Monday, 3 May 2010

Just a bigoted state [update 4]

The only honest line British Prime-Minister-in-absentia Gordon Brown has ever been heard to utter  came last week when he told aides that a women who had just taken the opportunity to confide in him about the evils of Eastern-European immigrants was “just a bigoted woman.”

And so she was.

Cross the Atlantic now to Arizona, where a bigoted state now requires everyone to carry around their birth certificate, just so they aren’t mistaken for someone who’s living and working in the state without big-government’s blessing.

If Gordon Brown’s apology for his momentary rush of honesty was the shot heard still being heard around the British electorate, then Arizona’s attack on personal liberty is the shot against individual freedom that’s being heard right around the world.  It’s a reminder that it’s not just the left side of the aisle that are big-government bullies--and a reminder too that neither side has a monopoly on taking advantage of those stateless souls who leave their homes in search of a better life.Cartoon by Henry PayneJust so we’re clear, This Is What Arizona Republicans Want America to Be Like—a place where people of a certain race can be arrested dragged off to jail at the whim of a policeman for the crime of not carrying their papers.  Only Godwin’s Law precludes me from pointing out a particular police state of which that might remind you.

The police-state crackdown is bad enough.  But what it’s demonstrated all too clearly is that for many people apparently committed to individual liberty and small government are anything but.  Scratch the surface of too many small-government conservatives, and what you find there is nothing more than stinking, ill-informed authoritarian racism.  (Just one reason I’ve taken the likes of Andrew Bolt off my blog roll).

I say ill-informed, because it’s the only possible defence people like Bolt might have for being bigoted men and women themselves.

Because the facts confound the bigots. The fact is that in a free society, more people are a boon, not a burden.

That as author Robert Heinlein suggested, successful immigrants demonstrate just by their choice and gumption in choosing a new life that they are worthy of respect.

And as James Kilbourne says, “God damn you if the only two words you can find to put together when talking about people who leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves and their families are ‘illegal aliens.’”

The fact is—and let me say it again just to stress the point—that in a free society, more people are a boon, not a burden. You think that’s hyperbole?  Well, it’s not.  Look at the American experience—the country’s wealth was built upon open immigration—on the melting pot that was the result of the open immigration of the nineteenth-century. But even in more oppressive times of today, the facts are clear that that the freer the country, the more immigration is a boon for everybody—and that immigrants themselves are overwhelmingly more productive and better behaved than most of the bigots are.

Just consider the litany of facts the bigots need to contend with regarding American immigration:

  • The runaround needed to immigrate legally to the US is one prime reason so many do it illegally.
  • 'Illegals' are not milking the government; if anything it is the other way around. The National Research Council found for example that most immigrant families "contribute an average of $80,000 more to federal coffers than they consume over their lifetimes."
  • Immigrants generally earn more than they receive.
  • More than 60% of illegal immigrants pay income tax, and two-thirds kick in to Social Security (and most get nothing back).
  • Immigrants help sustain economic growth and cultural dynamism.
  • Immigrants "are generally less involved in crime than similarly situated groups," and crime rates in border towns "are lower than those of comparable non-border cities."
  • Crime rates in the highest-immigration states have been trending significantly downward.
  • Even economists who favour restrictive immigration policies admit low-skilled immigrants are a net plus to the economy.
  • Unemployment is low and crime is down everywhere, especially in places teeming with immigrants.
  • Immigration gives you the benefits of geniuses who were born elsewhere. Google, Yahoo! and Sun Microsystems were all founded by immigrants.
  • Immigrants are more likely than 'natives' to be self-employed.
  • Immigrants tend to create their own work -- when they're allowed to.
  • The power and reach of Spanish-language media in L.A. for example shows supply of productive people creating its own demand.
  • Immigrant labour makes work easier for all of us, and brings new skills to the table.
  • Immigrants and low-skilled American workers fill very different roles in the economy.
  • Immigrant labour makes all businesses easier to start, thus spurring 'native' creativity.
  • "Some argue that we should employ a more restrictive policy that allows in only immigrants with 'needed' skills. But this assumes the government can read economic tea leaves." - Tyler Cowen and Daniel M. Rothschild
  • New arrivals, by producing more goods and services, keep prices down across the economy -- the net gain to US from immigration is about $7 billion a year.
  • There's no reason that the North American Free Trade Agreement (or NZ's own free trade agreements) shouldn't apply equally to people as to widgets.
  • Even in the halls of Congress, economic arguments against immigration are losing their aura of truthfulness, so pro-enforcement types are focussing on “national security.”
  • "The only way to actually prevent terrorists from slipping in is to legalize as much 'illegal immigration' as possible. If one is looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes, one has a hell of job. Finding that needle on a relatively clean floor, however, presents an achievable goal." - James Valliant
  • Immigration is good for the immigrants themselves. . . .
Those facts were extracted from the following articles, which provide whole magazines full of ammunition against the bigoted and the ill-informed:
And of course there are the two classic Harry Binswanger articles which are 'must-reads' for the moral and practical case behind open immigration (note, open immigration, not open borders.):
The fact is that there is neither fact nor right on the side of the bigots.  As George Reisman explains for America:
    “The philosophy of individual rights and capitalism implies that foreigners have a right to come and to live and work here, i.e., to immigrate into the United States. The land of the United States is owned by individuals and voluntary associations of individuals, such as private business firms. It is not owned by the United States government or by the American people acting as a collective; indeed many of the owners of land in the United States are not Americans, but foreign nationals, including foreign investors.     “The private owners of land have the right to use or sell or rent their land for any peaceful purpose. This includes employing immigrants and selling them food and clothing and all other goods, and selling or renting housing to them. If individual private landowners are willing to accept the presence of immigrants on their property as employees, customers, or tenants, that should be all that is required for the immigrants to be present. Anyone else who attempts to determine the presence of absence of immigrants is simply an interfering busybody ready to use a gun or club to impose his will.
The fact remains that the only possibly human objection that well-informed people might have to open immigration is that immigration is a drain on the Welfare State. That they object to being forced to pay for people they’ve never met. This much is understandable. (That is the dark truth at the heart of the whole Welfare State—far from offering charity, it sets man against men.)   Again, George Reisman makes the argument: in summary, that Immigration Plus Welfare State Equal Police State.
    “Illegal immigrants are overwhelming the resources of the Welfare State: government–funded hospital emergency rooms are filled with them; public schools are filled with their children. On the basis of such complaints, many people are angry and want to close the border to new illegal immigrants and deport those who are already here.     “They want to keep new illegal immigrants out with fences along the border. It is not clear whether the fences would contain intermittent watchtowers with searchlights and machine guns. The illegal immigrants who are already here would be ferreted out by threatening anyone who employed them with severe penalties and making it a criminal offense not to report them.     “This is a classic illustration of Mises’s principle that prior government intervention into the economic system breeds later intervention. Here the application of his principle is, start with the Welfare State, end with the Police State. A police state is what is required effectively to stop substantial illegal immigration that has become a major burden because of the Welfare State.”
And Tibor Machan makes a similar argument, that the biggest problem with the welfare state is not that it might lead to even greater control by government, but that in providing a pseudo-moral argument to treat other human beings like cattle, it habituates people to the sort of easy brutality seen now in Arizona, and in sundry other cases of inhumanity.

But far from being a reason to abandon open immigration, the problems that state-enforced welfare cause for open immigration are reason instead to abandon the short-lived anti-human experiment that is the Welfare State.
    “The philosophy of individual rights and capitalism implies that the immigrants do not have a right to be supported at public expense, which is a violation of the rights of the taxpayers. Of course, it is no less a violation of the rights of the taxpayers when native-born individuals are supported at public expense. The immigrants are singled out for criticism based on the allegation that they in particular are making the burden intolerable.
    “The implementation of the rights both of the immigrants and of the taxpayers requires the abolition of the Welfare State. Ending the Welfare State will end any problem of immigrants being a public burden.
    “Of course, ending the Welfare State is much easier said than done, and it is almost certainly not going to be eliminated even in order to avoid the environment of a police state.
     “But the burdens of the Welfare State and the consequent resentment against immigrants could at the very least be substantially reduced by means of some relatively simple, common-sense reforms in the direction of greater economic freedom. . . .”
And they could be reduced too by the simple and easily-introduced expedient of allowing existing citizens to sponsor and take financial and legal responsibility for new citizens.

But this would require a basic humanity that too many of the bigots seem to lack.

In the meantime then, you want an immediate solution to the 'problem of illegal immigration? Then here it is":
    “The problem of ‘illegal’ immigration can be solved at the stroke of a pen: legalize immigration. Screen all you want (though I want damn little), but remove the quotas. Phase them out over a 5- or 10-year period. Grant immediate, unconditional amnesty to all ‘illegal’ immigrants.”

There endeth the problem.

UPDATE 1:  More good anti-bigoted commentary here [hat tip Thrutch]:

  • THE NEW CLARION: The Rights of Man, the Privileges of Citizen
    This is the end-of-road for conservative anti-immigrationists:  the selective  degradation of the liberty to live in a particular place from a right to a “privilege”.  As a hostile commenter put it sarcastically…

        “Nothing says freedom from government interference like ‘show me your papers.’ Of course, limited government only applies to people who are real Americans, not to Mexicans.”

    Let us examine the conservatives’ trip down the anti-immigration road, and see how it ended there — and what it means for conservatism’s purported fealty to Americanism….
    Read on to see many more anti-immigration shibboleths summarily dispatched.

  •  PAJAMAS MEDIA: Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom: Welfare State Is Draw for Illegals
    While I commiserate with Arizona voters [says Gus Van Horn] public services are the problem, not ‘illegals.’
        …SB 1070 is wrong for Arizona for reasons far beyond civil rights issues.
        SB 1070 deserves only one fundamental criticism: It would fail to protect the individual rights of American citizens — even if it hermetically sealed our borders and the police never touched a single American hair in the process of enforcing it. This is because the biggest headaches attributed to illegal immigration are not caused by it at all…

UPDATE 2: I’m starting a list.  And in ‘tribute’ to Gordon, I’m calling it “Just Some Bigoted Arseholes.”

First on the list is Blair, for this . . .

To which you can add Silent Running, run by a New Zealand blogger advertising “strong right-wing views” on his banner, who thinks “Mexico is polluting us”; Cactus Kate, who has “sanctimonious” on her banner (and bigotry in her waters); and Crusader Rabbit, who has “liberty” on his banner, and black thoughts about Mexican crowds being “a target-rich environment” in his heart …

UPDATE 3:  Says an editorial in the Arizona Republic:

    “We need leaders.
    “The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border.
    “Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear.
    “The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration.
This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos…
    “Comprehensive [immigration] reform will make the border safer. When migrant labor is channeled through the legal ports of entry, the Border Patrol can focus on catching drug smugglers and other criminals instead of chasing busboys across the desert.
    “Real leaders will have the courage to say that.”

UPDATE 4: Reason magazine, whose superb 2006 issue on immigration was the source of many of those linked articles above, has four online articles on the current melee that deserve the attention of everyone not already blinded by bigotry:

  • Immigration Isn't the Problem, David Harsanyi, May 3, 2010
      “For the most part, the controversy we face isn't about immigration at all. It's about the systematic failure of federal government to enforce the law or offer rational policy. There's a difference…
      “The uplifting tale of the hard-boiled immigrant, dipping his or her sweaty hands into the well of the American dream, is one thing. Today we find ourselves in an unsustainable and rapidly growing welfare state. Can we afford to allow millions more to partake?
      “When Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist Milton Friedman was asked about unlimited immigration in 1999, he stated that ‘it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.’”
  • Mysteries of an Immigration Law, Steve Chapman, April 29, 2010
      “The worst-case scenario is that Hispanics will face possible police harassment anytime they venture out of the house. Not to worry, says Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who helped draft the text.
      “He told The Washington Examiner that cops can ask for immigration information only when they have ‘lawful contact’ with someone—when ‘the officer is already engaged in some detention of an individual because he's violated some other law.’
      “In fact, the law doesn't define the crucial term. One of the dictionary definitions of ‘contact’ is ‘immediate proximity,’ which suggests that anytime a possible illegal immigrant comes in sight of a cop, the cop has a legal duty to check her papers.”
  • How Immigration Crackdowns Backfire, Steve Chapman, April 22, 2010
      “It's no surprise that Arizonans resent the recent influx of unauthorized foreigners, some of them criminals. But there is less here than meets the eye.
      “The state has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. But contrary to myth, they have not brought an epidemic of murder and mayhem with them. Surprise of surprises, the state has gotten safer.
      “Over the last decade, the violent crime rate has dropped by 19 percent, while property crime is down by 20 percent. Crime has also declined in the rest of the country, but not as fast as in Arizona…”
  • Don't Let Obama Touch Immigration Reform, Shikha Dalmia, April 13, 2010
    ”America's immigration system is badly broken and in desperate need of fixing. And that is precisely why President Barack Obama should not be allowed to touch it.”
  • Immigration & Crime, Steve Chapman, February 22, 2010
      “From listening to the more vigorous critics of illegal immigration, our porous borders are a grave threat to safety. Not only can foreign terrorists sneak in to target us, but the most vicious criminals are free to walk in and inflict their worst on innocent Americans.
      “In xenophobic circles, this prospect induces stark terror. Fox News' Glenn Beck has decried an ‘illegal immigrant crime wave.’ A contributor to Patrick Buchanan's website asserts, ‘Every day, in the United States, thousands of illegal aliens unleash a reign of terror on Americans.’
      “Sure they do. And I'm Penelope Cruz…
      “A 2007 report by the Immigration Policy Center noted that "for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population…
      “[Ron] Unz points out that in the five most heavily Hispanic cities in the country, violent crime is "10 percent below the national urban average and the homicide rate 40 percent lower." In Los Angeles, which is half Hispanic and easily accessible to those sneaking over the southern border, the murder rate has plummeted to levels unseen since the tranquil years of the early 1960s.
       “This is not really hard to understand. Today, as ever, most foreigners who make the sacrifice of leaving home and starting over in a strange land do so not to mug grandmothers or molest children, but to find work that will give them a better life. Coming here illegally does not alter that basic motivation.
      “In other words, they want to become full-fledged Americans, and they're succeeding. Is there something scary about that?”

Well, is there?

Bill vs Oz vs reality

Imperator Fish has a fair point about Billy Bob’s complacency about Australia’s just-announced tax cuts:

    “Bill English told Radio NZ he's not worried about the plan by the Australian Government to reduce company tax to 28%.
    “Remember when he was the Opposition finance spokesman? Last decade the Australian Government dropped taxes a number of times (usually during election time), and each time there were howls of outrage from the Opposition benches when New Zealand did not follow suit.
    “So why isn't Bill worried now?”

Why isn’t he worried now?  Simple. He’s now in power—and it’s still eighteen months until the next election. 

When you’re in opposition you can make as many promises as you like about tax cuts.  But when you’re in power—with an opposition as weak as this one, and with coalition partners eagerly voting for your spend-up—you can tell voters to go to hell. Like this one has been.

But there’s yet more grounds for NZers to worry.

Now more than ever, the NZ economy is being kept up by the Australian economy—and in these difficult times the Australian economy is having its head kept above water largely by its mining industry.

So Australia’s mining industry is the life-preserver to which both our economies are presently clinging.

So what do you think will happen to all of us when Kevin Rudd imposes his $3 billion "Resource Super Profits" tax grab on mining companies to fund his company tax cut (and to make up the shortfall they’d planned on extracting with their now-abandoned ETS)?  Two-thirds of Australian mining budgets are already being spent offshore—what proportion do you think that will be by 2014, when the Krudd Government is hoping to extract around $9 billion from miners?

The Australian government.  Just another government trying to evade doing what needs to be done, and killing their golden goose to do it.

Walls Closing In for “Hide the Decline” Mann [updated]

Cartoon by HENRY PAYNE Poor old Michal “Hide the Decline” Mann.  Cleared by his university of impropriety in his science and his dealings with Steve McIntyre and others (many revealed in the Climategate emails, where scientists discussed “Mike’s Nature trick” to hide a decline in temperatures shown in data ), that inquiry by his university will now itself be reviewed by by the National Science Foundation.

And the Virginia Attorney General is now taking action, requiring Mann—the producer of the now infamous “Hockey Stick”--to produce "a sweeping swath of documents” relating to Mann’s receipt of sweeping swathes of taxpayers’ money used to produce his questionable graph.

    “Since it’s public money, there’s enough controversy to look in to the possible manipulation of data,” Dr. Charles Battig, president of the nonprofit Piedmont Chapter Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment, told The Hook.

What’s it all about? Put simply, “When temperatures records are revised in a way that creates a warming trend where none formerly existed, inquiring minds want to know what's going on.”

The unspoken word in he AG inquiry is, of course, fraud.  Story here.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving Mann. 

PS: The poor Mann must be feeling embattled.  He’s suing the makers of this now-classic video satire of his botched science.

So, naturally, the No-Cap-and-Trade Coalition has responded with a sequel.

“The question at hand, “they say, “is whether ‘Hide the Decline’ defames or defines Michael Mann.”

UPDATE: Pharyngula (a warmist) and Steve McIntyre (the chap who’s become Mann’s nemesis) both condemn the action of Virginian Attorney-General Cuccinelli.

“Cuccinelli is using the law to pursue a vendetta” says Pharyngula.

This is a repugnant piece of over-zealousness by the Virginia Attorney General” says McIntyre at his blog.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On children

_quote Parents are obliged to care for their children for the basic reason that the owner of a sailboat cannot simply leave a passenger swimming in the middle of the ocean."
-- Diana Hsieh contra Murray Rothbard on children's rights [hat tip Gus Van Horn]

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The blue-stocking Nanny [updated]

The Key Government shows us the Nanny State “is alive and kicking – it's just that her petticoats are blue now, not red.”

Not my words, but those of Finlay MacDonald in today’s Sunday Rag.  Words I would have been proud to have written myself.

Words echoed—and who would have ever thought you could say this—in Michael Lhaws’s column for the same rag, in which he concluded “what last week's anti-smoking and anti-drinking endeavours are all about: the middle class telling the lesser classes that they can't be trusted. And if Labour weren't so resolutely PC, they would be all over this issue until election day.”  And so they should be.  And could be.  Because as Finlay MacDonald points out, “if Labour fancied reinventing itself as the enlightened libertarian alternative, John Key and his meddlesome chums might be forced to defend their own record against the charge that they have given nanny a fresh pair of bloomers and even more sensible shoes.”

A charge to which they could only plead guilty.

Read them both:

UPDATE: Never mind that freedom nonsense, time to soak the poor, says Phil Sage.  Just for the record, Phil votes National.

Get out the killing implements!

Just in case you’ve been backsliding on your Biblical obligations lately Steve Wells at Dwindling in Unbelief  lists for you a few of the crimes punishable by death in the Bible:

  1. Fortune telling (Leviticus 20:27)
  2. Hitting a parent (Exodus 21:15)
  3. Cursing a parent (Leviticus 20:9)
  4. Not listening to a priest (Deuteronomy 17:12)
  5. Following another religion (Exodus 22:20)
  6. Adultery (Leviticus 20:10)
  7. Not seeking the Lord God of Israel (2 Chronicles 15:12-13)
  8. Fornication (Leviticus 21:9)
  9. Prophesying falsely (Zechariah 13:3)
  10. Who has to kill a false prophet? (Zechariah 13:3)
  11. Homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13)
  12. Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10-16)
  13. Working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-15)
  14. Having a few people in your town worshiping another god (Deuteronomy 13:13-16)

Serious stuff, all worthy of at least a good stoning.

And no fear arguing the Bible isn’t true and perfect. As Pastor Dr Jason Lisle at Answers in Genesis advises,

_Quote_Idiot “1. If the Bible were not true, logic would not be meaningful.
2. Logic is meaningful.
3. Therefore, the Bible is true.”

Time to get out your bags of stones and start visiting those apostates, then.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Friday Morning Ramble: The ‘Attacked’ Edition

It’s been a week of it.  On Monday, they attacked cannabis gardeners; on Tuesday they attacked drinkers; on Wednesday, they attacked smokers.  And yesterday, they rested.  Well, apart from reaffirming that power and petrol taxes will go up from July 1st (thanks to the mentally ill Nick Smith), announcing that they intend to introduce an Electoral Finance Act that looks remarkably like the last Electoral Finance Act that they pledged to throw out, and letting slip plans for a “super-regulator” to get in the way of finance markets.  Just another week in paradise, really.PIC BY JOHN ANSELL Oh, and ACT is still part of this government of utter emptiness. . .
On with this week’s ramble:
  • Will de Cleene muses on the week’s bust of Switched On Gardener and arrest of 250 people--and the censorship, propaganda, and forthcoming assaults on their assets and liberty.  Oh, and the enormous profits which other growers will now be looking forward to.
    Harm maximisation
    The Crown v. Switched On Gardener
    More thoughts on Switched on Gardener
  • "The anti-cannabis raids termed Operation Lime have struck a firm blow against freedom," says Luke Howison. "Coming so close together with Geoffrey Palmer's anti-alcohol Law Commission report [and its “extremely urgent” raid on the wallets of low-income smokers), these raids and arrests remind New Zealanders that our government simply does not trust us."
    Operation Lime - An Attack on Freedom
  • Green Cross spokesperson Billy McKee today said that this week's raids by police targeting hydroponic supply shops must be ‘good news’ for gangs, but is very bad news for medical cannabis users.  “The organised criminal groups which control New Zealand’s 'tinny house' networks are going to come out the winners here”, Mr McKee said. “By making it harder for your average person to buy hydroponic growing systems, the police have just given the black market more customers.”
    Raids On Hydroponic Shops Good News For Gangs
  • Nothing brings young politicians together like the freedom to party. “That was the message Thursday as the youth wings of Young Labour, Young Nationals, Young Greens and ACT On Campus banded together to protest raising the drinking age from 18 to 20.” Head here to listen in to their combined press conference:
    Scoop Audio: Keep It 18 Convenes
  • Still, I bet you didn’t know that “Prohibition—and the speakeasy—invented modern New York nightlfe.”
      Our Wet Debt
  • Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse?  Well, one out of three wasn’t bad.
    What Motley Crue can teach us about drug legalisation
  • The confusion, inept organisation and utter emptiness of the Queens Wharf ‘Party Central’ fiasco is truly representative of our present government—a collection of individuals bereft of any direction, or any principles.  The failure of Queens Wharf is a metaphor for the Key Government: the rule of expensive empty gestures.
    The people's wharf is deepest tosh
  • More on the signing of the UN Wish List for Indigenous Peoples, which apologists whisper will have no legal effect.  Says Owen McShane, “it seems probable that the first evidence of the signing of the UN Treaty on the Rights of Indigenous People will surface in RMA planning documents, largely because the people who write the "Maori Issues" chapters are frequently imbued with faith in the animist principles and beliefs of Deep Environmentalism and find the animist beliefs of Polynesia a useful means of forcing their own attitudes to the gods of nature and the Earth Mother on everyone, Maori and Pakeha alike.  We shall see.”
    Owen’s NBR column, foreshadows these developments:
    No other Gods Before Them?
  • Who would have thought you’d see the Greens speaking up for small business.
    The GST hike means a rough ride ahead for small businesses
  • And who would have thought?
    After 40 years of Earth Day, we're still surviving!
  • It’s not bad stuff this CO2 . . .
    [Hat tip Phil Sage]
  • And just so you know, Al Gore has bought a new house in Santa Barbara—it has five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a large entertainment/game room, a guest house, full length loggia, a wine cellar—and “six fireplaces are running in reverse, consuming CO2 and creating wood.”  Well,maybe not.  But it is in the top-ten most expensive houses in the ocean-watching suburb.
    Al Gore's new villa in California
  • And in entirely unrelated news, “twenty-one authors affiliated with official U.S. government institutions argue that global warming leads to the increase of cancer, mental and neurological illnesses, impotence, asthma, allergies, foodborne diseases, nutrition disorders, human development dysfunctions, heat-related and weather-related morbidity and mortality, vectorborne, zoonotic, and waterborne diseases, as well as all other diseases.
    ”The only problem [says physicis Lubos Motl] is that global warming hasn't so far managed to kill the breathtaking parasitic imbeciles who are writing this kind of garbage.”
    US government: AGW causes cancer, insanity, all other diseases
  • The financial crisis is "far from over," according to Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital, as detailed here. Along with his brother Andrew, Schiff has written a new book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, which he says is "for anyone who wants to understand the government, the economy, how it works and why we're in such a mess."
    Schiff was one of the few to see the last crash coming, and he uses here what he used then to explain the basics of economic activity.  "The whole idea is to present economics in very simple terms," he says. "It's so simple even Congressmen can understand it."
    Economics 101: Peter Schiff Explains "Why We're in Such a Mess"
  • See here’s something so simple even most economists don’t understand it:
    Can Prices Go Down during Inflation? A Critical Lesson
  • And remember Peter Schiff in 2006/6 being laughed at by the talking heads as he predicted the coming crash?  JK Galbraith’s son James Galbraith shows he’s as dim as his father, and those other talking heads, as he fails to see the problem with ever-rising government debt.  You’d think he’d been advising the Greek government . . .
  • Who else likes to write in their books? ( I confess, I can’t help myself.) Art Carden offers three reasons to write in books—three reasons why books are better than Kindles, whatever Tyler Cowen might think.
    Writing in Books
  • "While reading and reviewing Robert Nelson's The New Holy Wars, I downloaded "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" [says Brendan O'Neill] and did a find-and-replace where "God" was replaced with "Earth" to see how it reads (not well enough for illustrative purposes).” [Hat tip DoL]
    Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia
  • Why would you be interested in “sewing machine blogging”?  Simple: 1) because the invention of the sewing machine in the late-nineteenth century was an achievement “on par with the latest high-tech or pharmaceutical discovery today.” 2) because its invention, patenting and commercialisation tell us an awful lot about who patent law works, and works (or worked)well.  And, 3) because author Adam Mossoff knows all about patent law.
  • And while we’re talking about such apparent heresies,
    "Who Cares What Thomas Jefferson Thought about Patents? Reevaluating the Patent 'Privilege' in Historical Context"
  • Obama’s making $100 million worth of budget cuts?  Then check this out [hat tip Noodle Food].
  • Still, at least he’s not adding new spending, like some Finance Ministers we could mention.
    Farrar’s trial balloon shot down
  • “Some Obama supporters are already bragging about how the 'recovery' will ensure him a second term and therefore save his statist counter-revolution. Not so fast. These people are making the same mistake that many conservative commentators have made in that they are assuming recessions to be indeed cyclical. This means any downturn is eventually reversed and that this is now the case. It also means that these people have learnt nothing from economic history, particularly the policy disasters that the Hoover/Roosevelt administrations inflicted on the country.”
    Is the U.S. Economy Really Recovering from Recession? 
  • Chris Dodd dreams up a way to make it harder for start-up businesses to raise seed capital. How long before John Key copies?
    Death of Angel Capital
  • How maths helped cause the economic collapse.
        “It was a brilliant simplification of an intractable problem. And Li didn’t just radically dumb down the difficulty of working out correlations; he decided not to even bother trying to map and calculate all the nearly infinite relationships between the various loans that made up a pool. What happens when the number of pool members increases or when you mix negative correlations with positive ones? Never mind all that, he said. The only thing that matters is the final correlation number — one clean, simple, all-sufficient figure that sums up everything …
    Read the whole thing. This has got to be the most powerful illustration yet of the fallacy of mistaking a math function for real phenomena in the market.
    Recipe for disaster: The formula that cratered Wall Street
  • I’m a bit late coming to this one, but Steve Horvitz updates Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy in the shadow of Iceland’s volcano.
    The Parable of the Sooty Window
  • A related thought:
    We should make up a new game called "Spot the Broken Window!"
  • As the Euro turns itself slowly into the drachma (providing a new addendum to Gresham’s Law) Larry White talks to George Mason Uni about
    Sound Money, Free Banking, Rule of Law
  • And as Goldman Sachs executives face Senate hearings to explain why their short-term business plan involved screwing their customers, John Allison, the chairman of BB&T bank explains why such short-term thinking is self-destructive, and why principled leadership is self-interested.  Timely advice.
  • [UPDATE: Mark and Robert Tracinski argue that "screwing their customers" is not actually what Goldman Sachs were doing.]
  • “The annual report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on the state of federal regulations called Ten Thousand Commandments for 2010, written by Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. notes that:
    • The Code of Federal Regulations is now over 157,000 pages long
    • 3,503 new rules went into effect in 2009
    • That is a new regulation every 2.5 hours every day, all 365 days of the year
    For the last decade, the number of pages in the Federal Registry, where new regulations are published, has averaged 73,018 per year.  This would suggest the Code of Federal Regulations should have grown by 730,177 pages in the last decade…”  Remembering that ignorance of the law is no defence… Did you do your required federal reading today?
  • “Evidently,” says The Rational Capitalist, “the garbled mess of a PowerPoint slide at right was created by the US military to demonstrate the situation in Afghanistan and fittingly, is openly being mocked.”
    ”We do not need to understand the actual content of the slide,” he says. “We need to understand why the military would feel the need to create such a slide... If we understand that, we will indeed have won the war.”
    PowerPoint is not the Cause of Powerlessness
  • Another from the overflowing “anarchy makes no sense” file.
        ”We started off asking what society would provide the least coercion. We then noted that the power to coerce is a monopoly of the State. So, by confining the State, we confine coercion. The more we confine the State, the less coercion there is; it is as if coercive power is some violent beast, and we put it in a cage of constitutional limitations. But the anarcho-capitalist isn’t asking that question any more. They are now asking the question-How can the private sector provide what the State previously provided?
    And the product that the State was providing was coercion itself! We started off asking how to rid ourselves, as much as possible, of the whole panoply of arbitrary laws, and courts and police to enforce those arbitrary laws and so on, and the answer the anarcho-capitalist has come back with is, ‘don’t worry, under my system there will be arbitrary laws and courts and police in abundance!’”
    The fatal error of anarcho-capitalism
  • Time to repost this beautifully evocative video construction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Fallingwater’—his  house over the Bear Run stream.  Architecture by Wright; music by Smetana.
  • There are people about who still don’t understand that the role of morality is not to teach you how to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live. For the latter group, here’s some valuable advice on living “a value-dense life.” [Hat tip Thrutch]
    Value-dense life
  • As the latest Pope passes the five year milestone, rather than take the time to pardon the Beatles, he could do worse than reflect on advice from an American columnist”
    The Pope loves the Beatles, but who loves Il Papa?
  • And now a word from Charles Darwin (courtesy of John Cox Art):
  • Protect your children from the hands of errant clergy…
  • There are no contradictions in the Bible. None at all.
  • No, there really are no contradictions in the Bible.
    PROJECT REASON: Contradictions in the Bible
    SKEPTICS ANNOTATED BIBLE: Contradictions in the Bible
  • Watch the sham act of a psychic fraudster collapse in an embarrassing heap on live television.
    Watch the stage death of a Psychic Fraudster
  • Yes, the threats against South Park by 20-year-old Muslim covert "Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee" do constitute a fatwa.
    Muslims Threaten South Park
  • Is anyone else sick of hearing that ad for Cat Stevens “riding on the Peace Train,” knowing that he’s a supporter of global jihad?  Anyway, as we’re warming up for Draw Mohammed Day here, here’s a few pics to get you started, including a new release from Lego  . .  .

    LEGO Mohammed Ahmed Your women
  • Turns out I’m fully 54% Bogan.   Take the Quiz and find out how much Bogan you are.
    Are you a bogan? Take the test!
  • Graham Reid goes all uncool over Justin Bieber.
        “I heard him on radio dismissed with the self-damning line from a commentator, "I'd never heard of him until the other day".
    Well, isn't that true of everything? You have to hear about something a first time.
        “But the subtext here is, He can't be any good because I haven't heard of him.’
    Police. Security. Screams. A singer comes to town.
  • Just for the record, NOT PC enjoyed 17,268 visits since this time last week.  The most popular posts in that time were:
  • 29th May is/was the incomparable Duke Ellington’s birthday.  Time to celebrate.

    Enjoy your weekend!

'The Tax Collector - Pieter Brueghel the Younge

 The Tax Collector. Pieter Brueghel the Younger. People's lives and livings being weighed in the balance by scum--and tossed aside like so much garbage. Story of the painting from the South Australian Gallery, where the painting now resides:
The Tax-Collector's Office is one of approximately forty copies by the artist of a lost painting by his much more famous father, Pieter Brueghel the elder. It shows a group of poor Flemish villagers waiting patiently to submit their taxes not in cash but in baskets of eggs, poultry, game and other produce. A prosperously-dressed tax-collector, assisted by a staff of half-witted clerks, is shown peering at a parchment behind a counter laden with piles of documents and money-bags. The artist mocks the wastefulness of this hive of bumbling officials by showing mountainous bundles of cancelled bills and receipts spilling carelessly across the office floor.

LINKS: The tax-collector's office - Associate Curator of European Art, Art Gallery of South Australia 

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Nanny Turia takes a leaf from Nanny Palmer’s playbook to make tobacco leaf more expensive [update 5]

So Parliament sat under urgency last night. Excuse me, extreme urgency.

Not to stop the imposition of new taxes, via the Emissions Trading Taxes, which from July 1st will be adding new taxes on power and petrol and much else.

Not to cut company taxes, which might allow NZ’s struggling businesses to get off the floor.

Not to cut income taxes, one of National’s headline election promises which is destined to remain broken.

Not to take GST off food, which would make things easier for low-income folk.

No, it wasn’t sitting under urgency for any of those things.  It was sitting under urgency—excuse me, extreme urgency—so it could whack a new tax on one of the simple pleasures of thousands of New Zealanders.  Hitting (at the behest of the Maori Party) right at the wallets of low-income folk, who are by and large the largest smokers.  Nanny Turia taking a leaf from Nanny Palmer’s playbook to take out the big stick.

The announcement was made in the manner of Muldoon—a late announcement that by midnight the present usurious tax on tobacco would be hiked immediately by another ten-percent on packets of cigarettes, and twenty-four percent on loose tobacco—with more new theft to come next year, and the year after.  And as it was under the Muldoon announcements, folk impacted by the hike headed off to their regular retailers to stock up on their chosen pleasures before the rise.

It was all just like the old days, really. Another National Government whacking on taxes after dark to make enjoying one of life’s little pleasures more difficult.  New taxes on an already over-taxed pleasure.

What will this mean for smokers, who for the most part are low-income folk? Look at it this way:  for a packet of 25 cigarettes now costing around $14.40, without all the the taxes that packet would cost you just $3.40.  All the rest is tax. 

The “thinking” behind last night’s tax hike, if any actual thought was involved here, is that higher taxes will reduce people's smoking. This is “thinking” at its lowest possible ebb.  Smoking is nobody’s business but the smoker’s. Smokers already pay far more than the “social cost” of any possible harm. And smokes are a highly inelastic purchase—meaning that instead of reducing the number of smokes the smoker buys because of the higher cost, it’s just as likely that smokers will reduce their purchase of everything else instead (and the govt will reap a huge windfall). Or they will simply hand their money over to gangs to provide them with more affordable black-market smokes.

So even if you don’t smoke yourself, what this move will do is further encourage the government to tax the hell out of all of life’s little pleasures (smokers are today’s lepers; who’s next?), and to further increase the profits of the gangs.  Smart, huh? No, it’s not.

So it’s a thoughtless, grasping move to placate a party—the Maori Party—who you would think, for all that they’ve been given, that they have secret photos of John Key stashed away somewhere. (Wouldn’t you love to take a peek in Tariana & Pita’s safe to see what they’ve got locked up there?)

And as at least one former ACT supporter wants to know, it now begs the question: how long will ACT go on supporting a government committed to everything the ACT party was once presumed to oppose.  “Where is the line, Rodney?” a blogger at Clint Heine’s blog wants to know.

Well, it’s clearly not this new tax rise, because at least one ACT party MP voted for it . . .

    Clearly there are a lot of proposals, and some, such as raising the alcohol excise, are perhaps aspirational, but the Government will give due consideration to the entirety of the report.
    ‘I look forward to working with my Ministerial colleagues on doing that and drawing out the recommendations that will best achieve an environment where responsible alcohol use marks the New Zealand drinking culture,’ he said.

    “Breathing is aspirational as well, yet the Government seems to favour that. So what's the difference? Class, that's what…
    “Mr Key is Mr Reponsible Drinking. But he is as likely to be seen with a fag as to grow a beard. Prime Ministers do not do that sort of thing anymore… Smoking is a poor man's addiction, as Mrs Turia observes.”

Abject macroeconomic failure

Remember America’s stimulus package(s)?

Remember how it was described as “essential” to”save jobs.”

So how’s that job-saving going, I wonder. Answer: 15 million Americans remain out of work.

Just so you know, the original graph was issued by Obama’s team in January 2009 to show what would happen both with and without most massive economic intervention since every other intervention put together (bigger, in fact, than the sum of all interventions put together).

The really sad thing to note here is that resources amounting to more than the Apollo programme, the post-war Marshall Plan and the cost of the Iraq War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War put together were taken away from resource-owners, where they could have been put to productive use, and used instead to … to what?  Well, to have no effect whatsoever, at best—and, at worst, to make the economic situation worse.

Now, the graph comes from the blog of Greg Mankiw--former adviser to George W. Bush and as mainstream as a mainstream economist can get—who rushes to the defence of both his profession and the Obama administration, saying no-one should be held accountable here because it’s all just “a reflection of the inherent uncertainties associated with macroeconomics.”

Perhaps a better word than “uncertainties” would be “failures.”  As in, the complete and abject failure of the whole mainstream theory.

Failure by practically all the world’s mainstream macroeconomists to see the global economic and financial crisis coming.

Failures of the advisers to both Bush and Obama to know what to do when it hit.

And now failure to know what the hell would happen when the world’s biggest ever “stimulus” programme was thrown at the US economy like one giant golden shower, at the recommendation of most of the mainstream macroeconomists Prof Mankiw calls “colleagues.”

But all of this is just abject, flatulent nonsense.  We here at NOT PC were among those saying at the end of 2008, as clearly as we knew how, that “A pump primed means a recovery delayed.” We were saying, while all thestimulunacywas being talked up, that there is no choice at all about the pain of recession—the only choice is how long the pain is going to take. Meanwhile, the mainstream economists were insisting on making the situation worse while pretending they knew how to make it better, even as (they confess now) their own hopes and expectations were riddled with all “the inherent uncertainties associated with macroeconomics.”

Perhaps it would be time, then, for those failed macroeconomists to reflect on one basic principle when considering action in the face of abject ignorance: First, do no harm.

And to take the only action that would really be appropriate in the circumstances: to pack up their theories, their excuses, and their record of abysmal failure, and get the hell off the world stage.

NB: Also for the record, here are the unemployment figures for the US civilian population by sex and age, not seasonally adjusted, March 2009 to March 2010

Overall: 9.0 to 10.2
Men over 16: 10.6 to 11.8
Men over 20: 9.9 to 11.2
Women over 16: 7.3 to 8.3
Women over 20: 6.9 to 7.1
Both sexes 16-19: 21.5 to 22.0

As Jeffrey Tucker comments, “It’s a heck of a time to have raised minimum wages three years in a row.”

And the only reason these unemployment figures look better than the figures for the Great Depression? Because the headline figures are measured differently now. Measure them as they used to, including the underemployed and long-term unemployed (as the BLS's U6 measure of unemployment does) and we discover that “unadjusted” unemployment reached 17.5 per cent in March, higher than it was in every year of the thirties apart from the peak unemployment years of 1932 and 1933, when the figures were 22.9% and 20.6% respectively.  [FYI, the series from 1929 to 1938 was, in percentage terms, 3.9, 8.7, 15.3, 22.9, 20.6, 16.0, 14.2, 9.9, 9.1, 12.5]

‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ - Robin Neudorfer

Rlemons Robin Neudorfer, When Life Gives You Lemons, watercolor on Arches paper, 28 x 20 inches

Another piece from the Newberry Gallery’s Symbolic Still Life Exhibition.  Apparently, artist Robin Nuedorfer had a lemon tree in the backyard at the same time as the newspapers were filled daily with stories about Toyota.

Course, there are lemons everywhere.  For instance, were plenty of “big old lemons” on centre stage at the Goldman Sachs hearings today too . . .

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

KRIS SAYCE: Why Australia isn’t so Different from Greece

_Kris_Sayce Kris Sayce from Money Morning Australia explains why NZ’s biggest trading partner, and the domicile of our Big Four banks, is not so different from Greece.
* * * *
“Oh stop grumbling and just hand over the money.” That’s in effect what the German government is being told to do with its taxpayer euros.  According to the Associated Press (AP):
    “A 45 billion euros ($A64.45 billion) bailout package from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should see Greece through its borrowing needs for this year. But the bailout is complicated by German grumbling, which continued on Monday, about the burden of the bailout on its own finances.”
Do you know what, if your editor was German we think we’d grumble a bit too. In fact if we were German we’d tell the Greeks to stick a Banane^ up their Kokospalme.*

We’ve long thought the Euro currency was doomed to failure. Whether the debts piled up by Greece and other Eurozone countries is enough to cause its collapse is another matter.

But one day – probably sooner rather than later – it will fail. Just like all fiat currencies are destined to collapse.

For an indication of how bad things have gotten in Greece you need look no further than current Greek interest rates and compare them to German interest rates.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: This week: Cannabis, Krudd and Gold-plated eels

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Cannabis, Krudd and Gold-plated eels.

1. “Police harass garden shop owners – Despite the growing problem of violent crime, our police decide to launch raids on garden shop owners. The rationale behind these raids is that these shops would not turn a profit were it not for the sales they make to cannabis growers. Well, I guess it’s easier to pick on peaceful tax-paying middle class New Zealanders than to arrest the scum who murder, rob and rape.
    But this is serious interference: raiding 35 legal businesses, arresting 250 people, and executing home invasions on 100 private homes.
    How desperately far-fetched is this? By this logic, the owners of supermarkets and petrol stations will be next on the cops’ hit list, as the thousands of cannabis growers surely need food and transportation. Manufacturers of matches and lighters, including corner dairies needn’t think they are immune from official molestation. Nor the makers of stoves, tin foil, sealable plastic bags, weight scales and teaspoons--as these are all, too, illicit drug paraphernalia.
    Where will it stop? This bizarre persecution of business owners is proof, if any was required, that if the police take a dislike to you, the anti-pleasure laws and guilt by association give them a toehold to arrest and incarcerate you any time they like.
    These are frightening times. The arrests yesterday are symptomatic of the constant erosion of our liberty by the state that is meant to protect our freedoms, but otherwise leave us alone. Decent people are being bullied here. Anyone who trades with anyone else who even looks like they might smoke cannabis is now at risk of arrest, detention, and the destruction of their livelihoods and confiscation of their possessions--thanks to the laws that allows Nanny to seize your property unless you can do the impossible by proving a negative (i.e., that your property was not paid for through the proceeds of crime).
    If you are reading this and smirking, thinking you lie beneath the police radar, just ask whether your child, or any of your close friends or workmates might be smoking cannabis, and whether the police might put 2 and 2 together, get 5, and come after you.

2. “National insist on punishing New Zealanders with ETS madness – Not really surprising, when you think about it. Given the limited cognitive function of tree-hugger Nick Smith, and the albatross around National’s neck, Bill English, National couldn’t really be expected to take on board the U-turn by the Aussie Prime Mentalist and fellow climate psychotic Kevin Rudd, who, in the interests of brevity, I will refer to as “Krudd.”
    Despite referring to the mass delusion that the activities of mankind have a significant effect on climate  variability as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”, Krudd has quietly shelved his plans to flay businesses and consumers for using energy to improve the living standards of Australians.
    Although Krudd has gone back on his promise to tax those whose activities produce more of the “poisonous” carbon dioxide on which plants thrive, our politicians continue to worship at the Church of Albert Gore.
   Why follow others, figure Nick and Bill, when you can be a the first lemming to jump off the cliff? These two are starting to look more and more like a couple of prize pricks, as the days get shorter and cooler and a bit of global warming starts to sound attractive. Pull your heads in and abandon this bloody ETS nonsense. Just admit that--like millions of others--the two of you, your leader, and Krudd were all taken in by the Warmist Pontiff and his conspirators at the IPCC. Admit your error, and move on. If you want to suffer the privations of a life without technology, don’t take the rest of us with you.  Some of us enjoy the niceties of Western civilization, thank you very much.

3. “Eels have rights too! – Wairarapa farmer Lloyd Rayner has been caned for digging a drain on his property because it killed some eels and disturbed a swamp. These must have been very valuable eels, because it cost him $37,000. I didn’t know eel meat was that expensive.
    The news item describes the farmer as a “landowner.”  Perhaps we should denote farmers like Mr Rayner as LINOs – landowners in name only—because thanks to the Resource Management Act, there is no such thing as freehold title in New Zealand now, and Mr Rayner would do well to remember that. 
      This man was excavating an existing drain to clear weeds and transform the land into productive real estate.
      Currently five hectares of his land is under water and he is now forced to pay a bribe, called a resource consent, to officials if he wants to drain the land he paid for but doesn’t own. The eels evidently own it (with the council goons as their representatives), but just let him try forwarding his next rates bill to the eels on his property and see how far he gets.
      Sure enough, the mystics got in on the act, with a local Maori tribal leader saying the earthworks had damaged the ‘mauri’ or life force of the area that Mr Rayner’s eels own. If that’s the case I guess local Maori will have to stop hunting eels and gathering watercress in the name of the sacred life force.
      May the force be with you.

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny - when the
government fear the people, there is liberty. “
- Thomas Jefferson