Saturday, June 27, 2009

Montessori course kicks off in Mt Eden

Yesterday we celebrated the formal opening of New Zealand’s first full-time internationally accredited face-to-face Montessori training course – in other words, the first genuine Montessori teacher-training course this country has seen, presented by the good folk at the Maria Montessori Education Foundation.

Why does that matter? Because if we’re ever going to change this culture to one that values reason over nonsense – productivity over idleness - individualism over the ant-heap of tribalism and collectivism – then Dr Montessori’s system of education, which promotes these life-giving values, will be in the vanguard.

The Montessori philosophy of education offers much more than just a philosophy of education: It is an essential aid to life. Said Dr Maria Montessori, “The first step, is then to help the child develop all his functions as a free individual and to foster that development of personality that actuates social organisation."  Which means the first first-step is to develop teachers who can do that.

That first first-step began yesterday afternoon.

Visit the Maria Montessori Education Foundation website to find out more.  In the meantime, here’s a few snaps of the opening.

Rose Phillips from the Montessori Association of NZ set the scene for the fifty or so there to celebrate the opening.RosePhillips

 
Stephen Arnold, the former principal of Wellington’s Athena College and now principal of Queensland’s largest Montessori secondary school flew over to do the ‘keynote’ opening honours.StephenArnold_MMEF

 
Carol Potts, the driving force behind setting up the course, and the fender-off of the slings and arrows of outrageous nonsense from NZQA.Carol_MMEF

 
And Cheryl Ferreira, one of the worlds leading Montessori trainers and the director of training for this course.  The students don’t yet know just how lucky they are!Cheryl-MMEF

And of course, no celebration would be complete without a cake.  :-)
MMEF_Cake 

If only your photographer hadn’t muffed his shot so badly when the MMEF trustees got together to cut it . . .

MMEF_Trustees[10]

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Treasury gives BERL’s alcohol report another smack

BERL’s now disgraced report on “the social costs” of alcohol use “is work that doesn’t look like it meets the ‘normal standards you would expect’,” says Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Dr Peter Bushnell. “I can see the point being made in the article – it looks pretty shonky.”

Bushnell of the Treasury is essentially agreeing with the demolition of BERL’s report by Eric Crampton of Canterbury University and Matt Burgess of Victoria (reported here and here at NOT PC).

And Eric Crampton reckons the problems with this BERL report belie a more general problem with economic consultancy reports, “in that there needs to be somebody looking at the Requests For Proposals (RFPs) that a ministry sends out, and checking the results when they come in.”

I think he could have stopped with “a problem with economic consultancy reports.”

Meanwhile, BERL are still yet to comment on Treasury’s bollocking of their work.  At this point, the last word from “BERL Chief Economist Ganesh Nana” is that “BERL stands by its report.”  If that’s still the case, I’d suggest you start discounting everything they say.

UPDATEPaul Walker comments at his Anti Dismal blog:

    The interesting thing here is that this is a very strong statement coming from a very senior member of the Treasury. It is unusual to see such statements. Treasury can not be happy.
    The NBR also says,

Sir Geoffrey [who commissioned the report and has already started making gravy with it] was overseas when contacted by NBR, and has declined to comment on the matter thus far.

    Is he running for cover? It will be interesting to see what he says, if anything, on the matter when he returns from overseas.

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Alternative energy schemes costing Spanish taxes, jobs

So much for the  so called “Green New Deal” – it’s as flawed as the first New Deal.  So much for so called renewable energy: -- as I’ve said before, its defining characteristic is that it is “energy produced by means that would be uneconomic without such tax breaks and subsidies.”

Latest evidence for the prosecution: Spanish taxpayers’ forced “investment” in ‘renewable energy' has destroyed more jobs than it created, while subsidising them at absurdly high costs.  Read ‘Spain Tilts At Windmills And Pays Price.’  Here’s an excerpt [hat tip Jeff Perren]:

    Spanish professor [Gabriel Calzada] is puzzled. Why,  wonders [the economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos], is the U.S. president recommending that America emulate the Spanish model for creating "green jobs" in "alternative energy" even though Spain's unemployment rate is 18.1% — more than double the European Union average — partly because of spending on such jobs. . .
    Calzada says Spain's torrential spending — no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources — on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs.
    But Calzada's report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies. Wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation . . .  Calzada says the creation of jobs in alternative energy has subtracted about 110,000 jobs from elsewhere in Spain's economy.

Sounds so insane it’s no wonder local Greens like the idea.  Featherbedding for featherheads.  As Tom Woods says, throwing the Broken Window Fallacy at the whole Green New Deal crap:

I won't ask if they think [people] are this stupid, since they obviously do. Leaving aside the question of whether carbon needs to be capped, since that has nothing to do with whether doing so "creates jobs" on net, is there a non-drone, non-bought-and-paid-for human being on this earth who thinks throwing obstacles in the path of production "creates jobs" in a non-trivial sense? Couldn't I, with equal justification, say that forcing every business to destroy its roof and then build a new one out of clay, or chopping off every third worker's right hand, would create an analogous series of jobs?

Moral of the story?  There are at least two.  First, the problem with job creation at this time and any time is not about creating jobs at any cost but, as George Reisman tells Paul Krugman, it’s about creating productive jobs at prices employers can afford.

And second, there’s only two kinds of energy production: energy that costs more to produce than it delivers, and energy that doesn’t. Guess which kind “renewable energy” is.

NB: You can download Calzada’s report here: Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources.

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Farrah Fawcett, 1947-2009

164719614_25221fde7d_o By special request, the poster that once adorned several million teenage walls.  And it wasn’t only teenage boys who were big fans of Farrah and of Charlie’s Angels in which she starred– betya didn’t know that Ayn Rand was a big fan too, calling the show a “triumph of concept and casting.”

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“Oops! admits French rugby player

“I was drunk and fell over, admits Bastareaud” – NZ HERALD

So Wellington's streets are safe to walk around at 5:27am in the morning.

So foreign teams are safe drinking around Courtenay Place after their games.

So there’s nothing to embarrass Wellingtonians in advance of the Rugby World Cup – apart from the obvious reasons.

And once again a Frenchmen has underestimated the investigative powers of the New Zealand police.

Which leaves just one question: is the name Mathieu Bastareaud French for Mark Blumsky?

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Quote of the day: Frank Lloyd Wright on roads

Speaking to Russel Norman as if it were today, instead of back in 193s when he said:

The road is a symbol of individual freedom. Cars aren't simply contemporary or modern, they represent democracy itself. The technology to cross and to communicate long distance facilitates: air, light and freedom of movement.”

It’s no accident that his name for his concept for America, Broadacre City, has the word “road” embedded at its heart.

frank_lloyd_wright_1958_the_living_city_1l

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Tricoteuse – William Bougereau (1879)

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Tricoteuse_(1879)

‘Tricoteuse’ is the French word for someone, especially a woman, who knits.  Someone such as the old women who famously sat and knitted while above them Madame Guillotine carried out her daily shaving  of heads – a ceremony called by some enthusiasts “the red mass.”

So is this just a young girl knitting?  Or, since nothing in art is unintentional, is something more intended?  What clues are there in the painting?

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quote of the Day: Vaclav Havel on reacting to Iranian evil

The hero who led Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution that threw off Soviet rule has a few thoughts on what is possible in response to Iranian protests, and the Mullahs’ crackdown”

    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  “is a man possessed. Unfortunately we are living at a time when a man possessed could easily inflict damage to a lot of people, due to modern technology.
    “What is possible and what I would repeatedly warn against is the policy of compromise and the notion that if we don’t provoke evil, it will just go away by itself. On the contrary, that would just make it stronger.”

[Source: Bloomberg News.  Hat tip Reason’s Hit and Run.]standby

PS: You might be interested in what I had to say  about Vaclav Havel on the occasion of the political retirement of the great man.

PPS: An account by a young participant in the Velvet Revolution, at the time an apparently hopeless cause, might help to explain why young people are taking to Iranian streets in an apparently hopeless cause. She writes:

    I was then a teenager, with a twist - I knew that I had no control over my future and that I faced two choices only. In order to blend in, accept the evil around me in exchange for a semblance of a 'normal' life. Or follow in my parents' footsteps and forsake all that is considered good and rewarding in a healthy society, such as higher education, travel, even family and potentially freedom. I may have been very young but, alas, not young enough to be blind to the full horrors of such life. After all I had seen those around me living with similar decisions. As it happens, that choice was not real - having been part of the dissident movement, I was weighted, marked and tagged as the enemy of the state. I belonged to the dark forces undermining the society - a phrase so beloved of the communist media.
    I remember the nervous elation of the 'now or never' moment, as we walked to the main square to meet thousands of others who felt the same. It was a powerful sensation to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people knowing that they are there for the same reason - an experience unprecedented in a fractured and diseased society under communism...

PPPS: Cartoonist John Cox reckons

Charles Krauthammer is wonderfully succinct describing how the Obama administration is sitting the bench during Iran's tumultuous election fallout. Please read this excellent editorial.

I strongly concur.  Read: Hope and Change -- but Not for Iran, by Charles Krauthammer.

Ariya_melaat-590x445

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State house tenants to become home-owners. Cool! [update 2]

Time to praise a rare sighting of good government from this government.  National’s policy allowing state house tenants to buy “their” homes from September is almost all good.  As I said back when this idea was first floated:

    That's very good. That's very, very good. When Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives allowed sitting council house tenants to buy at a heavy discount the houses in which they lived it was enormously popular (indeed, her "right-to-buy housing revolution" as it was dubbed was the first enormously popular thing her Conservative Government had done) and enormously successful, and there's no reason it wouldn't be both successful and popular here.
    In the UK after introduction of Thatcher's 1980 Housing Act, home ownership grew from 55 % of the population in 1980 to 64 % in 1987; by the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 it was 67 %. That's a huge jump, and it inspired a huge change in fortunes, and in expectations.
    With "right-to-buy" Thatcher wanted to create a social revolution, and she did. By 1995 2.1 million working class tenants had become members of the "property-owning democracy," changing Britain and these people's lives for the better. This is one thing I'm very pleased that the Nats have learned from the Tories (albeit twenty-seven years late), and very pleased to see Key's Pink Tories even talking about privatisation . . . any privatisation at all.

Sadly, it’s not all good. 

There was no suggestion at all that the houses could be bought at a hefty discount, which is what helped make Thatcher’s scheme so successful.  Further, the announcement from housing minister Phil Heatley included news of “a boost” for first-home buyers – i.e., an increase in government-subsidised (i.e., taxpayer-funded) mortgages for first-home buyers that will only help lift the price of starter homes.

And finally, it was accompanied by news that the money earned from these state house sales will be used to build even more state houses.  Which rather misses the whole point, don’t you think?

UPDATE 1:  There’s a good debate on this going on at Cactus’s place.

UPDATE 2: Lindsay Mitchell calls it “Sleight of hand socialism.”

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NOT PJ: If you’re hapu and you know it

This week Bernard Darnton examines the cheques and balances in the immigration industry.
_BernardDarnton
While the pace of nationalisation has slowed, it doesn’t look as if anything will get sold any time soon. The previous government may have believed in state ownership of the means of production (if by some fantastic leap of imagination you can call the railways productive) but it’s not clear what the current government believes in.

If you want to see any privatisation in a hurry you’re going to have to do it yourself. That’s the path taken by Gerard Otimi, tracked down by a self-congratulatory TV news crew selling fake visas to overstayers. While the real immigration service is beset by long queues and incompetent staff, Otimi’s rubber-stamp operation was quick and efficient. $500 bought you a passport stamp and the dubious protection of Otimi’s hapu, no questions asked. No doubt one of the missing articles of the Treaty of Waitangi would make it all clear.

Click here to read more ... >>

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Tennis Court Oath – Jacques Louis David

tennis_court_oath

The Tennis Court Oath, taken by the French National Assembly on June 20 1789, “considering that it has been summoned to establish the constitution of the kingdom.” It ended in a victory for “The Third Estate,” and the beginning of the end for the Monarchy. And lo, a terrible beauty was born.

You can almost see the winds of change blowing through . . .

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The credit/debt delusion: The faster you go, the bigger the mess

debt-mgmt-cartoon New Zealand farmers are in debt to the tune of $45 billion, 61% of which is in the dairy sector, leaving dairy farmers “reliant on continuing asset gains as income was never going to meet debt-servicing commitments” says Fran O’Sullivan in the Business Herald.  In other words, we’re looking at an agricultural debt bubble that is only being held up by an agricultural asset bubble the debt itself has helped to inflate.

Oh dangerous times.

Many farmers have apparently been riding the bubble -- "farming for asset gains" the Agriculture Production Economics report calls it – leaving them exposed on three fronts:

1. Debt is a problem throughout NZ agriculture, but at the farm level it is still highly concentrated.
2. Where that farm debt is highly concentrated - eg, at least 20 per cent of New Zealand's dairy farm production - it is such that farms cannot, and will not ever, meet their debt servicing commitments even under the most promising payout and interest rate scenarios. This is New Zealand's equivalent to US sub-prime lending: reliant on continuing asset gains as income was never going to meet debt-servicing commitments.
3. The issue is building as its destructiveness compounds along with the debt. The real questions are as to the detonator, the timing and how well the consequences are handled.

No debt bubble has ended well, and as O’Sullivan points out this one is unlikely to be an exception.  Writing in 1931, two years after the great stock market crash, author Garet Garrett gives some lessons for 2009 and beyond in his book A Bubble that Broke the World a debt bubble built (at first) on the back of unpaid yet ever-expanding war debts, and subsequently on the back of the Federal Reserve’s printing press. (What George Reisman calls counterfeit capital.) Said Garrett, back then:

    Organized credit is relatively strange in economic life. New and experimental forms of it are continually being invented and we love to deceive ourselves with them. We forget that credit in any form represents debt in some other form. We know about ourselves, that we have seizures of ecstasy and mass delusion. We know that a time may come when the temptation to throw the monetary machine into wild motion, so that everybody may become infinitely rich by means of infinite debt, will rise to the pitch of mania as it did, for example, in 1928 and 1929.
    For a while the difficulty of not knowing what anything is worth inflames the ecstasy. Everything will be priced higher and higher to make sure that it is high enough; there will be the illusion that things are becoming dear and scarce. They seem to be dear because the value of money in which they are priced is falling; they seem to be scarce because people are buying in the expectation that prices will go higher still. Suddenly doubt appears, then comes awakening, and - panic. The faith is lost... This is the financial crisis...

Garrett talks about the “delusion of credit,” a mass delusion as widespread now as it was in the 1920s. And as destructive.

    The general shape of this universal delusion may be indicated by three of its familiar features.
   
First, the idea that the panacea for debt is credit. . .

6a00d8354d172669e200e5527867c78833-800wi Borrow and spend; borrow more and spend more . . . borrow more to make your payments on the earlier borrowing . . . that’s not a “recipe for success” but a formula for destruction reliant on an ever-expanding credit line.  In other words, a pyramid based on The Reserve Bank’s printing press.

Second, a social and political doctrine, now widely accepted, beginning with the premise that people are entitled to certain betterments of life. If they cannot immediately afford them, that is, if out of their own resources these betterments cannot be provided, nevertheless people are entitled to them, and credit must provide them. . .

An oh so familiar plaint.

Third, the argument that prosperity is a product of credit, whereas from the beginning of economic thought it had been supposed that prosperity was from the increase and exchange of wealth, and credit was its product.

Prosperity is so very far from being a product of credit that it is almost one-hundred and eighty degrees wrong to suppose that it is – in that the delusion that prosperity is a product of credit wipes out the pool of real savings that has been created by the increase and exchange of wealth, and on which further wealth creation actually depends.  Frank Shostak explained the destruction back in 2005:

    Let us now examine the effect of monetary expansion [in the form of Reserve Bank-created credit] on the pool of real savings. The expanded money supply was never earned, i.e., goods and services do not back it up, so to speak—it was created out of  “thin air.” When such money is exchanged for goods it in fact amounts to consumption that is not supported by production. (As a rule it leads to nonproductive consumption).
   
Consequently, a holder of honest money, i.e. an individual who has produced real wealth that wants to exercise his claim over goods, discovers that he cannot get back all the goods he previously produced and exchanged for money. In short, he discovers that the purchasing power of his money has fallen—he has in fact been robbed by means of loose monetary policy.

“Robbed by means of loose monetary policy.”  That’s as true for creditors as is for debtors, and everyone in between.

NB: You can buy Garrett’s book at the Mises Store, or download the PDF here.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Big government and other sins

In which Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

  1. “Iacocca speaks out about carmakers' bailout” – Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler and developer of the Ford Mustang, offered some sage advice to the future bosses at his old company and at General Motors: Get the government out of your business as soon as possible. He almost had it right. Ultimately, it is better not to let politicians and bureaucrats into your business in the first place. Like me, Iacocca is impressed with the Ford Motor Company’s refusal (during the current economic correction) to take government loans, and its avoidance of bankruptcy protection. Another former basket case, Fiat, has taken over the reins at Chrysler, and can hopefully restructure the auto giant so it can trade its way out of trouble. But if a corporation such as General Motors finds that no-one will buy its cars, it should be allowed to fail, and its employees released to find meaningful work elsewhere. Otherwise their jobs become just more government make-work, with no relevance to the services and products that people actually want to buy.   
  2. “Goff Mocks PM Over Employment Promise – The man they call Leader of the Opposition (even though he and John Key sing from the same hymn book on most issues) dissed the PM’s nine-day fortnight scheme. And rightly so. What a load of bollocks it was - likewise the green cycleway. Now that 1100 people a week are becoming dole beneficiaries, the pathetic numbers of people kept in non-viable jobs through government interference is an embarrassment for the Key administration. The leaders of both major political parties would do well to heed the words of Henry Morgenthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary, who remarked in 1939: "We have tried spending money. We have spent more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. We have never made good on our promises. I say, after 8 years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started, and an enormous debt to boot."
  3. “Harvey pushes for Matariki to be public holiday– Helen Clark’s mate Bob Harvey wants another public holiday but doesn’t say who’s going to pay for it all. Employers spokesman David Lowe estimates such a holiday would cost employers over $270m, for a reduction in productivity. Easy for Bob and the Maori Party to suggest another holiday when it’s being financed by Other People’s Money, and in a time of recession. Poor old Bob also wondered yesterday whether King’s Birthday, if Charles becomes the British monarch, would be shifted to November. He doesn’t seem to realize that the current monarch’s birthday is in April. If I recall correctly, one of QE2’s predecessors shifted commemoration of the Sovereign’s birthday to June to make sure it fell during the British summer.
  4. “We’re Getting Richer, But The Gap Is Widening – More fodder for the envoys of envy such as Jim Anderton, Sue Bradford and the editors of Salient and Nexus student rags. Yes, on average Aucklanders are getting richer, even the people in the lowest socio-economic groups. But those robber barons in the richest areas of Auckland are getting richer at a faster rate, so there must be something wrong. It’s the same old story - Jim and his mates want equality of outcome, regardless of merit, regardless of productivity, and regardless of the self-discipline and delayed gratification required to succeed in private business. What they fail to realize is that ultimately it is the capitalist system that lifts people out of poverty, and improves the living standards of everyone. Even when that capitalist system is corrupted by statist politicians via taxation and regulation, there is just enough freedom permitted so that people can prosper - provided they are willing to help themselves. That darling of the socialists, the “growing gap between rich and poor” is, to the average punter from North Korea, the gap between the very wealthy and the less wealthy. Of course, the difference between New Zealand and North Korea is that here, we enjoy smaller government, lower taxes, a semblance of property rights, and the rule of laws intended to protect individual rights. Though the Clark regime took us in the direction of North Korea, New Zealanders still have enough freedom to be able to improve their own lives by their own efforts. People like Anderton don’t seem to believe that’s a good thing.       

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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You’ve got to be in to waste your money

I don't know about you, but I've heard a lot of people talking up their chances in tonight's big lottery.

Here's a couple of things to think about before you start spending what you hope will be your winnings.

You have a similar chance of your ticket winning this draw as you do of drowning in the bath. Or being run over by a bus. But I don't see anybody spending time obsessing about possibilities like these.

In fact, the chances of your ticket winning in this lottery is something like 1 in sixty-million.  And since one-chance-in-a-very-large-number is a number very close to zero (and the larger the number the closer it is to zero), this means you have roughly the same chance of winning whether you have a ticket or not.

Interesting, no?

I know a lot of people who buy a Lotto ticket for a bit of “fun” – but I confess I’ve never quite understood where the “fun” comes in when you’re throwing away money you can’t really afford to lose.  And I know a few people for whom the “hope” of winning, however small, is the only hope they ever give themselves of turning their lives around -- the hope of some sort of escape that can be delivered without effort.  I confess I’d much rather see them exchange the uncertain “hope” of a winning Lotto ticket for the far more certain success of education, entrepreneurialism and hard work, but the seductive siren or reward without effort has them hooked.

But I’ve won something on Lotto.  Since Lotto started in 1985, I've probably won around $6000. I've "won" that by not spending five dollars a week buying a ticket.

How much have you "won."

Death of Marat - Jacques-Louis David

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hail to The Stig

Just because we wanted Michael Schumacher to be The Stig, doesn' t mean he always was The Stig.

David MacGregor: Iran, Freedom & Revolution

David McGregor is the head of Sovereign Life and the author of what is still the most popular post here at NOT PC (Google global+economic+financial+crisis+causes++solutions and you’ll see what I mean).  Here are his thoughts on the tinderbox in Iran:

NoSurrender The protests in Iran are dominating the news online and off - and rightly so.

Although I have no proof, it would appear that significant voting irregularities have occurred, and been a catalyst for people disenchanted with the way things are to get out on to the street and protest.

What’s amazing though, is the way people from all over the world have warmed to the Iranian cause - and perhaps for the first time seen Iranians as human individuals like the rest of us, rather than simply robotic extensions of a theocratic system.

Hopes are high. The cry for freedom is universal and watching those brave young people stand up and defy their rulers is something to celebrate for sure. However, it is at times like this that clarification of purpose and reading between the lines is required.

While many people are quick to use the words “democracy” and “freedom” in the same phrase, as if they were identical, I would caution against treating them with equal reverence.

What the Iranians, and all of us, want and need is freedom - not democracy. Democracy is fraudulent freedom - something we already have far too much of in the “free” world. I would urge Iranians to demand the real thing - true individual freedom.

How do you define freedom? I would define it simply as this: freedom is that state of being where you are fully in control of your own life and property. And a free society is one in which such freedom is enjoyed by everyone - equally. No “ifs” and no “buts.”

By that definition no country on earth is fully free - being ruled by an elite political class representing the “state”, and under a system in which control over one’s own life and property is systematically undermined, negated and wilfully abolished.

Of course, some countries are freer than others. But as long as democracy casts a veneer of respectability over an otherwise totalitarian impulse, one needs to take care in distinguishing between nationalist illusions and facts on the ground.

Believe me, no matter what country you live in, you are nowhere as free as you think you are. And if you don’t believe me - consider just how many ways rightful control of your own life and property is violated by the state, as a result of “fair” and democratic elections!

6a00d83451c45669e201157140b4f5970b-500wiThere are two likely outcomes to this crisis. One is that the theocratic state will do what states always do - and bring out the guns, big time.

Another is that calmer heads will prevail and a vote recount will be allowed - thereby acting as an escape valve for seething emotions. Either way, the theocratic system is unlikely to disappear any time soon - so perhaps the best Iranians can hope for is to have the noose around their necks loosened a little. And I do not denigrate such loosening, as it is an essential first step to demanding and acquiring even more freedom.

Whether Iranian, American, Brit, German, Australian or a citizen of any country, people need to understand that under the present rules of the game (democracy) true freedom can never arrive. Why? Because the nature of democracy (morality by numbers) allows voters to use the power of the state to undermine and abolish the freedom of others - to legislate away the right of individuals to 100% control of their own person and property.

475945531But there’s more to this Iranian street “revolution” than meets the eye. At its base, it’s a challenge to the existing order. The Iranian state has switched off text messaging, blocked websites and expelled foreign journalists - yet it still cannot stop powerful stories and emotive images from appearing around the world. Such stories and images are the “gift” of freedom- enhancing modern communications technology - technology created by free people, not tyrants.

Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones and cameras are being mobilised by individuals to get the news and images out - even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds. This is good news indeed. And while the political leaders of various countries feel compelled to reflect their own citizens’ enthusiasm for such assertions of freedom - and praise the Iranian protestors for their actions - surely, deep in their totalitarian hearts they must be trembling.

To see the state’s powers of censorship, violence, intimidation and control openly challenged in this way is an inspiration to freedom lovers everywhere - and will surely have repercussions down the track.

The events in Iran are opening a window into the soul and essence of totalitarianism - whether of the theocratic, democratic, fascist, communist, socialist or militarist variety - and revealing the nature of the beast for all to see. The contrast between self-appointed mullahs and their armed guards and those hopeful, enthusiastic, life-affirming individuals swarming through Tehran’s streets, stands as a testament to the power of ideas. And mark my words, the idea of freedom is much more compelling than the idea of slavery.

Viva the revolution!

Yours in freedom
David MacGregor

UPDATE: The ObaMessiah has made what newspapers are calling “his strongest comments to date” on the street revolution in Iran, urging the Iranian government "to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." Hardly the resounding clarion of freedom that desperate people yearning to breathe free want as fuel!  Lindsay Perigo writes the speech that should be loaded up on Obama’s teleprompter:

My Fellow-Americans
    As I speak to you tonight, there is hope that the most evil regime on the face of this earth is about to collapse.
    The theocratic dictatorship that rules the Islamic Republic of Iran is a regime that has actively sought to discredit and destroy America since its inception thirty years ago. It calls America "The Great Satan," routinely calls for "Death to America" and openly despises the freedom and prosperity we take for granted. It seeks nuclear weapons. It seeks the destruction of Israel. It sponsors terrorist organizations. It fomented the insurgency that began after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It has supplied the wherewithal for the roadside bombs that have killed so many of our soldiers in Iraq. Within its borders, it stones women to death. It arrests and tortures women if their headscarves do not fully cover their hair or their clothes show their figures too clearly. It hangs gays for being gay. It forbids lovers to hold hands in the streets. It brutally suppresses dissent and non-conformity, and enforces adherence to the most savage tenets of its religion.
    But the spirit of man, it seems, is indomitable. Even in the face of such barbarism, Iranians, cheated of an honest election result, have spontaneously surged onto the streets, risking their lives for their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some, it's true, may be hoping for an even stricter theocracy; we have reason to think, however, the vast majority are young folk yearning to be free.
    Brave Iranians, go for it. America is behind you. We're all Iranians now. . .

Read on for the full text, and reflect that platitudes, smooth words, and timidity never won a true victory anywhere.

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If this is ‘not so bad,’ then what have you got for afters? [updated with audio]

The headline says “Economy not doing as bad as some feared.”

But the article reports “One thousand people a week are joining the dole queue as the recession bites.”

Peter Conway of the CTU suggests this morning on Nine to Noon the number unemployed is currently about 115,000 with more than 1200 people added per week, and getting worse [audio here].

And the Herald reports that numbers on the dole represented only around 32 per cent of the officially unemployed in New Zealand [hat tip Lindsay Mitchell].

If this is ‘not so bad,’ mate, then I’d hate to see what you’d be calling tragic.

The first step in conquering disaster is facing up to reality. Roger Douglas quoted Ayn Rand recently on this point, saying:

“When a man, a business, or an entire society is facing bankruptcy, there are two courses that those involved can follow: they can evade the reality of their situation and act on a frantic, blind, range-of-the-moment expediency – not daring to look ahead, wishing no one would name the truth, yet desperately hoping that something will save them somehow – or they can identify the situation, check their premises, discover their hidden assets, and start rebuilding.” - Ayn Rand

As a nation, [responded Douglas] New Zealand faces a choice over which course of action we adopt. So far, it seems as if New Zealand is following the first course of action. . .

Headlines like this ne above seem to underscore his point, don’t you think?

PS: Perhaps for an exercise you could ask yourself what effect a raise in the minimum wage law would have on the numbers joining the dole queue? A fall? Abolition of the minimum wage law? Please send your working to Peter Conway and his fellow unionists, who still insist on raising the legal minimum wage in the face of rising unemployment.

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Smack go the courts

Last week I quoted John Key’s now infamous comment on the Bradford/Clark/Key anti-smacking law that “To date I have not seen any evidence that it is not working.”

I quoted MacDoctor, who says the real damage is “being felt in family dynamics, not in law enforcement. There is considerable fear, uncertainty and doubt about the new law and what is really acceptable.”

Lindsay Mitchell offers further evidence today that the real damage lies in both quarters – that “the police can and will prosecute any degree of force on hearsay” and use the full weight of this non-objective law* to sow uncertainty, doubt, disorientation and dejection.  Read her story and weep with her.
                                                                                       * * * * * * * *

* What do I mean by non-objective law?  Among other things, Objective law requires that folk “know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it.”  Only a fool could suggest that the Bradford/Clark/Key anti-smacking law fits that bill, as the case reported by Lindsay Mitchell highlights. An entry on this topic in the Ayn Rand Lexicon describes the future for family dynamics under such a law:

When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown “influence” will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive . . .  Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves.

And at this point we’re back to MacDoctor’s argument that the real damage is being felt in family dynamics, not in law enforcement – in this light we can now see the damage in the former is due to the non-objective rent in the latter.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Assaulting adults

Susan Ryder smacks a few politicians wriggling amid bogus ambiguity.

Last Sunday marked the second anniversary of what is commonly known as the Anti-smacking Act, (ie the amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act), just a few days after the announcement of the upcoming referendum on the Act by postal ballot.

A lot can happen in a few days and it did. Hell seemed to break loose. Seemingly every man and his dog pronounced the referendum question “confusing” and “ambiguous”. The cost of the referendum popped up, too. Oddly enough, the people in that camp were opposed to any law change. “The law is working well!” they cried. “Nobody’s been criminalised! “It’s not an issue anymore!”

All that huff and puff demands a good look at the question:
Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
Because you’re confused, children – er, adults – I’ll explain it to you. You have two choices of response: Yes or No.

Yes, it should be a criminal offence, (or)

No, it should not be a criminal offence

So far, so good; not a lot of confusion there. And as for any ambiguity, if anything it favours the Act’s supporters whom we’ll call the pro-Antis, for the hell of it.

The cost of holding the referendum is estimated at approximately $8 million. Comparatively, the estimated cost of the proposed national cycleway is $50 million. Well, the Greens like bikes so no problem there. And a whopping $550 million was buried deep within the recent budget as being earmarked for ‘climate change’. Whatever that entails, it’s reasonable to believe that the Greens won’t be averse to it. The state-worshipping pro-Antis – never ones to worry about taxpayers as a rule – will have to come up with a better reason than expense.

Having said that, it is worth remembering that the referendum wouldn’t have cost an extra cent had it been added to last year’s general election voting papers as suggested at the time. But Helen Clark was quick to quash that suggestion as being “too confusing”. I have no doubt that, based on every poll taken prior to the Act’s passing, the result of ..
“Do you approve of Sue Bradford’s Anti-Smacking Act – yes or no?”
.. would have been a virtual smack for both Helen Clark and John Key. And we know that politicians of any colour cannot bear to lose face.

Speaking of colour, in its press release last Sunday, the Green party said that the law was working well, giving “children the same legal protection from assault as adults”.

I think we should send a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 to the Greens. They appear to need a reminder of the dangers of Orwellian Newspeak, ie language revision. They have forgotten that assaulting children was always a crime. They have forgotten that those parents who used section 59 in defence of their actions were always in danger of having to explain themselves in a court of law. They have forgotten that a smack on the hand is not synonymous with brutality and never has been. And in their self-importance to proclaim their role in protecting the ‘chooldren’, they miss the irony in their blatant assault upon parental rights to child discipline within the bounds of the law, as it stood for so long.

It is also worth recalling the original intention of Sue Bradford’s private member’s bill: to ban smacking outright. This aim is in keeping with her Marxist philosophy of state control in all facets of life. The bill was controversial from day one, with polls overwhelmingly opposed.

According to a Family First press release from last week, John Key said this at the time:
"The Labour government [said Key] has shown utter contempt for New Zealanders and the democratic process with its plan to railroad the anti-smacking bill through Parliament. The Labour-led Government knows the measure is deeply unpopular, so it plans to act against the wishes of the majority of Kiwis and ram the bill through under urgency. This is a deeply cynical abuse of power as Labour tries to clear the decks on the controversial issue. Helen Clark has refused to let her MPs vote the way they really think on this bill. To ram it through under the cover of urgency shows just how out of touch her government has become."
That was what John Key said then. Then National MP Chester Borrows jumped in with a proposed amendment. Bradford saw red – appropriately – and swore to “pull” her bill if any amendment was forthcoming. What happened next was pure politics with quiet deals being done and before you could say ‘flip-flop’, the Borrows amendment was adopted, Bradford was buttoned and Clark neatly shifted the argument to being one of “stopping the heinous abuse”. The bill’s passing was all but guaranteed when John Key bought into it, ignoring his prior rhetoric.

Two years down the track and the abuse has not stopped, mongrels having little time for the law. And political mongrels show no sign of altering welfare laws that pay people to have children they neither want nor care for.

It is crucial to note that those opposed to the Bill are not necessarily in favour of smacking children as a form of discipline, nor are they necessarily promoting smacking as a form of discipline.

The issue here is one of state interference and what it can lead to. As such, I remain staunchly opposed to this Act and shall be voting NO in this referendum.

Those who believe in the virtue of limited government can only do likewise.

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

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Ennis House – Frank Lloyd Wright

flw0034 Ennis_House_2_small

ennis_house_8 Filmgoers will know it as “that Blade Runner house; Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts will know it as the 1924 Mayan-inspired Ennis House, built of cast concrete “textile'” blocks; and Los Angeles realtors and would-be owners will know it as a $15 million opportunity for someone.

ennis houseThat’s right, it’s for sale.  And that price sticker is $i5 million plus repairs: it still awaits the completion of repairs after Los Angeles’ 1994 earthquake and subsequent disuse and dilapidation, repairs that have been begun but will likely cost a further $5 million or so to be completed. Story here. Find out what you get for your money here at the house’s official website.

  And don’t forget you’ll be buying a legend. As Frank Lloyd Wright said in a letter to The Ennis’ in 1924: “You see, the final result is going to stand on that hill a hundred years or more.  Long after we are gone it will be pointed out as the Ennis House and pilgrimages will be made to it by lovers of the beautiful from everywhere.”  And so they have.

flw0155x

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Monday, June 22, 2009

New blogs

One new blog, and one that’s new to me – both of them helmed by good people.

First of all we’ve got Messages from Inner Space by Joy Faulkner, long-term advocate for the rights of smokers. Her main reason for blogging, she says, is to take on the nico nazis, “and I am not going to be frightened off because I may offend.”  Never seen her frightened off yet.  Except by spiders.

Her most recent post is right in character: I Have A Chimney On My Head.  Welcome to the blogosphere, Joy.  :-)

Ands second there’s Paul van Dinther’s Planet in Action, a blog for lovers of Google Earth.  He tells me that visitors are overwhelmingly not from round here, so see what you can do to fix that.  In fact, there’s a place right here you might like to take a look at if you’re a local.  Maybe even put it up for sale.

The country's highest-paid beneficiaries: well overpaid

David Farrar has been assessing the amounts that some of the country's highest-paid beneficiaries pull down.

The results are startling.

Early childhood crisis very easy to fix

Nick Smith started it.  Trevor Mallard continued it. And now education minister Anne Tolley appears blithely unaware of what they both started, and what early childhood education centres are now enduring because of them.
The problem created by Smith and Mallard, and by the ministry that captured them both, has finally made the front pages of the Royal New Zealand Herald.  “Preschools face loss of top teachers,” screams their front-page headline. “New qualifications target threatens experienced staff,” says the subheading. And in the body of the piece there is this:
    Early childhood centres will have to sack some of their most experienced teachers next year because they have not completed a specialised course. . .   The qualification move come as the Ministry of Education estimates centres will be short of between 1500 and 2600 teachers next year.
    Early Childhood Council chief executive Sarah Farquhar said the ministry's stifling qualification requirements were exacerbating the chronic teacher shortage.
Sarah Farquhar is dead right.  At a time of increasing demand from parents there is a chronic teacher shortage. And it’s dead easy to deduce the cause:
When you see problems of such a magnitude, you have to suspect a government's involved. And when you witness a crisis that anyone with half a brain could see coming years ago, you'd have to suspecta government might have created it.
And you'd be dead right in your suspicions.
Only a government would want to see experienced teachers with education degrees sacked at a time of shortage’. 
Only a new government minister would be unaware that the shortage was government created.
Only a teachers union would celebrate the shortage.
Only a government ministry would happily shut down schools in which children are thriving and their parents are happy – shut them down because they don’t fit the ministry’s one-size-fits-all model.
And only a teachers union and a ministry combined would celebrate the shortages as bringing “quality” to the business of educating three to six year old children.
The sackings are about to happen because of a “forced retraining” scheme first announced by former National education minister Nick Smith, and finally re-announced by Labour’s education minister Trevor Mallard – a scheme that told early child education teachers that it didn’t matter what experience you had or even what qualifications you held: if you didn’t have the uniquely PC local early childhood degree or diploma, which takes three to four years of head-nodding and indoctrination to “earn,” then after a certain date you couldn’t run a school or (starting in 2010) even work in one.  
Advocates of the sackings insist that all early childhood practitioners having precisely the same degree or diploma -- all of them indoctrinated in the same feelgood mush of wall-to-wall waiatas and the prevailing culture of illiteracy and failure worship -- is supposed to deliver “quality,” instead of a cooky-cutter, one-size-fits-all mediocrity   But as a vigorous opponent of such a culture once said, don’t bother to examine such an obvious folly, just examine what it’s intended to achieve.  What it achieves here is control:
  1. It removes from the profession those who disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy, increasing the ministry’s power over what was once a healthy and diverse industry but is now so wringing wet and one-size-fits-all that it has no time for genuine diversity and real education, and too much time on Treaty issues and group-think.
  2. There’s no way that a bureaucrat can ever divine the quality of a school in the way a parent can, so the issue of qualifications is being used as a proxy – while destroying the diversity and the quality early-childhood teaching that really did exist not so long ago.
This is not about quality at all – as anyone who has ever seen a graduate of one of these courses could attest.  It’s not about quality, it’s about control – and the ministry is about to achieve complete control over a compliant sector that once among the most innovative in the country. But instead of being innovative, if they had a forelock early childhood sector professionals would now be tugging it. As Sarah Farquhar’s predecessor Sue Thorne said a few years back, early childhood education centres are now  "too bogged down in rules to be innovative."
The rules are not being relaxed, and the entirely predictable collapse of early childhood education is under way. Thousands of good early childhood teachers have already left this profession in the wake of this requirement; dozens of once excellent early childhood centres have either closed or reduced their standards; sectors of the industry such as Montessori and Steiner schools have been ravaged – their growth stalled and their standards shot to pieces --  and the problem is only going to get worse.
I say that the crisis was entirely predictable and I meant it.  I don’t claim any special knowledge – apart from knowledge of the bleeding obvious – but it was clear enough to me at least nine years ago that this wasn’t going to end well.  Here’s what I said in June 2000 in the 72nd issue of The Free Radical, which I post here unchanged:

Athens v Sparta

“The purposeful, disciplined use of intelligence is the highest achievement possible to man: it is that which makes him human. The higher the skill, the earlier in life its learning should be started�Just as the child is the father of the man, so the nursery school is the father to the university.”
-
Ayn Rand
    It is our minds that make us distinctly human. It is our very means of survival, & our chief glory; it is the human mind that is responsible for a Beethoven symphony, a Shakespearean sonnet, an Aristotelian treatise (& the glories of dark ale & red wine). As a bird teaches its young to fly, & a lioness her cubs to hunt, so too must we humans teach our infants to think - to use the mind they are born with.
    Teaching is not necessarily schooling, but it is generally to schools that we send our children to learn. Historically, there has always been an uneasy tension between public & private schools, & between authoritarian -- often religious -- schools & others of a more relaxed, or secular outlook.
    This tension was first felt in classical Greece, between the very different societies of Athens & Sparta. Athenians enjoyed schools run as private enterprises, with parents free to choose among available teachers at a price they could afford. That it was successful in producing the first flowering of a truly human civilisation can be judged by the literature, art, science & philosophy that we still enjoy & learn from today.
    The Spartan model was very different; here was big brother in the classroom writ large.    Schools were “educational boot camps” -- with all that implied about the Spartan way of life --their task to produce warriors, automatons, to follow orders & serve the state "as one herd." As one writer notes: “every aspect of child rearing which in Athens was the right & responsibility of parents, was in Sparta the prerogative of the govt." Unlike Athenian culture, we do not today enjoy the cultural outpouring of Sparta for one very simple reason: There was none.
    None, except that is for a culture of authoritarianism & unrelenting state worship.  Democratic Athens was eventually crushed by militarist Sparta, leading Plato for one to praise the brutal “efficiency” of the Spartan system which had trained the mindless herds. He essentially replicated it in the authoritarian society he proposed in The Republic, concluding that "family training cannot be trusted; the god of the state demands public control of the breeding, nursing & training of children."
    The lessons of Sparta & Plato were not lost on authoritarians & collectivists of every hue in nearly every century. State schools in Prussia, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia &; revolutionary France, & religious schools run by English Anglicans, German Lutherans & French Jesuits, all learned from Spartan methods & doctrines. Indeed, the Jesuits, eager to produce youngsters displaying “blind obedience to the Pope” made famous the doctrine: “Give me the child until he is seven, & I will show you the man." They recognised the crucial importance of the early childhood years in forming a child’s mind.
    So too did influential state school advocate James G. Carter in 1830s America, who argued that govt should “seize the reins” of flourishing American tuition-charging schools "for its own self preservation. . .  If the Spartan could mould & transform a nation to suit his taste by means of an early education," he argued, "why may not the same be done at the present day?"
    It is. Today’s battlefield in is in NZ’s early childhood education centres; it has long been over in primary & secondary schools where the combined forces of the Ministry, NZEI, PPTA, & NZQA have gained power by stealth when they could not do so openly. Much of the parental choice that Plato & the Spartans both abhorred so much has long disappeared from these schools. The recent removal of bulk funding is but another step down a road already dark.
    But early childhood education has long been a holdout to this process. It is an industry with 4,000 schools & 8,000 teachers, responsible for nearly 200,000 children. Of these schools, 41% are private fee-paying schools. At present, a de facto voucher system operates which has encouraged a flourishing of diversity. Steiner, Montessori, Playcentre, Kohanga Reo, Froebel, Kindergarten, state maintained schools, private schools, community owned & run schools - all coexist quite happily, & parents take advantage of the diversity & choice on offer. It is this very diversity that is one of the great strengths of early childhood education in this country.
    Sadly, it is because of that diversity that it is now under threat. At a 1999 election meeting Helen Duncan & Liz Gordon (both now on the Education Select Committee) confessed that they regarded the existence of private profit-making early childhood centres “with concern,” but frankly confessed they were “not sure” what to do about it.
    They do now.
    The statists have found a way to storm the early childhood centres, & they are doing it in the name of “Quality”! Instead of seizing the schools, they have instead hit on the idea of seizing the teachers, & forcibly retraining them. Minister Trevor Dullard has mandated that all – all -- persons responsible for an early childhood centre must have a three-year state diploma by 2005, no matter what other qualification they might already hold. This, Dullard says, "will improve the quality of education [that] children attending early childhood services receive."
    The Early Childhood Council (ECC) representing independent centres estimates this will affect 60% of industry professionals, many of them already holding degrees, diplomas, & even doctorates. Many have successfully run schools for years, with happy children & parents to prove it, but they do not hold a three year Early Childhood Diploma. ECC describes the diploma as often "weighted heavily with academic & not practical requirements, providing little information on infant/toddler age range or on management issues & generally poorly matched to the competencies actually needed by supervising teachers in services."
    Challenged at an Auckland public meeting to explain what will happen to a small school whose owner & head teacher must leave to undergo three years of forced re-training -- after twenty years of successful teaching -- Dullard admitted, "I don’t know". I do, & so too did that teacher - so probably do the parents of children at her school, & so do the many others being herded into retraining: It will be a disaster. Many early childhood teachers will simply leave the profession, or will leave the country for saner pastures abroad.
    I predict in two years time that the number of early childhood centres will have markedly diminished, &; those remaining will be struggling to find teachers with significant experience. There will be both a teacher shortage & a school shortage. In a pattern only too familiar to those who watch the growth of the state it will be at precisely this time that we will hear there has been a “market failure” & that the govt must step in & pick up the pieces.
    And Sparta will have won again!
I wrote that back in 2000 about the crisis being so obviously set up. Nothing has changed to avert it. The current crisis is tragic, it was predictable, and yet it is entirely simple to remedy: with the stroke of a pen education minister Anne Tolley can remove the forced retraining requirement, sack the ministry bureaucrats who promoted it, and return schools to the regime that existed prior to its introduction.     
    Ms Tolley doesn’t need “officials to work on options.”  She doesn’t need to blindly follow what Messrs Smith and Mallard so destructively set up.  She can’t just delay the inevitable crisis for a year or two and leave the problem for a successor.  If she had the courage, she could sort it out for good in an afternoon.
    I invite her to do what’s necessary to spike the Spartans’ guns.  Or step down.

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“High standards”! Who’re you kidding, Rodney.

Making “off colour remarks” to women!  Crikey, who would do that? 

And what sort of woman would be so easily offended? When did working women become so precious?  Such shrinking violets?  Sure ACT’s David Garrett is an odious prick, but why not just tell him that to his face instead of running off to nanny like a tell-tale tit.

And this idea that MPs are “held to a high standard”?  Who the hell is Rodney kidding?  MPs are held in even lower esteem than lawyers.  Any lower and they’d be able to crawl under a snake.

This is obviously just a story for a slow news day about an MP who has a brain function to match.  Nothing to see; nothing really to talk about.  Move along.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate reckons “Garrett is a tad mental, however he is ACT's quota for the mentally infirm.”

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Container architecture – hardly inhumane, say architects [update 2]

1a

412077688_c340118112 Lawyer Peter Williams is a piece of work. He has that uniquely lawlerly ability to talk in detail, colourfully and at length on subjects he knows precisely nothing about.

This morning he was talking volubly about the "inhumanity" of using shipping containers to house criminals.

They’re not designed for it, says Peter.

They’re not fit for humans, says Peter.

No one could live in them, says Peter:

If the ordinary person applied to the local council for a permit to live in a shipping container I don't think for a moment that they'd have any chance of that being granted. And why? Because it lacks sanitation, it lacks warmth, it's not waterproof, it's not adequate, it's not designed for human habitation . . .

container5 Really?! Well here’s at least ten international architects who’d call you a liar, Peter. Here’s another. And another. Here’s a good source on shipping containers used for architectural purposes: the Shipping Container Architecture Information Database. Here’s an article on the popularity of shipping containers, from disaster-relief housing to a media school. “Costing around $1,500 to $2,000,” says the article in The Architect's Newspaper, “they are economical, structural, mobile, and increasingly more aesthetic ways to design.” And here’s a couple of locals who like them. The one pictured above and at right is Ross Stevens’s Wellington house. (Check out a slide show here.) is an industrial design lecturer at Victoria University. He’s very happy about his house.lt_mdu1

Here’s an architectural firm who specialises in the things (pictures right). They call themselves Lo-Tek.

The place pictured below is a hotel in Uxbridge, West London made out of shipping containers – which is about as attractive as Uxbridge gets. Punters seem to like it. More hotels made of shipping containers are planned to help accommodate visitors to the 2012 London Olympics.

lt_mdu3 Which just goes to show, once again, how little Mr Williams needs to know before opening his mouth. It seems to me he’s lied for a living for so long, he’s forgotten what facts even look like.

Peter, get a life. Get some knowledge. Try learning a little something, just once, before opening your bloody mouth and letting your wind blow your tongue around.

And consider that even in the unlikely case that you were correct – which must be a very rare occurrence – the discomfort of living in a container cell is still a whole lot safer than sharing a double bunk room with a twenty-stone prisoner called Bubba.

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UPDATE 1: Audrey Young agrees.

I have two words about the fuss over putting prisoners in converted containers - Wai Iti.
It is a rustically beautiful beachside retreat in north Taranaki. As well as having classic kiwi baches dotted on hills overlooking the Tasman sea, the old camping ground has a whole lot of extremely pleasant cabins or "compartments" as they are called, converted from old shipping containers. . .
They are lined. They have windows cut into them and decks attached to them for G and T at sunset. And people pay to stay in them. They are very cute and a testament to Kiwi ingenuity and , I'm sure many people would think, far too good for prisoners. . .
What is instrinsically "inhumane" about shipping containers?

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