Tuesday, 17 April 2012

How the internet makes you happy [updated]

Here’s one of the neat things the internet can do: by offering a live, free, web-streamed talk on happiness, presented by a philosophy professor and hosted by  the Ayn Rand Center:

The Pursuit of Happiness and the Tools For Attaining It

The Declaration of Independence famously espouses the idea that every man has a birthright to the pursuit of happiness. An individual's success in attaining happiness, however, depends on what he does with that right. This talk probes three factors vitally necessary to achieve happiness─factors that are not conventionally recognized but, instead, are routinely vilified.

Speaker: Dr. Tara Smith is professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, where she holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and the Anthem Foundation Fellowship. A specialist in moral, legal and political philosophy, she has published books on values, virtues, individual rights and, in the past few years, several articles on objective law and judicial review.

This event will be livestreamed free on the Ayn Rand Center's Facebook page.  Click here:

http://www.facebook.com/events/193667467418927/

You do not need to be a registered user of Facebook to view the event.

What: Lecture on happiness—and how to go about achieving it!
When: Wednesday, 18 April: 11:30am-1pm

PS: If you're near Mt Eden at 11:30 we’ll be watching this at my office cnr Valley Rd/Dominion Rd, so feel free to call in and join us: Organon Architecture, Level 1, 236 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden.

The earthquake was a natural disaster. Everything since has been man-made. [updated]

The Grey Ones have done everything wrong since the Christchurch earthquake.

They barred people from their city.1

They evicted people from their homes.2

They slowed down their repairs and insurance pay-outs.3

They slowed down reconstruction.4

They first banned the demolition of any heritage building (killing many people during the second big earthquake) then carried out themselves, by order, the demolition of all heritage buildings!5

They made a lottery of which home-owners would be paid out, and how much.6

They talked about “rebuilding” but have made it virtually impossible.7

They have barred for months the building of new commercial buildings 0n existing central-city land.8

They have barred the building of new commercial buildings on new land around the fringes.9

They have barred the building of new homes on new land at all.10

They handed monopoly status to Fletcher Building et al, locking out local contractors from work they know well.11

They encouraged the demolition of the Cathedral instead of leaving the ruin as a memorial.12

At a time when financial pain could not be worse they hiked rates instead of lowering them. 13

At a time when financial pain could not be worse they hiked their own salaries instead of lowering them. 14

Instead of allowing innovative prefabricated housing to be installed around the city, they have insisted on conformity and encourage “a tsunami” of construction workers to head to the city.15

Instead of allowing enterprise to flourish in a city on its knees, the Government instead appointed a central-planning Czar to kneecap whatever enterprise did emerge. 16

Instead of dismissing the dysfunctional Christchurch bureaucracy the Czar instead compounded the  problem by adding a new bureaucracy on top. 17

Instead of giving entrepreneurs certainty about all the decision-making being done—decision-making that should have been left in the hands of those entrepreneurs—businessmen have instead been left in the position of supplicants to whom information is doled out only when the Czars and their courtiers deem it necessary-even now being required to “hurry up and wait” for months while the Czar decides what they will be told to do.18

Every single thing they could have got wrong, they’ve got wrong.19

The job the earthquake started, the Grey Ones have been doing their best since 2010 to complete. The have virtually destroyed the place as a functioning city—with only the heroics of local businessmen keeping it running at all.

And now?

Now the Grey Ones are arguing amongst themselves about who should implement their “plan.” Their top-down plan.  Their centrally-planned plan. Their “vision” for the city formed in a void—without any cognisance whatsoever of the hopes, dreams, ambitions, plans and investments of the property-owners, entrepreneurs and citizens of Christchurch whose lives, plans and property they wish to control.

And arguing too about who should wield the “coercive power”20 they deem necessary to bludgeon unwilling property-owners, entrepreneurs and citizens to follow the Grey Ones’ plan(s) instead of their own.

The grey ones really do need a simple message:

Get the hell out of the way!

Let people make the most of what they do have now by minimising the difficulties they face in doing something with it, not giving them more burdens to slow them down.

Let them be free and unencumbered to move to where they need to, and build what needs to be built.

In short, abandon your top-down “plans” and centrally-imposed “vision” and allow the visions of entrepreneurs to connect the needs of one person after another with their own capacity to meet it.

In other words, declare an Enterprise Zone and get the hell out of the way. Make Christchurch an Enterprise Zone, not a Ward of the State.

And if, you must, re-emerge from your holes in two years time to take credit for the success.

But for Galt’s sake allow some success to happen in what was once New Zealand’s second-largest city.

Before it’s too late.

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES:

  1. In those first crucial hours they barred rescuers from rescuing. And in the following days they then tried to shut down student volunteers from helping out, and tried to ban volunteers’ “unauthorised” importation of food, supplies and port-a-loos into desperate parts of the city. And in all the months since the earthquake they have barred owners from their own buildings using military power, eventually giving owners access only after repeated protests, and only for a very, very brief time.
  2. Conceding only belatedly that the likes of Joe Bennett could take responsibility for his own life, thank you very much.
  3. By EQC’s inept duplication of what the insurance industry was already doing, and incompetent and long-delayed signing off of what they should never have been involved in, for which everybody needed to wait.
  4. Builders have ben sitting on their hands for over a year while they wait for council and government to allow folk to do what they already know needs to be done.
  5. Neither time with even any consultation with the owners of these buildings—even before demolition of their buildings was carried out!
  6. To this day, few can find any logic to the “system” used.
  7. Yes, they talk well.  This is, for example, Bob Parker’s only skill. Talking. But what rebuilders need is not polished words from politicians who are TV presenters but the certainty that comes with recognition of the rights they have in their own properties.
  8. Property owners in the central city have been treated exactly like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed bullshit. Not one could make a sensible decision regarding their own property—not because of the earthquake but because of council and government intransigence. And all will very soon be liquid by virtue of the insurance payouts that should soon be arriving. How many do you think will want to reinvest that liquidity in a place from which it’s been made clear they’re not wanted? All that might keep them there is loyalty.
  9. Chch businessmen have done wonders working out of whatever space they can find, much of which was commercial space on the fringes empty before the earthquake; but council “planners” have done all they can to resist any new commercial space going up anywhere else than in the places designated in their “plans”—which is for the most part in places either not wanted by by businessmen as commercial space or not capable of being built on as commercial space.
  10. With demand going through the roof and the supply of housing around the city having been hobbled by planners even before the quake, rents and house prices around Christchurch are going through the roof.  The response of planners has not been to realise their cherished “zones” for new housing (which are misguided fantasies at the best of times) are now as obsolete as the dodo, but instead to instead ever more firmly that “no new land will be released for housing.” So instead of new land at $50,000 around the fringes being available for rebuilding, there  is little land and what there is remains unaffordable for most.
    UPDATE: Eric Crampton: “It is criminally insane that Council barred developers from building new houses on the outskirts of town after the quakes. More than a year on, how many new houses do we have compared to the number destroyed?” Answers on the finger of one foot.
  11. The mantra of this Government has been “letting business work”: by which they mean “doing deals with businesses they choose.” This is now known as “picking winners.” In Mussolini’s day it was called something starting with an ‘F.’
  12. Leaving a ruined cathedral as a memorial worked as a real catharsis for cities like Berlin, Liverpool and Coventry. So why not try it here?
  13. A massive 7.5% rates rise, on top of huge projected increases in “development levies.”
  14. Only a massive protest put off some of these rises, which may have only delayed some of the highest-profile rises until protestors have other things to worry about.
  15. Using prefabricated building technology to supply the housing shortage, building workers can be anywhere in the country--or even anywhere in the world. But using traditional labour-intensive techniques, that tsunami of workers will all have to come to Christchurch—exacerbating the already dire housing shortage. (This is just what govts do. When the Australian government wanted to fix housing problems in the Northern Territory the first thing they did was send thousands of bureaucrats to the Northern Territory to fix them—whose arrival in the form of all that new housing demand immediately made the already dire problem worse!)
  16. Former woodwork teacher and now Senior Gauleiter for for Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee has done nothing at all with his extraordinarily extensive powers to remove bureaucracy, and instead has just added his immense weight to enlarge the existing bureaucratic stew and increase the meddlesomeness of all the bureaucracy that previously existed. While adding more. And not one of the people added or involved realises that for a city to thrive and cope with adversity, it must be resilient, affordable and flexible.
  17. Christchurch was already “a bureaucratically buggered city" before the earthquake, and now with several new layers either added or mooted it’s more so, not less so. And it’s not like this Government hasn’t got a record of dismissing councils it doesn’t like.
  18. Even in recent days we witnessed Deputy-Czar Sutton telling a strangely docile business audience their job was not to get on and do things, but to counsel patience in others.
  19. And believe me, I’ve only scratched the surface here with these examples!  Feel free to add your own in the comments.
  20. Listen to Chch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel relish the phrase “coercive power” in this interview this morning—her only objection being that she thinks it should be her chums wielding the power instead of Gerry’s.

UPDATE:

“Screwed?” asks Eric Crampton:

While Council's made some (*) great efforts in getting the sewers and water supply working again, onanistic light rail visions and new stadium plans seem more important to our Mayor and Council than things fundamentally more important to anybody on the East side of town, to commercial property owners downtown, and increasingly to the West-side folks now inconvenienced by rental price increases from East-side refugees.
Wellington ought to be awfully worried about getting EQC fixed before they get their earthquake. And, adopting the Productivity Commission's recommendations about easing up the regs around land use policy isn't just sound policy for housing affordability, it also makes the whole country less fragile in case of earthquake.

Christchurch is so screwed,” says Bill Kaye-Blake:

The government is doing what bureaucracies do. It is creating processes. It is making sure that everything is correct, that all the boxes are ticked, and, above all, that their asses are covered. So it moves slowly, carefully. Safer to keep people from doing something than allow them do the wrong thing.
Insurance companies are doing what they do. They are minimising their expenses and protecting their bottom lines.

Even dear old Chris Trotter recognises Cantabrians are being screwed—but he disregards entirely that those who will actually rebuild the city (if they are not restrained from ever doing so) are not the Grey Ones but the very entrepreneurial “class” who built it in the first place; he still deems a centrally-planned paradise possible; and he doesn’t realise how govt has been encouraging insurance companies’ intransigence. Still…

If politics is mostly about perception, then, looking at Christchurch, this Government’s in big trouble. Because, perception-wise, this Government’s handling of the rebuilding of New Zealand’s second city hasn’t just gone from Bad to Worse; Worse is sending Gerry Brownlee post-cards.
    The “reality” of the situation may be very different from people’s perceptions – it usually is. But the very fact that Cantabrians are having immense difficulty translating the reality of their everyday lives into anything remotely resembling the Government’s spin is a problem in itself. If disaster management isn’t grounded in telling disaster victims the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then it isn’t management – it’s mismanagement.
    And that’s the problem this Government’s faces: an awful lot of people living in Christchurch appear to have stopped believing that they’re being told even a fraction of the whole truth….

The Onion: “World’s largest metaphor hits iceberg”

Centenary commemorations of the Titanic sinking wouldn’t be complete without the contribution of The Onion.

Titanic0001

Too glib?

But where would we writers be without the metaphor.

Monday, 16 April 2012

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: A Simple Suggestion For The Police

_McGrath001Dr Richard McGrath has been driving around. Or trying to.

Now, I don't want to rain on anyone's picnic. The news about the Easter road toll of zero was welcome indeed.

But even the most excitable statistician would be able to talk to you soberly about this result being inside the normal curve.  And my recent experience of road policing tells me a rethink at Police National HQ is urgently required.

Because my anger at motorists’ treatment over the Easter period is only now abating.

On the Thursday before Good Friday I was heading southeast through Sanson when my journey was interrupted. This was peak holiday driving time at the place where State Highways 1 and 3 join briefly before going their separate ways in the middle of Bulls.

I was not even inside the 50km/hr built-up area when I had to slow to join a traffic jam running the length of the town. Yes, the police had decided to put the kibosh on everyone’s holiday plans.

I was drafted into the left of two lanes, the right-hand lane being cars that were waved through. I stopped dead about twenty metres from where a line of policemen stood waiting. After five seconds of increasingly frantic waving from one of the police officers, I took my foot off the brake pedal and inched ever so slowly toward a policeman, who when I got to where he was standing demanded (didn't ask nicely, no 'sir' or 'please', just barked out an order) I speak into his alcohol sniffer. Which, like an obedient citizen, I did—despite a seething resentment at once again being detained without being in any way suspected of criminal activity.

I noticed half a dozen of his fellow officers milling about on the other side of the road like grinning idiots. A very cost-effective use of taxpayer money.

My negative result on their sniffer was no surprise: it was only 5.45 p.m. The perfect time to hold up holiday traffic with minimal chance of finding drunks. What really incensed me though, was the order (not a request, note, but an order) to wind down the front passenger window of my vehicle to receive an unsolicited package. This turned out to be some taxpayer-funded propaganda on road safety, thrown onto the front seat of my car. I was then told to move on. I drove forward to merge with the right lane of other traffic, whereupon I was blinded by the afternoon sun shining straight down the main street of Sanson and almost ran into a truck, veering left with inches to spare.

At that point I decided to stop my car and see what happened. It was fairly amusing to watch how animated the policeman who had sniffed me became, waving me hysterically away like he was shooing away a swarm of wasps. Eventually I resumed my journey back to Masterton, wondering how many other motorists these idiots had pissed off that evening. The line of cars heading northwest stopped cars joining from the State Highway One, and extended into the 100 km/hr road to Palmerston North—offering the perfect opportunity for a high-speed tail-end collision.

You can see how well this had been thought through by someone.

I would like to make a simple suggestion at this point: that from this time onward any motorists testing negative with sniffer devices be handed, immediately, five dollars in cash. I can tell you it would compensate for the inconvenience and risk imposed on motorists by these intrusive and time-wasting impositions. And it might help restore some of the goodwill lost by these ridiculous and frankly dangerous road blocks.

Now I am not anti-police. As a libertarian I realise they are one of the few legitimate arms of government. On top of that, I have worked twenty-five years as a police medical officer (or 'pig doctor' as one or two of the customers I have met at the local police station have christened me). But something needs to be done to rescue the credibility of our police force. They need to be investigating criminals and not harassing (and alienating) innocent sober motorists. I don't think the police realise how destructive of goodwill their road blocks are, even to those who work with them and generally support the great work that the vast majority of police officers do.

And now I have another suggestion for you. Those travelling between Wanganui and Wellington who want to avoid the notorious Sanson speed camera:  after passing the Ohakea Air Base (and before hitting Sanson) take a right at Fagan Rd, left into Speedy Rd, and right onto State Highway One. And Bob will be your mother's brother.

P.S. Now that my whinge is over, here are two great articles, first, the best short summary of Objectivism I've seen, written by Craig Biddle (not sure if subscription is required, but it would be money well spent); and second, 100 common objections to libertarianism well refuted.

See you next time!
Doc McGrath

Friday, 13 April 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The ‘Slow News Week’ edition

Here’s a quick ramble around a few things that caught my internet eye this week:

Farming will stay out of the Emissions Trading Scam until 2018… “Underlying this appears to be a further calculation: that the Kyoto Protocol and its various policy offshoots is not going to be around, at least in its current form, by the time anyone has to make a decision on this.”
Farming out of ETS until at least 2018 – Rob Hosking, N . B . R .

The thing about “boat people” is why they want to come—“because of the persecution and possible death facing them and their family in their home country… There is also no one Correct Way to be an asylum seeker.”
All the coolest people's ancestors came here by boat – Julie,  H A N D   M I R R O R

Those responsible for New Zealand’s unnecessary housing crisis, a long story of political incompetence and the victory of the self-anointed over everybody else, are finally given a polite but necessary kick in the pants.
 Productivity Commission recommends immediate release of land for residential development in Auckland, Christchurch, in final housing affordability report 
– Alex Tarrant, I N T E R E S T . C O . N Z

Chiefly responsible for the crisis, the only question NZ’s planners seem to ask themselves is “where should we put our zones?” They should be asking themselves something far more fundamental:
Instead of Zoning…What? - – Tibor Machan, T I B O R ’ S     S P A C E

imageThe Triumph of the City is a passionate defence of the city as the best mechanism for human flourishing.
The Triumph of the City -  O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R

Dairy farmers can be charged for effluent spills which might enter waterways but councils can dump raw sewage until the cows come home.
Two standardsH O M E  P A D D O C K

We’re from the government, and we’re here to insist that you be happy: The latest iteration of pseudo-justifications for big government is up on us.
 Government Intervention for Your HappinessAmit Ghate,  T H R U T C H

The sacking of the “Fox Mole” raises questions from erudite folks about the alleged journalistic bias of Fox News, just the kind who routinely reads The New York Times.  The alleged basis for the disdain is that Fox is obviously biased whereas the Old Gray Lady is impeccably objective. But this, concludes Tibor Machan, is a misimpression.
Fox TV versus The New York Times – Tibor Machan,  T I B O R ’ S   S P A C E

The only people whose welfare is boosted by the housing-benefit racket are middle-class landlords.
Who benefits from housing handouts? – Neil Davenport,  S P I K E D  O N L I N E

Just when Apple was introducing its latest iPad, the government announced that Apple was among six companies being investigated over ebook pricing. As that investigation appears to be nearing its conclusion, here are three things everyone needs to know about the case.
3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Apple Antitrust Case 
– Yaron Brook & Don Watkins,  F O R B E S

Shortly after Steve Jobs’s death I started hearing murmurs from the left about how Apple exploited Chinese workers. In recent months, the murmurs have grown into an obnoxious chorus. But now one of the major sources of the complaints about Apple and Chinese workers has just been exposed as a fraud.
The Smear Campaign Against Apple  - Don Watkins,   L A I S S E Z   F A I R E

Is the Tea Party movement dead? Or is it just evolving.
The Evolution of the Tea Party – Ari Armstrong,  O B J E C T I V E   S T A N D A R D

Important questions we need to answer: just how big is internet porn?
Just how big are porn sites? – 3  Q U A R K S   D A I L Y

Hillary Clinton texts. It’s true:
TEXTS FROM HILLARY
image

The term “economic recovery” implies a return to things as they once were. A return to normal. A return to average. But what if this is not that kind of a situation? What if we are in for a new normal, and along with it, a new kind of average? What if we are, as they say, past the point of “no return”?
Misguided Faith in an Economic Recovery – Joel Bowman, D A I L Y R E C K O N I N G

Recovery would happen faster is mainstream economists weren’t all in thrall to The Grocer Fallacy.
The Spurious Grocer Philosophy – Peter Klein, C I R C L E  B A S T I A T

Economics education needs to change. “We must now teach students how we got into the mess of the last five years and how we got only partially out. For that reason, teaching elementary economics just got harder. Our teaching about monetary policy must be completely revamped. Specifically, students must now learn something about ‘unconventional’ monetary policies.”
Keynesians Need to Rethink How They Teach Economics – Mark Brandly,  C I R C L E  B A S T I A T

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we begin to spend money we don't have. We spend it because we think we'll be able to pay it back later. Or, in the case of government debt, because it can make someone pay it back later through tax hikes. But the world is still full of bills that may never be paid, and Australia has one of these own mini-crises ticking away.
Beware the Big Government Debt Switcheroo – Dan Denning,  D A I L Y  R E C K O N I N G

More evidence the Aussie economy is grinding to a halt: Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released Australian housing finance and building approvals data. It wasn't pretty.
The Road to Australian Housing Hell… – Greg Canavan,  D A I L Y  R E C K O N I N G

That the gold standard prevents authorities from engaging in reckless money pumping is a feature, Mr Bernanke, not a bug.
A Response To Bernanke’s ‘Misunderstanding’ About The Gold Standard 
– Keith Weiner,  D A I L Y   C A P I T A L I S T
Contra Bernanke on the Gold Standard – Frank Shostak,  M I S E S  E C O N O M I C S   D A I L Y

Not everything of value can be measured. Not everything that can be measures is valuable. Motivated human behaviour especially cannot be modelled—and disaster can strike when you try.
Wall Street Math – Doug French,  M I S E S  D A I L Y

“What if we had the following economic system?  This system would shower the globe with free goods day and night, asking nothing and giving nearly everything. Most of what it generated would be free goods, and every living person would have access…
It would serve the common man slavishly and knock the elites when they become proud and arrogant. It would make it beneficial to everyone to include ever more people in its productive potential and give everyone who wants it a stake in the outcome.
That system has a name. It’s called the free market.”
Commerce, Our Benefactor  - Jeffrey Tucker, L A I S S E Z  F A I R E   B O O K S

The economic objections raised against the market economy are based on very bad economics.
The Case Against the Market Economy - Ludwig Von Mises, M I S E S   D A I L Y

A  necessity for peaceful co-existence, for everyone:
How Property Rights Solve Problems – David R. Henderson,  E C O N   L O G

Before iPods, digital downloads and mp3s, before even CDs, we had something called records. Astonishing!

Reasons for space stations, Part 117: research on whisky: “Compounds of unmatured malt were sent to the International Space Station in an unmanned cargo spacecraft in October last year, along with particles of charred oak. The researchers are also measuring the molecules' interaction at normal gravity on Earth so they can compare the way the particles mature.”
Cool!
Space-Aged Whiskey and Russian Rockets – Katherine Mangu-Ward,  H I T   &   R U N

Is Japan dangerous? Not in terms or radiation, but based on the historical record? What if we take the longer view… “Japan certainly appears quiescent. What happens, however, when it is forced to declare national bankruptcy within the next five years, due to a debt problem that far exceeds that of the United States and that can no longer be evaded? What happens when Japanese industry cannot get the raw materials it needs because of expanded wars in the Middle East? What happens when these factors combined with Japan’s demographic implosion force the Japanese to choose between an even more acute subordinacy in world affairs and the ‘glorious’ hope of a Japan reborn through the ‘way of the warrior’?” Do the most essential traits of Japanese culture make a return to war almost inevitable! 
Is Japan Dangerous? – Scott Powell, P O W E L L   H I S T O R Y  R E C O M M E N D S

Do Taxes Inhibit or Inspire Hard Work? Your View?


From a slow start, Germans are catching up in the world-wide tax-subsidized GreenJobsFail race.
Solar panel maker Q-Cells to file for bankruptcy – B . B . C .

Maria Montessori: inspiration for a new generation of business innovators. “Like children, creators need to be able to guide their own learning and development based on their innate and instinctual needs – not those imposed by others who don't know what moves them as individuals seeking purpose.”
Maria Montessori: guru for a new generation of business innovators  - G L O B E   &   M A I L

If you’re anywhere near Takapuna this weekend, think about checking out a session or two of the Montessori Association conference at the Spencer on Byron—especially Saturday morning from 9:45am to noon where speakers offer an opportunity for parents and those new to Montessori to come and learn more.
Montessori Association (NZ) Conference

My favourite living artist, Michael Newberry, has moved to a new larger studio in downtown L.A. Check it out:
Open Studio Some Pics - A N   A R T I S T  ’S  V O I C E

image
This great new thriller, Living Proof, “is eerily reflective of today’s political controversies about the concept of human life.”
Kira Peikoff’s Living Proof Speaks To Today’s Controversy on Stem Cell Research 
– Jon Glatfelter,  T H E  U N D E R C U R R E N T

“The ethics of altruism holds that others are standard of value. One is good to the extent one puts the interests of other first, acts to achieve their interests, and, when necessary, sacrifices one’s interests for their sake.
“In The Fountainhead, Ellsworth Toohey is the major strategist of altruism, using five distinct variants of altruism to achieve his ends…”  Read them (or pin them up) in this new print version!
“Toohey’s Five Strategies of Altruism” – Stephen Hicks, S T E P H E N   H I C K S

"A beginning Objectivist's guide of which items from the dauntingly large Ayn Rand Bookstore catalog to read first. Answers such questions as: What are the three most important Objectivist lectures? What are the first fifteen Objectivist works you should read, in exactly what order? What are the four most important chapter is OPAR, and why? What are Ayn Rand's best essays/lectures? Peikoff's? The best lectures by other Objectivists?"
Objectivism: What to Read First – Tony White,  P E R I P A T E T I C   T H O U G H T S

Whatever good you have heard about The Hunger Games, the reality is more spectacular.
Democracy Is Our Hunger Game -  Jeffrey Tucker, L A I S S E Z  F A I R E   B O O K S

wagner-richardWhat’s the opposite of altruism? Egoism, of course—the very egoism every creative genius needs, reckoned the world’s greatest composer, Richard Wagner, in a letter to Franz Liszt: “If I am obliged to plunge once more into the waves of an artist’s imagination in order to find satisfaction in an imaginary world, I must at least help out my imagination and find means of encouraging my imaginative faculties. So I cannot live like a dog, I cannot sleep on straw and drink common gin: mine is an intensely irritable, acute and hugely voracious, yet uncommonly tender and delicate sensuality which, one way or another, must be flattered if I am to accomplish the cruelly difficult task of creating in my mind a non-existent world.”
Compare that view to the sterility of, say, a Rachmaninov…
Creative geniuses as selfish — Richard Wagner version – Stephen Hicks,  S T E P H E N    H I C K S
Creative geniuses as selfish — Rachmaninoff version – Stephen Hicks, S T E P H E N    H I C K S

And with that:

Enjoy your weekend!
Peter Cresswell

Breakers

The Vector Arena is only four miles or so from the travails going on at Eden Park, but last night it was a million miles in terms of excitement, guts and ticker.

The Breakers basketball team last night hosted Perth’s Wildcats and a sold-out Arena of 9,200 screaming fans in the first of the best-three finals. What a game!

Starting slowly, the Breakers wound up through the second quarter, went to sleep again in the third, and did just enough in the fourth to earn the five minutes of extra time they needed to get over the line. Just over the line—the contest not being decided until the final minute.

Basketball at the highest level is one of the most thrilling games around. This game was one of those.

What a game.*

* * * * *

*Now, if only someone could strangle the dickhead with the microphone. And the one playing Metallica through the first two minutes of every quarter.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The race card can be awfully convenient sometimes, can’t it.

image

Convenient isn't it that just when you should be feeling public pressure to resign over your ratshit performance as a coach, you discover enough within you to produce an “emotional” press conference performance and a reason (you hope) to get the public behind you instead of demanding your resignation.

The race card can be awfully convenient sometimes, can’t it.

Mind you, Pat Lam isn’t coaching my team.  Thank goodness.  But if he was, I’d want him crying because of his coaching performance, not because of what a few people have called him on Twitter.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

How much does it cost to to buy a vote, these days?

How much would you pay to buy your votes?

Turns out from party spending returns for the 201 election it cost some parties from $20 per vote (Social Credit) $25 per vote (ACT) to $30 per vote (Colin Craig Party) to buy their way into parliament. (Or not, in the case of Colin Craig and Don Brash and whoever the hell has replaced Bruce Betham in the funny-money party these days.)

Surely it would be cheaper to just stand outside polling booths offering a bit of the folding for a tick in the right box?  At least for ALCP, NZ First, Libertarianz and United the amount to be handed out could well be less than $2 per tick—and in the case of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party only 34 cents, i.e., less than one bullet per vote!

But this of course does not take into account the election bribes paid for with voters’ own money promised by all major parties—and now being borrowed for at the rate of $300 million per week. *

And where does the officially-announced money come from? Surprise, surprise, the Blue Team got most of theirs from businesses ** ; the Red Team got most of theirs from the unions ** ; and the Green Team didn’t need to get it from anywhere because they long ago captured the bureaucracy, the commentariat and the school curriculum, so every election they have the country’s scribblers, cardigan-wearers and school-kids campaigning on their behalf without costing them anything at all.

Interesting too to note where most Green voters come from. Either within a five-mile radius of Grey Lynn (where you can throw a dart at random and prick a journalist, or a ten-mile radius of Aro Street (where you could fire a bazooka at random and hit a dozen bureaucrats, probably the best thing you could do to save the planet).

So no surprises there either.

Democracy can be very expensive indeed.

* * * * *

* At that rate it will be costing every voter and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around $20,000 each before the bribes are finally paid for.

** Remember, everyone, when you want politicians to control buying and selling, the first thing to be bought and sold will be your politicians

Refugees: What’s the problem?

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Once again, the news that several human beings are heading down under with the express aim of making a new home for themselves somewhere in Australasia has talkback callers on both sides of the Tasman in a frenzy.

So what’s the problem?

Is New Zealand so small and our outlook so mean we would begrudge ten human beings the new life they seek in our land—ten people who will have demonstrated, if they succeed, more get up and go in their little fingers than most talkback callers have acquired over their whole lives?   Apparently so. 

Would NZers rather condemn these ten to death than offer them the chance of a new life here ? Apparently they would.

On days like this, I find myself ashamed to be a New Zealander.

Once again, just a very few people have revealed the xenophobic tribalism underneath the skin of so many Australians and New Zealanders who as recently as the Sydney Olympics and the Rugby World Cup were flatulently talking up their “friendliness” and their “hospitality.” What a crock.

Their xenophobia now lies exposed.

As does the cold inhumane heart of the welfare state.

Because it seems nobody wants these people down under.  They’d rather they just “go away.” Go where? Blank out. Seem the only place apparently for these human beings to “go” is to die.  For those eager to remove the welcome mat, this is what they’d like to blank out: the death sentence they wish to bestow on other human beings yearning to breathe free.

This is the sort of human beings they have become.

This is not a small problem.

People everywhere risk their lives to escape their impossible existences, and all around the world the barriers to them are up. People-smugglers 'assist' them, and the victims they smuggle are so desperate they willingly submit to the risks of dealing with thugs and swindlers, of suffocation in airtight, hermetically sealed containers, of setting sail on fragile craft, and of braving stormy and shark-filled waters. They subject themselves to unimaginable risks to escape intolerable lives, and so often are left to die like so much unwanted cattle.

How bad are people's lives that they risk suffocation, drowning and shark attacks to escape the horrors of their former homes? And what of our culture, our politicians, and ourselves when people risk their lives in this way, and we willingly condemn them for having the temerity to interrupt our own comfortable existence?

Many Australasians no longer value other human beings it seems—they are just so many problems they wish would go away. Wherefore this new inhumanity?

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. So 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.’ Or ‘boat people.’

I submit the responsibility for this dark heart lies with the Welfare State and the tribal mentality it fosters. New Zealanders’ wish that these refugees would just 'go away' and stop bothering them exposes the dark underbelly at the heart of the Welfare State.

"How so?' you ask. "Isn't the Welfare State a model of benevolent charity?" It is not. It is the Welfare State that condemns these people to die.

A VISIT TO YOUR local W.I.N.Z. office is enough to tell you that by its very nature, the Welfare State dehumanises peopleviewing them as nothing other than either a mouth to feed or a wallet to plunder. What’s happening with the xenophobic anti-refugee outpouring is that even the people with the wallets can no longer see the world in any other way than one begging for their alms, and are naturally upset at the prospect of many more mouths being fed at their expense.

Reflect that the Welfare State is not voluntary charity, it is not any kind of charity at all. It is compulsion, forcing every person to be responsible for every other person whether they like it or not. And like it or not, those who pick up the cheque for New Zealand's welfare state resent that forced imposition. They submit begrudgingly to the moral cannibalism of being forced to be “their brother’s keeper,” but resist the imposition of new members to the tribe—and are blinded by the Welfare State mentality to the possibility that new New Zealanders who have braved many dangers to get here would more likely be producers, not parasites.

So, once again, the dehumanising moral bankruptcy at the heart of the Welfare State lies exposed on a small ship floating off Darwin—just as it was when 460 refugees on the Tampa lay floating off Christmas Island surrounded by Australian guns, Prime Ministerial invective, and the loudly-expressed wish by many Australians that their navy just get on and sink it. (It was then, with the Tampa, that the Welfare State acquired a new symbol: Australian commandos pointing guns at sick women and children.)

There is a better way to deal with immigrants and refugees than with guns and a death sentence.

Libertarians have always maintained that peaceful people should be able to cross borders freely as long as they forswear any claim on any existing welfare state--I suggest that this philosophy of libertarian self-responsibility offers a simple solution to the current impasse.

NEW ZEALAND CURRENTLY ACCEPTS 750 refugees annually, housing them, feeding them, and watering them - nannying them - to ready them for New Zealand life. Most refugees have already shown sufficient gumption to escape the horrors of their own homes, and most immigrants quickly demonstrate that such nannying is unnecessary by achieving such spectacular success in their new land it frequently shames their former hosts.

So why this enforced imposition on both the taxpayer and the immigrants? It's as if the government fears we might pick up diseases from them - 'diseases' perhaps like the hard work, enterprise, and initiative that successful immigrants so frequently display. To be sure, we must bar known criminals and terrorists, but that doesn’t necessitate such overly expensive and bureaucratic immigration procedures.

I say, why not simply let people look after them voluntarily?

This shouldn’t be difficult. Every time an issue like this comes to light, many charitable New Zealanders and Australians raise their voices in support of the embattled minority; so why not take these calls literally?

I suggest the easiest solution is for Prime Ministers Key and Gillard to announce that between them they will accept whoever arrives on our shores, but only as long as a sufficient number of charitable Australians and New Zealanders can be found to take full responsibility for them until they are on their feet. Ten people, in this case, who will offer their own voluntary welfare and 'naturalisation services' to help these people start their new life.

Who could possibly, or reasonably, object to that?

Finding a sufficient number should not be a problem. Even the numbers gleefully posted every week by xenophobes like new-Australian Andrew Bolt, who reckons Gillard’s Government has encouraged refugees to head towards Australasia, number only in their hundreds--a “flood” of 1500 souls at most trying to “pour” into a country of 20-million people and a thousand-million empty acres.

And given the initiative refugees will have already shown in getting down here, I would expect that getting on their feet will not take them very long.

This solution demonstrates the stark contrast between generosity and enforced charity, and the simple benevolence at the heart of the libertarian philosophy.

Compulsory 'charity' is a misnomer - it dehumanises both taxpayer and recipient. But when charity is voluntary, people are set free to be benevolent again.

The Welfare State is a killer for benevolence, for the human spirit, for open immigration, and a literal killer for immigrants and refugees braving dangerous waters and the integrity of unscrupulous people-smugglers.

Why not set these people free through the generosity of benevolent New Zealanders—while taking a good hard look at what the welfare state does to people.

And I suggest that the simple libertarian philosophy be adopted with all immigrants: that we allow all peaceful people to pass freely just as long as they make no claim at all on the welfare state.

Until it is completely dismantled, that is.

RELATED READING:

Financial Repression: Why Every Bank Will Soon Be a Tax Collector for Every Government Everywhere

Guest post by Merryn Somerset Webb, Editor-in-Chief, MoneyWeek (UK)

Financial repression. A few years ago when a few people (Gillian Tett, Russell Napier, etc) started predicting that it would be the thing that made our crisis go away, not many were convinced. The phrase refers to the various methods that hideously indebted governments use to channel the money knocking around an economy to itself rather than anywhere else.

It can include anything from capping interest rates on government debt or deposit rates (as seen all over the world at the moment); forcing institutions to buy government debt; or, at its most obvious, putting in capital controls to prevent anyone taking their money out of the country.

All these things have the same effective result: by taking away other investment options they allow governments to issue sovereign debt with much lower interest rates than they would otherwise be able to. That brings down the cost of debt nicely. But if you then chuck in a little inflation you can make the real value of the debt come down too. Keep that up for a couple of decades and you can repress your way out of trouble.

Financial Repression

This, of course, is exactly how many countries dealt with their horrible post-war debts: let’s not forget that the UK was subject to capital controls until 1979. However, even a few years back, there was a general view that in our new deregulated world, it wouldn’t be possible for governments to use these time-tested methods to get themselves out of trouble. Turns out that it is entirely possible. As Edward Chancellor pointed out in the Financial Times, even in a time of apparently free capital movement, financial repression is entirely possible if everyone does it at the same time.

And doing it they are. “Negative real interest rates are to be found not only in the US but also in China, Europe, Canada and the UK,” where headline price inflation is running at 3.4%, “far above both short and long-term interest rates… Western governments have learnt the lessons of history”, so they are all maintaining interest rates at levels well below inflation. At the same time, inflation is pushing up nominal GDP, and will in time “reduce the real value of outstanding debts, both public and private”.

But the authorities aren’t leaving it there. Far from it; they are going for more explicit repression as well. At the same time, everyone is pushing for their banks to hold more debt for “macro prudential reasons.”

And even when regulation isn’t actually put in place, political pressure is. An article in the Wall Street Journal late last year noted that “senior bank executives” from Italy and Portugal said they were being cajoled into buying government debt. Last year, the idea started circulating in Ireland that pension funds should be forced to sell foreign assets and buy Irish government debt. It makes no sense, said one commentator, that pension funds should hold bunds yielding 2-3% when they could hold Irish debt on 6-10%.

Hmmm. This year, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny is about to make it “easier” for pension fund managers to shift from bunds to Irish debt – by transferring the risk of holding it from the pension fund to the pensioner. Hungary has gone the whole hog and annexed pension funds. In 2010, for example, in an effective nationalisation of their private pension fund system, Hungarians were told to hand their private pension fund assets to the state or lose their state pension.

And capital controls? The idea sounds extreme to modern consumers, but they are certainly back under discussion (see Gillian Tett on them), and you could even argue that, in some ways, they are already with us.

The Long Reach of Uncle Sam

Those who work in the investment business will know of a new US regulation known as ‘Fatca(Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). Fatca is an extraordinarily wide-ranging, arrogant and intrusive piece of legislation (enacted in 2010) that requires all “foreign financial institutions” – that’s non-US banks, fund managers, custodians and so on, to tell the US taxman about all US taxpayers they deal with both directly and indirectly by the middle of next year.

This is quite clearly an admin nightmare (what is an ‘indirect client’?) so you might think that most non-US institutions would simply ignore it. After all, what jurisdiction does the US have over them? You’d think wrong. No one can ignore it: if they do, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will charge them a 30% withholding tax on all dividends, interest and sales proceeds made in the US.

The tax will begin to be deducted at the beginning of 2014. There will be no refunds. Failure to comply will also be a criminal offence under US law. How is this repression? It makes it harder for US citizens to invest abroad – already institutions, wary of the fact that they aren’t or can’t be compliant, are turning down US business until they see how the whole thing shakes down (how can you find out all you need to about all your clients and ‘sort of clients’ without running into confidentiality problems, for starters?).

The whole thing very dramatically changes the investing and tax landscape for Americans with money abroad. Worse, the crazy US rules won’t be the end of it. No, read this piece by William Hutchings in Financial News, and you will see that Fatca is about to go global.

Watch Your Back

“In the last three years, the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan have taken on an extra $10 trillion of debt, according to risk management consultancy CheckRisk, taking their collective balance sheet to $15 trillion.

“They are looking at every possible way to help pay it off. Ramping up their powers of tax collection is one of the few things they can do to help themselves. It is not such a big jump from there to the introduction of a global Fatca, an international framework obliging foreign financial institutions everywhere to act as tax collector for every government.”

John Redwood pointed out in his blog this week that the UK state is currently spending around 48% of GDP a year. Yet the maximum ever tax take is 38%. The gap has to be made up by someone – just as it does in every other Western country.

Financial repression creates that someone – by making a population hold debt that loses them money in real terms be it via their pension funds or banks, by cutting the return they get on their deposits, by upping their taxes and by letting inflation chip away at their assets. That someone is you.

Merryn Somerset Webb
Editor-in-Chief, MoneyWeek (UK)

Publisher’s Note: This article last appeared at Money Morning Australia.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Parents: Beware

Parents beware. Something very dangerous can begin happening in your child’s teenage years.  It’s called “Philosophy.”

Watch out for the warning signs.

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Hat tip Peter Namtvedt who says, “If I had a teenager, I would also be concerned with finding Kant in his/her bedroom.” (Although it is true as a commenter says that “You cannot find copies of Kant in his/her bedroom. S/he will manage to hide them in the noumenal world so you cannot see them”)

A new old element

(From our Science Desk) Yes, it’s been around a while but a new generation has discovered the gag: A new chemical element has ben discovered…

The new element is Governmentium (Gv). It has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lefton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.  All of the money is
consumed in the exchange, and no other by-products are produced.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The ‘Friday on a Thursday’ edition

Yes, it’s a Friday Ramble on a Thursday. It’s a Friday Ramble on a Thursday because Thursday is the end of the week this week, and tomorrow zealots will infest the country either demanding sacrifice or celebrating it.

Here’s something to celebrate for the first group, those demanding the sacrifice of retailers to their beliefs:

Easter_Trading[3]

Here’s something to contemplate about this first lot:

And here’s something to contemplate for the second:

  • It's Easter! – N O T   P C
    It’s Easter. Almost. Time for a day off. A day out. Time to get nailed up and talk about torture…

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By contrast here’s something just to celebrate, i.e., life on earth, and those “exalted moments” that give it meaning

In a letter to a fan, Ayn Rand spoke of exalted moments and her novel Atlas Shrugged:

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There’s a decent thought for Easter, don’t you think—Easter, which in its original pagan  Northern Hemisphere form was a soaring celebration of Spring, fertility and new life!

And now, on with the rest of the show—a short one, as befitting the length of this working week.

  • Spain is the poster child for the ‘Green Jobs’ promoted by Russel Norman, with billions of "Green Jobs" subsidies.  Spain also has a jobless rate 23.6%, with over 50% of youths unemployed. You think it’s possible these things are connected?
    Youth unemployment passes 50pc in Spain and Greece – T H E   T E L E G R A P H
  • Russell Brown, Cameron Brewer and sundry xenophobes ponder the present dismal state of Queen St and ask “should something be done?” I argue , as I argued years ago, that the present dismal state of Queen St is the sad result of “too much being done.” That is, too much is being done by planners. Queen St is a living example of the collision of planners’ plans and the Law of Unintended Consequences.
    The Golden Mile – P U B L I C   A D D R E S S
    Helping to kill the city – N O T   P C
  • Recorded crime figures are down.  Is it due to better policing? Or to earthquakes.
    Crime statistics -  L I N D S A Y    M I T C H E L L
  • Govt making it easier for international students? “Good move,” says Eric Crampton. “Granting permanent residence on degree completion would be even better.”
    Health screening changed to entice more international students  - N . B . R .
  • The Greens and their friends in the regulation factory are working to make Home Energy Rating Sytems another hurdle home-builders have to cross before making a home.  Apart from the iniquity of the imposition, news from Australia says the Rating System is junk, with many houses with low ratings and high performance, and vice versa. “No prizes for guessing that architect-designed green homes suffered in the ratings department for not under-glazing, and not air-conditioning. The system encourages a conformity of design that suits boxes, and punishes thought-built buildings. So perhaps it’s the “thought” part they’re against?
    Shades of green -  B U T T E R P A P E R
  • It would be premature to celebrate, but it looks like ObamaCare is in serious trouble. (This, folks, is what constitutional courts are for.)
    Friday Four – G U S  V A N  H O R N
  • Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve invited several high-profile critics to give them a piece of their mind. Jim Grant’s piece is a must-read. For example…
    • In the not quite 100 years since the founding of your institution, America has exchanged central banking for a kind of central planning and the gold standard for what I will call the Ph.D. standard. I regret the changes and will propose reforms, or, I suppose, re-reforms, as my program is very much in accord with that of the founders of this institution. Have you ever read the Federal Reserve Act? The authorizing legislation projected a body “to provide for the establishment of the Federal Reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper and to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.” By now can we identify the operative phrase? Of course: “for other purposes.”
      Piece of my mind – G R A N T ’ S   I N T E R E S T   R A T E   O B S E R V E R
  • It’s worth reminding ourselves that "Regulators who are required to forecast have had a woeful record of chronic failure.” And it’s worth remembering who said that.
    Greenspan's 'No Housing Bubble' Prediction, 7 Years Later – R E A L   E S T A T E . A O L
  • Here’s what a dialogue between an Austrian economist and an unreconstructed Keynesian looks like when both are British MPs—one of whom, Austin Mitchell, has a long-standing NZ connection. Fascinating.
    Dialogue: Quantitative Easing  - P O L I T I C S    H O M E
  • Why is British PM saying he’s cutting debt when he’s not. And what does his friendship with ‘Black Swan’ author Nasim Taleb have to do with it?
    Cameron, Nasim Taleb and cutting debt - C O B D E N   C E N T R E
  • Now, here’s a question to ponder: Do Taxes Inhibit or Inspire Hard Work?


  • Here’s some words I bet you’ never thought you’d hear in this order: “Former Al Gore press secretary slams Irish plans to honour Che Guevara.”
    Former Al Gore press secretary slams plans to honour Che Guevara – I R I S H  C E N T R A L
  • When it comes to lying lefties, Robert Fisk is the world leader. But Michael Moore and Johanne Hari aren’t far behind.
    Lying Lefties…
    –  Damian, Thompson, T E L E G R A P H
  • Today’s history lesson: The fall of the Roman empire and the rise of Islam.
    The fall of the Roman empire and the rise of Islam  - G U A R D I A N
  • imageAnd a related movie…
    A New Short Worth Watching –  S C O T  T    H O L L E R A N ’ S   B L O G
  • Interesting question to ponder…
    Can Liberalism Tolerate Islam? – S E A N   G A B B
  • …because among other vices:
    Islam Makes Women Invisible –  N O O D L E   F O O D
  • The argument that immigration must be limited due to the burdens that illegal immigrants impose via the welfare state is just a rationalization for conservative opposition to immigration. Kelly and Santiago Valenzuela offer the perfect reductio ad absurdem of the argument. Jonathan Swift would surely approve.
    More Blaming of Immigrants for the Welfare State 
    – M O T H E R   O F   E X I L E S
  • Rand Simberg discusses benefits and possible approaches to securing private property rights in outer space: - Homesteading the Final Frontier – C . E . I .
  • Top ten signs a social media expert is nothing of the sort. My fave: He sends you an email saying “email is dead.”
    Top Ten Signs a Social Media Expert Isn’t – E . P O L I T I C S
  • Wow! View art works in breath-taking detail from gallery collections all around the world via the Google Art Project, including works from our own Auckland Gallery. This is seriously exciting!
    Google Art Project 
  • Building the Pink Tower is a new documentary film project re-imagining schools and learning through the lens of Montessori education, shining a light on what we want in education: eager learning, creative thinking, and collaborative work.  Says neuro-psychologist Stephen Hughes: “The task of education must change!”
    Help out at Building the Pink Tower—and find out “What’s a pink tower, anyway?”

  • Yes, Virginia, you can do Montessori at home. You can do it beautifully.
    Montessori at Home – A P A R T M E N T   T H E R A P Y
  • By the way, if you’re going to learn about education from anyone other than Maria Montessori, you could do a lot worse than learn from the French!  Turns out putting adults first is better for everyone—kids included
    No bowing down before Bébé – S P I K E D   R E V I E W   O F   B O O K S
  • The NY Post asked America's best comedians for their favourite jokes from the past year. These being American comedians, some of them are even funny.
    Comics' favorite jokes –  N E W   Y O R K   P O S T
  • And now, some thoughts on the architecture of casinos. Apparently newer casinos are less like soulless factories that grab you by the heels and shake your pockets until they’re empty, and more like “adult’s playgrounds.”
    The new casinos and how they induce you to spend money -  M A R G I N A L   R E V O L U T I O N
  • “A former researcher at Amgen Inc has found that many basic studies on cancer — a high proportion of them from university labs — are unreliable, with grim consequences for producing new medicines in the future.”  Confirmation bias and incentives play a big role in all parts of human life, responds Russ Roberts.
    Fake science everywhere  - C A FE   H A Y E K
  • More cool new technology on the way, courtesy of genuine nano-science: Smart windows that keep heat out - but let light in.
    Smart windows keep heat out – but let light in -  N E W   S C I E N T I S T
  • No. Please, please no!
    Here come the sons: the return of the Beatles? – T E L E G R A P H

Enjoy your long weekend!
PS: Here’s the real thing:


[Hat tips to Cobden CentreRighteous Bren, Jonathan Hoenig, Cary Yates, Auckland Art Gallery, Eric Crampton, Joe Swam, The Commentator, Lyndsi Stevens, Gus Van Horn, Whale Oil, Noodle Food, Geek Press]

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sky City is not the limit when it comes to govt’s favours

Q: What do Sky City, Air New Zealand, Mediaworks, South Canterbury Finance and Fletcher Building have in common?
A: They’re all big enough to pull favours out of the Prime Minister’s arse.

After four years This National Government’s policy on encouraging business is now clear: it’s policy is not to encourage an environment in which business in general can grow.  It’s policy is to grant favours to specific businesses so they can grow, while all about  them struggle.

This is what’s behind behind the quasi-governmental monopoly powers granted Fletcher Building in Christchurch. It was behind the govt’s decision to bailout out South Canterbury Finance investors and Mediaworks.  It’s what’s behind the public/private partnerships Key and English favour—as it happens, precisely the crony corporatist model followed in Mussolini’s Italy.

And it’s what’s behind the Government’s plan now to pass special legislation allowing SkyCity to pack the halls of its fusty casino with as many pokie machines as it can manage while maintaining the prohibition on every small operator in the country against overstepping the government’s chosen number.

In the National Government lexicon, this sort of thing is what it means to grow business: it simply means to grow those businesses who can get an appointment with the Prime Minister.

It’s little not large where business life is difficult.  But it’s large to whom this National Government sells its favours.

This is what this government thinks it means to do business. Which shows how little they understand about how business really works.