Friday, November 05, 2010

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: ‘The day after the day after’ edition

Donttread2

The Tea Party bit back.  Will their partial non-defeat be enough, and in time, to save America, and America’s freedom?
And if adding trillions of dollars of government debt is akin to fiscal child abuse, then is half-a-trillion dollars of “quantitative easing” fiscal rape?
Two questions that urgently need answering.
Now on  with our ramble round the places that might answer them.

  • “God how I wish I were American right now… they do still understand the principles of ‘don’t tread on me and ‘live free or die.’ Not all of them, obviously – otherwise a socialist like Barack Obama would never have got into power. But enough of them to understand that in the last 80 or more years – and not just in the US but throughout the Western world – government has forgotten its purpose…
    ”Government’s job is to act as our humble servant. What’s terrifying is how few of us there are left anywhere in the supposedly free world who properly appreciate this…”
    Only the Tea Party can save us now – James Delingople, ( U K )  T E L E G R A P H
  • “This was to be the year of the Tea Party triumph. As a libertarian, I so want to believe that the Tea Party marks the beginning a comeback for small government. But I’m probably deluding myself. I know that big government usually wins…
    ”Republicans want another chance, but any sensible person would be skeptical.” [Hat tip Capitalism]
    Did Freedom Win? – John Stossell, R E A S O N
  • Ah, that’s now former Speaker Pelosi. So sad.
    Nancy Pelosi Ousted as House Speaker, John Boehner Waits in Wings – A B C
  • “President Obama is a great American tragedy, soon to be consigned to the dustbin of history. The people have spoken. ‘We've come to take our government back.’”
    Obama: The Anti-American President, Pt. 9—An American Tragedy 
    – Marcus Bachler, S O L O
  • Ross Baker blames yesterday’s trouncing of the Democrats to “an enduring Democratic blunder: talking over the heads of the American people.”
    Ummm.  No.
    The “enduring Democratic blunder” (often repeated by the GOP) is to enact indecipherably complex and intricate statutes aimed at achieving impossible outcomes.  It’s the ludicrous convolution of such legislation that is “over the heads of the American people.”
    A Nation of Slack-Jawed Yokels? – Don Boudreaux, C A F E  H A Y E K
  • “The Federal Reserve announced a new round of bond-buying to support the economy. Here are some of the key issues involved in its decision..” [Hat tip Kelly McNulty Valenzuela]
    Quantitative Easing: How It Works; When It Doesn't
    - W A L L  S T R E E T  J O U R N A L
  • “That’s right, that gushing, gurgling, sputtering, splurging sound you hear is the sound of hundreds of billions of new U.S. dollars flooding into the economy and the stock market. Over the next eight months, the Federal Reserve will spend an additional $600 billion it doesn’t have buying U.S. bonds in the name of ‘price stability.’”
    The Revival of the National Interest – Dan Denning, D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • If the chap throwing all that paper “money?” out of the helicopter was this blind-sided by his theories just a few years ago, what makes you think he knows what he’s doing now?
  • “Once you let human beings print ‘money’ at will, they will print a lot of it. And unless they repeal the laws of diminishing returns, marginal utility and supply and demand, the paper money will lose out.”
    Too Much of a Good Thing – Bill Bonner, D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • So far, the markets have responded to the paper “money” gusher as follows:
    (i) stocks are up;
    (ii) gold is way up;
    (iii) the US dollar is down; and
    (iv) emerging markets are upset because they think the cash overflow will continue to push up their currency values, fueling concerns that asset price bubbles might be in the making in their countries.
    ”The real takeaway from the Fed’s announcement is that it is inflation, plain and simple. Correctly defined, inflation is an increase in the monetary base, and higher prices are a result of that inflation. By creating money out of thin air to buy Treasury securities, the Fed is piling hundreds of billions of new dollars on top of an already seriously inflated base.”
  • Inflation on the Brain – C A S E Y ‘ S  D A I L Y  D I S P A T C H

  • For years, the Federal Reserve had a good friend in their pockets when Congressmen Barney Frank was chairman of the Monetary Policy subcommittee. Those days are over. Taking Barney's place is the one man who would see the Federal Reserve dissolved.
    The Fed's worst nightmare... Ron Paul to chair Monetary Policy Subcommittee
    - N A T I O N A L   F I N A N C E   E X A M I N E R
  • Shock of the week? Bank of England Governor Mervyn King proposes “eliminating fractional reserve banking”!
    King plays God: The governor of the Bank of England wants to reinvent finance 
    - E C O N O M I S T
  • Martin Wolf asks “Could the world go back to the gold standard?”
    Could the world go back to the gold standard? – C O B D E N    C E N T R E
  • In this interview, JOHN ALLISON, former head of the BB&T bank (and an Objectivist), discusses why the U.S. economy is headed for bankruptcy and what must be done to prevent it. [Hat tip Betsy Speicher]
    Give Young People Option to Get Out of Social Security, Say Former BB&T CEO
    – C N S   N E WS . C O M
  • HowAnEconomyGrowsBook “Since World War II, most economists have been apologists for government growth. Now the ‘experts’ who never see a crisis coming tell us that we must once again abandon free-market principles to ‘save’ the free-market system.
    ”But there's always the possibility that people not seated at the government's table will finally wise up. Who or what could help them understand what's going on? People need someone to draw a clear picture of what makes an economy thrive — briefly, without jargon, and, most importantly for today's readers, in an entertaining fashion.” And here it is….
    How an Economy Grows – M I S E S   D A I L Y

"This is a second chance for us. "If we blow it again, we will be
in the wilderness for a very long time. We have to deliver."
- Republican House whip, Eric Cantor

  • New Zealand’s adult unemployment rate this quarter was 5.1%. The youth (15-19 yr old) rate was 23.3%. Isn’t it time to reconsider the ridiculous ideologically-driven abolition of the youth rate?
    Answer: Not as long as National is in govt. They’d rather all those youngsters remained out of work.
    Youth Unemployment – O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • New Zealand scores highly in being free of political corruption? Yeah right. I guess if they are raping you in plain view, it doesn't qualify as corruption. Technically true, but still cold comfort to the victims.  [Hat tip Jeff Perren]
    NZ & Singapore top list of least corrupt countries -  ( U K )  T E L E G R A P H
  • If history is any guide, and it is, the gangs will already be rubbing their hands at the commercial opportunity about to be offered them when tobacco is finally banned—or made economically unviable through normal channels. The question of such bans is never “Will it work?” or “Have we the right?”  The only thing the grey ones know is “Feel our power!”
    A pity they’ve learned nothing from several decades of the “War on Drugs.”
    The results of that war are now in: Drugs won…
    Inquiry into the tobacco industry to be released | NATIONAL News
  • Do smokers understand the risks of smoking? And does smoking impose net financial costs on governments?
    All the evidence says, respectively, “Yes of course,” and “No, not at all.”
    Based on surveys of smokers in the United States and Spain, for instance, smokers actually overestimate the dangers of smoking, indicating that they are well aware of the risks involved in their choice to smoke.
    And while smoking does increase medical costs, these costs are more than financially balanced by tobacco taxes, and by bringing forward a bunch of end of life costs that would otherwise have been incurred a decade later. [Hat tip Roger D and Eric Crampton]
    Smoke-Filled Rooms: A Postmortem on the Tobacco Deal 
    – U N I V E R S I T Y  O F  C H I C A G O   P R E S S
  • Talk about learning from the failure that is the American War on Drugs.  Drugs won the war…
    “First, we have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons…
    ”Second, we have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad…
    “Third, we have squandered resources…
    “Our nearly century-long experiment in banning marijuana has failed as abysmally as Prohibition did, and California may now be pioneering a saner approach…
    ”“American states spend an estimated total of $50-billion a year on our penal system. If Proposition 19 decriminalizes marijuana in California [which, unfortunately, it didn’t], the entire country will see how much money can be saved with laws based less on puritanical superstition than on facts…” [Hat tip Ian J]
    Kristof, Crouch, Soros, and McNamara on Proposition 19 
    – C H R O N I C L E   O F   H I G H E R   E D U C A T I O N

“This was not an election it was a restraining order.”
- P.J.  O’Rourke

  • “Politicians and pundits alike have offered economic arguments in favor of …  levying higher taxes upon the richest among us. Now economic arguments purport to demonstrate which decisions will maximize the welfare of economic agents, but they do not claim to show which decisions are moral. Economics can certainly supplement moral reasoning, but it cannot replace it…”
    Defending Rich People – Michael D. Labeit, E X A M I N E R
  • Ludwig Von Mises famously and patiently explained that in the absence of a market, central planners have no way to rationally allocate resources—or even to ascertain value. One central planner confesses they’re all aware of that, but they still keep right on [distorting markets, pushing people around, and extinguishing real resources.
    Confessions of a Price Controller – W E   S T A N D   F I R M
  • If innovative small companies can't protect their inventions, who will? Companies who specialize in suing over IP, that's who. Which means, at a time when it can take five years to have your intellectual property properly protected, this could be true:
    Are 'Patent Trolls' the Secret Heroes of the Tech World?
    - T E C H N O L O G Y   R E V I E W

“To paraphrase Churchill—We have won a great victory,
but this isn't the end. This isn't even the beginning of the
end. But it is the end of the beginning.”
- Frank Schulwolf

  • Warmists like to talk about the climate’s alleged “positive feedback” loops, but there is one “particularly toxic positive feedback loop” they don’t like to mention. Says scientist Judith Curry, it’s the  positive feedback loop between climate science, and policy and politics, one whose direction has arguably been radically reversed as a result of Climategate.
    Reversing the direction of the positive feedback loop 
    – Judith Curry, C L I M A T E   E T C .
  • Anti-industrialists are already moving on from the busted flush of global warming and their Y2Kyoto fiasco. “After three decades of trying to push the global warming scam to a point where billions could be made by selling and trading bogus ‘carbon credits,’ the global schemers have abandoned their campaign in the wake of 2009 revelations that a handful of rogue climate scientists were literally inventing the data to support it…
    ”The global warming caused governments to invest billions of dollars into alternative energy programs, including wind, solar and other equally worthless ‘Green’ programs.
    ”Get ready for the next big lie, which is biodiversity…”
    Goodbye Global Warming, Hello Biodiversity – Alan Caruba, C N S . N E W S . C O M

‎"Voters tell the newly-elected House majority:
‘Don't just stand there, undo something!’"

-Jeff Jacoby

  • “Editing Teh Herald” is a new blog doing for the Royal NZ Herald what it should be doing itself.  Applying standards. But hilariously.
    Editing Teh Herald
  • TV ratings were never an exact science, but DVRs, downloads, Hulu and MySky have made it near impossible. So how exactly do you count TV viewers who don’t watch when everyone else does?
    This Platform Is Not Yet Rated – N . Y .   M A G
  • Rachel Miner shares some generally useful tips gleaned from attending a full day Autism conference.
    Autism Conference: Generalizable Tid Bits – P L A Y F U L   S P I R I T
  • Leonard Peikoff once again goes places few intellectual heirs have gone before, but this time (as he has several times before) not in a good way.  Craig Biddle tries to make sense of Peikoff’s moral condemnation of John McCaskey. And struggles.
    Justice for John P. McCaskey – C R A I G   B I D D L E
  • How can it possibly not be moral condemnation, asks Trey Givens of Gus Van Horn.
    On Moral Condemnation – T R E Y   G I V E N S

“The ascendancy of the Tea Parties has meant that
fiscal conservatism can replace social conservatism as
the raison d'être of the Republican cause."
- Janet Daley, "Midterm elections 2010: Prepare for a new American revolution"
[Hat tip Lucidicus Project]

  • Simon Sweetman asks the important questions. Like this one…
    What song would you strip to? – Simon Sweetman, S T U F F
  • Since the first part of Richard Wagner’s four-part fifteen-hour ‘Ring Cycle’ is being shown in cinemas all round New Zealand on Sunday, direct from the Met in New York, it seems a good time to post Anna Russell’s famous (and hilarious) fifteen-minute summary of the sprawling fifteen-hour creation myth.
  • And here’s some excerpts from a seriously streamlined 2004 “chamber” performance of the whole Cycle.
  • And this, the first part of Das Rheingold, condensed into a 30 minute cartoon version, produced in 1991 for television.

That’s all for the moment,
but check back soon for regular updates through the day.
Cheers,
PC

PS: Message for the week [hat tip Paul Hsieh, who reckons it’s closer to 97.6%…]:

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Melbourne’s “Rectangular” Stadium – Cox Architects

melbourne-rectangular-stadium-cox-architects-3I’d wager that every lover of small government has their own weakness.  Something spinning their wheels that, quite possibly, wouldn’t exist without big government. Not at least in today’s world.

For me, that weakness is sports stadiums.  And there’s nowhere that does sports stadiums like Melbourne. The MCG.  Etihad. Rod Laver Arena. Just some of the city’s world class facilities.  And head east from central Melbourne along Olympic Boulevard, and you find stadium nirvana. Discover your current stadium is too small for what’s needed, and it sometimes seems the Vic government will swiftly knock up another.

And not just any old thing either. The stadiums already gracing Melbourne were pretty special. But then, recognising that league, soccer and rugby—featuring teams like the Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Victory, and the new Melbourne-based Super 15 rugby team—all need a smallish ground shaped in something other than a large oval, (and no city does oval stadia like Melbourne) the former Olympic Park has now become the home of all sports needing a rectangular ground—all of them , in Melbourne, minority sports.

melbourne-rectangular-stadium-cox-architects-1611 The result is this $267.5 million Melbourne “Rectangular” Stadium, built over the road from the cathedral of sport that is the MCG, with capacity for over 30000 punters, and featuring “a cutting edge 'bio-frame'“ shell roof design.

Rectangular_Stadium

And there’s a pretty spectacular “light show” associated—the stadium’s exterior is set to light up to reflect the emotions of the crowd inside. Quite a neat gimmick, I think you’ll agree.

I can’t wait to visit.

BWBTWMelbourne Rectangular StadiumBTW: the view looking back from stadium row isn’t half bad either.  [These last two photos by William Bullimore.]

Yarra RIver

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Peter Schiff et al: The Day After [update 7]

The day after the Republicans forced the resignation of Speaker Pelosi and gained the biggest political turnaround since the War, Peter Schiff asks, which bums will the voters throw out in 2012?

And the day after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (“Helicopter Ben” to his friends) announces it’s about to start spraying around a half-trillion dollars worth of paper out of his whirly-bird, Schiff ponders whether this golden shower from the Fed presages an even bigger paper shower from the government—and wonders how that will sit with the people who just voted out last year’s big-spending bums.

UPDATE 1: PaulHsieh tells America’s newly-elected representatives that they should Celebrate Tuesday's election results, “but don't forget who put you in office and why — namely, the independent-minded Tea Party voters.” If they’re going to “dance with the one that brung them,” he says, they need to stay true to three basic principles…

1) Americans don’t want “ObamaLite”…
The 2010 vote was a powerful message from Americans rejecting the socialist policies of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid — including the bailouts, the out-of-control federal spending, the higher taxes, and the nationalized health care scheme.
Voters elected Republicans to halt and reverse these policies — not compromise to pass watered-down versions of those same bad ideas…
2) Don’t mistake this as a mandate to pursue a divisive “social conservative” agenda
The Republicans’ electoral rebound has been driven by millions of independent voters like the Colorado small businessman Ron Vaughn, who
told the New York Times, “I want the Democrats out of my pocket and Republicans out of my bedroom…
3) Respect the Constitution
The newly elected (or re-elected) congressmen and senators must remember that rightful authority flows from the U.S. Constitution…Nothing enraged Tea Party protestors more than seeing elected officials betray this solemn promise … and although some pundits like Dahlia Lithwick
think it’s “weird” for legislators to consider whether a proposed bill is constitutional, that is indeed one of their primary responsibilities.

Read the whole article: GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You.

UPDATE 2: Fresh from celebrating victories with “a couple hundred U.S. patriots at the Tea Party Patriot's election night party at the Capitol Hyatt in Washington, D.C.,” invigorated Christchurch blogger Trevor Loudon counts off some of the wins and losses.  “A Good night Was Had by Freedom Lovers - Dems and Communists, Not So Much.” He concludes:

_QuoteThe G.O.P. now controls Congress and has made big gains in the Senate and Governor's races. It's goodbye to your favorite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and hello John Boehner the new Republican House Majority Leader!
This is the Republicans' last chance to prove they can be trusted to live up to their own principles.
If they don't , they will be finished - and so may we be all.

UPDATE 3: Scott Holleran reckons that it’s now time for the Tea Party movement “to shed its dingbats,” and for everyone else to begin choosing up sides in the power struggle(s) to come.

Having lost its highest profile races partly due to their blatant proselytizing for religion in government , the Tea Party movement, which represents a rejection of Big Government, should oppose the mixture of religion and state.
    Whatever else Tuesday’s election results may mean, the Tea Party movement clearly has the potential to shed its dingbats, to paraphrase
Harry Binswanger, sponsor candidates who stand for man’s rights and capitalism, and restore the Republicans to the ideals of Lincoln, Jefferson, and reason. In the meantime, watch for strange, sudden alliances, power struggles, and a political shift in conflict from left/right to religious/secular.
    With the core principles of the GOP in play, a radically restructured Congress, and an overwhelmingly rejected but strikingly dishonest and divisive American president, it’s best to choose a side now; the battle has not yet begun.

UPDATE 4: David Galland from Casey Research tosses more cold water on the fresh blossoms of economic and political hope that many American readers may be feeling today, “I’m more convinced than ever that we’re about to go through a crash of epic proportions,” he says. “It won’t just be bad, it’s going to be horrific, worse than even I can imagine.”  And there’s really nothing even the few newly elected energiser bunnies can do about that. America has already made its fiscal bed—and now it’s too late. It’s already flat broke.

_Quote The debt problems are now so extreme that the Republicans, tea partiers, and desperate Democrats now rediscovering good old fiscal sanity have no feasible way of making a dent.   Even the stingiest Republicans are only talking about freezing spending at 2008 levels. For the record, that still means an annual federal budget deficit of just shy of half a trillion dollars.
Add to that approximately $150 billion in annual state budget shortfalls. And that’s before the economy is knocked sideways by the onrushing tidal wave of retiring baby boomers… or body slammed by the inevitable increase in U.S. interest rate expenses, as rates move up sharply from today’s unsustainable historic lows.
    The point is that, even to get back to 2008’s budget deficits, will require cutting almost a trillion dollars in federal spending. And that’s just for starters.

Sorry folks. Few Republicans, tea partiers or Democrats are even thinking in those terms. Which they would need to do to avert America’s coming sovereign debt tsunami, which is already tens of trillions of dollars underwater, and climbing fast. 

1288817697-image2

UPDATE 5Kris Sayce comments:

_Quote    Welcome to America’s Lost Decade
   …Or should that be Last Decade?
    This morning’s decision by the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the final act in American global economic dominance.
    If the US economy wasn’t already terminally ill, then this morning’s news from the FOMC has pushed it into terminal illness……
    I tell you what, for a bunch of people who are supposedly super-bright, what they’ve done is nothing short of criminally comical….

UPDATE 6: Here’s a nice parable explaining what all Ben Bernanke’s counterfeit trillions are doing.

UPDATE 7:  Congressman Ron Paul suggests that both he and his son, new Senator Randall Paul, will introduce 'End the Fed' legislation first day in office! (HT Capitalism)

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Bloggers Drinks tonight [with a late good-news liver update]

A bit late notice (isn’t it always), but you should already know that the first Thursday of the month means Auckland Bloggers Drinks!

This is the event for blog trolls, blog groupies (bloopies) and blog readers  to see if you they can talk as much nonsense as we bloggers can.

Past blogging celebrities in attendance include bloggers, blog readers and blog trolls from (in alphabetical order) Annie Fox, Barnsley Bill, Beretta, Bowalley Road, The Fairfacts Media Show, Stephen Franks, Fundy Post, Hard News, Island Life, Garfield Herrington, Bernard Hickey, Cactus Kate, Kiwiblog, MandM, No Minister, No Right Turn, Not PC, Roar Prawn, Lolly Scramble, SOLO, The Sub-Standard, Born on State Highway One, Tumeke, Whale Oil and WHOAR! … though several didn’t stay around too long. Or at all.

So get ye there and either buy your favourite blogger(s) a drink—or just find one to throw in their face.

What: Auckland Bloggers Drinks
When: 4 November, from 6.30pm
Where: Galbraiths, 2 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland
Who for: Bloggers, blog readers, blog trolls.
What for: The talking of nonsense and telling of lies.

NOT PJ: Jalebis and Jealousies

This week Bernard Darnton wishes everyone a happy Diwali.

If you like fireworks and deep-fried balls of milk-powder soaked in syrup, then Diwali, falling on November 5th this year, is the holiday for you. Originally the Hindu festival of light, it is now often treated as simply a celebration of Indian culture in much the same way that Christmas used to mark the birth of Jesus but is now about decking malls with plastic holly.

Diwali celebrates the climactic events of the Ramayana, a 24,000-verse Sanskrit epic telling the story of Lord Rama, a mythological Indian king. To cut a 24,000-verse story short: Rama is exiled from his kingdom, his wife Sita goes with him against his advice and is kidnapped by the demon-god Ravana, much hardship endured by everyone but Sita remains chaste and Rama defeats Ravana’s army. The story ends with Rama and Sita’s triumphant return from exile and a happy ending more syrupy than a kadai full of gulab jamen.

Diwali is marked by the lighting of lamps in imitation of Rama’s welcome by the ecstatic populace of his home town, Ayodhya.

The name Ayodhya probably rings a bell unless you’re a Commonwealth Games reporter caught unaware by a real story. The name comes from a Sanskrit word for war and roughly means “unconquerable”. The area was conquered by the Mughals in the 16th Century.

After the conquest the Mughal emperor (allegedly) tore down a temple to the infant Rama and erected a mosque on the site. Hindu nationalists returned the favour in 1992 and 2000 people died in the ensuing riots.

An Indian Supreme Court decision a month ago determined that the site “kind of belongs to everyone” and that “we should all get along peacefully.” Indian history suggests that this won’t happen because it’s hard to reason with people when both sides will spill blood on the basis that “my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend.”

India is awash with invisible friends and people who would fight over them. It is also awash in ineffective and corrupt government, where a Supreme Court mincing words to try and avoid religious bloodshed is the least of the problems. But India is rapidly turning itself into a modern nation in spite of all that. A recent Economist article touts India’s surprising economic miracle.

One of India’s big advantages is demographic. China is very soon going to find itself turning grey because all the workers who should be there to support and replace the retirees simply never came into existence due to China’s one child policy. India’s workforce is young, growing, entrepreneurial, and productive.

In the 1970s, when the fashionable worry was overpopulation, totalitarians from Peking to Harvard were advocating stringent population control measures in Asia. In China, the Communist Party inflicted misery upon millions with forced sterilisations and compulsory abortions.

Indira Gandhi tried to do the same in India during a period of dictatorship known as “The Emergency”. The move was incredibly unpopular, democracy was restored in 1977, Indira Gandhi was sent packing, and the country carried on its fecund way. Right-thinking people across the world were horrified by India’s chaotic, unplanned, rabble.

China’s spectacular rise will begin to slow as the country runs into demographic problems that are the direct consequences of deliberate demographic policy. The lesson is the same one that planners everywhere fail to learn every time: Planners don’t know shit.

India’s new capitalism is more vibrant than China’s government-approved sort, and its industries are more modern and information-centric than China’s manufacturing.

If you want a story that celebrates the victory of light over dark, there’s no need to peek into the dim recesses of mythology. It’s right here: a nation of people who rescued their democracy from the brink of dictatorship, who have dismantled one of the craziest bureaucracies in the world, and who are on the verge of meteoric success largely through doing just whatever the hell they pleased.

* * He’s not PJ O’Rourke, but he’s not bad either.  Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ
column here every Thursday, barring drinking accidents. * *

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Obama: Kenyan or Keynesian?

Here’s a little light relief while the American polling system grinds its gears (for which the Vodka Pundits’s drunk blogging of the results at least keeps the interest up).

A pair of suit-clad roving interviewers roamed the thickets of Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity asking whether the punters therein thought Obama was a Keynesian.

The results were hilarious. (This was a rally for sanity, remember.)

As Eric Crampton says, from whom I pinched this, “Happy election day, Americans. Somehow your voting system has to extract collective wisdom from these kinds of inputs.”

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Auckland: Symposium on Sound Money

IN THE WEEK THAT the US central bank, the Fed, begins dumping a half-trillion dollar bolus of money created out of thin air into the veins of the American banking system (a mainline of government bailout crack representing the last gasp of a desperate but already exploded Keynesian orthodoxy)—a week in which Bank of England governor Mervyn King says it’s time to talk about “eliminating fractional reserve banking” (the first gasp, perhaps, of a much-needed and long-overdue mainstream sanity) regular readers in Auckland might like to know about a course happening here that will help put all the troubles (and solutions) in perspective:

goldstandard3 A Symposium on Sound Money, presented by Louis Boulanger, and
delivered by the man sometimes called the “Einstein of Money," Professor Antal Fekete from his School of New Austrian Economics.

Professor Fekete will explain

_Quote  what he means by an ‘unadulterated gold standard,’ how today’s fiat-based monetary system is destroying both savings and jobs, and the role of gold as numéraire and the ultimate extinguisher of all debts.
    This is a unique opportunity to hear a world authority present an alternative view about what makes money ‘sound,’ and how ‘unsound ‘ money is pushing us to the very brink of disaster once again, based on history…
    Each of the ten lectures will last one hour and will be followed by a question and answers period lasting up to one hour. There will be one lecture per morning, starting at 9.30am, and one lecture per afternoon, starting at 2pm.

The course runs from Monday 15 November to Friday 19 November 2010, at the Owen G. Glenn Business School of the University of Auckland. Get on to it now. (Tell them I sent you.)

Details here.

Download the symposium programme here.

Email the event manager here.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: People who shouldn’t be voting, and someone you ought to vote for!

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

This week:    People who shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and a person for whom you ought to vote!

  • DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): “Prisoners to get the vote for the first time
    The British PM is helpless in the face of a European court ruling which could give 70,000 prison inmates the right to vote…

    THE DOCTOR SAYS: The British government could face 50 million pounds in compensation claims from prisoners and legal sanctions from the European Union if it doesn’t allow prisoners to vote in elections
        The edict from the European Court of Human Rights comes after court action by the delightful John Hirst, who killed his landlady with an axe. Already, a lovely man who raped and killed his seven year old niece has launched a legal challenge saying (get this) that his human rights were being breached by being denied a vote. Perhaps his niece’s family should have been able to vote on what sentence he should have received.

    THE DOCTOR’S REMEDY:  There are lessons here for New Zealand:
      • We should NEVER surrender national sovereignty to organizations such as the UN (which would probably mean the recidivist bully Helen Clark in charge of our lives and property again)
      • Upon conviction for a felony, a person’s right to vote is cancelled until full restitution is completed by the perpetrator (e.g. reimbursing an insurance company for the life insurance payout in the case of a murderer, or a family for the loss of an uninsured loved one, the amount to be decided by a judge in consultation with the victims of the crime)
      • Non-crimes, such as self-medicating and the facilitation thereof, should be expunged from the law books. Prison should be reserved for people who harm other people or their property. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that homosexuality was a crime.

 

  • RADIO NZ NEWS: “Film funds better spent creating jobs – candidate
    Independent Mana by-election candidate Matt McCarten says the money the Government is giving Warner Bros to make The Hobbit would be better spent creating jobs for the 3000 unemployed in the electorate…

    THE DOCTOR SAYS: The former Alliance Party president demonstrates a breathtaking ignorance of matters economic.  No surprises there. 
        First, McCarten claims the government is “giving Warner Brothers money.”  Rubbish. The government is stealing less off Warner Bros than it steals from other tax victims. It is giving Warner Bros a tax break. Something local businesses should get as well.
        Second, he seems to think that all employment comes, not from consumer demand, entrepreneurship and scientific innovation, but from State intervention. The man is a moron. Put 1000 politicians and 1000 union reps on an island by themselves without entrepreneurs or inovators, and see how much employment (or survival) they manage.
        Meanwhile, National’s Mana candidate Hekia Parata demonstrates she shares McCarten’s limited intellectual scope, stating: “There is no money for job creation.” Implicitly meaning, no government money.
        Of course there is money available for job creation, and there there would be more available if businesses were fleeced less by the government and allowed to use their money as they wished in peaceful pursuit of profit, security, happiness and capital accumulation—which is to say in this context, on job creation.

    THE DOCTOR’S REMEDY:  The voters of Mana ought to consider an alternative plan from the Libz Party:
      • Give everyone a tax break – make the first $50,000 of income tax-free. That would help every working person in Mana to realize their own ambitions, not the ambitions of central and local government politicians. Imagine the reduction in IRD bureaucracy!
      • Remove licensing laws and regulation from first- and second-tier jobs, by which I mean the sort of work that young and low-skilled can use as stepping stones to more specialized and skilled work and greater earnings—jobs such as taxi-driving, street vendor work, firewood supplying, gardening work, lawnmowing, child-minding. Jobs where the increasing burden of regulation and compliance costs discourage people from taking that first step out of the welfare trap.
      • SFPicture Check out fighting Irishman and Libz candidate in the Mana by-election  Sean Fitzpatrick on TVNZ7 tonight at 9.10 p.m.  on Back Benchers, in a live telecast from the Sand Bar pub in Porirua. Or better still, be there early, watch it in person, and say hello to Sean! 

 

  • RADIO NZ NEWS: “Babies Must Be Breast Fed, Says New Indonesian Law
    A law has been passed in Indonesia that stipulates all babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life…

    · Achtung! All Indonesian babies must be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for the first six months of their lives
    · Anyone who disobeys can be fined $15,000 and sentenced to A YEAR IN PRISON!
    · Companies will be forced to provide employees with breast feeding facilities

    THE DOCTOR SAYS: I just came across this piece of sheer lunacy, and I’m still wondering if this is actually a piss-take. Or hoping.
        Actually, it’s just ruined my day. My blood is boiling. Straight from the Jim Anderton School of What-Isn’t-Banned-Is-Made-Compulsory, this exemplifies why state intervention in matters apart from maintaining the rule of law and providing for national defence is bad bad bad!
        That’s three times triple-plus bad.
        If that had been law in New Zealand in 1961, I would not be writing this column today. Instead, my name could have been one of those being used on David Garrett’s passports. Because, you see, as an infant, I failed to thrive, lost weight, and my parents thought I was going to die. My life was saved when the breast milk I was getting was supplemented by my parents feeding me Farex brand baby food, made by that evil multinational pharmaceutical giant Glaxo.
    THE DOCTOR’S REMEDY: To the breast-feeding fundamentalists and the legislators that helped push this law though in Indonesia, I say a loud “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!”

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

- attributed to Thomas Jefferson

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835 Kings Road, Hollywood – Rudolph Schindler

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Rudolph Schindler's house in the West Hollywood of 1920, when neither the Dream Factory nor houses like this existed.

Studying with and working under both Otto Wagner and Frank Lloyd Wright, this was the Viennese architect’s first substantial statement of direction.

Designed for himself, his wife and another couple with whom they shared the timber and concrete tilt-slab built house, each of the couples had their own wing, their own studios, and their own courtyards in the cunningly designed three-wing pinwheel spinning out of a common kitchen.

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Not bad for a house built on the sort of budget with which people today might spend on a new bathroom.
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“The residences of Schindler are intimately related to the earth,” wrote Pauline Gibling Schindler, discussing her husband in a1932 issue of Creative Art Magazine. “Meant for a life which flows naturally from the house out of doors, but which at the same time maintains an intense privacy, they are woven into their gardens and the gardens themselves become rooms.”
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Privacy. Light. Sunlight carefully screened and modulated. Spaces opening up to private grounds, and to each other.  And naturally, all the furniture was carefully designed to complement the scheme (original couch below, not in setting; original setting above, not with Schindler furniture).

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Nothing like it had been seen before in Southern California. And very little since.

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Head to this site and scroll down, and you’ll get a feel for the entrance sequence to the (now empty) house that Schindler so masterfully set up, and much more—including a tiny but fascinating bathroom.

King's Road House

And to this one to find Schindler’s considered opinion of how much (or how little) the man (or woman) earns whose “imagination must enable him to take a pile of building materials and create an organism which will function and live.”

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Tea Party: Beginning to See the Light [update 2]

moe-tucker-explains-tea-party-affiliationNow this is cool. Maureen Tucker—known to friends as Mo, and more widely as the drummer from the Velvet Underground—is also a Tea Partier.  An angry Mo told her local TV station she is “furious about the way we’re being led toward socialism” and the “incredible waste of money” being spent, and followed it up telling a disbelieving Riverfront Times she is against

  • the government taking over the student loan program and car companies,
  • bailouts
  • the White House taking control of the census (what the hell is that all about?)
  • any First Lady telling us (I know, I know, “suggesting to us”) what to eat
  • the mayor of New York City declaring “no salt” (screw you, pal!)
  • the mayor/city commissioners of Anytown, U.S.A. declaring you can’t fly a flag, can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance and can’t sing the National Anthem
  • a President dismissing any and all who dare to disagree
  • the water being turned off in (central) California to save a one-inch fish — turning that huge area of farming land into another dustbowl — the insipid start of food supply control methinks!
  • the government deciding what kind of lightbulbs we can use (all you “think green” people, three objections to this b.s.: 1) Those bulbs give off the light of a candle; 2) They’re very expensive; 3)They have mercury in them – how the hell are we supposed to dispose of them?).

Maureen says.

_Quote  MT: My family was damn poor when I was growing up on Long Island. There were no food stamps, no Medicaid, no welfare. If you were poor, you were poor. You didn’t have a TV, you didn’t have five pairs of shoes, you didn’t have Levi’s, you didn’t have a phone; you ate Spam, hot dogs and spaghetti. .. 
    My anger stems from the unbelievable (criminal!) waste of money on pork and earmarks. It drives me nuts to see that X millions are being allocated to build a turtle tunnel, a donkey museum, a salamander crossing, etc, etc, etc. Billions spent every friggin’ year on totally unnecessary crap so that these Congressbums can tell their constituents that they “brought home the bacon” and get re-elected. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to pay for any Congress SOB’s vote buying, and sure as hell not in these very very worrisome times!
    RIVERFRONT TIMES: What specifically about the current administration do you disagree with?
    MT: I disagree with spending / borrowing / printing — damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!  I disagree with the “we won” attitude, which is the cowardly way of saying fuck you! I disagree with an administration that for twenty months blames Bush. If the President and his minions are so damn smart, why didn’t they know the severity of the situation? The president has actually said …. that they didn’t know!

(So, of course, have John Key and Billy Bob.)

Unsurprisingly, Tucker’s views went down like a bucket of cold sick with the trendies, leaving her.

_Quotestunned that so many people who call themselves liberal yet are completely intolerant. I thought liberals loved everyone: the poor, the immigrant, the gays, the handicapped, the minorities, dogs, cats, all eye colors, all hair colors! Peace, love, bull!
    Curious they have no tolerance whatsoever for anyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do. You disagree and you’re immediately called a fool, a Nazi, a racist.

She’s nobody’s fool, and never was.

Here’s how the Velvet Underground sounded in their prime.

This was the Velvets’ looked on their reunion in Paris in 1990, with Moe on drums.

And here’s the song that was Moe’s party piece, recorded (badly) at a 1993 Velvets concert in Prague requested by then Czech President Vaclav Havel—a Velvets fan who told the world on the fall of the Soviet Empire that it was a Velvet Underground record that inspired the Czech Velvet Revolution.

[Hat tip Russell Brown, who seems to think Tea Partiers are against free trade. How odd. Still, that’s twice today he gets a mention here.]

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Murder. It’s still not O.K.

This is what leapt out of my newspaper this morning:

NZ HERALD: Hemmings' murderer had killed before
The man who murdered Good Samaritan Austin Hemmings in central Auckland spent eight years in an Australian jail for stabbing and killing his estranged girlfriend [and was then deported to NZ].
    He was also jailed in New Zealand on three separate occasions for knife [attacks] dating back to 1987…

Just think about that for a minute or two. A man who’d killed before and had been jailed before for knife attacks, all of them with the same sort of large kitchen knife with which he killed Austin Hemmings, was left by the courts out on the streets in Auckland ready to kill again.

Hmmm.

This is not the first time, is it. A long list of New Zealanders have been attacked killed and maimed by thugs who had a history, who were out on bail, out on parole, or who had killed before but had not been given the sentence their crime deserved.  Susan Couch, Tai Hobson and the families of Kylie Jones, Karl Kuckenbecker and many many other good people who deserved better can tell you the story.

The first duty of any responsible govt is to protect the rights, lives and liberties of its citizens. That’s its duty. That’s its job. This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

The legitimate arms of government are there to protect innocent people from those, like Austin Hemmings’s killer, who think force is the means by which humans deal with one another. His killer had certainly given sufficient indication that’s how he felt—"when he gets enraged, he needs to vent his anger" the court heard yesterday—yet the last time he attacked someone with a knife, stabbing them in the stomach with a large kitchen knife and partially severing their thumbs (this was after he’d killed his girlfriend and been deported back here), he was jailed for just two years and four months.

Think about that for a moment, too.

Think about a courtroom in which a record of three savage knife attacks and a murder were read out, and the man responsible was put away for our safety only for two years and four months. Two years and four months … after which he was free to vent his anger again on anyone he felt like.

If the police, the law courts and the prisons are going to do their proper job—which is protecting the rights, liberties and lives of its citizens—if “justice” isn’t going to end up with the adjective “vigilant” in front of it—then they need to protect those who value their life, liberty, property and happiness from those who've shown beyond reasonable doubt that they're quite partial to taking them all away.  ("The rights of the accused are not a primary," points out philosopher Ayn Rand, "they are a consequence derived from a man’s inalienable, individual rights. A consequence cannot survive the destruction of its cause.") 

That's the only real reason to catch people and lock them up, isn't it—the only defensible reason.  Not to punish them, but to to protect us.

But it’s not happening, is it.

_Quote Mr Hemmings' brother Craig said last night that a man with Brown's convictions should not have been on the streets. "It would alarm any New Zealander and, I would think, any sensible person."

But after unrepentantly drawing gallons of blood and taking one life, this young man was out on the street to do it again.

Something’s wrong, isn’t it. The government is failing in the one thing they’re supposed to be doing—protecting our rights, lives and liberties.

But instead of walking the beat and policing laws already on the books, such as (off the top of my head) bans on carrying large kitchen knives, police instead spend too much their time collecting revenue from folk driving a few “k”s over an arbitrary speed limit, raiding hydroponic garden-supply shops, and harassing the 400,000 NZers who harmlessly smoke cannabis.

And instead of taking violent crime seriously, they give the highest prosecution rates to administrative (91 percent), dishonesty (86 percent), and drug offences (84 percent), crimes which neither pick our pockets nor break our bones; while violent crime—which does—has among the lowest prosecution rates, at just 16 percent. And sentencing for violent crimes has only recently begun to recognise that NZers don’t want violent criminals dumped out on the streets, they want them locked up safe inside. (Read the recent trends in the report Patterns in Police Apprehensions in New Zealand 2005/06 to 2008/09.)  And let’s not mention how many violent crimes are committed while the perpetrator is out on bail, or parole for an earlier attack.

Something’s wrong, it’s alarming, and any sensible person would know that.

* * * *

PS: I can’t help being reminded that the last time I discussed this I was savaged by Russell Brown for wanting “a policeman at every dinner table” for pointing out that so many convicted for violent crime are being kept on the taxpayers’ tab, and for assuming Austin Hemmings’s killer must have been before the courts before.

_Quote-Dumb The man arrested by police was not on bail or parole and apparently has no history of drug abuse or mental illness [said Russell attacking my silliness]. But he is a sickness beneficiary, and for Cresswell -- deftly applying righteousness as the cement between correlation and causation -- that is proof enough that welfarism is to blame.
Maybe we will discover that the man has a criminal history, maybe not…

Maybe we will, Russell. Maybe we will.

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Who pays for Len Brown?

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Rodney Hide’s super-sized city bureaucracy was sold on the basis of greater “efficiencies” for the bureaucrats, and greater cost-savings for rate-payers.

Virtually the first statement by the vertically-challenged new Auckland mayor Len Brown is to confirm that whatever savings do emerge (if any) they won’t be used to reduce your rates, they will be rolled instead straight into monument building by those bureaucrats that have just been empowered.

This is what Rodney Hide delivered.

So much for your hopes for lower rates—which for every New Aucklander are going to go up in any case just to pay for the billion-and-a-half debt that Banks and Brown (the two most spendthrift mayors in the previous city setup) managed to rack up over their last terms.

first_train_set Just one of the many monuments talked up by the midget mayor is an underground rail loop around the inner city. A monument with a price tag of $2 billion, plus cockups.

That’s big money. And that’s just one of the many monuments Brown wants to erect in the next few years—train sets for everyone—a “world-class” convention centre (another one?)—cruise terminals—eco this—sustainability the other—any one of which will easily suck down any savings that might emerge from the merger, let alone any hopes you or the local govt minister might have had of rates decreases.

"There will be a cost,” says the midget mayor, “But we will do it.”

There sure will be a cost. And we will be the ones have to pay for it. (And how long before Brown demands a flash new building to accommodate an ego pumped up by the power to dispose of that which he has not earned, and by the view of himself as the embodied voice of “the public.”)

The only question is whether we pay for it as rate-payers, or as taxpayers.

The Prime Minister reckons it won’t be taxpayers. Put down your plan for monument-building, says John Boy, and get on instead with implementing your “long-term spatial plan for Auckland.”

What’s a long-term spatial plan, you ask?  Let me tell you. Section 79(2) of Rodney Hide’s Super-Sized Bureaucracy Act says:

The purpose of the Spatial Plan is to contribute to Auckland's social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being through a comprehensive and effective long term (20 to 30 year) strategy for Auckland's growth and development.

And section 74(4)(d) says the Spatial Plan must:

identify the existing and future location and mix of—
(i) residential, business, rural production, and industrial activities within specific geographic areas within Auckland…

As Owen McShane says of the powers given the central planners, “Even Stalin might blush.”

_Quote The Spatial Planners are invited to contribute to “Auckland’s social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being” rather than let the people take care of themselves…
    These new Spatial Plan’s requirement to specify the mix and location of land-use activities throughout the region is much more far reaching [even] than the Resource Management Act, which never mentions land use planning at all.
    …These highly detailed three-dimensional plans leave little room for private innovation or change. Forget about spontaneous order…

This is what John Boy reckons the midget mayor’s new council should be doing—instead of building monuments themselves, they should be writing plans ensuring property-owners may not build anything at all except with the express permission of a central planner.

In other words, all Rodney Hide has delivered to Auckland is a battle between monument builders and central planners.

Guess who loses out in that one?

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