Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Beer pr1zes!

I’ve been extremely remiss in not passing on to you the results of NZ’s beer awards, announced last week in Wellington. So without further ado…

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The Full Details of the Trophy Winners are below:

New Zealand Champion Brewery
Harrington's Breweries

Champion International Brewery
Boston Beer Co

European Lager Styles
Wigram Brewing Company: Munchner Dunkel

International Lager Styles
Tuatara Brewing Company: Tuatara Pilsner

British Ale Styles
Emerson's Brewery: Regional Best Bitter

Other European Ale Styles
Golden Bear Brewing: Pirate Peach Saison

US Ale Styles
Liberty Brewing Co: Yakima Monster

International Ale Styles
ParrotDog: BitterBitch

Stout & Porter Styles
Wigram Brewing Company; The Czar

Wheat & Other Grain Styles
Tuatara Brewing Co Ltd: Tuatara Hefe

Flavoured & Aged Styles (incl. Fruit/Spice/Herb/ Honey/Smoke)
Garage Project: Dark Arts

New Zealand Specific Styles
Boundary Road Brewery: NZ Pure

Specialty, Experimental, Aged, Barrel & Wood-Aged Styles
8 Wired Brewing: Grand Cru 2011

Cider & Perry Styles
Bulmer Harvest: Harvest Pear Cider

Cask Conditioned
Townshend Brewery: HM’s Black Strap Porter

Packaging
Tuatara Brewing Company: Tuatara Range

Festive Brew
Garage Project: Ziggy’s Carrot Cake

Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation*
James (Jim) Pollitt

Brewers Guild New Zealand Beer Writer of the Year 2012
Phil Cook**

Congratulations to all the prize winners.

Time to get out and sample them all.

Hic!

* * * * *

*Not sure why the trophy for innovation is named after the fellow who invented the continuous brewing  method, by which hops, malt, water and yeast are turned into bottles full of tasteless pap by mainstream brewers. But there you go.

**And Phil Cook’s beer writing can be found here, along with his trophy.

When Trade is Not Enough

_Jeffrey TuckerGuest post by Jeffrey Tucker

Capitalism and entrepreneurship make the difference in the world. Whether a country is rich or poor depends on both. The evidence is all around us, and the explanations are a click away.

An example is the video below.

Anthony Bourdain is a fascinating person, a great chef and also world traveller. He has his own show called No Reservations, and one of my favorite episodes is the one he did on Haiti. He draws attention to some remarkable realities of the poverty in this country. It does not result from lack of imagination, from lack of trade, from lack of work. The problem is more fundamental.

Here is the video followed by my commentary:

A Travel Channel episode of No Reservations, a cooking-focused show narrated by Anthony Bourdain, took viewers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I had heard that the show offered unique insight into the country and its troubles. I couldn't imagine how. But it turns out to be true. Through the lens of food, we can gain an insight into culture, and from culture to economy, and from economy to politics and finally to what's wrong in this country and what can be done about it.

Through this micro lens, we gain more insight than we would have if the program were entirely focused on economic issues. Such an episode on economics would have featured dull interviews with treasury officials and IMF experts and lots of talk about trade balances and other macroeconomic aggregates that miss the point entirely.

Instead, with the focus on food and cooking, we can see what it is that drives daily life among the Haitian multitudes. And what we find is surprising in so many ways.

In a scene early in the show set in this giant city after the earthquake, Bourdain and his crew stop to eat some local food from a vendor. He discusses its ingredients and samples some items. Crowds of hungry people begin to gather. They are doing more than gawking at the camera crews. They are waiting in the hope of getting something to eat.

Bourdain thinks of a way to do something nice for everyone. Realizing that in this one sitting, he is eating a quantity of food that would last most Haitians three days, he buys out the remaining food from the vendor and gives it away to locals.

Nice gesture! Except that something goes wrong. Once the word spreads about the free food -- word-of-mouth in Haiti is faster than Facebook chat -- people start pouring in. Lines form and get long. Disorder ensues. Some people step forward to keep order. They bring belts and start hitting. The entire scene becomes very unpleasant for everyone -- and the viewer gets the sense that it is worse than we are shown.

Bourdain correctly draws the lesson that the solutions to the problem of poverty here are more complex than it would appear at first glance. Good intentions go awry. They were thinking with their hearts instead of their heads, and ended up causing more pain than was originally there in the first place. From this event forward, he begins to approach the problems of this country with a bit more sophistication.

The rest of the show takes us through shanty towns, markets, art shows, festivals, and parades -- and interviews all kinds of people who know the lay of the land. This is not a show designed to tug at your heart strings in the conventional sort of way. Yes, there is obvious human suffering, but the overall impression I got was not that. Instead, I came away with a sense that Haiti is a very normal place not unlike all places we know from experience, but with one major difference: it is very poor.

By the time the show was made, the glamour of the post-earthquake onslaught of American visitors seeking to help had vanished. One who remains is actor Sean Penn. Although he's known as a Hollywood lefty, he's actually living there, chugging up and down the hills of a shanty town, unshaven and disheveled, being what he calls a "functionary" and getting stuff for people who need it. He had no easy answers, and he had sharp words for American donors who think that dumping money into new projects is going to help anyone.

The people of Haiti in the documentary conform to what every visitor says about them. They are wonderfully friendly, talented, enterprising, happy, and full of hope. Like most people, they hate their government. Actually, they hate their government more than most Americans hate theirs. Truly, this is a precondition of liberty. There is a real sense of us-versus-them alive in Haiti, so much so that when the presidential palace collapsed in the recent earthquake, crowds gathered outside to cheer and cheer! It was the one saving grace of an otherwise terrible storm.

With all these enterprising, hard-working, and creative people, millions of them, what could possibly be wrong with the place? Well, for one thing, the earthquake destroyed most homes. If this had been the United States, this earthquake would not have caused the same level of damage. This led many outsiders to think that somehow the absence of building codes was the core of the problem, and hence the solution is more imposition of government control.

But the reality shows that this building-code notion is some sort of joke. The very idea that a government could somehow go around beating up people who provide shelter for themselves while failing to obey the central plan is simply laughable. Coercion of this sort would bring about no positive results and lead only to vast corruption, violence, and homelessness.

The core of the problem has nothing to do with a lack of regulations. The problem is the absence of wealth. It is obviously true that people prefer safer places to live, but the question is: what is the cost, and is this economically viable? The answer is that it is not viable, not in Haiti, not with this population that is barely getting by at all.

Where is the wealth? There is plenty of trade, plenty of doing, plenty of exchange and money changing hands. Why does the place remain desperately poor? If the market economists are correct that trade and commerce are the key to wealth, and there is plenty of both here, why is wealth not happening?

One can easily see how people can get confused, because the answer is not obvious until you have some economic understanding. A random visitor might easily conclude that Haiti is poor because somehow the wealth is being hogged by its northern neighbor, the United States. If we weren't devouring so much of the world's stock of wealth, it could be distributed more evenly and encompass Haiti too. Or another theory might be that the handful of international companies, or even aid workers, are somehow stealing all the money and denying it to the people.

imageThese are not stupid theories.  They are only shown to be wrong once you realize a central insight of economics. It is this: trade and commerce are necessary conditions for the accumulation of wealth, but they are not sufficient conditions. Also necessary is that precious institution of capital.

What is capital? Capital is a thing (or service) that is produced not for consumption but for further production. The existence of capital industries implies several stages of production, or up to thousands upon thousands of steps in a long structure of production. Capital is the institution that gives rise to business-to-business trading, an extended workforce, firms, factories, ever more specialization, and generally the production of all kinds of things that by themselves cannot be useful in final consumption but rather are useful for the production of other things.

Capital is not so much defined as a particular good -- most things have many varieties of uses -- but rather a purpose of a good. Its purpose is extended over a long period of time with the goal of providing for final consumption. Capital is employed in a long structure of production that can last a month, a year, 10 years, or 50 years. The investment at the earliest (highest) stages has to take place long before the payoff circles around following final consumption.

In a developed economy, the vast majority of productive activities consist in participation in these capital-goods sectors and not in final-consumption-goods sectors.

Many people (I've been among them) rail against the term capitalism because it implies that freedom is all about privileging the owners of capital.

imageBut there is a sense in which capitalism is the perfect term for a developed economy: the development, accumulation, and sophistication of the capital-goods sector is the characteristic feature that makes it different from an undeveloped economy.

The thriving of the capital-goods sector was the great contribution of the Industrial Revolution to the world.

Capitalism did in fact arise at a specific time in history, as Mises said, and this was the beginning of the mass democratization of wealth.

Rising wealth is always characterized by such extended orders of production. These are nearly absent in Haiti. Most all people are engaged in day-to-day commercial activities. They live for the day. They trade for the day. They plan for the day. Their time horizons are necessarily short, and their economic structures reflect that. It is for this reason that all the toil and trading and busy-ness in Haiti feels like peddling a stationary bicycle. You are working very hard and getting better and better at what you are doing, but you are not actually moving forward.

Now, this is interesting to me because anyone can easily miss this point just by looking around Haiti where you see people working and producing like crazy, and yet the people never seem to get their footing. Without an understanding of economics, it is nearly impossible to see the unseen: the capital that is absent that would otherwise permit economic growth. And this is the very reason for the persistence of poverty, which, after all, is the natural condition of mankind. It takes something heroic, something special, something historically unique, to dig out of it.

Now to the question of why the absence of capital.

The answer has to do with the regime. It is a well-known fact that any accumulation of wealth in Haiti makes you a target, if not of the population in general (which has grown suspicious of wealth, and probably for good reason), then certainly of the government. The regime, no matter who is in charge, is like a voracious dog on the loose, seeking to devour any private wealth that happens to emerge.

This creates something even worse than the Higgsian problem of "regime uncertainty." The regime is certain: it is certain to steal anything it can, whenever it can, always and forever. So why don't people vote out the bad guys and vote in the good guys? Well, those of us in the United States who have a bit of experience with democracy know the answer: there are no good guys. The system itself is owned by the state and rooted in evil. Change is always illusory, a fiction designed for public consumption.

This is an interesting case of a peculiar way in which government is keeping prosperity at bay. It is not wrecking the country through an intense enforcement of taxation and regulation or nationalization. One gets the sense that most people never have any face time with a government official and never deal with paperwork or bureaucracy really. The state strikes only when there is something to loot. And loot it does: predictably and consistently. And that alone is enough to guarantee a permanent state of poverty.

Now, to be sure, there are plenty of Americans who are firmly convinced that we would all be better off if we grew our own food, bought only locally, kept firms small, eschewed modern conveniences like home appliances, went back to using only natural products, expropriated wealthy savers, harassed the capitalistic class until it felt itself unwelcome and vanished. This paradise has a name, and it is Haiti.

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. Click to sign up for his free daily letter. Email him: tucker@lfb.org | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, 20 August 2012

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: When Trade Is Not Enough

Here’s this weeks’ not from our friends at the Auckland University Economics Group:

Hi All,

This week we offer you a case study giving you the chance to put your economic understanding to work: how, in this case we put before you, would you fix what you see?

We will examine a small country recovering from an earthquake—a place the size of New Zealand strewn with rubble and tragedy, that still nonetheless has busy vibrant streets full of colour and life, and bustling with trade and traders.

But it’s not enough. The place is still mired in poverty.

  • So what’s missing?
  • What’s different?
  • Why aren’t the trade and traders enough?

Tonight we ask questions about why some places prosper and thrive while other places don't. And we’ll invite you to answer those questions for our case study—and to explain, if you can, what’s missing.

        Date: Today, 20 August
        Time: 6pm
        Place: Room 215, Level 2, Business School Building

All welcome.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Time to question the Afghan mission

If you’re not there to win then what are you there for? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves and the Commander-in-Chief after three more New Zealand soldiers were killed—killed in Bamiyan Province when their Humvee was hit by a remote-controlled explosive device. Killed while fighting for …

No, I can’t finish that last sentence either. Fighting for what?

For the last few years, it looks like they’ve been fighting for the right to build infrastructure and encourage tourism (tourism?) in Bamiyan Province; in other words, altruism by force—not a good reason to go to war.

There was a good reason once. New Zealand soldiers joined an international coalition in Afghanistan ten years ago in response to 9/11, sent there on a mission to search out and destroy the perpetrators and those who supported them: to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, and to destroy the Taleban who had supported him and the training of his Al Qaeda vermin.

Sent there by Helen Clark’s government, the mission began with almost unanimous parliamentary and public support.

As we now know however, both of those missions have failed. Bin Laden escaped to Pakistan relatively early while everyone was still pretending Pakistan was our ally; and while the corrupt theocracy of the Taleban capitulated early, leaving Afghanistan in the titular control of the corrupt theocracy of Mohammed Karzai, on the ground the Taleban have been out and about ever since—free to destroy hope, mutilate and slaughter innocents, and plant explosive devices under New Zealand-driven military vehicles.

There was a mission, which has not been allowed to succeed, in a barbaric place, which our soldiers’ sacrifice has done nothing to change.

Instead of helping to hunt down Taleban bases and destroy them, our soldiers have been “rebuilding” the country while leaving themselves in the open to be shot at.

This is neither good tactics not good strategy. Soldiers are soft targets—their weapons don’t protect them against incoming ordnance. The only use for their weapons is to hunt down and destroy these aggressors.

But this stopped being their mission some years ago.  Their job instead has been to “rebuild” the infrastructure in a country that has never had any, for a populace showing no sign of appreciating the gesture.

It’s quite literally a sacrifice of the good to the uncaring.

These are soldiers taken away from their real mission and placed in the field of fire for reasons that no longer hold up. They’re not allowed to win, and they’re not allowed to admit the cause is lost. Instead they’re just there getting shot at.

It’s not an unwinnable war; it’s only unwinnable because those in charge have no idea what winning would mean—which is the situation  in which the war’s leaders have left the soldiers prosecuting the war.

Time to bring them home.

Yes, that would be another signal in a half-century of such signals that that the West is not willing to defend its own interests. But there’s little we in NZ can do about that, except to recognise that a morality dedicated to goals other than overwhelming victory is achieving its aim. 

PS: Now, you can say with some legitimacy that it’s too soon to be asking questions; too soon on the morning we’ve had the news about the weekend’s deaths. And you’re right. It is. But I had planned last week to to write this, after  Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer were killed in in a village near Do Abe, in north-east Bamiyan province.

RELATED POSTS:

Friday, 17 August 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The “Who’s Paul Ryan” edition

Crikey, who would have thought selecting a bloke for VP candidate who’s said he quite likes Atlas Shrugged would be so controversial! More on that shortly, but first…

MPs vote next week on a bill proposing to prohibit people old enough to marry, vote and fight for their country from having a drink. David Farrar has started a topical series in response…
Keep it 18, Reason #1: Youth drinking is dropping, not increasing
Keep it 18, Reason #2: Increasing the purchase age will dilute the message not to supply to minors
Keep it 18, Reason #3: A split 18/20 age will push young drinkers into town
Keep it 18, Reason #4: Most alcohol is supplied by parents or family members

Can binge drinking be fixed by increasing the price of alcohol? Answer: No.
Can harms associated with high-intensity drinking be reduced by increasing the price of alcohol? – DRUG & ALCOHOL REVIEW

MPs will also be deciding whether to grant you and your loved ones permission to end your own life. Unwilling to grant you such permission (what gives you the idea you own your own life?!) new MP Maggie Barry resorts to a filthy false dichotomy to push her case.
Palliative Care and Euthanasia – KIWIBLOG
Palliative Care vs Assisted Dying: A false dichotomy – Kevin Hague, FROG BLOG

Why should primitive superstition be delivered on the news with a straight face?
First taniwha, now Ruamoko - what next? – KARL DU FRESNE

National MP Nick Smith is an appalling waste of a human being. But with a PhD in engineering, he does know enough to write a good piece on fracking … even if he did resort to a little misdirection on how much fracking is done for geothermal energy.
Fracking the sensible choice for NZ – Nick Smith, NZ HERALD
Smith gets it wrong on fracking – Gareth Hughes, FROG BLOG

I’m no fan of one-size-fits-all National Standards. But neither am I a supporter of hiding any information that is gathered on the state of our factory schools.
Is this the real agenda? – KIWIBLOG

Not for all the same reasons, but I think his conclusion is right.
The question of Afghanistan becomes more urgent – HARD NEWS

Of course, the bad news is that the US Government’s regulatory agencies and departments (not to mention the central bank) have never been busier.  But couldn’t we at least have a parliament like this?
This Congress could be least productive since 1947 - HISTORY NEWS NETWORK.

Here’s an idea we could try here.
Passengers, not taxpayers, should pay for the railways – I.E.A. UK

Does an apology really cut the mustard when an arsehole with a clipboard has virtually closed your business down—especially when it’s accompanied by a huge rates increase.

Sailing? The Irish Olympic Sailing Committee finally make sense for us of the nonsense out there on the water.

imageDirector of the Olympic committee trough Jacques Rogge sniffs disdainfully at the notion Usain Bolt could even be considered a legend.
Usain Bolt is a legend -- even if the IOC disagrees – Dan Wetzel, YAHOO SPORTS

Athlete Shrugged: 
Usain Bolt Just Says No to UK’s Taxes on Non-Resident Athletes  - BASTIAT INSTITUTE

Not a medal table Aussie would want to top, I suspect.
How Australia topped the medal tally – SMH

Here with us now, to review that Australian Olympic performance, is John Clarke.

Isn’t it astonishing how well satire sometimes gets to the heart of the matter.
Not Even Julian Assange Clear On What's Going On With Him Right Now – THE ONION

Since a lot of you are asking me about Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand … and about those folk who confuse his Rand fandom with agreement on her fundamentals … and because opinion is so divided …
Romney, Ryan … and Rand?! – NOT PC
Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE
Paul Ryan Is No Ayn Rand Disciple: He’s a Fiscal Moderate – Yaron Brook, LAISSEZ FAIRE
The Truth About Paul Ryan – ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL
Further Thoughts on Why Objectivists Should Actively Campaign for Romney-Ryan – Craig Biddle, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

Probably the best discussion you’re going to hear on the Ryan-Rand relationship—and the huge opportunity it presents.
Yaron Brook talks to Amy Peikoff to talk about about Paul Ryan and the potential implications of him as VP for our long-term battle to improve the culture. – DON’T LET IT GO

It’s not like it’s hard to explain—if folk do care about the facts.
The Appeal of Ayn Rand – Onkhar Ghate

Philosopher Diana Hseih answers two now very topical questions: “Can an Objectivist believe in God?” and “How can a conservative Christian also be a supporter of capitalism?”
Ayn Rand’s Problem?NOODLE FOOD

Does the lack of a liberal Ayn Rand says something about the state of modern liberalism—and the extent to which it’s abandoned ideas?
Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand – POWER LINE

Since Ryan is at least bold enough to challenge the Entitlement State, perhaps it’s worth pondering the justification (if any) for  so called “entitlement rights.”
A short Interview about “positive rights” (entitlements) – Tibor Machan, TIBOR’S SPACE


Machan: Rights in the US by unmondelibre

With a fresh election amid dire economic times, Americans (or at least Republican Americans) are also talking about …

I’m pretty sure the second word of the heading is redundant.
Europe returns to recession – MACROBUSINESS

So if Greece gets money from the bailout fund to repay the bailout fund, has a repayment actually been made?
Greece’s Debt Bomb – DAILY CAPITALIST

And the award for Europe’s most dangerous politician goes to …
Europe's Most Dangerous Politicians: Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, David Cameron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Jose Barroso, Mario Monti, Herman Van Rompuy – MISH'S GLOBAL ECONOMIC TREND ANALYSIS

"UK inflation jumps unexpectedly in July". Oh yes, completely unexpected that...
Expect the Bank of England to be surprised by inflation in the next couple of months – STEVE BAKER, MP

The European economy turns from stagnation to contraction. Financial journalists conclude that “austerity” is the reason. Apparently none of them are able to read.
Is Austerity Killing Us? – Doug French, LAISSEZ FAIRE TODAY

"What exactly is your ‘fair share’ of what 'someone else' has worked for?"
- Thomas Sowell

Turns out it wasn’t difficult.
How Alan Turing Outsmarted Britain’s Home Guard—and For Their Own Good – Daniel Wahl, TOS BLOG

Cartoonist Tom Scott has switched from criticising Netanyahu to criticising Ahmadinejad. Not before time.
"The dumbest man in the world" – TIMG_OZ BLOG

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It’s never to late to read, or re-read, Frederic Bastiat’s classic and highly entertaining essays. As a British MP reminds us.
The obstacle mistaken for the causeCOBDEN CENTRE

Bastiat’s “What is Seen and What is Not Seen” is “the pinnacle of economic profundity.” It’s true, you know.
Who Loves Bastiat and Who Loves Him Not – Bryan Caplan, ECON LOG

Picasso understood value pricing!
What if Picasso had been an Accountant – XERO BLOG

Hmmm.
Jobs dry up for travel agents and IT workers – NZ HERALD

Here’s a question to ponder:
Where is Jesus When People Starve? – ATHEIST REVOLUTION

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This is not how every lecturer would deliver a final exam. But Tyler Cowen is not your usual lecturer.
Tyler Cowen’s Unusual Final Exam – SETH’S BLOG

Don't risk your health listening to doctors, says Dr Shaun Holt, listen to 3rd rate celebs instead.
Stars who swear by alternative medicine – DAILY MIRROR

Sex researchers do say couples who sleep apart are healthier, have happier marriages and strong sex lives. So why cling to spooning?
Separate beds are liberating – SALON

Conducting an accurate and reliable sex survey however is as difficult as … [insert your own metaphor].
Is that a kiwi in your pocket? – STATS CHAT

Speaking of damn lies and statistics, isn’t it interesting how so many academic researchers are able to jeuje up their results so convincingly.
Live by statistics, die by statistics – PHARYNGULA

Wow. This painting is by someone who describes himself as beginner, who’s currently studying under artist Michael Newberry. (Click the painting to see a larger pic.)
AJ Nesselrod, oil painting of Koi – NEWBERRY’S BLOG

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[Hat tips Home Paddock, Thrutch, 3 Quarks DailyGeek Press, Noodle Food, Julian D., Ξ BLACK REPUBLICAN, Shaun Holt, @SteveBakerMP]

Thanks for reading and linking (now we just have to get you to comment)
Cheers
PC

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Christchurch’s Anti-Recovery Plan: Theft based on threadbare analysis

_hugh-pavletich-smlGuest post by Hugh Pavletich of Cantabrians Unite

‘THE GOVERNMENT’S BUY-UP FOR the central Christchurch blueprint has been described as a "land grab" and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) as a "den of thieves.”’
The Press reports:

Angry landowners say the Government will profit by selling their sites to someone else, in some cases leaving the original owners severely out of pocket... 
    Lisle Hood, co-owner of properties around Poplar St earmarked for the new innovation precinct, accused the Government of bullying tactics.
    "It's a land grab. They are nationalising private property and stomping all over our property rights," he said. "They are buying up all this land and they will flog it off to the big corporates and make a huge killing on it."
    Owners investing in heritage restoration had improved the city "only to be treated like crap, and that's obscene.”  "The Government should be looking after people, not ripping them off, and they've got a den of thieves [CERA] doing it on their behalf," Hood said.
    Roland Logan, part-owner of the Ng building in the path of the proposed stadium, said owners would be "subject to a serious injustice" if their land was resold at a profit.
    "Their property will be taken, their business destroyed, they'll receive what is as yet undetermined compensation, then [the Government] will on-sell it when the city has recovered."
    He said Cera was "basically flouting the rule of law" by impinging on property rights.
    "What they're doing is just mindboggling; it's appalling," Logan said…
    Property lawyer Hamish Grant, of Anthony Harper, said the blueprint had opened a "legal can of worms" and unhappy property owners could try to fight the buy-up. "
Grant said the Government could take land only for earthquake recovery, not "willy-nilly" or to benefit the city or the economy, and could be challenged by judicial review. "
" 'The courts have traditionally come down on governments because they are taking advantage of people's property rights," he said. "But it could be hard to argue. Until someone who is unhappy takes them to task, we just won't know."

In Sections 60 through 70, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 sets out for confiscated property how little compensation can be paid. It needs to be studied closely and legal advice sought.

As Cantabrians Unite has made clear over recent weeks, from a commercial perspective, the Central Blueprint for Recovery is in reality an "Anti-Recovery Plan" based on theft of business owners’ property rights—to be partially paid for by that theft.

If it is allowed to proceed, it will do irreparable damage to Christchurch.

imageWITH WORK ALREADY BEGUN buying confiscated land at bargain prices, the Authorities have still to produce any detailed cost estimates, feasibility studies or robust social and economic reports. The reason for this is obvious: because they know as well as we know that this CGI-larded Blueprint would not withstand any kind of robust analysis.  It is nothing more than a politically inept attempt to ram through a hare-brained planners wish list based on nothing more than a bunch of pretty pictures.

The politicians involved unfortunately are nothing more than "parrots" for bureaucrats with neither expertise nor track record in urban development, who are clearly clueless and careless about the consequences. 

Several very good articles are already beginning to pull apart the threadbare underpinnings of this Anti-Recovery Plan.

A recent perceptive article by political scientist "Puddleglum" provided an inkling of how this whole sorry Blueprint saga is playing out, a fiasco in which the Central Development Agency (and it would appear CERA people) appear to have simply gone on an ego trip with no understanding or inkling whatsoever of urban development realities—delivering profits into the hand of a chosen few by taking the property rights of many.

Sam Richardson, economics lecturer at Massey University, has done substantial international research on the problems of these types of public projects. His short blog article with hyperlinks to further material is most helpful.

The "core problem" here has been weak and ill-informed governance at both the central and local levels right from Day One , 4 September 2010—nearly two years ago.  The writer has covered these issues, many of which began before the earthquakes destroyed the city, most of the threads of which are incorporated within a recent article: CHRISTCHURCH: THE WAY FORWARD.

Last Thursday as well, Jo Kane of Canterbury Television graciously asked me to explain some of these issues on their One on One programme.

As I tell Jo, from the outset the authorities’ priorities should always have been (1) people (2) housing and (3) business. 

In the wider context, the Central Area and its recovery is only a small component of the issues - with people and their housing being far more important. The Central Area property owners and associated businesses are more than capable of sorting out their own issues had they only been left free to do so.

imageIndeed, one of the few great "highlights" of these earthquake events has been watching the heroics performed by Christchurch’s central business people, so many of whom managed to get their businesses back up, running and relocated in the suburbs within a remarkable 7 to 14 days after the 22 February events.

A truly remarkable achievement !

Leave them alone and these same people are more than capable of making recovery happen back in the central area from which they’ve been barred—if only the authorities would allow them.

The authorities should remove their focus from grand plans formed over other people’s property rights, and focus instead restoring their own loss-making public facilities, at the lowest possible cost, in both central and suburban areas—a job, all too sadly foreign to bureaucrats now becoming used to Blueprint-driven power trips.  And in the suburban areas as well, where most people now actually do live and work.

AT A HUMAN LEVEL, one of the things that has distressed me greatly these past two years of disaster has been the sheer bureaucratic ignorance and arrogance.  It is not overstating it to say that far too many people, with their homes and their businesses, have simply been 'bureaucratically brutalised.

What the earthquake couldn’t do to them, the bureaucrats have.

This must stop. Now.

Recovery will not get under way until people and their communities are allowed to take back control.

One way to start is for ratepayers to talk to their local councillors, their employees, to instruct them and the staff they control to pull their heads in. Here are the contact details: http://www.ccc.govt.nz/thecouncil/councillors/index.aspx

Hugh Pavletich is a Christchurch entrepreneur, the owner of website Performance Urban Planning and the co-author of the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, 2011 .

Olympic Architecture

Coffee With an Architect has a great collection of great, and not so great, Olympic architecture—the best of them being as much a celebration of athleticism as the Games themselves.

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See them all Coffee With an Architect.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

John Ansell’s “Treatygate”

“Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the
notion …, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character
and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
    Racism … is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas....
Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm
version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates
between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.”

- Ayn Rand, “Racism

“Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by a majority—but as
an inalienable right if practiced by a minority.”
- Ayn Rand, “The Age of Envy

Don Brash’s former adman, the inventor of the nearly-election-winning Iwi/Kiwi billboards, has launched a new campaign called “Treatygate” to promote a ColourBlind New Zealand and One Law For All. I received an invitation today to join up, and to “Like” the campaign’s Facebook page.

I won’t be doing either.

Not because I disagree with One Law For All and a ColourBlind New Zealand—because institutionalised racism is just as much a crime if practiced by a minority as when practiced by a majority—but because I’m not sure that Ansell does.

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Click to enlarge

His manifesto makes bold claims. Much of it is right on the money. But it is the points that aren’t that are the problem.

He says for example, that it has been reprehensible that prime ministers have invented Treaty Principles out of thin air. That’s very true. But it’s not true to say, for another example, they’ve been “surrendering our beaches” to Maori, when what they’ve been doing is nationalising them.

This is the sort of confusion that I think helps to undermine his case.

If property rights do exist in beaches, bluffs or bays, such as common law rights in water, seabed, beach or foreshore—as they may do—then those rights should be recognised in law, or at least a means in law made available in law, which those of whatever colour claiming rights can have their day in court to argue their claim without the presumption of pre-emption by the state. This is what Ansell and his other collaborators should be arguing for, colour-blind law recognising valid property rights, not the extinguishment of right before it’s even had a chance to be proved.

Ansell’s 15-point manifesto on the con foisted upon us by the elites has much of value, but as a whole it’s a strange assortment of grievances undercut by serious problems, and strangely silent on such obvious rorts as the Maori seats. [Ansell’s points italicised, with my response underneath.]

The elite’s methodology is clear… The Treatygate Con

1. Get state academics to rewrite New Zealand history as a fantasy novel, where the Maoris are the goodies and the British the baddies.

There is much to admire in the British export of property rights and their legal system to the bottom part of the South Pacific (and I express a lot of that admiration here)—and, when compared to Britain’s appalling record of colonisation in other places (Ireland, of course, springs immediately to mind), there is much to admire in the humanitarian way it was at least attempted here. Still, even though there was more good than bad, I’m not sure I can agree any more with the simplistic “British goodies, Maori baddies’ than I can with the sentiment in reverse.

2.Get state schools and universities to indoctrinate New Zealanders with this fake history.
3. Get the bogus historians to slam past historians as unreliable (even those who witnessed the actual events or interviewed those who were there).

This is all too sadly true, no question, and one of the reasons for so much poison being around. But it can’t be fixed just by reversing the mantra.

4. Get the state media to peddle the fake history to stoke Maori grievance and Pakeha guilt.

“State media”?

5. Get iwi to fake claims to right fake wrongs.
6. Set up a state tribunal to hear these fake Maori claims.
7. Pay senior lawyers to represent Maori, and junior lawyers to represent the Crown.
8. Give the tribunal sole  power to interpret the Treaty.
9. Let the tribunal approve claims based on pure hearsay.
10. Make all Treaty-related documents as hard to find, and hard to read, as possible.

On an issue of such importance, it’s astonishing to see points like this last—a complaint about minutiae—make the grade. It makes you wonder not only if it’s even true, but how well all this has been thought through.

11. Brand as ‘racist’ anyone who questions any Maori entitlement.

Sadly, he and his financial backer Louis Crimp make it all too easy to ask that question—which to me is the biggest danger of supporting this campaign: that it will brand the campaign leaders, and anyone who might support it, as just anther group of barnyard collectivists; another group of folk who think “our stock” is better than your stock.
Ansell, for example, quit the ACT Party after criticising what he called "white cowards" for not standing up against Maori radicals.  And his financial backer Louis Crimp told the Herald back in May he believed he had the support of "white New Zealanders" in observing Maori are "either in jail or on welfare."  Said Crimp: "All the white New Zealanders I've spoken to don't like the Maoris, the way they are full of crime and welfare."
This is exactly the kind of barnyard collectivism any genuine campaign like this should have been careful to avoid. But instead it has been embraced.
Basically, to paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, everyone thinks of campaigning for a colour-blind New Zealand, but none of the campaigners consider starting with themselves.

12. If enough people object, threaten a race war.

Scaremongering.

13. To continue the resource grab indefinitely, entrench a Treaty-based, Bolivian-style constitution where indigenous people are more equal than others.

A valid concern. However, this …

14.  Pretend that Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, when they sailed here just before the Europeans, and suppress the mounting evidence that other races got here first.

… is just trash.  Ansell has been supping at the table of conspiracy idiots who claim red-headed Celtic explorers settled here thousands of years ago and built large stone structures around the place. This is moronic, and unfortunately tells us who else is already involved with this campaign, and what those signing up to it now will be involved in.
Finally, there’s this…

15. Pretend at all times that Maori remain a separate race, even though they’re all now part-Pakeha.

What the hell!? Arguing about blood lines is precisely the sort of barnyard collectivism this campaign is purportedly trying to overturn—yet here it is permeating the very manifesto.

One Law for All as a banner is a principle properly opposed to racism; it is too important, and too sensitive, to be left to those who promote barnyard collectivism themselves.

To be colour-blind is to be totally colour-blind—not just to complain that the wrong colour glasses are being handed out. 

So put me down as a “Dislike.”

Things architects say

As this fellow says at the Houzz site (very useful site for helping you select your favourite ‘clippings’ for your next architectural project, by the way), all architects are influenced by the architects they studied under who were in turn influenced by the architects they studied under.

For example, I believe that architecture is at its best when all the unneeded elements are stripped away to reveal the fundamental essence of the design. In other words, "Less is more," which the great modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said. I learned this from my third-year studio professor, who used to work for Mies. My fourth-year professor would always ask us to discover "what the building wants to be," which is a phrase he learned from the great Louis Kahn, who he studied under at the University of Pennsylvania. Now I use this phrase once a week.
These are two facts I will mention to you within the first 10 minutes of our meeting because basically I studied under Louis Kahn and Mies van der Rohe, once removed.
That's how it works. It's like the telephone game. Vitruvius whispered something to Palladio hundreds of years ago, and Thomas Jefferson thought he heard what Vitruvius said but totally got it wrong, and leaned over to Christopher Wren to repeat it, but Christopher Wren was sketching a church dome on a napkin, which McMead and White stole and used for their designs at the White City in Chicago, and this greatly offended Louis Sullivan, so he went back to the office and fired Frank Lloyd Wright for stealing his clients. At least that's what Wright's student Kevin Bacon told my second-year professor, who told me this story, although I was sketching a church steeple on a napkin at the time, so I may have misunderstood him. This is how architecture works. It's a flawless system.

Almost.

Here’s some things architects (and near-architects) said, that are re-said. Often.

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More here.

Oh , and then there’s the words of the great Charles Rennie Macintosh (courtesy of the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery of Glasgow). If you manage to decipher them, you might think the design and message have been perfectly integrated. Or then again, you might not.

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PS: And here are eight things an architect will never ever say. Allegedly.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Can’t we get over our obsession with the bloody voting system!

We are now entering our regular quinquennial celebration of the idea that tinkering with our voting system will somehow give us freedom from politicians and all the other moochers and looters.

What a joke.

Somehow NZers have become enthralled with the notion that if only the perfect electoral system can be devised, then our golden days will somehow return. It’s an obsession. Every drinker at every leaner in every bar in the country has their own special theory of how, if only we could raise/lower the threshold/number of MPs, and encourage/discourage new talent/carpetbaggers, a new time of prosperity and wonder will be ours. At dinner parties and barbecues, one will be dragged into a small group in the corner discussing electoral boundaries, and how a referendum on the Maori seats will solve everything. Every person on every bus—not to mention every talkback caller and commentator on every radio station—seems to have a notebook with notes therein on how, if we could only follow the plan for electoral change of the passenger/caller/pontificator everyone could live happily ever after.

People: wake the fuck up.

Can we not get over this obsession about tinkering with our voting system, and go for freedom instead? 

What about that for a plan?

The word “politics” comes from the Greek “poly” and ticks meaning “small blood-sucking parasites.” Instead of obsessing every few years over how the bloodsuckers are chosen, could we not resolve instead to put the important things beyond the vote instead?

Do that, I’d suggest, and it won’t matter how you choose your parasites.

And you’ll be able to find something much better to talk about next time you have your elbow on a bar leaner.

Woman Olympian called a prostitute for participating

While virtually every place in the world is celebrating its returning athletes (well, except for Belorus, ha!) there’s one place that isn’t.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani returned to Saudi Arabia as the first woman to represent the Kingdom in judo, and was greeted not with cheers but a reception that “ranged from lukewarm to openly hostile.”

 Her father, a judo referee who said he wanted his daughter to make "new history for Saudi's women," is reportedly incensed at conservative Saudis who showered her with racial slurs on Twitter and called her a “prostitute” for participating.

Clerics were already saying allowing women out in public was always going to end badly.

Dr. Mohammad al-Arifi, an influential cleric who preaches at Al-Bawardi Mosque in Riyadh, is on faculty at King Saud University, warned Prince Nawaf against sending Saudi women to the Olympics:
“Women practicing sports … is fundamentally allowed … but if this leads to mixing with men … or revealing private parts … or men watching her sometimes run, sometimes fall down … sometimes laugh and sometimes cry or quarrel with another female athlete … or mount a horse … or practice gymnastics … or wrestling … or other sports … while the cameras film and the [television] channels broadcast … then there can be no doubt that it is forbidden.”

Despite the objection of the author to whose story I’ve linked, this is entirely the work of Islam—a religion that views women as evil beings with such power to bring down their masculine superiors that they must be covered, cloistered and kept at heel.

Islam is evil.

2012 London Olympics: Economic Benefits Not What You Think

The BBC’s Jeremy Paxman has an unusually good piece celebrating British sporting success over the last glorious fortnight. He reckons “the many successes of the London 2012 Olympics should overturn the myth that Britain is country best suited to heroic failure.”  In sport, at least. That said, he says, “that was quite a way to blow nine billion pounds. As none of us needs reminding, it was nine billion that we don’t have.”

Which leads me to this morning’s Guest Post by Ben Gersten…

2012 London Olympics: Economic Benefits Not What You Think
Guest Post by Ben Gersten

With the whole world still basking in the 2012 London Olympics, it’s easy to think of this year’s Games as one big fundraising event for the city – but it’s far from the case.

Like any host city, London expected a three-week surge in visitors to draw record revenue for the region and its vendors.

But the 2012 London Olympics, like global sporting events before, will disappoint.

Instead of luring money to the city, it actually drives out the usual spenders and decreases tourism, drastically reducing revenue for local businesses. That means host cities hardly ever recoup the costs it takes to prepare for holding the Olympic Games.

Just look at Montreal.

Montreal, which hosted the 1976 Olympics, is the best example of the negative economic side effects of the Olympics.

The city’s mayor infamously said, ‘the Olympics can no more lose money than a man can have a baby.’

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Mismanagement and unexpected costs left the city’s citizens with a C$1.5 billion debt that took three decades to erase. The final payment on the debt was made in 2006—thirty years after their Closing Ceremony.

‘The government wants to say that not only are we going to have a good time with this event, but it’s also going to make us rich,’ Stefan Szymanski, professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, told CNN. ‘And that’s just not true.’

London usually sees 300,000 foreign and 800,000 domestic tourists per day during the month of August. It is widely expected that these numbers will be down this year following the 2012 Olympics.

‘These people have been told implicitly that they should stay away and they have done so,’ European Tour Operators Association Chief Executive Tom Jenkins told the AFP. ‘The numbers are currently dramatically down on last year. How far down will be determined by how long Transport for London maintains the ‘don’t come into London’ campaign.’

Of the 2,500 U.K. hotel owners surveyed by TripAdvisor, 58% said the Games would have no impact on business, while just 35% think they will see either a short-term or long-term positive effect.

The transportation industry has a more grim take on hosting the Games – their business has already suffered.

‘Our business is down by about 20-40 percent depending on the time of day,’ Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, told the AFP. ‘Normally about 90 percent of our customers are Londoners but they’ve all left the city and haven’t been replaced by tourists. I don’t know where all these tourists are or how they’re getting about, but London is like a ghost town.’

Not only is a tourism decline hurting the city’s revenue; London is already in debt because the cost of Olympics hosting starts with the bidding process.

Olympics Economic Benefits Dead from Start

London had to beat out other U.K. cities before it went up against the international field to finally win the bid.

This process is driven by private interest groups supporting construction, architecture, bankers and lawyers who care little for London’s fiscal well-being and more for their own pockets. That means they pressure the city to overbid.

‘Even in an ideal world where aspiring host cities behaved rationally, the competition to land the games would leave the winner just about breaking even, or maybe with a small windfall,’ said Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College who recently published International Handbook on the Economics of Mega Sporting Events. ‘But we don’t live in an ideal world. In practice, host cities tend to be captured by private interests who end up promising much more than the city can afford.’

The winning city isn’t the only one hurt by the bidding process. Chicago, during its three-year bid process, spent $100 million on advertising, preparing venues for inspection, and promotions in a losing effort to lure the Olympic selection committee to choose the Windy City.

2012 London Olympics Costs Continue to Rise

The British government has raised its 2012 London Olympics budget estimate to just over £9.3 billion – almost four times the initial amount of £2.5 billion.

Some economists project an even higher cost and only some of this investment is tied up in infrastructure projects that may be useful in the future.

With about half the revenue raised going to the International Olympic Committee, London is going to need well over £6 billion more in revenue than originally projected just to break even.

It is a common trend for host cities to understate budgets. Athens’ initial budget was US$1.6 billion, but the final public cost is estimated at closer to US$16 billion, ten times higher than originally thought.

And each year, the cost of hosting gets higher.

Atlanta spent US$2.4 billion in 1996. Sydney spent A$6.8 billion in 2000 and is still trying to fill the rooms it built. Athens, which spent US$16 billion in 2004, has venues that are in disrepair because it costs hundreds of millions to maintain them.

Beijing seems to be the only recent host to have benefited in terms of tourism, but only after spending a monstrous US$40 billion in 2008 – the most expensive Olympic Games in history.

Britons are still counting medals rather than costs. But the costs will still have to be paid.

“We’re all having a great time but, similar to most parties, there’s going to be a hangover,” said Georgios Kavetsos of the London School of Economics.

“Mega events, such as the Olympics, do not significantly increase tangible outcomes such as economic growth, tourism, employment or wages,” he added.

However, he said London’s Olympics might have a positive impact on British society.

“There is limited evidence on whether they might have intangible benefits, such as happiness and the promotion of healthy living.”

The only instances of a Games generating economic success have been Barcelona, which did enjoy a significant tourism boom following the 1992 games, and Los Angeles, which hosted the 1984 games and already had the infrastructure and venues needed.

But two examples of success are hardly anything to brag about.

Ben Gersten
Ben Gersten is Associate Editor of Money Morning, and Contributing Editor Money Morning Australia

Monday, 13 August 2012

Romney, Ryan … and Rand?!

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP candidate has already brought out from Obama worshippers the new leftist talking point with which they hope to smear both Ryan and Romney: Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand worshipper!

Take a look: the “meme” is s already all over Twitter.

Ryan the extremist!  He’s  picked Ayn Rand as his running mate! Don’t forget Paul Ryan’s obsession with Ayn Rand!

As they say, a lie goes right around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.

This about a man who voted for both TARP bailouts and Bush-era expansion of Medicare drug program.  True enough, he did give copies of Atlas Shrugged as Xmas presents, and he once credited her with inspiring his “interest in public service.” Suggesting, perhaps, he hadn’t read it too well himself.

Look, it’s not hard to explain Ayn Rand’s appeal to the better part of better people. Truth is however Ryan is at bottom just another confused Catholic conservative who said only recently,

“I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas…Don’t give me Ayn Rand." 

As the quote suggests, whatever enthusiasm he has for her novels, he has little understanding of Rand’s philosophy (no, Virginia, Rand’s philosophy does not reduce human interactions down to mere contracts). Still, as the head of the Ayn Rand Institute says, the controversy that’s going to go all the way to November is sure as hell great publicity for them.  (Here, for instance, is one of the first “attack ads” along these lines, featuring great footage of the great woman.)

And as Michael Hurd argues, “this conflict within Paul Ryan is a good case study in the whole problem with “conservatism” as we know it.”

Ultimately, conservatism is, like leftism, based on fear. Leftists are afraid of personal responsibility, sometimes for themselves and always for people in general. Conservatives are afraid of being punished by God, and all religions (including Paul Ryan’s Catholicism) teach sacrifice of the self to the deity.
    My question for Paul Ryan and others is: How do you justify a society based on individualism and individual rights by starting with an epistemology of supernaturalism?

He’s right, you know.

Winner’s circle [updated]

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This is what a golden group of NZers looks like on their day off.

After a hell of a good Games for NZ, for a 16th place on the overall medals table and a fourth place on the “medals per capita” table.

Damn good.

And never mind the talk about throwing more taxpayer money at local sportsmen and women; if truckloads of taxpayers’ money at people were a guarantee of success, Australia’s sports trough would be full of gold. But it’s not.  Australia’s medal cost taxpayers $A10,000,000 each. Meanwhile, Britain’s medals cost their taxpayers under ten pence per medal .

So it’s not primarily about money. It’s about what’s going on people like that golden crowd above.

It’s what’s going on behind those smiles.

UPDATE: Oops. That’ll teach me to dash off a post without checking it first. British medals cost British taxpayers ten pence each—i.e. ten pence per taxpayer. So with 65 medals at £264 million of OPM (Other People’s Money) that’s a total of £4 million per medal.  Turns out nationalism is expensive after all.

Friday, 10 August 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: It’s the Double Double Edition

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Wow!   The Lightning Bolt has struck twice twice!  The 100/2oo double at the Beijing Olympics, then the same again in London—easing up in the last dozen metres in all four events.

The story of the fastest man ever, and the unprecedented Jamaican 1,2,3, should be the story of today. But there are others…

Let us rejoice in the reign of Usain – and bring back Ben Johnson!
Usain Bolt has won the race against history (so far…) – Mick Hume, SPIKED

You can’t joke about Nasty Korea when you compile your medal tables.
Naughty Brisbane Metro – LIBERTY SCOTT

But you can joke about The Olympics.
John Clarke on the Olympics - 'Freakishly gifted' in front of the TV – John Clarke, NZ HERALD

An unfortunate lesson from the Olympics.
Another Example Of Why Central Planning Is A Bad Idea – Simon Black, ZERO HEDGE

Research tells the story. Sex for athletes before an event is good. “We believe that a woman gets better results in sports competition after orgasm.” [NSFW]
Sex is Good…for Athletes! – BOBBI STARR

“An expat Brit in Australia says his countrymen aren’t obsessing over their lack of Olympic gold because they have no ‘culture of complaint’.” And apparently he hasn’t gone outside for the last fortnight.
Why the Lucky Country isn’t blubbing about losing – Nick Cater, SPIKED

I love history. In 1912, Britain coming third in the medals table was considered a disaster.
Britain third in Olympic medal table. What a disaster! – Patrick Crozier, SAMIZDATA

But here’s something to celebrate. The pasty Brits might have rediscovered their sporting mojo.
Say it loud and clear, we're on crest of a wave at the London Games – MAIL ONLINE

You can’t force folk to volunteer. A 2012 Games volunteer says it’s a massive folly for officials to try to ‘capture and recreate’ the volunteering instinct so successfully harnessed for the Games. (A great piece, although what he calls “the altruistic spirit” is just taking responsibility for something about which you selfishly want to make happen.)
You can’t bottle the volunteer spirit – Ollie M. Picks, SPIKED

Serious question: Is design a bigger draw than sports events? Comparing Olympic London to World Design Capital Helsinki says “yes.”
Is design a bigger tourist draw than sports events? – SMART PLANET

We live in amazing times:

“Hey Grandma, I'm sitting at a food court, looking at a
360-degree photographic panorama of Mars on my iPhone.”

            - Robyn Gallagher

He makes a good point:
Why the jury in the Scott Guy murder trial should have been privy to all the facts about Ewen Macdonald – BRIAN EDWARDS MEDIA

While the knives go firmly in his back, where exactly is Cunliffe?
Wales, wine and whiskers – WHALE OIL

the currently fashionable rush to assert positions of either so called “liberal” or “conservative” views on legislation to allow more or less same sex marriage, no one seems to ask  why on earth we need the state passing laws to “let us” or “prevent us” marrying?”’
Why do we need state branded marriage at all? – EYE 2 THE LONG RUN

The NZ Government and the IRD have devised another vicious new scheme. They’re going to charge income tax on income not even earned. Even if you earn a loss!
LTC’s:  A Fraud On The Taxpayer – Mark Hubbard, LIFE BEHIND THE IRON DRAPE

Oh look.
Politicians and lobbyists seek exemption from political lobbying bill – DIM POST

Is there any question about it?
"ACT brand has been irredeemably damaged" – LINDSAY MITCHELL

In the last five years, 44 New Zealanders were killed by criminals out on bail. This is inexcusable.
Killing on bail – KIWIBLOG

Holy shit! “I’ve just heard that Graham Watson died in a car crash near Pokeno…”
Graham Watson RIP – KIWIBLOG

“Dear Mr President, Now that your re-election campaign is in full swing, I wanted to share with you some thoughts on how we can make sure that you are able to continue your work promoting Progressive policies—especially protecting entitlements from right-wing radicals….”
Elizabeth Warren’s Secret Memo To President Obama (Satire)Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE

“[‘You didn’t build that,’ Mr President? You’re saying] if you do not
create everything, you create nothing.
    Since Thomas Edison didn’t discover electricity, invent glass,
learn how to forge metal, and devise language, he didn’t invent
the light bulb. An artist doesn’t create a painting because the
pigments are already there on his palette. A child putting together
Lego blocks is not building anything because the Lego blocks
were provided for him.
    The only act that would count as creation is making something
out of nothing–creation ex nihilo.”
            - Harry Binswanger, “Revenge Of The Zeros: The Battle Between Ayn Rand And Collectivism
             Reaches A Climax
”, FORBES

Curiosity and reason together drive exploration of Mars. “It is the result of reasoned engineering—thought.”
Curiosity Drives Exploration of Mars – Ari Armstrong, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

An "obesity crisis" where people not long ago were starving to death doesn't seem like such a terrible thing.
In Nairobi, business is booming in the gleaming new branches of KFC – Daniel Howden, INDEPENDENT (UK)

“University exams are never anyone's idea of a rollicking time, particularly when your professor rambles on besotted for 23 hours, denies you sustenance and bathroom breaks, and covers topics not on the syllabus, such as her wardrobe and outside business interests.”  Perfect training to be a nuclear physicist.
This is how to examine studentsANTI DISMAL

Shock! Sensitive journo student exposed to real world. Hilarious postmodernism ensues.
Notes from a Tabloid Newsroom -  FARRAGO
Pomo goes to work – Sinclair Davidson

In Australia, hotel and motel owners have no right to decide what sort of businesses are operating from their premises.
Australia: Great moments in discrimination law – Walter Olson, OVERLAWYERED

Bureaucrats. They’re always concerned with the big issues.
NHS chiefs ban metal paper clips after worker cuts finger on one – DAILY MIRROR

No, it wasn’t invented in the San Fernando Valley by someone twelve years old. Winston Churchill was partly to blame.
The abbreviation “OMG” is almost 100 years old – iO9

“The trial of the Russian feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot does not seem to be going well for the Kremlin [or for the band]. As we learned during an interview with Cuban frontman Gorki Águila, punk musicians don't take well to authoritative regimes.”
Cuban Punk Rocker Gorki Aguila on Music, Life and Getting Led Zeppelin Records in Cuba – HIT AND RUN

It was always so.
"No Future" - punk's past – NOT PC, 2009

Okay, on the anniversary of the second use of an atomic bomb during World War II, someone has to make the argument. It takes a historian.
Why Drop an Atomic Bomb? To Save Lives! – Anita Folsom, BURTON FOLSOM

“Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate
about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind
each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”
            - Vaclav Klaus, Blue Planet in Green Shackles

Warmists are losing. It’s the fault of white conservative males everywhere. Oh, and the evidence.
A reply to Robert Manne by an ageing conservative white male – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES
The Climate of Opinion - Steve Kates, QUADRANT

“So what ingenious ruse have the Warmists alighted upon to disguise the awkward fact that they are losing every important scientific argument going? Simple: they’ve now decided that whenever the weather does anything extreme anywhere in the world, it’s another sign of Climate Change.”
'A sudden increase in extreme weather events': the new Big Lie – James Delingpole, TELEGRAPH

And you can always just make shit up. 
July 2012 Hottest Ever in the U.S.? Hmmm….I Doubt It – ROY SPENCER
Climate Catastrophe or Media Hype? – Madhev Khandekar & Tom Harris. PJ MEDIA
NASA's Hansen Uses 30 Year Cherry Picked Time Period To Prove That Climate Is The Most Extreme In 10,000 Years – REAL SCIENCE
Hansen Is Defiling US History – REAL SCIENCE
Is climate change to blame for recent heat waves? – Wynne Parry, FOX NEWS

Hell, making shit up works in every other branch of government.
Reality Deficit: Left and Obama Misrepresent Debt and Deficit Over Last Four Years – Yaron Brook, LAISSEZ FAIRE

Japan is not the richest and most technologically advanced country in the world. In fact, it’s a disaster.
The Curious Case of Japan in the 21st Century – FORBES

PS: Still not too late to sign up for Scott Powell’s masterful, and highly topical, online history of Japan, so you can judge for yourself what happens next.
The History of Japan (Online) – POWELL HISTORY

Message from Australia…
The mining boom is over – Dan Denning, MONEY MORNING AUSTRALIA

Chinese Treasury officials have a unique attitude to economic data. But their forecasts are always correct. Except…
Forecast accuracy- Sinclair Davidson, CATALLAXY FILES

Warren Buffett reckons  rich folk should pay more tax? Warren Buffett can go to hell, says George Reisman, who utterly, thoroughly and definitively demolishes not just Buffett’s arguments for class warfare, but all arguments for class warfare. (And it costs you just 99 cents and a Kindle Reader.)
Warren Buffett, Class Warfare, and the Exploitation Theory. – GEORGE REISMAN’S BLOG

Now that is a good use of £250,000.
Economist won £250,000 for THIS proposal to exit the Eurozone - SOVEREIGN MAN

Is Paul Krugman a coward as well as a big government shill? We have evidence.
Tom Woods Calls Out Paul Krugman and Challenges Him to Debate Bob Murphy – ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL

imageDetlev Schlichter’s Paper Money Collapse provides a sweeping view of monetary history and of today’s place within it… in both his defense of inelastic or commodity-backed money and in the power with which he demolishes every main argument for its non-backed and elastic opposite…
    Schlichter’s book does much more than show that our present system of fiat money is headed for collapse—just like every other such system across history has done. The book also nails so many crucial areas of economics that you can profit from reading it on that basis alone.”
A Central Banker Could Commit Seppuku With the Pages of This Book – Daniel Wahl, PURPOSEFUL READER

Message to the central planners who have failed to lift any economy out of its funk: “Instead of fighting the depression, you have to give it a chance. You have to let bankrupts be bankrupts... you have to let defaulters default... you have to let bad debt go bad and bad managers go unemployed and bad banks go belly up….
    When you are doing something that is bad for you - such as spending more than you can afford... or inflating the currency - you should stop doing it, ASAP. Adding more credit to a debt-soaked economy is a disastrous mistake. It should be stopped forthwith.
    Then, nature can take over... and correct your errors.”
What Central Planners Can Never Know – Bill Bonner, DAILY RECKONING

On "the manifest futility of the International Monetary Fund" & the inanity of various plans to demolish money…
The Return to Sound Money – LUDWIG VON MISES

They get my vote.
10 Reasons Why Austrian Economics Is Better Than Mainstream Economics - JAKUB BOŻYDAR WIŚNIEWSKI

Um, what role did the credit rating agencies play in causing the Financial Crisis?  Good question. Yaron Brook answers.


“One thing everyone can agree on is that there is not enough equality of opportunity.”  Well, not everybody.
Fact is, “equality of opportunity” is incompatible with freedom.
Just Say “No” To Equality of Opportunity – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE

The great Hernando se Soto reminds us never to forget the power of the poor.
The Power of the Poor -

As De Soto understood, capitalism is fundamentally a philosophic, not an economic, endeavour. Here are some of the best online resources you could wish for to understand the philosophy of capitalism.
The Philosophy Of Capitalism – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE

Here’s an excellent question:
“Why Aren’t Murderous Communists Condemned Like Nazis Are?” – Walter Williams, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

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A deserving finalist in the NZ Timber Awards was the new, and stunning Auckland Art Gallery extension (above). But there were other stunners too,
Timber Design Awards 2012: Finalists Announced – NZ WOOD

Oh yes, and the new gallery extension also, and deservedly, won the NZIA New Zealand Architecture Medal for 2012.
Auckland Art Gallery Wins New Zealand's Top Architecture Award – NZIA

Actually, this is one of the few occasions I agree with Brian Rudman.
City orchestra deserves much more – NZ HERALD

I agree with Diana Hsieh; this (detail of a larger painting by Alexei Ravskis) is magnificent:
Alexei Ravskis Painting: Sheer Intensity – NOODLE FOOD
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Fascinating!
A Google Maps Tour of Famous Authors’ Homes – FLAVORWIRE

Spotify, et al. For and against.
I ain’t seen a sign of my heroes / And I’m still diving down for pearls – Simon Grigg, THE OPINIONATED DINER

Good news from history. The Islam world not only nurtured Aristotle’s thought, it also gave us coffee, democracy and the Enlightenment. Mind you, the Islamic world was different then.
How the Islamic world gave us coffee and democracy - 3 QUARKS DAILY

Christians often claim the Ten Commandments are the basis of our legal system. But what would it look like of they were right…
Ten Commandments, in LawNOODLE FOOD

[Hat tips and thank you to Russell W., Geek Press, Thrutch, Climate Depot, Junk Science, Radley Balko, Architizer, Steve Baker MP, Augustus Van Dusen, Paul Litterick, Maria Popova, Ben Packham]

Thanks for reading.
Have a great weekend.
Cheers
PC