Monday, 7 December 2009

2025 and all that [update 2]

When Don Brash published his recommendations for making New Zealand wealthier by 2025 Productivity, the Herald in its wisdom first looked to Garth George for its response (which is sort of like asking your dog to give advice on your relationships) and then refused to publish Don Brash’s reply to the George’s blustering ignorance, which was sent to them the very morning George’s apology for mediocrity appeared in print.

Garth George, by the way, is the chap who maintains that he doesn’t even need to look at the evidence to know whether or not the icecaps are melting, because “every time I see a rainbow I have it confirmed for me. It tells me that God is keeping the promise he made to Noah after the world-drowning flood thousands of years ago recorded in Genesis....”

Facts, for the likes of Mr George, are just something he uses to fit around his pet idiocies. And since Mr George is considered, by the likes of the Herald’s editors, to be such an oracle his views may not even be challenged by those he besmirches, that tells you as much about the Herald’s journalistic integrity as you might have suspected from Cactus Kate’s recent run-in with its editor Tim Murphy recently over their journalistic guidelines [see this series of posts].

And since the Herald would sooner publish Mr George’s rampant idiocy than Dr Bash’s cogent response to it, naturally the blogosphere has been giving The Don’s reply the airing it so richly deserves.  So here it is:

Garth George is Seriously Wrong
    Garth George was way off beam in his attack on the first report of the 2025 Taskforce.
    Leaving aside the personal invective, he claims that the “biggest absurdity” in the report is the proposition that New Zealand can and should catch up with Australia. He says that “there is just no comparison between the two countries”, with Australia having five times our population, 32 times our land area, and huge resources of minerals. Well, those are factual statements about Australia, but they ignore some important facts which he would be aware of had he read the report.
    First, there is no correlation between living standards and population – if there were, India would be super-rich and Singapore would be poor.
    Second, there is no correlation between living standards and land area – if there were, Russia would be super-rich and Finland would be poor.
    Third, there is no correlation between living standards and mineral wealth – if there were, the Congo would be super-rich and Japan would be poor.
    In any event, a recent World Bank study showed that, in per capita terms, New Zealand has more natural resources than almost any other country in the world.
    For most of New Zealand’s history, our standard of living has been very similar to that in Australia – sometimes a bit ahead, sometimes a bit behind. And the Taskforce didn’t off its own bat decide that catching Australia again by 2025 would be some good idea: the goal was set by the Government itself, and the Taskforce was set up both to advise on how best to achieve the (very challenging) goal and to monitor annually progress towards achieving it.
    Too often in the past, governments have announced grandiose commitments to lift living standards – such as the last Government’s commitment to lift us into the top half of developed countries within 10 years – but then totally ignored those commitments, hoping that nobody would notice it. It is to the Government’s credit that they made a commitment and then established a mechanism to hold them to account.
    Garth George accuses the Taskforce of recommending a whole range of things which we do not recommend. For example, he accuses us of recommending a flat personal income tax, and notes that if such a tax were established a whole range of low income people would have to pay more tax. But whatever the merits of a flat tax, the Taskforce did not recommend such a tax. What we did say was that, if core government spending were cut to the same fraction of GDP that it was in both 2004 and 2005 (29%), the top personal rate, the company tax rate, and the trust tax rate could comfortably be aligned at 20%. Under such a tax structure, all those earning above $14,000 a year would pay less income tax, while nobody would pay more income tax.
    Nobody seriously argues that government was vastly too small in New Zealand in 2004 and 2005 (the end of the Labour Government’s second term in office), so why the ridiculous reaction when the Taskforce suggests reducing government spending to that level?
    Mr George also suggests that we recommended abolishing subsidised doctor visits, and implies that we are advocating an American approach to healthcare. This is again utter nonsense. We suggested targeting subsidies for doctor’s visits at those who need them, either because they have low incomes or have chronic health problems.
    He suggests that we favoured removing subsidies for early childhood education. Again, not true. What we said was that those subsidies – which have trebled in cost from $400 million a year to $1.2 billion a year over the last five years – should be focused on those who need them.
    The recommendations of the 2025 Taskforce are actually totally in line with orthodox thinking in most developed countries, and are almost entirely consistent with the recommendations of the recent OECD report on New Zealand.
    Don Brash
Chairman of the 2025 Taskforce

UPDATE 1: Matt Nolan tells me Brash’s letter finally appeared on the Herald website “several hours ago.” No sign yet in its dead-tree edition. Keep an eye out for it, and let us know tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: The frankly pathetic response to Team Brash’s report by the various apologists for mediocrity around the traps threatens to overshadow what Muriel Newman calls “probably the most important question of the decade: do we as a nation want a more prosperous future, or are we prepared to accept the continuing decline in living standards? This is the critical issue that is at the heart of the discussion over the report of the 2025 Taskforce released last Monday.” 

    “The report released by the 2025 Taskforce clearly shows that New Zealand has lost its way. This country that was a beacon for hard working immigrants from around the world, who wanted a better life for themselves and their children, has now become, according to John Key, ‘a breeding ground and giant education facility for Australia’.”

Key is now apparently happy with that status quo condition.

Read Muriel’s full commentary here: Prosperity or Poverty - New Zealand at the crossroads.

UPDATE 3: In a related debate, Eric Crampton explains how adding the various proposals for new taxes to the typical election cycle results in what’s effectively a bullet to the head of any idea of catching anyone.  Even Slovakia.

Read No tax changes without spending changes.

A rejection letter we’d like to see [updated]

When my mother was in hospital recently, she got sick of having forms thrust under her nose several times every day by all the different white-coated medical bods.

“Haven’t they got all this information already,” she’d say about everyone from physios to osteos to occupational therapists, good people all, but all of them insisting she write out what seemed like the same information over and over again for their own particular databases, of which she worked out there much be hundreds.

So I suggested that I make up a form for that she could hand over to them to fill out, asking them for their own names, address and bank account details.  Thought it might be fun for her. I even started making one up.

So I was delighted to read this morning that there’s another chap who feels much the same way about being the recipient of so many rejection letters—and after receiving yet another one he’s pondering telling them their rejection is rejected:

Dear [name removed]

I am writing to you in regard to your rejection letter dated _______, telling me that I have not been successful in applying for the position of ________. Every month I receive a large number of rejection letters, and I am sorry to advise you that yours has not been accepted. I want to thank you for the time that you’ve taken to write this rejection letter and I wish you all the best in rejecting other applicants.

Dr Xxxxx Xxxxxxx

UPDATELindsay Mitchell’s memory has been jogged . . . she has a list of some of the treatments that can’t given until the necessary forms are completed . . .

That homeopathic emergency room look

As news emerges in the UK that the NHS spends around £4 million a year on dispensing homeopathy to patients, around £20 million refurbishing the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and at least two more “homeopathic hospitals” paid for out of NHS funds [hat tip Shaun Holt], comedians Mitchell and Webb visit a homeopathic accident & emergency department.

The perfect place for people you despise.

[Hat tip Sean, and 16 dozen others.]

“That Afghan Plan

Sam at SOLO looks at “That Afghan Plan”:

_quote So, the President's plan is to pop 30k more troops into Afghanistan. And then to start pulling them out in 18 months or so. This is the 'refined' strategy.
    “Gee, wonder what Osama and team Taliban would make of this? The most potent, ass-kicking military the planet has known is about to upscale operations in your neighbourhood – but only for 18 months or so.
    “That's 18 months to meditate; to have one's followers memorise the Koran & other cool speeches; to hold group fireside chats about our long struggle with the infidel; to take notes on whom of our brothers collaborates with the infidel; to plant the odd IED or to suicide drive into a town or an army base once every couple of months. Lots to do in the downtime, 'til they leave.
    “Then, when they've gone, we can get back to business, refreshed & repaired by our long vacation in the spas of South Waziristan, virgined-out and our thoughts together.
    “Seriously, when in the history of warfare has a leader ever let the enemy know how long he plans to have a crack at a mission?
    “And the President's generals are ok with this?”

Are you?

As commenters at SOLO say, this is a weak-kneed halfway-house of a policy … or should I say out-house of a policy. A policy devised to satisfy both those who heard Obama say he’d “sort out” and “pull out,” with a timeline devised to finish just before the next presidential election campaign.

This is politics, not defence.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Funeral music [update]

Yesterday I helped give Anna Woolf what I thought was a pretty good send-off. ‘Twas great to see so many of you there to help remember her.

Today I’m listening to music, and otherwise being very unproductive. More on that music later, but first, here’s part of what I said yesterday:

Anna’s Mum said to me on Wednesday, “Anna was always the master of the last word.” But not this time. Not this time.

Anna Woolf died Wednesday, at 12:05pm.

She left us.

We’ll remember her. We’ll remember all the arguments we had with her. And all the good times. All the times she told us off. All the times that she was right. The rare times she was wrong. We’ll remember all her dreams, all her plans – all of them cut short by a bloody cancer.

We’ll remember her sense of fun—and her seriousness when she got down to business. For her friendship and her generosity. For her passion and her sense of justice. For her little giggle, and her louder shouts of anger.

As Mary Ann Sures said of Ayn Rand's death, "now anger has gone out of the world. And it's the world's loss, and mine."

And so it is now.

And since so many of you have mentioned her anger, let me paraphrase something someone else once said about Ayn Rand’s anger.

The problem is that talking only of her anger connotes irrationality and emotionalism. But talking about her anger isn’t talking about what caused it. Why did she loathe some people? Why was she so quick to denounce those she opposed? Because she was a valuer. . . When someone said something that was not true, she made an immediate valuation that it was bad, and values are the cause of emotions. Strong values cause strong emotions.

Above all, Anna was a valuer. She lived her values, and loved those who did too – people who brought their values into reality.

Anna was a woman who never faked reality. She just wasn’t made that way. She faced it all straight on: as the master of her fate, and the captain of her soul.

And that, I think, is what so many of us here loved so much about her.

She had more real integrity than almost anyone I’ve ever met. And I loved her for it.

Goodbye Anna.

I look forward to joining up with friends and family every year on December 2nd at 12:05pm to help finish off your bucket list.

Here’s the music Lindsay Perigo sent along to help us send off our fallen heroine – a seventeenth century German nuptial song sung by Fritz Wunderlich (which, sadly, we couldn’t squeeze in yesterday, but we sure as hell can here):

The poem, by the way, was translated by H. W. Longfellow as ‘Annie of Tharaw

Helping organise the music for Anna’s funeral, based on her own requests, made me think about what music I might have at my own funeral – which as it happens I’ve been listening to today.

Surprise, surprise: here’s 'Siegfried’s Funeral March' by Wagner – my choice to accompany my own journey into Valhalla—or at least my coffin’s journey into the room. (Make sure you turn it up to eleven to enjoy it as Wagner intended.)


Here’s what I’d have for sitting still and listening to before all the eulogies—a young man singing about his love of life just moments before his execution:


And I’ve been listening to this again today: the poetry and process of grief, set to music : the ten core songs from Lou Reed’s 1991 ‘Magic & Loss’ album. (Forgive him for the white suit and mullet.) The first clip tells you the story.  I think the last clip is the one I’d have played while everyone sat still after all the speeches-the song ‘Magic and Loss.’

I can just imagine Anna making the little joke Lou talks about in Track 7, ‘Goodbye Mass.’

Pull up a pew for forty minutes or so—it’s not intended to be background music—and experience some musical catharsis.

And finally, here’s the sort of number I’d like to be carried out to:  Duke Ellington’s ‘Daybreak Express’ – done somewhat unusually here with model trains!


So there’s my pieces for my funeral, or something like it.

What would you have at yours?

UPDATE: By the way, I’ve posted Anna’s funeral music and some pictures as an update over at her Last Post, and I’ll be gradually posting all the eulogies as I can find them.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Friday ramble, #4711

Here’s news, links, and updates – just some of what caught my eye around the net this week (brought to you by my handy Twitter page). It’s a bit shorter than normal, because, well, you know . . .

_quoteJay Galt has noticed a great deal of climate change in his lifetime. We call it ’weather.’"


_quoteCommunism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism by vote.”
- Ayn Rand

‘Lament for Icarus’ – Herbert Draper


A lament for a fallen hero.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Stalking Tiger: The unspeakable in pursuit of the unimpeachable


Guess what folks.  Sports writer Jay Price is exactly right:

“Tiger's private life is none of our business.”

That’s the point.

   “. . . Sure, we're all curious.
    “But there's a difference between curiosity and a need to know.
    “If he was running for public office, or had his finger on the nuclear button, we might have reason to question Woods' judgment.
    “But he's a golfer.
    “What's the worst a miscreant like him might do, if he's not forced to come clean for our enjoyment — wear plaid on Sundays?
    “. . . like most athletes who aren't named John Daly or Dennis Rodman, Woods has worked hard to keep his private life private.
    “Now the gossipmongers have their shorts in a bunch, because he won't spill some dirt.
Because, hey, what's more fun than seeing an icon undressed in public?
    “. . . It's only coincidence that the same weekend the satellite trucks were lining up outside the Woods' gated community, Jeter was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. . .
    "‘I realize people are curious to hear what's going on with you away from the field,’ Jeter said. ‘But I think some things should be private.’
    “That doesn't change because Tiger Woods drives his car into a fire hydrant, and we want to know if he had a fight with his wife.
    “If some people don't want to buy Buicks because he's not sharing the messy details, that's their right.
    “If they don't want to wear shirts with a Nike swoosh on them, that's surely their privilege.
    “And if at some point, Nike or another of his corporate sponsors decides Tiger isn't the guy they want representing their product — hey, that's life in the marketplace.
    “One way or another, Woods will be back on the golf course soon enough, muscling impossible shots out of the deep rough toward distant pins, and draining 30-footers for our amusement.
    “Until then, the rest of us might have to get a life.”

Think you can manage that?

Quote of the day: What’s ‘man-made’ about global warming?

_quote The only thing 'man-made' about global warming is the hoax created by Al Gore. Climate changes. Always has and always will. Ice melts, then it refreezes. The sea level rises, then it falls. Polar bears will adapt to whatever climate comes their way. And so will we.”
                      - Jay Galt

Your basic 2025 no-brainer: Govt spending is unsustainable

There’s one central point about Don Brash’s 2025 report that I’d recommend you try to get your head around. Fran O’Sullivan summarises the point:

    “The Brash taskforce inevitably pinged out-of-control Government spending as the behemoth which must quickly be slaughtered so that competitive tax rates can be introduced to give incentive for businesses, entrepreneurs and wage and salary earners to invest here and strive hard to build a successful future.
    “This is a no-brainer.
   “Core Government spending has exploded by 45 per cent since 2005 - a level which [even] Finance Minister Bill English says is unsustainable.”
    “Brash and his four taskforce cohorts . . . were deliberately cute in delivering Key and English a ready rationale for cutting spending back to 29 per cent of GDP.
    “This after all was the level of core Government expenditure registered in 2004-2005 before former Finance Minister Michael Cullen opened the floodgates on social spending.
    “All it required was for Key and English to start taking the axe to some of Labour's sacred cows, urgently review some major spending programmes, and get serious about setting measurable goals to turn this economy around.”

It is a no-brainer, and the fact Bill English says one thing and does another is not material to this particular point: That leaving the wealth in the hands of the businesses, entrepreneurs and wage and salary earners who’ve earned it allows them to build new wealth, whereas stripping it from them and giving it to government consumes it. That taking the axe to government spending is the sine qua non of real economic progress.

That’s the basic economic point right there. It’s nothing to do with a fetish for small-government, it’s a basic economic fact.

George Reisman explains it in simple words: that governments don’t create wealth, they consume it:

    “In the same sense as a housewife, the government is not a producer but a consumer, who is dependent upon producers.  All of its physical production, like hers, is in the last analysis a consumptive production. It is a production which cannot replace the means with which it began ...  a production which leaves the government poorer by the amount of funds it has expended.  In order to continue the activity, resort must be had to an external source of funds -- in the government's case, the taxpayers or the printing press.

Grasp that point, and you grasp just why a country that allows its government to consume nearly forty percent of its annual production year-on-year is economically unsustainable.

Economic progress doesn’t happen because you take capital from capitalists and give it to governments to pour down the big black hole called consumption – and remember that every since dollar governments spend is consumption spending -- it happens when capital is used to create further capital, which is used to create further capital, which is used to create further capital, ad infinitum

That’s progress.

It’s all about increasing the country’s capital – and the more capital we have per New Zealander then the higher New Zealanders’ wages can be, and the higher our productivity will be.

It’s a no-brainer – if you want to see New Zealand more prosperous.

Of course, if you don’t . . .

It’s clear: “Super” city will mean super-sized spending

ANZAC Bridge

Bridge or tunnel? Tunnel or bridge?  The debate over which, and how many, reveals just how Auckland city’s politicians think about the “super” council they’d all like to lead.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams was the most effusive. offers the very worst reason: he favours a tunnel over a bridge even with the extra $2 billion or so price tag, saying “the extra expense involved in building a tunnel would be worth it” for New Zealand’s first ‘super” city.

Which tells you as much about the spending rectitude of Auckland’s “super” city politicians as you need to know – that spending decisions for the “super” city are going to be based on grandomania rather than prudence – that satisfying politicians’ super-sized egos will take precedence over satisfying ratepayers’ cries for their pockets not to be picked – that, in short, a “super” city is going to mean nothing for Auckland’s ratepayers so much as a super-sized spending bill.

Which is just what the ratepayers of Auckland, Manukau, Papakura, Franklin, North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney are crying out for, right?

Think your rates bill is big now? Just wait until it’s super-sized!

‘Isle of the Dead’ - Arnold Boecklin

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Anna Woolf, 1968-2009 [update 1]

Anna Woolf, aka Annie Fox, died today at 12:05pm.

As Mary Ann Sures said of Ayn Rand's death, "now anger has gone out of the world. And it's the world's loss, and mine."

Goodbye, Anna.

UPDATE 2: Funeral time and location confirmed: 2pm this Saturday, December 5th, at North Harbour Stadium’s function centre.  Come along and pay your respects. All welcome.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: And Now, The News From Britain

In which Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

1. Former Tory Peer Is New UKIP Leader – In some good news for the people of Britain, Lord Pearson of Rannoch has been elected leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party. Described as “a libertarian, non-racist [political] party seeking Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union”, it sounds like a party I could support. Lord Rannoch sounds like an interesting character. He owns a moor, a deer forest and a country estate in the Scottish Highlands.

Lord Pearson invited Dutch politician Geert Wilders to show his film about Islam in the House of Lords, but was blocked from doing so by Gordon Brown’s increasingly fascist government. The now disgraced Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said his views about Islam “threatened community harmony and public security.” FFS!

In an act of political courage, he suggested in 2004 that British voters back the UKIP in an election rather than the pissweak Tory BlueLabour socialists. For this he had the Tory whip withdrawn. Lord Pearson has a bold ambition – to engineer a hung parliament in the next British general election.

People who blindly follow mainstream political parties, even when the latter deviate away from principled behaviour, need not apply for membership. “[The] UKIP is not for sheep. UKIP is not for lemmings. UKIP is for people who think and act for themselves,” he said.

There is growing dissatisfaction with the Tory party as an opposing voice to the UK’s loss of sovereignty and absorbtion into Europe. Its leader, David Cameron, is now denying he ever said he would back a referendum on pulling Britain out of the EU. Smaller parties like the UKIP, the “real opposition” as proudly stated on its website, are the true voice of dissent for those who value the old British traditions of liberty, freedom of speech and common-law justice.

I wish Lord Pearson well. For those who think libertarians can never get voted into positions of political authority, suck on this.

Update: Even before becoming leader, Rannoch offered to disband the UKIP if the Tory leader would agree to an EU referendum and give Conservative MPs a free vote on the issue. Cameron refused.

Unfortunately, there has been a glitch in proceedings. Lord Pearson has succumbed to the temptation to poke his nose into the taxpayer trough. He may be ‘entitled’, under the rules of the House of Lords, but it doesn’t look good. No doubt Guido Fawkes’ Troughwatch will have something to say about it in due course.

2. ‘Devil’s Kitchen’ Blogger New Leader of UK Libertarian Party – Chris Mounsey has been elected leader of the other  British libertarian party, the LPUK. Formerly led by Ian Parker-Joseph, the LPUK is much younger and smaller than   the UKIP, but has its heart and mind in the right place, with sound liberty-based principles.

      Meanwhile, back in New Zealand:

3. Complaints flow over Paul Henry’s ‘retard’ comment – How refreshing to see someone not afraid to call a spade a Spade. I have e-mailed TVNZ to offer my support to Paul. I particularly loved his comment, made during another episode of his TV programme, that obese children should be taken from their parents and put into a car compactor. Come on, people! Lighten up. If you don’t like Paul has to say, then turn the TV off and read a book instead.

4. Show Some Courage, Key – Bernard Hickey suggests John Key’s administration will reject the suggestions of the 2025 Taskforce. Which they did, of course. Hickey suggests Key needs to show the right sort of leadership. First step would be to sack economic ‘wet’, old 21% himself, Bill English, from his cabinet.   

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

‘Beata Beatrix’ – Dante Gabriel Rossetti


British painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) painted Beata Beatrix as a tribute after the death of his wife Elizabeth Siddal. . .  “the subject comes from Dante’s Vita Nuova, and shows the mystical translation of Beatrice from earth to heaven. On the right stands Dante, staring across to the Angel of Love. Beatrice sits beside a sundial on which the shadow falls on nine, the hour of her death on 9 June 1290. A red bird, the messenger of death, drops a poppy, the symbol of sleep, into her folded hands.”

More about the painting here, and here at Olga’s online Rossetti Gallery.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

“It looks like you’re trying to generate a Hockey Stick graph . . . “

Found this at the Flannagans’ blog:



National’s “No!” to Brash a part of their same non-productive pattern [update]

There’s a firm pattern with this Key-led National Government now apparent to anyone with eyes to see.

When the world's economies collapsed before the last election, this National Party kept right on promising tax cuts and kept on swallowing dead rats we couldn’t afford. And then right after the election Bill and John confirmed they would be keeping all the dead rats, maintaining all the “entitlements” and permanently canning the tax cuts – keeping their promises to looters and dead rats, and breaking their promises to producers.

When thousands of emails and files were released to the ‘net suggesting the small coterie of climate scientists shouting climate disaster were being somewhat less than honest, and evidence was released showing local warming cheerleaders NIWA were cooking their temperature records, National’s Nick Smith listened only to the warmists, piled on ahead with an income-strangling emissions trading scam based on the warmists’ cooked books, and told Larry Williams the firm evidence of the 162MB of Climategate files was nothing more than conspiracy talk.

And now, when Don Brash’s Productivity Commission suggests ways by which New Zealanders could use their own money more productively instead of seeing it disappearing down the government’s maw – ways to increase their own income and earnings in a way that might see them catch up with Australia’s – ways which Don Brash was invited by this government to produce - National’s Bill English says to Don to go piss up a rope.

Which is really what New Zealanders should be saying to Bill and his boss.

Because the the pattern of this government is to do nothing and to keep right on spending our money and swallowing dead rats – which is only making every one of us poorer.

If this government has a constituency to which it is loyal – if it has a direction in which it’s heading this country – then it’s not a direction or a commitment that favours producers and wage-earners and catching up with Australia; it’s one that favours moochers, looters and a continuing drift into penury – and completely ignoring any advice, evidence or recommendations that might reverse that.

Are you seeing the pattern now?  Incompetence, betrayal and blind, deaf and dumb to reality and to any good ideas. No wonder then that after a year of this government:

  • Nanny is still with us.
  • Her anti-smacking law is still with us.
  • The Electoral Finance Act is on the way back again.
  • The Resource Management Act is fundamentally unchanged.
  • Rates continue to rise at double the rate of the CPI.
  • The global warming/emissions trading scams proceed apace.
  • Our substance is still eaten out by KiwiRail and KiwiBank, KiwiSaver and Welfare for Working Families, by bureaucrats and central bankers, by the IRD and ACC -- and by politicians whose snouts are already in the trough with an arrogance that normally takes three terms to develop, not just one-third of the first one.
  • And in the face of the biggest economic crisis in seventy years we have a Finance Minister who can talk only about “sharp edges” and “green shoots,” and between times acts in a manner that makes a deer in the headlights look purposeful.

So a government just like the last one then, but this time with no means of escape – and no means it seems by which it will listen to anything approaching good advice or evidence against their direction.

But there is one piece of advice you can be sure this government will be taking very shortly, and we know that because they and those shilling for them have been warming us up for months. We know that spending cuts are off the agenda, we know that tax cuts are right off the agenda, webut we know to a probability approaching one that we can look forward to a rise in GST, and to a new Capital Gains Tax: which means a rise in costs for every New Zealander, and a new tax that worked nowhere in the world to arrest an inflating housing bubble – and at a time Australian observers are saying of their own CGT that it “raises little revenue at a substantial cost to economic efficiency,” and confirming that it did nothing to avert their own housing bubble.

So expect to see it here soon.

Anna Woolf, aka Annie Fox [update 4]

I have very sad news about our lovely friend Anna Woolf, who as many of you will know has been blogging for the past year as Annie Fox – blogging about life, love and her battle with cancer.
The very sad news is that the cancer has almost won.
Anna is now in Auckland Hospital, about to transfer to the Mercy Hospice on College Hill (space permitting), with friends and family gathered around.
If you’d like to say something to Anna while you still can, then please do feel you can post a comment here which we can print out and read to her. 
And as for bloggers drinks on Thursday, about which Anna was always so keen, it’s been suggested we meet up this time at The Cavalier, which is directly opposite the Mercy Hospice, and maybe (nurses permitting) one or two can head across to say goodbye.
Anna Woolf

UPDATE 4: Funeral time and location confirmed: 2pm this Saturday, December 5th, at North Harbour Stadium’s function centre.  Come along and pay your respects. All welcome.

Monday, 30 November 2009

CLIMATEGATE: When there’s more important things to put on your front page [updated]


Climategate: With 10.6 million hits it’s the most popular search by far on Google, but only a few stories have made the world’s front pages.  In Robert Tracinski’s words “ClimateGate: The Fix is In.”

Nevertheless, here’s some of what made the news pages over the weekend on this rapidly growing story (hat tip Benny Peiser):

  • WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Cap and Trade Is Dead"
    So declares Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, taking a few minutes away from a Thanksgiving retreat with his family. "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in."
  • TIMES ONLINE (UK): Climate change data dumped
    Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
    The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
  • BBC NEWS: Inquiry into stolen climate e-mails
    BBC News understands that senior individuals at UEA have acknowledged the potential damage to the university's reputation from the CRU affair and are anxious to clear the institution's name.
    But there is a risk that some people will not accept the findings of any inquiry unless it is fully independent, as demanded by the former UK Chancellor Lord Lawson earlier in the week.
    A petition is running on the 10 Downing Street website calling for CRU to be suspended from preparation of any government climate statistics until the allegations have been fully investigated.
  • HERALD SUN (Australia): Making Sweden warmer – Andrew Bolt
    We’ve already seen serious questions raised about the way a warming rise was calculated in New Zealand. Willis Eschenbach now describes how the Climategate scientists misled Sweden’s Professor Wibjorn Karlen about the temperatures over Nordic countries, too, when he asked how the IPCC had produced graphics like these for northern Europe . . .
  • WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rigging a Climate 'Consensus': About those emails and 'peer review.'
    The furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or whether climatologists are nice people. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.
  • SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (UK) Damage Limitation: University of East Anglia Promises to Release Hidden Data
    Leading British scientists at the University of East Anglia, who were accused of manipulating climate change data - dubbed Climategate - have agreed to publish their figures in full.
    The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, "stolen" by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics.
    In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.
    The publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The full data, when disclosed, is certain to be scrutinised by both sides in the fierce debate. . .
  • SUNDAY TIMES (UK): There’s Just One Problem: CRU Dumped Climate Data
    SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
    The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
    The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
    The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.
    In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”
    The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible. . .
  • DAILY MAIL (UK): BBC Ignores “Leaked” Climate Row Emails
    The BBC has become tangled in the row over the alleged manipulation of scientific data on global warming.
    One of its reporters has revealed he was sent some of the leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia more than a month ago – but did nothing about them.
    Despite the explosive nature of some of the messages – which revealed apparent attempts by the CRU’s head, Professor Phil Jones, to destroy global temperature data rather than give it to scientists with opposing views – Paul Hudson failed to report the story.
    This has led to suspicions that the scandal was ignored because it ran counter to what critics say is the BBC’s unquestioning acceptance in many of its programmes that man-made climate change is destroying the planet. . .
  • SUNDAY TIMES (UK): The Great Climate Change Scandal
    Leaked emails have revealed the unwillingness of climate change scientists to engage in a proper debate with the sceptics who doubt global warming.
    The storm began with just four cryptic words. “A miracle has happened,” announced a contributor to Climate Audit, a website devoted to criticising the science of climate change. “RC” said nothing more — but included a web link that took anyone who clicked on it to another site, Real Climate [a paid-up warmist blog].
    There, on the morning of November 17, they found a treasure trove: a thousand or so emails sent or received by Professor Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Jones is a key player in the science of climate change.
    His department’s databases on global temperature changes and its measurements have been crucial in building the case for global warming.
    What those emails suggested, however, was that Jones and some colleagues may have become so convinced of their case that they crossed the line from objective research into active campaigning. . .
  • DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): The Worst Scientific Scandal of Our Generation – Christopher Brooker
    Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with the Climategate whitewash, says Christopher Booker. . .
    The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). . .
    But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. . .
    The former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, last week launching his new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, rightly called for a proper independent inquiry into the maze of skulduggery revealed by the CRU leaks. But the inquiry mooted on Friday, possibly to be chaired by Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society – itself long a shameless propagandist for the warmist cause – is far from being what Lord Lawson had in mind. Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.
  • DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): Climategate e-mails sweep America, may scuttle Barack Obama's Cap and Trade laws
  • THE NEW ECONOMIST: Why Political Orthodoxy Must Not Silence Scientific Argument
    . . . The stakes in the global-warming debate, however, could scarcely be higher. Scientific evidence that climate change is under way, is man-made, and is likely to continue happening forms the foundation for an edifice of policy which is intended to transform the world’s carbon-intensive economy into one which no longer spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A lot of money, and many reputations—both academic and political—are involved.
    Sceptics claim that this burden of responsibility is crushing the spirit of scientific inquiry. Scientists, they maintain, are under pressure to bolster the majority view. The recent publication of embarrassing e-mails from the University of East Anglia, an important centre of climate science (see article), revealing doubts about data and a determination not to air such concerns publicly, has strengthened these suspicions. . .

Further mainstream links gratefully received.

And here’s what some of the better blogs have been saying:

  • Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View
    Frank J. Tipler, professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University, on the true significance of Climategate:
  • The now non-secret data prove what many of us had only strongly suspected — that most of the evidence of global warming was simply made up. That is, not only are the global warming computer models unreliable, the experimental data upon which these models are built are also unreliable. As Lord Monckton has emphasized here at Pajamas Media, this deliberate destruction of data and the making up of data out of whole cloth is the real crime — the real story of Climategate.

    It is an act of treason against science. It is also an act of treason against humanity, since it has been used to justify an attempt to destroy the world economy.

  • Phil Jones has collected a staggering $22.6
    "So far, the most interesting file I found in the "documents" directory is pdj_grant_since1990.xls which shows that since 1990, Phil Jones has collected a staggering 13.7 million British pounds ($22.6 million) in grants.
  • Let the Great Global Warming Cover-Up Begin!
    Now that some enterprising and possibly conscience-stricken soul has served up the emails and other data of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, revealing the deliberate efforts to hide the corrupted research that justifies the “global warming” fraud, all the various journalists and alleged climate scientists who have been a party to it are trying desperately to cover up or minimize the scandal. . .
    The prevailing belief now is that the emails and data were already on a disk that a conscience-stricken CRU staffer decided to make available on the Internet for all to see and examine before it too became “lost.”
    You can be sure, however, that the global warming journalists whose careers have been based on furthering the fraud will continue to emphasize the “hacking” theory to suggest this “stolen” data lacks merit and those using it, the so-called “skeptics” and “deniers” are still not to be trusted. . .
  • More media growing skeptical, notes Climate Depot: Aussie's 'A Current Affair' features scientists mocking man-made climate fears:

  • Climategate: hide the decline – codified
    Blogger Ecotretas . . .  has made a compendium of programming code segments that show comments by the programmer that suggest places where data may be corrected, modified, adjusted, or busted. Some the  HARRY_READ_ME comments are quite revealing. For those that don’t understand computer programming, don’t fret, the comments by the programmer tell the story quite well even if the code itself makes no sense to you.
  • Exactly who was emailing who in Climategate
    This social graph of CRU emails shows how miniscule is this IPCC “power group” if you ponder how many active climatologists there must be globally [click to enlarge the pic]
  • The Deleted Portion of the Briffa Reconstruction
    "Hide the decline" refers to the decline in the Briffa MXD temperature reconstruction in the last half of the 20th century, a decline that called into question the validity of the tree ring reconstructions. . .
  • CRU quietly revising 8 months of 2009 global temperature data
    CRU have just “deleted” – removed 8 months of their CRUT3 monthly anomalies for 2009. Unannounced that I have seen. . .
  • Climategate Round-Up #3
    The leaked CRU emails exposed bad behaviour, the code exposes junk science manipulated beyond the point where even the manipulators cannot figure out if it means anything . . .
  • Climategate protester pwns CBC on live TV


  • Smoking gun?
    Hiding the decline? “From the file check what the code is doing! It's reducing the temperatures in the 1930s, and introducing a parabolic trend into the data to make the temperatures in the 1990s look more dramatic.”
  • A cartoonfrom Micky’s Muses that sums up the game:


What’s your point?

Got a point you want to make?  Something you need to say? Secrets you need to reveal?

Then now is your chance!  Have at it in the comments, here, and get it all off your chest.

Yes, it’s a general debate: your turn to be brilliant.

It’s not like there’s not plenty to talk about.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday morning ramble, #372

Liberty and reason are fighting back this week against the faith-based green-mongering bulldozer, as several stories from around the ‘net celebrate.
This week’s most interesting disclaimer:
_quote This paper has not been peer-reviewed by Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Mike Mann, or any IPCC lead author!

_quoteCapitalism is moral because it enables people to act on their own judgment." 
                 - Craig Biddle: 77:01

  • Memo to Government: Outsourcing from the private sector can be good for you
  • #RaisingGoodKids: New book on raising ethical kids without religion: Parenting Beyond Belief
  • Australian warmist Tim Flannery tries a reality check: there’s been a "slight cooling" for the last ten years but "we don’t understand all factors that create earth’s climate"
  • UK warmist Monbiot is convinced #ClimateGate emails are genuine, and he's "dismayed and deeply shaken by them"
  • It's official. From fruitcake to real fruitcake: Jeanette Fitzsimplesimons has become a Truther.
  • Phil Jones, alleged scientist at centre of #Climategate emails, tells friends at the Guardian, "What, me worry."
  • “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow – Phil Jones, from the CRU, manufacturing consensus for the IPCC
  • Leonard Peikoff addresses the claim that Old Testament doctrine is the basis of morality. As if it could be!
  • Victoria Postrel has the news: African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2 Now that's funny. :-)
  • Someone tell Bernard Hickey & all those other mainstream tax-bandits: Australia's Capital Gains Tax is a bust – it raises little revenue at a substantial cost to economic efficiency, and did nothing whatsoever to avert their housing bubble.
  • George Reisman: After the economic disaster, the most important single step for economic recovery is a secure currency. He explains how to get there, and why.
  • The Visible Hand has some good news for NZ:, if we're up for it.
_quoteThere is nothing as glamorous as a brilliant achievement of the human mind."
- Ayn Rand

  • Death is no barrier.150yrs after publication of On the Origin of Species, New Scientist magazine interview Charles Darwin
  • 'Workshops' are not work. -they're designed "to prevent people from carrying on their real work." – Dalrymple
  • Tapu Misa quotes #AynRand in NZ Herald. "Individual rights are not subject to a public vote . . . " Progress? I think so.
  • Obama in China. Some "too true" humor from Saturday Night Live.

We’re cutting lies and jive from our show-we're trying to do a magic show where no one leaves with distorted ideas about reality.”           
      - Penn Jillette, from conjuring duo Penn & Teller

  • Phil Jones? Resignation is inevitable, says the Not Evil Just Wrong blog.
  • This is frightening. A time lapse unemployment visualization of USA: The Geography of Recession. Watch America turn purple.
  • Milton Friedman’s declaration that "inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomena" needs an update.
  • Michael Mann - premiere climate scientist, inventor of hockey sticks: "These two are clowns..."
  • Brit Euro MP Daniel Hannan “reviews” Ayn Rand. With friends like these, etc. . .
  • ''The warmist conspiracy: The emails that most damn Phil Jones''
  • Michael E. Mann: "This is the sort of "dirty laundry" one doesn't want to fall into the hands..."
  • Phil Jones - keeper of world temperature records for the past 1000yrs:
    "Can you delete any emails you may have had..."
  • Whole Foods' John Mackey reckons even though Austrian economists haven’t been credited for their business cycle theory, we nonetheless have what Austrian Business Cycle Theory predicts.
  • Yaron Brook on PJTV - part 2 reckons that with the trial in New York of the “brains” of the 9/11 atrocity, The War Returns to NYC
  • Yaron Brook on PJTV: New Obama Trend: Credibility Is A Bigger Problem Than Health Care Reform
And finally, can’t get this bloody song out of my head. Damn that Chris Knox . . . ;^)

And I hate to say it, but Neil Finn’s version on Stroke ain’t half catchy either.