Saturday, August 01, 2009

Quote of the day: “No representation without taxation”

From the 2007 book, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand:”

 "[Mill] also insisted that there should be no representation without taxation. Allowing non-taxpayers a vote, he said, amounted 'to allowing them to put their hands into other people's pockets for any purpose which they think fit to call a public one’."

Is this an idea whose time has finally come back? I firmly think it is.

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Beehive bludging [updated]

See, I told you these pricks were the highest paid beneficiaries in the country.

What a thieving bunch of bastards.

UPDATE: Poneke points out the silent hypocrisy of the National-supporting blogsters over the Beehive’s biggest beneficiary.  Read The deafening right blog silence over Bill English being paid to live in his own home.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beer O’Clock: How to open a Radler

You can open you beer with almost anything if you’re sufficiently resourceful. A knife, a fish slice, another beer, a piece of paper, your forearm, your chain saw, your iPhone, your eye-socket, your breast. Or breasts.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.  But because it’s still mid-winter down here in the Southern hemisphere and we’re all looking forward to all those delightful sights that summer brings, here’s something delightful you might like to look forward to down at your local.  And if it’s not your local, there’s at least two incentives here to make it so (and be warned that “beer opener” may be a pun):

And if you are opening a Radler this coming summer, for whatever reason and in whatever way you choose, then just damn make sure it’s not a Monteith’s. Here’s why.  If there's one thing worse than lack of property rights, it's claiming property rights over something that ain't your property.

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Who’s paying for whom here?

Many people are up in arms that beneficiaries' details were made public this week -- prominent bloggers being among the most vocal in expressing outrage.

But aren't people who are forced to pay the bills entitled to know just how much the people they're forced to fund are getting?  And if you're one of those receiving largesse from the taxpayer, shouldn't you at least have some gratitude for that largesse, instead of snorting like a buffoon that you're "entitled."

Frankly, the only entitlement here is that of we poor downtrodden taxpayers, who are pushed around and trodden up on by scum.  We the taxpayers are entitled to know what has happened to the hard-earned money that is taken away from us, who exactly is now pulling it down, and how much.  So that means whatever variety of moocher you are, from the ordinary garden variety karaoke-singing moocher right up to the most highly paid Beehive bludger, then we have a right to know.

Which just leaves me curious how many of those bloggers expressing faux outrage on behalf of beneficiaries are extracting largesse from the rest of us?  How many of us are effectively being forced to fund the expression of views which we find abhorrent.   I think we should be told.

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Unbridled wowserism [update 3]

Seems to me the only people more annoying than the moochers who ask for more and more while doing less and less are those lemon-sucking wowsers who are more and more vocal in insisting we enjoy ourselves less and less.

The age of Nanny is not dead. Her latest incarnation rode in yesterday on Geoffrey Palmer's horse, and has already been taken out for a trial canter this morning by Simon Power. It's a horse that needs to be shot.

Arise_SirWowser The whole thrust behind Geoffrey fucking Palmer’s recommendations on alcohol consumption (yes, you'll be hearing some strong language if you choose to read on) is that we -- i.e., you and I -- are not behaving as they -- i.e., Geoffrey and Simon -- think we should when we consume it. We're drinking too much of it. We're making too much noise when we do. We're swinging from too many chandeliers, singing too many macarenas and getting in the way of too many decent people going about their business at 3am in the morning. We're getting uppity, and something must be done. Geoffrey: fuck you. Simon: fuck you. How about we live our lives and you live yours, and as long as we don’t get in each other's way I'll be very happy.

But that sort of approach was never on the cards, was it Geoffrey.  If your whole agenda wasn’t clear when Helen Clark gave you a truckload of cash to write your report, then it became abundantly clear when you commissioned "independent" research from your tame consultants to inflate the “social costs of alcohol.” And if Eric Crampton and Matt Burgess hadn’t spotted your duplicity you might have gotten away with it, you arsehole. But you didn’t.  You were exposed as trying to bolster your bullying with bullshit, and you got pinged.

But you're completely unashamed by that, aren't you – you’re unashamed because you really do think it's your Government-given self-anointed right to boss us the fuck around. Well, as I said before, fuck you and the unbridled power you rode in on.

You talk about "changing the policy settings" when what you're really doing is telling free people how to live their lives. You talk about "encouraging" changes in behaviour when what you mean is force. Christ, you can't even be honest in your inhumanity.

Weizenbier You say that taxes on alcohol should increase? But your colleagues have already stuck your hand in drinker's pocket once this year, haven’t you -- adding around fifty cents to a pint of beer and endangering the whole craft brewing industry – and last year – adding 10% to the cost of spirits – and the year, before, and the year before that.  Fact is, your excise taxes on our alcohol are already through the roof, aren’t they, and heading higher every bloody year (and every year another learned report is handed down recommending yet another bloody increase “for our own good”), making us wonder just how much is enough! Just how much do you want the the working man and woman to pay for their pleasures, you thieving gobshites.

You say too that bars and clubs should be forced to shut down from 2am? Tell you what, if you don't like the look of what goes on after 2am, then stay the fuck home.

You say that new liquor licenses should be made more difficult to get and to keep? Way to go helping out small businessmen by cutting compliance costs, you bullying arseholes.

You say that 18- and 19-year-olds should be banned from buying alcohol from bottle stores and supermarkets? Which means you think they're responsible enough to vote for unbridled power-lusting cretins like yourselves, but not responsible enough to pour themselves a drink when they get home from work.

Tell you what, why not just mind your own fucking business, and we'll mind ours.

And let me tell you something else too: It's not your job to "encourage" anything; it's your job to get the hell out of our way.

And as it happens, in those rare places and situations where governments do get the hell out of the way -- in places like France, say, where youngsters can enjoy a drink with their parents from an early age – it’s there that we do find responsible drinking; and we find it because responsibility is encouraged, not discouraged. That's self-responsibility, Geoffrey -- a concept it's clearly too late for you to learn, but some of us really would like to encourage. That’s the opposite of the restrictive, coercive, heavy-handed six-o’clock-swill mentality that you and arseholes like you would like to bring back.

But here's one final lesson to digest, from a chap called Herbert Spencer: that the ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. That goes double for the architects of those shields as well.

Geoffrey: fuck you.

UPDATE 1: Eric Crampton makes a polite clarification:

    Palmer didn't commission the BERL report: MoH and ACC did. As I understand it, the Law Commission views as defamatory that it be construed as having commissioned it. Palmer chose to use the report 'cause it was around, then chose to commission Brian Easton as a neutral party to resolve differences between BERL and us.
    We can wonder whether commissioning Easton as neutral agent here is consistent with the Law Commission wanting a neutral view. . .

UPDATE 2: Chopper Read makes a less than polite point more than appropriate to Simon Power and Geoffrey fucking Palmer: Make Dead Shits History.

UPDATE 3: You think Courtenay Place at 3am is bad?  You should see “closing time” in Africa.  Once a year, a tree in southern Africa produces very juicy fruits containing a large percentage of alcohol – and as soon as the fruits are ripe, animals come there to help stave off dehydration. You can imagine what happens next.
Geoffrey Palmer and his Wellington Wowsers Law Commission observers (who supposedly did late-night research tours around NZ’s seventeen-most popular drinking spots) appear here about 2:02 in.)

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Round Midnight - Jack Vettriano

Britain’s biggest selling print artist is Scotland’s Jack Vettriano. “My paintings,” he says, “are about things I have done and things I wish I could do. They are about a bunch of sad, unhappy people who are driven by lust.”  Or as a commenter says here, they're "a little like a naughty Hopper."

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some propositions on privacy

Let’s get some thoughts going on the “right to privacy.” Here’s a few to start you off.

“An issue such as ‘the invasion of privacy’ cannot be discussed without a clear definition of the right to privacy, and this cannot be discussed outside the context of clearly defined and upheld individual rights.”
- Ayn Rand

“Privacy: it’s a good, not a right. It’s not something to be recognised, it’s something to be earned.”
- PC

“Yes, we each of us need privacy. But our need for something is not a claim on someone else.”
- PC

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”
- Ayn Rand

“Social democrats are collectivists of the first order. For them society is a large beehive or ant colony, and they are convinced that they have landed the job of managing it. It is a bit ironic, actually, since it is usually social democrats who champion ‘the right of privacy.’ Apart from that, though, liberal democrats do not acknowledge the existence of individual rights. Most of all, they are nearly unanimous in denying private property rights. . .  these people dogmatically assume that "the wealth of the country" is for them to use and dispose of as they see proper. Individuals have no rights to their resources, income or wealth, especially not those individuals who have plenty of them.”
- Tibor Machan

“Does a human being have the right to privacy? Well, is human nature such that in their community lives people require their own realm of authority, their own sovereignty—self-government—with respect of various aspects of their lives? Of course they do—that’s what being a responsible moral agent amounts to. So the right to privacy exists. It stands as a bulwark against meddlesome other people, especially governments.”
- Tibor Machan

“Philosophically speaking, however, there is no contradiction between a ‘right of liberty’ and any ‘right of privacy.’ And neither of these rights is possible without private property rights. . . The ‘right of privacy’ is, fundamentally, an expression of the right of private property.”
- Chris Sciabarra

“Privacy is a good -- like food, music, or love. So while we have the right to take the actions required to secure our privacy via judicious use of our property and voluntary contracts with others, we have no direct right to privacy per se. . . Laws designed to protect privacy undermine genuine rights to property and contract.”
- Amy Peikoff

“The ‘right to privacy’ is a misguided attempt to save some shreds of certain [legitimate] rights while retaining a way to eviscerate others.”
- Arline Mann

Discuss.

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Rogering the taxpayer

It’s hard to take a man seriously who talks about fiscal responsibility when he just spent $44,000 of our money on his overseas travel – spending which he calls an “entitlement.”

Once a bludger, always a bludger.

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Political trials

Is it just me, or do the trials of Maryanne Thompson and Phillip Field look like political trials more than genuine criminal trials?  Perhaps “payback” for the failure to ping well-connected politicians from the previous regime when they were in power?

Frankly, having heard the evidence against Field I’m still no clearer than I was before what he’s actually done wrong .  And as far as Maryanne Thompson’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics goes, the witnesses from the London School of Economics hardly covered themselves in glory when they had to explain how they’d lost it “down a black hole,” and why they never effectively communicated regarding her oral examination.

No, these two look like to me nothing more than political trials, complete the with backdrop of barbarians baying for blood that every political trial has ever had.

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Quote of the Day: Hayden Wood on David Garrett

"Aren't ACT lucky they chose a quality researcher and safe pair of hands like David Garrett over an embarrassing loose cannon like Lindsay Mitchell."
............................................................- Hayden Wood

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NOT PJ: Public Finances

This week Bernard Darnton looks at what happens when you sup with the devil and ask for seconds.

_BernardDarnton The media is aflutter with concern for the “right to privacy” of two beneficiaries who chose to whine about their finances in public. The aggrieved pair are “astonished” and “flabbergasted” that Minister for Westie Affairs Paula Bennett trumped their “right to privacy” with “turnabout is fair play.”

Mses Fuller and Johnston were the stars of a Sunday Herald story histrionically titled “Govt axe destroys dreams.” There are innumerable cases where government axes – or at least sharpened clipboards, suffocating paperwork, and strangulating red tape – do destroy dreams. In some crappier parts of the world the government axes are less metaphorical and more, well, axe-like.

In this case, however, the dream was the dream of yet more free cash from the government. The axe was a budget decision that there would be minutely less money dished out on education subsidies this year – probably because most of it got spent on basket-weaving and similar nonsense. Bennett’s crime was to inform us that the Sunday Herald’s two heroines were already pulling down about $80,000 between them.

Welcome to the welfare state: Give a man a fish and he’ll demand chips too.

Sue Bradford immediately accused Paula Bennett of beneficiary bashing. Mind you, anyone who suggests that it’s not the state’s job to provide free breakfast in bed with extra caviar is accused by Sue Bradford of beneficiary bashing. Listening to her is just extra wear and tear on my eardrums that I can do without.

Somehow, Annette King has concluded that the financial affairs of Fuller and Johnston are private and should remain secret, even after Fuller and Johnston have published details of their financial woes, alongside suitably sad photographs, in the Sunday Herald and also after King herself had discussed said financial affairs in Parliament.

Nope. The way that modern democratic socialism works is that thousands of wannabe beneficiaries gang up every election and vote themselves the contents of each other wallets. This system supposes that the contents of everyone’s wallets are of intimate concern to everyone else involved. So it’s a bit bloody rich for the supporters of this scheme to complain when those of us who pay the bills find out where the cash actually goes.

There is such a thing as the right to privacy but it derives from the right to property. What goes on in my house is my business because it’s my house. But that changes if I invite the Sunday Herald into my house to show them the broken windows and mildew and to have dejected photos taken. And if someone then points out that it’s not as crap as I’d made out I can hardly complain. And if I was using the publicity to try and convince people to chip in and buy me a spa pool I should probably just slink back to where I’d come from.

The details of my income are private because they’re a purely voluntary arrangement between me and my employer. They don’t concern anyone else. Those of Mses Fuller and Johnston on the other hand (and that of Ms Bennett, for that matter) concern everyone who has their pay packets raided by Inland Revenue to fund our gargantuan welfare state.

The debate has been framed as a big, bad government picking on a couple of helpless individuals battling to improve themselves. A big, bad government trying to chill the free speech of a couple of citizens who dared to criticise it. In fact, the ones telling this story are the ones trying to make the government bigger and badder.

If you don’t want the government to tell everyone your income then stop voting for governments that demand to know how much you earn.

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

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Sho-Hondo Temple - Kimio Yokoyama [updated]

shohondo4aShoHondo-01

Built in 1972 to last a thousand years, this remarkable Buddhist temple was demolished amid much controversy in 1998.

Unfortunately it’s been as ill-served by photographs as it was by its guardians, but it certainly holds its own with Mt Fuji – and from the right angle it looks no less organic than the “beautiful back end” of Notre Dame de Paris.

st01_3Inside however it was something quite unique.

Shohondo

UPDATE:  A couple more large pictures of the enormous interior, courtesy Luke H.:
Audience
Detail of back wall

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The strange moral inversion of the welfare state

I’m just listening to a woman on ‘The Panel’ berating all of us for our rudeness towards Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston

This looks to me like a rather strange inverted moral standard being applied here.  To whit, that it’s not rude to take other people’s money by force to buy votes (the government); it’s not rude to accept this money yourself at a rate that gives you a better income than many of those from whom the money was extracted (Ms Fuller and Ms Johnston); but it is rude, according to our woman on ‘The Panel,’ to expect Ms Fuller and Ms Johnston to be accountable to those paying through the nose for their lifestyle.

As it happens, it’s the same inverted moral standard exhibited in Bill English’s 2009 budget.

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Quote of the day: Bernard Darnton on the what we've just learned about welfare

Too good to wait until tomorrow morning's NOT PJ column, here's one lesson Bernard's drawn from The Bennett Affair:
"Welcome to the welfare state: Give a man a fish and he’ll demand chips too."
..........................................- Bernard Darnton

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Ben Bernanke: Adrift without a clue [updated]

As a bookend to the non-answering of Queenbo’s question to economists (story here yesterday), we’ve now got the diametrical opposite to Peter Schiff’s now famous ‘Peter Schiff Was Right’ video: Ben Bernanke’s ‘I Don’t Have a Fucking Clue’ video.  Here it is:

While Schiff was predicting the deep recession that would follow the bursting of the housing bubble, Bernanke didn’t even know there was a bubble going on – or realise that his own organisation was largely responsible for it.

Now just to make sure you don’t miss a word, Lilburne has both transcript and analysis – and a point worth taking.  In this video, “Bernanke is shown to have been just as embarrassingly wrong as Schiff was uncannily right”; but that’s not because Bernanke is a moron – he’s a very bright guy – but because of “their differences in economic understanding.”

Schiff’s economic understanding is Austrian.  Bernanke’s is mainstream.  There’s the story.

UPDATE: Robert Blumen gives an example of a blatant mainstream error committed by Bernanke right out in the open here – the same error, I’ll wager, that many NZ home-owners make: i.e., the idea that a strong economy necessarily supports rising house prices.

As Blumen points out, we certainly shouldn’t expect that to be the case with a strong economy and food prices, would we, so why expect it with house prices?  And in any case, shouldn’t a strong economy support generally falling prices?

[Blumen’s] point is not that it is impossible for rising incomes and rising home prices to co-exist, only that it requires a very special set of conditions and that, in general, we should expect the opposite. Bernanke's blithe statement of the obvious at best requires further explanation and is at worst illogical. It is more likely, as Reisman says, that the cause is an expansion of credit.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Paula, Laura and the Greenwashed explorer

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

richardmcgrath 1. Ice caps melting – astronaut – “A Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station says it looks like the Earth’s ice caps have melted since he was last in orbit twelve years ago,” says the article. Later in the news article, he admits: “This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling the glaciers are melting…” No measurement, no science, just “a feeling.” No wonder his comment has been so widely reported.  
    The report doesn’t say whether the astronaut’s previous voyage was at the same time of the year -- and I could be mistaken here -- but I imagine the ice caps recede and then build up again depending on the season. Two snapshots twelve years apart are hardly the basis for such a pronouncement.
    My suspicion when reading this article that it was probably written by some equally Greenwashed media puppet was confirmed when it went on to talk about an air-scrubber stripping “deadly” carbon dioxide from the space station’s air. What utter bullshit. Carbon dioxide is not “deadly.” In fact, a buildup of CO2 in the blood of a living human provides stimulation to breathe more deeply and quickly, which sounds fairly life-enhancing to me. Down here on earth it is the fourth most abundant gas in the air we breathe, at a concentration of 0.04% or 1 in 2600 by unit volume. In higher concentrations carbon dioxide is irritant and harmful, but then again so is oxygen. Of course, in a space station the levels do need to be diminished, but the word “deadly” is being used in a space-station context to allow readers to draw conclusions about earth that they shouldn’t.

2. ‘I Can’t Afford To Eat Healthily’ – From the pages of the Daily Mail, but I just had to share this article with readers: a 25 year old British woman who has never worked, who weighed 38 stone, who was given a gastric bypass costing £8,000 under the NHS system, and dropped to 22 stone. But now she’s unhappy because her “disability allowance” of £340 pounds a month has been cut.
    Her response: to sit on her backside watching TV for seven hours a day eating chocolate bars and packets of crisps. When asked why she didn’t eat an apple, she said: “They’re cheap, but emotionally, I don’t always feel like eating an apple.”
    Does this entity ever consider the productive people who are taxed to support her indolent lifestyle? Does anyone ever give any thought to those they’re living off? I find it extremely difficult to feel any compassion for this entity who appears to have very few, if any, redeeming features. Never fear, the NHS has offered to bleed more taxpayers to the tune of another £12,000  to pay for an operation to remove the saggy bits of skin left behind after the initial weight loss. Only in Britain!

3. Minister Accused Of Breaking Privacy Law – Paula Bennett is in the firing line for revealing how much the taxpayer is forced to pay two beneficiaries who were complaining about a reduction in handouts to solo parents. There is a simple answer to this: privatise welfare, so that politicians and bureaucrats are no longer privy to this sort of personal information. Thousands of public servants could have access to details of your personal benefit history – why on earth should sensitive information on personal finances be available to state employees? There is ample evidence that private welfare does a much more efficient job at targeting money and resources to those who need it. Most importantly, a private system would not be allowed to extort money from working people as the public welfare system does currently via Inland Revenue. 

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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A Pacific New Freeland?

Andrew B spies an opportunity based on this news report from Tuvalu:

"At the primary school in Funafuti, children are taught about climate changefrom the age of six. They are also learning what it means to emigrate, because this could be the last generation of children to grow up in Tuvalu. Its peopleare already in flight. More than 4,000 [allegedly] live in New Zealand [as ‘economic refugees’], and the Tuvaluan government is planning the migration of the remaining 10,000."

Which leaves an opening for New Freelanders, says Andrew:

So these Islands are going to be abandoned - some already have been. I sense an opportunity for libertarians who don't buy into all this global warming rubbish. We go over there, buy up people's land as they abandon it, dredge the islands that are already under water and dump it on those remaining, and then declare our freedom.

Sounds like a plan. I’ll put it to the Kaimai Thirteen. Meanwhile, here’s what Everybody Knows (or Should Know) About Tuvalu.

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Les Femmes Damnées – Auguste Rodin

Brissonneau

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What gives moochers a right to privacy? [updated]

What’s this “right to privacy” bullshit that Annette King and co are banging on about on behalf of two beneficiaries.

I know about a right to life -- about a right to liberty – about rights to the pursuit of property and happiness. All those are legitimate rights for all of us -- but I'm not so sure about this "right to privacy."

Furthermore, if you come and take my property, my money, my wealth, and then give it to two people who already look to be on a bloody good wicket and are only complaining because they want to be able to take more (or to 121 people who are on a damn fine wicket, and are always grasping for more), then I have a right to know just how much of my money they’re pulling down.

Right to privacy, my arse. How about everyone's right not to be stolen from.

UPDATE: Revised for clarity after a discussion at KiwiPolitico starting here.

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Excuse me, Ma’am, there were a few who *did* see the collapse coming

PD*29463458 Not being a royalist I can’t say the Queen always talks good sense, but it looks like she knows how to ask a good question.

When she visited the London School of Economics back in November she asked the obvious question of all the luminaries showing her around: How come you and your colleagues never saw the collapse coming?

The luminaries have finally replied eight months later with a whole shotgun load of blame saying essentially “it wasn’t us,” blaming everything from “the psychology of denial” to low interest rates making borrowing cheap, to a "feelgood factor" to a foreign savings glut, to a sea of debt.  It’s “complex,” they say – code for “beats the hell out of us.”

Queenbo Because they never actually answer the question, which was 'Why did none of you notice it?’ Because to answer that they would have had to admit to the failure of their science.

The best they can offer is to conclude,

"the failure to foresee the timing, extent and severity of the crisis and to head it off, while it had many causes, was principally a failure of the collective imagination of
many bright people, both in this country and internationally, to understand the risks to the system as a whole."

Which still leaves open the question: Why did so many bright people suffer such a drastic failure of “collective imagination”?  What is that if not a tacit acceptance that the leading theories of your science have failed – that your bright people have been pursing economic dead ends?

Because the reasons for that failure can be found, ironically, in the profession’s near complete ignorance of what a leading LSE lecturer had to say about booms and busts way back in the Great Depression when he worked there – the very subject which he was brought there to teach, for which he won a Nobel Prize, and the very theory which allowed people like Peter Schiff to predict the coming crash with such certainty he was writing books about it.

There was a time when the London School of Economics actually promoted Friedrich Hayek’s Austrian business cycle theory, which was back when the head of the London School of Economics wrote a book on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression based on that very business cycle theory.  Now, they barely know it exists – yet it is today’s advocates of that theory who were prominent in saying the crash was coming, even when all they received in response was laughter.

While alleged economists like Paul Krugman were calling for another bubble to rescue the world economy from the dot-com bust, and the present luminaries at the LSE were up to their eyeballs in their “failure of collective imagination,” it was clear-eyed advocates of Hayek’s Austrian Business Cycle Theory like Peter Schiff, Thorsten Polleit, Mark Thornton, Stefan Karlsson, Anton Mueller, Robert Blumen et al who were explaining what was coming and writing about it extensively.

But no-one was listening then, and no-one wants to listen now.  The failure of mainstream theory then has become a failure to recognise the collapse of that mainstream theory now.

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How NOT to get yo’ ass kicked by the police

Oswald spotted this object lesson by Chris Rock in how NOT to get your arse kicked the police.

Apparently there are still some residents of these shaky isles who are in need of such wholesome advice.

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Superannuation

Like many of you I was fascinated both by the common sense suggestion of raising the superannuation age to 67 while removing disincentives to taking up annuity products – a suggestion said to save taxpayers around $100 billion by 2061 – and by the knee-jerk reactions to the common sense proposal to address what is a growing albatross round the neck of every taxpayer.

The idea that 65-year-olds must leave work and get paid for the rest of their lives by other taxpayers is immoral, demeaning, and ultimately unaffordable; and something has to be done. It is a failed experiment – a collapsing pyramid scheme that is costing taxpayers around one-sixth of what Inland Revenue extracts from them each year. The report by investment services company Mercer doesn’t go anywhere near far enough, but it does at least state the obvious:

LifeExpectency      Consulting services company Mercer says the double whammy of an ageing population [see Bernard Hickey’s chart at right] and the global economic crisis highlights the urgent need to address the issue of retirement saving, and reduce reliance on New Zealand superannuation . . . [*}

True, all too true. Add to that double whammy another two-base hit: the diminishing number of under-65s in the future who will be expected to pay for it all [see below right].

WAP      "The solution to our retirement savings conundrum [says Martin Lewington, head of Mercer in New Zealand] rests in both growing the economy - ultimately increasing the size of the funding pie - and addressing the social and welfare issues associated with an ageing population and ensuring all New Zealanders can live comfortably in retirement." 
    "It's time for the government to take decisive action and balance the politics in the current debate with what's ultimately best for New Zealand, particularly in regards to the 'hot potato' issues such as raising the eligibility age for NZ Super."

All very sensible, yet barely even radical enough to make the difference that’s needed -- which is no doubt why the government dismissed the idea without consideration. “In my view New Zealand super in its current form is affordable,” sniffed John Key, giving his best impersonation of King Canute holding back the retirement tides by his ability to fake reality. “I've made it quite clear,” he confirmed, “that it would be my intention to resign from Parliament if I broke that promise I made to New Zealanders."

All the better – that’s a two-for-one deal I could sign up for!

But in the meantime, while the government’s policy is to fake reality and shut down debate, even the Mercer proposal barely even makes a start on this problem which isn’t going away, and isn’t getting any smaller.  Within the next forty years New Zealand will move from a position of having 1 in 10 people over age 65 to 1 in 4 people over 65. 

brokenpyramidschemeThat’s a pyramid scheme with too many blocks missing.  Holding your nose and stamping your feet isn’t going to make that problem disappear with the next tide.

And given that the “decade of deficits” promised by Treasurer Bill English is mostly needed to keep the welfare gravy train going, of which the lion’s share is the bill for the retired, we should see every new tranche of borrowing needed to fund the shortfalls as a new and additional government programme.  One we can’t afford.

We already face the prospect with the Government Superannuation Fund of the government taking a larger and larger share of local companies.  And we now face the prospect of watching it throw away its your money away on local ‘PPPs’ instead of genuine investments.  How much more difficult do we have to make it before we finally face reality and realise that the concept of a twenty-to-thirty year taxpayer-funded retirement is unsustainable?

It’s not like it’s too difficult to sustainably and painlesssly wean the country off this albatross.  Take George Reisman’s simple suggestion for reforming American Social Security for example**, which I’ve paraphrased slightly to give it a local flavour:

    First, following a period of two to three years to allow time for necessary adjustments to be made, immediately raise the retirement age from 65 to 70.
    This, of course, would be a major disappointment to everyone who had counted on starting to receive a pension sooner. Fortunately, there is a way to give these people a substantial form of relief, which would go a long way toward alleviating their hardship. That is, at the same time that sixty-five year olds are refused a pension, enact for their benefit a “senior citizens' employment-income tax exemption” in the amount of, say, $90,000 per year. . .
    The far greater part of the taxes thereby waived for these seniors on their income derived from employment would be taxes the government would never have collected in the first place, since most of the seniors would not have been working otherwise. The elimination of the government's payment of pensions to this group would far outweigh any loss of revenue from those sixty-five year olds who would have worked and paid taxes on their incomes even in the absence of the rise in the Social Security retirement age.

Which might even be enough to allow a similar exemption for all over-60s, which would give them a chance to prepare.

    This income-tax exemption should be extended and enlarged year by year until it embraces everyone in the 65 to 69 year-old age group. And, of course, it should be progressively increased from year to year to keep pace with rising prices and rising wage rates. Indeed, it should eventually be extended to apply to everyone 65 years old or older. In this way, the years remaining in life past today's customary retirement age might become truly “golden years” for millions of people, who at last would be freed of the burden of income taxes on their earnings derived from employment.

Who would be prepared to speak against freeing up that particular burden?  But let’s keep going:

    The retirement age of 70 should be retained perhaps for as long as fifteen years, to make it possible for all workers aged 55 and over at the time of its enactment to take advantage of it. Thereafter, however, the retirement age should be gradually increased further, to 75, over, say, a twenty-year period, rising at the rate of one calendar quarter for each passing year. Thus, workers aged 54 at the time of the reform's enactment would be eligible for social security at the age of 70 ¼, while those aged 35 at the time of its enactment would not be eligible until the age of 75.
    The system should accept no new pension recipients after the end of this twenty year period. In other words, it would be closed to workers 34 years of age and younger at the time of the reform's enactment. These workers, who would remain permanently ineligible, would all have ample time to make their own provision for the future. The superannuation system itself would progressively decline and ultimately disappear as its pensioners passed away.

A relatively painless way to accomplish the necessary reform.  But there’s one more thing to be done to ensure that no new impositions are imposed on anyone:

    The government's very considerable savings from reduced pension obligations over an initial phase-out period totaling almost forty years from start to finish, should be earmarked for tax reductions for workers who will never be able to enter the system, i.e., in the above scenario, workers aged 34 and less at the time of the reform's enactment. As these workers advance in age, new workers will be entering the labor market. There will thus be an increasing number of workers to bear the burden of the Social Security system's final phase. This will permit Social Security tax rates to be steadily reduced on this group, until they disappear altogether.

Reisman makes both the economic and the moral case to end government superannuation.

    The end of Social Security would be the end of something that should never have been started in the first place. The root of the system is the philosophy of collectivism, in that it forces everyone into a giant stewpot as it were, in which individuals are compelled to support the parents and grandparents of total strangers, whether they want to or not, in exchange for themselves later on being compulsorily supported by the children and grandchildren of total strangers.
    And, of course, standing between the generations has been a mass of politicians and government officials who have used whatever excess has existed of these forced exactions over current pension payments, to fund ordinary, current government spending.
    If a private insurance or annuity company had done such a thing and used its excess of premium income over current payments, to finance the consumption of its owners and employees, for whatever purpose, including the funding of charities and public works, the company officials would now be spending long terms in prison. For it would be very clear that they had embezzled the funds of their clients. Yet exactly that in essence is what politicians and government officials have done, on a scale far surpassing all private financial frauds combined over the whole of human history.

3416406792_3632733e73_o The creators of the world’s super scheme were bigger Ponzi operators than Bernie Madoff.  As US Circuit Judge Anderson said in the 1922 Lowell v. Brown case[*], the Ponzi scheme was “simply the old fraud of paying the earlier comers out of the contributions of the later comers.” So long as the number of late comers—you might call them suckers—grows, the fraudulent scheme has life.  When it stops growing, the reality is the same for us as it was for Bernie Madoff.

Confronting the reality of the situation is the first and necessary step to putting the unsustainable pyramid scheme to an end.

* * * * *

* * In the final chapter of his book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Reisman has a whole raft of similar transitional policies to pull the teeth of big government. And fortunately for you, you can read the whole chapter online.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Speaking of incivility ...

“There is one unmistakable sign of the collapse of good manners: dirty public washrooms.”
- Robert Anson Heinlein

susanryder I can’t stand bad manners. “Please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” remain the simple fundamentals of civil behaviour. People brought up to use these terms are (psychopaths excepted) generally decent souls who treat others in a similar fashion. In my experience, most people I encounter are decent people.

But what of the others? Why do banks have to now display notices asking customers to remove headwear, muddy footwear and sunglasses? When did retail outlets have to publicly prohibit the consumption of food and drink on their premises? Once upon a time people just knew those things having been taught from an early age. And who in their right mind would operate a cellphone inside a theatre during the film?

Littering also drives me nuts. Driving through our countryside, the rubbish lining the roadsides is a shocker. Travellers are treated to a succession of fast-food refuse, bottles, cans and cigarette packets, all tossed by erstwhile clean, green, anti-nuclear, sustainable, carbon-reducing, planet-worshipping Kiwis. I imagine the offenders would take umbrage at rubbish dumped on their property, but for some reason they feel free to pollute the countryside.

And then there are the creatures who dump truckloads of household rubbish in rural areas. Real gems, they are. Princes among men.

Do you think they might be the same people who misuse public toilet facilities? I’ve never understood people who do that, either. When travelling long distance, I normally avoid public toilets like the plague. The blessings of seven-day trading and the profusion of cafes that provide restrooms allows me that luxury, but every so often I find myself having to use a public facility. I generally wrinkle my nose and take care of business as quickly as possible. A supply of tissues and hand-sanitiser in the glovebox doesn’t just come in handy. They are necessities.

I had to use one en route to the Bay of Plenty over the weekend. It was in surprisingly good condition, had just been cleaned and was stocked with adequate supplies of soap and toilet paper. However, I shook my head at a large notice on the wall (of both cubicles – I checked) that read: Please do not stand on the toilet seats. It came with a large illustration under the text depicting a person standing on the toilet seat with a big cross through it.

What kind of arse (if you will) would even think of doing that, much less do it? And what of the diagram? According to Literacy Aotearoa, some 25% of school-leavers are functionally illiterate – yay, state education! – but decent people practise basic hygiene whether they can read or not and children young enough to not be able to read shouldn’t be going into public toilets alone in the first place. However, the signs were there so presumably the practise had occurred. There’s a comforting thought.

On my return, I needed the loo and stopped at a café. The facilities were nice and clean, even going so far as to provide a baby changing table with complimentary wipes. In addition to paper towels, there was a pile of fresh facecloths for hand-drying, with a basket for the used ones. Next to the linen was a notice requesting that people not use them for baby wipes. Once again I wondered the same thing: Who would do that and, further, leave the evidence? Answer: the same morons who flush things down the toilet that are not designed to be flushed; the same morons who stood on public toilet seats before they moved on to procreation. Another pleasant thought.

Back inside the café there were notices at every table regarding the Swine Flu, accompanied by boxes of tissues. Patrons were asked to sneeze into the complimentary tissues to minimise the spread of the virus, in line with Ministry of Health guidelines. There was also a separate small table displaying a large container of hand-sanitiser which patrons were also encouraged to use. I was disappointed. There were no instructions as to the preferred method of disposal for the used, sneezed-in tissues. What was one to do in the absence of any official notification – leave them lying around? After all, the rubbish bin wasn’t specifically marked for their use and I wouldn’t want to upset the official applecart.

The café-owner seemed a sweet lady and ran a pleasant business. I’m sure she thought she was doing the right thing and it goes without saying that she can please herself anyway; her property, her rules and all that. But it screamed of official overkill; of complying with regulations-cum-guidelines or whatever they are and then some. Of taking up the charge and falling into line like a good little comrade, Comrade. Or maybe she’d just given up and found it simpler to assume that everybody was going to bugger up the facecloths.

Incivility takes many forms, all of which are unpleasant and stem from inconsideration. People brought up to practise basic good manners do not generally wander into stores while eating, let alone misuse or vandalise public facilities. Minor littering remains annoying, inconsiderate and an ongoing public expense.

There are two issues here: poor standards of behaviour and the ramifications thereof. The existing public signage is a sorry indication of the cretins already out there and, worse, serves to taint everybody by association. And it seems to me that the more the official interference to address problems, the more they increase as a result. I used to joke that one day I’d receive a government leaflet in the mail advising as to how many times a day I should wipe my bum.

Don’t roll your eyes. They’re already telling you not to stand on toilet seats.

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

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For our overseas readers . . .

Writer/Singer Justin Brown explains the appeal of New Zealand in song [hat tip Spare Room].

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Xanadu Project – Matt Taylor

400_xanadu_sketch

In Xanadu... did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge - 1797

“There spans 200 years between Coleridge’s concept of Xanadu and my sketch [above],” says architect Matt Taylor of his life’s work.

214_xanadu_plan_sketch I took more than 40 years to draw it after I first heard the poem and saw this solution. It is a concept that, once commissioned, will take the better part of a decade to realize. There is a story behind all this - the last, and most significant, chapters of which are still to be written. In terms of my work to create spaces for creativity and innovation, all that I have done is but an exercise - a way of learning - a preparation in order to build Xanadu. If I do not build it, or at least create the means to build it, I will have have failed in the major objective of my life.

Learn more here at Taylor’s Xanadu Project page about this “a self contained innovation center to be built in a remote landscape – what he calls an “Innovation Palace - a modern cathedral built to house and facilitate human creativity and innovation.”

The plan above right shows a version of the Xanadu concept “built on a 100 meter base with four 50 meter domes around a 70 meter dome with three 100 meter towers. This would account for approximately 50% of the campus facility the rest being scattered throughout the natural landscape. . .”  More here.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

61 essential pomo classic?

What’s a really beaut example of irony?  How about devotees of a philosophy devoted to subjectivism and non-absolutes suggesting there be 61 essential books of postmodernism? Considering the list includes both Hamlet and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter however, there might just be an element of tongue in cheek.

Maybe read them in conjunction with Stephen Hicks’s Explaining Postmodernism in order to feel the full effect?

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New law firm [updated]

Lawyers are supposed to be your best friend when your rights are violated by the government -- or you need to ensure they won't be. At least, that's what it says on the label.

And blogging is supposed to be a great way to promote your business (it works for me anyway even when all I can link to is a creaky old website ripe for redevelopment).

So put those together and we see lawyer Stephen Franks using his blog to help launch his new legal partnership in which he hopes to help make client's businesses work better "by cutting legal mumbo jumbo down to size." Clients he's targetting include:
  • Directors who want a second opinion after being scared into paralysis by legal warnings and complexity,
  • Businesses threatened by new law coming down the parliamentary track;
  • Investors wanting to know their real balance of risks if they have to ignore some parts of securities law to raise capital
"We see a real gap for public law legal advice tied to deep commercial experience," says Stephen. Given that one of his chief competitors, Geoffrey Palmer, is almost completely unencumbered by commercial experience, that gap would appear to be a large one.

I wish him well.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate offers an object lesson in how good lawyers can cut through the bullshit when your rights are violated by the government. The subject is tax, and all those many morons who "think that avoiding tax is theft." The latest target for this envy-ridden attitude is, of coure, the BNZ, courtesy of one of the finest examples of non-objective law in recent years used to justify the theft of the BNZ's profits.

Message from Cactus to all the morons who think that avoiding tax is theft, which in this case includes (disgracefully) Bernard Hickey:
I say the initial taxation is the real theft and avoiding tax is not a criminal offence, it is a civil matter which is often decided by litigation and the "toss of the bench" through the Courts. He confuses avoidance with evasion. This is a common mistake.
But he is not alone. . .
No, he's not. Read Cactus's whole post to see some of the others and to learn why they're wrong -- and to discover for yourself (if you haven't already) the nightmare's nest of non-objective law that is the tax code. In which other area of law could defendants be told by a presiding judge, for example, that "Technical compliance with the law is never enough."

And just contemplate for a moment too that Cactus isn't just right legally, but she's also right morally. Your honestly gotten profits are rightfully yours to do with as you please, whether that's spending, reinvesting, or baking into pies. They're not "society's profits" -- they're yours. You made them, you rightfully get to say what happens to them.

I say that's the correct ethical standpoint on tax. I say that only a "redistribution-of-wealth" supporter would disagree. I say that it's the initial taxation that is the real theft, and that avoiding tax should not be a criminal offence at all -- it should instead be a moral imperative.

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Guilty of more than just incivility

Clearly I’m missing something here. Modern culture can be airheaded, boneheaded and braindead, as I’m often prone to point out at these electronic pages and others have thoroughly diagnosed, but something recently made me wonder if we all might have underestimated how bad it is.

Even as Sophie Elliot’s murderer was preening himself in the witness box last week, the news media was covering him like the new hero of a “reality TV” show. And even as New Zealanders were crying out in disgust that “this murderous butcher was too evil to watch,” the same news broadcasts in which this bloody killer was allowed to star were advertising, guess what, a whole TV series in which the hero is a serial killer -- “a show about an unrepentant mass-murderer who mutilates his victims,” advertised as my friend David McGregor tells me with oh-so-clever lines like "Who put the Laughter into Slaughter" and "Who put the Fun in Funeral."

“Sick” doesn’t fully describe what that says about the culture. That such a show can be paid for, produced and advertised, and obviously finds an audience wide enough to appear at prime time on local TV says something bad about the culture which gives it house room. It’s bad enough that films and TV shows running short on plot ideas resort to having their protagonists hunt for a serial killer or two – in fact it’s almost a sign that you’re about to see something untouched by human minds – but a TV show in which we’re invited to empathise, sympathise and follow around the life, loves and adventures of a psychotic “thrill killer” must be some sort of sign we’re approaching rock bottom.

On this at least I’m with David. I mourn the loss of our civility.

The costs of “global warming” [update 5]

While the politicians debate how much they will be strangling industry in the name of global warming, economists are pointing out the cost to this country of that strangling, and Australasian scientists are “confirming what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

In fact, nature not man is responsible for recent global warming, says the scientific report by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland, John McLean of Melbourne, and Bob Carter of James Cook University – and the climate models that say we are responsible are irretrievably flawed.

The two-year study published in last week's American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research by Auckland University climate scientist Chris de Freitas, academic Bob Carter, of James Cook University, Townsville, and Melbourne scientist John McLean concludes that in the past 50 years the average global temperature in the lowest layer of the atmosphere has risen and fallen in agreement with El Nino or La Nina conditions, and not because of increasing greenhouse-gas levels.

The key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures is overwhelmingly the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, they say, yet the the El Niño-Southern Oscillation effect has never been successfully modelled -- “it's no wonder that model outputs have been so inaccurate,” they say. 

We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis. . .

So if the globe isn’t warming any more (as even warmist climate scientists now concede), if we weren’t causing the previous warming (as Carter, McLean and De Freitas point out), and if the models are irretrievably flawed and can’t be relied on to predict future warming anyway (as they also report), then why the hell are we about to be handed a bill that looks likely to cost every family of five $7,000 a year “in new fees, taxes and higher prices”?

You’ll have to ask Nick Smith, who while wriggling on National’s election promise of a 50% cut by 2050, is still promising to whack New Zealanders with a bill that’s both unaffordable and unnecessary.

There certainly are costs to global warming – and that cost is government action to strangle private action.

UPDATE 1: Another one from the If-This-is-Global-Warming-I’d-Hate-to-See-Global-Cooling file: 3,000 Low Temp US Records Set This July! [hat tip Fred Gibson].

UPDATE 2: Advice for Nick Smith et al from Professor Richard S Lindzen, in Quadrant magazine [hat tip NZ Climate Science Coalition]:

“For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed. However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence."

UPDATE 3: Jeff Perren gives the answer if you’re still scratching your head. Let me quote his answer in full since it’s something you need to get you head around:

    Q: "Why the hell are we about to be handed a bill that looks likely to cost every family of five $7,000 a year 'in new fees, taxes and higher prices'?"
    A: For the same reason they would push it if it actually saved every family of five $7,000 a year. Because it's absolutely vital to chain the producers.
    The push against 'CO2 polluters' is just one major battle in the overall war against choice, for anyone who doesn't willingly accept servitude. The push to regulate even further the financial industry is just one more. As is the health care push, as is...
    Progressives, like the Puritans from which they descended, simply can not tolerate individuals living as they please, without the Progressives directing them. They invent all sorts of rationalizations, pretending bad things inevitably follow from freedom, in order to justify their fear and hatred of choice. No amount of evidence showing how unfounded are their beliefs will dissuade them, as it never does for the truly religious.
    And if their latest chicken-little rationalization fails, they'll invent a new one.

If you don’t believe him, read ’The Toxicity of Environmentalism’ by George Reisman – still on point twenty years after he wrote it.

UPDATE 4: The proposed emissions trading scheme is “criminally absurd” says Doc McGrath.

    Speaking from Masterton, where overnight temperatures were expected to dip to three degrees below zero, Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath called on the government to cancel any plans for carbon taxes and emissions trading.
    “Three prominent Australasian climate scientists published research last week showing that with the El Nino effect taken into account, CO2 emissions have a negligible influence on global temperature. Therefore, as Professor Bob Carter points out, emissions trading will exert no measurable effect on climate.”
    “The Libertarianz Party calls on the government to abandon plans to penalise industrial output, as we are certain this would lead to a serious drop in living standards for New Zealanders, with unnecessary suffering and death.”  
    “The effect of human activity on climate change is a scientific question, which has been used as a political football.  Libertarianz asserts that the most efficient way to adapt to any climate change - be it human or natural - is with freedom, reason and free market investment, not suicidally unachievable government controls and taxes."
    "It would be criminally absurd for the government to proceed any further with plans to set up any sort of emissions trading scheme.”

He’s right, you know.

UPDATE 5: More on those models: Lubos compares reality with eleven prominent climate models and, guess which is the odd one out.  And you’ll never guess what that means for the reality of warmists’ predictions.

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The revolution starts here

Had a great weekend with some like-minded Libz hunkered down at a secret location in the Kaimais to plan our libertarian revolution.  Cells around the country will all be receiving your instructions shortly. Here are the Kaimai Thirteen:

Kaimai Thirteen And if you have superstitious concerns about there being thirteen at the conclave, then worry ye not. There was a fourteenth behind the camera who couldn’t be photographed for reasons of security, and several others frankly too hungover to emerge for the group photo.

Kamai_Thirteen

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Biggest bill ever

Last week I posted a piece on The Biggest Bill in the History of the World – that is, the $22 trillion bill American taxpayers and their children and grandchildren face for bailouts, stimulunacy and nationalisations.

It’s huge. It was huge even last year before the Barack Bailouts and Giant Stimulunacy added another $18 trillion to the bill, but even at the $4.6 trillion it was last November it’s bigger then any other government programme in history.

Not just bigger than any other government programme ever, but bigger than all America’s big-government programmes ever.

Bigger than the bill to purchase Louisiana from the French.

Bigger than the Apollo programme that was celebrated again last week – in fact, bigger than NASA’s entire, all-time budget.

Bigger than Roosevelt’s New Deal and the post-war Marshall Plan that rebuilt post-war Europe.

Bigger than the the cost of the Iraq War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War put together.

In fact, the bill is bigger than all of them put together – and that’s just the bill to the end of last year.  See here (just click through for the full graphic):

bailoutpieri3 And what’s been bought for all that you ask?  You tell me. But someone has to pay for it all – and it sure as hell isn’t going to be Goldman Sachs. 

And every dollar pissed away is a dollar businessmen can’t invest in productive activity – but it’s been hard work getting any sort of hard information from Henry Paulson, Helicopter Ben Bernanke or Little Timothy Geithner on which specific forms of unproductivity they’ve pissed it away on.

Look at the Stimulus, they say, celebrating the Golden Shower pissing out from the printing presses.  Never mind the quality, just enjoy the Stimulus!  If Roosevelt’s New Deal failed for insufficient stimulus, which is what the mainstream bozos say, then just sit back – they insist – and enjoy the ride this time!

How much stimulus is enough? Keynesian stimulus-monger and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman reckoned a while back that the "spending hole" in the U.S. economy is $2.9 trillion dollars. We’re already well past that with nothing to show for it except a huge bill and the failure to recover.

How could there be a genuine recovery when every dollar pissed away is a dollar businessmen can’t invest in productive activity? That’s even less real productive spending than the $2.9 trillion hole Krugman says needs to be filled up.  As Ludwig von Mises wrote,

a government can spend or invest only what it takes away from its citizens … its additional spending and investment curtails the citizens' spending and investment to the full extent of its quantity.

This leads to the question [says ‘Lilburne’ ] of whether government spending and investment does more good than private spending and investment.

    Sound economics answers this question with a resounding "no" . . . because ultimately, Keynesian fiscal stimulus is not even about the goods and services produced by the additional spending (infrastructure, welfare, etc). You see, the fiscal stimulus might as well be literally filling holes, since according to Keynes's ridiculous understanding of how an economy works, it doesn't matter what the government spends money on; even digging up holes just to refill them would qualify as beneficial stimulus. You might think that this must not be literally true. "Keynes may have been wrong on some things," you may protest, "but no economist as prominent as him would believe something so foolish!" Read the man's words for yourself:

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.

    The above passage is not some off-hand note written to a colleague in a fit of academic speculation. It is part of Keynes's chief contribution to economics, upon which his reputation rests: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. I don't care how prominent, credentialed, or "accomplished" an economist is. If he says that burying cash in the ground can be a boon to society, then he should be immediately dismissed from public and academic discourse.
   
That thinking hasn’t just not been dismissed – it’s the very “thinking” that made the government and its minions piss away $22 trillion on things you aren’t allowed to know about.

Happy about that, are you? Because our own government is still promising its own “decade of deficits."

UPDATE 1: More good stuff on our local problems from David Beatson of all people, who says, “in case you’ve missed the main message: the tradable sector of our economy – the real driver of sustainable growth in New Zealand – has been in recession for the past five years. No wonder we’re in trouble.”

   The sector that produces the goods and services we export to the rest of the world and that competes with imports for your purchasing power at home actually shrunk around 10% over the last five years. If we want it to grow, something else has to make way – like central and local government spending. . .
   The recession is going to change everything else in New Zealand. Why shouldn’t it change the shape and nature of our public sector too?

Trouble is, it’s not, is it.  Job losses in real businesses are going through the roof.  Job losses in the bureaucracy by comparison?  Bugger all.

UPDATE 2: And here ‘s another piece, on the debt problems of the dairy industry (who in a story that’s now all too familiar) have partially substituted the “economically perverse” illusion of debt-fuelled capital gain (i.e., the illusory “wealth” of a bubble) for real productivity growth. Read Analyst warns of dairy debt tsunami (and also, if you’re keen, a piece I wrote a few weeks back on the foolishness of “farming for asset gains”: ‘The credit/debt delusion: The faster you go, the bigger the mess.’)

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