Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quote of the day: Wayne Fortun on the economic crisis

Our current economic breakdown is more a philosophic crisis than an economic one: the view that the free mind is a myth.”

Discuss.

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Saturday’s exam question [updated]

Compare and contrast these two comments.

1. "If you're not measuring it you can't improve it." – Wayne Fortun, CEO of Hutchinson Technology Incorporated.

2. American teacher union the NEA is effective "not because we care about children [but] because we have power." – NEA chairman Bob Chapin

Discuss with reference to local teacher unions’ vehement opposition to publishing students’ test performances.

UPDATE: In this morning’s Herald Deborah Coddington says, “It’s about time parents formed a union equally as militant as the teachers’ unions and Principals’ Federation. Because who, in the current war over national standards in education, is sticking up for the kids?”

    The education unions whine that if these standards proceed, media will publish them, parents will compare teachers and schools, and do what I and hundreds of other parents do - exercise choice. Well, we can’t have that, can we?
    We’re trusted to choose our family doctor, our car, our fridge, our house, our MP, but when it comes to choosing the school our children go to, if the left have their way, we must go where the State dictates. Only those who can afford it are lucky enough to choose.

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How the minimum wage works

minwage1 [Hat tip William Green]

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Labour and Hitler?

nazi-com Many blogs have already covered the story published in the Manawatu Standard that the First Labour Government and Hitler were rather friendly, based on research by two Massey University history “dons.”

Naturally, The Standard blog has taken offence; naturally, David Farrar has taken the opportunity for some fun at Labour’s expense; and quite unnaturally the Dim Post has avoided making fun of everybody and instead pointed out that “the article itself is a bit vague about the details” – which is quite true, but probably won’t be remedied until the research is published later this year in the British Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. (Note to journalists: remember to follow this up.)

That said, there are one or two crucial things we do know that can give some context. Look for example at this cartoon published by The Standard blog (originally published in Labour’s party newspaper 23 May 1940) which is intended to give the idea that socialism and Nazism were always and forever died-in-the-wool antagonists. But this is contradicted by a large number of things, not least the fact that the word "Nazi" was itself an abbreviation for "der Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiters Partei — in English translation: the National Socialist German Workers' Party — and what should one expect of a country ruled by a party with "socialist" in its name to be but socialist? And for other socialists to recognise a comrade – as they did, before the war,

Perhaps the most relevant two facts here in terms of the timing of any Labour “cosying up” with Hitler – since it’s the timing of Labour’s cosying and un-cosying that seems to be at issue here – is the ‘Molotov-Ribbentrop pact’ agreed between socialist hero Joseph Stalin and National Socialist leader Adolph Hitler, and the pre-war cooperation between the two totalitarian powers.

The Pact itself certainly confused socialists and communists all around the world when it was signed, since they were now faced with prima facie evidence that the two leaders of these putative opposing systems didn’t themselves see any barriers to cooperation – as they did even well before the Pact in tasks such as helping prepare the Nazi and Soviet war machines, helping with Nazi Germany’s covert re-arming (the Soviet–German air base at Lipetsk and the Soviet–German Tank School at Kazan are just two examples of this long-standing cooperation), and (just one month after the signing) in dismembering and dividing up Poland. It’s often forgotten now, but for the first year of the war and for much of the time before that, in every important respect the Nazis and the Soviets were military allies – and those died-in-the-wool communists who were taking instructions from Moscow were being so instructed.

Whittaker Chambers and other Soviet spies have since described the betrayal felt by all their colleagues when the Nazis finally did invade the Soviet Union, and the volte-face and about-face and utter confusion caused by the reversal of the alliance, but despite everyone’s collective amnesia since let no-one forget that they were so allied, and that – whatever the writers of The Standard blog might think now – and whatever the cartoonists of The Standard newspaper might have wanted us to think back then – it was not unusual at all for the world’s socialists to get in behind Hitler’s Germany.

In fact, for a time there, it was far more unusual if they didn’t.

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“He was asking for it” [update 3]

ph1va8 There’s no excuse for murder.

You can kill in self-defence if your life is in danger.  That’s justified.

You might kill by accident.  That’s manslaughter.

But if you kill because you’ve been “provoked” – an excuse being run in two recent trials – now that’s just bullshit.  It’s not killing in self-defence: a dose of the verbals is not a threat to your life. It’s not an accident: if you can’t control your anger, then you need to learn how to.

Killing when provoked is not manslaughter; it’s murder. Killing while claiming “diminished responsibility” is not manslaughter; it’s murder. In both cases, the killer has to take full responsibility for what he’s done.

There is no argument for retaining in law either the “defence” of provocation, or the defence of “diminished responsibility.”  Self-responsibility means taking responsibility for what you’ve consumed (no matter what your consumption might lead to), and taking responsibility for your actions – however angry you might have been.

Living in a civilised society means recognising that force must be barred from social relationships – even if you’re provoked; it means recognising the right to lifeeven when some arsehole makes you want to strangle them.  The right to life means what it says: the right to be protected even when you’ve just pissed off someone who has a drug habit or a short fuse.

The “defences” of provocation and “diminished responsibility” reverse the order of objective law.  Instead of protecting the victim it puts the slain on trial; instead of condemning the guilty it offers them a free pass and a grandstand; instead of inviting good court reporting it gives media ghouls a chance to contaminate the airwaves with grotesquery and narcissistic whining; instead of a simple trial based only on the facts, it grants defence lawyers a fortune in legal aid to run a defence based on narcissistic whining and flatulent self-delusion; and instead of reflecting good objective law it makes a mockery of law, of justice, and of the very right to life that good law is supposed to protect.

There is no argument for retaining the “defence” of provocation.  None at all. Murder is murder. 

“He was asking for it?”  “She was asking for it?” No, you arseholes.  They weren’t.  Sticks and stones will break your bones, but provocation isn’t going to hurt you: Get over it.  And if you can’t, if you “snap” and do your worst, then take responsibility for that instead of whining and wasting everybody’s time – while besmirching the memory of your victim.

UPDATE 1:  Philip comments (thanks Philip) that those who are interested in reading more about the issue of provocation should read the Law Commission’s pretty comprehensive report released back in 2007, which concluded “that section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961 should be repealed, thereby abolishing the partial defence of provocation in New Zealand. We believe that it will be preferable for provocation to be dealt with by judges solely as a sentencing issue.”  For once, I agree with the Law Commission.

UPDATE 2: Greg Edwards has started a Facebook group called Clayton Weatherston is a Murderer. He committed murder, not manslaughter.  Join up now before Facebook (or the Solicitor General) closes it down as “hate speech.”

UPDATE 3: ‘Blunt’ takes on the “brainy guy defence”:

the-brainy-guy-defence

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Either-or

What happens When Economic Stimulus Does Not Stimulate

Either you end up with another bubble – and "the bubble is back," says Bernard Hickey, "long live the bubble.".

Or you end up with “serious stagflation.” “I predict a miserable decade of economic stagnation [for the US],” says Robert Murphy.  And when the US catches a cold . . .

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‘The Worm’ takes over punditry

The Onion calls this satire.  Clearly, they’ve never watched Sainsbury or Campbell.  Watch: New Live Poll Allows Pundits To Pander To Viewers In Real Time.  [Hat tip Paul McKeever]

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Quote of the day: Mark LeVine on Iran

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, do not fear the US but rather their own people's desire to live in a country more like the US."
                                                  - Mark LeVine, Middle East historian, quoted at Al Jazeera

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Berman House – Harry Seidler (1999)

Berman House, Joadja, New South Wales, 1999. [Hat tip A NAVE DO BOM GOSTO]

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Quote of the day: Robert Murphy on climate change

"In the climate change debate, people often forget that under all but the most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who will benefit from our current mitigation efforts will be much richer than we are."
                                                - Robert Murphy

As I paste that above quote into my blog writer, I have beside me a post from the Green Party’s Frog  Blog called ‘Calling names isn’t nice, especially when you’re wrong.’  It’s a doozy.  Its connection with Murphy’s point above will quickly become clear.  It begins thus:

I previously blogged about last night’s climate change target meeting in Wellington, where amongst other failings, Nick Smith accused the Green Party of only caring about the environment and having no regard for the impact on the economy.

Of  course Smith is dead wrong on this, just as he is on everything – including his decision to keep breathing. The Green Party don’t care about the natural environment.  Not in any genuine sense, they don’t. With their proven penchant for bans and big government, and a caucus composed almost entirely of the intellectual remnants of the Socialist Workers’ Party, they’re just a bunch of  authoritarians with a marketing wing – and with Jeanette Fitzsimon’s departure even their figleaf of genuine environmentalism is about to disappear with her. 

If you really want to see Greenwash in action, then the Green Party is the single most prominent contemporary example.

And it’s not true either to say that they’re unconcerned about the destructive economic impact of their regulation fetishThey and their luminaries are only too happy to have our economic lifeblood destroyed.

Anyway, their mention of Nick Smith is distracting me from from the main point of their post, and of this one.  The post at Frog Blog continues on to its main point, saying (apparently completely without irony):

    In the spirit of economic literacy, I wanted to remind our readers of these words from a recent Australian Treasury report into the economics of climate change: “The Treasury’s modelling demonstrates that early global action is less expensive than later action.”

I say “completely without irony” because if there is any group of people for whom economic illiteracy is a watchword it is the Green Party. There is surely no higher density of economic illiterates than in the un-perfumed climes of the Green Party’s electorate offices – except perhaps in the offices of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.

And as regards the “Treasury’s modelling,” it has about as much credence as BERL’s now thoroughly discredited report on the social costs of alcohol. Based as it is on the flawed “model” produced by Nicholas Stern at the behest of the British Treasury to justify onerous carbon taxes now to help the British Treasury later, the Australian Treasury’s modelling shares all the errors of Stern’s flawed report, including it’s utterly discreditable use of a carefully selected discount rate – a discount rate selected (like BERL’s careful rejection of the “benefits” side of their cost-benefit study) so as to give him the results his client had paid for.

As William Nordhaus (no friend of free markets) explains the resultant absurdity:

    Suppose that scientists discover a wrinkle in the climate system that will cause damages equal to 0.1 percent of net consumption starting in 2200 and continuing at that rate forever after. How large a one-time investment would be justified today to remove the wrinkle that starts only after two centuries? Using the methodology of the [Stern] Review, the answer is that we should pay up to 56 percent of one year's world consumption today to remove the wrinkle. In other words, it is worth a one-time consumption hit of approximately $30,000 billion today to fix a tiny problem that begins in 2200. [Italics in original]11

The intent of all the “modelling” carried out by the World’s Treasuries is nothing less than to justify strangling industry now (fifty percent by 2050 says our own John Key) for some unknown and unproven benefit in the future for your grandchildren – who, if we can predict anything with confidence, will probably want to know why your stupidity now has left them so poor.

Economist Robert Murphy (whose writings the Greens would do well to read if they do seriously wish to improve their economic literacy), points out in ‘The Economics of Climate Change’ that even the idea of modelling economies one-hundred years ahead is fatally flawed.

    Fans of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek—who warned against the "pretense of knowledge"—should be even more concerned about the sheer audacity of the field of climate economics. After all, it is rather absurd to argue about the impacts of present tax policies on global temperatures in the year 2150. Yet, it is precisely these projections that provide the foundation for policy recommendations.
  
Many critics have raised this objection before, but it bears repeating: We have no idea what the world economy will be like in the 22nd century. Had people in 1909 adopted analogous policies to "help" us, they might have imposed a tax on buggies or a cap on manure, needlessly raising the costs of transportation while the U.S. economy switched to motor vehicles. This is not a mere joke; "serious" people were worried about population growth, and the ability of large cities to support the growing traffic from horses. Had someone told them not to worry, because Henry Ford's new Model T would soon transform personal locomotion without any central direction from D.C., these ideas would probably have been dismissed as wishful thinking. As famed physicist Freeman Dyson has mused, future generations will likely have far cheaper means of reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, if the more alarming scenarios play out.18
    In the climate change debate, people often forget that under all but the most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who will benefit from our current mitigation efforts will be much richer than we are. For example, Nigel Lawson points out that even under one of the worst case scenarios studied by the IPCC, failure to act would simply mean that people in the developing world would be "only" 8.5 times as wealthy a century from now, compared to 9.5 times as wealthy if there were no climate change.19

To translate, this means that even if the scare-mongers were correct, they intend to strangle prosperity now – in the midst of the deepest depression in seventy years – simply so that your future generations one-hundred years from now might be able to afford an extra Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster while they orbit the planets.

May I suggest that instead of bleating about name-calling, the authors of Frog Blog instead acquaint themselves with some real economics.  And read and digest the arguments in Murphy’s ‘The Economics of Climate Change.’ It would leave them looking less embarrassed when they talk so smugly about the economic illiteracy of others.

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There’s an ill wind blowing for Pickens [update 2]

Billionaire Texan investor T. Boone Pickens thought he could pick up a truckload of pork courtesy of Obama’s “Green New Dealnonsense.  He called it his “Pickens Plan.”

Pickens  planned to plant a whole swarm of wind turbines – the world’s largest wind farm – in an effort to farm the subsidies that are the only way renewable energy boondoggles can “make” money for their progenitors.

And now it seems he has a few turbines he doesn’t know what to do with.  687 at last count.  It seems more affordable forms of real energy, like natural gas, and lack of subsidies to farm (as yet) have killed off his dreams of tapping the taxpayers’ pocket to fill his own.

My heart bleeds for the bludging schmuck.

UPDATE 1: Commenting on the demise of Picken’s corrupt scheme, writer Ray Harvey writes:

Boone Pickens is [still] calling for massive subsidization of the wind-power industry. As with ethanol and recycling and a host of other issues, you must ask yourself again, if these things are so efficient, why do they need to be subsidized? Answer: they're not so efficient. Energies that require massive subsidization benefit absolutely no one; the only reason they need to be subsidized is that they cannot compete on the open market.

UPDATE 2:  And William Anderson says  R.I.P., Pickens Plan!

    The once-ballyhooed Pickens Plan is being scrapped, as it should be. The notion that we can replace coal and oil-fired energy with something as fickle as the wind is something only an environmentalist or a politician could love.
   
Central planners and their allies are forever laying out Great Plans for the Future. However, those plans always are foolish and dangerous, and "alternative energy" is no exception. If you want to understand the full extent of the real harm that environmentalism and the government central planning it spawns have done to humanity, read the articles of George Reisman.

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How does it feel? [updated]

So to all those people claiming that Auckland’s new super-bureaucracy is a ruse to permanently remove leftists from political power in Auckland, how do you feel now that former Alliance leader and unrepentant Stalinist Laila Harre has been appointed to “help” in the transition from eight intrusive bureaucracies to one unchallengeable megalith?

  • You think with her on board ensuring a “smooth transition” we’ll see the unleashing of a “hidden privatisation agenda,” as some have hopefully claimed will happen?
  • You think with her “appointed to oversee the transition of staff into the new Auckland super-city council” we’re going to see to “savage” job cuts, as most of you have vainly hoped for?
  • You think with her finger in the management pie, you’re going to see your rates bill go down, as so many of you desperately need?

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated.  Again.

UPDATE: Owen McShane comments at Farrar’s (who, all too predictably for His Wetness, thinks this is a “very smart appointment” – sheesh!).  Says Owen:

    Wendell Cox, a colleague of mine in the US who has made a reputation for his studies of mega mergers of Local Government, tells me that while mega-mergers are often driven by an alliance between business and the left, the end result of the-mega merger is to move the politics of the whole area to the left. Think of Red Ken in London.
    The mergers create great hostility at the local level which the left is more able to exploit. So while many seem to think that John Banks will wear the crown of the Super City, it is more likely to be Mike Lee of the ARC, or someone else from the left. . .
    The appointment of Laila Harre is entirely predictable from Wendell’s studies and we see the standard drama unfolding. Mike Lee will be the Mayor, Craig Shearer [a promoter of the Orwellianly named Smart Growth] will write the plan. and Laila Harre will be personell officer. Welcome to the mega world.
    Of course we will be proud of our world first achievement. There is no city in the western world of over one million population governed by a single council. Indeed Wendell and I cannot find one with only eight. Paris has 1300.

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NOT PJ: Frankfurters, My Dear? I Don’t Give a Damn

This week Bernard Darnton raises a sausage to freedom.

There’s nothing as quintessentially American as a hot dog eating competition. While the saying goes, “as American as apple pie,” there are lots of places that enjoy apple pie, apple cake, strudel, and countless other pommelicious treats. “As American as sixty-eight hot dogs in ten minutes,” however – that has the ring of truth to it.

Independence Day is a day when freedom lovers in the United States and around the world celebrate the founding of a nation based on the principle of individual rights. John Adams predicted that the day would be celebrated with “pomp and parade, … sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.” He never predicted the hot dog eating competition but it’s become an institution anyway.

ESPN – yes, this is a nationally televised “sporting” event – reports that this year Joey Chestnut logged his third consecutive win in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, defeating his archrival Takeru Kobayashi by scoffing down sixty-eight frankfurters and buns in ten minutes. He improved decisively on last year’s effort, when the competition was decided in “a dramatic five hot dog eat-off.”

Some might moan that this is a trivialisation of an important anniversary. Others (usually not known for their desire to celebrate the principle of individual rights) think it’s an illustration of typical American gluttony. They decry other culinary abominations – like the Domino’s meat pie and French fry pizza in a cheesy puff-pastry box – as obesity-causing examples of American cultural imperialism.

Tough. It’s called Freedom. And the thing about freedom is you can’t tell people what to do with it. If that’s how people want to celebrate their independence, who am I to argue?

America was explicitly founded on the idea of freedom. For two hundred years people have flocked to America and used that freedom to create the most economically productive, technologically advanced, militarily powerful nation on earth. And some of them have used that freedom to stuff their faces with processed meat. So what? They’re still ahead on points.

And to the charge of gluttony? When four percent of the world’s population produces twenty-six percent of the world’s stuff there’s room for some excess.

Freedom is the state most conducive to human flourishing. OK, some people will die early because their arteries are blocked with stringy cheese that came out of an aerosol can, but they’ll probably have enjoyed themselves en route. And no one’s saying that you have to eat that crap. Most people will use their freedom wisely – and flourish.

Humanity comes equipped with a vast range of virtues and vices, and a free society gives latitude to both. But most of the vices are trivial and many of the virtues are grand.

Whether you’re looking for wieners or winners – freedom provides more than you can imagine of both.

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

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The Bureaucrat - Barry Woods Johnston (1990)

bcrat1m

Called "The String Pulling Bureaucrat with His Red Tape," this life-size bronze, says  Johnston’s website, is a commentary on the effects of bureaucracy on our society and daily lives.

bruct2mThis coy figure is shown wrapping himself in the red tape of bureaucracy.  Although handled with a sense of humor, this sculpture, which is somewhat reminiscent of Michelangelo's Slaves for the tomb of Pope Julius, comments on a new kind of banal slavery inherent in today's modern methods.

Not one to have in your lounge – but I’d love to see a copy in the foyer of every “public” building.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

June at NOT PC: A Bain in the neck

A definite theme in popular posts here this month,measured by the fact that searches for David Bain and Julian Pistorius were nearly equal.
A slight drop in reader numbers – perhaps because post-Mt Albert the focus was off politics, which this blog does, and onto scandal, which it doesn’t – yet yet while reader numbers were down slightly local Alexa numbers were up. Slightly. I’ll leave that as an exercise for readers, and for blog stat compilers who rely on them, to work out what that means.
And poor David Slack . . .

Unique visits [from Statcounter]: 42,096 (May: 45,485)
Page impressions [from Statcounter]: 60,437 (May: 64,617)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1514/day (May: 1620)
NZ Political Blog Ranking for NOT PC in May: 3rd (April: 3rd)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 1,802nd (May: 2,883rd)
Alexa Ranking, world: 348,280th(May: 304,831st )

Top ten posts for June:

Most commented upon posts

Top referring sites:
No Minister 1405 referrals; Kiwiblog 1346; ; Libertarianz 506; Cactus Kate 285; Tumeke 236; Facebook 235; SOLO 229; Whale Oil 202; Liberty Scott 187; Libz Network 165; The Standard 162; Anti Dismal 126; Oswald Bastable 114; Lindsay Mitchell 113; Home Paddock 91; Barnsley Bill 89
Top searches landing here:
david bain jokes 968; not pc/peter cresswell etc 767; david bain 244; julian pistorius 237; causes of global financial crisis 224;“david slack” swine 207; contaminated soils owen mcshane 107; neelam choudary 78; wine flu 76; “john adams” “not pc” 69; nipcc 62; david knowles artist 60; interest rates notpc rise nz 60; nude olympians 55; beer songs 44; broadacre city 36; persian kiwi 36
They're reading NOT PC here:
Still no visit from Sarah Palin? I’m feeling spurned.
NOT_PC-June
Top countries/territories (from Google Analytics)
NZ 47%; US 21%; Australia 4.7%; UK 4.0%; Canada 2.1%; Germany 1.8%; Italy 1.5%; Netherlands 1.0% Top cities
Auckland 28%; Wellington 7.6%; Christchurch 6.0%; Sydney 2.1%; London 1.9%; New York 1.5%; Dunedin 1.1%; Palmerston North 1.0%; Brisbane 0.8%; Melbourne 0.8%; Hamilton 0.6%
Readers' Browsers
Firefox/Flock 44%(47); IE Explorer 39%(38); Safari 11%(9.1); Chrome 4.0% (3.7); Opera 1.8%(1.8)
Readers’ OS
Windows 83%; Mac 15%; Linux 2.2%; iPhone 0.3%
Readers’ Screen Sizes
1024x768 25%; 1280x800 19%; 1280x1024 15%; 1680x1050 12%; 1440x900 11%
Readers' Connection Speeds
Unknown 37%(35); DSL 34%(32); Cable 19% (21); T1 7.7%(9.1); Dial-up 2.8%(2.7)

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

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Party Political Pilfering and Press Gallery Parasites

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

  1. Decision near on endorsing UN rights declaration– National is considering reversing the Clark government’s quite correct decision to spurn the concept of (bogus) indigenous rights. Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Prime Minister John Key both see recognition of the UN Declaration as a fait accompli. The previous Labour government said it would not support something which implied different classes of citizenship. A rare bouquet for Helen Clark from me!
    This declaration is dangerous, separatist and has the potential to foment racial confrontation in New Zealand. We don’t need it.
    The contentious part of this declaration is Article 26, which states that indigenous people have a right to use, develop or control “lands and territories” that they have traditionally owned, occupied or used. What is not mentioned is the conflicts that may arise where said land is now privately owned and possibly occupied.
    Does “control” over “territories” mean that vast numbers of New Zealanders will be evicted from freehold land at the whim of the new “Maori” owners? I maintain that land (and the foreshore and seabed, and the oceans for that matter) would be much better privately owned, with secure title, safe from UN predators. This whole saga provides fresh evidence that the UN should be disbanded, along with the Ministry of Maori Affairs. New Zealanders protested on the streets in 1981 against the race-based politics of South Africa; we should similarly spurn any attempt to further divide New Zealand along racial lines. I urge readers to write to their MP voicing concern about the implications of the current government accepting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. Labour puts up dollar-a-vote election funding plan – When I first saw this headline, I thought Labour were budgeting for the next election and sorting out how much they needed to raise through their supporters. Alas, in the first paragraph of this article it is apparent that Labour want taxpayers to be forced to fund political parties that they don’t support. Labour want political parties funded with a dollar for every vote obtained at the previous election. Doesn’t that tend to guarantee that smaller parties will not receive this funding to any significant degree, and without the money to pay for advertising will not receive media exposure during the election campaign, and will therefore be less likely to receive votes – in short, that the same two old tired parties will win every election. Not to mention that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for political parties to which they’re opposed.
    Only one political party refused taxpayer funding for television advertising in 2008, and believes state and broadcasting should be separated. It believes the current rules dictating broadcasting funding violate our freedom of speech.
  3. Large Maori contingent to voice claim for seats – Apartheid as a system of national government in a country thousands of miles away was repugnant enough; why should we tolerate it in our own country?
    A subcommittee is to hear submissions on the possibility of “Maori wards” in Lord Mayor John Banks’ Super City. Tau Henare expects some of these submissions to be “heated”. I wonder if they will be as heated as some of the anti-apartheid protests which disrupted the Springbok rugby team’s tour of 1981? I wonder how many of the protestors who thought racial separatism was so evil back then, now embrace the concept?
    Where does that great humanitarian John Minto stand on this issue?
  4. Surprise - the pen is mightier than the horde – Deborah Coddington reminds us that if we think our politicians are over-funded, consider the parasites from the Press Gallery, whose rent for the space it occupies in Parliament is picked up by the taxpayer, and whose overseas journeys when accompanying politicians is also heavily subsidized (from the defence budget).
    Surely, these freeloaders should be made to pay their own way, particularly, as Deborah points out, as they usually work for private newspapers and publishers.
    I had to smile at her story of Richard Prebble who, when acting minister of finance, baulked at the cost of strengthening parliament’s buildings against earthquakes, concluding it was cheaper to let the buildings collapse, killing all the politicians within, and hold another general election. Such common sense is sadly lacking in the halls of power these days!         

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

* * Read Richard McGrath’s column every Wednesday here at NOT PC * *

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Meyer-May House – Frank Lloyd Wright

2873924874_dae72f08ac

Frank Lloyd Wright's Meyer-May House, designed at the peak of his Prairie House phase in 1909, has just been restored as it turns one-hundred years old – it’s said to be the most completely restored of all Wright’s homes – and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a website to go with it.  A beautiful website with interactive plans, videos, design principles. . .   Check it out here.

02 house_tourMeyer-Screen

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

NZ political blog rankings are now out

Tim Selwyn's blog rankings are out for May - at least, they are for the top twenty NZ political blogs. Check out the sidebar at Tumeke for the top twenty, and here at NZ Blogosphere for the rest of them, eventually. Yes, they're a month behind, but despite the complexity of his ranking system (which means it takes a while to calculate), the sites he overlooks (like Lindsay Perigo's SOLO site and Bernard Hickey's Interest.Co.NZ), and his continuing insistence that NOT PC is "right wing," it's still the most comprehensive ranking system for NZ's political blogs.

Good to see this blog maintain its spot at number three -- and in fact the top five are unchanged. Big movers are Dim Post, which moves up three to six; Cactus Kate, who rockets up eleven to number nine; Eric Crampton, who breaks into the top twenty at nineteen; and Poneke, whose renewed blog activity has gto him back in at number twenty.

Congratulations to all of the top twenty blogs. Why not head over now and check out any you haven't checked out before.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Staying on Libz message

Susan Ryder explains how she became Libertarianz Sus, and what now for Libz.

susanryder There was no specific time as to when I became involved with the Libertarianz. I just sort of drifted into it.

It started after I returned to New Zealand permanently in 1995 after a long absence. Music radio left me cold, (the announcers, really, having been one in a past lifetime), so I started listening to Radio Pacific out of respect for friends who worked there.

The then morning host had a degree in Political Correctness and a Masters in Wetness, which saw me quickly seeking refuge in Leighton Smith’s pro-capitalist programme on Newstalk ZB. It was either that or succumb to the temptation to commit grievous bodily harm with my bare hands.

Listening at work allowed me to initially fax my opinions prior to email coming into existence. There was plenty to discuss. The cloth-cap lefties of old had alarmingly morphed into professional, well-organised, publicly-funded feminazis with a clear and chilling agenda. And the so-called right-wingers were also socialist at heart, parting company with the left only where they deemed it necessary to additionally mind others’ personal business. However the left has since ventured into that sphere, too, with the passing of legislation such as the Anti-Smoking/Smacking Acts. That’s the thing with authoritarians: there’s just no end to their interference.

They all seemed to be big-government advocates and I just wanted them to go away and mind their business. But nobody else seemed to think the way I did – or so I thought.

Ranting to a friend from Radio Pacific one day over a drink, he grinned and said “Why the hell aren’t you listening to Lindsay Perigo?” My eyebrows couldn’t have shot up faster had I been to the Botox clinic. “But he’s a communist!” I said. “Not anymore,” said John, “he’s had something of an awakening. I think you’ll approve!”

I suspiciously returned to Pacific at the appointed hour and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. “He thinks like me!” I thought. “I must be whatever he is!”

Back to ZB where I was quick to broadcast my allegiance to this party of small government devotees even though I hadn’t joined anything and didn’t know a soul. I didn’t care. They were opposed to state interference in all its manifestations and that was good enough for me. That they also rubbished political correctness and its proponents was a delicious bonus; a bit like winning Lotto and scoring the Powerball as well!

I joined the stable of regular correspondents, including my particular favourite, Barry the Garbo, a Warriors fan, rubbish collector and poet of some repute. As a result, a Libertarianz stalwart made herself known to me a few years later at a private function which marked my introduction to the party proper. I remain committed to its philosophy of free minds and free markets to this day.

Lately, there’s been discussion as to the ‘effectiveness’ of the Libertarianz. In so doing, it is necessary to look at the party and libertarianism separately.

Commentary on this and other blogs has unearthed numerous suggestions, many of them worthy of consideration. What has emerged is a call for a simplification of “the message.” I say “simplification” because the message – or philosophy – itself has never changed. By definition, it cannot. But that doesn’t mean to say that it cannot be streamlined or presented differently.

There is no denial that our voting numbers have decreased since the early days. And this is a good place to elaborate on the difference between the party and its principles.

Without rehashing past commentary, I believe that the voting numbers do not reflect dissatisfaction with libertarianism per se in that having embraced the principles of freedom and limited government, it is impossible to desert them. But there are two factors at play here that must be taken into consideration:

  1. the acceleration of socialism and the Nanny State under Helen Clark, and
  2. the vagaries of our convoluted MMP parliamentary system

They alone frightened many into voting for larger parties whose policies they may not have fully supported, just to be rid of the previous government. The “wasted vote” theory, if you like. And we can harp on all we like about what really constitutes a wasted vote, but for these voters, the fear of another Labour-lead victory was greater than any perceived failings of John Key and National.

But the chickens are already well on their way to roost. The Key government is nine months old and, abolition of the reviled Electoral Finance Act notwithstanding, little has really changed. The size of the state has barely altered while private sector jobs disappear every day. Essential services remain firmly in state clutches and Key has thumbed his nose at the upcoming Citizens Initiated Referendum in a style worthy of Helen Clark.

What better time, then, to capitalise on the current situation. “Nanny State” is a well-known term these days. It certainly wasn’t ten years ago, but – as the left knows all too well; Lord knows they’ve been at it long enough – constant repetition has done the trick.

This is where simplification of what we’re about comes in. I disagree with the notion that this is diluting or selling out our principles. On the contrary, it’s a clarification for newcomers and potential newcomers, who are sympathetic to the idea of less state control and/or dissatisfied with the status quo. Any salesman worth his salt knows that you never sell something; you find out what the customer wants and then you provide it. You talk your customer’s language.

The suggestion has been made to talk “reduce” rather than “abolish” and “free market” instead of “capitalism”, etc. After all, language revision has been a powerful tool for the statists, so there is some satisfaction in using their own proven method to attack them.

I therefore suggest we concentrate on a handful of issues and take it from there. And we could do worse than focus on the RMA and its connection with the assault on property rights and increased compliance costs, Climate Change and Social Engineering to start with. Others will have their own ideas.

We are unique in that we would prefer our ideas be adopted by other parties rather than be in power ourselves; a difficult fact for voters to grasp. We cannot expect people to “get it” straight away; it can take time. But I’ve long been of the opinion that I’d rather concentrate on the areas in which we share agreement as opposed to the reverse. Those already sympathetic to the concepts of personal freedom, personal responsibility, limited government and tolerance – thank you, Richard McGrath! – will eventually come around.

They have nowhere else to go.

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

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Green shoots? Really??

Green shoots in the US?  You have to be kidding, Mr Economist – not when investment has continued its fall off the cliff. [Hat tip Jeffrey Tucker at the Mises Blog.]

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“The green shoots that people think they see,” says economic expert Peter Schiff, “don’t reflect any genuine economic growth. They reflect the initial reaction to the stimulus. If you shoot someone up with heroin, you’re gonna get a reaction before there is a withdrawal.”

And just notice how each of the “investment-led booms” of recent decades correlates to a period in which “The Fed” was pumping up the money supply. And how each of the busts – each of which those periods of monetary pumping were intended to fix – has been progressively larger than the last one.

You really can’t fake economic reality, can you.  No matter how large your printing press.

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Twittering OCON [update 2]

Hey, this is very cool.  The Ayn Rand Institute’s annual Objectivist conference, OCON, is being “twittered” live – which means that even from ten-thousand miles away you can keep up with all the fascinating speakers over the coming week-and-a-bit at Twitter simply by hooking into it all here via #OCON.  Here are just some of the ideas-that-can-save-the-world that you can lap up:

Recent months have poignantly demonstrated the importance of philosophy in human life, as current events seem to spring directly from the pages of Atlas Shrugged. As most Americans look towards government to rescue them, our speakers show what alternative solutions Ayn Rand's philosophy can offer to today's world with presentations such as

  • "The Separation of Church and State," by Onkar Ghate;
  • "Principled Leadership," by BB&T’s John Allison;
  • “'Humanity’s Darkest Evil': The Lethal Destructiveness of Non-Objective Law," by Tara Smith;
  • "Free Minds and Free Markets," by Peter Schwartz; and
  • "Property Rights—and Wrongs," by Thomas A. Bowden.

Other stimulating topics will be available as well, including history, psychology, drama, epistemology, mathematics, and the nature and necessity of friendship.

UPDATE 1: Oh, a few other blogs are summarising the presentations as well, including The Crucible, Titanic Deck Chairs and Noodle Food.  Check them out too, especially if you want to see what you’ve already missed, or you simply prefer your summaries less fractured.

UPDATE 2: An attendee sums up day 3 in 140 words:

Day 3 Recap: Metaphors !=Concepts; Chocolate Fondue = delicious; We are the new intellectuals; I need to start writing; Optimism 4 ARI

And offers a reflection:

If evil is impotent, are good men the equivalent of viagra?

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Spring – Victor Issa

spring

103647_p_FDB75539-2B3D-897A-2956BAE31D3946EB It’s not here yet, more’s the pity, but this life-size bronze sculpture 'Spring’ by contemporary Colorado sculptor Victor Issa is as delightful as we might hope for. 

Check out more of his work here at his website.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

What’s the cost of a lost reputation? [updated]

ADRIAN SLACK Rather than conceding the errors in their flawed “social costs of alcohol” report (reported here, here, here and here), the alleged economists at BERL are resorting instead to rationalistic nonsense to support the report whose conclusions they were paid to find.  Their alcohol study's lead author, Mr Adrian Slack (whose photo at right, I think, tells you as much as you need to know about how his mind works), begins by arguing that they weren’t paid to study the benefits of alcohol, only the costs -- to do a full cost-benefit study would have cost the client another $135,000 says Mr Slack – and ends by talking palpable nonsense:

    ”So for example someone who murders someone, from the individual’s point of view, Eric would be, I presume, quite comfortable with that.
    The person who decides to murder someone else makes an evaluation of what are the benefits and costs to me of this action? Society says ‘well some people do murder other people’, but society says ‘that’s not good.’”

The argument is as tangled as the grammar.  Perhaps it was something Mr Slack was drinking ?

In response to what BK Drinkwater calls “a pretty damn strong candidate for non sequitur of the year,” Eric Crampton (who co-authored the intellectual destruction of Mr Slack’s work) kicks Slack again while he’s down: Of externalities, elbows, and knowing one from the other.

And Paul Walker also responds to Slack’s rationalistic nonsense, saying in part "I may have had some doubts about what goes on at BERL before now but after reading the National Business Review I really do wonder what goes on inside a BERL economists head.”  He has much, much more as well.

One begins to wonder if someone should commission research on the cost to consultants of a failed reputation. I suspect it would be much greater than $135,000.

UPDATE: Eric Crampton clarifies:

“I wasn't so much trying to kick someone when he's down as put on record that I'm not in favour of murder, lest someone down the track say something like ‘Eric Crampton, who has never rebutted allegations of being pro-murder, also ...’ "

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Great (stolen) Internet Wall of China

The Chinese government, the world’s leaders in intellectual piracy, are seeking to shut down their citizens’ access to the internet by installing pirated software on every Chinese computer.  Bruce Simpson has the story.

Paying for views you oppose

One of the chief evils of offices of political advocacy is that taxpayers opposed to views which they hold to be wrong-headed, destructive or plain vicious are required, nonetheless, to dip into their pockets and pay for bureaucrats to promote those views.  Paid political activists whose time is paid for by their opponents – what could be more outrageous!

Latest example of this outrage is a magazine issued by the Families Commission which fiercely upholds the power of  government employees to enter your home and tell you how to discipline your children.  While Families Commissioner Christine Rankin has been told by her bosses to keep her mouth shut on matters pertaining to the anti-smacking referendum, you and I and and the opponents of the anti-smacking legislation are having our pockets picked to pay for advocacy which we oppose.  Advocates like Bob McCoskrie of Families First and his supporters are required to find the money to promote the “No” vote campaign, while all the while being required to up the tab for their opponents as well.

Such is the evil of offices of political advocacy like the Families Commission, which opposes the sanctity of the family, or the Children’s Commissioner, which under Cindy Kiro favours the nationalisation of children.

Into this debate steps Stephen Franks, arguing that things have gone so far that it is time to consider the heresy of “a new publicly funded agency to remedy failure in the marketplace of ideas”: an Office of Devil’s Advocacy – and office paid to provide opposition to the paid political advocates of the “dreary anointed.”

Sounds like a job I might enjoy – if, that is, I could stomach the heresy of picking my opponents’ pockets to pay for the unpalatable advocacy I’d be required to promote.  :-)

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New blog

New blog just being added to the sidebar is The SovereignLife Blog written itinerant Kiwi David McGregor, principal of Sovereign Life and author of popular guest posts here at NOT PC.  Add him to your regular reading.

ActorVists vs scientists [update 2]

They might be able to act, but why should we listen to their views on science?

actorvism

UPDATE 1: NBR editor Nevil Gibson summarises the state of climate play:

    Did you stop worrying about climate change when the credit crunch and global recession got serious? Then listen up, things have changed for the better.
    In the past year or so since you last worried about it, the climate change debate has moved on. In fact, it is in danger of extinction as the scientific “consensus” disappears and international agencies and governments backpedal on draconian measures to stamp out use of carbon.

UPDATE 2: One of the primary points to be understood here is that climate pseudo-science and pronouncements thereon are being used to advance a clearcut and deadly political agenda.  On this the excellent Micky’s Muses blog quotes UK Labour MP Tom Harris who says

"...for some environmentalists the fight against global warming has another aim: the defeat of capitalism, of economic growth, of prosperity.Which is why I find their arguments so nauseating..."

And so say all of us.

UPDATE 2:  If you have never really gotten into the economics of climate change, and want an accessible introduction, here you go.

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