Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Quote of the day: On ignorance

Here's a fine statement I picked up when checking out the resolutely non-Christian Open Parachute blog:
“Ignorance cannot support a knowledge claim of any sort except perhaps for the trivial claim that we simply do not know.”
In other words, you can't get knowledge out of ignorance.

It's true, you know. Think about it.

Was the New Deal a Raw Deal? Debate [updated]

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is a popular touchstone in these Depressionary days. It’s evoked by everyone from Barack Obama (“Green New Deal!”) to Robert Higgs (“No New Deal!”), from Paul Krugman to Peter Schiff.

Roosevelt’s New Deal rescued America from the Great Depression OR Roosevelt’s New Deal prolonged America’s Depression, and caused even further economic woes. Both these propositions can’t be true. Whichever side of this historic debate you’re on, however, it’s agreed by all sides that the economic predicament of today can find lessons in that Great Disaster of yesteryear:

  • Do we spend dramatically to stimulate ever bigger bubbles?
  • And if so, how much?
  • Or do we cut our coats according to our rapidly-shrinking cloth, and learn to do more with less?
  • And to save more of what we have left over?

Different lessons based largely on different readings of the success or otherwise of FDR’s New Deal – so a debate on the effectiveness or otherwise of the New Deal could not be timelier.

Head therefore to Public Square, where Jeff Madrick (author of The Case for Big Government) and Robert Murphy (author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal) go head to head to answer the question Was the New Deal a Raw Deal?

(You can see an index for each salvo in the debate on each page. And you can see some perceptive comments on the debate over at the Mises Blog, and you can join it at the Public Square Forum.)

LIBERTARIAN SUS: Thank you very much for your kind donation [update 2]

Susan Ryder didn’t watch much television over the weekend.

susanryder I didn’t like the promotional ads from the outset. The wording bothered me.

Thousands of New Zealand children live without the basics most of us take for granted, making it hard for them to learn and participate at school. ‘KidsCan Stand Tall’ helps disadvantaged children by supplying them with raincoats, shoes and food, so they can get the most out of their education.

And last weekend, the ‘KidsCan Stand Tall Charitable Trust’ held the telethon on TV3 hosted by, in the words of its radio sibling, “the royalty” of New Zealand television personalities. Oddly enough, that news did nothing to change my mind. I gave it all a miss and have no regrets in doing so. Here’s why.

KidsCan is well connected. It lists Borders, Adidas and Warehouse Stationery among its numerous sponsors. And in spite of not exactly ‘standing tall’ themselves right now, so are the All Blacks, with alumni Ali Williams and Doug Howlett among its patrons.

According to Williams, “literally thousands of (NZ) children consistently go hungry and suffer from increased illness in winter because they do not have a raincoat to keep them warm and dry.”  He is quoted as being proud to support an organisation that “provides positive intervention.”

Howlett writes in a similar vein, being “extremely grateful for the opportunities” his parents provided for him and happy to be working with an organisation devoted to “levelling the playing field.”

The Trust’s website says this:

Children living in poverty can never be sure of receiving three meals a day, often filling their tummies on what they get out of the school water fountain. We are sure you will agree all kids deserve to have full tummies, regardless of whether their parents are good people struggling to make ends meet or those who waste money and neglect their responsibilities.

Let’s do some dissection. We have fiscal “poverty” in New Zealand after the recent news that the DPB can pay out more than $700 a week? We should make no distinction between good parents who are struggling financially and neglectful losers? Wow. Welcome to Socialism 101 where everybody’s the same and nobody’s to blame. It’ll therefore come as no surprise that the Trust also aims to “increase levels of self-esteem by encouraging equality.”

If there’s “poverty” anywhere, it’s a poverty of intelligence.

The Trust claims to provide free food for 8500 financially disadvantaged children every week, with many on the waiting list. Says Peterhead Primary School Principal:

I think the food items are fabulous, we’re so lucky. A huge thank you to KidsCan. There is nobody else that (sic) has supplied us with food and raincoats or has even suggested it.

And from a Western Heights (Rotorua) Primary School teacher:

There are children who don’t get dinner. They might get some bread and make a sandwich and you can see the unhappiness they bring with them.

In conjunction with Warehouse Stationery, the Trust claims to have distributed more than 35,000 raincoats to 111 poorer schools. And 8000 pairs of shoes have been supplied by Number 1 Shoes and distributed to the same “partner schools.”

From a Wairakei School teacher:

You saw them lift their heads up and just sit taller, kids are proud of the fact they’ve got them on. Getting those raincoats was an awesome time in those kids’ lives.

Three years at Teachers’ Training College and the best adjective she can find is “awesome,” but that’s another column. What of the children whose parents work really hard to cope without this largesse. Who make sacrifices to ensure their children are properly fed and clothed; who make do with cheaper or second-hand clothing; who refuse to use their low incomes as an excuse for parental neglect. They continue to be penalised for doing right while others are rewarded for doing wrong, all in the name of “encouraging equality.”

There are New Zealanders alive today who remember the misery of the Great Depression and the Welfare State that transpired. I wonder what Mickey Savage would make of his great dream now. This country is positively dripping in state welfare and yet the Trust is asking for private donations in order to supply toothpaste and toothbrushes to disadvantaged children. When will the penny drop that, ignoring the odious compulsion factor, history has shown state welfare succeeds only in creating  many more problems than it solves. That welfare literally breeds welfare. That robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t fair on Peter and ultimately doesn’t do Paul much good, either.

“Meeting the basic needs of kiwi children” is the proud mantra of KidsCan Stand Tall. Silly me. I thought that was the job of the families who are supposed to love them.

“I walked to school on a rainy day when I missed the bus. I was wearing my raincoat. Then I didn’t get sick” a pupil from Horohoro School in the Bay of Plenty is quoted as saying.

Which begs the question: If all those free raincoats and shoes have been given out to keep children warm, dry and prevent sickness, what happens when they grow out of them?

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column most Tuesdays here at NOT PC * *

UPDATE 1: PC says: I didn’t even know this was on (been avoiding the tube lately) so imagine how surprised I was to find that I’d been forced to donate anyway.  ‘Cos that’s wot a gummint is for, you know.

UPDATE 2: And just what kind of organisation has everyone donated to?  Take it away Russell Brown:

    How much of the near two million dollars raised for the KidsCan Stand Tall Trust in TV3's weekend Telethon will go to meet the "basic needs" of children in poverty? You'd have to hope it's more than the 19 cents in the dollar that KidsCan managed to spend on its four charitable programmes last year.
    Its financial statement to the Charities Commission
for 2008 show that the trust raised $1.95 million last year, of which $1.5 million went in operating costs. . . .

As Mike King says,

Ha! Love it, only 19 cents in the dollar goes to the kids and 81 cents goes to admin... they should rename themselves the IRD.

Medical slang

There’s far too many terms to list here, but here’s just some of the medical slang used by doctors, nurses, paramedics and other Hospital and Medical staff, rounded up by British physician Dr Adam Fox of St Mary's Hospital, London.   Head here for the full list: Medical Slang. [Hat tip David Slack]

Descriptions of symptoms
GOK - "God only knows"; i.e., a confession of ignorance
P(A)FO - "pissed, (and) fell over"
UBI - "unexplained beer injury"
SPAK - "status post ass-kicking"
FOL,GOL,FOS - Fat Old Lady, Gone off Legs, Full Of Shit; Old terms which when used together describe a confused elderly lady unable to exercise at home, now unable to move on her own and badly constipated as a result
Other acronyms
ATFO - "asked to fuck off", i.e., instructed to go away.
CTD - "circling the drain" (expected to die soon)
DBI - "dirt bag index" - a number calculated from number of tattoos and missing teeth.
GLM - "good looking mum"
GOMER - "get out of my emergency room"; patient, usually poor or elderly, in the emergency room with a chronic, non-emergency condition
GPO - "good for parts only"
LOBNH - "Lights on but nobody home"; i.e., stupid
NFN - "normal for Norfolk"; not quite normal, possible suggestion of inbreeding as a cause
TEETH - "tried everything else, try homeopathy"
TTFO - "told to fuck off", i.e., instructed to go away. (This acronym can also be plausibly expanded to "to take fluids orally" for the benefit of inquiring authorities.)
TUBE - "totally unnecessary breast exam"
TFTB - "too fat to breathe"
Slang terms
Angel Lust - A death erection.
Code brown - faecal incontinence emergency
Code yellow - urination emergency
Last flea to jump off a dead dog - Oncologists who never seem to be able to let people die with dignity. Departure lounge - geriatric ward
Plumbii Pendulousus - 'swinging the lead' (a malingerer; used on medical certificates known to be used as an excuse in a Court of Law/Magistrates Court, especially when the Magistrate is known by the Doctor).
Pneumo-cephalic - stupid (literally: 'airhead')
Peek and shriek - to open a patient surgically, discover an uncurable condition, and close the incision immediately
Celestial discharge - n. death.
Trauma handshake - n. a digital rectal exam. Every major trauma patient gets one.
Donorcycle - n. a motorcycle.
Wall - n. A physician (usually a resident) adept at preventing admissions to his service. See "dump" below.
Sieve - n. A physician (usually a resident) who is not skilled at dumping; the opposite of a wall.
Buff - v. to be sure all details regarding a patient's care are attended to so that discharge or transfer to another service or facility will proceed smoothly and no excuses or objections can be raised to prevent the discharge or transfer. For example "Be sure to buff the guy in 702 before we send him to the nursing home." It can also mean that you make up lab and other results, even if you haven't done them, to make yourself look good on rounds.
Turf - v. to transfer a patient to another service. For example "The GOMER was healed from his surgery but his diabetes was still uncontrolled, so we turfed him to medicine."
Win the game - v. to discharge all of the patients from your service, so that you have no inpatients to care for. For example "Mike won the game and doesn't have to round this weekend." Also known as a "Yahtzee"

Read them all here: Medical Slang. [Hat tip David Slack]

Arashiyama: Kyoto – by Suzuki Harunobu

Harunobu Japanese wood block print by Suzuki Harunobu (1725 - 1770).  I like the simple compositional daring of dividing up the page into two, then using this to develop tension between the characters.  (You’ll have to excuse, however, the label inserted at the bottom.)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Mercy, Mistress. Mercy!

collins_300x200 Over the weekend Mistress Judith laid out her credentials as a minister who’s tough but crushingly ignorant.  Here’s two excerpts from her rant:

    Gangs . . .  have been slammed as "bloody evil bastards" by police minister Judith Collins, who has vowed to do all she can to crush them.
    "They [gangs] are not harmless rebels which some people like to think they are. They are bloody evil bastards. They are only there for one thing and that is to make money out of crime."

And what are Mistress Judith and her prohibitionist colleagues doing about it?  Here’s what: they’re making it possible to make more money out of crime. Every time another War on Drugs is declared, guess who cheers loudest?  That’s right, it’s those bloody evil bastards whose profits go right up.

Basically, if you accept her premise (that gangs are “bloody evil bastards”) then you have to ask why you keep making them rich with the failed policies of prohibition. Prohibition doesn’t decrease gangs’ involvement in crime, it increases it.  It doesn’t decrease their profits, it increases them. It doesn’t decrease drugs’ virulence, it increases it. It doesn’t decrease police corruption, it increases it. Just ask Al Capone.  He didn’t make his money by buying and selling stocks and shares – he made it by buying and selling policemen, and by making the “tough” politicians who tried to stop him look impotent.

Mistress Judith is right enough about the evils of gangs, but her prescription is just what they’re after.

[Gangs] add nothing to our society other than misery [she continued]. If people decide they are not going to accept them, they will eventually die out. But it will not happen unless people stop tolerating them.

Actually, they will not die out unless people stop buying drugs from them. And that’s not going to happen unless the government makes it legal for consenting adults to buy recreational pharmaceuticals from safe and legal vendors.

Because, let’s face it, if a government can’t even keep drugs out its prisons, then it’s never going to keep them off the streets.  Which means that all that prohibition is doing is to increase revenues for these bloody evil bastards. That’s not smart, it’s dumb.

If you want to crush the power of gangs, which is what she says she wants to do, then she needs to crush the policies of prohibition that feed them money.

Nothing else is going to do it.  Four decades of the failed War on Drugs should show you that, even if the experience of alcohol prohibition doesn’t.

Blog rankings [update 2]

Tim Selwyn has released the blog rankings for NZ political blogs for June, at least for the Top 20 that he measures,and promises to have the figures for July out next week.

Big movers are Whale Oil up six to four; Cactus Kate up three to six; the Fairfacts-less No Minister heads down two to seven, the Dim Post down two to eight, No Right Turn down two to nine, and the Greens’ Frog Blog continues its slide, down three to eleven.

Into the twenty with a bullet comes Christian blog Open Parachute at twenty, the surprisingly good Labour Party MPs’ blog Red Alert, and the insanely leftist Kiwipolitico – which means, unfortunately that both of the economics blogs The Visible Hand and Eric Crampton’s Offsetting Behaviour blog slip out of the twenty.

Anyway, why not head over and check out any blogs you’ve been missing out on – and while you’re there ask Tim why Lindsay Perigo’s SOLO group blog has still not made an appearance in the blog rankings, given that by my rudimentary calculations it would almost definitely be in the top five.

UPDATE:  Lord Adolph of No Minister tells me “Fairfacts left NoMinister on July 24th,” so this survey would include the two-posts-per-day he’d been restricted to in June.

UPDATE 2:  And two more corrections from my above descriptions:

  • Kiwipolitico tell me they’re not "insanely leftist"  at all. "Non-partisan centre-Left" or Social Democratic might be a fairer characterisation,” they say.
  • And Ken from Open Parachute laughs at the idea he’s running a Christian blog.  “My blog Open Parachute is not Christian,” he says, “quite the opposite. It is science-based - with comments on science, philosophy, religion and human rights.”  Sorry Ken.

Grey power nonsense

Did I really just hear the head of one of this country’s largest interest groups call for more regulation to drive down costs? 

Oh yes, here it is: “Grey Power says … what the [electricity] industry really needs is more regulation to drive down costs.”

More regulation. To drive costs down.  Isn’t that like calling for more promiscuity to drive down the number of pregnancies?

Don’t sign on [update 4]

Greenpeace reckon the government should impose a forty percent cap on carbon emissions by 2020.  They reckon, as support for this fatuous stupidity, that New Zealand should move to 100% renewable energy by 2020.  They reckon this would all be as easy as falling off a lily pad -- “easily achievable” they call it.

I reckon they’re certifiably insane. Or, like their mentors Al Gore, James Hansen and Stephen Schneider, certifiably dishonest.

A forty percent cap on emissions by 2020 is a forty percent cap on industrial and agricultural production “achieved” in just the next eleven years.  That’s pretty much signing on to another economic depression right there – right when we’re struggling to get out of this one.

And a 100% renewable energy supply by 2020 is not only very much not “easily achievable” – someone’s got to pay for it all, and since there’s no profit in any of it that money would have to come from the very industrial and agricultural production that’s just been made much smaller – and even if a profit could somehow be achieved (which would fly in the face of the evidence from places like Spain), the capital investment required to produce that capacity would pretty much denude the country of the necessary capital for anything else –  it’s not only not “easily achievable” at all, it’s not even a goal that would produce real energy, or be at all desirable.

Face it: There isn’t enough sun in the whole country for a decent crack at even 50% solar (even in California it takes around forty square miles of panels top produce the power of one coal station) .  Extensive use of geothermal energy poses serious earthquake risks around deep-bore geothermal sites. Wind-power is prohibitively expensive compared to the alternatives, it chews up landscape better than a forest fire in a high wind (one estimate for the UK reckons around one-eighth of the country’s entire land area would be needed to host the turbines and pylons to produce all its energy by wind), and since it requires backup power from real power stations, it’s “the big industry equivalent of cycling to work whilst a car journeys behind, carrying one's bags.”  And no hydro station to back up all that wind-power is going to get through the Resource Management Act in any case – certainly not any time before you and I and our grandchildren are out drawing our pensions anyway.

Face it: The definition of so called “renewable energy” can be put very simply:

Renewable energy may be defined as energy produced by means that would be uneconomic without tax breaks and subsidies.  The distinguishing characteristic of so called 'renewable energy' is not that it is renewable, but that it doesn't produce reliable energy.

Or as Keith Lockitch puts it, Green Energy is a Fantasy,

“Green energy” is at best a sophisticated make-work program.
There is a reason why less than 2 percent of the world’s energy currently comes from “renewable” sources such as wind and solar--the very sources that are supposedly going to power the new green economy: despite billions of dollars in government subsidies, funding decades of research, they have not proven themselves to be practical sources of energy. Indeed, without government mandates forcing their adoption in most Western countries, their high cost would make them even less prevalent.

Face it: It’s not something you’d want to hang your hat on – and certainly not your children’s future.

NB: Read more rational writing on renewable energy here at the Master Resource blog.

UPDATE: Farrar goes for satire.

    New Zealanders emit 7.4 metric tons of carbon emissions per capita. The more New Zealanders we have, the more emissions we have. Hence the solution is to have fewer New Zealanders”
We have decided abortion is the best way to reduce the number of New Zealanders, as this is preferable to euthanasia. In 2007 the abortion rate was only 22.2% of pregnancies. If we can triple that to 67%, that will mean 37,000 fewer New Zealanders every year.
Over 10 years until 2020, that is a massive 370,000 fewer New Zealanders. That will reduce annual emissions by 2.8 million tons of carbon emissions. And by 2050 that will see annual emissions down by 14 million tons.
The Greens wish to make it clear they are not proposing that abortion be compulsory for all New Zealanders.
“We propose a lottery, like the US green card for immigrant visas . . .

At least, I hope it’s satire. . .

UPDATE 2:  I say above that the likes of Al Gore, James Hansen and Stephen Schneider are certifiably dishonest, and if you follow the links provided you’ll see why.

It’s not out of character;  it’s standard leftist strategy: and if they get caught they just need to lie better.  After all, as Gore and Hansen and Schneider and Greenpeace and Uncle Tom Lefty have all said at some time in their own way,“This is war, and the other side is evil, so the end justifies the means.”

But does it? Ever?

UPDATE 3:  The government hasn’t signed us on to a forty percent reduction in industrial and agricultural  production, but they have signed on for . . .  “a cut of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent by 2020,” the cost for which will be “$1400 per person, or $30 per week.”

Which is to say they don’t want to kill production completely, like Greenpeace.  They’re happy just to strangle it slowly.  Details here at the Ministry for Environment Propaganda.

UPDATE 4: And as Liberty Scott notes in the comments, the Indian Government says there is no way they will ever sign up to any reductions before 2020 - in other words, it is a faith based initiative to destroy wealth in the developed world, while allowing its creation to continue (for the moment) in some parts of the developing world.

Did you hear the one about the atheists who visited the Creationist’s museum?

This should really have been a Sunday post, I guess, but since I was far too busy enjoying myself with friends down in Thames, you’ll have to hear about it today.

So, did you hear about the 300 or so atheists who went to the “Creation Museum”?  In fact, did you know there is such a thing as the Creation Museum – a so-called museum that purports to show proof that man cohabited with dinosaurs, that Adam and Eve were alive not so many generations ago, and the earth itself is only 6,500 years old – which is what you have to believe if you take all the myths and legends in your Bible literally (which is what the museum’s trustees do), along with reconciling for themselves all the contradictions with what science knows to be true.

It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall, don’t you think?

The visit was arranged as part of a Secular Students Alliance conference, and fronted by biologist and science blogger PZ Myers. Myers gives a brief account of the visit ro “Ken Ham's Palace of Lies” here at his Pharyngula blog, with links to two fuller accounts, one by a roving ABC journalist and the other by the Museum’s CEO, Ken Ham..  Enjoy.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Books, books, books, books

Thanks again to recent donors to the blog who’ve clicked the Tip Jar down there on he right-hand side.  As always I sprang immediately into action, and headed for the nearest book store – in this case the Mises Book Store.    I’m looking forward to making my way through the pile now it’s arrived.  :-)


And fear not fellow bloggists.  I picked up a few paperbacks from David Harcourt Antiques TradeMe fiction listings as well.  I’m enjoying Dashiel Hammett’s Maltese Falcon as we speak.

What’s on your bedside table you can recommend?

Friday, 7 August 2009

Beer O’Clock: Beer and Politics Do Mix

Humble beer scribe Neil Miller (of Real Beer and The Malthouse Blog) finds out what beers our MPs like to drink (including the Prime Minister) and reviews the Bath range of ale. Is there a connection between the two topics...

Only in New Zealand can a humble beer journalist email politicians and aspiring politicians, ask them to name their favourite beers and get a 99% reply rate.  

The first Minister of the Crown to reply was Hon Peter Dunne, MP for Ohariu-Belmont and Leader of United Future.  His favorite beers are Heineken (“because of the smooth taste”) followed by a Guinness (“because it is a meal in itself”).

Part-time senior Labour MP and now full-time blogger Hon Trevor Mallard defied all the stereotypes by nominating Monteith’s Radler as his favored tipple because “it’s fresh and light with a bit of spice”.  Unsuccessful Alliance candidate Richard Wallis then confirmed any number of stereotypes by arguing the best beer is Tui and “nothing else need be said I think.”

New Labour MP Grant Robertson’s selections made me want to cheer then cry.  He “can recommend the excellent Emerson’s Oatmeal Stout from Dunedin.   Full, rich, almost a meal in a glass!  For something a bit lighter, and with summer in mind, a Corona with a wedge of lime or lemon is high on my list.”

ACT’s Heather Roy conceded “I'm more likely to be found with a glass of Riesling but on a hot summer's day I'm quite partial to Steinlager Pure.”  However, she quickly redeemed herself by saying “I enjoy going to the Malthouse on Courtenay Place – it has a relaxed atmosphere and is a great place to meet friends after work.”  She is now in Cabinet.

Former National List MP Mark Blumsky had no hesitation in picking Tuatara Pilsner as his beer of choice - “I just love the fact it is fresh, full-flavoured and local!”  Current National List MP Katrina Shanks chose Monteith’s Original because “it is a nice easy ale to drink in summer or winter” while Cabinet Minister Hon Chris Finlayson picked “Budweiser, but only the Czech version as I believe the US version is poison.”  No news yet of Anheuser-Busch suing New Zealand’s Attorney General which is probably a good thing.

Hon Mahara Okeroa, then Labour member for Te Tai Tonga, was the only politician approached who never replied.  It’s been two years now and hopes of receiving an answer are fading fast.  His Cabinet colleague Hon Annette King could find the time as Police Minister to select “ginger beer” as her pick but Mr Okeroa’s role as a “Minister of State” apparently precluded a reply.  In unrelated news, Annette King was returned to Parliament in 2008 and is now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.  Mahara Okeroa was defeated and currently has four supporters on his Facebook page.

2575869 Until recently, the beer preferences of Prime Minister John Key were unknown.  It was one of the about two topics not covered in the recent enormous interviews in the Sunday papers.  I have seen him enthuse about Heineken at a press conference but it was a press conference announcing Heineken’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup so that was pretty mandatory.  My attempts to question the Prime Minister directly on his beer preferences were thwarted by a phalanx of real journalists with microphones and reporters notebooks surrounding him and asking real questions until he was whisked to safety by the Diplomatic Protection Squad.

As it happens, I have found out the answer to the question everybody wants to know – “what beer does our Prime Minister like to drink?”  It is a very modern type of scoop.  I found it out through the internet, by accident.  I was on the “This is Bristol” website happily reading the “Warmley News”, as one does, when I was confronted by an article titled “New Zealand PM John Key likes Bath Ales.”  It read:

Prime Minister of New Zealand has taken a liking to beers made by a Bristol brewer.  National Party leader John Key, 47, who was elected to lead the Kiwis in 2008, has been supping beers made by Bath Ales and sold by Bristol expat Chris Carrad in his Wine Circle shop in Auckland.  The store, in Mr Key's constituency of Helensville, specialises in beers from Europe, but those made by Bath Ales in Warmley – 11,400 miles from New Zealand – are a particular favourite for the Prime Minister.

Speaking to the Post from New Zealand, Chris said:

We get Mr Key in the shop when he's in his constituency and he's very nice.  He spends a lot of time in Wellington, which is the seat of Parliament and is about eight hours drive away but he comes in the shop when he can, while his bodyguards sit in the ministerial car outside.  We sell several Bath Ales brands including Gem, Barnstormer and Wild Hare and his constituency secretary tells me they all go down a treat – especially Gem.

Roger Jones, Bath Ales MD, said: "We're delighted Mr Key enjoys it."

main_gem_01 Bath Ales is a brewery which has been operating in Warmley since 1985.  Showing his legendary political wisdom, the  proprietor of Wellington’s Malthouse bar begin offering a range of the Bath beers well before this story broke into the mainstream media and collective popular consciousness.  The Malthouse fridges currently contain:

Gem – The Prime Minister prefers this 4.7% ESB which is exceptionally well-balanced.  There are plenty of caramel, toffee and roasted notes with just a hint of cleansing hops at the end. 
Wild Hare - A 5% blond ale which pours a burnished gold.  It is dry, fruity (oranges and lemons) with hints of hay and a balancing malt sweetness. 
Dark Hare – Not to be confused with the evil rabbits in Watership Down, this 4% stout is a deep ruby hue with a gentle nose of caramel and liquorice.  Light in body, the flavours include coffee, chocolate, biscuit and vanilla before an earthy hop finish.
Barnstormer – This is a 4.5% premium bitter whose full body showcases hints of caramel, toast, nuts and dark fruits.

Finally, any politician worth their salt would be proud of the motto of Bath Ales – “brewed for those who know... and those who don’t.”  That covers all the bases quite nicely.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cross-posted at The Malthouse Blog

Friday morning ramble [updated]

I’ve ended up the week with another huge number of things I’d wanted to say to you but never got the chance.  So here, in no particular order, is another ramble through some of the things I’d wanted to talk about at greater length – a bunch ‘o links you can come back to over the weekend and think about yourself.

  • Outgoing European Union President Václav Klaus had some unflattering things to say about his fellow European leaders, and something surprising to say about American president Barack Obama.
    Read Václav Klaus grades EU politicians. [Hat tip Reference Frame]
  • Great cartoon and comment over at The Visible Hand on the controversy over Anne Tolley’s canning of night school funding.
    Head over to Cartoon: Night classes.
  • College students today face an ideological onslaught from educators who are more concerned with creating "good citizens" than teaching them real knowledge, says Montessorian Marsha Enright, It's time for a new approach, she says, and she’s making one: She’s launching a “finishing school” for intelligent youngsters, to teach them everything they should have been taught in school but weren’t, and to “unteach” all the destructive nonsense they shouldn’t have been taught.
    Anyone who realises the enormously destructive role that leftist capture of the education system has played in the collapse of the culture will want to applaud her, and to read:
    Students Need Mental Ammunition.
  • In fact, if you Want Excellence in Education? Return to Reason says Michael Gold at The Egoist Blog.
  • And if you want cultural change, we need to get on with the essay competition I talked about last year.  And that’s just the start of it all.  Who’s with me?
  • Meanwhile, Rational Jenn offers more another tip for rational parents. "Explaining the virtue of Integrity to children can be difficult,” she says. “I helped my son begin to grasp this idea by pointing out an example of when he displayed that virtue himself."
    Read A Conversation about Integrity posted at Rational Jenn.
  • 6a00d8341bff5053ef01157218a82c970b-350wi What sort of arsehole architect would design this excrescence on the right for a clinic to treat patients with chronic brain diseases, dementia and cognitive disorders?  Answer: that arsehole Frank Gehry of course.
  • As we start to hear calls from the US for yet another “stimulus” package,  throwing good but rapidly depreciating money after bad, it’s time to get the lowdown on the crude Keynesianism at back of all the profligate stimulunacy.
  • Here, by the way, are some simple experiments to prove why “stimulus” can not work.
    Read Obama: Please Try This at Home.
  • And on a similar theme, why not read up On the Inescapable Contradiction of Fractional Reserve Banking.
  • It’s All About Say’s Law, you know. Yes, it really is.
  • Bubble, bubble toil and trouble.  Can Bubbles Also Be Made in China?  Looks horribly like it.
  • Good quote here from the 3-Ring Binder blog:
    ”1.The concept of individual rights is morality applied to politics.
    2. The purpose of the government is to protect our individual rights.”
  • Deliberation - BRIAN LARSENRobert Garmong’s been teaching philosophy to prisoners, and he reports they were far better students than his usual brood. 
    Read Teaching Intro to Philosophy...In Prison.
  • By the way, have you ever noticed that when you’re debating with graduates of various subjectivist philosophy courses they invariably end up telling you that your questions are “too complex” to answer successfully.  From whence comes this fetishistic complexity worship?  The Rational Capitalist explains: The Modern Intellectual's Virtue of Complexity, Part I.
  • This Bryan Larsen painting (right) is beautiful.  Just thought you’d like to see it too.
    Click on the picture to see it larger.
  • I’m still flabbergasted at the Nazis in Hawkes bay who are insisting that a family tear down a seawall they built to protect their home – they have been given until the end of August to pull down the wall, or face the possibility of jail time or a fine of $200000.  Just another example of why the Resource Management Act has to go so New Zealanders can get their property rights back.
  • Meanwhile, the Nazis at North Shore City are adding insult to economic calamity for the city’s developers, and those who would like to buy affordable homes from them.  They’ve just hiked their thieving “development levies”  by a whopping 150%.
    Gooner has the news at No Minister: Development levies.
  • 2724190 Speaking of petty fascism, Margaret and Keith Berryman (right) are enduring their last kick in the face from government: delayed for years in their fight for justice by the lying, dissembling and near-fraudulence of everyone from Helen Clark to Jenny Shipley to the NZ Army and beyond, they’ve now been told by a judge that their action against the government will fail because it’s too long after the event.  Poor bastards.
    They’re poster people for Thomas Jefferson’s much-repeated dictum that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away all you’ve ever earned.
  • Mythbusters’ Andy Savage reckons the show will keep going “as long as people keep believing stupid shit.”  Looks like it will be around a long time.  Watch him interviewed here at Reason TV
  • Apparently there’s to be a remake of my all-time favourite TV show The Prisoner, opening in October.  There’s a nine-minute preview below.  I’m worried by it. [Hat tip Charles Burris]
  • The swine flu outbreak has seen everyone look to government to solve the public health problem.  Stephen Hicks offers two cautionary tales to suggest we shouldn’t be so quick to look to government to solve this problem either.
    Read Two cautionary tales about cholera, the plague, and politics.
  • Canadian Paul McKeever offers “Required reading for anyone interested in the issue of socialised medicine: the Supreme Court of Canada's 2005 decision, which ended Quebec's ban on private health insurance. The reason: government health care is *rationed* care, which was leaving people to suffer and die.”
    Read Supreme Court of Canada - Decisions - Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General).
  • George Reisman reckons you should listen to this phone-in interview on the ObamaCare Plan over at Fred Thompons’s website, including news of compulsory five-yearly counselling sessions on euthanasia for over-65s. “An assault on seniors” Reisman calls it.
    Listen here to the Betsy McCaughey Interview, and visit www.defendyourhealthcare.us/.
  • And see also two videos on the reality of ObamaCare.
  • So come on, Is Health Care a Right? Answer the question, Congressmen!
  • Come on, What 'right' to health care?
  • You want a quick post that gives a hint to what a true free market in health care could be like. This is it: Target's Free Market Health Care Innovation.
  • Why do so many seemingly intelligent people lose their critical faculties when it comes to public transport – especially public transport by train? Liberty Scott fisks all the idiots gathered around the altar of the train.
  • shulman-koenig Architectural photographer Julius Shulman died last month. For most people, when they think of modernist architecture, it will be a photograph of Shulman’s – like the classic at right -- that will come to mind.
    Read the Wall Street Journal’s obituary here: How Julius Shulman Told a House’s Story.
  • This looks like my kind of art gallery too – a Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow that “has invited art lovers to write their thoughts down in an open Bible on display as part of its Made in God's Image exhibition.”  PZ Myers reckons “It's an interesting idea. I've signed a few bibles at people's request myself — I usually mark up the first page with the question, ‘Where are the squid?’” 
    Read My kind of art gallery.
  • Matt Nolan at The Visible Hand reckons there’s now fourteen economics blogs in New Zealand.  Flatteringly, he includes my bumbling efforts in the list.
  • If you haven’t yet seen the video of the Inspector General of the US Federal Reserve Bank admitting she hasn’t got a clue where several trillion dollars has gone, then yyou really need to have a look now.  It’s frightening.
  • And speaking of mismanagement at The Fed, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been circling the States giving “Town Hall Meetings” to ramp up his popularity in the face of a public appalled at the almost daily evidence of the incompetence of him and his colleagues.  Jeff Perren runs the rule over Bernaanke’s Kansas meeting, saying that “During the entire period the ‘deer in the headlights’ look never left his face.”
    Read Bernanke Grilled At Townhall in Kansas, and see if you can answer Jeff’s question:
    ”It's always a little shocking to see a man who has taught at Princeton be so stupid. What remains a mystery is why men of intelligence like Bernanke absorb and accept the blatant nonsense that a healthy-minded college freshman could poke big holes through without effort.”
    Any ideas?
  • What’s the answer?  End the Fed. Economist George Selgin says Congressman Ron Paul's bill may never pass, “but history suggests the US economy would be better off without the Federal Reserve.”
    Read End the Fed? A not-so-crazy idea..
  • Here’s some vintage pro-inflation propaganda from America’s last Great Depression.  Maybe Ben Bernanke could re-release it?
  • Take a look at America’s Debt Clock.  It’s frankly frightening.
  • Speaking of a deer in the headlights, perhaps it’s a shame Mr Bernanke hasn’t got a friend like Paddy, an Irish hunter, who dialled 911 to say, "I just shot at something that I thought was a deer but it was another hunter. I'm afraid I just killed Mick." The operator says, "It's OK sir, it may not be as bad as you think. First, make sure Mick's really dead." Paddy says OK and sets down the phone. Then the operator hears a gunshot. Paddy picks up the phone and says, "OK, now what?"
  • Afghanistan: Destination? Non-victory.
  • Conservative intellectual Bill Kristol – America’s Matthew Hooton -- demonstrates on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart why the term conservative intellectual is an oxymoron.
    Watch here at this link, and you might begin to understand why Ayn Rand called today’s conservatives “futile, impotent and, culturally, dead.
    “They have nothing to offer and can achieve nothing [she said]. They can only help to destroy intellectual standards, to disintegrate thought, to discredit capitalism, and to accelerate this country’s uncontested collapse into despair and dictatorship.”
    Kristol is Exhibit A for the prosecution. Watch here at this link.
  • Or as Andy Clarkson (aka The Charlotte Capitalist) asks, "Are Conservatives Going To Save Socialism Again?"
  • If you thought those subjectivist philosophy professors were snarky about Ayn Rand in the New York Times this week, then you should have seen how Friedrich Nietzsche was received by his “colleagues” at Basel University.  Ouch!
    There’s nothing so vicious as a philosophy professor in the face of a competitor who’s telling them their time is up.
  • Subjectivist philosophy professors don’t like Ayn Rand, but why are more and more businessmen falling in love with her novel Atlas Shrugged?
    Alex Epstein gives a pithy explanation in Why Businessmen Love Atlas Shrugged.
  • Speaking of outraged charlatans, psychotherapists are outraged that Wikipedia has put online the Rorshach inkblot tests that they use to help practice their chicanery. Poor dears.
    Read A Rorschach Cheat Sheet on Wikipedia?.
  • By the way, you won’t believe the Internet Porn Statistics, even when they’re so elegantly presented.  Watch Internet Porn Statistics.
    Thank goodness we’re all paying $1.5 billion to get broadband, eh?
  • 2009476953 A 1951 Phoenix home that famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son has been sold for US$2.8 million.  That’s its lounge on the right.  Head here to learn more.
  • Eric Crampton reckons Phillip Field’s conviction for corruption is Eroding our Clean Green image.
    Although Jim Hopkins reckons that between Phillip Field and Bill English, they might be able to help us close at least one gap with Australia: the corruption gap.
  • Here’s what some people are calling “the greatest letter of complaint ever” – a disgruntled Virgin Airlines passenger writing to Richard Branson.  Hilarious.
    Read Greatest ever letter of complaint.
  • Fellow Wagner fans fearful of how Katherina Wagner is execrating her grandfather’s work might at least like to know that she’s bring the Bayreuth Festival experience to the web, including live webcasts of performances! Head to the really excellent Bayreuth website here, and you’ll find yourself in heaven. Or at least Valhalla.
  • In Ayn Rand's final public talk, she exhorts a group of businessmen to stop apologizing, and stop supporting anti-capitalist institutions: "It is a moral crime to give money to support ideas with which you disagree. It is a moral crime to give money to support your own destroyers." See how the force of her ideas captivated an audience and drew a tumultuous response.
    Watch The Sanction of the Victims.

‘Candle’ – David Knowles

Candle A new work here by Wairarapa artist David Knowles, “an unashamed homage to the 'Sculpture of Dominique' scene in The Fountainhead.  I have used the electricity between bright yellow and dull blue to accentuate the theme of a light in the gloom,” says David.

You can see this and many more new works by David at an exhibition opening this weekend at the new Icon Gallery in Masterton – or, of course, at David’s website Real Art.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Objectivist banking business

"Put balls and chains on good people, and bad things happen."
-- John Allison, chairman, BB&T bank

In yesterday’s Business Herald Fran O’Sullivan profiles Ralph Norris, who makes the point that “strong banks are absolutely critical to the strength of the economy” and there are few stronger anywhere than the the  Australian-owned banks which NZ and Australia share. Allowing them to go about their business unimpeded by politicians’ inquiries and their blundering micro-management will help grow both economies, says Norris.

He points out however that the “big four” Australian banks are effectively subsidising shaky financial companies through the government’s financial sector guarantee scheme.  Faced with this and other threatened meddling, “some of the Australian banks have seriously considered whether they should continue in this market - there are opportunities elsewhere," he says.

Bravo.  That’s almost a call to shrug right there.

There a few enough bankers in the world standing up for honest banking.  Another such is the chairman and former CEO of North Carolina’s still-thriving BB&T bank, John Allison, profiled in the New York Times this week, a man who is not just a banker but also an Objectivist as well – and not just an Objectivist, but an Objectivist businessman who insists that following Objectivist philosophy, a philosophy based unflinchingly on reason, gives businesses that do so a competitive advantage. In other words, it’s good for your bottom line:

   BB&T, he says, has a proven formula for success that centers on “an uncompromising commitment to reason.”
    Under Mr. Allison, new executives were handed a copy of “Atlas Shrugged.” All employees get a 30-page pamphlet describing BB&T’s philosophy and values: reason, independent thinking and decisions based on facts.
    “Wishing something is so does not make it so,” Mr. Allison says. “I guarantee that long before the rest of us knew, those geniuses at
Lehman Brothers knew that something was wrong, but they evaded it.”

It’s worth reading this New York Times profile in full, because his lessons go far beyond banking. Read “Give BB&T Liberty, but Not a Bailout.”

And note, as you’re reading, the snarling hostility of the subjectivist philosophy professors quoted in the article to the idea that good philosophy might lead to success in the real world.  “The reason why Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is not for [the subjectivist philosophy professors],” points out Objectivist philosopher Craig Biddle, “is that it is for those who are willing to think for themselves rather than follow the herd, and who are not embarrassed by clear, straightforward arguments.”

You can see the problem with such a philosophy for the soft-shelled shysters of academia, can’t you - and also its hard-edged appeal for honest entrepreneurs.

  RELATED: Read the title essay of Why Businessman Need Philoslophy.

Murdoch pulls up the web drawbridge

Rupert Murdoch has announced his “media giant News Corporation Ltd intends to charge for all its news websites in a bid to lift revenues, as the transition towards online media permanently changes the advertising landscape.” News here.  Barry Colman will be calling himself a prophet.

“This will be an epic fail,” predicts the hugely influential Daily Pundit blog however. “Murdoch is an old fart, and thinks that simply by waving the old magic wand, he can make the internet generation pay for his product.”  Dumb(ass) like a fox the Pundit calls it.

B3 Bloggers Bar Bash

Don't forget it's drinks tonight at Galbraiths for the monthly B3 Bloggers Bar Bash. See you there from 6.30pm onwards.

Anti-smacking law is non-objective

Says Professor Jim Evans on the Bradford/Clark/Key law:

    This is not clear legislation. In creating this law, Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity just which conduct is criminal.
    The section results from a political fudge. Whatever other views one takes about the topic of smacking, that much at least ought to be kept clear.  [Hat tip
Lindsay Mitchell]

The anti-smacking law is not objective law.  Just vote NO.

NOTPJ: Methode Glaswegienne

This week Bernard Darnton delves into the greatest culinary tradition in Europe (except for French, Italian, Basque, Greek, Viennese, Swedish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Luxembourgian, …)

_BernardDarnton “Scottish cuisine” is not a phrase that fills you with hope. It doesn’t suggest the sophistication of French, the urgent, exotic freshness of Thai, or the “what the hell did that used to be?” of Chinese. Well, maybe the last. No, “Scottish cuisine” makes you think of mashed up sheep’s organs stuffed into a different, unmashed-up sheep’s organ.

Nonetheless, Scottish nationalists have reacted with outrage and denial at the discovery that haggis may have originated in the south of England rather than in Caledonia. Food historian Catherine Brown has made headlines this week with her claim that a haggis recipe published in 1616 in The English Hus-Wife predates any Scottish mention by a hundred years.

The claims have been rebutted by a representative of the Scottish Institute for Arts and Sciences who said, “If yer repeat that again I’ll fuckin’ nut yer, yer little gobshite.”

However, the claim rings true. English cuisine is shaped by England’s climate. That is, it’s crap. Traditional English dishes are, by-and-large, horrible – jellied eels, damp chips with mushy peas, and vegetables boiled until they’re grey. Things have changed a bit recently with the now widespread addition of Jamie Oliver’s frothing spittle.

So haggis will fit right in in England. With its loss, the only item remaining on the traditional Scottish menu is the deep fried Mars bar. While this sounds disgusting, and is enough to give everyone at the Heart Foundation a stroke, it is in fact a work of genius. But you will only ever appreciate this if you consume one when you’re pisseder than a tankful of ill-disciplined newts. I discovered this while living in the Edinburgh of the South.

chicken_tikka_masala1 The unlikely saviour of Scotland’s culinary tradition could be chicken tikka masala. Ali Ahmed Aslam, founder of the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow, lays claim to inventing the dish. With the help of his local MP, he has applied to the European Union for “Protected Designation of Origin” status.

Protected Designation of Origin status is what’s responsible for rules like the one saying that fizzy wine that doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France has to go by the clumsy appellation of “Methode Champenoise.” Likewise Parma ham that’s not from Parma, Newcastle Brown Ale that’s not from Newcastle, and Stilton cheese that’s not from some rigorously defined bit of the English Midlands. (It’s illegal to make Stilton cheese in Stilton, which is near Cambridge, but you don’t need all those acres of bureaucrats to come up with rules that are simple.)

Unlike these products though, chicken tikka masala doesn’t have the word “Glasgow” in its name so I’m not sure what they’re trying to protect. My Hindi’s not that great (although it’s better than my Glaswegian) but I think “chicken tikka masala” means something like “chicken lump mixture.” Presumably, under the proposed rules, restaurants outside Glasgow’s West End would have to refer to the dish as “Glaswegian-style chicken lump mixture” – an advertiser’s dream.

The EU’s meddling would at least clear up any confusion that the dish might be of Indian origin. A tin of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup is not a traditional ingredient in the Punjab. England, however, looks likely to get stuck with the haggis unless they can pass the blame on to the Vikings.

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

Reminder: Blogger’s bar bash Thursday!

Weizenbier window It’s the first Thursday of the month this week, so get ye along to Galbraith’s at the top of Mt Eden Rd for the Bloggers’ Bar Bash.  Join bloggers and blog-readers for a pint or two and some friendly banter.  I’ll be there, Annie Fox will be there, Matt and Madeleine will be there – and who knows who else.  We might even get Susan and LGM and Falufulu Fisi and a few other NOT PC regulars out for the evening!

So why not come and join us from about 6:30pm on! All welcome – both bloggers and blog readers.

Quotes of the morning: On the tale of two snouts [update 2]

Patrick J.  on Bill English:

Says the Bill: "I've done nothing wrong, but it looks bad."
It's a sad indictment of modern politics.  No longer a question of ethics, but aesthetics.

David Slack on the snouts in the trough:

Next perception correction: Paula repays her TIA allowance. Says: "That's what feisty people out there who back themselves do.’

Good luck with that one.

UPDATE 1: MPs’ Primary Place of Residence form is here [pdf].  Note the question at the foot of page one [hat tip Red Alert].

UPDATE 2:  The Companies Act requires shareholders to provide a full residential address. Section 377 of the Act states that it is an offence under the Act to make a false statement in relation to any of the requirements of the Act, including giving the correct address. And according to the Registrar of companies, the “full residential address” of Beneficiary Bill, the shareholder of Resolution Farms, is in Wellington --  because Sir Double Dipton has told them it is.  Story at the Double Standard.

I wonder where Bill and the brood say Mass every Sunday?

Edinburgh Airport’s new control tower – REID Architects


edinburgh_airport_control_tower_23 More information about the control tower here at the Edinburgh Architecture site.

More information about Manchester-based REID Architects here.

Stay tuned here at NOT PC for news in a few hours of Glasgow’s recent claim to fame . . .

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Frightening news from the Big Brother files [update 2]

From the 1984/Big Brother files comes the tale of two former bastions of freedom:

[Hat tip Paul McKeever]

UPDATE 1:  Apparently the news from the UK is bad, but not so bad as reported. (That’ll teach me for believing the Daily Express.) The real news is the launch of “family intervention projects” that are almost as intrusive, though without the cameras, and not costing anywhere near as much [hat tip Luke H].

UPDATE 2: The Obama Administration is about to use the Trojan Horse of copyright to introduce new law to allow searching of PC’s, Laptops, and media devices.

Benny TV [update 3]

Here's a new 'reality' TV that someone might like to pitch to Julie Christie.  Or perhaps an idea for some good research for a keen statistician.

Time for a top-rating prime-time TV show to answer the question:  “Who’s the country's biggest beneficiary?  Who really is the biggest moocher on the taxpayer, the biggest sucker on the state tit, the biggest bludger, trough-snuffler and rent-seeking-rort-mongering-entitlement-bogan in the country.”

You can see the show now, can’t you.

“Our next guest is the new Minister of Housing 'Whack-it-on-Your-Bill Phil' Heatley – a man who takes the idea of “state houses” so seriously he’s tried to corner that market himself.  A man with so many houses being paid for by so many taxpayers it would take a Cook Islands taw lawyer to work out.

“Could he be the country’s biggest beneficiary?

“Or is it the new Mistress of Police, Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins, whose arse isn’t so big that she can’t shoot up a taxpayer-funded housing loophole when she sees one, or a good old-fashioned taxpayer-funded limo ride when she can get one.

“Or the new Welfare Matron, Paula Benefit, who’s racked up a whole lifetime on the taxpayers’ tit – “a poster girl for National’s welfare policies” she called herself when she was appointed to head up NZ’s biggest spending department-- and doesn’t look like stopping any time now."

“Or is it our current Minister of Finance, Beneficiary Bill, who pulls down a bigger salary than any business would ever pay him, and claims still extra for having "a place of residence" he visits around twice every year?  A man with so many children only a thousand-dollar-a-week taxpayer subsidy is apparently enough to keep the whole brood together.

“Champion effort that.

“Or could it be it’s the former Minister of Finance Dodger Rugless, who likes to take advantage of the taxpayers' largesse to swan around on foreign holidays, making sure it’s us who picks up his tab?

“Or is it one of EnZed’s former ministers or Prime Ministers, one of them who hasn’t been picked up the latest News From the Trough, but who got a taste for things taxpayerish early on and is unable to kick the habit?  One of the former tit-suckers who can't take their mouth from the teat, and who's pulling down all the free travel and perks and the platinum-plated politicians' superannuation scheme that we're all paying for? 

“What about the former Minister of Wine & Cheese Jonathan Hunt, or former PMs Shipley, Bolger, Palmer, Moore -- or the UN's new pin-up girl Helen Clark? Could one of them be our champion?”

"Stay tuned for another thrilling episode of Who’s the Biggest Beneficiary?  Brought to you, naturally, by NZ on Air, so you can see more of who you’re paying for.”

Well, maybe not such great TV – although you would see plenty of red herrings and a lot of scuttling for cover. But high time surely for someone to answer the question.

And no fear those of you up in the gallery saying these people earn their money.  We all know that's not true. 

And no fear either saying they need to be paid the salary and perks commensurate with what private employers are paying.  We all know no private employer would pay any of these pillocks for their putative skills and talents -- any employment offered them privately now is offered not because of their well-developed skills at hand-shaking and shucking off responsibility, but only on the basis of the political pull they might bring to a board-room table. (And if you doubt that, then just check out Cactus Kate's recent research on this very question.)

So come on someone, who's got some hard figures? Who shall we crown NZ's Biggest Beneficiary?

And do you think we might interest Julie Christie in the idea for a TV programme?

UPDATE 1: A couple of changes to your scheduled programme. 

  1. John Key – for whom the only test of ethics is ‘will this make me look bad in the Herald’ – has decided just before this afternoon’s Question Time that Beneficiary Bill’s walletectomy of the taxpayer doesn’t quite pass the smell test, but it might do if Bill hands back around $12,000 of what he’s been pulling down. So that takes our early favourite down the ranks a little.
  2. But a late entrant has arrived on the set: Alan Bollocks from the Reserve Bank, who takes more than half-a-million dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets every year -- not to mention the damage he does in his day job.  Could it be we could abolish the Reserve Bank, refit the building with ministerial cells, and just shove all the trough-snuffers in there?   We could save all the salaries and subsidies (and on all that monetary harm) and if we filmed all their goings on in there we could call it Bludger Big Brother.

UPDATE 2: Bernard Hickey points out that the gap between “public sector” wages and those of the people who pay for them is now greater than ever. This is the only “income gap” we really do need to worry about, and the only one that needs to be reversed.

UPDATE 3: Cactus Kate suggests the $99-a—night Ibis Hotel for all out-of-Wellington MPs for the three nights they stay in the city every sitting week.  Still sounds far too generous to me, when their salaries are so far above what any of them could earn elsewhere.