Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Party was at Kelly Browne's place

The Freedom party at Kelly Browne's Bar last night was a smoking success...from what I remember. :-)

Julian has the details. I have the background. Cheers.

120 good uses for gaffer tape

Things we'd like to see more often:

Now if anyone can just find 119 more rolls of gaffer tape...

Nationalists and Turia declare intentions

Tariana Turia's Maori Party has finally seen the release of substantive policy, and as expected it makes for interesting reading. The Herald has obtained a copy of the "Maori Party Policy Areas: candidate policy information pack" which for the first time clarifies Maori Party policy for those of us outside their policy committee and candidate list, and confirms that their policy is to be racist, separatist and stridently nationalist.

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, August 05, 2005

Party at Kelly Browne's place

Bar Manager Dean Risi has announced that Kelly Browne's bar in Cambridge has its re-opening party tonight after being closed for what the wowsers called "flouting the law," ie., allowing people the freedom to choose for themselves on Dean's property. Specifically, Dean allowed people to smoke in his bar, in contravention to Nanny's anti-smoking law that says what you do on your property is Nanny's business not yours.

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.

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Militant Islam is the enemy

James Gribble has a confused post that becomes good halfway down, where he comments on a mooted "slogan change from 'Global War on Terrorism' (GWOT) to 'Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism' (GSAVE)."

As he says, it woudl be pathetic if true.
A cosmetic change like this will do nothing. A fundamental change is in order.
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...
Read James's post and follow his links here.

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Property theft belies Treaty

Seven families whose land was stolen from them by the government want it back. (Herald story here.)

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.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Philosophy in the real world

If you've ever wanted to see why dumb-arse philosophers are deservedly ignored by most people in the real world, go and have a look at Richard arguing with himself about whether or not he should open his parachute when he goes sky-diving.

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.

Brash's secret agenda: I wish

'Is Don Brash a radical?' asked the Greens' Frogblog recently. Yes!!! trumpets in answer a thousand Labour billboards, press releases, PM press conferences and activists and candidates out on the hustings. Brash is, in the words of 'neutral' journalist John Campbell, "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

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.

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Mallard and Smith: Odious and repellent

I'm gratified to see from the site poll to date that Nick Smith rates as odiously with others as he does with me.

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.

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'Free Competition' at gunpoint

    Most western countries have laws against 'anti-competitive behaviour,' and most people think those laws are there to protect consumers. Think again. "As Microsoft's current troubles in Europe show, that ain't necessarily so." So says a review at TechCentralStation of a new book, 'The Abolition of Antitrust,' that argues cogently those laws should go.
    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. But Hull 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.
    We 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.  
    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.

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Exhibition Hall, Rome, Pier Luigi Nervi. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Freedom flyers

Duncan Bayne has a bunch of freedom flyers, posters and T-shirt shit for you to drop in, print out, and turn on to.

There's a small sample over there on the right.

Onya Duncan.

Questioning a curmudgeon

Q: Will a National-led minority Government be fundamentally different to the present Labour-led variety?
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. :-) ]

Go Susan

Another heroic exception to my, ahem, rant about lawyers emerged yesterday. Brian Henry is suing the Department of Corrections for $2 million on behalf of Susan Couch, only survivor of the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA killings. Susan Couch (right) is a survivor in every important sense, but her life has been ruined by a piece of scum who was "out of jail on parole when the robbery happened and had more than 100 previous convictions." Couch and Henry -- and I would expect most of the rest of New Zealand -- hold the Corrections Department responsible for William Bell being out on the streets able to kill when he should have been behind bars. I hope she cleans up.

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.

The 'mind' of a shoebomber

The Times this morning takes you inside the mind, such as it is, of shoebomber Richard Reid, who has sent a letter of self-justification to The Firm magazine at the invitation of one of the magazine's journalists.

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.

"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.
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.

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'Big 5' Personality quiz

A quiz for you here that will tell you the five dimensions of your personality, or at least that's what it says over here on the box. This is a quiz of which its creators thinks very highly.

My score:
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, August 02, 2005

The beers are on ACT, but only if you're young enough

Now here's some on-campus political activism I like, from -- oddly enough -- Act on Campus:
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.

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.
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.

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 an offence! Aaron wears a suit, and these days he wears it to bed.]

Betting on Iraq

A website called BetOnIraq.com points out that
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.

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Car crash calls for knee-jerk Leviathan

A tragic crash in Hastings (picture right) has highlighted why this country oozes bad law. Author Robert Higgs in his book Crisis and Leviathan suggested that big government has an ever-expanding 'ratchet-like' growth, with that growth fed by various crises.

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.

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Roll over Bono: Beethoven beat you

So much for the "shrinking appetite for classical music." The BBC's 'Beethoven' downloads, to which I pointed loyal readers in good time for downloading, has been the most successful online download of all time! Don't just believe me, the Grauniad has the news here.
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?

Memo to Muriel:

ACT's Muriel Newman declared yesterday that "ACT’s once radical policies are now determining the future of New Zealand." You heard it there first, in Muriel's Weekly commentary. It must be true, because Muriel said so.

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.

Awatere Huata: Beneficiary and thief

Q: Has Donna Awatere Huata ever done an honest day's work in her life? Has she ever actually earned a dollar, or has she sucked off the state tit all her life?

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, August 01, 2005

The Death of Marat



'The Death of Marat,' by Jacques-Louis David.

The death of an ideal...

Snouts in the electoral trough

I have a letter in front of me from "the official publication of the NZ Law Society," that bastion of rectitude, probity and worthy self-importance that looks after the interests of all New Zealand's lawyers -- except of course when their name is Rob Moodie.

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: frank.neill@lawyers.org.nz) and the readers of LawTalk -- "the official publication of the NZ Law Society" -- is to point him to the Libertarianz Unemployment Policy:

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.

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):
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'?]

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Health, Education and all those bloody problems

At every election, what gets people annoyed they say is the mess the Government makes of Health and Education. This morning's Herald makes clear that this election these two issues are once again at the top of people's concerns, just as they have been at every election since Adam needed a hip operation for his mother-in-law (or at least since the State has been trying to organise such things). Waiting lists, waiting-for-waiting lists, NCEA scams and non-scholarships, tertiary institution rorts, rising illiteracy and innumeracy, pictures of Bill English looking righteously indignant ... the list of downright horrid and frightening things goes on and on, and it's not a list that gets those hip operations done, now is it?

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.

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Smacking ambiguous law

Sue Bradford's Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005 will be considered by a select committee after the election. The bill will remove a legal defence of reasonable force by way of discipline for parents charged with assaulting their children by repealing s59 of the Crimes Act, which permits what the law at present calls explicitly "reasonable force." Without s59, the law considers all force to be assault, meaning "the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another, directly or indirectly..."

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.

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

SST Morality Quiz

Have a crack at this, the Sunday Star Times' Great Morality Quiz. It's not great, but it is a quiz. :-)

I'll post my results later.

[Hat tip DPF]

Dinner with the stars

When John Lennon moved to New York in the early seventies he said he'd done so because he wanted to be at the centre of the world.

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
Maria Montessori
Arturo Toscanini
Ayn Rand
Pier Luigi Nervi
Duke Ellington
Albert Einstein
Terence Rattigan
Ludwig von Mises
Maria Callas
Godfrey N. Hounsfield

Wouldn't you just love to even be a fly on the wall at that gathering?

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