Tuesday, 20 February 2018

QotD: What art does

"The experience of the sublime is to be looked for in art. Art integrates senses, emotions, and thought. The sublime in art elevates our sensory experience, heightens and taps our emotional potential, and furthers our knowledge. The sublime in art can also give us a moral, a stance towards living. At its best, the sublime in art inspires awe in our human potential and gives us a path to evolve as a whole being and as a species."~ a new definition of the sublime in art, by one of my favourite living artists Michael Newberry

Monday, 19 February 2018

Supporting voluntary euthanasia

Have you written your submission yet supporting David Seymour's bill, which supports your right to voluntary euthanasia -- his End of Life Choice Bill?

Submissions close on March 6, so get going. (No excuses! It's not hard to write one.)

Here, as today's guest post, is Mark Hubbard's:

Submission: End of Life Choice Bill.

Submitter: Mark Hubbard.                

This submission asks for the End of Life Choice Bill to be passed into legislation, despite being unable to figure out why I have to ask – or plead a case - for such a basic right over my own body. The ability to die with dignity is a choice I want. As importantly, it is a choice that is my right, and should not be up to a conscience vote of 144 members of parliament who are as far from the concerns of my life, or representing them, as could be.

I would have written a long submission listing cases of those I know who have died in situations they did not want, some of them dreadful, for whom palliative care, and opiate painkillers (i.e,, morphine; used in the absence of legal medical cannabis) simply were not an adequate solution, and never would have been: the last such case being a man who died of throat cancer over six years and who, finally, in desperation, starved himself to death. But I’m keeping this submission short for two reasons:

1.     I have run out of time with work commitments through to the end of March.

2.     I have little faith, anymore, in Parliamentary process or governance to implement or uphold  rights-based law, given the way seminary-trained MP Simon O’Connor previously, and so cynically, sabotaged his own select committee on the petition in support of Maryan Street’s excellent euthanasia bill by exhorting in Catholic publications for parishioners to submit against, hence all the one-sentence submissions from the churches that distorted the for and against percentages to that committee away from the 70% to 80% of Kiwis who want this option (according to scientific polling over a long period of time). I wasted a week of my Christmas holiday making a submission to that previous select committee which was a sham, its only purpose to ensure the debate never made it into Parliament. (O’Connor is not fit to be serving in Parliament in any capacity in my opinion.) But, anyway, here we go again, with Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill not allowed to be debated to even first reading, and we plebs not given the opportunity of submission on that, and now forlornly trying to get David Seymour’s dying with dignity bill into law. I suspect this submission is similarly as pointless as to O’Connor’s farce, because we don’t have representation where it matters in New Zealand, but I will ensure there are two ticks in favour of this bill, regardless.

I only need say the following:

Please include this submission as a request for this Bill to be made law so we, my wife and I, have the choice to die with dignity. Note that myself, or my wife, having this choice in no way affects the choices of anyone else, whether with religious belief or not, to make their own choice in the matter. As my choice does not affect the choices of those who are against voluntary euthanasia, I do not understand why the Bill's opponents get to effectively bully my choices via the State : the State’s role, surely, is to protect the rights and choices we all have and make.

I write this submission as very well read on this topic, noting how well euthanasia works in those jurisdictions in which it is legal, with safeguards working to such a comprehensive extent that there is no court case on abuse of euthanasia in any of those jurisdictions. I am disheartened however to constantly see in our local debate that the against-camp here states that legalising voluntary euthanasia will lead to some sort of genocide of the elderly and disabled: it has not anywhere else, it will not here, especially in the limited circumstances provided for in this bill: this tactic is scare-mongering and, frankly, is as infantile as it is despicable.
Note I refer to this as voluntary euthanasia not assisted suicide. This latter term is used by the against-camp in their emotive – not reasoned – campaign against individuals having choice. To want to die when in pain or indignity – however an individual measures that for themselves - within the last twelve months of a terminal illness is not suicide as we understand that term: it is the choice to die with dignity. Indeed, those who foolishly conflate this issue with suicide serve only to cheapen the very important debate on suicide.
The two are not the same. 
Finally, I know (and you can read for yourself the blog of Matt Vickers's, the partner of Lecretia Seales) that there are many doctors and workers – largely silenced – who work in palliative care in New Zealand who would voluntarily offer this service. In fact we all know that there has always been a merciful but unofficial euthanasia practiced in New Zealand. Indeed, another reason for this law is to protect doctors in cases such as this (allowing open discussion with the dying, not furtive back-room conversations with family).
Unlike its overseas counterparts, the New Zealand Medical Association refuses to poll its own membership on this issue and so, despite make sweeping pronouncements against euthanasia in the media (and no doubt to this committee), does not speak for all doctors and medical staff. I have been in correspondence with two former chairs of the NZMA, both Christians, who were against euthanasia on religious grounds. That is not good enough. On this issue at least, they do not speak for their members.

And that is enough. Give me the choice, please. Because, in fact, none of you have the right to deny me this choice, or to deny the majority of Kiwis you are supposed to represent.

Thank you. 
Mark Hubbard.
Made a submission supporting the bill? Send it to me (at peter dot organon at gmail.com) and we will post it here at NOT PC.
And don't forget to submit -- only 15 days to go!

QotD: Summing up Churchill

"Churchill was the last British Prime Minister to have a serious influence on global events, and his actions during World War II [and across his sixty-year political career] helped to end this influence...
...."Late in life, Churchill became depressed by the fact that he would leave Britain very much worse than he found it. He had been born into the richest and most powerful imperial nation in the world. By the time he died, the wealth had largely gone and the empire was largely going – and with it Britain as a great power. Many factors and many people were responsible for this, and Churchill was one of them.
...."[V]ictory [in WWII] was personified in the being of Churchill himself. The fact that victory came later and at higher cost than it could have without him has always been obscured by the very fact of victory itself...
...."The British people needed Churchill to be great, the embodiment of their desires and beliefs. They needed to believe that it was indeed they, the British people, who were responsible for victory. Within living memory, Britain had been the greatest power on earth, and the British did not believe that this could have appreciably changed by the 1940s. So it seemed natural that they must have won the war, albeit with a little help from others...
...."The fact that Britain was no longer the most powerful nation took decades for its people to adjust to.
...."In the deepest of ironies, it was Hitler who made Churchill a historical figure... He would have ended his political career in 1929, as [a failed] Chancellor of the Exchequer – just as his father had. He would have been a minor figure in British political history, and would be largely forgotten today. It is because of Churchill’s role in World War II, and because he wrote so much of the history himself, that we remember Churchill..."
~ Nigel Knight, concluding his book 'Churchill: The Greatest Briton Unmasked'

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Quote of the Day: "May"?

As manufactured credit balloons, savings disappear and the marginal productivity of debt collapses

"The Austrians may have had it right all along: ...ineffective central bank policies, which cause interest rates to remain too low for too long, resulting in excessive credit creation, speculative economic bubbles and lowered savings.”
~ Lance Roberts from his post (and tweet) 'There Will Be No Economic Boom'

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Quote of the day: "The gravest danger to the west ... "

"The gravest danger to the West has come not from hardworking Latino farmhands, [Indian students] or conscientious Chinese engineers, but from the import of postmodernist European intellectuals.
...."Offshore citizens have risked even death to escape tyranny. Individuals must be free to move, but governments are not instituted to secure the individual rights of citizens not their own.
...."Human beings have a conceptual and rational faculty that determines the content of their minds. Many read and absorb the ideas of the Enlightenment and move themselves to a mental state compatible with the values of Individualism; indeed, those who have done so despite their culture could well be stronger in their convictions than those born into such values. They also have raw negative emotion tied to a fear of, and memory of, a culture that alienated them.
...."The culture they bring with them is the content of their minds."

~ Vinay Kolhatkar, from his post 'The Case for Unbounded Immigration'

Friday, 16 February 2018

Ayn Rand advises the National Party

Ayn Rand offers advice on choosing a political candidate:
In view of the general confusion on this subject, it is advisable to remind prospective voters of a few basic considerations, as guidelines in deciding what one can properly expect of a political candidate, particularly of a presidential candidate.
....One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate’s total philosophy — only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials). It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job. It is only political consistency that we can demand of him; if he advocates the right political principles for the wrong metaphysical reasons, the contradiction is his problem, not ours.
....A contradiction of that kind, will, of course, hamper the effectiveness of his campaign, weaken his arguments and dilute his appeal — as any contradictions undercut any man’s efficacy. But we have to judge him as we judge any work, theory, or product of mixed premises: by his dominant trend.
....A vote for any candidate does not constitute an endorsement of his entire position, not even of his entire political position, only of his basic political principles…
....It is the basic — and, today, the only — issue by which a candidate must be judged: freedom vs. statism.
....If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay, or stop the march towards statism?
So, a serious question: is there any candidate for National Party leader who you could support? Or are they all little more than a junk-heap of random concretes.

Question of the Day: "The proper question is, 'What share of its legal monopoly on the use of force should the government share with its citizens?'"

"To see why it is proper for a government to regulate weapons and to understand the principles by which it should, we need to go back to some fundamental principles of moral philosophy, political philosophy, different kinds of rights, and the nature of government... You have a natural right to defend yourself against an attack, using unlimited force if necessary. But it still might rightly be illegal for you to own or carry a gun...
    "Remember, the proper question is not, 'Why can the government restrict my access to guns?' The proper question is, 'What share of its legal monopoly on the use of force should the government share with its citizens?' The proper answer is, 'Whatever is needed for those citizens to protect themselves when the government cannot.'
    "Unfortunately, this principle is not articulated in the [US] Constitution and we are stuck twisting the Second Amendment into service. Things would be better if we didn't have to." 
~ John McCaskey, '
Natural Rights, Civil Rights, and Guns'

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Bill English: The end of the wet?

I had no intention of writing anything about Bill English. What has he even done that deserves thirty minutes of my time? I did search the archives here, for anything at all to say, and I confess I nearly fell asleep while reading them. They reveal him to be a punter, not a man of principle -- a man who finds a way to take a problem off the political table, but never in fact to solve it.

28 years of "public service" say the tributes. Pffft. For nearly three decades he's been one of the country's highest-paid beneficiaries -- and even then Sir Double Dipton grasped for more.

He did get over being Mr 22% in 2002. Let's give him that. But in failing to understand MMP, or to campaign against it, he sealed his own fate in 2017.

And according to some his spending was responsible for rebuilding inner Christchurch. Have you seen inner Christchurch recently? (And whose money was that?)

The most revealing thing about him, perhaps, is that for well over a decade he talked about his big plan for what he called "social investment" (in other words, aiming to intrude more, to spend more welfare money on fewer). Yet while being at or near the top of the greasy pole for over nearly all that time, he never came close to implementing his one big idea -- and all the while the welfare problem exacerbated by big government was increasing.

He was always a man for thirty-year plans, but never a plan for the next thirty days.

There was a reason the left always felt obliged to talk him up: because he was always so dripping wet.

And don't get me started on his Catholicism constantly being brought to bear on his party to vote against every move every parliament made towards increasing social freedom.

So was there one thing he actually achieved?

Perhaps the best that could be said for the man was said by the even more dripping wet Wayne Mapp, that he allegedly "guided New Zealand through the global economic crisis." Let's see the argument:
What is Bill English’s political legacy? More than anything, it will undoubtedly be his tenure as minister of finance from 2008 to 2016. The National government took office in the middle of the largest financial shock for over 50 years...
....As the new minister of finance, Bill English had to complete an instant financial stocktake. Three things were evident. First, New Zealand had low government debt, in large measure due to Michael Cullen having run continuous surpluses. Second, Labour’s commitments from the 2008 budget were completely unaffordable; even National’s more modest election commitments had to be wound back. Third, it was essential to maintain social and economic stability. That meant borrowing for the basics, but not for the frills. It would ultimately be tens of billions of dollars.
Let's not use euphemisms when numbers are much easier, Wayne: your former colleague took the debt from ten billion to sixty-six billion dollars.

Borrowing, supposedly, "to protect New Zealand’s social fabric at a time when it easily could have come under immense pressure." Borrowing, in fact, to maintain middle-class welfare while avoiding making any reforms of anything either politically or economically substantial.

Borrowing to produce a deficit we're still paying for, and will be for years to come.

And remember that lie about not raising GST?

So the best argument in his favour is not so much that he was a good finance minister, just that we was not quite so profligate as all the world's other big spenders. And let's not forget those massive tax cuts he promised us during the 2008 elections, all the while fully aware the GFC was going to allow him an alibi to backtrack once he found his feet under the Finance Minister's desk. In other words, he flat-out lied. (And no fear saying he didn’t know about the economic crisis when he said it.)

Yes, he did, eventually, achieve a surplus. But that should just be business as usual, not a reason for a medal.

But let's give him that much before he shuffles off the stage into well-deserved anonymity. That he did, once, achieve a genuine surplus.

It's as modest an achievement as befits him.

Q: When did you last read a book? [updated]

"Why read books and know a lot about one thing, when you can be on social media and know extremely little about everything?"~ Lalo Dagach

UPDATE: From Russ Roberts's '12 Rules for Life':
5. Read Read Read
Videos and television are great fun. But don't spend too much time on them. Leave lots of time for getting smarter by reading. Read widely. Read some books more than once. Write in your books. Don't finish every book you start. You might be able to read 2500 books in your lifetime. Maybe a few more than that. It's still a very small number. Choose wisely.
Choose wisely. But read, read, read!


Monday, 12 February 2018

Thank you, Thomas Edison

Adam Mossoff reminds us it's a good time to raise a glass to the great inventor whose new ideas changed lives:
Today is Thomas Edison's birthday! With his patented innovations, he contributed to massive transformation in human life. Celebrate by turning on a light, listen to recorded music, watch a movie, talk on telephone; just a few of the technologies he invented or perfected.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Quotes of the Day: On the separation of school & state [updated]

"The Government knows Maori and Pacific achievement is abysmal, a stain on the promise of opportunity for all, but they are so focused on helping the unions they have forgotten about the 1500 kids whose lives are being turned around by Partnership Schools. ... Today’s announcement on Partnership Schools shows the juvenile and callous nature of a Government led by ex-student politicians."
~ David Seymour

"Labour is putting politics, and paying back teacher unions, before the needs of pupils.
"All the schools, their staff and most importantly their pupils face uncertainty and the knowledge they could be axed at the whim of the minister.
"He might give Davis and Jackson some wriggle room by renaming three schools to allow them to continue, but what about the other schools and more importantly the pupils who are succeeding after failing at conventional schools?"
~ blogger HomePaddock

"I want every child in [the country], especially the children of the poor, to be able to go to a better school than they do today. And I think separation is the way to do it."
~ Marshall Fritz

"Quite the opposite of feeding inquiry, the true purpose of state schooling, easily established by reading the words of its founders, was always control. The common school removed from discussion many aspects previously universally inseparable from the project of acquiring an education. Compulsion government schooling was never a mechanism of defending freedom but one of truncating it."
~ Alan Schaeffer

"It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance, and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."
~ Alan Shanker, late president, American Federation of Teachers

"A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body."
~ John Stuart Mill

"Where once a tyrant had to wish that his subjects had but one common neck that he might strangle them all at once, all he has to do now is to 'educate the people' so that they will have but one common mind to delude... Far from failing in its intended task, our educational system is in fact succeeding magnificently, because its aim is to keep the ... people thoughtless enough to go on supporting the system."
~ publisher & author Richard Mitchell

"The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real. ... Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy; these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another. ... Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory."
~ award-winning teacher John Taylor Gatto

"The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense."
~ writer G.K. Chesterton

"Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening."
~ US Commissioner of Education Willliam T. Harris

"In all countries, in all centuries, the primary reason for government to set up schools is to undermine the politically weak by convincing their children that the leaders are good and their policies are wise."
~ Marshall Fritz

"If it's wrong, and it is, for the government to intrude into the churches of our nation, to reshape and affect their basic doctrine and teaching, then it is just as wrong for that same government to be the sponsor of the worldview and values of 90 percent of all our nation' s children. - Joel Belz

"If it would be wrong for the government to adopt an official religion, then, for the same reasons, it would be wrong for the government to adopt official education policies. The moral case for freedom of religion stands or falls with that for freedom of education. A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do."
~ philosopher James Otteson

"The more subsidised it is, the less free it is. What is known as "free education" is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; ... and cannot possibly be separated from political control."
~ writer Frank Chodorov

"Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery."
~ former British PM Benjamin Disraeil

"It is out of character for [any] country that prides itself on intellectual freedom to put the education of its young in the hands of the state."
~ writer David Kelley

"Don't wait for the perfect moment to break free -- there isn't any. Don't let officials, relatives or anyone else intimidate you into sacrificing your children. If you want to help public schools, give them your money, give them your time, give them your house and your car -- but don't give them your kids. There's a world of support out there for home schoolers. If you can't home school, find a decent private school and sacrifice for your kids' education like you would for that fancy car you want or that vacation or entertainment centre or big house. Whatever you'd sacrifice for the thing you most want in life, sacrifice ten times as much for your children."
~ Tammy Drennan

"The only persons who seem to have nothing to do with the education of the children are the parents."
~ G.K. Chesterton

And finally,

"Only a system of state-controlled schools can be free to teach whatever the welfare of the State may demand."
~ former American educator Elwood Chubberly


  • "To achieve [the necessary educational revolution] would be a monumental job, which would take decades. A part of the job, I want to recommend one specific step to improve our schools: close down the teachers colleges.
    "There is no rational purpose to these institutions (and so they do little but disseminate poisonous ideas). Teaching is not a skill acquired trough years of [these] classes ... Teachers must be masters of their subject; this -- not a degree in education -- is what school boards [and parents] should demand as a condition of employment.
    "This one change would dramatically improve the schools. If experts in subject matter were setting the terms in the classroom, some significant content would have to reach the students, even given today's dominant philosophy. In addition, the basket cases who know only the Newspeak of their education lecturers would be out of a job, which would be another big improvement.
    "This reform, of course, would be resisted to the end by today's educational establishment ..."
    Why Johnny Can't Think - Leonard Peikoff, AYN RAND CAMPUS
  • "If formal, reality-oriented, intellectual education is an 'imposition' on childhood, it is an imposition that has long since been removed. "
    The False Promise of Classical Education - Lisa Van Damme, OBJECTIVE STANDARD


Thursday, 8 February 2018

NZ's finance minister prepares us for ballooning deficits

Politicians are rarely explicit in advance about how they plan to fleece the public; if you want a heads-up then you have to read their tea leaves. New finance minister Grant Robertson has just dribbled out one of these tea stains in the same way that John Key once did, one that shows what he really plans for at least the next three years.

You'll perhaps remember that before being elected in 2008, John Key, aka Smile and Wave, firmly denounced the failure of Labour's policies to contain rising house prices, which he swore once in office to contain. Once in power however, he confided that in fact he really rated this house-price inflation stuff, because it would inflate away the enormous repair bill of the country's leaky homes. (And we've all seen how well that inflation has worked out, haven't we, not least for all those young families trying but failing to get on the first rung of the housing ladder.)

Similarly, you might remember that before being elected in 2016, Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, aka Smile and Waft, decried the National Party's $60 billion deficit, and announced their own ambition for severe fiscal rectitude over their three-year term. Now they're in power, however, Robertson has signalled that this "low level of public debt" (i.e., that same $60 billion) is just a platform for him to really get started.
As sharemarket turmoil in the United States spread around the world, Robertson said in an interview that he had real confidence in New Zealand’s economic fundamentals.
“Essentially the low level of public debt is a really important part of it.”
It's fair to ask here if Robertson is a hypocrite or just a chancer. It's possible of course that he's both, but in any case he's signalling here that he's ready to take "neo-Keynesian" remedies should sharemarket turmoil become something more -- good neo-Keynesians running surpluses in times of robust good health (as Michael Cullen did), and exploding the deficit when economic turmoil erupts in the streets.

So in that sense it's not hypocritical for a good neo-Keynesian to decry a $60 billion deficit at one point in time (when everything is coming up roses), and some time later (when things are not) to suggest that figure represents a "low level of public debt." It's not hypocritical but, when coupled with Winston's post-coalition announcement that we face economic turmoil in the very near future, it definitely suggests we should look forward to many, many years of red ink ahead -- which means many, many years of good money being sucked away into piss-poor projects and monument building.

Don't say I didn't warn you now.

[Pic from Vicki Richards]

QotD: On 'public service'

"It is truly a triumph of rhetoric over reality when people can believe that going into politics is 'public service,' but that producing food, shelter, transportation, or medical care is not."
~ Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

QotD: “Feminism is failing women...”

“Feminism is failing women. A hundred years ago the Suffragettes argued that women were strong and capable — now feminists encourage women to be scared of men and everyday life.”
~ @Ella_M_Whelan on Sky News (UK)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Age of Envy

Envy was born as the runt of the litter, but he's been slowly killing off his siblings.
"Tax The Rich!" 
"Hang the 1%!"
"Pay your fair share!" 
"Check your privilege!"
"Free uni!" 
"Free housing!" 
Envy-- the hatred of the good for being the good -- is everywhere, and everywhere is its destruction. Today we live in the Age of Envy. But there is a solution...

Friday, 2 February 2018

QotD: On "the wall"

“If the cost of immigrants is the issue, is an 18 billion dollar wall OK? When it reaches that point, the idea of [the alleged cost to] the welfare state as a motivation for stopping immigration seems rather thin.”~ Steve Rogers
[Hat tip Stu Hayashi]

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Victorian artists are too racy for 2018

This Victorian fantasy above is too racy for 2018.

John William Waterhouse's 1896 painting of Hylas and the Nymphs, of a young man being lured to his doom by spectral young swimmers, has been removed "temporarily" from the Manchester Galery to create "a conversation."
Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor... “It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks.”said the debates around Time’sUp and #MeToo had fed into the decision...The removal itself is an artistic act.
The Victorians were less prudish than today's gallery directors.

[Hat tip Christina Sommers‏ & Jack Grieveson; Image: Wikipedia Commons]

Bonus Quote of the Day: On prohibition

"We have to ask ourselves as lawmakers, has the prohibition on cannabis been effective? ... We know from the number of people who are doing it -- from police, including former police officers in this chamber -- that it is a highly ineffective prohibition because so many people are doing it. The objective is to stop people smoking cannabis; the effectiveness is almost zero. The people that want to do it are doing it.
...."The unintended consequences are that people put themselves in danger dealing with criminal elements whose criminal sphere they fund by acquiring elicit cannabis, and they receive a product that is made all the more dangerous by being underground ...
...."What you want to be doing is asking the simple question: is the policy of prohibition a successful policy; if not, would New Zealand be a better country if we ended that policy for people with chronic illnesses, and would it be a better policy if people could acquire what they are acquiring already through much safer, much more legitimate means that did not lead to children in this country growing up in households funded by the proceeds of [a] crime that only exists because of prohibition?"

~ Act Party MP David Seymour speaking last night in favour of Chloe Swarbrick's Members Bill to legalise medical marijuana

QotD: On "how great states may be made feeble and wretched"

"Macaulay advised those who wished ‘to be well-acquainted with the morbid anatomy of governments’ to study the history of Spain in the seventeenth century;1 some modern historians would advise those who wish ‘to know how great states may be made feeble and wretched’ to study the history of modern [twentieth-century] Britain."
~ John Charmley, from his 1999 book 'Chamberlain and the Lost Peace'

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

QotD; On poverty

“When the poor stop being poor, they lose the attention of the left. What actions on the part of the poor, or what changes in the economy, have led to drastic reductions in poverty seldom arouse much curiosity, much less celebration.”
~ Thomas Sowell

Friday, 26 January 2018

QotD: On results, not wishful thinking

"The left is so invested in the idea that they are helping the disadvantaged that they seldom bother to check the actual consequences of what they are doing."
~ Thomas Sowell

Thursday, 25 January 2018

QotD: "Your group identity is not your cardinal feature..."

"Your group identity is not your cardinal feature. That’s the great discovery of the west. That’s why the west is right. And I mean that unconditionally. The west is the only place in the world that has ever figured out that the individual is sovereign... And it’s the key to everything that we’ve ever done right.”
~ Jordan Peterson, quoted in The Guardian

Rising housing prices: It's frightening, and there are two leading causes ...

“The tidal wave of cheap money from … central banks has to go somewhere, so now it is flooding into housing and making serfs out of the middle class.”
~ Tweeter 'Rudolph E. Havenstein,' quoting Ken Sherman, in reference to WSJ’s article: 'Meet Your New Landlord: Wall Street'

Houses are generally paid for by borrowing. Each time a borrower borrows, a bank creates a new debt. This is now new money comes into existence, borrowed into existence to pay for either consumer borrowing or business borrowing. Debt organised into currency. It's what caused nearly all of history's boom-bust cycles.

Currently, around two-thirds of all the money borrowed into existence in New Zealand was created to buy (or borrow against) houses. [Charts here.] Think about that for a moment: nearly $250 billion of New Zealand's rapidly-rising $320 billion M3 money supply was created to buy (or borrow against) New Zealand's houses.

This is the demand side of the housing problem, about which too few folk have noticed -- demand (in the strict economic sense) being desire backed with money. In this case, borrowed money, and lots of it. This is where the purchasing power emerges to buy houses, and it's been growing each year of the last five by between five and ten percent!

This, ladies and gentlemen and other sane persons, is what monetary inflation looks like. And it's this monetary expansion that (eventually) causes all forms of price inflation, including asset price inflation.

So is it any wonder that the University of Auckland's Jeremy Gabe and Mike Rehm, and James Young, the Research Director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, argue
that it's not a lack of supply, zoning, or immigration that's the big problem [in rising house prices], rather easy credit. [Listen here to RNZ's interview with the authors.]
Young's research for example [summarised here on page 69] suggests
It was found that [Chinese immigration] had a significant negative impact on the neighbourhoods most favoured by Chinese immigrants, but only for a short period of time. However, the effect was not uniform with more persistent impacts occurring within higher priced market segments. The effects on house prices diminished greatly within 18 months...
....These findings suggest that the use of immigration policy to constrain house prices are likely to produce limited specific results and only for a short period of time.
That is an academic's way of saying that banging on about Chinese immigrants is banging a noisy drum, but the wrong drum. Because immigration is not the long-term problem here. [CONCLUSION 1]

Meanwhile, Rehm and Gabe's research (summarised on page 23 here, comparing rising borrowing with rising prices across 23 US housing markets) finds that those gobs of borrowed money created by the banks was found
to "Granger cause" house prices in markets that experienced comparatively high house price growth during the boom years leading up to the global financial crisis ...
.... [This credit-fuelled] purchasing power maintains a strong, statistically significant positive correlation with house prices after controlling for interest rates in every market analysed.
They do not however conclude with a clarion call, as I would, for a complete review of the system of organising debt into currency. But they do argue for measures
to foster financial stability and dampen housing boom-bust cycles made worse by unbridled credit expansion and contraction.
Which, for any academic, are stern words wrapped around a certain and predictable conclusion: that unbridled credit expansion fuels both boom-bust cycles and explosive house-price growth. [CONCLUSION 2]

Their abstracts, from which I've quoted, don't mention having made any study the "lack of housing supply [or] zoning." (That quoted above was Radio NZ's summary of their research. But it does seems clear that if this rising monetary tide is lifting all boats, then they will be lifted less in those more liberal jurisdictions in which boat-lifting is made easier rather than harder.

And if it's not clear enough, then this graph below from the latest frightening report from Demographia, who do measure that relationship, should make it clear enough (and if Auckland joining Hong Kong, Vancouver & Sydney to be the four most unaffordable cities out of more than 400 measured doesn't frighten you, then it should), i.e., that when purchasing power fuelled by inflated monetary demand meets more restricted supply then it has nowhere to go but up -- up, up, up into the stratosphere of highly unaffordable prices. But when it meets a place in which supply is able instead to expand to meet this artificially-inflated demand, then it can and does expand -- or as economist Eric Crampton puts it, "Easy credit in a city where land use regulations aren't nuts turns into more houses rather than house price appreciation" [CONCLUSION 3]-- and without creating the speculative frenzy that, in places like Auckland, begin to feed upon themselves until they (or the economies around them) just burst.