops and even ship in whole hop flowers from the US Pacific Northwest. Apparently, Australian Customs were more than interested in the first shipment of hop cones because of their strong resemblance to another botanical product…
It is all worth the effort though. The use of American hop flowers takes this beer to whole new levels of aroma, flavour and bitterness. Pouring a cloudy gold, Little Creatures Pale Ale (5.2%) is a seriously tasty drop with lashings of hop, pine, citrus, grapefruit and lychee notes before a rousing bitter finish. I drink mine with the Little Creatures (yeast) poured in though that is a matter of personal preference.
I was once perusing the supermarket beer shelves (as I am wont to do) when a gentleman I knew approached me to remonstrate about one of my beer selections. According to him, I had recommended a particular beer and he had bought it but the beer wasn’t really any good at all. This worried me so I asked which beer it was. His answer was Chimay Blue which prompted me to respond that he was, of course, entitled to his opinion but he was, in this instance, quite wrong.
However, as a gesture of good faith I was willing to recommend another beer which I was sure he would like – Little Creatures Pale Ale. He balked slightly at the $20 price tag so I offered him a guarantee – if he did not like the beer, he could return five bottles to me on the Monday and I would give him his $20 back.
Monday duly arrived (as it is wont to do) and I’d heard nothing all weekend. The morning and afternoon passed and still silence. Finally, at 4:55pm his email arrived containing the world’s shortest endorsement of a beer. It simply read “I think I will keep them.”
Could someone please tell me why what Richard Worth did or didn't do in a Wellington hotel last March -- or what John Key did or didn't do when he heard about it -- is more important than the fiscal child abuse Bill English committed right out in the open in Parliament last Wednesday?
Because to judge by the level of discussion, gossip about the former is far more important than analysis of the latter -- and it's Bill English's Budget that is going to affect us all far more.
UPDATE: “The resignation of Dr Richard Worth is the most serious scandal to impact on the new National government,” says The Dim Post , and lists several “other embarrassments” the Key government has suffered in the last six month. I’m pretty sure it’s a tongue-in-cheek list – leastways, I hadn’t heard about the great body non-desecration scandal at the Hutt Hospital mortuary before, or the decision to chemically neuter veteran Radio New Zealand announcer Sean Plunket. Had you?
I haven‘t commented on this case up until now since I was out of the country when the first trial took place, so didn’t know enough to talk about it. Now that the jury is out this time, however, I think I’ve seen enough to make a call (based, to be fair, only on media reports of the trial, never a completely reliable thing to do).
One thing about this case is that the usual rules of “beyond reasonable doubt” don’t apply. This is a unique situation in which one of two people did the job, either David or Robin, and one of those two is dead. Which means that if you prove one did or didn’t do it, then the reverse holds true for the other. No other possibility exists.
And for any jury to believe that it was Robin who killed the family, there’s a list a mile long of things you would need to believe that simply defy reality – and fortunately for me, David Farrar has done the hard work summed them all up beautifully.
To me it looks as conclusive as it’s possible to be. It can’t have been Robin, not unless you can believe thirty-five impossible things before breakfast. Which means it must have been the other guy. David.
I think Joe Karam has wasted his money, and his devotion. And I think, despite the munted police evidence, that the juries got it right before.
UPDATE: In relation to the question of beyond reasonable doubt, Justice Panckhurst’s summing up is worth noting.
Was it Robin or was it David? . . .
It can in fact be refined in this way: is it proved beyond reasonable doubt that David killed all five members of his family, including Robin, [or to put it another way, has] the Crown proven beyond all reasonable doubt that this was not a case of suicide?
“There is simply no place for emotion,” said Panckhurst, referring to the frankly odd summing of Bain’s defence counsel, who invited jurors to bring in a ‘not guilty’ verdict on the basis that David is “a nice guy” and must have found it hard to sit through all this evidence again. In the end they have to answer four questions:
- Did Robin Bain commit suicide? My answer: It’s not in any way realistic.
- Whose bloody footprints were found in the home? My answer: Inconclusive.
- Who typed the message: “Sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay.” My answer: It could only have been the bloke who thought he was.
- And who had the violent fight with Stephen? My answer: Well, only one of the two had injuries consistent with such a fight.
So in short, was it Robin or was it David? That is the basic question. And my answer: David.
If there’s one thing Dr Shaun Holt enjoys it’s taking on frauds, charlatans and shysters.
In recent days he’s been taking homeopathists outside for a good thrashing, both on TV and radio. Check out the debris here at his Natural Remedies That Work blog.
Designing buildings to meet their environmental context should be a basic skill (meet the solar hemicycle of the Second Jacobs House for example, or so much vernacular architecture), but for some reason in the earlier part of the modern movement the whole idea of designing shelter to fit its context was shunned as unfashionable, and now in the later part is forced upon us as all but compulsory – but with little understanding of what exactly it might all mean, and far too little architecture that even does what it purports to.
“When in doubt plant a shrub” – or (these days) whack in a bloody wind turbine – or do some complicated bloody calculation – that’s about all so much of the dubious modern mantra amounts to to make the latest unattractive box conform to the latest “green” fashion.
Oh, and a lengthy sermon on the often imaginary benefits of all the extra expense.
Frank Lloyd Wright reckoned that the job of architecture is “to make human life more natural, and nature more humane” – a job description that needs neither fashion nor compulsion to succeed, but which these days is made more difficult by both.
The bloggers at the Architecture + Morality site have a lengthy meditation on the problem which, if you’re at all interested, is worth your time to contemplate. As they say,
A fair question. And why is the compulsion behind “designing green” killing what is – or should be – mostly just basic environmental common sense?
Much of what is considered responsible design is already green and has been so for the last 3,000 years. Siting the building to maximize natural daylighting and breezes while reliably sheltering occupants from the elements was fundamental since not doing so would make life indoors extremely unbearable and a threat to health. Stale air, excessive heat, mold, water-borne diseases, and smoke inhalation from cooking fires were the consequences of from a failure to design according to traditional 'green' principles.
If designing green is nothing new, how come is it seen as the next big thing?
Thursday, 4 June 2009
When Phil Goff refused to front on Close Up last night if self-described right-wing blogger Cameron Slater appeared, TVNZ kept The Whale and told Phil to join the far queue. A rare sign of courage from the state broadcaster and a spineless performance from Phil Goff, who reportedly “not only refused to go on with Whale - he also insisted that Whale be filmed earlier so they don’t share the Green Room, and then finally said he would not appear at all, if Whale was on the same show.”
Which gives me an idea.
Back in the 1996 election when Lindsay Perigo was Libertarianz leader, we were told by TVNZ – still smarting over being dubbed “braindead” – that they wouldn’t be filming any meeting which Perigo attended. We responded by making hundred of life-size Perigo cardboard cut-outs which we took to every political meeting of every political opponent we could find. The ruse succeeded. Many meetings went unreported, or at least unfilmed – and the Perigo cutouts ended up on studio walls all over Auckland. I believe Bomber himself stole two.
So here’s my idea. If Phil’s so easily spooked then perhaps Cameron’s chums could produce numerous life-size cardboard cutouts of the Whale with which they could taunt Phil at his every public appearance. It surely wouldn’t be long before Phil developed a severe far cough.
Has the spontaneous remonetisation of gold* already begun? When cocaine dealers start demanding gold as payment rather than rapidly devaluing US dollars, you certainly have to wonder.
Hat tip for this story goes to Bernard Hickey whose Top Ten at Ten this morning is well worth a read – particularly for the comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who is belatedly warning that “the government couldn’t keep borrowing forever and the Fed wouldn’t help by ‘monetizing the debt’ (ie printing money to buy government bonds)”; and Auckland art philanthropist and “hedge fund guru” Julian Robertson, who reckons it’s already too late and the inflationary genie is already out of the bottle.
* What does “the spontaneous remonetisation of gold” mean? Briefly: “As inflation becomes perceived as a serious problem, a growing demand for gold and silver develops as an "inflation hedge"-i.e., as a store of value. Once this demand reaches a certain level, the stage becomes set for a spontaneous remonetization of the precious metals. For, just as in the process by which the precious metals became money in the first place, once enough people want to own gold and silver as an inflation hedge and thus are willing to accept them in exchange for their own goods and services, others become willing to accept them too, even though they themselves do not wish to hold them as an inflation hedge or as a store of value. Conditions exist, in other words, for a growing acceptability of the precious metals, to the point at which they become universally acceptable, i.e., become money once again.” George Reisman, Capitalism.
If Richard Worth can be fired for allegedly not leaving someone alone, asks Bernard Darnton, then why do we still have a Cabinet?
No one will yet say exactly what it is that Worth may (or may not) have done but the innuendo is that it’s something lecherous. There have been mutterings about “inappropriate behaviour” and “unwanted attention towards women.”
It’s odd that he should be fired for that. All of us are the objects of government ministers’ unwanted attention. For most of them it’s their bloody job.
Ministers for Labour, Food Safety, Customs, Internal Affairs, Building, Infrastructure, Sport, the Environment, and all sorts of other crap are all unwantedly attending to me. John Key promised that the Revenue Minister would be reducing his unwanted attentions slightly but I still find his wandering hands on every pay slip.
And that’s why I care more that this government is worthless than that it’s Worth-less. Because whatever it is that Worth may (or may not) have done it probably pales against the scale of damage done by a government trying to spend its way out of poverty - a government that is only getting more attentive.
After all the post-election hoopla about getting rid of the nannying socialists – and I admit I hummed a little tune from The Wizard of Oz that night – we ended up with more nannying socialists. Nothing changes.
In fact nothing has changed for millennia. Pericles had it right 2,400 years ago when he warned, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”
Many libertarians are involved in politics not because we enjoy the game of politics but as an act of self-defence. If I could reduce the sphere of politics, maybe it would pay less unwanted attention to me, and then I wouldn’t have to be interested in politics.
I suspect the reason that I don’t see eye-to-eye with the dead-rat-swallowing cheerleaders for the current government –many of whom should know better – is that they don’t share that distaste for politics.
Politics should be a means to an end. A good end might be, say, promoting human freedom – just off the top of my head. Politics may be one tool towards that goal.
If politics becomes an end in itself you start believing that convincing people that freedom is good is too hard. Better to hide your intentions, don’t let voters know just how free you want them to be, and sneak into power. And then with that power you can … continue to hide your original intentions and evade the difficult questions so that you can remain in power.
If this is Act’s current strategy, steps one and two are working brilliantly. No one observing them would divine the secret plan to unshackle us. The question is: what’s step three? Will they do something useful or will they keep propping up the orthodoxy so that they can retain power so that they can keep propping up the orthodoxy so that they can retain power so…
How many rats do you have to swallow before you become a rat?
* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *
It’s a simple quiz with only one question.
General Motors failed because . . .
- a) It “is an indictment of American management in general. It highlights the damage to our economy that results when finance becomes the tail that wags the economic dog. And it shows what happens to any company that rests on its laurels and fails to adapt to change.”
This is the conventional answer.
- b) They made too few electric cars.
This is the environmentalist’s answer.
- c) They attracted too few subsidies for an essential American industry.
This is Obama’s answer, that if anything stops moving you throw bailouts at it.
- d) They were brought down by too little attention to sex, i.e., “The car industry is giving the public what they think they want” instead of what they really want.
“They assume the car purchasing public are focused on fuel economy, safety and the car manufacturer's social commitment. . . . What the surveys don't tell car manufacturers is that most people purchase a car as a sex aid.”
This is Motella’s answer, that “we are too caught up in trying to be politically correct.”
- e) They were “brought down by a kind of philosophical and economic tapeworm that consumed the company from within.
“The economic tapeworm was the United Automobile Workers union, which transformed the company into a carcass upon which it could feed while tying GM’s hands and feet with arbitrary work rules that prevented it from competing and providing any addition to what was to be consumed by the UAW’s vultures.
“The philosophical tapeworm lay within the minds of those running the company. For decades, it led them never to take a stand on principle and forcefully resist the UAW. Always the present cost of a major strike was allowed to outweigh the prospect of the ultimate destruction of the company, which was never considered fully real because it lay in the future.”
This is George Reisman’s answer which, he says, “is symbolic of what is happening to the United States.”
So which of these is the most fundamental answer. Post your answers in the comments.
“Libraries gave us power,” said the Manics. That’s how I felt when I first discovered the local library as a youngster, but having checked out many of the country’s library’s in recent years I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t now. It’s not power they give you now, but indigestion.
Libraries aren’t about books now, they’re about “communities.” They’re about looking good. But they’re rarely, if at all, about books.
Every library I’ve visited in recent months is “new and improved” -- which seems to mean that its book stacks are now anaemic, an dhidden “down the far end,” while the building designed to house them suffers from grandomania. Acres of space is given over to entrances and meeting areas and spaces for “culturally appropriate” community activities, but the space given over to actual books in these places is decidedly the poorer cousin.
If knowledge is power, then the country’s libraries have given up the struggle. Grandomania has beaten purpose.
Not so however with the wonderful libraries pictured here, taken from the hundreds collected at Librophiliac: a Compendium of Beautiful Libraries. My thanks to Danyl for sending me there (and giving me the title for this post). These are my idea of what real libraries looks like.
The three beauties pictured here are (from top to bottom) the Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; the Rijkmuseum Library, Amsterdam; and the Trinity College Library, AKA, The Long Room, Dublin, Ireland.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Responsible adults know that you don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and you don’t spend what you haven't got.
This is not a government made up of responsible adults.
Responsible governments know that if you want to cut taxes, then you have to make spending cuts to match. They know that in hard times, you have to make hard decisions.
This is not a government that likes making hard decisions. They prefer to duck them. They’ve just ducked this hard decision – they lack even the courage of their own election promises -- and now, as Bernard Hickey points out, It means the Government will borrow the equivalent of $13,225 for each New Zealander in the coming decade to pay for that lack of courage – at the same time as the income of each New Zealander is tipped to be around $10,500 a year lower unti 2011.
That figure [$13,225 for each New Zealander in the coming decade to pay for that lack of courage] is the amount the Government is likely to borrow to fund its deficits for the next decade - $52.9 billion, according to Treasury's assumptions spreadsheet stuck inside its website.
It means that every week the Treasury will go into the wholesale money markets and ask to borrow around $200 million. Every week the Government will borrow the equivalent of what it costs to build a hospital.
Every working day it will borrow about $50 million. That's the equivalent of a big Lotto winner every hour. In the space of that 10 years the Government will borrow an amount so large that it will dwarf the amount saved by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. It will be a massive lead weight dragging on the economy.
To put it into context, this borrowing is worth more than half of the entire savings built up by New Zealanders in bank accounts and directly in the stock market over the past century of around $100 billion.
It will push up interest rates. Key and English were worried about a credit rating downgrade because, they said, it would push up interest rates by 1.5 per cent in the coming years.
They managed to stave off that downgrade, but they may not keep interest rates down. Long-term rates have already risen that much in the past three months.
And they’ll keep going right on up because every irresponsible government in the world is now competing for credit from the same credit markets, and what government can’t borrow then government will just print. Anything to avoid making the hard decisions – no matter the bill that leaves for future generations.
But there are still some few governments in the world who are prepared to confront hard time with hard decisions. Governments who understand that if you’re going to keep promises that matter, then sometimes you have to have the courage to do what’s right.
In fact, there’s a Labour Government just over the Tasman who’s making that kind of decision right now – a Queensland state government under Premier Anna Bligh who is responding to the economic crisis by selling off state assets and discontinuing an expensive fuel subsidy [hat tip Christopher Westley].
Only two months after winning an early election on a platform of financial management, Ms Bligh yesterday confirmed five government-owned corporations would be sold over the next five years and the 8.35 per cent fuel subsidy abolished from July 1.
Queensland Motorways Limited, the Port of Brisbane, Forest Plantations Queensland, and the Abbot Point Coal Terminal will be privatised, as will Queensland Rail's coal business and possibly even its freight arm and regional network.
Ms Bligh - who had not canvassed such drastic measures during the campaign and briefed caucus and selected union leaders only on Monday night - said the Government expected to raise $15 billion from the sales and save $2.4billion over four years on the fuel subsidy. . .
That’s the sort of thing a responsible government does when it’s confronted by reality and it can’t pay its bills. That’s what, repeat after me, a Labour government is doing.
But not New Zealand’s Tory government. Not this National/ACT government. They’re boasting in the House as I write this that they’re boosting spending on this, and boosting spending on the other – talking about extra money wasted on welfare as if it were an “investment” – while the only decent promise they did make, the promise to deliver tax cuts,the only promise they made that will actually deliver real productivity growth – as John Whitehead at the Treasury affirmed just this morning -- that’s the very promise on which they welched so cynically.
It’s a broken promise we’re going to be paying for for years to come.
As you’ve probably already heard, Richard Worth – known in his days at law firm Simply Gruesome as The Admiral – has resigned his ministerial portfolios on the basis of some undisclosed alleged criminal behaviour, and is expected to “be asked” to clear his desk altogether.
And we’re all left stunned. Who would have expected dodgy behaviour from a lawyer?
UPDATE: From John Key’s press conference this morning, via Kiwiblog:
“All I can tell you is his conduct does not befit a minister and I will not have him in my Cabinet,” Mr Key told a press conference this morning.
“If he hadn’t resigned I would have sacked him.” …
Mr Key said an outside party had informed his office of the allegation of a “relatively recent” incident last week.
Dr Worth had not come to him about it.
Dr Worth has been given a two-week leave of absence from Parliament: “because I think he needs some time to reflect on his future and whether he intends to stay as an MP.”
Mr Key said it was up to Dr Worth to decide whether to leave Parliament, but if police laid charges he may be suspended or expelled from Caucus.
Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes an irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.
- “Keeper leaves his pride for the last time” – Dalu Mncube, the wildlife park attendant mauled to death last week, was yesterday farewelled by fellow workers, family and friends. A picture depicts a lion standing “as if at attention.” Oh, please!! We are talking wild animals here. Animals are incapable of conceptual thinking. The quarter-ton tiger that ended Mr Mncube’s life has no regrets and probably little memory of the event. The lion pictured in the news item was quite possibly sizing up his next meal from among the mourners. This episode is a stark reminder that, firstly, animals have no respect for the individual rights of humans and, secondly, that humans have a distinct physical disadvantage when it comes to competing with the lesser forms of life on this planet – but we can usually out-think them.
- “GPs get approval to raise fees by 6.5pc” – A news story near and dear to me, as one of those GPs. The government in its infinite wisdom, has recommended the District Health Boards allow doctors to raise their fees by 6.5% this year, which they regard as a “reasonable increase” (which is not to say the DHBs will allow it). Doctors should be grateful to their political masters, though. In 2004/5, they were allowed a 2.4% increase. The over-riding assumption is that medical services are a “public good”, that people are entitled to subsidized health care – that health care is a right. If you believe this, then you sanction slavery. For if there is a right to health care, the state must provide it. And if the state can’t find anyone willing to provide health care on their terms – for instance under conditions of price controls – then they will have to force people to provide it, by force. That is, as slaves. As a director of a company whose business is providing health services to 18,000 clients, I will be advocating for our prices to rise by far more than 6.5% on July 1. Watch this space.
- “Murder accused dies of liver cancer” – Gee, I can’t remember the last time a liquor store owner, dairy proprietor or pharmacist shot one of his competitors and buried the corpse with a digger. Perhaps that’s because the products they sell, which can all be abused and which can all kill in overdose (even bottled water), are legal. Whereas Brett Ashby and Grant Adams were dealing in illegal recreational substances, a situation that guarantees high prices, criminal involvement and therefore violence. Had the substances in question been legal, Messrs Ashby and Adams (or some other entrepreneurs) may very well have had adjoining shops competing peacefully for clientele.
- “Why peaceful NZ leads the world” – We are apparently the most peaceful nation in the world (despite having more more gun homicides than the UK per capita). Hmm, wonder who came to this conclusion? None other than the Institute for Economics and Peace. And who are they? A group focused on “global peace.” A group who believe: “It is impossible to accurately portray the devastating effects that global challenges such as climate change, lack of fresh water, ever decreasing bio-diversity and overpopulation, will have on all nations unless global unified action is taken.” World government, and action to ensure survival of centipedes, cockroaches, poisonous spiders, snakes, malaria parasites, loaloa worms and other species that cause suffering and death to humankind. What nice peaceful people the IEP turn out to be.
See y’all next week!
We know from the British expenses scandal that British politicans will take whatever they can get.
We know from Labour's pledge card scandal, Jonathan Hunt's taxi bill and the accomodation rorts by the likes of Bunkle and Hobbs that local politicians will do the same when they can.
And we know from the truckloads of taxpayers' money being used to campaign in Mt Albert that nothing's changed since, and that when they can take advantage they will.
Why should you and I pay extra for Phil Goff's power and rent, when he's already on a good taxpaid wicket.
Why should we pay for Russel Norman 's taxis, when he wants to make everyone else use the bus.
Why should people who don't even like the ACT Party pay for the running costs of their communications and research staff?
Why should we accede to the claims bubbling under that it shouldn't just be MPs and their spouses that are paid by the taxpayer to go about their business, but political parties as well?
In short, we know that if there's a trough around then these bastards will want to get their snout into it -- and even in our neck of the wooods there's one hell of a trough. [Scroll down a little to see a partial list]
So instead of holding another "cross-party" committee meeting to decide what to do about it here -- a meeting of those whose noses are in the trough to see how they can continue to get away with it -- why not simply take the trough away.
Instead of paying every dollar it takes to run these pricks -- instead of paying all their expenses and then some -- taxis, hotels, travel, rents, mortages, carpet-bagging, a very nice superannuation package -- why not just pay them the very nice salary they're already getting, and let them pay their own bloddy expenses out of that.
After all, that's what everyone else is expected to do, right?
Just take the trough away from these beneficiaries, and let them pay their own way themselves. That would be the honest thing to do, wouldn't it?
Just thought you should know.
And read more about the house and Goff (and see a floor plan) here.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
A definite theme in popular posts here this month, and another steady rise in reader numbers -- which is very good news (as Tom Waits used to say, it would have been kind of lonely if none of you showed up), yet while reader numbers have gone up Alexa and Technorati ratings have gone down. I’ll leave that as an exercise for readers, and for blog stat compilers who rely on them, to work out what that means.
And I think David Slack might need to work on his manners. ;^)
NZ Political Blog Ranking for NOT PC in April: 3rd (March: 3rd)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 2883rd (April: 1821st)
Alexa Ranking, world: 304,831st (April: 280,130th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1620/day (April: 1582)
Unique visits [from Statcounter]: 45,485 (April: 44,979)
Page impressions [from Statcounter]: 64,617 (April: 63,878)
Top ten posts for May:
- Beer O’Clock: The Bottle of Britain
The power of politically incorrect advertising (now with a belated glass tip to Andrew B)
- Mt Albert: Where South Aucklanders come to burgle?
There are no throwaway lines in a by-election.
- Nats’ ad man attacks Nats’ bulldozer
National’s 2008 bilboard designer attacks National’s 2009 decision to bulldoze the homes of over 300 property owners.
- Support Pistorius in Mt Albert!
Check out Julian Pistorius' new brochure for Mt Albert – a lot of you already have! (And if you have some time to help with door knocking and leaflet dropping early evenings and the weekend, then why not contact Julian Pistorius at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
- LIBERTARIAN SUS: National’s Four Corners
Susan looks for National around every corner, and discovers they’ve already thrown in the towel.
- Budget Week billboarding
. . . featuring a simple reminder that this government has just broken its leading campaign pledge.
No drug bust is ever routine, dickheads.
- NOT PJ: Freedom Becomes Patchy
The fashion police have been given sweeping new powers in W(h)anganui – and now, coming to a town near you!
- DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Mt Albert, Mudbaths and Morons
An irreverent weekly look at the headlines by Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath.
- NOT PJ: Long hard road in Mt Albert
Bernard Darnton gathers together in one place all the jokes other people were making about Melissa Lee . . .
Most commented upon posts
- NOT PJ: Freedom becomes patchy (53 comments)
- Support Libz' Pistorius in Mt Albert (43)
- LIBERTARIAN SUS: National's Four Corners (41)
- Nats' ad man attacks Nats' bulldozer (39)
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They're reading NOT PC here:
Still no visit from Sarah Palin?
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Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading, linking to and talking about NOT PC this month,