Friday, August 14, 2009

Beer O’Clock – Malthouse: The People’s Blog!

Beer correspondent Neil Miller crossposts from The Malthouse Blog.  Words have been changed to protect the insensitive.

beer1 A conveniently unknown author once wrote that “a blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.”   Blogs can polarise readers perhaps more than any other medium. John Jay Hooker, veteran political gadfly, is on record as saying “I sincerely believe blogging can save America.” 

National Business Review publisher Barry Coleman does not believe it will even save New Zealand.  He has railed against the spawning (his word) of a “huge band of amateur, untrained, unqualified bloggers who have swarmed over the internet pouring out columns of unsubstantiated 'facts' and hysterical opinion."

He was just warming up. "Most of these 'citizen journalists' don’t have access to decision makers and are infamous for their biased and inaccurate reporting on almost any subject under the sun (while invariably criticising professional news coverage whose original material they depend on to base their diatribes)," he concluded.

Here at the Overt Overground Headquarters of The Malthouse Blog, we are confident that Barry was not talking about us [although over here at NOT PC we can’t be so sure - Ed.].  We are at all times professional, trained, unbiased and accurate.  Occasionally, we indulge in ‘hysterical opinion’ but that is because we have defined it as ‘funny stuff we think about.’  Of course, this is probably not a real blog.  The consistent use of punctuation, the absence of daily vituperation and the lack of exaggerated claims of prowess with ‘the ladies” seem to ensure our on-going exclusion from official blogger’s drinks. 

Such is the nature of life in the blogosphere. One thing we can hopefully all agree on is that Twittering is for people who are so attention seeking that blogging is too slow and too long (See: Kutcher, Ashton.)  That nice man David Cameron was onto something with his recent comments.

Blogging does allow diverse voices to be heard.  Many blogs have guest bloggers or a range of commentators.  Like NOT PC, The Malthouse Blog has made the executive decision to begin a semi-regular feature where staff and customers are asked about their favourite beers.  In the interests of accuracy we won’t claim it as a world first or a Malthouse exclusive.  Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor saw it done on the Devonshire Cat website though their version is based solely on staff votes and has not been updated since September 2008.

Here, we are going to ask people for their two favourite Malthouse beers and provide a paragraph of justification for each.  First up is Mike who describes himself as a “part-time beer drinker and full- time Solution Architect.”  He sets the bar pretty high as he retells his inspiring story:

svetly-lezak    “For years, I would pretty much drink any cold, fizzy ‘beer’ but on a trip to The Malthouse just after it opened, Ben suggested that I try some of the wonderful Pale Ales on tap.  After some extensive research, I decided on the lovely Pale Ale by Epic.  What I really like about EPA is the flavour – how they manage to cram so much hoppy goodness into one glass is beyond me but long may they continue.  It’s not too bitter and has some lovely sweet moments plus it doesn’t leave your mouth all ‘furry’ and each mouthful is a crisp as the last one.
    When, on the odd occasion I feel like a change, I grab a Budvar.  While this is a completely different style of beer from EPA, it is still full of flavour, light and crisp.  It’s a little more malty than the EPA but the hops are still there for enjoyment.  Vastly superior to its poor cousin (twice removed) Budweiser, it’s a refreshing wee drop that is quite quaffable.”

The second commentator is Mr Russell M Barbour, a consultant, a tegestologist (look it up *) and a beer lover.  He is also a Canadian but this blog has (only just) resisted replacing his actual answer with something like “beer, what’s that all aboot, eh?”  We would never ever stoop to such levels.  Anyway, here is how Russ answered our simple question about his two favourite Malthouse beers:

beer3    “Where do I begin?  There are so many great beers at the Malthouse.
    I suppose my favourite beer isn't really a beer in and of itself but rather the idea of the 'ever evolving new and exciting line up' (ie. whatever Colin brings into the mix - even if it's just a one off).  I see the Malthouse as a microcosm of the New Zealand (and global) craft brewing industry... reliable yet highly innovative (eg. the annual Hop-off!).  I always look forward to imbibing something special that is hard to source elsewhere.
5     Again, confining me to just two beers is like going back in time when all there was on offer was DB and Lion. If I had my druthers, I would waffle on about the Tuatara Ardennes, Invercargill Pitch Black, G Schneider & Sons Aventinus, Epic Pale Ale or the grandiose 2009 Three Boys Oyster Stout! I am lost for words.”

A philosophical answer there and, for those trying to keep track at home, “druthers” means “choice” or “preference.” 

This is the merely the first instalment of the People’s Blog.  If you would like the opportunity to tell the world about your favourite Malthouse beers, drop us a line on myfavouritebeer at themalthouse.co.nz. 

* Oh alright.  It means someone who collects beer coasters.  He has over 9,000.

Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand 
Beer and Brewer Magazine

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Friday Morning Ramble #27 [updated]

Once again I’ve been sent so many great links this week (thank you, folks) that I haven’t been able to talk about them all in the normal run of posts, so here’s a ramble through the best of what you need to know (and sorry, I can’t always remember who deserves the hat tip).
  • Penn & Teller explain the envy-ridden simplicity of Obamanomics.  “I’m not taking pie from you, I’m giving pie to me.”
  • Organic food is just a tax on the gullible, says Dominic Lawson. [Hat tip Inquiring Mind]
  • Is safeguarding Afghanis more important than American (and New Zealand) lives?  The way the war is being fought, you’d certainly think so, says Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Center.
  • Lindsay Mitchell wants to know: Will Roger Douglas be joining the 'Hands off our perks' campaign?
  • How about this one then.  Are ‘Green’ Programs Good for the Poor?  Well, what do you think.
  • Marketing guru CJ Lambert explains, for this modern age, Why Business Cards Suck.  I’m starting to agree.
  • Now this is how to communicate science visually.  Watch Those lovely squiddy colors.
  • Fred Wilson explains how to get a good blog comments section going – and why you should bother.  Basically, if the author of the blog “tends to the comments, replies to the good ones, signals the bad ones, chastises the loudmouth bullies, [deletes vituperative anonymous morons], and generally runs the comment threads like a serious discussion group, a serious discussion will result.”  Time consuming but worth it, he reckons. Best local example of that is probably Public Address.  (You can add you pick of worst local example in my comments below.) Mind you, he reckons that others who act as "bouncers" can be a great help. “They help . . . police the comment threads and make sure the conversation stays civil and high minded.” And also by “the commenters themselves who understand the rules, even through they are not written anywhere, and follow them.”  That’s you, he’s talking about, you know. :-)
  • New Zealanders are now enduring one of the most timid governments in living memory. Elected on a policy platform of crawling me-tooism, it’s hardly failed to disappoint. 
       From its Emissions Tax Scams to its non-reforms of the RMA, from its “bold and decisive” – and urgent! – first-hundred days (which delivered only spin, spittle and more evidence that these crawling appeasers were born to be mild) to “reshuffling” the bloated and bureaucratically managed state-owned power generators (instead of selling them into private ownership), it’s clear that the two ‘P’ words causing most fear for this government are PROPERTY-RIGHTS and PRIVATISATION – two concepts that daren’t speak their name, even in a government strapped for cash.
        So no wonder this band of halfway-house merchants are so excited about the halfway-house of so-called “public-private-partnerships,” the privatisation you have when you want to privatise profits and socialise the risks.  Liberty Scott explains why this is another halfway-house we just can’t afford.  Read: Why bother with PPPs?.
  • Margaret Thatcher’s sterling lieutenant Norman Tebbit reckons that Conservative Party leader David Cameron – Britain’s John Key – will drive UK’s Tory voters to the UK Independence Party. “The former Conservative Cabinet minister said Mr Cameron and the “clever young men” were focusing their appeal on former Labour and Liberal Democrat voters and ignoring the concerns of traditional Tories.”[Hat tip Sam Hearne]
    NZ’s ACT supporters might like to think that something similar might happen here. But they might care to notice that the UKIP has retained its principles . . .
  • "The best way to rob a bank is to own a bank"  -- quote from this Bill Moyers interview.  Think about it. So the best way to rob every bank? To be chairman of The Federal Reserve.  Nonetheless, you can only rob some of the people some of the time.  Gary North explains Why Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is Now in Panic Mode.
  • Another entry in the Destruction-of-the-War-on-Drugs file, this time in Mexico and Colombia.  Stephanie Hanson at CATO looks at the US$6 billion failure of Plan Colombia, which in six years failed to drop cocaine production, but did succeed in raising prices for producers – and adding to the already-present violence in the area.  She concludes, “As drug traffickers have shown time and time again, when efforts are made to disrupt their business, they adapt-whether by shipping their product to Europe via West Africa, or to Mexico via ship instead of air. Trying to disrupt the supply or transit of drugs is, as Ted Galen Carpenter clearly outlines, a futile endeavor.”
    Read Evaluating Plan Colombia.
  • What does Al Gore have in common with Godfather Vito Corleone?  Read this and find out: The Thuggery of Al Gore.
  • Frankly my dear, The real threat is not climate change but green climate policies.
  • UPDATE: And while we’re talking about thuggery and coercion, how about the thuggery of Obama’s goons?
  • And what about America’s ‘free market’ health care?  What free market health care?
  • Rush Limbaugh reads out Objectivist professor John Lewis’s analysis of ObamaCare.  Listen in (or just read the transcript): A Duke Professor Explains What the Health Care Bill Actually Says.
  • Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh contrast Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” at The Objective Standard.  An oldie, but a very-very-goodie.  If you think the ObamaCare debate doesn’t affect you, then this is the one to read.
  • Looks like Australia’s rugby team the Wallabies sure have fun at training.  Ouch! [Hat tip Simon Pound]
  • From the ‘You-Meet-Ayn-Rand-in-the-Strangest-Places file. CNBC’s book blog explains Why Ayn Rand Is Still Relevant.  They’re right, she is . . . but this is CNBC saying this!
  • Getting ready to post its fifth straight apocalyptic predictions for the coming century, prediction which like the last four will no doubt all be falsified by global temperatures, the UN’s IPCC says it’s not going less of for science and more for politics.  (So what’s changed?, you might ask). 
    Read The IPCC Gets Sick of Science, by Jerry Taylor.
  • UPDATE: Les Paul, Jazz-Guitar Virtuoso and Inventor, Dies at 94. [Hat tip George Light.]  Watch the first ten minutes here of the doco Chasing Sound, of the man who took what Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian were doing, and turned it into the guitar sound that changed the world. Or even better (if you can somehow ignore the exploding head!) check out this superb track from the 1944 Jazz at the Philharmonic Concert.
  • That Prince of the Wairarapa Oswald Bastable has written a novel. True story. “After 5 years of editing, chopping and changing, reformatting, combining two books into one, recycling as firelighters and a heap of procrastination, Meddlers in Time is available as an e-book here for the princely sum of US$2.50. A dead-tree version in in the pipeline,” he promises.  Head over and congratulate him.
  • Calling all rational parents.  Rational Jenn would like you to know about a new blog carnival starting up! The Non-Punitive Discipline Blog Carnival will be a monthly collection of posts about ". . . attachment parenting, playful parenting, limit setting, and any other non-punitive ways of helping our children learn self-control."
    And yes, Virginia, rational non-punitive parents can still vote “No!”
  • Every postmodernist’s favourite philosopher Martin Heidegger was a Nazi?!  But of course.
  • PJ O’Rourke talks to Reason TV about Government Motors, and much more.  Takeaway quip: Putting politicians in charge of the financial sector is like when father burns dinner, and putting the dog in charge of the cooking. In other words, the one creature in the house you know is going to do a worse job. [Hat tip Bob Murphy]
  • This is the kind of "social responsibility" investing that companies should be doing says Steven C.: The accidental business incubator.
  • What do liberal New York Times’ contributors do when the percentage of GDP consumed by ever-increasing government spending grows too large to ignore? asks Eric Peltier at The Undercurrent. Answer: They replace GDP with a new measurement, of course. One which includes such non-quantifiable values as “ecosystem services” and “regulation of our climate on a global and local scale.” It’ll turn the economic ruin of “cap and trade” into gold, too, says Eric.
        He’s right of course, but let’s face it, so too are many of the criticisms of the GDP delusion are spot on.  The GDP fetish is a delusional nonsense anyway: it sees no difference between consumption and production – between productive expenditure and money thrown down the drain – so confusing capital accumulation with eating the seed corn.
       In fact all it really measures is the growth in the money supply. No wonder countries deep in recession can still pretend to show “positive growth.”  If you want to know more, check out these pieces on the GDP Delusion, in increasing order of thoroughness:
  • Robert Barro’s comments on the "cash for clunkers programme" in the US, posted at Anti Dismal, give you more GDP ludicrosity (to coin a word_:
    The most ludicrous . . .  intervention thus far has to be the cash-for-clunkers program. It’s not surprising that subsidising people to destroy old cars would raise GDP, because measured GDP includes the replacement cars but not the value lost from destruction. Why not also blow up houses and factories and then enjoy the expansion of GDP from the replacement investment?
  • Green shoots?  What green shoots? asks local luminary Louis Boulanger. Scrowl down to Green Shoots & Leprechauns.
  • Oh Wait, Maybe the Recession Isn't Over After All. You think?
  • What’s The Beast That Ate Our Economic Success?  Bernard Hickey has the simple answer.
  • Stephen Hicks explains What business ethics can learn from entrepreneurship, and points to an exciting new documentary to be released soon: Ten9Eight. Directed by Mary Mazzio, it is about a dozen instant-classic American success stories — and entrepreneurship’s power over poverty and adversity.
  • And finally, this here below is the speech of the week, if not the year.  In fact, one young man emailed me to say that watching it had changed his life, by bringing together for him – for integrating – ideas he’d been struggling with.
        The lecture is by John Allison, the man who took over a small North Carolina bank, BB&T, and turned it into one of America’s largest banks, holding over $130 billion, and one of the soundest.  Still is. 
        In this lecture, Allison outlines the values of his organisation that made that success happen – how sound philosophy gives you, and your business, a competitive advantage.
        Sit back, relax, and take notes.  It’s that good. (And then send the link to your friends.)
  • UPDATE: Jeff Perren just posted this note over at SOLO.  See if you can identify its connection with the point at the heart of Allison’s presentation above:
  • I remember an interview with Sean Connery during which he was asked, I'm paraphrasing - but closely - the question and his answer, what was the most important thing in the world to him. His reply was: "To feel good inside my own skin at the end of the day."
PS: Is there anyone out there who reads Czech?  Scott Powell at Powell History needs some help with a little Czech translation if you’d be able to help, or know someone who could.  If you can help then email me at organon at ihug.co.nz with CZECH in the heading, and I’ll pass it on.

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Quote of the day: On the Nats [updated]

National isn't just Labour Lite, it's Labour Zero - same taste but no sugar, in a different coloured can.”
…………………………………………………- Liberty Scott

From high taxing nanny state to... high taxing pragmatism
    The National-led government was elected in New Zealand on a platform of less tax, less government, and less nanny statism. Theirs was to be a pragmatic government, free of leftist ideological social engineering. Nine months and one budget on, we still have a high taxing nanny state. Pragmatism, it seems, is not all it’s cracked up to be.
    The current government campaigned against the overweening powers of the ‘nanny state’ Labour government, and declared that a ban on inefficient light bulbs and plans to restrict shower pressures (for environmental reasons), would be overturned. It has done so. However, it now appears that the trade-off for canning these restrictions is going to mean giving up rights to use your cell phone while driving. Minister of Justice Simon Power has also indicated that alcohol will be taxed more highly and become more difficult to sell and purchase.
    Ultimately, this reflects a value judgment. The new government reasons that it is somehow better than the last government at making decisions about which goods and services should be restricted. Apparently incandescent light bulbs are a matter of freedom and choice, when and where you use a cell phone is not. This is hardly less government.
    Somehow this pragmatism has become a compliment in New Zealand politics. Pragmatic people are thought to be practical, issue focused, and not distracted by abstract theory. This reflects New Zealand’s tradition of political anti-intellectualism.  Yet without the theory, or an ideological framework from which to work, how can we measure decisions? Where are the standards against which to measure the efficacy of policies? Without first principles, how can objectives be worked out and implemented?
New Zealanders may dislike ideology, but fashionable pragmatism in politics is far more dangerous. It makes short term public opinion the only standard against which to gauge policy quality or desirability. Indeed, that is pragmatism: trading the desirable to gain the achievable. And in politics, the achievable is often that which wins votes.
    The current government is likely to press forward and restrict more freedoms, but the freedoms they are now examining are genuine nanny state stuff that have a real effect on the lives of most adults.

Top stuff, Luke.  Well said.

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The Church of the Immaculate Conception - Giovanni Michelucci

5611_1088352216528_1458143067_30203916_7275522_n

21745559 longarone The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Longarone, Italia, 1966-78, architetto Giovanni Michelucci. [Hat tip ADAO International Portal of Organic Arcjhitecture]

The building and its conception (excuse the unforgiveable pun) are as dramatic as the site.

CH69-69-01

86a994f99cb0085c5f530dd488ca108d

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Government announces cellphone ban . . . [updated]

New bans, new taxes, spending like a drain (or is that, money down the drain?).

Does anyone remember a change of government last year?

Was there anyone who really expected a real change?

Come on now, 'fess up. There must be one or two of you?

UPDATE: Comments on the cellphone ban from TWR and Dave Mann are so good they deserve the front page. (I've paraphrased slightly and combined the two for clarity). The line to takeaway: "Its easier to herd the population into a (metaphorical) prison camp than it is to actually police and punish the behaviour."
Laws already exist to protect against dangerous driving, there's no need for new ones to ping drivers who are not driving dangerously. The correct way of approaching it would be for the police to publicise the fact that from that moment on they would be ticketing people who they see carelessly driving while on cellphones under the existing careless/dangerous driving laws. It's not hard to see someone driving erratically, and they often do end up being on the phone. Those people who are driving perfectly ok while on the phone would be left alone.
It's the careless driving which is the problem behaviour, and no amount of banning will never solve this.
In my view this whole cellphone ban thing is nothing more than yet another source of revenue gathering for the polizei. For every 1000 instances of a driver using a cellphone, probably only 5 to 10 of them are also being careless, so introducing a law which enables the cops to potentially collect revenue off all 1000 of them regardless of their level of care is, for them, the best way to go. It saves them from actually having to do any work.
The same goes for alcohol, fireworks, savage dogs and killing your own children. It's easier to herd the population into a (metaphorical) prison camp than it is to actually police and punish the behaviour.
Coincidentally, none of this police state environment has the slightest effect on real criminals and assholes. All it does is clamp down of the freedom of the ordinary citizens and gather revenue from them wherever possible in order to feed government's sense of power.

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Kiri's Final Monologue

Kiri Te Kanawa has announced -- note her retirement from singing; not yet anyway -- but her imminent retirement from the opera stage.

Her last opera performance will be in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier in Cologne next April, singing a role, appropriately enough, whose famous aria (the Marschallin's Monologue) sees her musing wistfully on the passing of time. Renee Fleming sets the scene for that famous monologue in this clip in one of a series of great clips on the opera at the New York Times site. And The Met's site has this reflection on the aria:
The Marschallin alone among the characters sees the future passing through the present into the past, and wonders what it means. Philosophers may say that time is only the measure of change. Poets may say "Carpe diem" -- "Grasp time while you can." But the Marschallin finds that in fact in a human life one cannot measure or grasp or hold. Each irreversible moment is already gone in the instant of becoming.
For the accountants reading this, that's like saying you can either spend your savings or have them - they're gone in the instant of enjoying them. :-)
Anyway, here's a sample from her singing the role at Covent Garden in 1986 in which she laments her quickly vanishing youth:


And this is her singing the beatiful piece from the 'Songs of the Auvergne' that you might have enjoyed in the film In My Father's Den (sadly only available at YouTube in wide screen, it seems):

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NOT PJ: ‘Til bureaucratic meddling do us part

Why can’t Bernard Darnton divorce the government? They’ve already taken half his property.

_BernardDarnton If you think you’re living in wedded bliss it may just be bliss. Finger-waggers from the Department of Internal Affairs have been wagging their fingers at marriage celebrants who just sign the legal documents but let someone else stand up the front, read out the vows, and make the cute jokes “to lighten-up proceedings” (because weddings are usually so miserable).

Finger-wagger-general of the DIA Brian Clarke has warned that his rubber stamping and box-ticking colleagues may refuse to rubber stamp or tick the boxes of some marriage ceremonies. In the same way that a humble DIA box-ticker would never dare assume the more important duties of a finger-wagger, a best mate with two night’s experience doing stand-up at Fat Eddie's should never be allowed to take on the solemn responsibilities of an officially recognised marriage celebrant.

Now, I can understand why people get married. After all, I’m married (and my wife is reading this over my shoulder so … best behaviour). What I can’t work out is why the government cares.

I can see that you might need some kind of official box-ticker recording this stuff if you’re a girl and you ever want to get a visa for Saudi Arabia. Or that you need some way of working out who’s allowed to tell the doctor to turn the ventilator off. But why you need a member of some exclusive guild to witness the deal is beyond me.

The truly perplexing part is that Births, Deaths and Marriages is banging on about people not being legally married when the previous government, via changes to the Property (Relationships) Act, automagically married anyone who was standing too close together – without anybody except the Governor-General signing anything.

The Press interviewed Christchurch marriage celebrant Julie Lassen for their exposé on this topic and she said, “It has been happening and it’s really very bad.” She didn’t explain why. Presumably it’s because of the risk of having a ceremony that doesn’t result in a marriage. Perhaps a worry born from experience because Lassen’s website boasts that “her weddings are renowned for going without a hitch.”

It looks as if the National Guild of New Zealand Celebrants is simply trying to drum up business for the National Guild of New Zealand Celebrants – what economists call “rent seeking” and the rest of us call “getting your face in the trough.” No doubt they have all sorts of imaginative reasons why your marriage might be unsafe or unhealthy unless it’s been solemnised by someone who filled in the right form and posted it to Internal Affairs. No doubt those reasons are all crap.

Unless you subscribe to some flavour of mystical nonsense – and celebrants only have to be endorsed by the DIA, not a deity – it doesn’t matter who officiates at a wedding. The promises you make in front of your friends and family are the same. Property law applies whether you’re married, civilly united, or just plain old shacked up. So why the silly laws and finger-wagging?

As usual, we’d be better off if the government had nothing to do with it. At the civil union demonstration in Wellington in 2004, while Bishop-to-be Brian Tamaki and his Density Church were seig-heiling their way up Lambton Quay and the land-rights-for-gay-whales brigade was waiting for them at Parliament there was one lonely soul in Parliament’s grounds carrying a placard that said “Repeal the Marriage Act.” He was the only person talking much sense that day.

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

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Problems with Blogger

Sorry for the delay of Bernard’s column here this morning.  There’s a few problems with the Blogger platform. The Blogger people-guys are working on it: http://xrl.in/2wgm

The Death of Socrates – Jacques Louis David

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‘The Death of Socrates,’ by Jacques Louis David – just one of hundreds of examples of great art used by historian Scott Powell in his ‘History Through Art’ programme.

Learn to see history in a new way by combining  the abstract lessons of history with the visual power of art!

Head here to the ‘History Through Art’ website to learn more about the programme, and to sign up.  It’s easy, it’s fun, and you can do it from home.  The next programme starts September 2nd.

Throw out your preconceptions about history as a dry, academic subject, and embrace a world of inspirational insights and values.

There’s no better way to learn history.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What happened when 285 atheists visited the Creationists’ Museum? Part 2: The video evidence!

House price inflation on the rise again? [update 2]

crystal_ball_lg The eggheads at Infometrics have set cats amongst pigeons with their “prediction” that even in this slump house prices could now “grow” by as much as 11% over the coming year and by 24% over the next three years.

I put quotation marks around “predict” since as we know the illusion that economists can predict the future to three significant figures (note that it’s 24%, not around 25% or 20%) is farcical on its face.

And I put quotation marks around “grow” because, as we should have learned by know, more housing hysteria will not be “growth” only in the sense of being inflationary -- just another bubble looking for a pin.

Bernard Hickey’s blog has as much of the privately-commissioned research as the research’s owners wish to make public, so if you want to interrogate the workings of their predictions that’s the place to go.

And it’s also the place to go to debate one of the report’s defenders -- The Visible Hand’s Matt Nolan, who points out that Infometrics (his employer) is not saying this like it’s a good thing.  What they’re saying is there are significant imbalances in the economy that still haven’t been shaken out, which is true, and which will soon be seen in more capital consumption, which would indeed be true should their forecast come to pass.

Without revealing their clients’ private information, Nolan makes four points that are worth considering when reflecting on their forecast:

For people wondering what has changed over the last two years to make house price growth stronger now lets say that the intense lack of building, extreme loosening in monetary policy, lack of movement on structural imbalances, and sharp increase in net migration are pretty significant factors.

Now all those things are true. Nothing has changed fundamentally to correct the “structural imbalances” that led to all the previous housing malinvestment.  EnZed houses are still overvalued according to fundamentals (the average price of houses as a multiple of the salaries we earn here, for example, are still several time more than they should be), but there are factors that were at work inflating the last bubble that are still at work again.

That is the warning Infometrics is sending.

nz-real-land-prices Consider that house prices haven’t yet fallen anything like what they should have if they were to come back to meet historic house-price trends, which is why Bernard Hickey and others recently revised up their predictions that house prices would need to fall around 30% to set things right again [NB: for “upturn” on the graph at right read instead “unsustainable boom.”]

Consider that monetary policy worldwide is now looser than a geriatric’s bowels.  There’s more “quantitative easing” and counterfeit capital around now than any time before – and now that the US Federal Reserve has started illicitly monetising the government’s debts, even the world’s huge government deficits aren’t going to slow down another credit-fuelled inflation.  So if credit-driven demand picks up again at the over-low interest rates we have now there’s every chance of another inflationary housing bubble.

Consider too that even at the peak of the housing bubble, building costs were so high that the replacement cost for a new house was approaching the inflated price a new house could be sold for – and nothing has been done since to change that for the better.  Builders have still left the industry in droves (driven away by overregulation and the leaky house fiasco which governments largely created and have only helped to make worse), and the availability of land on which to build is still being strangled by town planners empowered by the Resource Management Act. [Read archived posts here on Building, Housing and Urban Design for more on these problems that haven’t gone away.]

So you might want to give some decent consideration to the idea that things can run away again – and I don’t say that like it’s a good thing either.  Price inflation is never good, whichever “asset class” is affected.

And what about those “structural imbalances” then?

Well, consider this. In a decent economic slump, recession should mean economic recovery – the time when entrepreneurs correct their errors, reset their cost structures, and start off again in more profitable directions. If your "boom" is when the central bank's rocket fuel sends everyone out on a credit-fuelled bender, and your "crisis" is the part when you wake up in the morning and realise you've left your credit card with the hooker and her six cocaine-addled friends, then the "depression" is the part where you ring the credit card company and cancel the card.  Your depression is your recovery phase

It's the period when businessmen realise they've been swimming in the central bank's inflated money, and set about to restructure everything more responsibly. 

A decent government -- a responsible government -- can help the process of recovery by removing all impediments to letting it happen: cutting their own spending, removing any legal impediments to changing distorted price signals so businessmen can see where resources are more urgently needed, getting out of the way of allowing viable producers to cut costs in the face of falling prices, tying the central banks hands to stop its profligate credit expansion.

But that long overdue structural change just hasn’t happened, has it. Nothing has changed fundamentally – how could they with a government committed to doing everything necessary to fake reality and attempt to maintain the status quo. We’re still consuming other people’s capital instead learning to do something productive with it. We’ve still got all those same structural imbalances that were shown up so tellingly in the collapse.

As I’ve said here before, there’s no choice about the pain of recession, only a choice of how long that pain might last.  If Infometrics are roughly right, and there’s enough in what they say to at least consider seriously what they’re saying, then it’s clear that the “status quo merchants” need to start getting real.  Because we can only consume other people’s capital for so long before we start eating our own seed corn.

UPDATE 1: “A premature housing boom would not be good for the economy and the Government will consider ideas, possibly a capital gains tax, to avoid one, Finance Minister Bill English says.”

Hey Bill, instead of another bloody tax (remember those tax cuts you once promised?, you thieving arsehole) how about getting rid of those impediments to house prices falling instead?

You know, like getting your Housing & Building minister to get rid of all the gold-plated gobbledygook building regulations keeping prices high and delays extensive?

Or getting your bloody Minister in Charge of the Resource Management Abomination to rein in the town planners who “ring-fence” cities and whack on those ginormous “development levies” that new-house buyers end up paying for?

Or, more radically, sacking your Reserve Bank Governor, closing down his monopoly and letting banks issue their own assert-backed currency?

Why this ever-present leap to a new tax every time your competence is threatened?  Is your middle name “Cullen”?

UPDATE 2: On a related note (related to the monetary inflation mentioned above), there’s this piece from BreakingViews at TheTelegraph [hat tip Bernard Hickey, who disgracefully backs Beneficiary Bill’s tax grab trial balloon]:

    Many countries have suffered their worst GDP declines in generations. Consumer prices are still falling in the US, Japan, the eurozone and China. But stock prices are once again hitting crisis highs, the oil price has almost doubled, distressed debt is selling at 90pc of face value and credit spreads are steadily narrowing. This financial mini-boom cohabits oddly with deflation.
   
Money might solve this puzzle. More precisely, in their anti-deflationary fervour, central banks may be creating more money than depressed economies require. The surplus creates “excess liquidity” - which may be feeding a new series of stock, commodity, property and bond bubbles.
   
How might this end? With global demand still weak, unemployment rising and global industrial over-capacity a problem, there are strong forces to keep a lid on consumer price inflation. Central banks aren’t about to raise interest rates or reverse their additional money creating efforts.
   
That policy may not be right. Policy easing may need to be reversed some time before consumer price inflation rises. Excess liquidity could lead further asset-price inflation - and to multiplying financial bubbles.
   
When they burst, the real impact on consumer finances, investors and banks may again be heavy, bringing renewed downward pressure on the global economy.

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Quote of the day: On children

"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers."
…………………………………………  - Socrates [hat tip Stephen Hicks]

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Twenty polite questions on Obama’s socialised medicine [update 2]

Americans are angry.  They’re not just angry that their freedom to organise their own health care is being taken away by the ObamaCare Health Bill (what it actually says is analysed here at the Principles in Practice blog), they’re not just angry at the cap-and-trade hogwash sluiced out by President Zero, they’re increasingly angry too at the dismissive way they’re being treated by the Obama Administration and its shills.

The anger is boiling over spontaneously at “Town Hall meetings” around the country organised to put over the two plans to the public – a public clearly underwhelmed by what they’ve been hearing. “We don’t want it.” “We don’t want your help.” “Why would we want that?” they’re saying about both ObamaCare and ObamaCap-and-Tax. Says Dorothy Rabinowotz in the Wall Street Journal,

It [doesn’t] take chaotic town-hall meetings, raging demonstrators and consequent brooding in various sectors of the media to bring home the truth that the campaign for a health-care bill is, to put it mildly, not going awfully well.

So what would you ask if you had the chance?  Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist has Twenty Questions for your Congressman you might like to note down. “These are the kinds of questions,” he says, “we should all be thinking about and trying to answer, if we are going to subject this legislation to the scrutiny it needs before Congress votes on it.”  They’re a model of questioning penetration – and since they overturn much of the disinformation EnZedders will have been hearing about existing US health-care and the ObamaCare plan I’ve reposted some slightly paraphrased and abridged excerpts here:

    1. The government has been "reforming" health-care for sixty years . . . until it is now more than 50% of all health-care spending. Yet after sixty years of government "reform," the problems with health-care are just getting worse. So why should we believe that even more government is the solution?
    2. President Obama keeps telling us that he's not trying to get rid of private health insurance. But the bill being debated in Congress would require all the conditions of all new insurance policies to be  be dictated by a so-called "Health Choices Commissioner." How is this insurance going to be "private" if the government controls everything about it?
    3. A video on YouTube shows Barack Obama back in 2003—only six years ago—saying that he is in favor of a "single payer" system. The "single payer" is government, so . . . when Obama and the Democrats tell us this bill won't lead to a government takeover of health-care, why should we believe them?
    4. Medicare is broke. Social Security is broke. Federal tax receipts are falling, and Congress has already voted on trillions of dollars of stimulus and bailouts in the last year. The national credit card is maxed out. So how can you justify voting for a bill that will require even more money that we don't have?
    5. The health-care bill imposes an enormous increase of costs on businesses and insurers. Have you considered how they're going to pay for all of this? How many of these companies will go out of business or lay off more workers after the government forcibly increases their expenses?
    6. Insurers will be forced to cover people with "pre-existing conditions." That's like getting insurance on your car after you crash it. This isn't insurance, it's a handout. So doesn't that mean that the rest of us will have to pay more for our insurance to absorb the cost of those handouts?
    7. The health-care bill will mandate what costs insurance companies have to cover. For example, they will have to pay for routine check-ups and physicals, or they will have to provide every woman with maternity coverage. But what if you don't want to pay for that extra coverage? By taking those choices away from us, won't this bill actually make our insurance more expensive, not less?
    8. A lot of people have been upset about Congress passing bills that they haven't had time to read—can you really say that anyone has had the time to figure out how all the parts will work together and what all of the consequences will be? With a bill this big, is it even possible to figure out all of that and really know what you're voting for?
    9. President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making us a lot of promises, but what is or isn't in this one particular bill is not the end of the story. But as more and more of us become dependent on the government for our health-care coverage, won't we have to worry about what some future Congress or some future bureaucrat will decide to cover or not cover?
    10. The defenders of the health-care bill claim that it's going to lead to all sorts of savings, not by actually cutting any services or denying care, but just by finding "inefficiencies" that will save money. Do you think this is remotely plausible? When has anybody ever said, "This project has to be lean and efficient—let's get the government do it"?
    11. Since the proposed government-provided health insurance plans to save money by substituting Medicare reimbursement rates for market rates when paying doctors and hospitals, and many private hospitals and medical practices have said they can't cover their expenses at these lower rates -- and will have to go out of business -- doesn't this bill guarantee an immediate shortage of doctors and medical services?
    12. Medicare cuts costs by paying lower rates to doctors and hospitals, who then shift these costs to those of us with private health insurance, who get charged higher rates. But if the government takes over and starts dictating Medicare reimbursement rates for everyone, who will the costs get shifted to then?
    13. The term "brain drain" was originally coined in the 1960s when doctors and medical researchers left Britain to escape socialized medicine. Aren't you afraid we might see the same kind of brain drain from the medical profession here in America?
    14. Do you know the meaning and significance of the term "quality adjusted life year"? (NB: "Quality adjusted life year" is a term used under socialized medicine to determine whether elderly patients are allowed to get expensive drugs or treatments, depending on some bureaucrat's calculation of how many good years they have left.) Can you assure us that the same thing won't happen here?
    15. The government proposes a panel of medical experts who will dictate from Washington what the “proper medical practices” are that should be paid for, and what practices are supposedly "wasteful" and "unnecessary." Won't this mean interfering with decisions normally be made by me and my doctor? And what will this do to innovation if every new idea has to get approved by a board of establishment "experts" before use?
    16. Government-run health-care is not some new, untested idea. In Britain, it has led to a "postcode lottery," where the medical procedures you are allow to get depend on where you live. In Canada, it has led to a shortage of doctors and waiting lists for major surgeries. In America, Medicare ended up costing far, far more than anyone expected. Massachusetts and Maine spent enormous amounts of money to extend government coverage to very few people. The Oregon Health Plan may not cover your cancer treatment—but it will cover assisted suicide. Given all of this experience, what makes you think that somehow this will be the exception that will avoid all of the problems that government health-care has always led to?
    17. Why does "reform" always mean more government? Are you aware of proposals that have been put forward for free-market reforms of health care? Congress has already approved Health Savings Accounts, where individuals buy their own high-deductible health insurance and save money tax-free, which they can use for their out-of-pocket health-care expenses. This gives people more control over their spending on routine medical treatments while keeping them covered for a serious illness, and it allows them to keep their health insurance if they change jobs. But this program has been limited in size. Are you open to ideas like this, for free-market reform of health-care?
    18. A lot of doctors say that medical malpractice insurance is what is really driving up health-care costs. So why isn't tort reform—for example, limiting excessive jury awards in malpractice lawsuits—being considered as part of health-care reform?
    19. What part of your decision on this bill, if any, is affected by a consideration for liberty, individual rights, and the Constitution? Would you consider opposing it simply because it grants powers to the government that are not authorized anywhere in the Constitution?
    20. Thomas Jefferson said, "A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." Notice what is not on his list: government-provided housing, or government-provided food, or government-provided health care. And Jefferson's views on the role of government were widely shared by America's Founding Fathers. So my question is: Please explain where you disagree with the vision of our Founding Fathers, and why.

Great stuff. Head here to read (and print out) all twenty questions in full.

PS: How many believe the myth that America has something called a free market health care system. Read this at Forbes Magazine and have your delusions shattered: The Myth Of Free Market Health Care In America.[Hat tip Thrutch]

UPDATE:  Does the ObamaCare programme cover broken noses from Obamadinejad’s thugs?  Watch the news true and hilarious at News Busters [hat tip Betsy S.]:

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Casa Terenzio Belloli - Mario Galvagni

5611_1088352136526_1458143067_30203914_1214670_nbelltere1   A large family residence built outside Milan in 1962-64 by Italian architect Mario Galvagni, part of Italy’s heritage of  organic architecture on which theorist Bruno Zevi was so influential. Mario , Casa Terenzio Belloli,  Inveruno, Milano, 1962-64-89

If anyone can translate from the Italian website that features it (one of the few places online I can find with Galvagni’s work), I’d be very grateful.  As you can see here, for once BabelFish has let me down:belpart

Immense residence of the family, is characterized from the composition of the elements forms them that they come from my search of that age, that consisted in increasing the space of the figurative story by means of a temporal extension in the direction of the perceptiveness of the several plastic members. . . 

Any idea what the hell that means?

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Tuesday, August 11, 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.

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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.)

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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.

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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]

Acronyms
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]

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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.)

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Monday, August 10, 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.

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