Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Swine flu update [updated]

STUFF: The Director of Public Health tonight announced that three of the Rangitoto College party have tested positive for swine flu H1N1. . .  Health officials are investigating 66 cases of possible swine flu [including the ten Rangitoto College patients]. . . The [other] 56 "suspected" cases are scattered nationwide. Patients have been given Tamiflu and are in home-based isolation, officials said.

UPDATEJack Wheeler has a few prophylactic measures you might like to think about to protect yourself from Swine Flu.  They look a little extreme unless you live in one of the seriously affected areas, like Wheeler does (see this Google map for the spread), but they’re something to keep in mind.

Tribute to Obama’s first 100 days [updated]

Today marks the occasion of the ObaMessiah’s first one-hundred days in office, and perhaps the biggest ‘tribute’ I can pay to his presidency is this:

In just one-hundred days, he’s made Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged essential reading for anyone who wants to know just what the fuck is going on in America.

There endeth my tribute.

UPDATE:  “Atlas is selling more copies now than at any other time in history,” confirms the Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook in this video interview.

NZ political blog rankings [updated]

NZ_Rankings Tim Selwyn has finally produced his rankings for the NZ political blogosphere for March.

NOT PC maintains its position as the country’s third most popular political blog (for which I’m very grateful to all you lot who regularly visit) just behind David Farrar’s Kiwiblog and the Labour Party’s Double Standard.

Not bad, I reckon, for a blog that doesn’t pull too many punches.

There are big jumps for The Visible Hand in Economics, Barnsley Bill and MacDoctor.

And big errors (still) in both my name and the political allegiances of myself and my blog companions.

Head to Tumeke’s sidebar for the top twenty. Don’t forget to check out any you haven’t seen before – and don’t forget to ask Tim why both SOLO and Bernard Hickey’s sites are excluded.

And here are the corrections to Not PC’s details:

#3 (-) Not PC : www.pc.blogspot.com
04/2005+ "Promoting capitalist acts between consenting adults"
Peter Cresswell : Libertarian – Libertarianz : Auckland
Susan Ryder : Libertarian – Libertarianz : Auckland
Dr Richard McGrath : Libertarian – Libertarianz : Masterton
Bernard Darnton : Libertarian – Libertarianz : Christchurch

UPDATE:  Speaking of The Double Standard, Paul Walker at Anti Dismal makes a strong case for renaming them The Non-Standard.  Even by their non-standards, he says, this has got to be seriously bizarre.

Schiff and WSJ talk abolition

In his latest video blog (or ‘vlog’ if you prefer), Peter Schiff attacks the risibly destructive idea floated by the US Federal Reserve of the “benefits” of interest rates at minus five percent.  “That the Fed would even employ economists capable of coming up with such a foolish analysis,” says Schiff, “is reason enough to abolish the entire organisation.”

And while we’re talking abolition of destructive financial institutions (and since the Fed has been at the centre of the two largest financial disasters in the last hundred years, it should at least be considered, right?), what about the International Monetary Fund(IMF)?  Set up to anchor the international Bretton Woods monetary system with gold, it lost its only reason to exist way back in 1971 when Richard Nixon abandoned gold’s fiscal discipline for good, yet it has somehow ensured its own survival by transforming itself into a world class meddler.

And how artfully did it engineer the recent G20 meeting to give itself a new lease of life – but at the expense of financial common sense.  Judy Shelton in the Wall Street Journal looks at how cleverly the IMF manipulated the financial troubles of emerging and low-income nations to procure a fresh infusion of capital for itself; what it’s doing with all its gold (and how it got it in the first place); and what real money really looks like.

Read The IMF's Gold Gambit.

Which pic? [updated]

Some folk have been disappointed to see my MG photo disappear from the sidebar. They reckon the new pic is too frightening -- and some others reckon no amount of airbrushing could avoid a picture of me being frightening.

So which picture should I have on my sidebar? This one?

Or this one?

Or none at all?

Vote now:

Which picture should I have on my blog sidebar?
The cool one with the MG
The shouty one one with the John Galt T shirt
None at all - you're too frightening to be out in public
Free polls from Pollhost.com
UPDATE: Here's a late entrant in the competition. For those confused, I'm the one on the right. :-)

Talk soon

Having a few computer problems here at Not PC Towers.

Talk soon. Hopefully.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the meantime.

What's on your mind?

Bring out your dead?

You don’t find much truth in journalism, particularly not when there’s some disaster porn to talk up, so let’s see if we can find any truth in film – or humour in disaster.

Here’s Monty Python:

And here’s a children’s story.

How are we doing?

NB: If you want more serious insight, visit MacDoctor.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Bad banks [updated]

Keynesians look at the big picture – the “aggregates.” They don’t do details.  They don’t like small and informed – instead they prefer sweeping. Such is the sweep of the TARP programme and related “stress tests” that, by lumping good banks with bad,  induces undue speculation about all of them.

In reviewing Keynes’s 1931 Treatise of Money, Hayek observed that “Mr Keynes’s aggregates conceal the most fundamental mechanisms of change.”  And Henry Hazlitt pointed out that Keynes’s focus on macroeconomic “aggregates” concealed the microeconomic relationships among a multitude of individual prices and wages. (“The” price level, wage level, total output, aggregate demand, and aggregate supply were all statistical fictions, said Hazlitt, that had no reality in the actual market.)

Put like this, we can see just another reason why the promoters of the TARP programme are so keen to have all banks treated the same, whether the banks are liquid or illiquid: so keen that they forced all banks, both good and bad, to sign up to the TARP programme – twisting the arms of those who wanted to refuse – and so eager they’re now refusing to let liquid banks pay back their TARP largesse.

The ruse is obvious: they want the imprimatur of the successful banks to prop up the reputations of failing banks.  (That this might just work the other way doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.)  But it’s also possible that their habit of “thinking in aggregates” has blinded them now to those “fundamental mechanisms of change” that the economy now needs to undertake.

And one of the most fundamental is the liquidation of bad banks.

Has to happen.

UPDATE: From today’s Wall Street Journal, Busting Bank of America: A case study in how to spread systemic financial risk.

    The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It's a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.
    In the name of containing "systemic risk," [US] regulators spread it . . .

Swinish flu reporting

When he’s not blogging and catching buses, blogger Poneke has a day job as one of the country’s few remaining responsible journalists.  He writes this morning about the Swine Flu epidemic erupting in the MSM:

    The swine flu scare is déjà vu all over again. The media internationally and in New Zealand is beating this up the same way it did the Y2K bug, SARS and Bird Flu. . .
    Swine flu is actually one of the mildest strains of flu and has spread fairly innocuously around the world a couple of times in my own lifetime. . .  
    New flu strains go round the world every year. Thousands of New Zealanders catch the virus annually without it becoming front page news. Some of them even die of it, especially the frail elderly.
    Folks, there is nothing to see here but a media and political beat-up. Time to move on.

PJ cometh, soon [updated]

home_banner_new Four interviews here prior to PJ O’Rourke’s Auckland appearance this Thursday. 

  • “Mr Right” talks to the Herald’s Karyn Scherer.
        Contrary to some reports, capitalism and free markets aren't dead, says P.J. O'Rourke. “It's like damning the air to say that capitalism has finished.”
  • David Cohen catches up with PJ in the National Business Review.
        In terms of his own social commentary, O’Rourke said the economic crisis was proving to be a fabulous time. . .  “when it comes to human folly it’s a target-rich environment right now for sure.” [Hat tip Roar Prawn]
  • Watch PJ O'Rourke being interviewed on Australia’s ABC News Breakfast
  • And interviewed in The Australian, with a journalist not apparently a fan of free markets.
        Adam Smith, though, remains as relevant as ever, says O’Rourke. The market is now doing its job, despite the best efforts of government to stop it. In O'Rourke's view, channelling Smith, throwing trillions in taxpayers' money at the problem is folly.
        "How, then, would Adam Smith fix the present mess?" O'Rourke wrote in the Financial Times recently. "Sorry, but it is fixed already. The answer to a decline in the value of speculative assets is to pay less for them. Job done."

Can’t wait.  Here’s just some of what PJ had to say in Sydney last week:

America has wound up with a charming leftist as a president. And this scares me. This scares me not because I hate leftists. I don’t. I have many charming leftist friends. They’re lovely people - as long as they keep their nose out of things they don’t understand. Such as making a living.

Don’t miss out. Talk to the Center for Independent Studies about remaining tickets for Auckland and/or Perth.

UPDATE: Another great audio interview here at the ABC's Philosopher's Zone [hat tip Anti Dismal]

Put it on the Messiah?

barack_obama_race_card From the ‘when-you-wish-upon-a-star’ file comes news that Americans’ next credit card could be backed by the ObaMessiah – a triumph, perhaps, of hope over irresponsibility. “Since apparently everything in America is going into the toilet except the public's faith in Barack Obama,” says the Atlantic Business Channel, “it seems that the way to fix everything in America is to entrust it to Barack Obama.”

The issues on the table for greater government involvement include: student lending, the car companies, car warranties, pensions, health care, banks, etc -- the list goes on. I mean, really, what's the White House going to back next, your credit card?

Um, maybe . . . which would be specially ironic given the dodgy credit-card “money laundering” by which his election campaign drew large sums.

Rumours that Obama will soon be organising dates for single Americans are as yet unconfirmed.

Nannying: Still annoying, still not working

Lindsay Mitchell has some impressive statistics here and here suggesting the effect of the government’s nannying campaigns to get you to “behave” are having about as much effect as your mother’s exhortations to “be careful” used to.

  • A study published in the NZ medical journal says sales of cigarettes are rising, even with (some might say despite) constant hectoring from the nannies.
  • In the face of nightly horror-show car-crash advertising and the like, the percentage of fatal crashes with alcohol/drugs as a factor has shown no measurable change over the ten years to 2007.
  • In fact, the percentage of drivers driving over the legal limit appears to be increasing.
  • And while figures indicate that that lots of people “remember” the “It’s not Okay” hectoring (the figures do not record with what level of affection), there are no figures conclusively showing that people have stopped hitting each other because of it all.

Which causes Lindsay to wonder

    if all these hugely expensive tax-payer funded media campaigns are just glorified make-work schemes. I also wonder if they don't sometimes provoke an emotional backlash.
    One thing is clear - getting the message is not the same thing as acting it on.

And is it just me, or didn’t the National Party promise before the last election that they were going to shut down the cavalcade of nannying that fills the TV screens, and the coffers of compliant advertising agencies?  Notice any diminution in the avalanche?

As Susan the Libertarian says, “It’s not the Advertising, It’s how we’re Advertising”:

Soapbox Salinger sacked [updated]

NIWA has sacked Jim Salinger. Described by some as “New Zealand's most prominent climate scientist,” by others as "New Zealand's most prominent climate alarmist," and still more as “the voice of global warming in New Zealand,” his sacking does not unfortunately presage any sort of change of direction for New Zealand’s most prominent global warming promoters. NIWA is still wall-to-wall warmist – but when both Greenpeace and Jeanette Fitzsimplesimons are upset at his sacking, it’s reason enough to celebrate.

As Anthony Watts does:

Now if NASA could just get the stones to do this for Jim Hansen . . .

Said Salinger himself in response to the sacking: “As scientists we’re all a bit eccentric and we all might slightly break protocol, but it’s not going to destroy NIWA.” For “break protocol,” read “use his job as a political soapbox.”

For your interest, here is some of the “wisdom” Salinger has dispensed on behalf of his former employer:

  • At a convention of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in New Zealand, Jim Salinger told the crowd that climate change will likely cause a decline in the production of malting barley in New Zealand and particularly Australia, and that, "It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up."
  • "Regional warming" is killing NZ’s glaciers, said Salinger in November 2007. Yet according to Salinger's own organisation, New Zealand's average temperate the previous month was 0.5 degrees Celsius below average, New Zealand experienced no warming over the last century, and the “regional” warming over the Southern Hemisphere for the last 30 years showed "a warming trend" of around 0.00 °C per decade.
  • In April 2007, comments from Salinger over over Northland's flooding showed that the Government's National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) should be shut down, said Augie Auer. "So simplistic, it's silly" was how Dr Auer described the statement.
    "As an explanation of the cause and consequences of last week's Northland rains," said Dr Auer, "Dr Salinger's statement ... is as unscientific as it is incorrect. "
  • In February this year, Salinger was quoted in the Herald on Auckland’s so called “hottest day ever” -- “the highest since official NIWA records began in September 1868” said the Herald – a remarkable judgement based on one outlying reading in Whenuapai, a station which only existed from 1945 to 1993 and from 2005 to now. (See discussion here at NZ’S Weather Forum.) This interview was among those cited as a reason for Salinger’s sacking.

Anyway, here is a YouTube grilling of warmist messiah Al Gore by a Republican Congresswoman on cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gases during a congressional hearing recently which just been posted at TechCrunch. Watch Al Gore being frustrated by the questions put forward to him the the Congresswoman.

This was yet another occasion when the Goracle -- who has a policy of never debate, only obfuscate --  managed to once again sidestep the challenge of former Thatcher Science Advisor and Free Radical contributor Christopher Monckton, Gore’s Democrats refusing to allow  Monckton to testify alongside Gore. [Michael Savage interviews Monckton here.]

And even CNN has taken to mocking Gore these days, pointing out the irony in Gore trying to draw parallels with global warming activism now and civil righs activism in the 60s – there was some irony in that remark, being that Gore's father was a longtime senator from Tennessee that voted against civil rights legislation, said Dobbs – who “also noted during the segment prior Earth Day prognostications, all of which didn't quite come true.” Newsbusters reports:

    "Well, Earth Day, this week, and here are some words of doom and gloom from leading scientists, academics and authors on our climate and environment associated with Earth Day," Dobbs said. "Journalists Peter Collier wrote, ‘One to two million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.' Biologist Paul Ehrlich claimed that most people are going to die in ‘the greatest cataclysm of mankind.' Harvard biologist George Wall said, ‘If we don't take act now, civilization will end between 15 or 30 years.' And ecologist Kenneth Watt claiming that in 15 years, ‘Air pollution will reduce the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one- half.' I want to point out if I may that each and every one of those quotes were from the first Earth Day in 1970, nearly 40 years ago."
The CNN segment highlighted a ClimateDepot.com report that global warming skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton was denied the opportunity to testify before the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment.
"The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face," Monckton told the online magazine Climate Depot," CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester said.
And as Climate Depot's Marc Morano explained - most Gore's doom-and-gloom forecasts are to occur in the distant future.
"If you look at Gore's testimony today, he was talking about what could, might and may happen 50 to 100 years from now," Morano said to CNN. "He was not talking about reality."

Saturday, 25 April 2009

ANZAC DAY REFLECTION: War! What is it good for?

Today's Anzac commemorations bring many reflections on the nature of war. Here very briefly is mine. 
    War is brutal, destructive, and unutterably horrific. It is heart-breakingly tragic for all involved. War is hell. Wars very rarely have winners, only those who have lost the least. War, as The Age said last year, "is a dangerous and terrible thing, which should only ever be seen as a last resort." 
    In short, war is the second-worst thing on earth.  
    Like economic depressions and murder by concentration camp, wars are neither acts of nature nor 'Acts of God': Wars are acts of man -- of men who seek to achieve their values by violence, and who will do so if others do not rise to defend their own lives and their own values.  Wars are the result of aggression by those who see value only in force, and who see other human beings as chattel.
    They are the second-worst thing on earth only because the very worst is tyranny: an act of war by governments against those they are supposed to protect. It is with the existence of tyrannical governments and of movements intent on inflicting tyranny and oppression against others that wars of conquest and campaigns of terror begin. It is those who seek their values through violence that makes war possible; it is the existence of such entities that make wars of self-defence and liberation necessary.
    It is not enough simply to declare oneself against war and wish war's destruction would go away.  Pacifism itself only rewards aggression.  Pacifism kills.  It is necessary to oppose aggression and to resist tyranny. 
    When aggressors seek Lebensraum, then appeasement only rewards the aggression – and only fuels further aggression.  Peace with tyrants is never genuine peace. When slave pens are allowed to flourish, then peace means peace without justice.
   Peace without justice rewards the tyrannical, rearms the aggressor, and is an injustice to those whom the tyrants enslave and kill.  Every semi-free country has the right to defend itself against aggressors; every semi-free country has the right (but not the duty) to liberate the slave pen.  As long as some human beings choose to deal with other human beings with the whip, the chain and the gun -- with stonings, fatwahs and holocausts -- with the torture chamber, the dungeon and the gulag -- as long as some men continue to enslave and attempt to enslave others, then wars will continue to happen, we will continue to need to be ready to defend ourselves, and we should all remember to thank and respect those who take on that job. 
        As George Orwell is supposed to have said, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Or as David Kopel concludes, if you want to give thanks for peace, then thank a soldier. 
    If we have things worth living for -- and we do -- then for that much at least we all have things worth defending. As Thomas Jefferson observed over two-hundred years ago, the price of our liberty is eternal vigilance. Two-hundred years later, nothing has changed. If war is horrific, then tyranny is worse.  
    In the name of liberty, let us resolve to remember the roots of all wars. In Ayn Rand’s words:

If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged “good” can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.

Lest we forget.  Take time today to remember those who lost it all for your freedom. They did more for peace than anyone who protests for it ever has.

[As regular readers will know, the Image above is from Charles Sargeant Jagger's Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London.]

Friday, 24 April 2009

A non-threatening, non-judgemental, ‘everybody-wins’ Beer O’Clock

No beer reviews this week.  No talking up my own favourite bevvies, or talking down yours.  Instead, let’s all have a hug -- and you tell me about your favourite beer(s) in the comments.

Which beer do you need to have in your fridge, without which your fridge is under-stocked?  Which beers make your life worth living – or, at least, your end-of-the-week session better?  Or which beer does the world and his elder brother desperately need to know about?

Tell your Uncle Peter.

Friday afternoon ramble

A wee Friday afternoon ramble through the tabs on my new Flock browser:
  • Paul Walker praises Obama. Doesn’t happen often. But it does when the Messiah “discards two major campaign pledges on international economic policy” – and those discarded pledges were to name China a currency manipulator, and to forswear renegotiation of NAFTA. Says Paul: “One of the biggest fears about the Obama administration was that, with regard to international economic policy, the President might actually follow through on his campaign rhetoric. That would have been a disaster, and so its good to see he isn't.”
  • Lindsay Perigo is less excited. “Fewer than 100 days into his presidency, Barack Chavez-Obama is shaping up as treasonous…”
  • 250 jobs axed at the IRD? That means, says Glenn Jameson, that there’s only 5750 to go.
  • From the UK: Looks like both Gordon Brown (recently) and David Cameron (last year) are jumping on Obama’s voluntary slavery bandwagon. Says the Devil’s Kitchen: “it seems that the Prime Mentalist has found a solution to the fact that the state just doesn't have the money to keep people in compulsory education until they are 18: don't actually educate them (no fucking change there, eh?), but make them indentured slaves instead. . . Because when I want to feel proud of my country, I definitely like to highlight state slavery as one of the best things about it. You fucking moron." Read Would you like some state slavery, or some state slavery? and find out how to swear properly. [Hat tip Rory Hodgson]
  • From the West Island: Looks like Plan Rudd for Team Holden is tits up. Already.
  • Deflation Has Gone Global, says Mish at MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis. “Deflation properly defined is a net decrease in the money supply and credit, with credit being marked to market. Deflation by that measure went global long ago.” Which means either prices and wages are allowed to fall – as they’re already doing in some markets – so the decreasing amount of money can buy as much as before, or we’re going to be in this for a very long time.
  • Still, New Zealand’s big four Australian owned banks have been rated inside the top 20 of the world’s 50 safest banks, says Bernard Hickey. Good news, as long as you ignore that all fractional reserve banks are technically insolvent anyway.
  • Echoing comments made by Austrian economists such as George Reisman and Peter Schiff, Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath says attempts by governments to intervene during a time of market correction will prove counter-productive and costly in the long run. “The nine-day fortnight is just the latest example of voodoo economics, promoted by ignoramuses,” he says. Read Nine Day Fortnight Is Economic Lunacy.
  • Speaking of bitter bloggers, media morons and Deborah Hill Cone – as I was last weekend, when I fixed all the problems of the press for them – you’ll enjoy the New Clarion’s analysis of that annoying CNN reporter at last week’s Chicago Tea Party. Read CNN Reporter Blanks Out On Camera.
  • Meanwhile, from the newsletter of NZ’s Foundation for Economic Growth comes this gem:
    • Stephen Jennings is the founder of the Moscow-based Renaissance Group including Renaissance Capital - the leading investment bank in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and sub-Saharan Africa. Born and schooled in Taranaki, he studied business and economics at Massey and Auckland, before joining the New Zealand Treasury. Later he worked with Credit Suisse First Boston before founding Renaissance Capital in Moscow in 1995. Today he is ranked by London’s Financial News as among the top 100 most influential people in European capital markets and has been described by a fellow banker as the only foreign oligarch in Russia.
      The NZ Business Round Table invited him over to give this year's Sir Ronald Trotter lecture. Amongst many other things he had this to say:
      • "My personal assessment is that as a society we are drifting away from this type of hard-nosed common sense reasoning; to put it politely we are becoming too inclined to believe our own myths. We are more likely to move forward if we talk about why the World Economic Forum ranks New Zealand 51st for burden of government; 67th for the extent and effect of taxation and 90th for hiring and firing practices."
    • Read the full speech here at NZCPR: Opportunities of a Lifetime: Lessons for New Zealand from New High-Growth Economies.
  • Iran is in the news again for all the wrong (but usual) reasons. With or Without Nukes, Iran Is a Mortal Threat, reminds Elan Journo.
  • “Changes” to the Resource Management Act? Who is anybody kidding, here? Local Government New Zealand reckons “changes designed to simplify and streamline the Resource Management Act may actually create more delays and increase costs.” Really. Ya think? Meanwhile, Business New Zealand – the government’s friend – says “it supported the fundamental principles of the Resource Management Act , but . . .” Apparently they don’t realise their first clause makes the second redundant.
  • Cactus Kate maintains that if her alma mater wants to give Helen Clark an honorary doctorate, then she will start binning those alumni contribution requests. Farrar reckons “To be truly appropriate, I think they should make it a retrospective degree!”
  • The Humble Libertarian humbly and studiously lists and links the “top 100 libertarian blogs and websites” from around the world. The Ayn Rand Institute makes it in (with an apology); Not PC doesn’t (thank you to readers who’ve promoted it).
  • And The Nearby Pen lists the top 20 Objectivist blogs. Once again, I don’t make the front page – but the honourable mention is much appreciated. :-)
  • While we're listing blogs, here (courtesy of Bernard Hickey and the Irish Times) are the world's best financial blogs. You'll see by the presence of alleged economist Paul Krugman on the list that "best" is not a measure of acumen, so much as traffic.
  • Whale Oil discovers that California's 'Green Jobs' Experiment Isn't Going Well. No surprises there. “The last thing the economy needs is a ‘green solution’ to a problem that doesn't exist and then cripples our economy right when we need it to be clawing its way out of a socialist induced recession.”
  • George Reisman agrees, but sees a way ‘green jobs’ could be made to work. “Indeed, advancing the goals of environmentalism is capable of creating a virtually limitless number of jobs. Big-rig trucks and their ‘polluting’ emissions might be done away with by replacing them with human porters who would carry freight on their backs. Ocean-going ships and their emissions might be done away with by replacing their "dirty engines" with the clean labor of banks of oarsmen. (Sails would be a substitute too, but they are no match for oarsmen when it comes to the number of workers needed.) Automobiles and their emissions might be replaced by sedan chairs and teams of litter bearer. . . “
    The possibilities are endless.
  • Residents of W(h)anganui get to vote on whether they spell their address the way Ken Mair wants them to, but Aucklanders don’t get to vote on whether they get to live in Rodney Hide’s new fascist uber state. The Standard reckons that this represents yet another National election promise broken – “that National policy before the election was to let Aucklanders have their say on any proposal to change our city.” I’m inclined to agree with them.
  • Good news from the coming depression: Crocs are going to disappear forever! Even if it takes a decade of stagnation and unemployment, that may just be worth it if that’s true.
  • From the how-come-this-isn’t-making-news file, comes this story from Stratfor: the Taliban problem is going critical in nuclear Pakistan. It is making news in some places, anyway. The Daily Mail:Pakistan is a 'mortal threat' to world, says Clinton as Taliban surge towards Islamabad. [Hat tip Leighton Smith]
  • dana_thomas_house Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House, a Frank Lloyd Wright gem (dedicated website here) is reopening. Volunteer Gayle Manning says this is especially good news, since “she and her colleagues can call off the ghost of Susan Dana, the home's eccentric socialite, now deceased, who was known to dabble in the paranormal. ‘We sent her to visit the ex-governor to make him pay for what he did,’ Manning joked Tuesday. ‘I'm sure she's here dancing in the gallery now, thrilled like the rest of us’."
  • For the first time in American legal history, a judge has explicitly endorsed important principles of Ayn Rand’s political theory in a published appellate opinion. Story here.
  • After Salon writer Glenn Greenwald spoke at a Cato forum about his new study on Portugal’s successful drug decriminalization program, he sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss his research. Head here for the video.

  • You wanted a local cannabis cafe? The Daktory is just what your doctor probably ordered – a club that allows you to peacefully indulge your favourite habit in the company of friends and fellow members. Join here. More here:

  • Environmentalists, listen up. Forbes.com published this article yesterday based on Art Carden’s paper "Economic Calculation in the Environmentalist Commonwealth."
    Here's the gist, says Art: “private property and prices are necessary for rational economic calculation; therefore, without private property we cannot know what responsible environmental stewardship even means. Bringing more resources into the cash nexus--by privatizing garbage collection and recycling, and by eliminating building restrictions in large cities--can reduce the amount of environmental damage that gets done.”
    Good to see then that the FrogBlog’s ‘Toad’ maintains on this Kiwiblog thread that he, at least, is a supporter of property rights. For one race, anyway.
  • The upside down world of John Maynard Keynes got us into the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it looks increasingly like it’s going to keep us there for some time. Keynes was “more bureaucrat than economist,” says Mark Thornton. “In fact, he would best be described as an anti-economist…”Sounds like too high praise, really. Read ‘The Upside-down World of John Maynard Keynes’ and see if you agree.
  • Want a sober, rational summary of what just happened to the world’s economies? Want a cracking good read? Then the book you’re after is Tom Woods’s Meltdown, as this short book review should persuade you: It’s Austrian theory for everyone!
  • And while we’re talking new and essential books, Bob Murphy’s new book on The Fake History of the Depression is another one. Real name: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal.
  • Did I mention Austrian economics? Some Objectivists (who should remain nameless, but whose names might include the words Richard and Salsman) suggest that Austrian economics should be shunned in favour of the supply-siders and the “rational expectations” school. Austrian economics is “inane,” says Salsman. Per-Olof Samuelsson fisks this ridiculous notion in a piece he calls Objectivism and "Austrian" Economics – compatible or not? (or: Richard Salsman is a Moron). As Wladmir Kraus says, “I liked [this] piece very much. It's forceful and to the point. If an Objectivist, after having read [this] analysis, still finds the nerve to believe and propound Salsman's nonsense about the Austrian school and George Reisman in particular, he's either a fool or dishonest fool.” Take that, fools. [And there’s More Salsman Nonsense here if you’re so inclined.]
  • And finally, if you enjoy my daily art and architecture posts here at NOT PC, which I post to show you that there’s more in the art world than just crap art, then you’ll love Lindsay Perigo’s Music Gems of the Day that he’s been posting, well, every day – and for much the same reason. Scroll down at his blog to see (and hear) them all, from Sibelius, to Massenet, to Bach.
    The most recent is Dimitris Sgouros at an open-air evening performance of Liszt's Harmonies du Soir.


PS: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is still in the top fifty at Amazon. Help keep it there.
Which means here’s what you need to add these to your list of essential reading this week, or to give to a friend:


This quote from Nicholas Guariglia at Pajamas Media puts some of the hand wringing about “torture” into perspective.

    The faux outrage and response to the memos recall an old international law class, from some years ago, where the discussion turned to the immorality of coercive interrogation. The United States was torturing prisoners, the professor suggested, because the al-Qaeda detainees were subjected to female interrogators, barking dogs, and loud music. As fundamentalist Muslims, the detainees were not “comfortable” with women “speaking down” to them, the professor contended. Nor were they fans of the heavy metal music played in their cell. Additionally, as Middle Easterners, they were accustomed to a society where dogs are undomesticated, dangerous animals — think: the way Westerners perceive wolves — or so the professor’s argument went.
It was at that moment that I realized how similar these “torturous” acts were to my own everyday lifestyle. “Wait a second,” I interjected. “Being in the same room with a dog, listening to Metallica, and getting reprimanded by a female for something she thinks I did wrong? That’s not torture. That’s my Friday night!” [Hat tip Paul Hsieh]

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Goughing up smack, and other nasty business

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes an irreverent look at this week’s news .

  • Phil Goff Denies U-Turn on Anti-Smacking LawThe “Goff-father” now says the law that he voted to pass through parliament –- the law that impedes and undermines the parental ability to discipline their children -- should not be changed in any way, but that parents that act in contravention of that law should not be prosecuted. In other words, the anti-smacking law should stand, but people should not be prosecuted for breaking it. Sounds like he’s trying to have it both ways. Sorry, Phil, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The rule of law is crucial to a civil society, but not laws like this piece of rubbish. As the Libertarianz Party campaign posters said last year: Legalise Smack.
  • IRD Considers Forced Sackings – What a shame only 4 per cent of the Department of Legalised Theft employees are being cut loose. Interesting that the PSA bemoans the “cuts in service levels” that will result. Service! What service? Since when have these Daywalkers ever given “service”? Service describes something that people actually want and for which they will willingly trade a value. But no-one wants these parasites on their back. How much longer will we tolerate the IRD’s swarms of officers that harass our people and eat out their substance? Only the Libertarianz Party has policies that will slash taxes in any meaningful way, acknowledging that taxation is a violation of the same property rights our government is supposed to protect.
  • Solid Energy Had No Right To Evict Us [Say] Protestors - The Save Happy Valley Coalition of Communists have had their campsite removed from the Stockton opencast mine. The SHVC protestors claim that because the land is state-owned, they have a right to be there. Of course, these people want all land to be state-owned as a first step in the abolition of private property. They don’t seem to realise that communism as a political movement died in the early 90s. No-one would object to anyone’s right to protest peacefully, but the prolonged occupation of a commercial site which interferes with the lawful activity of a business oversteps the limits of tolerance and acceptability. Put bluntly, the answer to smelly Marxist hippies invading mine sites is to privatise the mining companies and the land on which they mine, so that communists and other trespassers can be shut out without all the hand-wringing and uncertainty that arises when there are disputes over “public land”. End of story.
  • Motelier hurls further insults – Motel owner Steve Donnelly bans the entire population of Wainuiomata from his motel, and tells some Maori guests that the motel is not a marae or a Housing New Zealand home. So what? I can’t see the problem.  It’s his motel, right?  Twenty years ago this would not even have made the news. Motel owners have exercised their right to ban individuals and groups of people for as long as there have been motels. Why, all of a sudden, have banned people and groups been accorded victim status? I can guess what will follow next -- a knock on the motelier’s door, and a visit from some make-work bureau-rats from Wellington who will try to tell the motel owner how to run his business. I hope he bans them as well.

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

Taverna – Michael Newberry


So much depth and colour and sunlight packed into a plein air oil painting of just 9x12 inches.  And doesn’t it just remind you of Greece.  :-)

See more of Michael Newberry’s work here at his website – and if you’re near Santa Monica, check out his new gallery.

PS: Have a look at his Art Tutorial Transparency: A Key to Spatial Depth in Painting, Part 2, Color, which will help you understand how he adds depth here, and how the sunlight is made so brilliant.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Apostrophes to the gallant apostrophe

example_v_04I loved the attitude of the chap from the Apostrophe Protection Society, who appeared on Larry Williams’s radio show this morning.   He would have been appalled at that sign on the left.  More on that in a minute.  But first, a joke, of sorts:

If you mentioned that a kiwi eats roots and leaves, you’d simply be stating a fact.  But if you said instead that a kiwi eats, roots and leaves, then you could be confused with someone making an excuse for an early exit.

This old joke, in a slightly different form, was the basis of Lynne Truss’s book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a call to arms for grammar pedant everywhere.  Since writing the book she’s been “listening to the woes of pedants worldwide “-- “a heart-breaking story that is still not sufficiently acknowledged.”

The pedant knows that a simple comma changes the two sentences above.  The pedant knows that if it’s important enough to be understood, it’s important enough to make sure you’re clear.

Internet exchanges take shortcuts, which often lead to more misunderstanding than conversation. Consider this exchange at Public Address, for an example:

“Don't be a selfish prick and think of other people's enjoyment as being as important as your own.”

I'm confused now. Do you mean "if you think other peoples enjoyment is as important as your own then you are a selfish prick"? or "Don't be a selfish prick, think of other people's enjoyment as being as important as your own.”

example_a01The problems aren’t only with commas. The much misunderstood apostrophe has been used, abused and - in Birmingham, England, at least -- has now been  banned altogether.  Rather than getting half their road signs half right, the Brummie Town Councillors have now decided instead to get them all wrong.  See:

So like a bureaucracy.

6a00d8341d417153ef010535ea1adc970c The Birmingham ban apparently prompted the formation of the delightfully named Apostrophe Protection Society headed by retired journalist John Richards, who started the society appalled at the destruction of the English language – and picking the apostrophe as his own personal crusade. (You can hear him talking to Larry Williams here: the segment starts 23:00.)  It’s a crusade for the difference between “Am I looking at my dinner or the dog’s?” and “Am I looking at my dinner or the dogs?”

The apostrophe is an essential part of English grammar, he says.  Errors in apostrophe usage abound  – laziness, ignorance, the modern education ‘system’ being the primary culprits – and its misuse destroys clarity, and and his society is another call to arms for sticklers to help turn things around. His Apostrophe Protection Society has a website, which you can bookmark and use as a reference to how to get it right.

And as it happens, Lynne Truss – who’s been known to stand under movie signs in Leicester Square with a cut-out apostrophe on a stick to correct egregious apostrophic errors in film titles (Two Weeks Notice was one that sparked her ire) – is still on her own correcting crusade, as she explains in this column: Stop the apostrophe catastrophe!.

6a00d8341d417153ef0105363175bc970c-800wi    I have had to think about such issues a lot recently because of the publication of The Girl's Like Spaghetti, a book for children that handily illustrates the difference made by the apostrophe in a bunch of simple sentences.
    For example, "Those smelly things are my brother's" is illustrated by a group of children running away with pegs on their noses from a pair of disgusting old shoes; opposite comes "Those smelly things are my brothers" (no apostrophe), which shows a couple of boys pouring rubbish on each other.
I find this extremely amusing, of course, but then I'm like that.
"The dogs like my Dad" is shown alongside "The dog's like my Dad".
I love the illustrations for "We're here to help you" (smiling assistants behind a desk) and "Were here to help you" (closed door, covered in signs: "Gone fishing" and "Try next door").
I am also proud of a sentence that works for both "its" and "it's": "Look, it's behind!" say some children, observing a turtle losing a turtle race. "Look, its behind!" snigger some kiddies, pointing at the rear end of a horse.

A useful way, perhaps, to describe those who perpetuate the apostrophe catastrophe.  All power to Mr Richards and his gallant group of sticklers for fighting the good fight.

NB: Cartoons are from this chap’s blog, another stickler for the good fight.

NOT PJ: A Tale of Two Whatsits

This week Bernard Darnton doesn’t know where the whuck he is.

Recently I travelled from a large geological formation situated between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean to a slightly larger geological formation, also situated between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Because I had the car I didn’t fly but took the Inter-thingamabob ferry.

Buying tickets was almost impossible as I explained that I wanted to go to the green and white pointy place right next to the Pacific Ocean.

“The what?” asked the ticket agent.

“The Paci- The big blue wobbly thing,” I said pointing at the big blue wobbly thing out the window.

It was then that I mentally formulated my letter to the New Zealand Geographic Board.

Thank goodness we have a government department to tell us what to call things, especially since – being in Wellington at the time – the big blue wobbly thing didn’t always live up to Baldrick’s romantic description. Most days it was a large grey angry thing that hurled itself at the windows. It would be useful to have just one name that we could refer to it by.

Most New Zealanders would have been shocked to discover this week that the North and South Islands didn’t have names. How have we coped up until now?

A bigger question is: having discovered this staggering oversight, why do we turn to the New Zealand Geographic Board to fix it when they’ve ignored forever the existence of the two largest geographic features New Zealand has to offer? The Geographic Board (headquarters: Codfish Island) obviously can’t be trusted with geography.

The justification for this omission is that the islands haven’t had “official” names because they aren’t mentioned in legislation. The Board is there to settle squabbles over out-of-the-way places mentioned in Waitangi Tribunal settlements – that sort of thing. Two words: Electoral Act.

The formula for the number of general electoral districts in New Zealand is based on the population of “the South Island.” Let’s make sure we don’t get this wrong because the green and white pointy place mentioned earlier isn’t the only place that’s ever been called “the South Island.” Based on the population of Stewart Island (formerly known as the South Island, back when the South Island was called the Middle Island) the electoral district formula would give us 130,053 MPs.

Judith Tizard would be the least of our problems if we had to scrape that far down the barrel and keep tunnelling.

So, in the absence of anyone who’s done their geography homework, let’s get the Geographic Board on the case and issue a proclamation on something everyone already knows before the aforementioned horror eventuates.

The Board has wisely suggested naming the islands in Māori: Te Ika a Māui and Te Wai Pounamu. That way their little slip-up will be thoroughly obscured by the holy war between the rednecks who take pride in their ignorance of Māori pronunciation and the pinot gris types who care-fu-lly e-nun-ci-ate every syllable to prove how right on they are.

Michael Laws, representing the former, had a stroke at the suggestion, still grumpy about having an H inserted where it wasn’t welcome.

A round of applause to our wonderful bureaucracy. Admittedly they created the “problem” in the first place, and then had to point it out in a press release when we blissfully got on with our lives anyway, but they’re finally here to fix everything. I don’t know where we’d be without them. Or what it would be called.

* * Bernard Darnton writes every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

Tax cut election promise broken

Bill English is now all but conceding that National’s tax cuts, promised at the election only five months ago, will not be going ahead.  Let me repeat what I said a few weeks ago: to promise them then and pull them now is  either a sign of incompetence, or dishonesty.  There are no other alternatives.

Here’s what I said back on April 1, based on what anyone with a brain could see back in October when those promises were made:

    Significant tax cuts were a key election-winning promise for National, remember?
    And now they want to recant on that promise, just as I told you they would back in October. “Economic conditions” and a projected "decade of deficits” make it impossible, say Prime Minister John Key and his Finance Minister Bill English, to deliver the latter two of the three rounds of tax cuts they promised so loudly back in November.
    Excuse me boys, but isn’t it the case that these tax cuts, promised less than five months ago, were a key reason that the public gave you the jobs you have now? Shouldn’t you be doing now what’s necessary to do what you promised then?
    Isn’t it just a bit rich to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver what you promised back before the election, because it was obvious back then to anyone with eyes to see that economic conditions were going to make it necessary to cut the government’s coat according to the cloth it could afford.
    To say that it wasn’t obvious to you back then is not an excuse not to deliver now, it’s a reason for your supporters to realise that you're either not competent enough to do your jobs -- since the whole world and his grandson could see back in October what was coming -- or else you’re a pair of liars.
    No other alternative explanation is possible.
    There is a strong case to be made for incompetence, though this jury is still out. For example, this fiscal fool English cites Treasury's projected "decade of government deficits" as a reason not to cut taxes. But you knew about these deficits back in October, Bill, and you committed then to stay on course with your tax cuts. And you completely fail to realise, Bill, that deficits are not inevitable – they depend, in the final analysis, on the commitment and integrity of the finance minister. Deficits for a whole decade simply mean that your government plans to spend more than it takes in for a whole decade.
    Is that sensible? Sound? Competent?
    To say that the projected “decade of deficits” makes it "impossible to deliver tax cuts" is to say that you have no idea how to bring your own spending under control at a time when spending restraint has never been more necessary – at a time when it’s clear enough to anyone who can add that the way to remove those deficits, and to do what you promised, is to cut the level of your spending to fit the new depressed realities.
    Why can’t you do that, Mr English?
    In fact, the economic conditions we now face make tax cuts not less urgent but more urgent. They make it even more essential that you keep your damn promises, not less.
    They make it even more necessary that everyone look to their knitting and cut out waste.  They make it even more urgent that businesses are given significant tax cuts, to help them lower their costs and survive the recession. That wage earners are given significant tax cuts to help them pay their bills and ride out the recession. That ministers do everything they can to make permanent and slashing cuts to their budgets, and senior ministers look to cut whole areas of wasteful spending of their books. Family's Commission and Ministry of Hairy Women's Affairs, anyone?
    Frankly, it’s not enough to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver a key election commitment, Mr English. Either admit you’re incompetent, or that you’re a liar, or get you head around the cuts you need to make and then make them, and deliver what it was you promised.
    Either do that, Mr English, or get the hell out of the way for someone who can.
    NB: Read what I said October last year to see that despite an election campaign in denial about the real state of the economy, it didn’t take a genius to see what was afoot.  Key and English were either lying back then about their promises, or they're incompetent now to fulfil them. There are no other alternatives, are there.

‘Cindy & Zuzu’ – Ricky Colson

RICKY_COLSON-CindyAndZuzu This dramatic graphite and goache drawing was the first place winner in the drawing category at this year’s Art Renewal Center Salon.  Check out more of the artist’s brilliant work at his website here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

ANZAC WEEK: The Horsemen of non-apocalypse

I ended my Anzac Day post last year with the thought "if you want to give thanks for peace, then thank a soldier."

All too relevant this year, in a week in which it looks like the defence of this country is once again about to be taken for granted.

Before we give thanks this weekend to those in the past who fought and died for the freedom we enjoy today -- just before the arsenals of today's soldiers, sailors and airmen are made even more barren of anything remotely aggressive, and left undefended from the air -- it's important to be reminded that a desire for peace is worthless without the capacity to defend that desire, or the ability to understand what makes it possible.

It is as worthless to desire peace without arming against those who would destroy it as it is to wish for peace without any understanding of what would make it possible.  If the four horsemen of apocalypse are to be kept at bay, then both actual and intellectual ammunition will be necessary: if you truly desire peace, you must oppose the roots of war.

D9-vikingrembrandt112To understand the roots of peace, you must understand that war's greatest opponents are not those whom your schoolteachers might have led you to believe.  

The opponents of peace are legion -- it is because of them that armed defence is necessary; the opponents of war are too few.

The truth is that across all the pages of history  there have been two fundamental antagonists who have been variously venerated and eviscerated:  the trader, and the warrior -- the former the bringer of peace, the latter the bringer of violence.  The man of peaec, and the man of war. The man who relies on voluntary exchange to mutual advantage, and the man who loots and plunders. The man who produces value, and the man who destroys it. The bringer of peace and prosperity, and all the benighted horsemen of the apocalypse.

Cultures that venerate the warrior culture are mired in violence.  Cultures that venerate the trader enjoy peace, prosperity and all the good things that come from those twin blessings

For most of history it has been the warrior who has been most venerated, and the trader who has been most attacked.  This explains the darkness of so much of human history.

The trader buys and sells to everyone's advantage; he relies on voluntary action and peaceful cooperation -- in his work he demonstrates the harmony of interests of free men.  The trader is a man of peace: relying on peace and freedom to function, out of that he acqquires by voluntary exchange the human values that mean civilisation.  The warrior by contrast is a man of plunder, someone who needs and feeds on destruction.  His values are inimical to human life.  He is a destroyer.

I invite you to keep this fundamental antagonism in mind as you read on, and to reflect on the all too obvious fact that despite the trader being the force for peace, it is the warrior who has always got the better press.

The trader is the figurehead of what we might call, 'the three horsemen of peace': three values and institutions which both historically and intellectually underpin the pursuit of peaceful conduct among man.  The first amongst these is trade itself.

Trade.   Trade works.  Trade is simply the voluntary exchange of goods and services to mutual advantage.  In the words of the economists, when I trade my apples for my neighbour's oranges, it is because I value the oranges more than my apples, and my neighbour values my apples more than his oranges. We both see mutual advantage in the exchange, and since both sets of goods are each moved froma  'lower value' to a 'higher value,' the nett result of this and every voluntary trade is that both traders win - everyone kicks a goal! -- and from each trade new wealth is created thereby: the economy is greater for the sum of the higher values achieved, and my breakfast table is richer by some freshly squeezed orange juice -- and my neighbours by my apples.

It us thus that men live by production and voluntary exchange, not by plunder. This is the benevolent 'invisible hand' of which Adam Smith spoke.  It is a hand of peace, since as Frederic Bastiat observed, "when goods don't cross borders, armies will." Countries that trade with each other don't go to war with each other: there's too much to lose.

    "Free trade helps quell government's passion for war. It creates powerful lobbying groups on all sides that demand the preservation of peace and the triumph of diplomacy over hostility. International trade networks create intermediating structures of business relations that work as a barrier to bombs and belligerence. 
Trade trumps conquest. Rather than seeing trade itself as a conflict, as something involving embargoes, sanctions and aggressive 'trade wars,' we should realise that peace and free trade are mutually dependent."

Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe, for example, that the free trade era of the nineteenth-century trade brought to the world the most peaceful century yet known.And in the twentieth century, post-war trade brought benefits to twentieth-century Germany and Japan that their earlier destructive attempts at conquest never could.  (You can read that short lesson here: Trade versus Conquest.)

The second horseman is capitalism.

"Laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships," observed Ayn Rand in her article 'The Roots of War.' "By the nature of its basic principles and interests," she observd, "it is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.

    "Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country’s economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule... 
    "Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production."

By contrast:

    "Men who are free to produce, have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. Ideologically, the principle of individual rights does not permit a man to seek his own livelihood at the point of a gun, inside or outside his country. Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war come out of the income of private citizens—there is no overblown public treasury to hide that fact—and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace. 
In a statist economy, where wealth is “publicly owned,” a citizen has no economic interests to protect by preserving peace—he is only a drop in the common bucket—while war gives him the (fallacious) hope of larger handouts from his master. Ideologically, he is trained to regard men as sacrificial animals; he is one himself; he can have no concept of why foreigners should not be sacrificed on the same public altar for the benefit of the same state. 
The trader and the warrior have been fundamental antagonists throughout history. Trade does not flourish on battlefields, factories do not produce under bombardments, profits do not grow on rubble. Capitalism is a society of traders—for which it has been denounced by every would-be gunman who regards trade as “selfish” and conquest as “noble.” 
Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history—a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world—from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914."

The third horseman of peace is industrial civilisation, and all the values that underpin it.

Industrial civilisation and the values that gave rise to it are fundamental antagonists to the values of war and conquest.  The benefits of industrial civilisation are fundamentally dependent on freedom -- the freedom to trade; the freedom to produce; the freedom to pursue our own individual happiness, secure in our right to do so.  Just as aggressive war is antagonistic to every one of these fundamental freedoms, so too are the fruits of war and conquest.  For centuries man pursued wealth by conquest -- the industrial revolution and the industrial civilization it produced now demonstrates conclusively that wealth comes from production, not from destruction.  Says George Reisman:

    "It is vital to recognize the enormous contribution that the essential vehicle of economic progress, namely industrial civilization, has made to human life and well-being since its birth over two centuries ago in the Industrial Revolution. 
    "Industrial civilization has radically increased human life expectancy: from about thirty years in the mid-eighteenth century to about seventy-five years today. The enormous contribution of industrial civilization to human life is [dramatically] illustrated by the fact that the average newborn American child has a greater chance of living to age sixty-five than the average newborn child of a nonindustrial society has of living to age five. These marvelous results have come about because of an ever improving supply of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and all the conveniences of life . . . 
    "In the last two centuries, loyalty to the values of science, technology, and capitalism has enabled man in the industrialized countries of the Western world to put an end to famines and plagues, and to eliminate the once dread diseases of cholera, diphtheria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever, among others. . . 
    "As the result of industrial civilization, not only do billions more people survive, but in the advanced countries they do so on a level far exceeding that of kings and emperors in all previous ages . . . "

Trade and the fruits of industrial civilization beat all the conquests made by all the kings and emperors throughout all history into a cocked hat.

    ". . . not only do billions more people survive, but in the advanced countries they do so on a level ... that just a few generations ago would have been regarded as possible only in a world of science fiction. With the turn of a key, the push of a pedal, and the touch of a steering wheel, they drive along highways in wondrous machines at sixty miles an hour. With the flick of a switch, they light a room in the middle of darkness. With the touch of a button, they watch events taking place ten thousand miles away. With the touch of a few other buttons, they talk to other people across town or across the world. They even fly through the air at six hundred miles per hour, forty thousand feet up, watching movies and sipping martinis in air-conditioned comfort as they do so. In the United States [and most other industrialized parts of the world] most people can have all this, and spacious homes or apartments, carpeted and fully furnished, with indoor plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, refrigerators, freezers, and gas or electric stoves, and also personal libraries of hundreds of books, records, compact disks, and tape recordings; they can have all this, as well as long life and good health—as the result of working forty hours a week."

These are the benefits of production, not of destruction; of science and technology put to human ends, not to martial ends; of the fruits of freedom and individual rights, not of tribalism, or nationalism or the gang rule of dictatorship.

Ludwig von Mises saw at first hand the destructive result of two world wars.  After the second, he observed:

    "The statement that one man's boon is the other man's damage is valid only with regard to robbery war and booty. The robber's plunder is the damage of the despoiled victim.  But war and commerce are two different things... 
    "What distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor...  The emergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war.  Such is the essence of the laissez-faire philosophy of [free trade] ...  This philosophy is of course incompatible with [state worship]... 
    "The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons.  It is the spirit of conquest...  Modern civilization is a product of the philosophy of laissez faire.  It cannot be preserved under the ideology of government omnipotence...  To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable.  The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war."

Which, in summary, is to discard completely the ideology of state worship and omnipotent government.  

Which is to say if you want to give thanks for peace, then thank a soldier.  But do not forget to thank the trader more.