Friday, October 21, 2005

Test Friends

Cripes, I'm either completely open and transparent, or you lot are reading my mail. Or could it be that the questions I asked are just so obvious that even people I don't know score well? Whatever or however, my Friends Test has shown me that some people who know me best I don't know at all, and some who I do know know more about me than I do! It's a worry. A real worry.

Top five scores are:
1. Peter 96
2. Mac 84
3. Andrew B. 82
4. Richard 78
5. andrew h 78

So just who the hell is Mac?

Some end-of-week business

I've been up to my eyes this week, so I haven't been able to respond to comments here and to other bloggers as I'd have liked to. Feel free to do so on my behalf.

# Here for instance is one from Richard that I was pleased to see, on the subject of Intrinsic Value.
I'm inclined [says Richard] to think that only sentient beings can have intrinsic value in the strong sense. We are the creators of value, so without us there simply would not be any value in the world. Nothing that happens in a consciousless (I would say 'material', but that's not quite right) universe matters at all, one way or another. Hence my skepticism about intrinsic environmental value.
I'm inclined to agree with him, and for the very reasons he gives. Not so however when he then goes on to say: "Nevertheless, I think that we ought to value many things - and perhaps the environment among them - intrinsically, for their own sake." If I was to criticise this latter statement, I would probably start by saying much of what's said here. Value only makes sense when it has a valuer: if we value something, then we're saying it's a value to us. That might make it many things -- either a subjective value or an objective one for instance -- but it doesn't make it an intrinsic value. Nothing does.

# Moving on: now this just cries out to be corrected: Ruth objects to ending the War on Drugs, not because -- as she's previously complained -- dirty druggies would take over town, but because instead of arresting them and sending them to jail, the State instead would be regulating and taxing them. "That sounds like a real increase in personal freedom doesn't it?" blusters Ruth. "Think of all the money it would save us! As a taxpayer I'd rather keep paying for the War on Drugs - it's the lesser evil by a long shot." Makes no sense. Feel free to tell her why.

# And Berend has asked me a few good questions over the last few days. One I must respond to is his question about Montessori: "You must like the freedom part, but it seems you studiously avoid giving an opinion on the philosophy behind it. But we're not afraid to hear it..." And I'm not afraid to give it. With only the very mildest of disagreements, I am enthusiastically and philosophically in agreement with the Montessori philosophy. It is conceptual, reality-based education that encourages independence, clear-thinking, and an ongoing love of learning -- and it does that by responding precisely to the way humans acquire, store and use knowledge. IMO there is no pedagogical system to touch it. (Hope that didn't frighten you. :-) )

# (And to the chap who's wondering why his comment was just deleted: this site doesn't host endorsements of professional racists. Think on that if you visit here again.)

Raglan success

I'm heading to Raglan tonight, so I'm damn glad this thing (right) was caught and killed, and not left to swim free. Herald story here.

And for what it's worth, a few surfers and some Hector's Dolphin might be equally pleased.
[Fisherman Warwick] Harris said the marine monster probably went a long way to explaining the fall in numbers of rare Hector dolphins - which had been blamed on commercial fishermen.

"Hector dolphins would be Mallow-puffs to something like that," he said.
Photo: NZ Herald

Stossel on guns & charity

Does Big Government discourage private charity? Sure does. Does gun control reduce crime? Betcha life it doesn't. ABC journalist John Stossel argues both cases, and pretty well.

In the first instance, Stossell talks about mutual aid societies and the like that flourished before state welfare did:
In the 1920s -- the last decade before the Roosevelt administration launched its campaign to federalize nearly everything -- 30 percent of American men belonged to mutual aid societies, groups of people with similar backgrounds who banded together to help members in trouble. They were especially common among minorities.

Mutual aid societies paid for doctors, built orphanages and cooked for the poor. Neighbors knew best what neighbors needed. They were better at making judgments about who needs a handout and who needed a kick in the rear. They helped the helpless, but administered tough love to the rest. They taught self-sufficiency.

Mutual aid didn't solve every problem, so government stepped in. But government didn't solve every problem either. Instead, it caused more problems by driving private charity out...
More here. And how about gun control? Surely guns are dnagerous. They are "But myths are dangerous, too," says Stossel. "Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people." Gun control is bad law says Stossel. Challenge yourself and see if you agree with him.

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks and Zen Tiger]

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Montessori School Project -- Organon Architecture

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Round Table

I just heard Radio Live's political reporter describe what she saw in the middle of the room when she went into the Beehive's Cabinet Room this afternoon for the first session. "It's a big round table," she said, "with a great big hole in the middle."

Not a bad way to describe the new Clark Administration really, is it?

New Game: How many can you abolish?

Here's a new game, proposed by Mike Heine at Act on Campus. He's come up with fifteen Ministers and their associated ministries, departments and real estate that coud face the chop without the world being any the poorer for their loss -- indeed, quite the reverse! -- and he's wondering if anyone might have a longer list.

Well Mike, I guess mine is bigger than yours...

MMP or not?

The MMP electoral system used in New Zealand and Germany is a mess. Sure, we can look forward every three years or so to several weeks of no government -- something for which we can at least be thankful -- but when the new Government is inevitably formed it frequently looks like a mongrel combination of both fish and fowl, and it frequently ends up spending even more than it would otherwise due to the need to buy off smaller parties (did someone say Families Commission, solar panels and Superannuation?).

Political paralysis is one of the features of the MMP system; while all the MMP-generated ducking and shoving does perhaps discourage significant reform, when the appetite for reform is mostly in the direction of more government rather than less, it seems to me that any paralyis is a good thing. When 'reform' means the imposition of more meddling, as it usually does in Helengrad, then a handbrake is what you need, not the promise of an open road. Frederic Sautet of the Austrian Economist has surveyed the landscape after the recent German and NZ elections however, and he disagrees:
Germany and New Zealand are in difficult situations: they both have similar electoral systems and they both have coalition governments. Whether Merkel will be able to implement social change à la Ludwig Erhard is difficult to say. While this is what Germany badly needs, my guess is that it won’t happen. As for Clark, she will be in the hands of her coalition partners and more backsliding is to be expected for the next three years in NZ.
In Clark's case, 'backsliding' is to be encouraged; imagine what she'd be doing if she really had her druthers.

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A new school

I went to the lauch last night of a new secondary school in Parnell, the Montessori College of Auckland, part of a worldwide movement developing new Montessori secondary schools in response to overwhelming parent demand (read about one of the standard-bearers, David Kahn's Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio). Maria Montessori's first elementary school, the Casa dei Bambini, was set up by her in Rome's slums in 1907, and there are now literally thousands of elementary and primary schools around the world offering the Montessori philosophy of "freedom through a prepared environment."

New Zealand's first use of the Montessori Method was in 1912 at an elementary school in Wellington run by Suzanne Aubert. We now have just over eighty elementary Montessori Schools and twenty or so primary Montessori schools (some history here). The Montessori College of Auckland will be New Zealand's second Montessori secondary school -- the first, Athena College in Wellington's Willis St, was opened in 2002; Athena sees "the city as its campus," and offers students access to such resources as Te Papa, the Wellington Library and Victoria University's Science department. Students take their lessons around the city, each carrying a mobile phone to keep in touch, a concrete expression of Maria Montessori's educational philosophy of encouraging student's independence.

Parnell's Montessori College is being set up by some inspirational parents who want the very best for their own children, and who have worked for some years to set up this school so they can get it. I wish them well.

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Secession Building, Vienna -- Josef Maria Olbrich

Built in 1897 to house and publicise exhibitions by the Vienna Secessionists, which included such characters as Gustav Klimt, Otto Wagner and (originally at any rate) Josef Hoffman.

Klimt's poster for the first exhibition is below.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Congrats

Congratulations to TinCanMan -- he's a new Dad. Call in to his site and give him your best now before he's too sleep deprived to notice.

Top ten searches

Haven't done this for a while, so here's a look at what searches are landing up here. As usual there's some odd ones in the top ten or so searches for this last while (all rankings are for Google unless otherwise indicated):

plan halle-neustadt (16th)
fordham spire (not on front page)
differences chinese schools and australian schools (not on front page)
carl weiman (not on front page)
lesbian oppression (1st, Google Images)
last person out of britain please turn out the lights picture (1st)
serj tankian engaged to red-head australian (not on front page)
rothbard environmentalism (not on front page)
free hardcore lesbian porn (26th at search.earthlink.net)
brian tamaki (not on front page)
troglodyte cartoon (not on front page)
nick kim cartoons (not on Google's front page -- check out the 'Cartoons' on the sidebar if you're looking for more of Nick's fine cartoons)
helengrad (26th)
ayn rand bogus rights (12th)

How well do you know PC?

How well do you really want to? If you have the misfortune to call me a friend, then you might like to see how well you really know me...

Have a go here at the FriendTest. [Hat tip Andrew Falloon]

Glasgow School of Art -- Charles Rennie Mackintosh











Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art of (designed 1906-7; completed 1909) was one of the twentieth Century's first true architectural masterpieces. Mackintosh designed it at the age of just twenty-eight.

That's a model (above) of the completed building, the Library (below, left and right) and the West facade (left)

A film showing some of Mackintosh's work is available at this site. And a 3d 'tour' of Mackintosh's beautiful light-filled Hill House Drawing Room is available at this site. It's amazing what you find on the old Interweb when you decide to really look.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bad joke Foreign Minister for Kiwis

There's a somewhat common theme in many of the reports of this new Government from overseas centres. This is what is being read about this Government by those who are or would be thinking about investing in New Zealand:

Bad joke Foreign Minister for Kiwis
Australian, Australia
WINSTON Peters - an outspoken, anti-immigration protectionist who promotes racial profiling of Muslims - will become the public face of New Zealand on the world stage. [Cartoon right.]

Labour's Clark forms NZ coalition
BBC News, UK
New Zealand's Labour party has made a deal with smaller parties on leading a coalition government... The leader of the anti-immigration, nationalist New Zealand First Party has been named foreign affairs minister.

NZ's Labour Party ready to form new gov't
Japan Today, Japan
SYDNEY — New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Monday that her Labour Party has finalized arrangements with minor parties to enable it to form a new government with a majority in Parliament.

New Zealand's Clark forms govt
News24, South Africa
As part of the extensive deal-making, populist New Zealand First Party leader WinstonPeters - who once claimed New Zealand was being "colonised" by Asians - has been appointed foreign minister.

Protectionist Peters may get top NZ post
Manila Times, Phillipines
A REPORT by Ray Lilley of AP seems to bode ill for the growing number of Filipino migrants and contract workers in New Zealand. The leader of a small nationalist party is likely to receive three Cabinet posts in New Zealand’s new Labour-led government, including the key post of foreign minister...

NZ's Clark Will Form Government With Minor Parties (Update2)
Bloomberg - 15 hours ago
Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark will form a new government with support from three minor parties after offering ministerial positions to their leaders... ``Clark and Cullen have proven they are good at making governments work,'' said [the National Bank's Cameron] Bagrie. ``No one will be in a hurry to call an early election.''

Clark retains power in NZ
Sydney Morning Herald (subscription), Australia
Prime Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand with a deal clinched by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister.

New Zealand Labour PM Clark wins historic third term
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates
WELLINGTON - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark wrote herself into the nation’s history books on Monday as she announced the formation of her third consecutive government...Clark is a steely social democrat with an austere image that critics label arrogance. Opponents have sometimes referred to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital and seat of parliament, as Helengrad - hinting that her tough control of the strings of power has a hint of the former Soviet Union about it.

Populist Peters in NZ power exchange
Brisbane Courier Mail, Australia
PRIME Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister...

NZ gets new Labour-led government
Aljazeera.net, Qatar
Acting Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced a deal with minor parties to form a new Labour-led coalition government, naming an outspoken anti-immigration

NZ: CONTROVERSIAL APPOINTMENT
Special Broadcasting Service, Australia - 11 hours ago
Prime Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand with a deal clinched by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister.

Protectionist Peters may get top NZ post
Australian Financial Review, Australia

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And isn't it interesting how even the Hard Labour bloggers have been rather unamused about their Government, the one that's been Frankensteined together with a wish, a prayer and a load of messy promises. Jordan Carter is representative: "The Third Term begins - in an arrangement marked by constitutional innovations and odd people in odd places." And Roy at About Town says " Oh great, I should have voted National"! Good solid support there for these unique constitutional innovations.

An angry shade of Green

DR at the Frogblog says all there is to be said about the Greens not being invited to the Ball. Whatever you were going to say about the deal the Greens have been handed, they're already saying it themselves. They've been screwed:

‘Spokeswoman for solar heating’ for goodness sake. Pathetic. ‘Spokesman for buy locally made’ … good grief. These are nonsense baubles, and will be full of burble.

No wonder the Green Party executive decided not to hold its promised SGM. There would’ve been blood on the floor. What an abysmal sellout, and no arguing about ‘this is the hand the voter dealt us’ excuses. We Greens [I am a financial, card carrying member] ran a poor campaign, chose generally poor candidates, have had six years in Parliament to build communications with media, business, farmers, and every other group with a name and chose not to, and have allowed image to remain a mishmash of badly thought out and poorly marketed policies. Frankly, we deserved to be done over. We have been, right royally.

Now, it’s time to change the leadership, the executive, the electorate structures and get some new blood in, people with cojones, who won’t slither away from confronting reality.

We’ve had 30 years to go from 5.3% of the popular vote in 1975 [as Values Party] to 5.3% in 2005. That is not progress my friends, that’s treading a pool of stagnant water.

And check out the vitriol on this thread from Green supporters. Nobody does in-fighting like the hard left. Meanwhile, on the soft left, Russell Brown spins the Green's baubles, just as he earlier defended Winston. Maybe he's after a job as Labour Party speechwriter?

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Iraqi freedom?

Two views this morning on Iraq's vote for a new constitution, a vote that so many nay-sayers said would never happen. Stephen Schwartz at TechCentral Station is ecstatic:
We won again! For a second time, the Iraqi people proved the Western mainstream media, Islamist radicals, self-righteous and nihilistic war protestors, disaffected Democrats, and neo-isolationists wrong: the referendum on the new constitution was successful. The Sunni minority participated in the polling and those among them voting "no" were swamped by the positive outcome.

Iraq will have its new constitution. The transforming intervention led by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair will succeed. The global sweep of bourgeois revolution will continue, centering on Iraq's neighbors: monarchical Saudi Arabia, statist Syria, and theocratic Iran.
Putting the case against is Onkhar Gate at the ARI:

A constitution is valuable only if it strictly delimits the power of government to that of protecting each individual's rights. History demonstrates that government is, potentially, the worst violator of man's rights. A proper constitution declares off-limits any governmental action that would trespass on an individual's rights, no matter whether that action is proposed in the name of the king, the common good, God, or public morality.

The draft Iraqi constitution, however, grants virtually unlimited power to the state...

We in America had no reason to expect freedom from the drafters of Iraq's constitution. Like many of our own intellectuals on the left and the right (some of whom were advisers in Iraq), Iraqi intellectuals are either tribal or religious collectivists (or both). Whichever the case, they deny the individual and his rights. The tribalists deny material independence to the individual and seek to control his every economic step. The religionists, more numerous and powerful, deny spiritual independence to the individual and seek to dictate his every conviction and purpose in life. It is no accident that the draft constitution is both "keen to advance Iraqi tribes and clans" and eager to promote Islam. Freedom's intellectual preconditions do not exist in Iraq.
Much as I'd like to agree with Schwartz, I think Gate has read both the constitution and the situation rather better. (A PDF lnk to the constititution is here.)

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Happy?

Happy? This is what you lot voted for, and this is what you've got. Happy? Not one of you voted for this outcome, but the outcome of your votes is this mongrel mélange we wake up with this morning.

DPF has the summary of which party has been promised what. Not included are the details of who's going to be done over now the Government is ready to be formed, and which ambassadorship Winston will be after in three years time or less.

It's been a pleasant enough few weeks, hasn't it, these last four without a government. Time perhaps to quote Mark Twain again: "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."

The People are still singing

Les Mis has now been on stage at the Palace Theatre in London's West End for twenty years, and Mark Steyn has some thoughts on its longevity. I confess, I'm a fan. I saw it at least half-a-dozen times in London -- each time friends would visit and insist on seeing Cats (uugh!), I'd insist instead on seeing Les Mis. I began by being dismissive -- "how could those philistines take that great novel and turn it into a musical!" -- but I was convinced ten minutes into my first show at the Palace.

Why does this sprawling novel work as a musical? Steyn quotes producer Cameron Mackintosh, the one who took all the risks:
Les Mis works because Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg found the right subject and told it the right way. Whereas most musicals pick the wrong subjects and do them the same old way... Les Mis is the world's most popular musical because Victor Hugo's book is the great universal social novel: it strikes a chord wherever its story is told - Vienna, Osaka, Reykjavik. With canny timing, it snuck under the Iron Curtain just in time for communism's death-throes: in Budapest it was seen as a parable of the 1956 uprising; in Gdynia, Poland, the little urchin girl's tatty tricolour was replaced by the Solidarity flag. And in New York it sells a ton of merchandising.
Do you hear the people sing? You still can at the Palace Theatre, London WC2.

Andromeda - Gustav Dore

Monday, October 17, 2005

Government

Newstalk ZB says to expect an announcement from Helen Clark at 5pm on the make-up of her next Government. Winston is picked to have Foreign Affairs; Dunce to have Revenue. It's been a good time without a government ... shame it couldn't last.

Helen Clark & Michael Cullen might like it!

Now here's irony for you. Rodney has blogged again on an 'Article that Helen Clark, Michael Cullen et al. should read,' this time with a 1946 article 'Roofs or Ceilings?'

Written by a very young Milton Friedman and George Stigler immediately after World War II and published by Leonard Read's Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), it points out the bad economics of price controls -- but as Ayn Rand pointed out at the time it would give politicians like Helen Clark and Michael Cullen much to crow about, as it asserts that the free market is just another form of rationing.

Those wondering why Rand fell out with the conservative movement can look to this very article for what represented the final straw for Rand.

Rand had great hopes for Read's FEE when it was set up (Henry Hazlitt outlines its beginnings here). Read had told Rand he "considered [her] one of the best and most strict authorities on the proper philosophy on our side, since he admired [her] ability to see when our cause had been given away by implication." Rand was equally laudatory of Read, considering him her "one last hope of a conservative who would act on the proper principles." Rand had allowed FEE to publish her 'Textbook of Americanism,' and agreed to act as the Foundation's 'ghost' to ensure that the cause wasn't 'given away by implication'; Read however never sent this piece to Rand to check, and as she said so vehememently when it came out, it does give the game away completely. "Collectivist propaganda," she called it. "The most pernicious thing ever issued by an avowedly conservative organization,” she continued.

She 'raised hell' with Read over the article. In a 1947 letter summarising why (there is a longer letter of September 1946 discussing it in much more detail), she said,
I raised hell with him for publishing that whole pamphlet (Roofs or Ceilings?) --- because it advocates collectivism in its premises and implications; because it hints that the nationalization of private homes might be the proper solution for the housing shortage; and because there is no excuse for anyone in his right mind to call the free-market, free-enterprise system a 'system of rationing'!
After much analysis of the blunders made by Friedman and Stigler that 'give the game away,' she concludes her longer letter by referring to the "disgraceful performance on page 10" (that's page 8 of the PDF by the way):
Without any of my analysis, the last paragraph on that page prove that the authors are Collectivists. The Editor's Note proves that the publishers [ie., Read and his colleagues at FEE] know it... If the publishers classify their own authors as "those who put equality above justice and liberty," this means -- in plain language -- an admission they are publishing the work of Collectivists.
As David R. Henderson points out, the older Friedman did get much better in his defence of capitalism -- Free to Choose was surely his high point -- but his manner of argument here in 'Roofs or Ceilings?' was surely a low, and it proved as she was often wont to say, that you can't divorce economcs and ethics as conservatives so frequently attempt to do.
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* The text of that letter can be found in the book 'The Letters of Ayn Rand,' from where all the quotes above come.

Marsden B power appeal

The granting of the Marsden B resource consent was never the final story. The consent came with a record 160 conditions attached, and as I noted here at the time, an appeal was promised by all the usual anti-industry suspects, including Greenpeace and the Green Party. The promised appeal was announced by Greenpeace.
It argues that firing up the station is a move back to out dated, polluting energy sources. Greenpeace says it is a terrible blow for the environment, for the local community and for efforts to tackle the world's greatest threat - climate change.
Given that the last appeal for the last large power generator -- Genesis Energy's Whanganui River hydro project -- was effectively killed on appeal, there's no reason to hope that this apeal will be any better for the country's generating capacity, and for efforts to tackle one of New Zealand's greatest economic threats -- its inability to build new projects to keep industry powered up.

At the time of the Whanganui decision I quoted Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association, who warned 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. If there's no power, there's no industry. And industry is our real lifeblood. Jenkins's warning is as relevant now as it was then.

Greenpeace's "campaign against coal has sent reverberations throughout the energy industry," boasts the Greenpeace website, as if that's a good thing. Think about Greenpeace next time there's a blackout.

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Zarqawi's bloodbath sets fanatic against fanatic

Al-Qaeda may be losing the battle for hearts and minds, suggests Austin Bay at TechCentralStation, and the partial means for that defeat he suggests has been the "relentless, nihilistic bloodbath" orchestrated in Iraq by Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "In Iraq, [Zarqawi's] theo-fascists have been spilling Arab blood," and in doing so they have been losing Arab support. The promise of democracy and the destruction of Al-Qaeda's claim to "speak on behalf of Islam" have done further damage to their blood-soaked amibitions.
Arabs have also seen the Iraqi people's struggle and their emerging political alternative to despotism and feudal autocracy.

Zarqawi's murder spree has revealed fissures among Al-Qaida fanatics. Last week, the United States released a letter coalition intelligence believes Al-Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, sent to Zarqawi [noted here at 'Not PC' last week]. Zawahiri describes Iraq as "the greatest battle for Islam in our era." But Iraq has become a political and information battle that Zawahiri realizes Al-Qaida may be losing. According to
The New York Times, Zawahiri told Zarqawi to attack Americans rather than Iraqi civilians and to "refrain from the kind of gruesome beheadings and other executions that have been posted on Al-Qaida websites. Those executions have been condemned in parts of the Muslim world as violating tenets of the faith."

In February 2004, Zarqawi acknowledged a democratic Iraqi state would mean defeat for Al-Qaida in Iraq. To defeat democracy, he has pursued a strategy of relentless, nihilistic bloodbath. It's a brutal irony of war: In doing so, he is losing the war for the hearts and minds.
Let us hope so.

[UPDATE: Alan notes below that doubts about the letter have been raised, first by Al-Qaeda -- well, they would say that, wouldn't they -- and also by Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Cole, who has been much-quoted, says the letter "raises questions for me as to its authenticity."]

[UPDATE 2: Iraqi Bloggers Central have their own thoughts on Cole's "gut" which tells him "the letter is a forgery." An "outrage to logic" is what they call Cole's reasoning.]

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Exploding globalisation myths

Swedish defender of globalisation and capitalism Johann Norberg has some myth-busters about globalisation. Globalisation promotes increasing inequality of wealth? Nope. Globalisation threatens democracy. Not a bit. Globalisation makes you impotent. Turns out it doesn't. Julian has a brief summary of the (genuine) globalisation myths that Norberg has blown sky high. Globalisation is good; Norberg demonstrates why.

While we're on the subject of myths, there are few eras in history so full of myths and so crying out for those myths to be exploded as The Great Depression. President Hoover's inaction brought on the depression? Hoover's meddling was in fact one of the proximate causes of the great collapse. Government programmes helped lower unemployment. Wrong again. They made things worse. Roosevelt's New Deal saved America from the failure of free-market capitalism. The New Deal not only extended the depression for more than a decade, it even created a depression within a depresssion -- Roosevelt's policies were a disaster. For a myth-busting article on The Great Depression, read Lawrence Reed's 'Great Myths of the Great Depression,' (sixteen-pages in PDF).

Unfortunately, Reed's myth-buster itself still peddles a myth: he fails to tell the real reason the Great Depression was finally ended. For that we have to turn to Mark Skousen's (rather more technical) 'Saving the Depression: A New Look at World War II' -- Skousen shows that it wasn't war or any government action that saved the US economy, it was the savings built up by private individuals over years with barely anything available on which to spend their money. (Skousen's article is another sixteen-page PDF).

All highly recommended.