Thursday, 19 July 2012

“You didn’t build that.”

Obama’s disgusting public dismissal of enterprise and entrepreneurship--“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that; somebody else made that happen"—has spawned derision. Rich Lowry describes it as a "statist" attack on the "self-made man."

The Obama theory of entrepreneurship is that behind every successful businessman, there is a successful government. Everyone is helpless without the state, the great protector, builder, and innovator. Everything is ultimately a collective enterprise. Individual initiative is only an ingredient in the more important work when 'we do things together.'... 
    For that most American figure of the self-made man, exemplified most famously by Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, President Obama wants to substitute the figure of the guy who happened to get lucky while not paying his fair share in taxes. What a dreary and pinched view of human endeavor. What a telling insight into his animating philosophy.
    The Obama formulation goes something like this: Steve Jobs couldn't get to work every day without roads; he couldn't drive safely on those roads without a well-regulated system of driver's licenses; ergo, the San Jose, Calif., Department of Motor Vehicles practically built Apple.

Yes, of course they did.

And there’s satire, and plenty of it:










[Hat tip Robert Tracinski at RealClearPolitics]

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

No catastrophic warming, no “consensus” … no worries? [updated]

imageThe tattered fabric of  the global warming industry continues to fray.

First, after re-examining temperature records for the last century to remove homegenisation errors, scientists Steirou and Koutsoyiannis have determined the global temperature rise over the past century was only about one-half [0.42°C] of that claimed by the IPCC [0.7-0.8°C].

The “homogenisation errors” consist essentially of more upward adjustments to raw data than can possibly be justified by experiments, “and are rarely supported by metadata” say the scientists in their recently presented paper at the European Geosciences Union meeting.   As Bill quick says, it’s yet more proof that Global Warming is man-made.  Just not because of carbon emissions.

Second, you know that scientific consensus on global warming you’ve heard so much about?

There isn’t one.

'That “98% all scientists” figure refers to a laughably puny number of 75 of those 77 who answered 'yes' to a doctored survey.

So where did that famous “consensus” claim that “98% of all scientists believe in global warming” come from? It originated from an endlessly reported 2009 American Geophysical Union (AGU) survey consisting of an intentionally brief two-minute, two question online survey sent to 10,257 earth scientists by two researchers at the University of Illinois. Of the about 3.000 who responded, 82% answered “yes” to the second question, which like the first, most people I know would also have agreed with.
    Then of those, only a small subset, just 77 who had been successful in getting more than half of their papers recently accepted by peer-reviewed climate science journals, were considered in their survey statistic. That “98% all scientists” referred to a laughably puny number of 75 of those 77 who answered “yes.”
    That anything-but-scientific survey asked two questions. The first: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”  Few would be expected to dispute this…the planet began thawing out of the “Little Ice Age” in the middle 19th century, predating the Industrial Revolution. (That was the coldest period since the last real Ice Age ended roughly 10,000 years ago.)
    The second question asked: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” So what constitutes “significant”? Does “changing” include both cooling and warming… and for both “better” and “worse”? And which contributions…does this include land use changes, such as agriculture and deforestation?
    No one has ever been able to measure human contributions to climate. Don’t even think about buying a used car from anyone who claims they can.As Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has observed: “The notion of a ‘consensus’ is carefully manufactured for political and ideological purposes. Its proponents never explain what ‘consensus’ they are referring to. Is it a ‘consensus’ that future computer models will turn out correct? Is it a ‘consensus’ that the Earth has warmed? Proving that parts of the Earth have warmed does not prove that humans are responsible.”

So it turns out the science behind the survey claiming “consensus” is as threadbare as what the IPCC reports have been found to contain. [UPDATE: Indeed, by its own recent actions, the IPCC admits its past reports were unreliable.]

So does anyone know how many legitimate climate scientists do support the consensus of catastrophism? There seem to be a lot of them about.

Senator Inhofe also points out, “While it may appear to the casual observer that scientists promoting climate fears are in the majority, the evidence continues to reveal that this is an illusion. Climate skeptics…receive much smaller shares of university research funds, foundation funds and government grants and they are not plugged into the well-heeled environmental special interest lobby.” Accordingly, those who do receive support typically get more time free of teaching responsibilities, providing more time available for publishing activities.

So while the number of scientists supporting a claim is not firm proof of anything at all—as Einstein famously pointed out, one scientist with the right evidence is all you need to prove a hypothesis—is there any polling at all that can be relied on to answer the question at issue?

    While real polling of climate scientists and organization memberships is rare, there are a few examples. A 2008 international survey of climate scientists conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch revealed deep disagreement regarding two-thirds of the 54 questions asked about their professional views. Responses to about half of those areas were skewed on the “skeptic” side, with no consensus to support any alarm. The majority did not believe that atmospheric models can deal with important influences of clouds, precipitation, atmospheric convection, ocean convection, or turbulence. Most also did not believe that climate models can predict precipitation, sea level rise, extreme weather events, or temperature values for the next 50 years…

Tell the politicians.


Comrade Clark’s Clanger

Confirmed anti-smoking zealot Helen Clark has embarrassed herself, with an award given by the UN development agency she now heads to an Indian tobacco company.

Lindsay Perigo enjoys the deliciousness.


Markets Tell the Truth [updated]


You probably saw that Republicans and others are making hay out of President Obama's statement: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." Defenders of the president immediately cried foul: Read the sentence in the context of his entire speech.

That's what I did. You know what? It is far worse in context. If an American president has ever before said something so insulting and disparaging toward an essential American idea (free enterprise), I've not heard it. It's an absolutely chilling speech.

imageUnderneath his speech was a profound loathing of private initiative. No matter what you have done in life, the president thinks the government should get the credit. And why? Because the government built the Hoover Dam (in 1935!), the Golden Gate Bridge (in 1937, built and funded by private funds!), went to the moon (43 years ago!) and invented the Internet (it was privatized in 1995, and only then became mainstream!).

People say that I shouldn't be shocked at this rhetoric. I can't help it. The whole world as we know it is built by human hands operating in a market, yet this guy can't see it. To say the government is the source of prosperity is like saying that the ticks are keeping the dog alive.

Regardless, the market isn't going anywhere. It responds to whatever the reality is, whether distorted by government interventions or not. What will be the end result of the incredible and relentless interventions over the last five years? Whatever it is, it will not be good.

Jeffrey Tucker is the publisher and executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, the Primus inter pares of the Laissez Faire Club, and the author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo and It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes, among thousands of articles


Ayn Rand, in 1965:

"It is morally obscene to regard wealth as an anonymous, tribal product and to talk about 'redistributing' it. The view that wealth is the result of some undifferentiated, collective, process, that we all did something and it's impossible to tell who did what, therefore some sort of equalitarian 'distribution' is necessary--might have been appropriate in a primordial jungle with a savage horde moving boulders by crude physical labor (though even there someone had to initiate and organize the moving).
    "To hold that view in an industrial society--where individual achievements are a matter of public record--is so crass an evasion that even to give it the benefit of the doubt is an obscenity... Mistakes of this size are not made innocently."

            - "What is Capitalism?" in Capitalism the Unknown Ideal

[Hat tip Joe Maurone]


The world needs more mah-jong factories

Time for a joke.

Q: How much do you charge?
LAWYER: $500 for three questions.
Q: Crikey, that’s expensive isn’t it?
LAWYER: Yes it is. What’s your third question.

Famous for defending scum, lawyer Barry Hart has been brought before the Law Society for charging fees at $1000 an hour despite much of the preparation work being done by a junior lawyer who had been practising for only two months.

News lawyers are charging like wounded bulls is hardly news. Law is a restricted monopoly—made so by lawyers.  They interpret an impenetrable and ever-expanding library of laws—all written by lawyers. Their over-charging is reviewed—by other lawyers.

The only news here is his colleagues crying crocodile tears over his over-charging, all the while wishing they could charge like he does.

Mencken was right: with very few very noble exceptions lawyers are mostly scum themselves. They play both sides of the street while taking money to lie for a living—and that’s the good ones. The bad ones head straight to parliament. As Mencken once observed:

All the extravagance and incompetence of our present government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah-jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost half.

The world needs more mah-jong factories. Urgently.

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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

You're not so special…

imagePicture from Capitalism

“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

This is what the President of the United States thinks.

Which prompted Don Watkins to recall a passage in Atlas Shruggedin which arch-villain James Taggart is explaining his hatred for Hank Rearden, the inventor of a metal that has surpassed steel”:

He turned to her abruptly, the words exploding as if a safety fuse had blown. “He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”
“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”
She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

Good question.


Water, water everywhere…

“Hallelujah, the country is talking about property rights!”  That’s been my reaction to the discussion that’s taken over the country in recent days. Sadly however there’s been much more heat than light—much of it emanating from the Prime Minister.

John Key announced “No one owns water.” But what he really means is “The government owns the water.” So he is being duplicitous.

He argued “this was established in Common Law quite some time ago.” Perhaps the leader of the National Party wants us to ignore the sad reality that the Bolger Government’s Resource Management Act stripped away two decades ago virtually every common law property protection that exists.

But did common law even clearly establish what John Key claimed, that “no one owns water”? Well, once again the Prime Minister is being slippery. Common law and statute law both recognise direct ownership of water contained by the owner—try taking a bottle of water from the supermarket without paying for it and see how far you get.  In today’s Britain nearly all water services are privately owned. And in early New Zealand, history records European and American sailors trading food for water with Maori —recognising by the trade the ownership of the water being traded.

What we are talking about with the case now before the Waitangi Tribunal is not water contained by the owner, however, but water flowing down a river.  The common law recognised rights in river water, the relevant right in this case being the right to the flow—this right adhering in the main to the land-owners adjoining the river.  Here’s a summary:



See how slippery Key’s being? Common law recognised that, in general, no one owns the actual body of water in the river—not the actual molecules—what they own in common law are rights in the water.

So to rely on the bald claim that “no one owns water” is like resting your argument on the meaning of the word “is.”

And as common law developed and the Industrial Revolution challenged and expanded the rights recognised in river water, common law recognised that in most contexts taking water for canals, mill-ponds, power generation and the like is quite unexceptionable just as long as “it is unaccompanied by any permanent abstraction, and so causes no diminution of the stream as it flows past others’ land.”

So why is Key being so slippery rather than resting on the actual truth of the common law? Perhaps because the National Party’s Resource Management Act stripped away essentially all common law rights in water, replacing them with a system of government permits.  And as the Maori Council recognises, a government that doles out permits beyond right can in the right circumstances have its arm twisted to dole out ownership beyond right—and the only constraint he can turn to in these circumstances is to repair to the very system of law his party’s Resource Management Act has killed.  [Or perhaps, suggests Stephen Franks, “because it would highlight the falsehoods legislated in this government's replacement of Sir Michael Cullen's legally masterful Seabed and Foreshore Act.”]

Tangled, huh?

The simple fact is common law can and did recognise rights in water—and increasingly worldwide, as water resources are being diminished by the tragedy of the commons—that ability is being embraced rather then diminished.

To help you untangle the nonsense and learn more about common law and water, here’s a brief ramble around (a swim through?) a few resources on the net:

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Becroft is bonkers

Judge Andrew Becroft received a standing ovation over the weekend from teachers and school trustees for his call for government schools to become the “front line against youth crime.”

He says three quarters of all youth offenders are not in school, because they have either been expelled or suspended, or have slipped through the system…He says ideally schools should act as hubs for social support services so resources can be targeted at students who are most at risk.

This is absurd.

More than ninety percent of people in prison have never been taught to read and write. Yet instead of teaching children to read, he thinks teachers should be outreach workers for the social welfare department.

A regular drumbeat of statistics and stories confirms the government’s factory schools are already failing at their primary job of teaching kids how to read, write and think. Yet Becroft J. wants it to further divert themselves by taking their few resources and giving back to their communities more of what already ails them. Which is welfare.

Welfare is already killing communities. There is is more welfare in South Auckland—more government “help,” government housing and government social workers per capita than anywhere else in the country. It hasn’t helped. It’s made things worse. Welfare pays no-hopers to breed. It pays them to breed more no-hopers. It sends these to factory schools that teaches them nothing of any use, and spews them out to be the same.

Government welfare is not improving lives, its diminishing them. We don’t need more of it. We need less.

And the factory schools? We need them to educate, not to hold hands.

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