Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Phil’s been reading Libz policy. Partially.

Good to see Labour leader Phil Goof adopting Libertarianz’ taxation policy by announcing he would like to make the first $5000 of everyone’s income tax-free “eventually.”

Sure, it’s not as good as the Libz policy itself, which is to axe the GST tax while making the first $10,000 of income wholly tax-free (raising this limit rapidly to $50,000). It’s nowhere near as good as that, but it’s a start.

And it’s not even as good as the calculations backing the Libz policy, since as Idiot/Savant points out, there’s a HUGE hole in Phil’s figures. A $1.2 billion hole, in fact—a shortfall that will require more than magic and political spin to make up.

Might I recommend then that instead of just dipping his toe in the Libz policy water, that Phil fleece the full Libz policy as a whole and Put the State Sector Through the Woodchipper, thereby saving tax victims from the enormous tax burden the sector imposes on every one of us.

It would at least serve to distinguish his party from the do-nothing dildoes presently in power.

Houses getting less and less affordable despite the bursting bubble

Despite New Zealand’s parlous economic conditions, New Zealand housing is no more affordable now than it was before the economic wheels started falling off. In fact, according to the latest annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey housing in New Zealand is still severely unaffordable.

Author Joel Kotkin notes that even after the bursting of the housing bubble, the ratio of incomes to housing prices in most cities (what the researchers call “the median multiple”) has shown a steady increase.

_Quote The survey gave New Zealand a median multiple of 5.3 for housing affordability, which is above the historic norm of three.
    All major [cities] in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Hong Kong, were judged to be severely unaffordable. Of the 325 [cities] the survey covered, 115 were affordable, 94 were moderately unaffordable, 42 were seriously unaffordable and 74 were severely unaffordable.
    All of the affordable [cities] are in the United States. The most affordable  is Atlanta, with a median house price of $US129,400 ($NZ170,485). Hong Kong was the least affordable major [city], with a median multiple of 11.4, Sydney second with a median multiple of 9.6 and Vancouver was 9.5.
    New Zealand's housing was [rated as] affordable in the early 1990s, with a median multiple of under three, the survey said.
    Auckland now has a median multiple of 6.4, with Christchurch on six and Wellington on 5.5, which is regarded as severely unaffordable. Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty was again the least affordable market [in the country], with a median multiple of 6.5.

The reason some cities’ houses remain severely unaffordable while others do not (median house price of just $US129,400 in Atlanta!) remain the same, and may be described very simply: cities in which town planners have been given powers to seriously restrict house-building are generally the least affordable; those in which they have the least power are generally the most affordable.

In other words, the more “sustainable” a city is and the more power its “planners” have, the less affordable its housing.

Now you might have thought that Prime Minister John Boy might have been working since his election to turn around the dire situation in which even hard-working New Zealanders are finding it increasingly difficult to buy a house. But you’d be wrong. Instead, Smile and Wave’s local government minister Rodney Hide just spent the last two years working night and day not to remove power from the smug self-anointed vermin who have made life worse for would-be home-owners, but instead (as a model for councils across the country) to give Auckland’s town planners even more power to make the city even more severely unaffordable.

What a creep. What a disgrace. What a tragedy.

NB: You can download the detailed survey and related commentary at the Demographia website, from whence graphs and tables like these two below are sourced.



“Haiti: Putting “Baby” in the dock [updated]

The headline comes from the Boston Globe, commenting on the return of thug, murderer and thief ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier to the country in which he was formerly (he had hoped) dictator-for-life, and which he and his father did much to make the poorest and most dangerous in the western hemisphere.

_Quote During Jean-Claude “Baby Doc’’ Duvalier’s reign as dictator in Haiti from 1971 to 1986, Haitians were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by his security forces. Now that he is back in Haiti after a 25-year exile in France he must not be allowed to escape justice either for the crimes against humanity or for his flagrant theft of enormous sums of money.

I look forward to being able to blog his obituary.

Here’s itinerant NZ muso Luke Hurley with a topical track from his 1994 album Reha:


UPDATE: “Who in Haiti and Malaysia can aim and fire?” asks Liberty Scott, who reckons the opportunity should not be let slip to rid the world of two extraordinary criminals “that hide behind ‘state sovereignty’ to protect their blood-dripping hands.”

SUMMER SECONDS: Special treatment

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, part of a piece written back in January 2007 when John Key visited the Ratana marae for the first time, setting the tone for his premiership to come.

Are we somehow all special? How can that be?

I ask because John Boy Key was saying at Ratana marae yesterday both that Maori are "special," and at the same time that Don Brash's "message" that everyone should be equal before the law "won't be changing." Which means either we're all special (a logical impossibility), or else he's just talking nonsense and he thinks we won’t notice, or care.

_Quote In a relaxed speech that began with a short introduction in te reo, Mr Key reiterated his view that the National Party believes Maori have a special place as the Tangata Whenua.
    He says the National Party wants to engage in dialog with Maori and develop a relationship that will stand the test of time...
    A speech by National's previous leader, Don Brash, on race relations led to some strain between National and Maori, and Mr Key concedes there may be bridges to mend. But he says fundamentally his message won't be changing from Dr Brash's - but the tone may be different.

Those two statements -- that Maori should be regarded as "special"; and at the same time that everyone should be regarded as equal before the law regardless of colour -- are so different that either he thinks we're all stupid, or else he thinks the meaning of words is less important than the "tone" in which those words are said, or the 'emotional vibrations' with which the words are delivered.

Either way, he's disgusting.

The most sensible thing said yesterday at Ratana seems to have been said by Tariana Turia. "Maori don't need patronising politicians," Turia is reported to have said.

Maori aren't the only ones.

PS: Lindsay Mitchell puts it bluntly: "When government accords one group special status they are by necessity taking from another. There can be no privilege without some corresponding disadvantage. If one individual or group is "special" then others are not." Couldn't say it better myself.

Here’s Paul Kelly:

Monday, 24 January 2011

SUMMER SECONDS: 7 ways to leave your economy on its knees

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, part of a piece written back in October 2008, before the last election, when I was among those warning that all the remedies bandied about by all the alleged economists would not generate recovery, would delay whatever turnaround might have happened, and would instead be the cause of other, further, crises—just as those remedies did when the likes of Hoover and Roosevelt used them to extend the 1929 correction for another fifteen years.

When  markets need to correct, when real savings are being consumed on malinvestments that urgently need to to closed off, then here's seven things you can do to make sure that the necessary correction will not happen [with the more rational reaction shown in square brackets]:

  1. Prevent or delay liquidation by propping up shaky businesses and shaky credit positions. [Better instead to flush out the malinvestments quickly, so recovery can get under way.]
  2. Further inflate the money supply, creating more malinvestments and delaying the necessary correction. [Better to maintain the currency’s purchasing power rather than dilute it.]
  3. Keep wage rates up --or keep money wages constant when prices start falling (which amounts to the same thing) -- which in the face of falling business demand is a sure recipe for unemployment. [Better to take your cut now, and give your business a chance to restructure.]
  4. Keep prices up (by means of the likes of green-plated building regulations) or add new costs to struggling businesses (such as the dopey Emissions Tax Scam), delaying the necessary corrections that will make businesses profitable again. [Better to let prices fall to the new level they need to post-crash. Trying to help recovery by artificially re-inflating prices is like backing over someone you’ve run over in your car, and hoping that will make your victim better.]
  5. "Stimulate" demand by spending on "infrastructure" projects just to make it look like the government is doing something -- when what that something actually does is to take money from profitable businesses in order to bid resources away from struggling businesses. [Better if government cuts its coat according to its new cloth, without competing with struggling businesses and raising the prices of now-much-scarcer resources.]
  6. Discourage saving and investment by increasing government spending (all of which is consumption spending) and maintaining high tax rates. [Better if government cuts its coat according to its newly poverty-stricke cloth, without taking now-much-scarcer resources away from struggling businesses.]
  7. Subsidise unemployment with make-work schemes paid out of money from profitable businesses that bid resources away from struggling businesses, delaying the shift of workers to fields where genuine jobs would otherwise be available. [Better to abolish all minimum-wage laws, so everybody who wants to work can work—and work in a job that pays its own way.]

As Murray Rothbard points out in America's Great Depression (from which I draw the above seven points) when you list logically the various ways that government could hamper market adjustments and hobble the adjustment process, you find that you have precisely listed the favourite "anti-depression" arsenal of government policy.

[ I said in 2008 that all these variants of stimulunacy would be used, and would fail—just as they were and did in the First Great Depression. Sadly, I was right. ]

SUMMER SECONDS: Economists, sort out your own stables first

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece written three years ago suggesting that instead of extending economics into other fields, economist should instead begin repairing their own manifest professional failures.

Many folk have been talking excitedly about 'pop econ' books like Steven Leavitt's Freakonomics, Steven Landsburg’s Armchair Economist and Tim Harford's Undercover Economist, popular works works purporting to extract economic reasoning from the realms of arid economic analysis and apply it to everyday behaviour—offering dubious statistical insights everything from the use of toilet paper to the alleged impact of abortion on inner city crime.

Great fun. But there is a problem. For all the pleasure to be had in reading these light pieces of pseudo-scholarship (and the huge sales of these books show much fun is being derived from their reading), they appear at a time when the world’s economies are approaching ruin, and the ignorance of mainstream economists to explain their own field has never been more clearly demonstrated. I can’t help wondering then whether it wouldn't be better if instead of applying economic reasoning to other people's fields, these economists first began sorting out their own

Sorting out the stale hand-me-down drek that is taught so unquestioningly in university economics departments and that passes so universally as mainstream economic reasoning has never been more urgent. A collapse of the world economies that surprised virtually every mainstream economic commentator make that only too clear. Instead they are revelling in what their alleged economics has to say about your nail clippings, or  of the 'hidden' effect of what your mother calls you when you're born -- in other words, things of almost total irrelevance --  while being blithely unaware as the meddling of the world's great central bankers brought about the world's great credit crunch.

When most economists miss such an obvious blunder, when they struggle to understand the very basics of their own profession -- including where money comes from and what causes recessions and inflation and even how to properly define them -- it's clear that instead of offering others advice, the economists should begin mucking out their own stables.

Until that's done, (if I may mix a metaphor) perhaps they'd better stick to their own knitting instead of giving more dubious advice to others.

What Bob said

If it keeps on raining, the levees are gonna break

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SUMMER SECONDS: Rolling, rolling, rolling: The Treaty gravy train is still rolling

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from just a few months ago looking at the issue that might now get Hone expelled from his own party for writing this column.

_QuoteAs usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is
the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to.”
            - John Locke

The Foreshore & Seabed deal is complicated enough already without Hone Harawira muddying its far from pellucid waters.  But bear in mind that when Hone complains the government has “pandered to rednecks” and he calls the agreement “bullshit” [audio] he’s just playing politics with you.  He just wants mainstream New Zealanders* to think his tribalists have been shafted so they won’t look too deeply into what’s just been given away.

Hone is obviously upset that the government has (quite properly) refused to make a gift to iwi of that which they were previously required to go to court to prove. From Lew at KiwiPolitico (who, it seems, agrees with Hone):

_Quote[The government, says Hone] took the two things which would make Pākehā happy and refused to give the one thing which would make Māori happy.
“The two things are guaranteed public access and inalienability [clarifies Lew]; the one thing is Māori title.”

I disagree.  I’d say the government got one thing right and several things wrong. But I’d go further. In opening the door for iwi to make a form of common law claim to property in specific tracts of foreshore or seabed, on that at least the government has done well. To put it in the famous terms of John Locke, this would be using power to recognise right. So too would have been recognising the right to alienate (sell) that to which title had been so proved. On that, the government has done poorly.  That too would have been using power to protect right.

What Hone wants “mainstream” New Zealand to overlook however is what has been given beyond right, which nobody can have a right to—no matter what their heritage or skin colour.

The devil seems to lie in that details that have been changed to allow this deal to happen between the government’s offer last month and what was announced yesterday. There appear to be two new things handed over:

  1. A unjustified declaration in law that Maori have mana over the foreshore and seabed.
       The universal recognition or mana tukuiho--“recognition for all iwi with a coastal connection, whether or not they meet the test for customary title”—will “cite iwi and hapu with specific coastal areas,” says the Herald, spelling out out “to councils and other statutory organisations what rights the recognised iwi and hapu have on conservation issues in their area.”
    In other words, the door has been opened now to grant Maori leaders a “partnership” in law that the Treaty itself never promised, but which the myth-makers have been agitating for for at least two decades.
    A form of partnership that will make a gift to iwi of unspecified political power over aquaculture operations, minerals claims, harbours, ports, airports and more.
    A gift that has just opened the door to a world of trouble.
  2. “The Government also agreed [says the Herald] that iwi which have already had a Treaty of Waitangi settlement can make a new claim for customary title in the foreshore and seabed.”
    So much for all those “full and final” settlements too, eh?

And so much for one law for all.

So the scorecard to me on yesterday’s agreement looks like one step forward, and three back.  And in every direction, these are big steps.

The gravy train is still rolling.

* * * *

* Yes, Virginia, it’s now Politically Correct to talk about “mainstream New Zealanders.”  You now have Aunty Tariana’s permission.

SUMMER SECONDS: Ding dong, the witch is gone

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from January last year celebrating the departure of the Green Party’s last real environmentalist, leaving the communist takeover of the Greens complete.

A_260209NZHDPFITZSMONS10_220x147_thumb[2] “Ding dong, the witch is gone. Which old witch?” Why, the Fitzsimons witch of course. 

The former Green co-person leader thingy steps down from parliament, effective immediately, having handed the party over to a new generation of communists young leaders who show all the signs of running the Fitzsimplesimons/Donald party vehicle into the ground.

We can but hope.

At least with the departure of Jeanette, the party’s Greenwash is now gone for good: their last real environmentalist is gone, and the Greens are down to their communist rump.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’d be calling Jeanette a witch when she’s everyone’s favourite Mrs Nice.  Fair question. It’s not her personality that’s evil, it’s her policies. The problem is that while she does cook a mean lentil bake, and can even be great fun when she isn’t also being Mrs Worthy, the anti-industrial policies that she and her party espouse will send us straight to hell. 

Policies are more important than personalities. You wouldn’t buy an insurance policy from someone just because they smiled nicely.  You’d ask to look at the details of their policies first—and if they were poison, you’d push them away. So it is, or was, with Jeanette. While she always smiled nicely, the policies she was pushing were always pure poison.*

_GarethIt’s so much easier with the youngster replacing her in Parliament, one Gareth Hughes. With him it’s so much easier to ‘see the joins.’ Jeanette at least had a brain. Gareth has . . . well, look at his CV for yourself.  It “boasts” such accomplishments as “being arrested dressed as Ronald McDonald,” climbing buildings while being surveilled by police, and “unfurling a protest banner in Tiananmen Square.” (Well, one out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.)

 He has a blogSort of. And he employs “Climate Campaign Interns” for Greenpeace. Promoting himself to his adopted party before the last election the baby-faced Gareth Hughes told his adoring audience that his “motivation for standing [for the Greens] is my new baby son.”

_Quote He deserves, when he is older, not to have to ask for the right to bring a child into this world.

Whatever the hell that means. (Perhaps he still thought he was back in Tiananmen Square. Or he forgot that China’s mistaken Malthusian “one-child”misanthropy mirrors his party’s own.) Passing over that inanity (or insanity) he concluded, to canned applause,

_QuoteIn 2008, we [i.e., him and his fellow Greens] are going to show that future generations are bigger than politics...

And obviously bigger, too, than things like basic logic. As blogger Keeping Stock said so astutely, “Send in the Clown.”

Oh, and just to show that Gareth’s own house has the full set of jokers, you might like to know that Gareth’s wife Meghan released her own informal law and order policy at the Green Party blog before the last election, announcing that for any "proud activist ... within reasonable limits a bit of trespass, a bit of property damage, a bit of general disruption is fine. Quite fun, too."

Since one searches in vain for a law and order policy at the Greens' site, one can only assume that this is at least this is indicative of the Greens' general attitude to people and their property, if not their general approach to law and order.

One wonders how much fun Meghan and Gatheth might find it if a bit of trespass, a bit of property damage, and a bit of general disruption were to be bestowed up on their house. But perhaps they really haven’t thought things through.

Leastways, they do almost makes Hone Harawira look sane.

* * * *

* The oddity here is that despite their obvious lunacy, Green Party policies are now “mainstream” with every other parliamentary party.  Which just shows you how, if you run on ideas (even bad ones), you can’t but help to have a victory eventually.  A lesson for every minority party.

Here’s the party flag:


SUMMER SECONDS: Voucher schmoucher

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from before the 2008 election questioning the wisdom of National’s promise to “introduce” school vouchers.

“HERALD: Key plans tertiary vouchers for teen school-leavers

Asks the blogger known as Write Ups about this Key plan:

_Quote Is John Key’s voucher plan for 16 & 17 year old school leavers nothing more than changing the nature of the handout slightly?
    No matter how you try to spin it, a voucher for polytechnic training is still a handout.
    What we really should be worrying about is how to wean people of the welfare cradle-to-grave expectations many New Zealanders have of the government.

Too true.  Weaning young NZers off their cradle-to-grave welfare expectations is infinitely more important than the dubious details of a new handout with a designed life-span of one electoral term.

Frankly, a partial redesign of the present handout system is far less important than cracking the culture of entitlement which young NZers imbibe in Nanny's indoctrination centres, and which any new handout will do nothing to cure.

And what’s with the promise to “introduce” vouchers. We already have them. Don't forget that it's the existing tertiary education funding system, a voucher system in all but name (a system introduced by the previous National Government), that delivered such delights as Rongo Wetere's exorbitant salary and tales of   profligacy, nepotism and waste at his Wananga; of first class air travel, million dollar contracts to family members, and  money wasted on failed IT projects and bribes to new students who enrolled at the Wananga but never showed up.

The idea of school vouchers is certainly popular (not least with the purveyors of twilight golf and the owners of Wananga o Aoteaora). Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but this choice is purchased at a cost: it brings any remaining independent private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early-childhood sector now understands), and it squanders the taxpayer’s hard-earned money on bullshit. 

About these outcomes Key's advisors (and supporters) neither know nor care. The “plan” will do nothing to wean anyone off NZ’s all-pervasive culture of entitlement, and will deliver the Ministry goons even more power over educationalists and young NZers.

Fact is, as long as state and school remain un-separated and youngsters consider themselves entitled to your cash, we may continue to enjoy the various educational dogs' breakfasts that we keep being served up, and continue to have inflicted upon us the smart-arse youngsters who think the taxpayer owes them a living. As long as it's assumed young people are the responsibility of the state, young people will keep thinking the whole world owes them a living—and they'll keep stamping their feet until they get it.  And now!

Face it. With the existing virtual voucher schme having been in operation for more than a decade, The number of tertiary providers in this country has never been greater, and the number of young NZers enrolled in tertiary courses has never been higher.  Yet the number of people who can actually think on their feet -- actually do things -- must surely be at an all-time low. The entitlement culture is growing, while basic thinking skills and the culture  of kiwi ingenuity is dying one box-ticking graduate at a time.

Already, more young NZers have gone to more tertiary institutions than perhaps at any time in this country's short history, yet fewer and fewer of these young NZers show any sign of being educated. This is not an accident. Like the Soviets producing tractors, there are lots of figures showing an awful lot of production, but none of the tractors work.

Such is the way that all government incentive schemes work.

The most important lesson for a sixteen- to seventeen-year old is not entitlement, but independence.  John Key's vouchers are not the lesson they need.

NOT PJ: Bernard Darnton is unwell

165133_1703946271956_1036967428_1813892_7916124_n This week, Bernard Darnton is suffering sleep deprivation following the birth of his second youngster (right) on the 17th of January, leaving him unable to put digit to keyboard.

Feel free to leave congratulations to the father for the new son, and commiserations to the new son for the father.

The Virtues Required for Freedom

_jeffrey-perren Guest post by Jeff Perren

In general I”m not a fan of Friedrich Hayek. I think he surrenders far too much to Progressives and Pragmatists. But he had some things of value to say. In particular, this gem from The Road to Serfdom:

_Quote_thumb[2]There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought. It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.
    The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.
The cultural decay represented by the withering of those virtues is almost as true of America today as it was of Britain in the 1950s. (That latter makes it all the more remarkable that Hayek saw this in 1944.)

America itself won't come back unless those virtues again become dominant and are as celebrated as they were a hundred years ago.

Still, I'm not completely pessimistic. If anyone can restore them to popularity, it would be the American people themselves. After all, Progressives may currently dominate all but two of the major cultural transmission belts, but are in fact a small percentage of the population. So was the aristocracy of Britain (and their sycophants) in the 18th century and we managed to rid ourselves of them. Maybe we'll do so again with the current crop who believe themselves anointed to rule us.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Spooner, schools & silly season

_richardmcgrath Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Spooner, schools and the silly season

  1. (CHRISTCHURCH PRESS) “Sack Auckland Grammar board” – President of the teachers union attacks ‘Education’ Minister for not sacking and throwing into leg-irons Auckland Grammar School headmaster John Morris, the board of trustees, its pupils, the parents of its pupils and anyone who lives in the Grammar zone after Morris’s “brazen attack on the NCEA.”
    THE DOCTOR SAYS: This is typical. When politicians don’t act “decisively” or show “leadership” by failing to silence dissent, or by choosing not to interfere in the business affairs of New Zealanders, they are not lauded as principled but instead are criticized as “timid.” The minute a school principal takes a stand against their beloved NCEA, the teachers union shrieks that not only is NCEA the perfect tool for assessing all students, but that it should be made compulsory! After all, as Helen Clark once said, the State is sovereign. Individuals don’t matter, but The People do.
        It shows just how threatened the teachers union feel by the actions of John Morris. Their frothing union leader, Kate Gainsford, describes the Cambridge exam preferred by Auckland Grammar as “colonial” and smacks the board of Auckland Grammar for marketing themselves and promoting themselves as “better than everyone else.” Gainsford calls in the cavalry, principals of two secondary schools who will march lockstep behind the union leader, baying “Cambridge bad, NCEA good!”
        Well, Ms Gainsford, did it occur to you that perhaps AGS is better than other schools? Marketing yourself as better than the competition is what happens in the world of private enterprise. But then, being a left-wing trade unionist protected by extensive pro-union legislation, what would you know about open competition or free markets?    
  2. (NZ HERALD) “Lawn mower rage ends race” - Rival mower riders traded punches after a side-on shunt at the end of the ride-on lawnmower race . . .
    THE DOCTOR SAYS: Who knew lawnmower racing had an ugly underbelly? You know it’s silly season when a stoush between drivers at a ride-on-lawnmower race at the Lake Hayes A&P show makes the headlines of Granny Herald.
  3. (DOMPOST) “Take up dancing, mayor tells councillors- Green Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown is promoting ballroom dancing to her councillors to improve their performance. . .
    THE DOCTOR SAYS: What is it about Greens and dancing? After all, it increases people’s CO2 emissions, so therefore must be BAD BAD BAD. Well, I guess it’s marginally better than the folk dancing that took place at a Green Party conference, and of which Russel Norman was unaware as Bob Jones reported a few years back. Perhaps later we might see a TV show starring the Wellington City Councillors—titled, perhaps, Dancing With The Despots?
  4. And finally, a tribute to our Libertarian of the day: Lysander Spooner – born this day in 1808; described as an individualist anarchist, libertarian, political philosopher, Deist, abolitionist, supporter of the labour movement and entrepreneur. Read all about his efforts to compete with the U.S. Post Office, and how the state crushed him. And enjoy his perceptive quote, which from this day forth (or even fifth) will grace this new year’s column:

A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to
choose a new master once in a term of years.
- Lysander Spooner

SUMMER SECONDS: “We didn’t see the economic collapse coming.” Yeah right.

    This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from 2009 made more topical by a flatulent piece of back slapping penned over the summer break by alleged political commentator Tracy Watkins claiming “no one had an inkling” before the November 2008 election that a global financial disaster “lay in wait”—that it was a wholly “unexpected” crisis John Boy had to “stare down,” while letting his big tax cuts promises unravel.
    “We didn’t see it coming” said John Boy & Billy Bob at the time.
    Yeah right.

* * * *

But you think Bill and John might have noticed some of this, right?  You know, like John might have wondered about things when, you know, his former employers went to the wall?

“Tax cuts!”...Yeah right.

“We didn’t see it coming.”...Yeah right.

Here’s a brief timeline of the economic collapse that John Key and Bill English now say they “never saw coming” . . .

MAY 2007:

· Housing collapse begins to hit US economy.


· Dow Jones tops out at 14,164, and begins a year-long long downward slide.

· New Zealand economy officially enters recession, about twelve months before the rest of the world.


· UK bank Northern Rock collapses

MARCH 2008:

· Bear Sterns collapses.

APRIL 2008:

· US Treasury and – for the first time since the Great Depression – the US Federal Reserve both quietly begin directing US$800 billion in “bailout loans” to banks and finance companies.

· US and NZ housing markets fall into a bottomless hole.

MAY 2008:

· On the back of six years of promoting tax cuts, John Key reaffirms after the delivery of Michael Cullen’s budget thatWe believe in tax cuts. We believe in the power of tax cuts. And we will deliver them.”


· As the US and local housing markets show no sign of recovery, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are completely nationalised, putting around 75% of the US mortage market into government hands.

· Lehman Brothers collapses.

· John Key’s former employer Merrill Lynch collapses.

· US$85 billion bailout of AIG insurance (with another $40bn to follow in November).

· Washington Mutual liquidated.

· US$700 billion Toxic Assets Relief Program (TARP) promoted.

· Will all this blood on the floor, on September 30 Bill English promises votersa credible economic package to take account of the changing economic climate.” “Our tax cut programme will not require any additional borrowing,he said, comparing Michael Cullen’s record with Bill’s own promise to deliver an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts.


· On October 2nd, the US$700 billion TARP programme is passed into law in the US.

· One week later, the Dow Jones plunges around ten percent to a new low below 9000.

· Panicky governments announce a ban on short selling of stocks.

· The FDIC announces it will raise its guarantee on banks. Kevin Rudd and Helen Clark announce their own bank guarantee programmes.

· NZ’s Treasury Department releases its Pre-Election Economic Update predicting “a decade of deficits.”

· The American Treasury bails out nine large US banks, including Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

· Watching all this happen, John Key reconfirms to voters that the pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age remained on track.”


· The National Party wins an election conducted in an air of complete economic unreality on a platform of tax cuts promised and “dead rats” swallowed.

DECEMBER 16, 2008:

· New Finance Minister Bill English stands up in Parliament and says, National will not be going back on any of these promises, as we fully costed and funded them.”

MAY 2009:

· New Finance Minister Bill English stands up in Parliament and reneges on their fully-promised and “fully costed” tax cut package (which in the first tranche in 2010 would have cost just $100 million dollars).

· At the same time he announces up to a billion dollars of extra spending on preparations for an emissions trading scheme and subsidised home insulation (which was not even a National Party policy, but a Green Party policy); and nearly six billion dollars of extra spending on the health, education and welfare sectors. . .

§ National kept their promises to the moochers.

§ National kept a promise to the Green Party.

§ National broke their promises to you, and to every other every taxpayer in the country.

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

SUMMER SECONDS: NOT in support of murder

“Summer Seconds” gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from 2008 made more topical by the announcement over the summer break that the protagonist will very shortly be released from gaol, just fifteen months after having been sent there.

I must confess I'm disturbed by the many messages of support and sympathy I've seen around the place for the murderer of Pihema Cameron, a fifty-year old man who knifed the fifteen-year old for the offence of tagging his Manurewa fence.

This wasn't self-defence, for which he'd have my support. He didn't drag the young tagger from his fence and discipline him, for which he might have my sympathy. He didn't just chastise him, which he certainly deserved.

Instead he chased him three-hundred metres down the road and stabbed him through the heart. That's not self-defence—the only legal defence available to him. That looks more like murder.

For tagging his fence, he murdered him. Yet his supporters now say he should be let off.

I cannot even begin to understand how people who support law and order can also support murder.

Now I don't know the murdered youngster from a hole in the ground—which is where Pihema Cameron is now—but when I was his age I must confess to having tagged a building or two around South Auckland.

I'm not proud of it. It wasn't smart. But I grew up. Pihema Cameron never will.

I just don't understand how people can support his murder.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Thanks again, Orcon

Well that's just great.

I'm back online for just one day, and then Orcon's Auckland network decides to shit itself, and I'm back offline again. Orcon--the ISP that's proved so unreliable in recent years you'd think it was owned by the government.

And of course, you'd be right: "On 12 June 2007, Kordia, a state owned telecommunications company, purchased Orcon for NZ$24.3m, effectively nationalizing it."

So this is my only post for today, I'm afraid. Sitting around in internet cafes isn't my idea of fun. See you when Orcon decides the weather is sufficiently good to provide a service.

Monday, 17 January 2011

MONDAY RAMBLE: It’s 2011 already. Welcome back.

As we all head back from the beach and begin easing gently back into a new year, here’s some pertinent news and comment that appeared around the net while the rest of us dozed.

  • Let’s face it, 2010 was a disaster. Dave Barry gives a month-by-month reminder of how awful it was, and (almost) makes it all hilariously better.
    Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review – Dave Barry,  M I A M I   H E R A L D
  • What could be more topical in 2011 NZ than a discussion of the property of waterways? NZers insisting NZ’s waterways and foreshores be kept in so-called “public ownership” while bewailing the tragic consequences of this commons might reflect that “this “public ownership”  is increasingly thwarting the life-serving nature of waterways as sources of drinking water, fish, and recreation—not to mention what it does for private property and resource use.
    The Practicality of Private Waterways
    – J. Brian Phillips & Alan Germani,  O B J E C T I V E  S T A N D A R D
    [PS: Read the intro, and I think you’ll agree it’s worth purchasing the whole article]
  • Pictures here of a state under water.
    Four days that broke our hearts [Slideshow] – B R I S B A N E  C O U R I E R  M A I L
  • “The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, though a terrible tragedy, is not of historic significance. More significant is the efforts of the Left to blame this on the Right, particularly the Tea Party movement… Now consider violence in relation to the Left—the very people trying to use this tragedy to indict the Tea Partiers. I heard Bill Maher say on TV that this sort of violence is not found on the Left. Only two words are needed to refute Maher's outrageous claim: ‘Bill Ayers.’”
     A Philosopher Reflects on the Giffords Shooting – Harry Binswanger,  C A P   M A G
  • What could a famously contrarian investor possibly see in a country of 4 million people whose economy is mostly based on agriculture and tourism? Here's a thought: maybe Peter Thiel wants to turn New Zealand into the next Silicon Valley. Or maybe even the libertarian utopia of his dreams. [Hat tip Eric Crampton]Billionaire Facebook Investor Peter Thiel Pours Money Into His "Utopia," New Zealand – S . F .  G A T E
  • For the first time ever the US Congress is reading the US Constitution in the House—and being asked to justify all new laws on the basis of the Constitution (like that’s going to last). Even the New York Times is almost excited.
    House Reading of Constitution Is Not Without Issues – N E W  Y O R K  T I M E S
  • Bolton 2012 T 4 FB Um, how interesting would it be if John Bolton ran for US President? Talk about polarising. [Hat tip (and T-shirt) Bosch Fawstin]
    ‘The Man with the Mustache’ 
    – Jay Nordlinger, N A T I O N A L   R E V I E W
  • Distressingly, Denis Dutton died at the end of December. He was a giant. The Wall Street Journal and the UK Spectator explain why you should care; Eric Crampton tells how inspiring it was to have such a man as friend and colleague; someone called Robin Maconie wonders how the open-minded Dutton ended up (like Karl Popper did) at such a closed-minded university; and you get the chance to enjoy again Dr Dutton’s brilliant presentation at TED just last year.
    Denis Dutton showed how intellectual life can be made to flourish on the Web 
    –  W A L L  S T R E E T  J O U R N A L
    A lesson in living the Skeptical life – James Allan,  S P E C T A T O R
    Defending the Open Society: the Heritage of Denis Dutton – Robin Maconie,  S C O O P
    Eulogy – Eric Crampton,  O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R

  • Austrian economics and the ideas of Ludwig Von Mises are increasingly making inroads, everywhere from academia to the US Congress’s Federal Oversight Committee. Pete Boettke discusses both.
    INTERVIEW: Peter Boettke on the Rise of Austrian Economics, Its Academic Inroads and Why the Market Should Decide
    -  D A I L Y  B E L L
    PODCAST: Boettke on Mises - Russ Roberts,  E C O N T A L K
  • “Should economics be pursued as a profession or a vocation? Below I argue that this choice of subjective orientation is enormously important, and tends to dictate whether an economist will serve the cause of truth and freedom, or waste his or her talents on convenience, ephemera, and statism.”
    Economics: Vocation or Profession? – Joseph Salerno,  M I S E S  D A I L Y
  • Matt Nolan has spotted the emergence of a bubble. A very, very dangerous one.
     I think I’ve found a bubble – T . V . H . E .
  • Despite the fatuous claims of Prime Ministers and so-called economists some months ago that the “silver lining” of Christchurch’s earthquake would be all the “stimulus” it would create, there has been precisely no economic boom in Christchurch despite the injection of up to $600m in insurance payouts. Once again, the Broken Window Fallacy wins against the economic morons.
    $600m in payouts - why no boom?  - S T U F F
  • We’re “addicted” to oil. “Renewable” energies are better than oil. “Peak oil” is on us. Oil is a “deadly pollutant whose use must be capped.
    Is there anything so crucial to modern life which has attracted so many downright untruths?
    The 6 Myths About Oil – F O R B E S
  • George Reisman debunks a favourite nostrum frequently peddled by labour unions and the denizens of the Sub-Standard. “Labor unions like to argue that the payment of higher wages is to the self-interest of employers because the wage earners will use their higher wages to make additional purchases from business firms, thereby increasing the sales revenues and profits of business firms. However, wrong and foolish it may be, this is an argument worth analyzing in some detail, because it can provide a gateway to a discussion of the actual sources of profit in the economic system…”
    Where profit comes from – G E O R G E   R E I S M A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • Crikey. You’re supposed to love Friedrich Hayek. Not looooooove Friedrich Hayek.
  • I can now proudly present the winner of the Atlas Shrugged video contest …

    …. which just beat out these two entries:

  • Are these the perfect beach shelters? Order yours now, direct from the Crimea. And good luck getting consent from the grey ones to erect them on a beach close to you.
    Y-BIO habitation  - A R C H I T I Z E R
48325843 4212b10c
  • Religion is supposed to be crucial to achieving happiness. Hard to believe when it undercuts every important precondition of self-esteem.
    Religion vs. Self-Esteem – Tom Bowden, A . R . C . T . V .
  • If you're a student looking to improve your grades and can afford to spend $1.99 or $2.99, you may like three apps for iPhone/iPod Touch that Wolfram Alpha released today.
    Wolfram Alpha: apps for algebra, calculus, music – R E F E R E N C E   F R A M E
  • Here are more than one-hundred things real people never say about advertising. [Hat tip Joe Green]
    Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising
  • Here’s a remarkable map of the world: a “moving illustration of the relationships that define our modern world.”
    Infographic of the Day: The Facebook Map of the World – F A S T   D E S I G N
  • Aussies can’t play cricket anymore (and let’s be fair, neither can we), but anyone who can say they’re “so hungry they could eat the crotch out of a dead leper’s undies” can still piss all over anyone else’s slang. {Hat tip Quote Unquote]
    Aussie slang – 6  F E E T  U N D E R
  • Women have no feelings. [Hat tip Hayden W.]

  • Sounds of summer. Summer Song. Louis Armstrong & Dave Brubeck. “I dig summer. that’s my time of year.”
  • Sounds like summer. Singing the Blues. Bix Beiderbecke & Frankie Trumbauer.
  • “Who loves the sun? Who cares that it makes breezes?”

Welcome to 2011,

SUMMER SECONDS: Some propositions on the “right” to privacy

Summer. Time to relax, unwind, and take out classic articles from the archives for a second time around. Here’s one from 2009 . . .

People talk about there being a “right to privacy.” But does such a thing exist, or is is the promotion of this “right” above all others merely a convenient means by which to obliterate more genuine rights? Let’s get a few thoughts going on this so-called “right.” Here’s a few to start you off”

“An issue such as ‘the invasion of privacy’ cannot be discussed without a clear definition of the right to privacy, and this cannot be discussed outside the context of clearly defined and upheld individual rights.”
    - Ayn Rand

“Privacy: it’s a good, not a right. It’s not something to be recognised, it’s something to be earned.”
    - PC

“Yes, we each of us need privacy. But our need for something is not a claim on someone else.”
    - PC

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”
    - Ayn Rand

“Social democrats are collectivists of the first order. For them society is a large beehive or ant colony, and they are convinced that they have landed the job of managing it. It is a bit ironic, actually, since it is usually social democrats who champion ‘the right of privacy.’ Apart from that, though, liberal democrats do not acknowledge the existence of individual rights. Most of all, they are nearly unanimous in denying private property rights. . .  these people dogmatically assume that "the wealth of the country" is for them to use and dispose of as they see proper. Individuals have no rights to their resources, income or wealth, especially not those individuals who have plenty of them.”
    - Tibor Machan

“Does a human being have the right to privacy? Well, is human nature such that in their community lives people require their own realm of authority, their own sovereignty—self-government—with respect of various aspects of their lives? Of course they do—that’s what being a responsible moral agent amounts to. So the right to privacy exists. It stands as a bulwark against meddlesome other people, especially governments.”
    - Tibor Machan

“Privacy is a good -- like food, music, or love. So while we have the right to take the actions required to secure our privacy via judicious use of our property and voluntary contracts with others, we have no direct right to privacy per se. . . Laws designed to protect privacy undermine genuine rights to property and contract.”
    - Amy Peikoff

“The ‘right to privacy’ is a misguided attempt to save some shreds of certain [legitimate] rights while retaining a way to eviscerate others.”
    - Arline Mann

Discuss—especially with reference to the difference between goods and rights.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

KRIS SAYCE: Stimulating Climate Change

_Kris_Sayce Guest post by Kris Sayce 

You can’t help but love him… Michael Pascoe of the Fairfax papers. In today’s effort he comes up with two beauties:

“And now, with all but the hard-core climate change denialists accepting that extreme weather will become more common, there’s no excuse at all. Streets and houses that flooded in 1974 are flooding again now and will flood again.”


“As for the economics of it, yes, there are terrible numbers being bandied around, but while there’s damage and destruction and loss, there’s also massive stimulus in the rebuilding. The economy is as strong as the determination of the people. It’ll be all right.”

We’ve already exposed this economic flood stimulus as – to use the Fairy Ruddfather’s phrase – bunkum.

There is no stimulus.

But Pascoe isn’t the only one spinning this yarn.  Westpac economist Matthew Hassan and St George economist Justin Smirk writing over at Business Spectator provide more detail:

“There would be also the boost to economic activity due to cleaning and rebuilding activity. A rough rule of thumb is that the rebuilding effect is about ½ the size of the output loss. We estimate a 0.1 per cent contribution to GDP.”

At least they admit that the net position is no stimulus to the economy.  The net position is a cost.  That is, it doesn’t stimulate the economy.

For example, point to the stimulus in this photo… if you can:

Cars and debris piled up on a railway bridge near Grantham.Source: The Age

No, I can’t see a stimulus either.  I can see a whacking great big clean-up bill though… I can see that a bunch of people will be without a car for a few weeks… I can see that Queensland Railways will need to replace and inspect a whole lot of train rails.

This idea of economic stimulus from natural disaster is ridiculous.

Money Morning reader Graham sent us an email a week ago.  He was responding to our comment in Friday’s Money Morning about how HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham had claimed the floods would result in a boost to the economy. Graham wrote:

“Just like the 250 homes rebuilt, out of the 2000+ homes destroyed on black Saturday? Now two years on! I’m one of those still trying to rebuild and get my family back home in Kinglake, and I’ve seen many families fall apart or go under as a result! The only way I can get my family back home is to rebuild my home, myself, nail by nail… Forget the household durable goods! ALL the ‘under insurance’ money goes into rebuilding a roof over your head first…”

We also wrote about the stimulus nonsense in Money Weekend.  You can read that article here.

The way mainstream logic works, the next thing we’ll hear from them is that people dying in the floods is good because it’ll create more jobs for gravediggers!

I mean, seriously.  There’s something wrong with these people.

Not only that, but many readers wrote in to point out that flooding isn’t covered by most insurance policies.

The Australian Securities and Exchange Commission’s (ASIC) website points out:

“Because flood cover is not offered in most house and contents insurance policies, people may find out too late that they are not covered for the losses caused by a flood.”

Oops!  There goes the argument that foreign insurance firms will pay for the flood damage.  Not that we bought that argument anyway.

And the front page of today’s Australian Financial Review (AFR) – just this moment dropped on our desk by Australian Wealth Gameplan editor, Dan Denning – notes:

“More than half of all insured homes in Queensland are not covered for flood damage, and insurers have ruled out making voluntary payments to compensate policyholders.”

Which is fair enough.  If policyholders take the risk that their home won’t flood, it’s hardly fair to ask the insurance firms to cough up for the damage after the fact.

So who’ll pay?  The individuals themselves, or charties, or equally likely the taxpayer.  Now, you may be fine with that.  But let’s not kid ourselves with the pathetic argument that the floods will provide a boost to the economy.

And we’ll guess that in the town of Toowoomba, much fewer than half the households will have flood insurance.  Considering there’s no major river that flows through the town, and having looked at Google Maps we’re struggling to even find the creeks that supposedly exist.

Oh, and the fact that it’s 691 metres above sea level would also make you think flooding isn’t likely.

But it didn’t take long for the Climate Changers to point the finger.  Again, Pascoe wrote:

“And now, with all but the hard-core climate change denialists accepting that extreme weather will become more common, there’s no excuse at all. Streets and houses that flooded in 1974 are flooding again now and will flood again.”

Mr. Pascoe may care to remember that the world existed before 1974.  But listen to him and the other climate changers and you’d think all these floods are a recent event.  That it’s all down to what we’ve done to the planet since the early 1970s.

Fair dues though.  He’s not the only one.  Reuters quotes Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales:

“I think people will end up concluding that at least some of the intensity of the monsoon in Queensland can be attributed to climate change.

“The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon.”

David Jones, head of climate monitoring and prediction at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne chips in:

“The first thing we can say with La Nina and El Nino is it is now happening in a hotter world.
    “So the El Nino droughts would be expected to be exacerbated and also La Nina floods because rainfall would be exacerbated.”

The Reuters reporter notes that Mr. Jones added – but without directly quoting him – that “it would be some years before any climate change impact on both phenomena might become clear.”

Very convenient.  Say it’s caused by climate change but then push the proof out to some time in the future.

But if all these terrible humans have caused the climate to change and monsoons to increase and floods to worsen… how do we explain the following chart:

Highest annual flood peaks for Brisbane

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

It’s from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and shows “Known Floods in the Brisbane & Bremer River Basin”.

You can click here to see the chart for yourself.  This particular chart records levels at the City gauge.

A second chart records levels at the Ipswich gauge:

Highest annual flood peaks for Ipswich

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

I don’t know about you, but can we really say that flooding on the Brisbane River is a new occurrence?

I wouldn’t have thought so.  In fact there were more “major” floods in the Nineteenth century than in the following centuries.

So the idea that the floods are proof of climate change and that we must do something about it now before it gets worse, is just plain nonsense.

As we’ve pointed out before, your editor has no clue whether climate change is genuine or not.  We simply don’t have the brain power to figure it out.

But what we do know is that floods happen.  They happen regularly.  In fact we’ve had a lot of rain down in Melbourne too – although not as bad as in Queensland.

And what we also know is that it’s disingenuous for the climate changers – and non-climate changers – to pick individual weather events and claim it’s proof that climate change does or doesn’t exist.

As far as we can see the Queensland floods provide about as much proof of climate change as they do about disasters being good for an economy… in other words, none.


Kris Sayce
For Money Morning Australia