Tuesday, 16 June 2009

What's worse than stagflation? Hyperdepression, silly.

Economist Robert Murphy has been doing interviews for his new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression (what Tom Woods calls "an accessible and persuasive Austrian account of an essential period of American history that most people know only in propaganda form"), for which Murphy is always asked the question, "Will the present crisis turn out as bad as the 1930s?"

His answer - from which you can tell he is an economist -- is "yes and no."
On the one hand, there were very specific reasons that unemployment broke 25 percent in 1933, and we don't have those factors in place today. So I don't think the official unemployment rate will get anywhere near that catastrophic level, though it could very well come in at the #2 spot in US economic history.
However, even though unemployment rates will not be as severe, I still predict that we are in store for a miserable decade of economic stagnation. Given all of the huge assaults of the federal government into the private sector in just the past six months, I frankly don't understand how anyone except true believers in Karl Marx can be seeing "green shoots."
What is perhaps worse, laid on top of the stalled output in goods and services, I predict Americans are in store for the worst price inflation in US history. Just as
stagflation referred to the combination of high unemployment and price inflation rates in the 1970s — something Keynesians thought was impossible — we can use the term hyperdepression to refer to the mix of hyperinflation and a serious recession in real output.
Read on here for the explanation of this pessimistic outlook.

Quote of the day: Ludwig von Mises on Tehran

As if he said it yesterday in Tehran, instead of sixty years ago in Omnipotent Government: 

"The elite should be supreme by virtue of persuasion, not by the assistance of firing squads."

Words made more poignant by some of the footage coming from Tehran’s streets [hat tip Andrew Sullivan]:

LIBERTARIAN SUS: American Tunes

Susan Ryder thinks it was worth the wait.

AMERICAN TUNES

Laughing on the bus,
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said “Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera”

I’ve loved the music of Simon & Garfunkel for a long time. When travelling the USA via Greyhound bus some 20 years ago, I often recalled those lyrics from America on account of the, shall we say, colourful clientele the bus-line attracted.

The depots were always in the nastiest part of town and the schedule saw buses arrive and depart in the wee small hours. Navigating the restrooms – a misnomer if ever there was one – involved avoiding the junkies shooting up in the dim light. And it wasn’t much better out in the relative safety of the waiting room, where it was not uncommon to trip over the winos and prostitutes who didn’t make it to the restrooms.

Most Americans either flew or drove long distance. Amtrack was okay, but limited in its coverage, so the rest pretty much used Greyhound. There were repeated rumours that civic authorities would round up their homeless and present them with one-way tickets to warm places like Florida with whispers of fruit-picking jobs at the destination to neatly and cheaply ship them out, rather than go to the ongoing expense and bother of having to deal with them at home. The drivers, on the other hand, were great. And one day I’ll tell you more about all that. Back to America ..

. . . So I looked at the scenery; she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all gone to look for America

The quintessential New Yorkers can the claim the double in managing to not only write beautifully about their city of birth, but their country, too. Paul Simon’s lyrics and haunting melodies resonate throughout the neighbourhoods and parks of New York City just as they capture the solitude of long-haul travel across the continent. They are both Central Park and the New Jersey Turnpike. And last weekend they brought it to Auckland.

I’d missed them by a whisker the last time they played New Zealand in 1983. By the time they arrived, I had landed in the UK having made plans well before the concerts were announced, so I was determined to see them this time.

I wasn’t disappointed. They might be 67 and look more like a couple of Spitting Image puppets these days – Art’s hair is still alarming and Paul’s is nearly as scary – but their performance remains as powerful as ever, backed by a masterful band of musicians. I knew they were friends from youth calling themselves “Tom & Jerry”, but I learned that they met as 11 year olds in the school production of Alice in Wonderland, with Art playing “second lead” Cheshire Cat and Paul as “only third lead”, White Rabbit. They started composing the following year styling themselves on their idols, The Everly Brothers. The rest, of course, is history.

It was my favourite sort of concert. No opening act, no intermission; just old friends chatting about old times and playing old tunes to an appreciative audience, generous in its praise of a lovely harmony or well-delivered instrumental, while singing along with every well-known word. Lyrics that tell stories, evoke images and awaken memories …

This, from “Sound of Silence” ..

And the words of the prophets are written
On the subway walls and tenement halls

Or this from “The Boxer” ..

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminder
Of every glove that laid him out
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving
But the fighter still remains.

“Mrs Robinson” from The Graduate ..

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
What’s that you say, Mrs Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away

Or perhaps my favourite of all from “American Tune” ..

And I thought I was dreaming
When standing in front of me
My eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Smiling away at me

For me, Paul Simon is one of the great songwriters of the twentieth century. I never liked his politics much and I’m sure I still don’t. But based on that premise I’d barely see a film given the general direction of Hollywood politics, and I see, and enjoy, a lot of films.

He is a poet and together, Simon & Garfunkel’s music still moves me as it always has done. Not even the Vector Arena’s inadequate parking facilities or curious refusal to open the doors earlier, preferring to have patrons queue outside instead of enjoy refreshments inside (and then run out of red wine shortly thereafter), or the authorities’ decision to close the nearest motorway entrance, meaning that south-bound traffic had to drive to Point Chevalier before heading south again afterwards, could mar the occasion.

And judging by the repeated encores for their enraptured audience, everyone else loved it, too. Thank you, gentlemen. It was worth the wait.

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

End the Federal Reserve!

As Jeffrey Tucker says at the Mises Economics Blog, “It's a good day when Barron's magazine has a headline calling for the Abolition of the Fed.”

Is another revolution about to start?

Regime change Iran? [updated]

UPDATE: If it does happen, it's looking like the revolution will be Twittered.  Search term is now #gr88.

6a00d83451c45669e20115701fad26970c-500wiWith hundreds of thousands of Iranians taking to the streets of Tehran in response to what they say is a rigged election, this is looking more and more like it could end with either hope or disaster.  It could be either the toppling of “another Berlin Wall” – this time with the toppling of Tehran’s thirty-year Islamic dictatorship – or else the onset of another Tiananmen Square.  Don’t know about you, but I’m keeping up with events at Michael Totten’s blog, Andrew Sullivan’s blog, and at Twitter – especially Persian Kiwi.  From Andrew Sullivan:

A reader writes:

    I just talked to my father in Iran a few minutes ago. He had been in the demonstrations. He was telling me people were chanting: "Ahmadi, Ahmadi 24 millionet koo?" ("Ahmadi, Ahmadi were are your 24 millions?") and "Ahmadi, Ahmadi 63-dar sadet koo?"("Ahmadi Ahmadi, where is your 63%").
    He said that the protesters were chanting "Nirooye Entezami Hemayat Hemayat" (asking police for support) And he was also confirming that at the beginning when there were smaller groups, the police was attacking them, but as the crowd built up thay had to stand back.

We might be experiencing a true revolution here.

Some recent reports from all sources:

  • 6a00d83451c45669e20115701fb10f970c-500wiThere are reports of about 3M ppl out on the streets. Millions of people marching in absolute silence.
  • The demonstrators headed toward the capital's huge Freedom Square in the largest display of opposition to the election results to date. "Mousavi we support you! We will die but retrieve our votes!" shouted supporters, many wearing the trademark green colour of Mousavi's election campaign.
  • And all these people are now breaking the law. The riot police are apparently standing back . .
  • “Some Football Match, Mr Ahmadinejad. Some Crowd.”
  • Car horn protests could be heard throughout the city, as could chants of "Bye bye dictator", "Ahmadi Nejad is the biggest liar in Iran," and "The president is committing a crime and the supreme leader is supporting him."
  • Press TV is now reporting on “hundreds of thousands” in today’s rally from Enqelab Square to Azadi Square, protesting the outcome of the Iranian election. The gathering is in defiance of the Ministry of Interior’s refusal to give a permit. So far, based on video and on the correspondent’s report, the rally appears to be peaceful and calm.
    Just to bring home the significance of the previous item, Press TV is state-owned media. Until this morning, it has given almost no attention to the protests against Ahmadinejad’s election. The sudden change to in-depth, even effusive coverage of the demonstrations points to a wider political shift . . .
  • Iranian poet Sheema Kalbasi: Today is the day that the Islamic Republic officially transformed from a theocracy supported by Pasdaran to a Junta supported by a handful of clerics.
  • Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad's presidency illegitimate . . .
  • 6a00d83451c45669e201157114c523970b-500wi Robert Tait, the Guardian's former Tehran correspondent, has been poring over leaked reports of the official results, allegedly leaked by disaffected officials. He and our diplomatic editor Julian Borger write: "The figures have been accompanied by claims from interior ministry sources that fake statistics were fed into a software program and then distributed to vote counts among polling stations to produce a plausible outcome. The same sources have also claimed that the interior ministry's statements announcing the results were prepared before Friday night's count." Such claims are being reported on websites that Iran is frantically trying to block, according to our blogs editor, Kevin Anderson. He explains the cat-and-mouse game between the authorities and internet users.
  • Was Ahmadinejad's Win Rigged? at Time magazine.
  • Bolton on the basic facts of the #iranelection that reporters are happier ignoring: http://bit.ly/1a4bow
  • Former president Khatami has just called for the election to be declared VOID at todays protests in Tehran.
  • Grand Ayatollah Saanei accompanies today's anti Ahmadinejad rally.
  • NBC offices in Tehran raided, equipment confiscated. BBC told to leave Iran immediately.
  • “Our ppl are tearing apart this regime by protesting on the streets”
  • “Iran / today / Tehran. Is this really happening????”
  • “Thousands has morphed into MILLIONS of people marching in Tehran. Truly SPEECHLESS.”
  • “Most important world event since 9/11.”
  • 3 students killed at Univ of Tehran.
  • “World should know that ppl attending pro-Ahmadinejad rally were civil servants, they are sacked if they don’t participate.”
  • “Very glad to see Twitter making a huge difference in information getting out about #iranelection . Hope there's change coming to Iran.”
  • “Isn't this the type of change that #Obama should support? Should and Do are 2 separate things.”
  • People were holding signs saying: We are not sheep.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating from Engelab to Azadi.  The number of people is constantly increasing as more people join to protest against the coup d’├ętat.
  • @persiankiwi is now the world's most vital journalist #iranelection
  • “Juan Cole's evidence that the Iranian election was stolen http://bit.ly/pINRc - Juan knows his stuff.”
  • “Al-Jazeera reporter - restrictions on media tightening. Unsafe to take camera/mobile on street - relying on ppl sending pics”
  • Other cities also having their own parades but with MORE oppression; Mashhad, Babol, Tabriz, ...
  • Students are being surrounded in Shiraz Uni civil police (Basij) is in fight with people.
  • The BBC's Jon Leyne, in Tehran, says he understands plain-clothed militias [Basij] have been authorised to use live ammunition for the first time.
  • Reuters reports gunshots have been heard at the pro-Mousavi rally!
  • @abzole: People are getting killed in Azadi Sq.
  • @BreakingNews BULLETIN -- GUNFIRE ERUPTS AT PRO-MOUSAVI RALLY IN TEHRAN, PEOPLE RUNNING. #IranElection
  • #Tehran Apparently conventional Police's leaving field to Basij. This is usually the way brutal attacks begin.
  • Andrew Sullivan over at The Atlantic is under digital attack (guess who). http://tinyurl.com/kt66sp
  • Ambers posts some wise words about how to judge the torrent of information we and others online are bringing you. This is raw data - riveting raw data, but subject to subsequent review, analysis. Skepticism is merited. But open eyes and ears are as well.
  • Unconfirmed as yet - Mousavi newspaper offices raided.
  • “CNN gets some video, finally. But then you hear a simple statement from the anchor that Mousavi lost the election and telling us to wait for the official results in ten days' time. CNN no longer qualifies as a news channel.”
  • Persian Kiwi: reliable soure from Ahvaz. Situation there is bad - violent clashes in streets.
  • “Bassej are out in force in darkness. this is when they operate best. Streets are dangerous now for young people.”
  • Persian Kiwi: “confirmed - there is shooting in Azadi sq. protesters wounded and shot, no numbers yet, still hearing gunfire.”

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‘Headland’ – David Knowles

HEADLAND

‘Headland’ – a striking oil on board landscape by Carterton artist David Kowles.

Check out all his work at his website DavidKNowlesArt.Com, buy his work at the Quent Cordair Gallery or this local website, commission a portrait, and keep your eyes peeled here at NOT PC for some exciting news about David that will be good for you too.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Key apologises for canning the tax cuts . . [updated]

Colin Espiner blogs on a debate/meeting last night on the economy, organised by his newspaper The Press. "1000 people turned up to hear what John Key had to say about the recession, and how to fix it," says Colin setting the scene [hat tip DPF].
The night was interesting for several reasons. It was good to hear the Prime Minister explain what he planned to do about the recession in words that didn’t have to be fitted into a seven-second television soundbite. Or in a dry speech to a chamber of commerce. Or in the heat of battle in Parliament.
And it reminded me that the public is interested in weighty issues and able to absorb them in relatively big chunks. They don’t need stuff dumbed down, and they do care about more than just day-to-day issues that obviously still concern them.
This was obviously a rare audience indeed. Personally, what I found particularly interesting was this concession:
Key apologised for canning the tax cuts, though he said they would be back: “I believe in the power of tax cuts,” Key said, almost evangelically.
D'you think perhaps our four days at Fieldays inviting folk to head across the corridor and ask the Nats about the broken tax-cut promise might have had some effect?

Minorities

Some people feel a visceral reaction to finger nails down the blackboard.  Some feel it when they get a piece of aluminium foil between their teeth.  I get it when I hear people banging on about “minorities” – by which they invariably mean racial minorities.  When I hear the word “minorities,” I always want to thrust this column* by Tibor Machan into their hands:

    When, more recently, it began to be fashionable to stress one’s ethnic or cultural or racial identity, I was puzzled. To start with, what kind of identity is it that one acquires by accident? So, I was born in Budapest and heard a lot of gypsy music, ate paprika csirke and palacsinta. And, yes, I liked these things and still do. But how significant a part of me is there in that? My idea from early on was that what’s important about one’s identity is what one contributes to it oneself.
    Who one is shouldn’t be a matter of happenstance but of purposive action. I liked to read and think about philosophy and religion, so if someone wanted to know who I was, I’d tell them about that. Or, in a less serious vein, about things I liked to do such as traveling and playing tennis.Some collage of these aspects of my life, of the things over which I have had some say, some choice, seems to me to make me who I am— not so much how tall I am or where I was born.
    As I got to hear more and more about ethnic and racial pride, I was even more puzzled. How can someone be proud of being, say, Caucasian or black or gay or Asian? What had
one to do with such things? Perhaps one might be glad of being tall or of having lived among other members of one’s ethnic group if, indeed, this had amounted to a good experience.
    And one could certainly refuse to be ashamed of being black or white or whatever one could not help being.
    Even more, one might feel some affinity with others who were being picked on for attributes one shared with them and be willing, even, to unite with them to resist such treatment.
    But proud? Doesn’t pride require some worthy achievement from oneself?
In my neighborhood newspaper, there is someone who writes mainly about Hispanics, and in nearly every column Hispanics are urged to feel special for being Hispanic. Why so? What is special about that? Doesn’t feeling special for being Hispanic or Hungarian American or black or tall suggest that others aren’t as special and worthy of feeling similarly about themselves? I have never liked the idea of a chosen people because it suggests that the universe or God picks some to be inherently, undeservedly superior to others.
    When I am told, “Hey there are some other people from Hungary you must meet,” I respond, “Why exactly? Do they play tennis, love philosophy, or like the blues?” The idea of ethnic or cultural pride, it seems to me, suggests something close to an insidious form of prejudice.
    Without having done anything worthwhile whatsoever one gets to be satisfied for belonging to a group. Just whom is one kidding anyway?

For my part ,I’ve always been in a minority in the place where I live – at least in the civilised way that Tibor explains the concept.

In sport, I like AFL.
In food, I like vegetarianism.
In beer, I like real beer.
In philosophy, I like Objectivism.
In politics, I like libertarianism.
In music, I like Wagner.
In architecture, I like Organic Architecture.
In painting and sculpture, I like Romantic Realism.

So that’s just some of what puts me in the minority around here.  But I don’t expect special favours for that.  I don’t want to force people to like what I like, but I certainly will keep right on trying to persuade them. :-)

But spare a thought for a friend, who’s still struggling to find a young woman who embraces vegetarianism, Objectivism, libertarianism and is a champion (or at least competent) salsa dancer to boot.  If you know of such a star, then please do drop us a line.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* You can read the whole column in PDF form at the link below, where it appears as part of an online copy of Tibor's recent book of his columns, Neither Left nor Right. The column from which I’ve quoted above, 'Never Mind One's Cultural "Identity",' appears on page 23 of the section 'Sex and Politics in America.' [PDF]

Top 5 spy novels

The Wall Street Journal has listed its top five spy novels of all time, worth checking out if like me you’re a fan of this genre [hat tip Leighton Smith] – and since there’s two authors and four books I’ve never read, it’s given me some more good reading to look forward to.

How about letting us know your own favourites in the comments.

Chris Knox

Very said to hear the news about Chris Knox, which (just to show how different the world is now than it was when I used to hang on Chris’s every dischordant note) I first heard about from a blog reader in Mississippi. But somewhat comforting to hear via Russell Brown that the news may not be quite as bad as first reported:

The past few days have also been anxious ones for the family and friends of Chris Knox. I found out he'd had a stroke a couple of hours before The Orcon Great Blend (which was a tremendous evening) and, like many other people, have been shocked and worried for Chris and his family.
It's not my place to release news but I do feel bound to say that I understand things are a bit more hopeful than was suggested in the Sunday Star Times's front-page story, which quoted unnamed "friends". I accept that Chris is a prominent cultural figure and worthy of news, but that story was irresponsible. The fact is that they probably won't know what they're dealing with for another two or three days yet. It is certain that there's a long, difficult recovery ahead, but Chris is surrounded by people who love him and will help him there.

The world’s top drives

Amalfi

Taking a break from its now regular promotion of  the increasingly discredited global warming myth, the National Geographic has a neat photo gallery of the world’s twenty best drives on which you should take your open top car: Drives of a Lifetime: The World's Greatest Scenic Routes.

DrivesFortunately I have eighteen of them still to look forward to – and since New Zealand’s North Island gets one of the twenty spots, described as having “some of the most varied and rugged landscapes on Earth,” it’s one to keep on regularly enjoying.

Check them all out here.  (That’s Italy’s Amalfi coast above, by the way, one I’d really like to try.)

And while we’re doing world geography, see how you go in these ten questions from America’s National Geography bee, a programme of the National Geographic Society. (See if you can better my eight out of ten.)

WS on GM [updated]

Our roving and irregular correspondent Willie Seabrook comments on the news the Washington Post found fit to print:

‘Washington Post’: “As part of a drive to become a sustainable business - as congress instructed, GM is trying to close 1,323 dealerships. But congress actually wants GM to be profitable, yet also keep unprofitable dealerships open.
"I don't understand how they're costing you money," Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who invited a Pittsburgh dealer to testify, told the automakers. "I think they're a revenue stream for you guys."

WS: Of course the shithead doesn't understand – he’s not involved in the business, he doesn’t understand this business, and like most of his colleagues he hasn’t got any serious experience in any real business anyway. Which makes he and his colleagues the perfect people to oversee the bankrupt company, right?

‘Washington Post’: "In addition, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced legislation that would halt the closings and restore protections under state franchise laws, and the Senate is considering similar measures. "

WS: So they introduce legislation to try to make GM profitable business, and a month later introduce legislation to try to make GM an unprofitable charity. This is surely leadership you can believe in.

UPDATE: Alex Epstein reckons that "even as taxpayers are forced to pay $50 billion to bail out the massive corporate failure that is GM,' reporters and analysts are still struggling to "accurately break down the series of events that brought us here."
Unfortunately, the recent GM retrospectives in top newspapers evade the elephant in the room — which in this case is joined by a donkey. The biggest player in the GM breakdown (and in the broader failure of the US auto industry) is the United States government, following both Republican and Democrat policies. The stories all focus on the failed policies of GM’s management — but conveniently omit how the government was instrumental in forcing these policies on them.
Sadly even the Wall Street Journal is guilty.
None of GM’s management decisions can be understood without understanding two fundamental truths. 1) GM’s success, like all businesses, was/is determined by whether it can make a profit — whether it can sell its products for more than it costs to produce them. 2) Through union laws and fuel economy laws (CAFE), government policy forced American automakers to pay higher costs for every vehicle produced — placing them at a crippling disadvantage.
And yet the Wall Street Journal story does not even mention the unions or CAFE. The New York Times story does worse [just as you'd expect]; it dismisses the regulations without evidence, and treats the union concessions as voluntary.
Read The elephant — and the donkey — in the room (part 1) and The elephant — and the donkey — in the room (part 2) to put yourself ahead of most of the analysts and journalists in your understanding of the disaster - and to find out about the one "great source of consistently outstanding reporting and commentary on the auto industry" that's worth reading regularly.

Election disappointment [update 3]

Well that was disappointing, wasn’t it. Disappointing all round, really.

National will be disappointed that their Mt Albert candidate Melissa Lee got fewer votes than Ravi Masuku did in the last two general elections.

The Greens will be disappointed that Russel’s muscle could only wrestle him into third place.

ACT will be disappointed that despite him being the self-described “only credible centre-right candidate,” John Boscawen could only attract five percent of the vote.

The Christian parties will be disappointed that they each scored fewer votes than the cannabis candidate Dakta Green.

And of course we Libertarianz supporters are tremendously disappointed that four weeks of door-knocking, bill-boarding and well-coordinated campaigning brought Julian Pistorius only marginalisation by the MSM and a result of thirty-five votes – few even than the number of homes the main parties were all promising to knock over to build their favoured transport routes – which will obviously please the sundry whiners and knockers who always disparage principled politicking.

And even the victorious David Shearer will probably be disappointed that what was called “the hottest political contest this year” attracted fewer than half the electorate’s registered voters to the polls – prompting a few wags to suggest that at the end of the day the “no-government” vote was the winner.

And speaking of disappointing elections, how disappointing was it to see the rigged election result in Iran over the weekend that saw madman I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket reconfirmed as president.  Not just disappointing, but frankly frightening to have the nuclear dictator reconfirmed in power.  But how thrilling nonetheless to hear ringing out from the streets of Tehran the resounding chant  of “We Want Freedom!” from good people who refuse to do nothing in the face of evil – thousands of Iranians chanting not "Death to America" or "Death to Israel," but "Death to the Government." [Read more reaction on Twitter.]

How unlike people here who are happy with their temporary state-sponsored security, allowing themselves only the occasionally cynical kick against the various pricks.

UPDATELiberty Scott on the Mt Albert result:

    I would have been pleasantly surprised and astonished had Julian Pistorius won, but the Mt. Albert result was disappointing. However, I guess an electorate that ticked Helen Clark consistently for 28 years was unlikely to be a place of free spirits or individuals who were gagging to have more control of their own lives. So voting Labour is clearly like breathing to most of them.
   
Most by-elections are interesting, and produce results well out of kilter with a general election. This one didn't. The last proper one was Taranaki-King Country, when ACT came a close second. In Selwyn, the Alliance came a close second. In Mt Albert, the voters could have voted Green to say no to motorways - but didn't. They could have voted National, but admittedly there was no good reason for that. They could have voted Libertarianz, but clearly the idea of being responsible for yourself frightened too many of them.
    So all in all a bit of a yawn.

Read on here for more from Scott.

UPDATE 2: Daniel Hannan, the Conservative Euro MP who verbally flayed Gordon Brown, comments on the Iranian election:

It strikes me as pretty implausible, this Iranian election result. True, international observers sometimes side, knowingly or subliminally, with pro-Western and English-speaking politicians. European monitors looked the other way when Boris Yeltsin claimed to have defeated resurgent Russian Communists. They collaborated with Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili when, in 2004, he awarded himself a Saddam-like majority of 96 per cent in a post-putsch snap poll. They may even have been biased towards the Orange revolutionaries in Ukraine. Even so, the idea that Iranians would turn out in record numbers (the government had conveniently ordered lots of extra ballot boxes in advance) in order to bestow a massive majority on a regime that has brought them inflation, stagnation and isolation, is hard to swallow.

UPDATE 3: Christopher Booker weighs in.  The Iranian elections are a 'loathsome charade' he says:

The reality is that this was a completely sham battle between rival factions of a regime as ruthless as any in the world, in which the real power is exercised by the gang of hard-line mullahs round the "Supreme Leader", Ali Khamenei. In an election riddled with fraud (six million more ballot papers were printed than there are Iranians eligible to vote), all four regime-approved candidates had long been personally involved in the regime's murderous reign of terror.. . .

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Labour still campaigning on election day

If Labour are so confident about David Shearer’s victory in Mt Albert, then why are they out campaigning today?

That’s the question that occurred to me when I received the following report from a Mt Albert resident:

    Today is Saturday the 13th of June, as you well know the Mt Albert by-election day. Just a quick note I am within the Mt Albert area and today I was visited by a person(going door to door) from the Labour party, asking if I had voted - with a little plug for Labour too. It is my belief that this breaches the election laws of no campaigning on election day . . .
    Good Luck with your results, hopefully one day we will see true democracy and a libertarian government!!

I understand the police are being informed.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Answering the Questions that REALLY Matter in Mt Albert

clip_image004If you live in Mt Albert, then tomorrow is your chance to have a say for liberty, for freedom and for individual rights by voting Pistorius.

Here’s why you should vote for the young man:

  • because unlike the other candidates his campaign wasn’t funded by taxpayers;
  • because unlike the other candidates he doesn’t want to be a politician – he doesn’t just want to put his nose into the trough;
  • because unlike the other candidates his loyalty is not to a party, but to his principles;
  • because unlike the other candidates he doesn’t want government to be your master;
  • because unlike the other candidates he doesn’t think he knows how to run your life;
  • because unlike the other candidates he doesn’t want to spend your money;
  • because unlike the other candidates he doesn’t want to take your house;
  • and because unlike the other candidates, he’s actually got answers when they don’t even know they’ve got questions. 

See what I mean:

  1. To Melissa Lee and John Boscawen: The National/Act government was elected on a promise that they would cut taxes. The government has now broken this promise. Why was this promise made when it was clear to everyone (except apparently to your parties) that we were in a global financial crisis? Why did your parties make a promise which they had no intention of keeping?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: Tax cuts are essential. Allowing people to keep more of their own money encourages wealth creation and business activity which creates employment. Government spending must be slashed. Borrowing money to fund deficits is fiscal child abuse.
  2. To all candidates: The National/Act government proposes an extension to the motorway through Mt Albert which will involve bulldozing homes against the wishes of some property owners. Do you support the taking of someone’s home by force? Yes or no? Does your answer change if their house is taken for a railway? Or a cycleway?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: Your home is your castle. Respect for property rights is what differentiates a civilised society from an uncivilised country. In France, for example, options to buy are purchased on homes on alternative routes and these options are exercised when options on a route exist.
  3. To all candidates: Economic theory shows that a minimum wage creates unemployment, especially for the youngest and most marginalised. If you are serious about helping those without jobs get a job, then why not eliminate the minimum wage?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: Unemployment can be eliminated by allowing wage rates to fall, if necessary, below the currently mandated minimum wage. The minimum wage ensures the most needy, the most unskilled, people in society will be consigned to the unemployment line.
  4. To Melissa Lee and John Boscawen: Given the failure of council amalgamations from Toronto to Brisbane, and the estimated $240 million cost to bring together Auckland's councils, what possible justification can there be to steamroll ahead with the so-called "Super City" project?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: The so-called "Super City" plan will be expensive, invasive and will only make bossy councils worse – and your rates bill even higher.  The whole idea should be killed at birth.
  5. To John Boscawen: In 2007 and 2008 you campaigned against the Electoral Finance Act in the name (so you said) of Free Speech. Yet now in 2009 you have just voted against individuals in W(h)anganui being allowed to wear patches on their clothing.  So just how deep is your commitment to free speech, John?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: Free Speech is Free Speech – even (perhaps especially) when you object to what the other person is saying.
  6. To all candidates: Do you agree that National's so-called Resource Management Act "reforms" are not intended to make life easier for the little guy, but only easier for National to ram through its Think Biggish infrastructure projects?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: The best way to reform the RMA is to drive a stake through its heart, and to protect property rights under common law.
  7. To all candidates: Do you support the right of shop-owners (who as we all know are under severe threat from violent criminals) to be allowed to defend themselves, and to possess the means of self defence?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: The law must recognise the right of shop-owners, and of all New Zealanders, have the right to defend themselves -- and to posssess the means to defend themselves.
  8. To all candidates: Given the RMA makes it easier to bulldoze houses rather than mangroves and minor creeks, do you agree that we need to change things so humans are put before trees, rocks and mud puddles?
    JULIAN PISTORIUS says: Humans and property rights are more important than mud puddles.

And finally, here’s a question and answer of my own:

Q: WHY DO POLITICIANS SEEK EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE MORE POWER OVER OUR LIVES?
A: Might as well ask why a cat licks its arse. Same answer: Because they can.

clip_image002

Take power away from the politicians tomorrow, and Vote Pistorius.

  • Support Capitalism
  • Support Freedom
  • Support Pistorius

Beer O’Clock: As the man said . . .

As you down a  brown one tonight, have a think about some of the wise words said about beer compiled by the Drinking Beer site and the Opinionated Beer Page.  Here’s some of the better lines . . .

  • "Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer."
    Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1975
  • "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
    Dave Barry
  • "Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer."
    Dave Barry
  • "People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot.",
    Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI
  • "The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."
    -Humphrey Bogart
  • "May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead."
    Old Irish Toast
  • "He was a wise man who invented beer."
    Plato
  • "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."
    Benjamin Franklin
  • "A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her."
    W.C. Fields
  • "Everybody has to believe in something.....I believe I'll have another drink."
    -W.C. Fields
  • "Beer will always have a definite role in the diet of an individual and can be considered a cog in the wheel of nutritional foods."
    -Bruce Carlton
  • "Whoever serves beer or wine watered down, he himself deserves in them to drown."
    -Mediaeval plea for pure libations
  • "No soldier can fight unless he is properly fed on beef and beer."
    -John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough
  • "Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."
    -Winston Churchill
  • "Make sure that the beer - four pints a week - goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop.",
    Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War, 1944
  • "A bar is better than a newspaper for public discussion."
    -Jim Parker, on the importance of a healthy pub culture
  • "The roots and herbes beaten and put into new ale or beer and daily drunk, cleareth, strengtheneth and quickeneth the sight of the eyes."
    -Nicholas Culpeper
  • "If God had intended us to drink beer, He would have given us stomachs."
    -David Daye
  • "An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger, or a beer.",
    Confucius
  • "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."
    -Abraham Lincoln
  • "We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old."
    -Martin Luther
  • "Beer: So much more than just a breakfast drink."
    -Whitstran Brewery sign
  • "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
    -Oscar Wilde
  • "Who does not love beer, wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long."
    -Carl Worner
  • "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
    -Henny Youngman
  • "Champagnes of the north",
    Napoleon’s army praising foamy wheat beers
  • "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."
    -Frank Zappa
  • "Beer was the driving force that led nomadic mankind into village life...It was this appetite for beer-making material that led to crop cultivation, permanent settlement and agriculture.",
    Alan Eames

So what are you getting out of your fridge tonight?  Mine’s a Cooper’s Stout, the ideal drink for a winter’s evening – and on special this morning down at Pak n’ Save. What’s yours?

Yaron Brook tells Republicans why they've failed -- asks them "to commit to a new path"

It's turning into a You Tube Friday here at NOT PC, but you'll have plenty of time to tune in over the weekend and watch stuff if you don't get time today.

Here's one of the best, most arse-kickingly profound speeches I've seen for a while: a 30-minute address by the Ayn Rand Center's Yaron Brook to Republican activists in Virginia.

Brook was invited along as keynote speaker to the Republicans' conference to tell them where they're going wrong. He did. Directly. And for his pains he was received not with the slings and arrows of outrageous abuse such as National Party supporters might direct towards a bearer of such tidings, but with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Watch and see why.


Brownfall

Here’s another episode of ‘Downfall,’ this time it’s the Gordon Brown post-European election edition: ‘Brownfall’ [hat tip SOLO]

Dear prudence – where have you gone?

So John Key cynically cancelled your tax cuts in this year’s budget, which in 2010 would have only needed $98 million to fund, but he’s still happy to carry on spending your money at a rate that would make Michael Cullen envious.

Prudence, thy name is not John.

John Boy’s latest promise – which comes on top of  the $300 million extra to insulate other people’s houses, $550 million on setting up an emissions trading scam, and a $4.3 billion increase in “core government spending”– oh, and $50 million for a bloody cycle path – is to spend at least $120 million of your money on a “party central” in downtown Auckland for the Rugby World Cup.  To quote Bernard Darnton, that’s $120 million plus cock ups.  On top of the $240million (plus cock ups) we’re spending on upgrading Eden Park, it’s beginning to make me wish that Australia had got the Rugby World Cup instead.

The Herald reports this sum is to be divided around 20-80 between taxpayers and long-suffering Auckland city ratepayers, who are already on the hook for $60 million of feel-good Rugby World Cup nonsense, and for interest payment on a $270 million loan taken out by the council because it couldn’t be bothered to cut its spending.

And John Key calls this development “of national and international importance” – which rather begs the question, doesn’t it.  In fact, three questions.  Important to whom. How does he know?  And if it’s so gosh-darned important to them, then why don’t they pay for it themselves instead of sending us the bill.

Here’s the Beatles:

The power of suggestion [updated]

Apparently if you play Donny Osmond’s ‘Puppy Love’ backwards it sounds like he’s singing ‘Kill for the Devil, sinners,’ if you play the Beatles’ song 'I’m So Tired’ backwards it tells you Paul is dead.  And if you play Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ backwards (which, let’s be fair, could hardly be worse than playing it forwards), it is supposed to say “Here's to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He'll give those with him 666. There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan."  Or something like that.

Some people, frankly, will hear something in anything.

Which brings us to the lastest attempt to hear something out of nothing: the David Bain “heavy breathing” tape.  I have it on good authority from some of the world’s most highly-paid experts (i.e., this bloke down the pub told me) that if you play it backwards it sounds like he’s quoting the words to the Macarena.  Or is it the Birdy Song.  Either way, this bloke swears it’s true.

Which, to be blunt, all makes about as much sense as the theory that he’s saying “I shot the prick”  in between hyperventilating.  The idea is about as dumb as the decision to exclude it from the trial.

UPDATE: Leighton Smith was asking on his show this morning a question that’s occurred to many people: How come the defence was allowed to present frank speculation about Robin Bain, about Laniet Bain, about her supposed sex life their supposed relationship, but the prosecution appears to have had so much of their evidence ruled out – evidence such as this tape, for example, and the evidence of school mates that a young David had devised a plan to use his paper round as an alibi.

I think the difference here is the rule on “hearsay evidence,” which is that assertions about what someone else might have said are generally inadmissible for the very good reason that what they report as being said was not presented as evidence was not made under oath, and is unable to be cross examined.  Witnesses therefore are enjoined to deliver evidence only on what they know directly – as a High Court judge once explained it to a witness, “Is it something you saw, or something that you’ve read.” If it’s neither, then it’s out.

It’s on this basis presumably that what David was supposed to have said when he was a youngster is ruled inadmissible, since it’s a direct example of hearsay – and may be just one reason that David was reluctant to go into the witness box himself, since this is the sort of thing the prosecution could question.

Now, much of the speculation presented by David Bain’s defence team falls into this category too – most of it being evidence of what Laniet told friends, or “work colleagues,” or dairy owners, or people she passed in the street.  But since Laniet is what’s called “an unavailable witness” – one whose testimony can’t be presented since they’re not around to answer questions – then the stuff she’s supposed to have said falls under the “hearsay exception” and can therefore be presented to the court.

It’s said that dead men tell no tales. But it could also be said that any defence lawyer worth his salt can easily fix that.

Why did Obama go to Dresden?

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Q: Why did Obama go to Dresden?
A: To boldly do what no American president has done before.

That is, to crawl around Europe on his knees, with a "Kick America" sign on hs back. John Rosenthal explains:

Dresden was the target of heavy Allied bombing in February 1945 and much of the city was destroyed in the attacks. Neo-Nazis make an annual pilgrimage to the city to commemorate the event, the most famous episode in what they describe as a “bombing Holocaust.” But the notion that the Allied raids constituted a “crime” against Germans and Germany is by no means the reserve of Nazis. It has, in the meanwhile, become part of the German mainstream. . .
. . . Obama did not have to say anything. The heavily loaded symbolism of the [Dresden] visit did the talking for him. By virtue of his visits to Buchenwald and [Dresden] . . . Obama had paid tribute to “all the victims,” i.e., both the victims of Nazi persecution and the German “victims” of the Allies. . . thus making the assertion of moral equivalence more explicit still.

And if you want to know what this portends, ask Myrhaf:

The clear implication, though, is that bombing Dresden was immoral. This idea is common among the anti-American left Obama has run with all this life.
Obama has made it clear that there will be no all-out war on his watch. Instead of destroying any aggressive enemies as we did in WWII, Obama will appease them to some extent. At best he might fight a partial effort, as we have done in the “war on terror,” or whatever the PC name for it is now. (How about “The conflict with people who understandably have a grievance against capitalist America, and whom we would gladly shower with taxpayer dollars if they would just pretend to meet us halfway long enough to get the handouts”?)
Whether or not the media and leftists and the media want to see the meaning of Obama’s symbolism in Dresden, our enemies understand it perfectly. They know that if they get in a war with America, they don’t have to worry about Obama bombing their people. I think that would factor large in their decision making.

Any reason it wouldn’t?

Tour de Force – Thomas Arvid

TourDeForce

The perfect image for a Friday, by contemporary painter Thomas Arvid.

Buy his work at the Quent Cordair Gallery.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

"Say it ain't so, Joe"

Am I the only one who thinks there's something wrong with Joe Karam dunning you and I for more than one-third of a million dollars for the last two years?

Am I the only one who understood that Karam had put up his own money to back David Bain, instead of taking ours to pay himself? Turns out however I was completely mistaken.

Mr Karam has just lost several hundred points in my estimation.

“Humans prefer cockiness to expertise”

“EVER wondered why the pundits who failed to predict the current economic crisis are still being paid for their opinions?” asks the latest magazine of the American Psychological Society. Hell, I know I have. Often. Well, the psychologists have an answer, that Humans prefer cockiness to expertise:

It's a consequence of the way human psychology works in a free market, according to a study of how people's self-confidence affects the way others respond to their advice.
Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are. And it spells bad news for scientists who try to be honest about gaps in their knowledge.

Which is also, no doubt, why the likes of Al Gore gets more air time than the likes of Richard Lindzen.

Back Benches Mt Albert TV [updated]

The Back Benches show last night [watch it here] featured five Mt Albert candidates who knew virtually no details about the motorway that’s about to be built through the electorate. That’s obvious.

Debate in part two of the programme was all about the motorway, but for all the candidates knew about it host Wallace Chapman might as well have asked the beany-wearing buffoon behind him for answers – or Libertarianz  candidate Julian Pistorius who was in the crowd, but not invited to speak (so much for modern democracy, eh?  All candidates are equal, but some are made more equal than others by decisions like this).

And the real reason Mt Albert homes will be demolished for motorway construction? Says Pistorius:

    Because regulations in New Zealand now make it easier to bulldoze family homes than to touch ‘green’ areas. Plants and puddles are now more important than people. It is time to put individuals and their property rights first. That is what a free and prosperous society is based on.”
   
“It is obvious that without the Resource Management Act (which all but prohibits touching the mangrove swamps and minor creeks that the motorway could have gone down), the NZTA could be more creative when planning motorway routes. And to protect property rights, the Public Works Act - which allows them to steal people’s homes - should be scrapped.”

Quite right. 

And since TVNZ didn’t want him on their programme last night, you can see Julian Pistorius in action here in his campaign message to the people of Mt Albert.  Isn’t he a fine chap:

UPDATEAnnie Fox, who watched it live to air, tells me that last night’s show “was a fucking shambles.”  She always tells it like it is:

Everyone but the host was a fucking pain, especially the mob.

For those who know “Annie,” by the way, she has some new news which is not all good.

Get your Neelam Choudary fix elsewhere

NeleemChoudhary If you want to keep up with Phil Goff’s stoush with John Key over Richard Worth’s contacts or otherwise with the “strikingly beautiful” Neelam Choudary and sundry others, there are other places you can go for that.

I don’t care what politicians might or might not do to each other after dark – I care about what they do to us right out in the open. Those are the peccadilloes that matter, right? That’s the real evil of politics, isn’t it?

Tasty pics though, don’t you think, for a shrinking violet.

Naleem, by the way, is the one pictured below at a Labour Party garden party.  She’s the one on  the left, by the way.  You can see more of her and her friends at her page at the Labour Party’s Grassroots site – at least until it’s taken down.

gardenlunch8

NOT PJ: A New Species of Nonsense

This week Bernard Darnton shows you how to stay healthy and save the planet by sitting on your arse and eating ice cream.

_BernardDarnton A new species of TV has been born. This is good because I was sick of all my TVs interbreeding and leaving their bizarre mongrel offspring all over the place. Speciation will at least keep the living room a bit tidier.

This puffery is promoting the new LED televisions from Samsung, which are apparently vastly better than LCD televisions by virtue of, umm, having an E instead of a C. There may be more to it than that but it’s probably enough to get you a job on the shop floor at the sort of place that allegedly specialises in these things.

Digging deeper, the number one selling point of these new wonder-televisions is that they use less power than their now-commonplace LCD cousins. (Cousins of a different species that is. Best not to ask grandma about that one.)

So how much money are you going to save on your power bill? The LCD TV uses about 180 watts of power; the new shiny one uses 107. Even at the scandalous rates I get charged that’s a saving of one-and-three-quarter cents an hour.

But it’s not about the money; it’s about the planet isn’t it? You’re still not saving much. Even with economies of scale and using third-world slave labour you can kill bugger all polar bears for one-and-three-quarter cents.

The kicker is that, at $6499, the new 46-inch TV costs $2800 more than its technologically ever-so-slightly-challenged sibling. (Sibling of a different species of course but don’t you dare talk about its mother like that.)

So, averaging four hours of television per day – I can’t imagine why you’d watch four hours of television per day but apparently that’s the average and, hey, whatever lights your candle – watching four hours of television per day your new TV will pay for itself in power savings in 109 years. I believe the technical term for this kind of advertising is “greenwash.”

While you’re watching your new bloody great big shiny planet-saving TV you should tuck into some nice healthy ice cream and lollies. Marshmallows and those jelly snake things are 99% fat free, sugar not being fat, you see. Ice cream is calcium made fun – health food in fact.

Advertisements for chocolate biscuits now give some unlikely-sounding explanation of how chocolate contains iron and that iron is essential for children’s brain growth. And if you think that’s a good reason to eat chocolate biscuits you could probably use some brain growth.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to nag you about your food. I’m certainly not going to deny myself. When some smug little tosser in a coffee shop says that all their coffees are made with trim milk unless otherwise requested, I yell back, “Milk is just fat dissolved in water you arrogant, malnourished twat. If you take out the fat it’s just bloody water isn’t it, so what’s the point?”

Manufacturers of products that bring pleasure to people should be proud of that fact. Don’t tell us to buy chocolate because it contains however many milligrams of manganese. Tell us that it tastes good, that it feels good when it melts in your mouth, that it’s a little foil-covered nugget of joy.

Likewise, a sharper, blacker, slimmer television is a celebration of technology, a portal into humanity’s finest artistic, sporting, and scientific endeavours (and Shortland Street, but there’s no accounting for taste).

The people who make these things should be proud of their ability to improve our lives. You shouldn’t have to hide that.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

Peter Schiff on ‘The Daily Show’

Peter Schiff appears on The Daily Show to explain how come he got his predictions of economic collapse so right.

Head here to watch it.  Good television.

They lied to you

Never ones to miss an opportunity, when the Fieldays gods chose to place our stand directly opposite National’s – causing John Key to scuttle away yesterday morning when we politely asked “Where are the tax cuts you promised us, Mr Key” -- we grasped the opportunity with both hands and quickly produced two handouts to go with our site’s sign.  Here’s the text of the first, of which we’ve already given away a couple of thousand or so:

They lied to you!

Q: How can you tell when a politician is lying?
A: Their lips are moving.

THE LAST ELECTION CAMPAIGN was won by National on a programme of slashing tax cuts. And to be blunt, National’s politicians stood up on their hind legs and lied to you.

Key and English knew about the global crisis as they pledged tax cuts at last year’s election, yet they sailed blithely ahead making promises they never intended to deliver.

Responsible governments know that you can’t promise tax cuts without commensurate cuts in spending, yet they made their promises anyway. Responsible governments know that you can’t make the promises they did when the world’s economies were in the tank, yet they made their promises regardless. And now this government says they can’t deliver.

So how can you tell when a politician is lying about tax cuts? Answer: Their lips are moving.

BACK ON SEPTEMBER 30 LAST YEAR, Bill English mocked Michael Cullen for being over-cautious on delivering tax cuts. "Dr Cullen cannot be trusted to deliver on any future tax promises," said another Finance Minister who can’t now be trusted. He compared Cullen’s record with his own promise to deliver "an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts.”

English said he would treat Labour's tax cuts, which came into force the next day, "as the first tranche on our own tax-cut programme. That will be followed by another tranche of tax clip_image002reductions on April 1, 2009 [which were fully wiped out by increases in ACC levies], and further tranches in 2010 and 2011". He declared: "National has structured its credible economic package to take account of the changing international climate. Our tax cut programme will not require any additional borrowing."

(To which we can only say “Yeah right. The only two words that can be trusted here are these two: “not” “credible.”)

And on an on, and after swallowing more dead rats than could fill a sinking ship, John Key said in October last year -- after “the books” had been opened and several more dead rats fell out -- that “the pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average wage remained on track.”

They continued the promises right through the campaign in November and into December, when English confirmed again in Parliament that "National will not be going back on any of those promises, as we fully costed and funded them.

Ladies and gentlemen, they lied to you – and you bought it.

THE NATIONAL/ACT GOVERNMENT IS NOW making out that some wayward economic thunderbolt has thrown their pre-election calculations asunder. It’s been said that if you are an economist and did not see this coming, you should seriously reconsider the value of your education and maybe do something with a tangible value to society, like picking vegetables.

But in October last year it didn’t take any sort of economic genius to predict the crash, because out in the real world the global collapse had already happened.  All you had to do was look in a newspaper – or the housing markets – or the empty offices of Lehman Brothers – or the bankrupt banks like Northern Rock.  The Dow Jones is enough to tell the story that’s now being fudged by National – that they were somehow blindsided by a crisis they didn’t see coming. As Tom Woods summarises it in his best-selling book Meltdown ,which records the course of the crash,

When the New York Stock Exchange closed on October 9, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 14,164.53, the highest close ever. Thirteen months later, on November 20, 2008, it closed at 7,552.29, a drop of 46.7 percent.

Yet over all of those thirteen months and right through their election campaign National never missed a beatand when caught between hammer and anvil, when deciding which election promise to break, this lot kept their promise to the moochers to keep and even increase their “entitlements” – a sick word to describe payments to bludgers – and broke their promise to the people who have to pay for it all.

Which means you and your grandchildren are forced now to swallow the biggest dead rat of all: a budget that reneged on tax cuts, and delivered huge spending and borrowing increases instead.

So how do you feel now?

The very election promise which offered a glimmer of hope to productive New Zealanders – the promise of tax cuts on which this lot were elected – has been shamefully broken with the excuse that “we never saw it coming.”

And frankly, there are only two ways to judge that sorry excuse. If they never noticed the world economic collapse, then they are incompetent. And since the slump had already begun when the promises of tax cuts were being delivered, then they are liars

So which is it?

“We didn’t see the economic collapse coming.” Yeah right.

Having learned where the Fieldays gods chose to place our stand, we quickly produced two handouts to go with our site’s sign.  The second one’s a timeline . . .  you think Bill and John might have noticed some of this, right?  You know, like John might have wondered about things when, like, his former employers went to the wall?

“Tax cuts!”...Yeah right.

“We didn’t see it coming.”...Yeah right.

Here’s a brief timeline of the economic collapse that John Key and Bill English now say they never saw coming . . .

MAY 2007:

· Housing collapse begins to hit US economy.

OCTOBER 2007:

· Dow Jones tops out at 14,164, and begins a year-long long downward slide.

· New Zealand economy enters recession around twelve months before the rest of the world.

FEBRUARY 2008

· UK bank Northern Rock collapses

MARCH 2008:

· Bear Sterns collapses.

APRIL 2008:

· US Treasury and – for the first time since the Great Depression – the US Federal Reserve both quietly begin directing US$800 billion in “bailout loans” to banks and finance companies.

· US and NZ housing markets fall into a bottomless hole.

MAY 2008:

· On the back of six years of promoting tax cuts, John Key reaffirms after the delivery of Michael Cullen’s budget that We believe in tax cuts. We believe in the power of tax cuts. And we will deliver them.”

SEPTEMBER 2008:

· As the US and local housing markets show no sign of recovery, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are completely nationalised, putting around 75% of the US mortage market into government hands.

· Lehman Brothers collapses.

· John Key’s former employer Merrill Lynch collapses.

· US$85 billion bailout of AIG insurance (with another $40bn to follow in November).

· Washington Mutual liquidated.

· US$700 billion Toxic Assets Relief Program (TARP) promoted.

· Will all this blood on the floor, on September 30 Bill English promises voters a credible economic package to take account of the changing economic climate.” “Our tax cut programme will not require any additional borrowing, he said, comparing Michael Cullen’s record with his own promise to deliver an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts.

OCTOBER 2008:

· On October 2nd, the US$700 billion TARP programme is passed into law in the US.

· One week later, the Dow Jones plunges around ten percent to a new low below 9000.

· Panicky governments announce a ban on short selling of stocks.

· The FDIC announces it will raise its guarantee on banks. Kevin Rudd and Helen Clark announce their own bank guarantee programmes.

· NZ’s Treasury Department releases its Pre-Election Economic Update predicting “a decade of deficits.”

· The American Treasury bails out nine large US banks, including Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

· Watching all this happen, John Key reconfirms to voters that the pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age remained on track.”

NOVEMBER 2008:

· The National Party wins the NZ elections on a platform of tax cuts and “dead rats.”

DECEMBER 16, 2008:

· Bill English stands up in Parliament and says, National will not be going back on any of these promises, as we fully costed and funded them.”

MAY 2009:

· Bill English stands up in Parliament and reneges on their promised tax cut package (which in the first tranche in 2010 would have cost just $100 million dollars).

· At the same time he announces up to a billion dollars of extra spending on preparations for an emissions trading scheme and subsidised home insulation (which was not even a National Party policy, but a Green Party policy); and nearly six billion dollars of extra spending on the health, education and welfare sectors.

§ National kept their promises to the moochers.

§ National kept a promise to the Green Party.

§ National broke their promises to you, and to every other every taxpayer in the country.

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

 

Karma

How distressing to hear that a swine flu scare is doing the rounds of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of bureaucrats. [Hat tip Maria W]

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Fieldays 2009: It's going to be fun!


Here's your favourite blogger on the Libz stand at Fieldays, looking sharp in my new Frederic Bastiat shirt, and ready for anything.

Someone at Fieldays clearly has a sense of humour -- look who we've been put next to. Should be a good few days. For us, at least.


Here's a party that seems bereft of ideas. Not even a slogan. Not even the Parliamentary crest, which they need to show that we've paid for it. Not even a full cashbox -- though if you look closely their chief sponsor is behind them to the left. . .

"Come along and have a chat and give your views," say the Nats. "National is very interested in hearing what people think," they say. "This is your chance to have a lively exchange of ideas," they claim.

We plan on helping make that happen. . .