Tuesday, 9 August 2005
Having posted the Death of Marat here some days ago I really do need to post its 'companion piece,' Charlotte Corday by Paul Jacques Aimé Baudry, painted 1858.
Corday was Marat's murderer. Wikipedia gives the reason for his murder. For those not familiar with the story of 'The Terror' Marat was a butcher. His murder deserved.
Note the change in styles between the two paintings, and the claustrophobia and disorder of this one, painted half-a-century later than the earlier one.
The argument against New Zealanders being allowed to defend themselves with these simple self-defence tools just doesn't stack up. It used to be argued by the police that we shouldn't need to defend ourselves since the police would be there quickly enough to do it for us.
George Hawkins fixed that line of argument.
It is also claimed that a person with pepper spray for example might have it taken away and then turned around on them -- but presumably if one has felt the need to draw on such a device the situation is already serious, and at least by drawing it you've given yourself a chance you wouldn't have had otherwise. And whose right is it to make the decision of how you defend yourself anyway? Yours? Or Philip Alpers's and Helen Clark's?
Perhaps the main practical reason to allow ownership of such things is to discourage criminal attack by letting criminals know that people do have such things about their person, and they can't expect an easy ride if they do try and attack someone who looks otherwise defenceless.
Imagine if pizza delivery companies for example let it be known that their delivery staff were armed with one of these devices and trained to use them in their own defence. Perhaps then the mother of murdered pizza deliver man Michael Choy would not still be grieving today. And as I asked here a few months ago, what's a woman to do when they have been banned from using such simple devices as Tasers, mace and pepper sprays. These devices are perfect for people that can't rely on their own strength or the skill of a martial art to protect them.
This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of life and death: specifically of our own life and the right to defend it. If the police should be able to defend themselves, then so should we. And as author Carl Hiassen says to those who might object to the police using such things, "it's still safer for people to be shooting at each other with Tasers than with Glocks."
TV3 have chosen leaders only from the six parties that ranked highest in the latest TV3 political poll, and Dunne is upset at his exclusion. TV3's Marks Jennings has defended the decision as one that "reflects commmercial reality," and no doubt Dunne's Black Belt in Boring was a help in making that decision. Dunne's present lack of logic will probably confirm Jennings in his decison.
Public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of all political party leaders being able to put their view, moans Dunne with neither proof nor sound reasoning. Even if true, I doubt that anybody really wants to see all twenty political party leaders on TV on Thursday night, so some form of exclusion is necessary. Frankly, I think Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton should be there, but I'm realistic enough to know that's not going to happen this election. Dunne's realism as to his own worth-- or self-insight as the psychiatrists say -- is not nearly as strong.
"I've come across no one yet that supports TV3's decision," continues Dunne's tantrum. Well, here's one person at least: me. I think they've made a sound decision, and I look forward to your return to well-deserved irrelevance. (Feel free to add your name below.)
Lord knows what the good people of Ohariu see in this tosser. Personally, if I were they I'd be voting for Colin Cross.
NZ's Falcons under the captaincy of Andrew Congalton have now beaten Great Britain (photo of the game right), Spain and now Japan in their last three games, and are on track to meet favourites Ireland in the final to be played at the MCG on Saturday.
Before getting to the final however they face their biggest challenge in the semifinals against either the athletic PNG, or a resurgent USA, and they must beat Samoa in the last of their pool games. The semifinals will probably be the first time the Falcons face any real pressure, but with Ireland going down to the USA, NZ now top the ladder with a huge percentage, and are being given the favourites tag.
Watch this space...
[UPDATE: After beating Samoa in their final pool match 98-27, the NZ Falcons are now through to Thursday's semi against the USA.]
Zimbabwe's plummeting fortunes in world cricket mirror their plummeting fortunes politically, socially, individually, agriculturally and economically -- and the responsibility for all these can be sheeted home to Robert Mugabe, Thug.
Cricinfo sums up the cricketing mood, suggesting
the time has come for a change of tack and a rethink about what is being achieved by ploughing on regardless. Nobody benefited from this [cricketing] massacre, and the pitiful attendance showed that even the locals have tired of such wretched fare. This was a match of interest to nobody but the statisticians.So why did they bother going?
Monday, 8 August 2005
A friend commented over the weekend that I had only posted a few bridges here in my 'evening art works.' I should say to void confusion with a debate going on elsewhere that unlike architecture, bridges are not art; but the slender, spare concrete bridges of Robert Maillart are beautiful constructions.
Salginatobel Bridge in Switzerland (completed in 1930) is perhaps his masterpiece.
No airforce strike capability; no nuclear ships; no firm promises beyond a "comprehensive review."
It's not quite true to say you're better off with Labour, but with limp-wristed policy like this you're hardly any worse off. Frankly, on defence as in so much else there's damn-all difference between the two main parties. As the election date gets ever closer they begin to look more and more like Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.
I do know one party that does recognise that New Zealand is worth defending...
Points out Giedrius Kadziauskas of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute:
This will come as part of Lithuania's commitment to the European Union to raise its excise duties in order to reach the EU's minimum levels by 2009. But this minimal level is not minimal at all for Lithuania and other new E.U. members, where standards of living are not expected to rise to the E.U. average for another 15 to 30 years... Meanwhile, smuggling is growing in Lithuania, which is responsible for guarding 902 kilometers of the EU's external border. Every single rise in excise duties signals to smugglers that the ranks of their potential customers are swelling and that they have an opportunity to mark up prices of their goods.The price of the EU's style of heavily-taxed and heavily-regulated 'freedom' may be too much for poverty-sticken Lithuanians to bear. They're not alone in that.
"I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves," argues Paglia, before taking wing:
Today's lack of major female philosophers is not due to lack of talent but to the collapse of philosophy. Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre. This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity. The web mimics human neurology, and it is fundamentally altering young people's brains. The web, for good or ill, is instantaneous. Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry. Today's philosophers are now antiquarians.Wilkinson contends contra Paglia that, far from collapsing, "philosophy as traditionally practiced is at its high water mark." However, he says,
I agree that academic philosophy is insufficiently engaged with the public, and could hold a more privileged place in the fragmented popular consciousness. And I think this is due to straightforward institutional reasons. Academia as it is presently constituted does reward a kind of bloodless scholasticism. One reason I decided to drop out of academia was that I thought direct engagement with current policy debates and cultural concerns would make me a better philosopher. Greats like Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill, Marx were not academics, but men involved in thinking through the practical political matters of their day.Quite true. In the words of poll winner Karl Marx, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it" (a great pity however that he himself had so misinterpreted the world before he attempted to have it changed.) Ralph Waldo Emerson made a related point many decades ago in an address which got him banned from Harvard in which he castigated the chattering classes of the day, those second-handed ivory tower-dwellers
who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm ... who values[s] books as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul.What meek young men will find in their libraries today is rather different to the great men to which Emerson referred however. What they will find instead is moral and intellectual pygmies of the likes of "radical pragmatist" and ethical relativist Richard Rorty. Tibor Machan takes Rorty and his ilk to task over at SOLO:
The greatest minds in the Western philosophical tradition, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Spinoza all held that, while it is difficult, human beings can learn of some basic truths. At the very least they held out hope that this could be done, especially in the realms of ethics and politics. The American Founders shared a similar perspective, which is why they declared themselves in support of the inalienable individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But today, probably more so than ever before, the dominant idea in most universities is that no basic truths about ethics and politics can be identified...Machan suggests that in these troubled times it is little wonder philosophers such as Rorty spend so little time writing op-eds and engaging with the world, and so much time talking nonsense to each other. "They ought to remain silent in less troubling times as well," contends Tibor.
The practical implication of the view that Richard Rorty (and other relativists) expound is that the positions of the terrorists and of the victims of terrorism are basically indistinguishable as to their merit or worth. In the grand scheme of things, as best as we can tell, the two are on the same footing—or, to put it another way, neither has any better footing.
Amen to that.
Sunday, 7 August 2005
Here's a sneak preview of the rough cut of the Libz TV ads: Opening address zipped here; assorted five second ads zipped here. Enjoy - and don't tell them I've let you have a look; keep it under your hat. :-)
(NOTE: The compression used to post these means the sound is a bit munted. You'll need a player with MPEG4 capability, whatever that means. Winamp works for me.)
Saturday, 6 August 2005
At the same time the National Front's national director, one Sid Wilson, has announced there will be NF candidates in the 2008 election running on a platform "promoting independent natinal sovereignty for New Zealand." Perhaps Turia's Maori Party and Wilson's bigotted thugs could form a coalition, as they do seem to have much in common. Separatism and virulent nationalism seem to be cool with both.
Turia's party policy, which the Herald reports a "spokeswoman" is at pains to distance the party from -- these are "talkling points only" she says -- includes planks making it compulsory for bureaucrats to learn Maori, compulsory for schoolchildren to learn "matauranga Maori," compulsory for property owners to consult "iwi and hapu authorities" when they wish to do anything on their land; a polcy platform that calls for energy rationing, the establishment of a "Maori council for immigration," and the prohibit of foreign tauiwi from buying freehold land.
It is a policy platform for the stone age, an age in which one senses Mrs Turia and her fellow separatists would be right at home.
Friday, 5 August 2005
Libertarianz Hamilton West candidate Tim Wikiriwhi will be there tonight along with other Libz activists (including Julian Pistorius and myself) to give Dean Risi a Light of Liberty award for standing up to the wowsers, and to join in the party at Kelly Browne's.
What the wowsers such as Smokefree Coalition director Leigh Sturgiss don't understand is that the issue of smoking in bars is a simple issue of property rights and choice, and a confusion between public and private. You should be able to do on your own property what you wish; if others don't like that, they are free to choose to go elsewhere. A bar is not public property, it is private property over which the bar owners' and manager's legitimate property rights shoud be protected by law, not violated.
I salute Dean Risi here, and I look forward to doing so again tonight in person.
As he says, it woudl be pathetic if true.
A cosmetic change like this will do nothing. A fundamental change is in order.Read James's post and follow his links here.
It's war within Islam. A battle for the soul of Islam. It is not 'terrorism' (which is merely a tactic of the weak - a form of asymmetrical warfare) . It's all about ISLAMIC EXTREMISM [or Militant Islam], an interpretation of the religion which inspires a cult of death. It doesn't matter if its Sunni (as it often is) extremism or Shi'ite extremism (say Hezbollah or Sadr in Iraq) - what matters is that it's Islamic. Daniel Pipes nails it...
Their land on the Te Atatatu Peninsula was taken nearly fifty years ago under the Public Works Act for a deep water port that never happened, and when it never happened the land was never returned to its owners but given instead to the council to make a park out of it. The Public Works Act is of course the same act under which Transpower is seeking to force its powerlines and pylons over the land of Waikato farmers; the act of theft is almost identical to the theft of Maori land in Raglan which was taken during the war, never returned, and turned instead into a golf course by the local council.
The Raglan golf course was eventually returned; so too should the land in Te Atatu.
I've long maintained that when injustices such as these have taken place that the Treaty of Waitingi is both unnecessary and unhelpful. If proveable injustice has taken place, then no matter the race of those involved the mainstream courts should deal with it. If there is no injustice there is nothing to be done. Furthermore, the mainstream courts are, as far as our laws go, mostly colour-blind -- this cannot be said of the racist Waitangi Tribunal. If theft has taken place, the colour of the victim is irrelevant, as is the Treaty.
The Treaty itself is now irrelevant, divisive, and a meal ticket for those riding its gravy train. It is also insufficiently comprehensive to be a true founding document of a country, and should be replaced with a constitution that is.
"There won't be huge enthusiasm among elected members of the council to see a strategic open space for the city passed out of council's ownership," Waitakere City Council's legal services manager Denis Sheard said yesterday. Their never is much enthusiasm when a criminal is told to return stolen goods, but the reluctance of the thief to return what's been stolen is irrelevant.
I wish the claimants well in getting back their land. Those who feel likewise and who still favour big government might reflect on an observation of Isabel Paterson's, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away. Big government is not the solution, it is the problem.
Thursday, 4 August 2005
No wonder most philosophy students and the people who 'teach' them aren't taken seriously by anybody in the real world.
As they say in philosophy departments, "logic has nothing to do with reality." Only in the arid reality occupied by university philosophy departments, that is.
Philosophy, Who Needs It? Well, as Ayn Rand argued, you do. But not this sort of nonsense.
It must be true because so many people are saying it, right?
"National are social anarchists," said Russell Fairbrother in parliament yesterday. "Radical policy change is what is on offer from National," says Madame Helen. A Brash government would be "preparing for privatisation" everything from the beaches to the government's high country land to all of its schools, hospitals, and energy trusts -- so say respectively various iwi, the twitterers at Forest and Bird, and the Dullard who is beginning to quack as the election date draws ever closer (and Bwash the wadical no doubt begins to haunt his dreams). The nuclear ships ban would, under Brash, be "gone by lunchtime"; Brash would have NZ troops in Iraq; Brash is having his policy written for him in Washington... Blimey, the man starts to sound like some sort of a libertarian legend!
Bloggers and their commenters are even more hyperbolic, clearly having been leaked Brash's "secret agenda," to which only they at present enjoy access. Joy at the Frogblog is concerned at his plans to "squash worker protection," and his RMA plans that are "slash and burn and bulldoze." Paul at Just Left is all over the park in fright at the prospect of a Brash government: "If this guy was 'commander in chief' at the time of the ILLEGAL invasion, he would have sent Kiwis to war and most possibly their death... Kiwi's home in bodybags vs Doonegate"! And good old Left Wing Nutter Millsy is so scared he wants to see concerted action to stop the election of a Brash government, "even if it means industrial paralysis...breaking the law ... and blood on the streets" to do so. Ooh er!
That's a lot of hatred to have engendered, and a big radical agenda for a quiet Presbyterian like Brash to accomplish... and sadly none of that agenda is true. I for one wish much of it were true. Brash is a social liberal and an honest conservative, but by his own admission he's not a libertarian, and unlike the Libertarianz (who do openly advocate much of the above, particularly the wholesale privatisation), radical reform of the kind that Labour are suggesting so hysterically is the secret Brash agenda is not even on National's radar screen, and I say that with sincere regret.
Brash himself denies in interviews being anything other than Labour-lite; their RMA proposals, are, in their own architect's words, just window dressing; the beaches they've promised to nationalise, not privatise; and privatisation, even of Kiwibank, TVNZ and Air New Zealand has been ruled out. So where the hell is the radicalism when you really want it?
It sure as hell ain't in the National caucus room, whatever the Labour Party and its various mouthpieces might have you believe.
It's not just his unprincipled bleating about the RMA and what he actually proposes to fix it, ie., nothing; it's that this is the same approach he takes to everything.
Take for example the forced training regime imposed on early childhood education teachers, first by Nick Smith when he was Minister, and thence ratcheted up further by Trevor Mallard when he took up the ministerial reins. I suggested when introduced this regime would be a disaster, and so they have been -- unless that is your aim was to limit choice, close down private centres, drive experienced teachers from the industry, and achieve complete state control over a once-independent sector.
If that was the aim, then the policy introduced by Smith and followed through by Mallard is a great success.
You can see why I'm pleased with the poll results so far. What a repellent pair.
The book is at its most effective when the authors distinguish clearly between force and voluntary action and when they tell horror stories about antitrust. Exhibit A of the latter is the DuPont cellophane story. The book's editor, philosopher Gary Hull, tells of clear-eyed DuPont chemists perfecting cellophane in the 1920s and creative marketers marketing it in the 1930s, revolutionizing the sale of bread, cake and other items. By 1940, a national poll found that Americans' most cherished words were, in order, "mother," "memory," and "cellophane." Then came antitrust. The government charged that DuPont had "monopolized" the cellophane market. Most antitrust texts point out that the government lost the case. ButWe have our own version of Antitrust here in New Zealand policed by the Commerce Commission, who keep a beady eye on what they call anti-competitive practices. They don't unfortunately include themselves in the list of those on whom they keep that beady eye affixed. Every large-ish merger, acquisition or takeover in New Zealand has to be approved by the bureaucrats at the Communist Commission before legal approval for businessmen to act on their own judgement can be given.
points out something that I had never read in 35 years of reading about antitrust: DuPont helped assure its "victory" by canceling its expansion plans and actually building a cellophane plant for a competitor, Olin Industries. Hull
Remember the long, long delays in disapproving Air New Zealand's various bids for approval to sell its shares to first Singapore Airlines and thence Qantas, before the taxpayer was forced by the politicians to stump up nearly a billion dollars to bail it out? Blame the Communist Commission, a creation of the Douglas/Lange Labour Government.
If anyone is looking at making tax savings, they could do a lot worse than to add the Communist Commission to their list. Promoting 'free competition' at gunpoint is not just uncivilised, unethical and unsuccessful, it's also illogical.
Wednesday, 3 August 2005
A: No. On every fundamental point of policy, you could hardly slide a sheet of blue policy paper between their respective positions. See.
Q: So why does everyone get so excited when National goes up in the polls?
A: Because after six years of her bossing around the sheeple, a lot of people have had enough of Madame Helen.
Q: But voting her out won't fundamentally change anything policy-wise?
A: No, it won't. People generally vote to get governments out, rather than to put new governments in. That doesn't stop new governments thinking they have a 'mandate' of course. And it doesn't stop people exciting themselves over the prospect of seeing new faces in the same old offices, even if they are doing pretty much the same old things.
Q: You don 't sound very excited at the prospect yourself .
A: Well spotted youngster.
Cartoon by Richard McGrail, courtesy The Free Radical
[NOTE: Clicking onthe cartoon will open a legible versi0n thereof. :-) ]
Last night on 'Close Up' when asked how she could afford to sue when she is clearly impecunious and unable to work as a result of the beating she received, Couch turned to her lawyer who just smiled and said she has nothing to pay; that he was doing this for her without fee.
Mr Henry, you are a hero.
Reid, recruited by Abu Hamza Al Masri, the now jailed Imam of the Finsbury Park mosque,
described his anger at what he perceived as American oppression against Muslims across the world... before launching an attack on the immorality and "self-fulfilment" of Western society which he understood as a threat to Islam.There you go then. It' s your fault he tried to blow up a plane. And the people on that plane just had it coming: probably fornicators anyway.
"All this is in the name of freedom and democracy... But the reality is that the freedom that they’re talking about is nothing other than forcing the Muslims to accept laws that legalise homosexuality, fornication, adultery etc."
"In any western city you can see the ill effect that allowing the promotion of self fulfillment has had. Teenage girls constantly find themselves responsible of bringing up children whose fathers take little or no responsibility for them," the letter said...
Reid, who wrote the letter before the war began in Iraq, showed no remorse for his attempted attack, and said it was the responsibility of "the West" to curb its aggression against Muslims. Reid also stressed that civilians were as guilty as their governments for the crimes committed against Islam.
Extroversion: 82 (high)
Agreeableness: 73 (high)
Conscientiousness: 31 (average)
Emotional stability: 66 (average)
Openness: 99 (high)
What does all that mean? It means I wasted ten minutes on another stoopid internet quiz. No wonder I'm not considered conscientious enough. :-)
[Hat tip SOLO]
Tuesday, 2 August 2005
Today Auckland ACT on Campus held a protest against Matt Robson's bill to raise the drinking age. ACT on Campus shouted a keg, but only for those who could prove they are 18 or 19. Besides the amusement of seeing how many people have learner licences, we did this to make a serious point. The ACT Party wants 18 and 19 year olds to be able to make their own decisions, including being able to drink. ACT on Campus helped them drink in a more direct way.Guess they're not all bed-wetters and suit-wearers in ACT then. Shame they haven't yet worked out that ACT isn't a freedom party. Still, that question will be moot in just 45 days, 21 hours and 46 minutes. I'm sure more than a few Libz on Campus types pointed out to them what a real freedom party looks like, and then went on to help them to finish off that beer keg.
We made the point that it is ridiculous for people who work and study hard, pay tax, vote, can have sex and be sent to jail or war; can't even buy a beer. It's a double standard on responsibility.
Good stuff everyone. :-)
[UPDATE: Somebody's bitten. Aaron Bhatnagar, no doubt with memories of Palmers vouchers in mind, is wowserly suggesting the boys have commited
Iraq's chances of thriving are much better than most of the media would have us believe... After years of trade sanctions, and rampant counterfeiting, the Iraqi Dinar has plummeted from its pre-Gulf War value of over USD$3, to mere fractions of one US cent. What was once the equivalent of more than $82,500, can now be purchased for around $50. Can Iraq's economy achieve, in a free market, what it once achieved under a brutal dictatorship?.Fancy betting on Iraq's future? Then think about buying some dinars.
Higgs was talking about large-scale crises such as wars, depressions and other disasters, during which Leviathan government grows and never shrinks back . Here in New Zealand, we do it differently. A tragic car crash, for example, is enough to prompt knee-jerk calls that "the guvamint should do something about it," and talkback shows are awash with schemes for raising the licensing age; for compulsory third-party insurance; for P-plates, L-plates and R-plates; for restricting the cc rating of cars for young drivers; and for locking teens up at night and fitting them with chastity belts.
Expect to see a stampede of party pledges from aspiring politicians seeking to stroke this disaffection, and a stream of bad, nannying law to eventually emerge, and self-responsibility to diminish.
It's often said that hard cases make bad law. It's also true that knee-jerk law written in an atmosphere of emotion is bad law, and bad law almost always feeds Leviathan. Talkback callers demanding "the guvamint should do something" might like to reflect on two points: First, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again; and second, when you're wondering who is responsible for the growth of Nanny Government, the answer is you.
Forget Coldplay and James Blunt. Forget even Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which, in the version performed at Live8 by Sir Paul McCartney and U2, has become the fastest online-selling song ever. Beethoven has routed the lot of them.Final figures from the BBC show that the complete Beethoven symphonies on its website were downloaded 1.4m times, with individual works downloaded between 89,000 and 220,000 times.1.4 million downloads! That is amazing.
To put another perspective on the success of the Beethoven downloads, according to Matthew Cosgrove, director of Warner Classics, it would take a commercial CD recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies "upwards of five years" to sell as many downloads as were shifted from the BBC website in two weeks. The BBC has been stunned by the response - so much so that its director general, Mark Thompson, opened his annual report with Beethoven's inscription on the score of the Missa Solemnis: "From the heart ... May it go again to the heart!"Who says classical music isn't relevant today?
What I read there is a little, um, imaginative. Have a look yourself. Let's look at just one of her claims: "We were the first party to call for the scrapping of the Resource Management Act, which allows private property to be confiscated without compensation."
Word to Muriel: Not only has the ACT Party never had scrapping of the Resource Management Act as party policy -- more's the pity -- but there is only one party that has a policy to scrap the RMA, the Libertarianz, and -- as I know you know Muriel -- that has been Libz policy ever since the party's formation in 1996. (Here for example is Libz submission to Upton's RMA Inquiry back in 1999 . The ACT Party's submission then called for tinkering. Today they call for "gutting" but without any detail.)
Furthermore, even after Kelo, Muriel still thinks that confiscating private property with compensation is okay. Oh dear. It clearly takes her a while to learn her lessons.
File Muriel's column in the Fiction section of your archives.
A: She did once have a 'business' selling Maori stick games to government departments, but that's hardly work, is it? And hardly what you'd call 'earning' money. She's spent her whole life as a beneficiary of state largesse, and she thought she had an entitlement to it.
There's a metaphor there for something, isn't there?
Monday, 1 August 2005
They've noticed that there is an election coming up, and they would like me to respond on behalf of the Libertarianz to the issues that concern them this election year, especially Libertarianz's "policies in relation to the law." Foolishly, I began thinking what I could say about our support for the Rule of Law and of slashing legislation to make the law more simple and more accessible, of our enthusiasm for Common Law and its principled protection of property rights, and of our proposed Constitution protecting individual rights ... I say "foolishly" because reading on it quickly became apparent that none of these things are of any interest to the Assistant Editor of "the official publication of the NZ Law Society."
What he is specifically interested in is our attitude to legal aid. Specifically, he is asking me for our attitude to the following: 1) "changes to eligibility ...so that more people can obtain representation through legal aid"; 2) an increase in rates for legal aid; 3) a bigger budget for legal aid; and 4) more experienced lawyers needing to submit bigger legal aid bills if they're going to be interested.
Put simply, what Mr Frank Neill, Assistant Editor of LawTalk, (04) 915 1282 (give him a call, I'm sure he'll be delighted to hear from you) wants to know is this: Are we promising to to give lawyers more money if elected? That's it really. Are we promising more for all the snouts in the legal trough, and a bigger trough for all those snouts to go into? That's the substance of the "election special" in Frank's upcoming issue -- and you can bet all the parties bar Libertarianz will be falling over themselves to promise increased gobs of your cash to be handed out to lawyers, who as we all know are in a parlous state nationwide, poor dears.
Take poor Deborah Manning for example, whose law firm McLeod & Associates have only manage to pull down a paltry $2 million or so from the taxpayer in defending Ahmed Zaoui's bid to stay in New Zealand. Surely we can help Deborah and McLeod & Associates, can't we? She herself might question "the importance of money as a motivation to succeed," but you can be sure the rest of her partners aren't complaining about the largesse being flung their way.
So on reflection, the best answer I can give to Mr Frank Neill (email: email@example.com) and the readers of LawTalk -- "the official publication of the NZ Law Society" -- is to point him to the Libertarianz Unemployment Policy:
With some very few noticeable exceptions, the more I see of lawyers and their venality, the more I find myself in favour of nationalising the lot of them. Put that in your official journal, Frank. Or maybe just print these two quotes from H.L. Mencken for your members and see if they get the point: 1)"An election is an advance auction of stolen goods"; and 2):
Unemployment under Libertarianz would increase dramatically: among politicians, lawyers, accountants, resource management consultants, iwi consultants, town planners, arborists, politicians, bureaucrats, tax collectors, WINZ staff, and salaried busybodies of every stripe. With the dead weight of these parasites out of our way the rest of us can get on with our lives, while the moochers re-educate themselves for life in a world that no longer owes them a living.
All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.Should there be any further questions after that, Frank, then please do not hesitate to write them on a small piece of stiff parchment, fold it until it's all sharp corners, and then insert it where the sun doesn't shine. It's an exercise lawyers such as those you represent should do more often.
[UPDATE: Here's an interesting update -- Deborah Manning, star of the Ahmed Zaoui travelling circus and recipient of that $2 million of legal aid, is herself on the Auckland Law Society's Legal Aid Committee. Can anyone spell 'conflict of interest'?]
What’s common to the management of both the problematic Health and Education sectors in New Zealand is of course one big thing: Big Government -- and I do agree with you that it's oxymoronic to use the words 'government' and 'management' in the same sentence, although it's no surprise to see the words 'problem' and government linked, is it.
The big problem is Big Government. We don’t argue every three years about the issues of zoning for local supermarkets, problems with waiting lists at shoe stores, or the dangerous shortage of Burger King restaurants, but you can be damn sure we would be if the bloody government was running them, and the talkback lines would sure be running hot complaining about a shortage of Double Whoppers if they were. We don’t want government running supermarkets, shoe stores or hamburger outlets (unless you still vote Alliance), so why the hell do we let them them run our schools and hospitals? It sure beats the hell out of me.
People say that governments must run the country's health system because they need to ensure that everyone has access to it. But do they? As Canadian Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin has just ruled in striking down Quebec's government-not-run health-care monopoly “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.” Sure ain't. Not there, and not here either. Mark Steyn has that story and his own acerbic commentary on the state of socialist healthcare in Canada. "They’ve not yet reached the stage of a ten-month waiting list for the maternity ward," he notes comfortingly but he does cite cases that are awfully close. " But forget the medical arguments and consider the purely political ones," says Steyn,
The justification for “universal access” to health care is that a “decent society” does not let its sick suffer because they can’t afford an operation. But even as universal access decayed into universal lack of access, the utopian left defended it all the more vigorously: the fact that we all received the same non-treatment testified to our virtue, though even this perverse defense was utterly phony: one of the most unattractive features of our ersatz-egalitarianism was that it led to the creation of a humbug nomenklatura who (like Canada’s Prime Minister) use private clinics for their own health even as they continue to proclaim that decrepit incompetent monopoly public health is an eternal “Canadian value” that can never be changed.Sounds awfully familiar to the New Zealand ear, doesn't it.
I haven't even started on the problems with government-run education and the state's factory schools. Fortunately, I can point you to some places that do. Julian Pistorius has been following the Orauta school saga at his blog (as can you if you care about government force being used to close a successful school loved by children and parents), Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation has a blog called Education Weak keeping an eye on this issue from an American perspective, Mark Lerner has a brief item on an increase in educational “looping”, in which a teacher stays with a group of students for two years, and Stephen Hicks (from whom I got some of these links) has an article on Excellence in Education (which is itself excellent).
One component of freedom is social: Not being subject to authoritarian dictates. We live in a democratic republic, and we take our freedoms seriously. Part of education, then, involves teaching people to be self-governing citizens – individuals who can form sound judgments about complicated matters, who have confidence in their judgments and the initiative to act upon them, and who have the independence of spirit that doesn’t let others push them around.Hard to do that in a school financed, organised and 'managed' by a system that tries to make pushing people around an art form.
And check out too this alternative US school focusing on independence and choice, this about the just-finished 2005 Montessori Congress, Championing the Cause of All Children, and this from the Libertarianz party who wants to give back the government schools to those that use them, and to close down the Ministry. Makes sense to me.
Read more of this comment here at Dave Crampton's Big News, and my own earlier comments on this Bill here.
Frankly, I have no time for those who are determined to collapse the distinction between smacking and beating, and between the illegal and the immoral. There is a difference -- a crucial difference -- between each of these, and confusing the distinction as Bradford seeks to do by adding unnecessary ambiguity to our law needs being smacked down itself.
Sunday, 31 July 2005
New York in the fifties was even more a centre of excellence, and perhaps an even greater magnet for talent. With all the certified geniuses then either resident in Manhattan or working there, I've often wondered at the sort of sparkling dinner party that could have been put together.
How about this for the start of a sparkling guest list, put together from people spending a lot of time in New York at the time:
Frank Lloyd Wright
Pier Luigi Nervi
Ludwig von Mises
Godfrey N. Hounsfield
Wouldn't you just love to even be a fly on the wall at that gathering?
Saturday, 30 July 2005
What all the commentators seemed to agree on is that ACT are gone unless they can find a King Hit, and Rodney's mission to "Stop-Winston" is just not it. Those voters are not theirs.
Which reminded me of my public spirited advice to ACT Party supporters back at the start of June:
If you're going down anyway -- as you are -- why not use the public platform you've got, eschew compromise and scandal-mongering, and start saying what you really believe? Or at least say what you say you really believe? What have you got to lose that the polls are saying you haven't already? If not now, when?Read on here.
Here's five things you could try saying that at the moment you're too scared too ...
As the battle over John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation begins, the one widely agreed upon measure of qualification is that he not be a "judicial activist." While conservatives have long railed against "activist" judges "making" law by legislating from the bench, many on the left in recent years have similarly criticized the Rehnquist court as "activist" (on behalf of executive powers, for instance). Charges of "activism" have essentially become a smear intended to discredit any decision with which one disagrees. More damaging, however, the use of this label, on all sides, fosters a serious confusion about the role of the judiciary.What the job of the justices is, contends Smith, is the understanding and upholding of the individual rights and freedoms of its citizens, which is after all the reason that governments are constituted, and the recognition and protection of the fact that governments properly act only by permission.
And why are rights-based systems so sound? Well, as Tibor Machan explains here, they're not at all sound if they're misunderstood, as they are by those such as the present US Supreme Court justices in their egregious Kelo v New London decision. But when properly understood, a rights-based systems is sound because
it fits human beings better than the alternative, which would have a legal system constantly promote welfare or well-being in an ad hoc fashion. The fact is, no one can ever devise a legal system and public policies that guarantee good results. Putting people in charge of this massive project will backfire in a big way. Politicians are not gods (or even angels), so their plans are bound to contain many mistakes, and when they plan for others whom they do not know, that likelihood is overwhelming.The question then is either a rights-based system or a centrally planned one, and that particular question was well-answered for all of us when the Berlin Wall fell. Or so you might have thought...
Friday, 29 July 2005
As they say, don't vote, it only encourages them.
Feel free to let me know your choice of 'Other' in the comments below.
|None of the above||16 votes|
The Labour-Green coalition has 15%, with the Greens as senior partner with 9% support. Act and National have 18% each, meaning that at this site at least there will be other ACT MPs who will have the chance to deliver a valedictory speech one day. In real life however ...
Anyway, the undisputed winner, to nobody's surprise I'm sure, is the Libertarianz-None of the Above coalition with 48%, meaning they will still be needing a coalition partner. Perhaps one or two from the Press gallery could help out? ;-)
So, all that remains then is to give full credit to all the opposition, and to note that 'Not PC' was the winner on the day. Thanks to all those who took part, and I invite you all to participate in my 'Which is the Most Odious Parliamentarian' poll, up there shortly. :-)
It's not that they're irrelevant but there's never any test of their accuracy, they are in many respects self-fulfilling, and in the end there's only one poll that matters anyway.
Crikey, with all the noise about them elsewhere though it's enough to make you put your head in your hands and run around maniacally... "The Polls! The Polls!"
[Q: BTW, what whiskey does Quasimodo drink?
A: Bells. ]
One of the most exciting international architects practicing today is Santiago Calatrava, who has just unveiled his plans for the Fordham Spire, the tallest skyscraper in the US, to be built on Chicago's lakefront (above). When completed, it will be the second tallest in the world, behind the Burj Tower presently under construction in Dubai. The Herald quotes the head of Fordham Co. Christopher Carley, who clearly has a sense of history: Good on him. Chicago's skyline is like an art collection; it's wonderful that Chicagoans value these art treasures so visible in their city. Naturally the design has attracted knockers, from a Donald Trump apprehensive of the competition -- "a total charade" The Donald calls it -- to people suggesting it will be "a target for terrorists." Carley and Calatrava brush off both claims. Of the latter, Calatrava says:
Chicago was America's birthplace for modern architecture, nurturing the genius of Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe," Carley said in a statement. "We want to carry that tradition into the 21st century and give our city a masterpiece by one of today's indisputable geniuses."
"The target was not skyscrapers," he said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. "The target was the human lives within them. That's what made it so horrible. But what is my weapon to react against this thing? This building is my weapon! It is a way to say we build in our culture a respect for human life and for a pluralistic society. We have to make an effort to continue inventing the book of life."
Thursday, 28 July 2005
I don't necessarily disagree with him, as I pointed out when I heard that Richard Priest Architects Ltd went into liquidation. In my opinion too many of the architects who do have culpability for these and other problems are too often protected by their Institute -- and of course the 'solution' proposed is that more of us join the various institutes and bodies to which so many of the culpable people already belong.
Anyway, here's the guest commentary (lightly edited just for punctuation):
"The houses of the last century are still up and serving their owners well. They didn't treat wood in those days. The problem is they don't have a clue about design, or any of the more scientific reasons that create this problem. Pressure treated timber is far superior to painted treated timber, but that has nothing to do with the problem. The problem lies in the fact that design is completely wrong. Build a house with untreated wood exactly as your great grandfather did, and it will last 150 years. Let the timber breathe; no stupid insulation in the wall.
All this treated timber, or untreated timber, or bad builders has very little to do with the problem. The problem lies solely with the people that make the rules. The rules up to the seventies never encountered the leaky home problems that we have today. They had bad builders, idiot designers, untreated wood, so lets concentrate on what changed.
The 'Spanish' look was born, that's when the rules changed. We had air tight walls full of insulation like it was the Arctic Circle. That in itself is a great mistake: the pressure inside the wall is less than the pressure outside the wall, so that the wall will suck water up hill like drinking with a straw. They still don't know that, that is the problem they run round like headless chooks each blaming the other.
If you want a ROLLSROYCE job don't try and do it with LADA parts. If you want a Spanish house build it with blocks the way the Spaniards do, not like these clowns on a timber frame. "
That's a sample on the right of some of the paperwork that accompanied the 1991 'deregulation.' The new bureaucracy was of a similar size.
Wednesday, 27 July 2005
Julian Pistorius has the full story of yesterday's action, a few reflections on whom to blame for the trustees' plight, and the defiant assertion "that parents should have the right to choose and take responsibility for the education of their children."
The parents and teachers from Orauta School have done nothing wrong. They have entered into a mutual, voluntary agreement and are educating their own children. There are no victims here. Why is the State persecuting them and treating them like criminals?Ask your own MPs when he knocks on your door why such parents are being persecuted.
You've probably got one too. Check it out.
I see the big drop was from a major sell-off by Idiot Savant, but it hasn't yet recorded any drop in share price from the recent sell-off by one previously large holder of Not PC paper who failed to accurately read the various company reports sent to her. You do get that on the big jobs.
That's true! As one of the young intellectual giants interviewed on Campbell Live said, "I don't care about the future anyway." Sadly, there's too few votes in those that do.
Labour says it will ease the brain drain. But Dr Brash said the Government could "just as easily give every New Zealander $1000 to stay in New Zealand". "This is the Government that said just a couple of months ago there wasn't enough money for any kind of tax relief for hard-working New Zealanders." Labour's scheme would also cause an explosion in student debt. "Why would you not borrow to the limit of your capacity, to the limit of the rules if you're not going to pay interest on it?", Dr Brash said.
Indeed, why not? The Dominion points out that, so far at least, National promises "more money in the hand through tax cuts": that's your money in your hand (although it is so far not so much a promise as a promise of a promise). Labour's strategy on the other hand is to promise more of someone else's money in your hand, while the government's own hand dives deeper into your pocket.
This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, or your children, are being bribed.
[UPDATE: GMan and Cathy are questioning the "rather conveniently round" $300 million figure. As Cathy says, "The costings should be redone on the basis that every student maxes their student loan every year. They will....just watch." Why wouldn't they?]
With this in mind, did you notice this week Genesis Energy's appeal over the decision to deny them a secure right to take water from the Whanganui River to generate hydro power? The reason Genesis Energy's water rights were cut from 35 to 10 years by the environment court (acting under the RMA) was because Ken Mair of the Whanganui River Trust Board says he wants to "ensure the well-being of our river." Specifically, he wants to ensure the 'mauri' or 'life force' of the river. Yes, that's right, this is mystic nonsense recognised in law by the environment court.
A ten-year water right is not a secure right. As Genesis said when the decision was handed down, “We cannot plan for sustainable operation of the Tongariro hydro scheme with a ten year time horizon. Like other power generators, long term commercial certainty over the operation of our assets is essential to meet New Zealand's energy needs.”
So in Owen McShane's words "Now we have a sort of precedent that says rivers in New Zealand have a life force and generating stations take that life force away." Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association warns that the principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. "It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word...hydro is suddenly becoming too hard...what's left?...we can't do everything on windpower," says Jenkins. And if there's no power, there's no industry. And industry is our real lifeblood. So this decision demands that our own real lives are being sacrificed for the mystical life force of Ken Mair's river. Such is the RMA.
Which is what I was saying seven years ago during Auckland's power crisis:
Future restrictions on industry arising from ‘The Green Dream Team’ will dwarf [Auckland's] current problems, according to the Libertarianz Party. The Dream Team’s two players are the Resource Management Act and the Kyoto Protocol: The RMA we know about by now; the Protocol, signed by Simon Upton earlier this year... extracts promises that governments of wealthy, industrial nations will ‘work towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions’ - the inescapable by-product of the burning of fossil fuels. Stripped of its worthy glow this means nothing less than a promise for the reduction of industry!Lest you think the Green Dream Team have throttled industry by accident, allow Robert Bidinotto to try and persuade you otherwise:
“The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol, promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure (like power stations and industrial plants). [Auckland's 1998] power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us," said Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell today.
Typically, the person who calls himself an "environmentalist" is really just a nature-loving "conservationist." Appreciating the earth's natural beauty and bounty, he is understandably concerned about trash, noise, pollution, and poisons. Still, he sees the earth and its bounty as resources--resources for intelligent human use, development, and enjoyment. At root, then, his concern for the earth is human-centered: he believes that this is our environment, to be used by people to enhance their lives, well-being, and happiness.I couldn't put it better myself. Exaggeration? In his evidence for his view, Bidinotto quotes numerous environmentalists including David Graber, a biologist with the US National Park Service:
But the leaders of the organized environmentalist movement have a very different attitude and agenda.
Their basic premise is that human activities to develop natural resources constitute a desecration of nature--that, in fact, nature exists for its own sake, not for human use and enjoyment. By their theory of ecology, they see man not as the crowning glory of nature, nor even as just another part of "the web of life"--but rather as a blight upon the earth, as the enemy of the natural world. And they see man's works as a growing menace to all that exists.
Their basic agenda, therefore, is to stop the "assault" and "onslaught" of human activity: to place every possible impediment to man's further development of the earth and its resources. They pursue this anti-human agenda tirelessly and consistently. Their fanatical activities have led not just to enormously increased financial burdens on us all, but--demonstrably--even to the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children worldwide.
And the ugliest aspect of all this is that while causing so much harm, environmentalists posture--and are generally accepted--as idealists.
I'm not just talking about so-called "extremists" within the movement: I'm talking about its mainstream organizations, leaders, and spokesmen. Their public faces of moderation mask private attitudes and goals that are radically, irreconcilably opposed to the requirements of human life on earth.
Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line—at about a million years ago, maybe half that—we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth . . . . Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.Here are some more quotes from anti-human-life luddite whack-jobs. These are the people with whom we are compromising when we give Kyoto house room, when the RMA is tinkered with and not abolished, and when we allow them both to throttle industry.
As I said during Auckland's power crisis, “The environmentalists’ false claims for disasters that ‘might’ occur will be dwarfed by the disasters that will occur if we continue to blindly accept their rantings. You think that the loss of power to our industrial capital for nine weeks is bad news? Just wait until the Dream Team kicks in - you ain’t seen nothing yet!”I do hate saying 'I told you so,' but don't say I never warned you.