Friday, 6 February 2009

Waitangi Day Ramble

No Waitangi post this morning. Instead, I’ll point you to what I write every year: One-Law-For-All Day, since all I’d need to change is the prediction about the protests. And point you to historian Paul Moon’s thoughtful piece from Wednesday’s Herald, which looks ahead to “a post-Waitangi Tribunal era for the Treaty,” and why the Treaty isn’t a suitable candidate for inclusion in any new constitution.

And while I’m sending you elsewhere, how about I point you to a few more posts from all sorts of places that I wanted to write about, but haven’t had time.

  • Keynesian policies are not the answer,” writes John Montgomery in The Australian. He’s right, you know.
  • Even Dick Armey, former majority leader of the House of Reps (and economics professor) has seen the light: Washington Could Use Less Keynes and More Hayek he says in the Wall Street Journal. “The late Austrian economist offered good reasons to be skeptical of government action,” says Armey. “It's clear why Keynes's popularity endures in Congress. Intellectual cover for a spending spree will always be appreciated there. But it's harder to see any justification for the perverse form of fiscal child abuse that heaps massive debts on future generations.”
  • A numb nut in Wednesday’s Herald argues the economy can be revived with the “cash boost” of a raise in the minimum wage, which will (he says) fix “one of the key problems facing our economy … a lack of purchasing power.” I would have thought one of the key problems is precisely the sort of economic ignorance he exhibits!
    Henry Hazlitt explains root and branch why a raise in the minimum wage will do the very opposite of what our numb nut argues for, and will hurt the very people the advocates argue it will help.
    Head here, Economics in One Lesson, and then scroll all the way down to Chapter Eighteen: Minimum Wage Laws. It’s the authoritative debunking.
  • More than 100,000 NZers now “officially unemployed” (not to mention nearly 300,000 on welfare)and the antediluvians want the minimum wage raised! The proper solution to getting them back to work is to abolish the minimum wage. Even the Ashburton Guardian gets the message.
  • “What matters most right now,” says stimulus-mongers, “is getting money into people's hands!” Um, says Jeff Jacoby, Money for nothing won't grow the economy. Never has. “A new New Deal will not work any better than the old one did. Recessions hurt, but recessions compounded with colossal government growth hurt worse. So much worse, sometimes, that they turn into depressions.”
  • The BBC has a TV series on The Great Depression, which shows the BBC’s favourite economists don’t have a bloody clue about economic history. Read The BBC Account of the Great Depression.
  • Here’s what their historians need: Four great essays explaining the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle. This stuff is, almost literally, gold! Turn your printer on now.
  • Something else that might be useful depression-era fodder: Ari Armstrong aimed to survive on just US3.57 dollars a day for food! And you can too, if you need to. Here’s how it worked out.
  • And did you know the American Government has a food policy? “Surely, what food to buy and eat should be an individual or, at most, family decision,” says Jeff Perren at Shaving Leviathan. “But it points to a much larger problem, one that reveals one of the root causes of the current crisis: the longing for the 'safety' of dependency, the desire to have an all-wise parent solve your problems.” Read Letting Government Order (for) You, Recipe for Disaster.
  • “A precedent-setting High Court ruling will deprive individuals of their rights over their own land, says a frustrated landowner.” Hasn’t he been keeping up? The Resource Management Act did that long ago.
  • Do you need more examples of Why the Liberal View of Government is Wrong?
  • American bank lending has stalled, despite the nearly trillion-dollar bailout (remember how they promised to cover us in TARP). So that worked, didn’t it. Here is a Tip to Policy Makers: Don't Bail Out Insolvent Banks Ever Again.
  • BB&T is one of America’s most profitable, and least leveraged, banks.
    Last Thursday the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights hosted a lecture by BB&T board chairman John Allison focusing on the current financial crisis from a free market banker’s perspective – the causes, and thirteen necessary cures. Interestingly, NZ had already stumbled into four of the thirteen.
    Read a write-up of the talk an listen to an audio file of the Q&A here at the Free Agents blog.
  • Speaking of bankers and economics, here’s another economic concept you need to get your head around: Fractional Reserve Banking, one of the major causes of the banking collapse. The Rational Capitalist has the lesson for for you.
  • Even Pam Corkery’s defending banks now! And David Slack (and his readers) gets real about “borrowers who find themselves marooned on the desert island known as Fixed Rate.”
  • The New York Times has 2008 in photos.
  • Lindsay Mitchell has a tale from the underclass.
  • And Stephen Franks looks at the tut-tutting about Fiji. Nothing about the present Fijian situation as outlined to me, says Franks’s colleague, was as simple as he’d been led to believe.
  • Over at Spiked Online, editor Brendan O'Neill comments on the fact that the recent birth of only the second set of octuplets to be born alive in the United States seems to have devolved into a "finger-wagging morality tale," with busybodies of all descriptions getting in their two cents' worth. Gus van Horn suspects the problems might be even bigger than O’Neill suspects. Read Whose womb is it, anyway?.
  • A lesson for the Obamessiah: As Wall Street Bonuses Go, So Goes the Liberty of All of Us.
    Government should not be handing out bailouts, nor should it be telling employers whether they can pay bonuses.
    First they came for the CEOs . . .
  • Another lesson for the Obamessiah: The ‘Buy American’ earmarks affixed to Obama’s USD$800 billion “stimulus” package won’t save jobs, it’ll cost ‘em. And by raising prices, it will mean that fewer roads and schools will be built with the “stimulus” money. The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again, as Paul Walker summarises. ‘Buy American’ is un-American.
  • “A lot of people get annoyed with Austrian economists because they tend to be so dogmatic (we prefer the term consistent),” says Austrian economist Robert Murphy, “and because they cloak their strictly economic claims with self-righteousness (we prefer the term morality). After a good Austrian bashing of the latest call to steal taxpayer money and waste it on something that will make a given problem worse, the stumped critics will often shout, ‘Oh yeah? Well do you guys have a better idea?’" Responding to the challenge, Murphy has An Austrian Recommendation for President Obama.
  • For those of us who were alive at the time of the Soviet Union and its Evil Empire, who would have thought we’d live to see a Russian political leader lecture the US on the dangers of statism, and the fallacies of Keynesianism: Vladimir Putin gives the US’s political leaders an economics lesson on free markets.
  • Message to Obama (yes, another one): fewer and fewer Americans believe that we are causing climate change. Obama's America:It's a denier nation.
  • John Lewis analyzes the resounding Republican defeat in the 2008 election, and shows that the party faces a fundamental decision that will determine whether it orchestrates a comeback or stumbles into further defeat. Read Reason or Faith: The Republican Alternative.
  • And Craig Biddle shows why capitalism is the only moral social system on earth. It’s true. Read Capitalism and the Moral High Ground and challenge yourself.
  • Liberty Scott does some back-of-the-envelope cost-benefit analyses for Steven Joyce, National’s Minister for Roads. Read Roads under National. [NB: Looks like Steven is already reading.]
  • Martin Weitzman argues you can’t do ‘cost-benefit analyses’ on the 'need' for carbon taxes. It’s technical.
  • The Daily Telegraph reports that an 84 year old man is suing UK Labour MP Ann Keen for laziness, saying she breached her “duty of care” to a constituent [hat tip Kiwiblog]. Why sue? I want my MPs to be lazy – the lazier they are, the less they get in my way. You know my two favourite NZ MPs in recent years? Judith Tizard and Jonathan Hunt. In the current cultural environment, the country needs fewer zealots in parliament and more Ministers of Wine and Cheese like those two.
  • Marcus says No to Green Communism!
  • It’s prayer time at No Minister.
  • Some recommendations from Stephen Hicks:
    • William Easterly on an entrepreneurial education success story: Ashesi University in Ghana.
    • Meanwhile, back in the States, poor educational achievement is not a money problem - somewhat exasperatedly, Neal McCluskey explains for the umpteenth time that schools have plenty of money.
    • And there’s Life at Wal-Mart! A former senior writer at Wired magazine gets a new job and ponders upward mobility for low-pay employees. Mininum-wage advocates take note.
  • And while we’re talking Stephen Hicks, here is Michael Warby's review for Australia's Quadrant magazine of his masterful book Explaining Postmodernism. FWIW, here’s my short review: It should be in every student’s backpack.
  • Positive Parenting! There, that got your attention.
    Rational Jenn talks about Positive Discipline: What's In Your Parenting Toolbox?.
  • In the week of her birthday The Hero of Capitalism this week is an obvious choice: Ayn Rand. She leaves us with A Legacy of Reason and Freedom.
    Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand.
  • Read the First Impressions of viewers of the Impressionist masterpiece Boulevard des Capucines posted here the other day when it first appeared in 1874 at the World’s First Impressionist Exhibition.
  • And while we’re on things artistic, things French, nearly veryone I know loves the film Amelie. For at least half the the people I know, it’s their favourite film. The Nearby Pen has a great series of posts analysing the film that all of those people will love. Scroll down and start with the post at the bottom of the page.
  • And finally, some beautiful music from a post I was just sent. “Joseph Hoffman steps up to the piano to fill our ears with delight.
    The Magic Fire music of Wagner:
    And the Chopin-Liszt The Maiden's Wish:
    And Mendelssohn's Spinning Song followed by Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G (this is so fresh, so exuberant, so new!):

And don’t forget to read last week’s Objectivist blog roundup, which this week has posts on religion, activism and a possible pathway to Objectivism's penetration in Washington. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!


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Thursday, 5 February 2009

January Blog Stats [updated]

What with holidays, recovering from holidays -- and now recovering from rolling power cuts around my home and office -- I haven’t done my blog stats for quite some time. Here's some of the main stats for NOT PC last month which clearly indicate that holidays are not good for blog stats, even if they’re damn good for bloggers:

NZ Political Blog Rank for NOT PC: 3rd (November: 6th)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 1,155th (November: 538th)
Alexa Ranking, world: 251,650th (November: 239,877th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1011/day (1591)
Unique visits [from Statcounter] 32,605 (45,674)
Page views [from Statcounter] 45,351 (70,548)

Top ten posts this month:

Most commented upon posts [added at the instigation of No Minister]

Top referring sites:
Search engines 4784 referrals; Kiwiblog 811; No Minister 695; Libertarianz 370; SOLO 240; Facebook 193; Tumeke 168; Lindsay Mitchell 147; Libertarian Front 135; Annie Fox 114; Roar Prawn 113;
Top searches landing here:
not pc/pc blog etc 814; causes of global financial crisis 345; subprime mortgage peter cresswell 106; broadacre city 85; nude olympians 79; john galt speaking 113; the toxicity of environmentalism george reisman 68; new zealand libertarian constitution 62; nz government departments 46; beer songs 43; fred stevens nz 39; nipcc 39; in dreams begins responsibility 37
They're reading NOT PC here:
Still No Readers from Alaska Still no readers from Alaska, but a higher percentage from the places that didn’t shut down for January…
Top countries/territories
NZ 35%; USA 28%; UK 5.3%; Australia 3.9%; Canada 2.8%; Germany 1.8%; India 1.6%; Italy 1.3%; Philipines 1.1%; France 1.1%; Netherlands 0.9%; Poland 0.9%; Spain 0.8%; Romania 0.8%; Brazil 0.7%
Top cities
Auckland 21%; Wellington 6.1%; Christchurch 3.9%; Sydney 1.9%; London 1.8%; Palmerston North 1.1%; New York 1.0%; Melbourne 0.8%; Hamilton 0.8%; Dunedin 0.6%; Hannover 0.5%
Readers' Browsers
Firefox 44%; IE Explorer 43%; Safari 8.1%; Opera 2.7%; Chrome 2.4%
Readers' Connection Speeds
Unknown 38%; DSL 32%; Cable 20%; T1 7.5%; Dial-up 2.8%; OC3 0.4%; ISDN 0.1%

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading and linking to NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

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Serial apologist for criminals Peter Williams QC says killer Antonie Dixon's death in prison from self-inflicted wounds further highlights the “failure of our judicial system.”

No, dickhead, it doesn’t. If anything, this outcome is an example of its success.

NOT PJ: Haven’t the Vegas Idea

Bernard Darnton invents a government department that will make us all rich . . .

The banking crisis can be fixed by making banks less profitable and the value of their loans less certain.

This nonsense comes from Phil Goff Goof, who is supposed to be “on the right wing of the Labour Party” – suggesting, presumably, slightly more economic nous than the rest. Every major political party in New Zealand has policies to ignore property rights in our planning laws; for heavy progressive income taxes; for a national bank with state capital; for state ownership of roads, rail, and an airline; and for free education for children in public schools, giving them all at least five out of ten on the Communist Manifesto checklist: so “on the right wing of the Labour Party” is presumably a relative term. As is “slightly more economic nous than the rest.”

Goof Goff suggested that banks should be punished for charging “break fees” for switching from fixed rate mortgages to lower floating rates, following the Reserve Bank’s kamikaze interest rate policy. He believes that the Government should “make it clear” to banks that they “have got to come to the party.”

The phrase “make it clear” sounds like a request for a stiffly-worded letter. It sounds like a terse but rational appeal and that banks might have a choice. In truth, backed with absolute power, governments “make things clear” clear in the same way that Attila the Hun “made it clear” that he and his hundred thousand mounted archers would like to “come to the party” across the Rhine.

Fixed rate mortgages are a gamble. They’re your bet against the bank about which way the interest rate is going to go (and you’re betting against the house). You swap the possible benefit of a rate drop for the certainty that your repayments will never increase. If only some Government official with a magic wand – or a big stick – could let you have it both ways.

Much financial pain could be avoided if everyone who lost on their financial gambles was compensated. The Government urgently needs to create a Lotteries Ombudsman. Customers who, through no fault of their own, didn’t win Big Wednesday could line up outside the Office of the Lotteries Ombudsman on Thursday morning and have their numbers replaced with a winning array.

When someone is made redundant and then doesn’t win Powerball it can cause huge financial stress for a family. The Lotteries Commission makes huge surpluses and it’s inequitable that people have to choose their numbers before the results are drawn. Aston Martins for everyone!

Regulating banks to make them act against their best interests isn’t going to fix the credit crisis. As Don Brash noted recently, New Zealand has one of the least regulated banking systems in the civilised world and our banking system is one of those least affected by the current economic cyclone. Let’s try not to bugger that up.

One way not to bugger that up is for politicians to think before they speak. I know that the job of an opposition leader is to utter short words and try and get on the telly – and it probably plays well with Janice from Porirua – but suggesting quack remedies that will further debilitate the patient is a gaffe.

* * Read Bernard Barnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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Drum Bridge Meguro – Ando Hiroshige

100_views_edo_111 From the series of wood block prints, ‘100 Famous Views of Edo.’

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Madness and Minimum Wages

Two topical observations from the good Dr McGrath . . .
End Minimum Wage Madness
Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath today urged Prime Minister John Key to abolish all minimum wage laws and allow prices to fall as they should during a period of economic recovery.

"Forcing employers to raise wages regardless of employee productivity is a recipe for staff layoffs and a disincentive to job creation," said Dr McGrath. "If raising wages by decree is such a good idea, why isn't $25 an hour better than $15 an hour? Why shouldn't we all get $100 an hour?"

"The National Party's values include limited government, individual freedom and competitive enterprise," he added. "Abolishing minimum wage laws is entirely consistent with these core values. The Libertarianz Party ask John Key to be true to his values and repeal the destructive, repressive minimum wage laws that threaten to prolong the economic recession."

Dunedin Stadium Fundraising Should be Voluntary
Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath today praised the 1300 people who marched in protest against the Dunedin City Council's plan to force ratepayers, and possibly other taxpayers, to underwrite the cost of a proposed new sports stadium.

"As a former resident of Dunedin, I believe a new stadium would be a great asset for its owners and for the people of Otago. Personally, I am quite excited at the prospect of replacing Carisbrook with a bigger and better venue. However, that is no reason to shift the burden of funding this venture onto people who are already struggling during a time of economic recession," he said.

"The Libertarianz Party opposes coercion in all its forms, including this attempt by the DCC to shackle ratepayers to someone's dream," he added. "This project should be financed voluntarily, and entirely, from private sources. And other activities that Dunedin ratepayers are currently forced to pay for should be privatised and opened up to competition."

"The time has come for the people of Dunedin, and our other towns and cities, to ask whether they really need councils interfering in their lives," said Dr McGrath. "My party would like to see the scope and depth of city council activities scaled right back. By privatising the various services currently run as council monopolies, these and other local bodies could eventually be abolished."

"Meantime, the DCC should step back and allow those who wish to fund this project step forward, put their money where their mouths are, and stop trying to extort funds from other people who may not support the idea of a new multi-million dollar stadium."
* * Read Doc McGrath's regular column every Wednesday here at NOT PC * *


Is that it?

Another day, another announcement. Today, it’s National’s “half billion package (0ver four years) of policies to help small and medium sized businesses, during the economic downturn,” at the heart of which is “a suite of 11 tax changes costing $480 million” (over four years).  Details here at Kiwiblog.

Q: Costing who?
A: Costing the government.

Q: So is this actually a “cost,” then?
A: No, not unless you think that $480 million was government’s in the first place.

I won’t go over the 11 tax changes that make up the derisory promise to refund such a small amount of the money small businesses make since Mr Lineberry does a pretty good job on that.  Instead I’d like to note that nearly a third involve changes to the iniquitous  Fringe Benefits Tax, and ask readers if they can wrack their brains and remember who it was who introduced the whole iniquitous FBT regime, which effectively and at a stroke reduced many people’s take-home pay.  Anyone?

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Let the trade wars begin!

The seeds of the 1930s Great Depression were laid in the US Federal Reserve’s inflationary credit expansion of the twenties, which led inexorably to the Crash of 1929 and thence to the Great Contraction. 

The destruction was exacerbated, in the US, by the medding, “stimulus,” and attempts at price-fixing by President Hoover, and then exported worldwide by the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, which brought down for decades the globalised system of free trade that had operated (for the most part) for over half-a century, and laid the seeds for the decade-long depression that led almost inexorably to world war. 

(As Frederic Bastiat used to say, when goods don’t cross borders soldiers will.)

Alas, dear readers, history once again is repeating.  Thank goodness that this time at least there are some who oppose the rush to protectionism.  For now.

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RMA changes: let’s all look at some examples [updated]

There were few surprises in yesterday’s announcement on National’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, since most were telegraphed back before the election – and the RMA has been so bad for so long that so many are now so pathetically grateful at any change that even the relatively minor changes proposed have been welcomed, even by those like Owen McShane who know better.

Let’s face it, National has never made any commitment to respecting or protecting property rights, and they haven't changed that now – property rights will still be recognised only by their breach --except to promise they’ll make it even more difficult for property owners to protest the regulations that planners impose upon them.

But they have backtracked on some of the relatively minor changes proposed back in October.  They’ve  retreated for example from their election promise to remove the bullshit from the definition of "environment," and they’ve retreated as well from their commitment to "rewrite" much of the craven "Tiriti" bullshit in the Act.

So as far as bullshit goes, all that will still remain -- everything from the "Sustainable Management" ecobabble of section 5 (ie., rights for “future generations”, none for this one); to the “Intrinsic Values of Ecosystems” nonsense of section 7(d) (ie., rights for trees, rocks and mud puddles, none for you and I); to the "Kaitiakitanga" of section 7(a) (ie., rights for Iwis, none for Kiwis); to the bald presumption in section 9 that “no person may use [their] land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a District Plan” unless a planner, an Environment Court judge or an Environmental Protection Authority bureaucrat says (after a long and expensive process) that you can.

I've characterised yesterday's announcement "simplifying and streamlining" the RMA as merely making life simpler for planners, and more streamlined for the Government's ThinkBig 2.0 spend-up. All I expected to see was the chocolate-coated turd they promised that will promote easier theft of property rights by this government, and that’s how it still looks to me.

I’ve been arguing against the RMA since I returned to New Zealand in 1995 (here, for example, is my submission to Simon Upton’s “review” of the RMA back in 1998, and most of what I say there still stands). I’ve been arguing against it because it ignores land-owners property rights, and I see every day in my work I see how it destroys clients’ dreams. I wrote an article back in 2004 arguing that the RMA is so misguided and destructive that it doesn't need to be amended, it needs a stake through the heart (an article that was picked up, and abridged, by the Herald). 

So to illustrate what's proposed, and how little things will change from this “simplifying and streamlining,” let me look at the examples I highlighted in that article along with a few others to see how the proposed changes might have worked for these puppies.  (While it's impossible to know in advance the DETAILS, the how of what's being mooted --- which is going to make a huge difference to how things work -- let's make a few assumptions.)  Here’s the list of examples pasted in below.  I’ll start working through the examples over the course of the morning -- but how about, as a simple exercise until then,  you work through them yourself based on the details already supplied to see if my characterisation is correct.

Going beneath the headlines, here’s how I think they would have worked out under the regime proposed by Nick Smith:

  • Project Aqua cancelled. 
        - After much backroom dealing, including being granted Requiring Authority Status
         (which gives it “the right to take private land” against the wishes of property-owners),
        Project Aqua is declared a Project of National Significance by the Environmental
        Protection Agency, and granted consent after nine months (or so) by the Board of Inquiry
        to whom the decision was referred, after which it spends three years in appeal …
  • New prisons delayed.
        - After much backroom dealing, consents for new prisons granted non-notified status
        by councils dealing with the applications. Protest groups lodge $500 deposit
        with Environment Court, after which the applications spend three years in appeal …
  • Waikato upgrade of State Highway One delayed by Taniwhas. 
        - Despite much teeth-gnashing by everyone involved Waikato upgrade of State Highway
        One still delayed by Taniwhas – until John Key strikes an eleventh-hour to fund a Museum
         of the Taniwha to be run by local iwi.
  • Plans by US giant Weyerhauser for a timber-processing plant in Nelson shelved.
        - After much backroom dealing over this project in Smith’s marginal electorate, it
        is declared a Project of National Significance by the Environmental Protection Agency,
        and granted consent after nine months (or so) by the Board of Inquiry to whom the
        decision was referred, after which it spends three years in appeal …
  • A homeowner in Waitakere jailed for cutting down his own tree.
        - While it will be difficult to impose blanket tree protection rules under District Plans,
        councils can still impose protections on individual trees – something councils will now
        be able to do very swiftly.  If the tree in question here is such a tree, then our
        home-owner would still receive such a penalty, with perhaps an even bigger fine (up
        to $300,000) and a ban on using the site for several years to accompany it.
  • Marine farm applications left in limbo until at least the next decade.
       - Marine farm moratorium lifted during the last Parliament, accompanied by race-based
        quotas for marine farms, short-term-only permits for such farms, and the imposition of 400
         additional pages of regulation.  No changes under presently proposed amendments.
  • Construction of Pakiri Beach retirement “dream home” prohibited by “envy-ridden” planners and politicians
        - District plan rules imposed by “envy-ridden” planners effectively excluding the likes of Rae
        Ah Chee’s would-be dream house would be cemented in by the removal of the “costly
        consultative processes” whereby land-owners get to object to the rules imposed upon
        them.  Which means Sandra Coney and her brood  would still be locking out the so called
        “trophy houses” they so despise, and would-be dream-home owners are unable to build
        and live on beach-front land they’ve bought for that very purpose.
  • Auckland “ring-fenced” by planners, pushing up the price of land 
        - Auckland still “ring-fenced” by planners, pushing up the price of land, while objectors
        to the District Plan rules imposing the ring-fencing are effectively locked out of any say
        in the imposition of these rules.
  • Interminable delays and extortionate “development contributions” accompany subdivision applications, pushing up the price of land 
        - Extortionate “development contributions” accompany subdivision applications, pushing
         up the price of land.  Delays now just lengthy instead of interminable.
  • An entire Banks Peninsula farm declared a “Recommended Area of Protection” and made
        - Owner of Banks Peninsula farm now effectively excluded altogether from protesting at
    the arbitrary imposition of such a declaration.
  • New supermarket in Takapuna still awaiting consent after fourteen (now eighteen) years.
        - Trade competitors barred from openly objecting to resource consent applications . . .
        but (say trade competitors to themselves) there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
  • Plans for a new mall and shopping complex in Wanaka abandoned.
        - Unless developers can do a deal to have the complex designated a Project of National
    significance, then this is still the most likely outcome – although Smith’s promise to “'look at
    how companies win the right to take private land” might help. Unless, of course, it’s your
    land they’re talking about.
  • A new township proposed for Woodend, Canterbury, shelved.
        - Unless developers can do a deal to have the new township designated a Project
    of National Significance, then shelving is still the most likely outcome – although
    Smith’s promise to “'look at how companies win the right to take private land” might
    help. Unless, of course, it’s your land they’re talking about.
  • Coastal properties effectively nationalised by District Plan declarations of beachfront “Hazard Zones” and “Coastal Wilderness Areas.”
        - Coastal properties still effectively nationalised by District Plan declarations of beachfront
    “Hazard Zones” and “Coastal Wilderness Areas,” while owners of coastal properties so
    designated are effectively excluded from objecting to the theft, by such means, of their
    dreams and their property rights.
  • Gridlock in Auckland while much-needed roading projects await consents.
        - Roading projects full-speed ahead – and don’t spare the analysis!
  • Eighty dollars an hour paid to local Iwi to “ward off mischievous spirits.”
        - One-hundred and eighty dollars an hour paid to local Iwi to “ward off
        mischievous spirits.” It’s inflation, you know.
  • A ban on filming mountain peaks in Tongariro National Park announced.
        - A ban to which objectors will be less able to file their objections.
  • Whitianga Waterways Project saved (just) despite the best efforts of Sandra Lee, and at a cost of one million dollars per year in gaining consents.
        - It appears the Conservation Minister will still retain a veto under Nick Smith’s
        Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.
  • Millions of dollars extracted by Iwi around the country under the guise of “consultation.”
        - Millions of dollars extracted by Iwi around the country under the guise of “consultation.”
  • Eight years of resource consent delays (ten, finally) for Orewa to Puhoi motorway extension.
        - Full speed ahead!
  • Long delays to the development of oil and gas fields and pipelines.
        -  After much backroom dealing, including being granted Requiring Authority Status
         (which giving pipeline constructors “the right to take private land” against the wishes
        of property-owners), pipelines are declared Projects of National Significance by
        the Environmental Protection Agency, and granted consent after nine months (or so) by
        the Boards of Inquiry to whom the decision was referred, after which property owners
        are moved out while the consents spend three years in appeal …
  • Private Olivine waste-to-energy plant at Meremere rejected by council in favour of a council-owned landfill site next to Auckland’s new water supply, and the existing Meremere plant mothballed.
        - Section 7(i) is invoked, that decision-makers “have regard to … the effects of climate
         change,” Olivine leave the country for good, and Aucklanders still take their drinking
        water just slightly downstream from the North Island’s biggest landfill, owned by a
        consortium of councillors.
  • Forestry industry concerns at time and cost of consents for wood-processing plants, and for tree planting, harvesting and roading.
        - Tree planting, harvesting and roading has no slowed so much that forestry concerns now
        revolve instead around the subsidies they seek from the government under the Emissions
        Trading Scam.
  • Coastal residents refused permission to protect beachside homes from erosion.
        -  Coastal residents discover that  their councils’ District Plans still refuse them permission
        to protect their beachside homes from erosion, that objecting the imposition of new and
        similar rules is now more difficult, and that for the “crime” of protecting their homes
        they will now face fines of up to $600,000 and two years in jail.
  • Globe Hill goldmine project in Reefton vetoed.
        - Is it ever likely to be declared a Project of National Significance by the Environmental
        Protection Agency?  What do you think.  Veto still applies.
  • 1500 projects still left waiting at the Environment Court . . .
        - 1000 projects still left waiting at the Environment Court, and hundreds more being
        heard at the Environmental Protection Agency and all the various Boards of Inquiry. . .

So rather than just relying on me, why not work through those examples of disgraceful bureaucratic bullying yourself to see what will change, and I’ll come back later on and gradually answer them myself in an update or three.  Why not start with the small example I cite in the Herald article.  What will change here?

    Let’s say you own a small home on a small site, and you want to extend your carport
to accommodate something more sizeable than your grandmother’s Morris Minor.
    In most instances, that means you will have to sit down in your local council offices with a person fresh out of planning school and talk seriously about whether the extension is a "sustainable use of natural and physical resources" - at which point I’ll bet you will begin start scratching your head.
     Or, whether it will "safeguard the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems" while "avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment".
    If you are not sure, you could assess whether or not your proposed new parking stall "pays particular regard to kaitiakitanga [or] the ethic of stewardship", to "the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values", or to "the intrinsic value of ecosystems".
    At which point you either run screaming from the planner's office, or pick your jaw up from the floor and write out a cheque proportional to the amount of nonsense about to be put into a report arguing such things on your behalf. 
    [Believe me, grown adults pulling down sizeable incomes spend time in these conversations – they have to, by law!  And so do you, if you really want that carport extension.]
    So, you hire a consultant to write that report of meaningless phrases. Meanwhile, objectors hire other consultants to say that your proposal is not a sustainable use of resources, and won't safeguard ecosystems.
    Eventually you all end up in the Environment Court, and the one with the biggest pile of nonsense in front of them wins - after which the lawyers and consultants go off to lunch at Antoine's; you go off to take out a new mortgage; and the consultants' reports go off to fill up a landfill somewhere . . .

UPDATE 1: I’ve written in below each project above my best informal assessment of how they might have fared had the projects or examples come up under Smith’s proposed regime.  I haven’t bothered to assess our nominal carport – I think it’s obvious enough how that will “change” without me needing to spell it out.

Here’s a list of the winners and losers as I see it:


  • Tree nurseries, particularly native tree nurseries (iff blanket tree protection rules can be successfully removed, then the enthusiasm for planting native trees that died in 1993 should return)
  • Consultants, who can now look forward to prestigious appointments to Boards of Inquiry, while they argue the other side of the fence in their spare time.
  • Planners, for whom objections against their misery-inducing regimes will now be far easier to ignore.
  • Steven Joyce and Bill English, the promoters of the delusional ThinkBig 2.0 spend-up.
  • Nick Smith, who has got both voters and commentators excited about “radical” changes that do nothing fundamentally to alter the handbrake on prosperity of this Act.


  • Private property owners
  • Private property developers
  • Supporters of private property rights
  • Arborists
  • Would-be home-owners
  • First-time home-owners
  • Objectors to District Plans
  • Objectors to “licenses” being issued to pollute

UPDATE 2: For a less negative appraisal, listen to Owen McShane’s appearance on Leighton Smith’s show this morning [interview starts about 36:30 minutes in]. And for a contrast, listen to me on Jim Mora’s show yesterday afternoon [discussion starts about 17:30 minutes in].

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Boulevard des Capucines – Claude Monet


No, it’s not London – which I remember from 1991 as being beautiful in the snow.  It’s Paris, painted from a ‘Japanese viewpoint’ borrowed from Hiroshige.

And this is beautiful too, Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines, from the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Quote of the day ...

"When the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know your culture is doomed."
- Ayn Rand


‘Apologies’ we’d like to see: #27, Michael Phelps

A letter I'd like to see (but won't):

Dear America,

I take it back. I don’t apologize…

Michael Phelps

Full letter here [hat tip Lance].

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RMA – what “shake-up”? [update 3]

Radical changes in RMA shake-up”?  Who is the DomPost kidding?

A shake-up of the Resource Management Act is intended to help push-start new businesses and fast-track big infrastructure projects under changes to be unveiled today.

How much of that do you believe?  I have no doubt the changes will allow the government to “fast-track” its own billion-dollar babies – but how does that help property-owners stymied by planners’ rules and regulations? As former Federated Farmers president Charlie Pederson once said, "it's little, not large, that suffers most RMA pain."  How much RMA pain, if any, do you think will be removed from you and me?

What would you like to see announced today?  And, by contrast, what do you expect to see?

UPDATE 1: What I'd like to see is somewhere between this --a network of Small Consents Tribunal for smaller private projects -- and this: a stake through the heart [pdf].  Both are possible.  Both would be practical.  Either would be sensible.

But all I expect to see is this: a chocolate-coated turd, exactly as promised, that will promote easier theft of property rights by this government.

“Key elements” of the latest package are said to be:

  • Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections
        which will include making to more difficult to object to planners’ policies for one’s own
  • Streamlining processes for projects of national significance
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig 2.0
  • Creating an Environmental Protection Authority
        ie., creating yet another bureaucracy to have even more power over property owners
  • Improving plan development and plan change processes – “for example removing the ability to make general challenges or ones that seek the withdrawal of entire proposed plans”
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners
  • Improving resource consent processes
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig2.0
  • Streamlining decision making
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners
  • Improving workability and compliance
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig2.0
  • Improving national policy instruments “such as limiting appeals on changes to district plans and to regional and national policy statements”
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners and ThinkBig2.0

Are you seeing a pattern here?

The key thing to note is that when the Resource Management Act was introduced by National in 1991, in all its 456 pages property rights were not mentioned even once. Not once.  And in review after review after review, nothing has been done to change that.

““The Government is taking an innovative approach to major projects,” says the Government.  That is, it is taking an innovative approach to removing the hurdles to its own fouled-up infrastructure spend-up.  It is doing nothing for you and I, nothing at all except to raise the penalty on “offences” under the Resource Management – ie., acting in a way that a planner objects to -– from several hundred thousand dollars and the prospect of jail time, to several million dollars and even more jail time.

This is what you voted for. This is what you’ve got.


UPDATE 3:  Download the 9-page PDF here for full details;  Scoop has a summary of reactions; and listen in to National Radio this afternoon about 4:20pm, when I’ll be talking to Jim Mora about my own.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Talking ourselves into depression? [updated]

She’s back! Susan Ryder addresses a frequently asked question: aren’t we doing this to ourselves?  (Originally published in the Franklin E-Local.)

When Wall Street crashed in October 1929, my maternal grandmother was 16 years old. Like many of her generation in New Zealand, she had been working since she was 13, having left school after completing Standard 6, (Year 8).

By 1932 she was 19, the misery of the Great Depression was well underway, and Nana was working as a nurse/housekeeper for the local doctor in a small Taranaki town. In order to be able to keep her job, her weekly wage was slashed by 25% from 10 shillings to ‘7 and 6d’ and stayed that way until she finished work to marry my grandfather in 1938.

I blanched at the drastic cut. “How did you manage?” I asked. “Well, it wasn’t easy”, she replied, “but you learned to make do. You learned to live within your means. The easy part was making the decision to accept it. It was either accept it, or no job. And 75% of something was a damn site better than 100% of nothing.”

There is a lot of wisdom in those few sentences. It has been only a few months since the global credit crunch started to bite and much has been written by economists, politicians and journalists of all persuasion, all largely quoting each other and all largely saying the same. In reality, though, there is little wisdom to be found in much of it.

What happened? One day, the developed world seemed to be chugging along quite nicely and then we awoke to find the fiscal sky starting to fall, just as Chicken Little said it would. It started in the US with major financial corporations exhibiting various stages of collapse, which spread quickly to major corporations within all industries -- of note the parlous American auto industry. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernard Bernanke leapt into action throwing money – and lots of it – at everything that looked like it might have stopped moving. It wasn’t even their money, but the US taxpayers’.

Well, it would have been, had it existed, but it didn’t. It was created out of thin air via the Federal Reserve’s printing presses -- which have been running red hot ever since. The US taxpayer has now been landed with the additional debt – on top of the mountain of debt that already existed – which has further served to diminish the dollar in the process - while the US economy remains as critical as ever.

So will all this intervention help? Well, it hasn’t to date in spite of all the cash. Personally, I think it is only going to make matters worse, to ultimately extend the life of the upcoming hardship. For proof, we should look back to the last recession on this scale, known as the Great Depression of the 1930s.

There is an old saying that warns of those ignoring the lessons of history being doomed to repeat them. Talk of doom could be frighteningly prophetic in that the prescriptions recommended for the current crisis are looking alarmingly like those adopted 75 years ago. US President Franklin Roosevelt (popularly known as FDR) followed his predecessor Herbert Hoover’s policy of increased government intervention in the marketplace and increased public expenditure, all of which served to stretch out the misery of the Great Depression for a long, dark decade.

There are some things that cannot be denied.  One is that what goes up must come down – especially if the ‘up’ is created artificially.  Drug takers know this stuff, and the ‘users’ of Alan Greenspan’s easy credit now know it too.  Economic cycles fuelled by easy credit ensure a bust will always follow a boom, particularly if that boom has been artificially fuelled by a ‘bubble’ such as the “Tulip Mania” of the 17th century or the Dot-com bubble of the 1990s . . .  or the housing bubble of the 2000s.

The housing bubble blew up all over the developed world. (In New Zealand and elsewhere, it was exacerbated by restrictions to the residential land supply and ever-increasing local council compliance costs, which helped to inflate the bubble.) Credit was cheap and easy to get, attracting both market speculators and buyers. Tradesmen were kept busy with the demand, as were their suppliers and so on.

But what goes up artificially, must come down in reality.  When prices become too high for the market, the latter will adjust, resulting in a drop in prices.

If only it were that simple.

What goes up too highly would come down, if only politicians didn’t interfere so. The truth is that there is a better chance of winning Lotto than of politicians keeping their hands to themselves. US Congressman Ron Paul tells the story of FDR’s meddling with the market.  FDR was determined he would not run the risk of losing the large agricultural vote by letting prices fall naturally to the levels that market conditions demanded, a fall which would have helped the recovery but reduced farmers’ returns. So instead he propped prices up.  Unfortunately, the poor people struggling financially could not afford the artificially high prices and went hungry, even as the growers were ploughing their unsold produce back into the land.

Welcome to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Everybody is always screaming for affordable housing and houses certainly would be affordable if only prices were allowed to meet the existing market. The same applies for all commodities. But there are also other factors at work. If the market was left to sort itself out, a fall in prices would go hand in hand with a fall in costs. However, trade unions will almost certainly resist all efforts to see government interference such as the minimum wage laws that keep wages at inflated levels, abolished. And it is a safe bet that they will strenuously oppose any general reduction in wages, no matter how necessary it is, all of which means that both prices and wages are kept artificially high.

US businessman Peter Schiff has been an outspoken advocate of letting the market work instead of chaining it up and burdening it with regulation, and then screaming when it goes wrong. He predicted the current crisis more than two years ago and was roundly ridiculed. His many detractors are not laughing now. He is the author of several books including Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse. Schiff opposes the concept of a ‘government-led’ recovery, believing that the problem with recovery lies chiefly in what governments are doing to hinder it. He points for example to the brokerage/banking industry being one of the most highly regulated -- and bankrupt as a result. Like his ideological twin in academia George Reisman, Professor Emeritus of Economics from Pepperdine University, Schiff refutes the concept of increased consumer spending being the solution to the crisis, in that spending per se does not create economic growth. The truth is the converse: it is real economic growth via increased productivity that makes spending possible.

To that end, Schiff, Reisman and Ron Paul all believe that a recession is the natural adjustment by which to prune the poor performers, re-establish real values (ie., let prices fall) and then start again as quickly as possible.

A recession is not pleasant and only a fool would suggest otherwise. No decent person likes to see anyone go out of business or lose a job. But the sooner a recession is allowed to evolve, the sooner it can pass – and the fewer bankruptcies and job losses we will have.

The alternative is to continue to interfere and to subsidise what doesn’t deserve to be propped up. Subsidisation creates too much of what is not wanted. Anytime that government subsidises industry, for any reason, it gets expensive. The longer the recession, the more likely it will bleed into an outright depression.

In this global age it is too much to hope that a small economy like New Zealand will dodge the coming crisis, but with the application of sound economic principles we can prepare ourselves to face what comes and to could emerge from it as quickly as we can.

Living within one’s means is common sense, surely. It means the application of that dirty word ‘discipline’ in both the home and the Beehive.  It means letting wages and prices to fall, instead of propping them up.

In plain speech, I guess it also comes back to my grandmother’s viewpoint of 75% of something being preferable to 100% of nothing.

* * Read Susan Ryder every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

UPDATE:  Read ‘How Government Prolonged the US Depression,’ summarised at Anti Dismal.

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Careful with that axe, you genius

To paraphrase PJ O’Rourke, only God can make a tree: but only man can cut them down in the time it takes to read this post.  See:

What a wonder!  As a steam shovel is to a spade, this device is to an axe. [Hat tip Noodle Food]

It’s devices like this that increase living standards and raise real wages.  Yes, it’s true.


Whangarei House – Claude Megson


I was inspired over the weekend both by two spectacular tennis matches – both involving the brilliant young Rafael Nadal – and by a visit to this small Megson unit in Remuera I posted the other day. Claude used to talk about the “big-souled” feeling that architecture should inspire. His small unit certainly delivered – its 95 square metres feel immense, as does one’s spirit when sitting in its light-filled spaces.

It’s being sold by its owners now their circumstances have changed. They’d love to move to a larger Megson, they say, now they’ve outgrown their little beauty.

As it happens, a larger Megson house is also on the market … up at Whangarei. A reader visited over the weekend and sent me the news, along with this short report:

“I just went to the open home for the Megson designed home at 152 Cemetary Road, Maunu, Whangarei, MIND BLOWING! Very very original and totally delightful. I want it.”

No wonder. It’s another delight.

MAUNU_Cemetery_Road_152_5327959_640xFrom the Allens Realty’s site, from whence you can get details and Open Home times:

An Internationally known - Claude Megson Design - A Residence that Symbolises Individuality.
If you want to rebel against the 'status quo' and satisfy your drive for distinction, you need to inspect this property and appreciate the opportunity this fascinating home has to offer.
Almost the country equivalent of a modern day Don Quixote and nestled privately amongst native bush this unique 3 level 374m² Megson designed home features 2 lounges, 2 snugs, 2 dining rooms, 3 fireplaces and a large courtyard and swimming pool.
To be sold as a going concern with approximately 120 mature avocado trees in full production, including a large implement shed and orchard equipment. There is a stable and horse truck complex plus 2 small grazing paddocks.
A highly individual property that is everything but ordinary.

You can read all the sale details here.MAUNU_Cemetery_Road_152_5327935_640x

(Cross-posted to NOT PC)

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Ministerial bullying? It’s not OK. [updated]

Judith Collins wants to show how “tough” she is by crushing youngsters’ cars.  On that, I agree with Blair:

I honestly fail to see how confiscating and crushing someone's car represents a proportionate punishment for the offence of Dangerous Driving.  Lots of people drive dangerously, and it seems odd that our response to that as a society differs depending on how old they are or the [number of] modifications made to their vehicles. 

True enough.

Principles are principles, and property rights apply to everyone, whether a middle-aged developer, or a seventeen year old dickhead with small penis syndrome.

Also  true.  The absence of recognition of the former offers no excuse for ignoring the latter. Bullying by Ministers? It’s not okay.

UPDATE:  Police, ministers, commentators and even commenters here wish to treat every youngster with a modified car the same -- as if the number of modifications to your car made you a criminal -- or a boy racer.  Commenters talk about "their" behaviour, "these louts," "the boy racers," "these irresponsible little arseholes."
But this just demonstrates a complete failure to distinguish.
As Donal Corbett, Clunking Fist and The Tomahawk Kid point out in the comments,treating every young driver as if they were every other young driver is an unforgiveable collectivisation of criminal law.  As they point out, there are already sufficient laws out there to convict specific individual lawbreakers for specific initiations of force. There's no need for more laws, just judicious application of existing laws on those actual individuals breaking them.  
What's needed, to say it again, is simply to identify the specific individuals committing the specific criminal acts, distinguish them from innocent bystanders or non-perpetrators, and then take the necessary action.
You'd have to ask Howard Broad why his police aren't doing that, and why -- to reward their failure -- they want new, authoritarian powers instead.

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Blog pops

News just in (which means I’ve only just noticed) that NOT PC is either the third or the sixth most popular political blog in the country, depending how you measure these things.

Thanks to everyone who rewards my blogging with your reading.


Deep cover [update 2]

Mr Lineberry reckons the Labour Party has a mole right there in the Key Cabinet.  A mole who’s been in deep cover for years.

The evidence for the thesis mounts up.  (For those who don’t understand the point made at the latter link, ask yourself what it means when a politician “urges” businesses to perform in a certain way … )

UPDATE 1: There may be other Labour moles Mr Lineberry has overlooked.  David Farrar talks up National’s pathetic proposed reforms to National’s Resource Management Act, calling “positive” somevery  minor proposals that will expand planners’ power, make National’s ThinkBig2.0 projects easier, and raise fines on those who offend the planners’ whims to several million dollars.

I won’t repeat what I’ve already said about the perpetrator of this pathetic reformist charade.

UPDATE 2:  Okay, since people are interested maybe I will repeat some of what I said just before the election about National's RMA confidence trick:

There's been a whole lot of bullshit written about National's policy on the Resource Management Act, released this week -- "National plans big changes to RMA" -- "National's National's RMA reforms will get business moving again" -- "Nat's RMA reforms endanger environment" -- but this morning for the first time I see some sensible commentary on their risible policy prescription: National's RMA Buzzword Bullshit.  From myself.
National's Resource Management Act policy, released this week, is more than just a missed opportunity to help a parlous economic outlook: it almost amounts to a confidence trick. 
    While the world economy reels on the back of central-bank bungling and serious problems in the American housing sector, and as local building activity takes a nose-dive -- building consent numbers are already down by a third -- a political party truly 'ambitious' for New Zealand might have grasped the opportunity to help an ailing economy and a struggling housing sector by releasing a bold new Resource Management Act policy that would take the weight of the RMA from the shoulders of struggling builders, home-buyers and property-owners.  
    But that is not what National's Nick Smith has served up.   Smith's policy overflows instead with buzzwords like 'fix', 'streamline', and 'get business moving', but closer scrutiny demonstrates Smith's large print giveth, but his small print taketh away."

Read on here for details.

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Idiot chic

As Tim Blair records, “Friends of Hamas can’t decide if they’re for Nazis or against them.” Never mind the theories about why this is so.  As Tim says, “the easiest explanation is probably that these people are stupid.”

Pretty much explains the knob-heads with the Che T-shirts too, doesn’t it –- you know who I mean: those dimwits who say they’re “against violence” and then walk around with a murderer on their chest.

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It’s cold out there … [update 2]

With the UK enduring its coldest winter for thirteen years, looks like another ten inches of global warming is on the way.

    It is the first time that such extensive snowfall has been forecast in one night across Britain since the night of Feb 7 1991, when almost the entire country was blanketed in white.
    The last time the south east saw similar depths of snow was in December 1996…

It’s cold out there.  Colder than a ticket-taker’s smile at a Super 14 game. Colder than charity.  Colder than a politician’s heart.  A hell of a lot colder than the warmists ever said it would be.

UPDATE 1:  The facts continue to debunk global warming alarmism says Professor Bob Carter in The Australian [hat tip Climate Science Coalition]:

    THE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that October in the US was marked by 63 record snowfalls and 115 lowest-ever temperatures.
    Over the past few years, similar signs of colder than usual weather have been recorded all over the world, causing many people to question the still fashionable, but now long outdated, global warming alarmism…
    The present global financial crisis should be inducing politicians not to squander money on non-solutions to non-problems. Yet to support their plans for emissions taxation Western governments, including ours, are still propagating scientifically juvenile greenhouse propaganda underpinned only by circumstantial evidence and GCM computer gamesmanship." 

UPDATE 2: Crampton points out “you can still go to iPredict and short sell real-money stocks that pay off at $1 if 2009 is the warmest year on record. Those stocks currently trade at $0.17 (17% chance of it being the warmest year on record); my best analysis suggests the real probability is about 5%.... Easy money, if you think that it's fairly unlikely that 2009 will be the warmest year on record...”


Good on you, Dr Brash [updated]

Former central banker Don Brash hands out a history lesson in this morning’s Herald to some of the country’s biggest big-government cheerleaders.

[Former UK Labour Party leadership hopeful] Bryan Gould argues that the world must learn many lessons from the current international economic crisis ("Global crisis shows need for revision of economics"). Alas, most of the "lessons" he proposes we learn are absolutely the wrong lessons…
    Gould implies that the crisis was caused by "free" and unregulated markets, especially in the financial sector. This is quite simply nonsense. Banks may be relatively lightly regulated in New Zealand (where there is no banking crisis), but they have been highly regulated in the United States and Europe for many years…

Sure have.

    Gould seems not to have noticed that the crisis emerged not in the essentially unregulated hedge fund industry, or even among private equity funds, but in the most highly regulated part of the financial sector, namely banking.

Gould doesn’t notice very much.  Never has.  This is a man, after all, who thought Welsh windbag Neil Kinnock was a statesman, and the insane Michael Foot a genius.

    Gould argues that "Government involvement in the management of the economy is essential", implying that that has not been the case in recent decades. Again, that could hardly be further from the truth.
    Government taxation and spending make up some 40 per cent of total economic activity in most developed countries, and in all developed countries regulations of one kind or another tightly control what businesses can do.
    Even in monetary policy - where Gould seems to imagine that central banks are a law unto themselves, operated by bankers primarily for the benefit of other banks - Governments ultimately hold the whip hand

Brash, naturally, still defends the ridiculous central bank efforts to maintain “price stability,” which both in the 1920s and the 2000s led directly to economic disaster. 

With the benefit of hindsight, monetary policy was probably too loose in recent years...

Sure as hell was – but it wasn’t just hindsight that revealed that news.

And one of the primary reasons they were “too loose” was the ridiculous attempt to fix prices by use of inflating the money supply.  But that aside, his conclusion is correct.

    We also know that, in the nineties, the United States Government started putting pressure on American banks to lend to borrowers of quite marginal creditworthiness to prove that they were not discriminating on the basis of race.
    And driving the housing bubble in many markets, in the English-speaking world at least, were the highly restrictive zoning policies of local governments - policies which sharply increased the price of residential land and led both borrowers and lenders to assume that the price of housing would increase forever.
    They were clearly wrong, but they were hardly operating in the "free and unregulated" markets which Gould imagines.

Sure as hell weren’t.  What sort of “free and unregulated” market is it in which the government’s banker gets to set the price of loanable funds?

Still, great to see the likes of Don Brash telling it like it is.  Would that more of those who know better would speak out against the pervasive nonsense peddled by the world’s big-government cheerleaders.

UPDATE:  Full credit to those who are speaking out.  Forbes magazine argues that while politicians are going left, even leftist economists are going back to basics. Writing on the Davos talkfest in Forbes,  Brian Easterley says,

    The conventional view at Davos is that a previous consensus in favor of free enterprise has taken a huge beating from the Great Crash of 2008-2009. What is much less known is that many economists are not willing to play along.
    Instead, the crisis seems to have scared many economists of all kinds--including some previously heterodox--to reassert the orthodox recommendations of Econ 101.

And even some of the biggest big-government cheerleaders are heading back to basics.  Paul Walker has the report at Anti Dismal.

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Yet another reason to dislike Team New Zealand

  • 789332 STUFF: Peter Montgomery, the voice of New Zealand yachting, was dropped from covering the current Louis Vuitton Pacific series at the request of Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton…

A few years back when we were seeking support from local businesses for our Walk For Capitalism, we approached Team New Zealand and were told to go away.  “We’re pretty much all socialists here,” we were told – which was certainly consistent with the amount of taxpayers’ money they were spending.  It was no surprise then when they started that year’s regatta by taking out on the water a boat whose main feature seemed that it needed to be bailed out to stay afloat.

Seems now that nothing’s changed.  They now seem to think they should be able to wield the big stick over who gets to commentate on them -– and Government TV has acquiesced by agreeing to replace the competent, plain-speaking and entertaining Peter Montcommentary with back-scratching place-holders Tasker and Lester.

Loyal?  You have to be kidding, Mr Dalton.

UPDATE:  Good on Radio Sport for telling the Muldoonist Mr Dalton to go piss up a stick.

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