Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hubris

The real world will change not a wit with the fall from grace for man once described in Parliament as "the son Helen Clark never had."

It's often said that a great political career can be ended in an instant by the appearance in their bed of either a live boy or a dead girl.

There is nothing great about Darren Hughes, but that truism will haunt whatever political career he has left--whatever the outcome of the police inquiry into his actions one late night and early morning last year.

Richard Worthless could tough it out until his sordid behaviour with a live girl was finally sufficient to dismay his boss.  But this morning's front page dissemination of Hughes's evening and early morning with the 18-year-old young man will be enough to hang him politically--however accurate or inaccurate the account.

For my own part, as long as he hasn't broken the law I don't care what Hughes or any other politician gets up to in the privacy of their own lives. Couldn't be less interested. That's their business--or should be.

What I really object to is what they get up to in the glaring publicity of their day job: Which is exercising their power lust over every part of our lives.  Which is our business--or should be.

Frankly, I don't really care what happens to Hughes. He had never had a real job, and beyond developing a certain glib talent at lying for a living (which, besides the ability to fake sincerity--which he was beginning to develop--is the only skill a politician really needs) had never shown any sign of developing any other skill that might fit him for any real career.

But his own future bothers me not. He's a politician, and whatever happens to him now the place he presently occupies will always contain just another politician.

So resign or not--if he's sacked or if he isn't--with any of those eventualities the real world will change not a wit.

And I for one will not care.

New 'Perigo' programme, tonight!

The man once called NZ's best interviewer, Lindsay Perigo, is back on
your screens tonight with a brand-new TV interview show.

And instead of the usual grey interviewees that populate every other
interview programme, Perigo will instead be interviewing tall poppies.
Achievers. People with a passion. People with something to say and the
time in which to say it.

Tonight he interviews special guest Dr. Ron Smith from Waikato
University--who ponders his own philosophical education, and gives his
thoughts about post-tsunami Japan and its damaged nuclear reactors, and
the situation in Libya with that "Mad Dog of the Middle East," Qaddafi.

Join them at 7.30 on Stratos TV, Sky 89.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Quote of the Day

"It is ultimately ideas that determine which way the soldiers point their guns."
            - Ludwig Von Mises, pointing out that even
              dictators rely on the consent of the governed

Call to Christchurch Protest

Another call to action tomorrow from disgruntled Christchurch CBD business owners--you know, the folk who used to put the 'B' into the CBD.  Those good folk who know that for Christchurch to recover then Christchurch BUSINESS must recover.  Instead, they're still being locked out by people they wouldn't hire to suck eggs, by whom they're getting increasingly sick of being patronised.
Dear fellow ChCh CBD business owners,

It is now 4 weeks since the tragic earthquake of 22 February, and for most of us, we are no closer to knowing the fate of our businesses/buildings and when we will be allowed back into them to retrieve critical records, secure the premises as well as allowing Independent Engineers Assessments.

We must continue to demand our legitimate rights of ownership.

The business of Christchurch was business. Not anymore. The business of Christchurch, if you listen to the "authorities" is killing the very business that need to recover if Christchurch ever will. 

Those of us who have attempted dialogue with the council, civil defence or central government are simply fobbed off or given contradictory advice.  The meeting that none of us was invited to yesterday was intended only to fob off, not to inform.

When the person supposedly in charge, John Hamilton cannot answer basic questions like "which buildings have been deconstructed"? or "who authorised their deconstruction"?, then we all need to be not just worried, but in fact fearful as to what will be left of the CBD by the time we are allowed back in. The lack of leadership and control of the recovery effort is truly frightening.

"Business owners may have to wait over a year before they could return to the central city" - sounds like guarantee looting, demolishing and pillaging by the wreckers to me. The damage has been done--and is being exacerbated by the "authorities."

Recovery is sadly the wrong word for what is going on, and in fact the opposite is occurring. Unnecessary demolitions and access delays is killing any chance of a recovery by the businesses expected to lead the recovery. What wasn't destroyed in the CBD by the earthquake, is now being destroyed by a shambolic civil defence and demolition crew anarchy.

What are we going to do about it? Are we going to leave it to Gerry, John and Bob to sort it out, hiding behind the cordons and "authority" created by a state of emergency.

Some of us don't believe they are capable or willing to sort it out within a time frame which allows our businesses to survive. Therefore, for the sake of our survival, we need to show them we want access to our businesses now,  not next week, not next month or not next year.

Come along again to the Christchurch Art Gallery, 2pm this Thursday 24th of March, and let's present a united voice against the dictatorship under which the central city is currently operating.  

Bring your Placards or just bring your self. 


P.S.: FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, EMPLOYEES, LESSEES, RESIDENTS & FRIENDS OF THE C.B.D.

Regards,
Christchurch Business Recovery Group.
chchrecoverygroup@gmail.com

"Earth Hour" nonsense

I love reading sharp, pithy correspondence. There's an art to it at which the likes of Don Boudreaux excel. So I really enjoyed this short response by NOT PC reader FreeMack to the contents of the latest newsletter sent to him by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce.

Hi Wayne
 
I read your latest newsletter from the Waikato Chamber of Commerce with some concern.
I find it very odd that a business organisation would be promoting such a silly, anti-business idea as Earth Hour.
 
There is much commentary available as to why it is a foolish idea.
 
Here is just one example.

http://rossmckitrick.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/earthhour.pdf
 
If you look at a satellite image of the earth at night, you will notice that North Korea celebrates earth hour, every hour, every night.  Is that what you what you would have us aspire to?
 
I suggest that if you do indeed represent commerce, than you should reconsider your support for Earth Hour.
 
Xxx XxXxxxxx

Plunder

bastiat-quote-picture

I pasted this picture into last night’s PowerPoint display, but the pictures didn’t work. Sadly.  But since it’s too good to waste, here it is.

Source Legal Plunder

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

OPEN LETTER: Serious concerns of many of the people of Christchurch City

Further to my post this morning about the travails of Christchurch business owners in getting their hands on the property in their businesses, protest leader Kurt Langer has sent this email/open letter out. [HINT: Why not copy and paste it into an email, and send it around to every one you know!]

Please forward this email/letter on to all that you know who can help us make this happen!

The people of Christchurch who own businesses and buildings within the Central area of Christchurch have the following concerns.
1. We have lost faith in the competence and willingness of the Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to be effective caretakers of our property.

  • Civil Defence is not adequately protecting property in the central city from looters.
  • Civil Defence is demolishing buildings and businesses without consultation and against the declared interests of their owners.
  • Civil Defence is destroying property without any due diligence or care about the value of what they are destroying.
  • Civil Defence does not even care to consult with owners of property in any meaningful capacity.
  • By any meaningful standard, the actions of Civil Defence are far more destructive to Christchurch businesses and business owners than the petty pilfering of looters.

2. We have lost faith in the ability of Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to bring about meaningful recovery in the Christchurch central district.

  • If recovery has any meaning at all, it is the recovery of Christchurch businesses.
  • The "recovery" to date has been micro-managed, alienating the very individuals whose recovery is essential to restart business in Christchurch.
  • There has been no interest in working with the very people of Christchurch whose business it is to run business, rather keeping the attempted recovery within the hands of too few individuals.
  • Four weeks after the quake, and very little has been achieved beyond the original rescue effort. No surprise when the people who run Christchurch's businesses are excluded rather than embraced.

3. We call upon the New Zealand Government to:

  • End the State of Emergency on Friday. With rescue and immediate recovery complete, responsibility, risk and stewardship for property should revert to its owners.
  • Immediately reinstate personal property rights, guaranteeing property owners the final say in the determination of their property.

We say: “Tear down this State of Emergency and let Christchurch businesses begin the job of getting back on their feet.

Kurt

--------------------------------

Photographer
Kurt Langer
Now no longer and maybe never accessible:
91 Cashel Mall
Christchurch 8011
New Zealand
M: +64 (0)21 407 506
mail@kurtlanger.com
http://www.kurtlanger.com

President Zero's "Pretend War"

The “leader of the free world”—that’s what the office of the U.S. President was once popularly called. Remember Ronald Reagan standing up at the Brandenburg Gate, talking directly to the thugs over the wall. Remember the words on behalf of the free world: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The title “leader of the free world” once had some meaning.

The bombing of Libya shows what that title is now worth.  The foreign policy of the present incumbent is best described by the posture of of one of Britain’s most forgettable (and forgotten) Prime Ministers:

_Quote_Idiot I must follow them.
I am their leader.

That’s the best comparison I can make of a foreign policy committed to following, in the words of President Obama, “the entire international community, almost unanimously”:

_Quote_Idiot"The core principle that has to be upheld here is that when the entire international community, almost unanimously, says that there is a potential humanitarian crisis about to take place...we have to take some sort of action." [Hat tip Objective Standard]

“Some sort of action.” “Core principle.”  One could be forgiven for thinking that President Zero’s only “core principle” here is that when dragged kicking and screaming by the domestic press to confront an issue he resolves to take action. Some sort of action. Any action. Paraphrasing Sir Humphrey Appleby:

_Quote_IdiotSome action must be taken.
This is some action, therefore we must take it.

4672387313_27df60d129_340861636 “This” being in this case the no-fly zone over Libya, which Zero was stampeded into agreeing to with UK PM Cameron and French President Sarkozy.

The no-fly zone itself being a “bob each way” kind of action that sees action being taken against dictator Qaddafi without actually taking any action against dictator Qaddafi. Talk about the politics of Alice in Wonderland. Says Michael Hurd about President Zero's "Pretend War":

_Quote The British Ministry of Defense, the French government and the American White House all insist: The target of the military attack on Libya is not Qaddafi; it's only military buildings.
    So let me get this straight. We're attacking Libya because the dictator Qaddafi is oppressing his people -- yet we're not attempting to kill Qaddafi.
    I guess this is how liberals fight wars. Just as you cannot call a terrorist a terrorist, you cannot call a war -- a war. This is noteworthy, but should not be a surprise. These are the same people who insist that socialized medicine lowers the cost and increases the quality of health care. These are the same people who believe that increased taxes on wealth producers generates economic growth.
    My question is: Why are we attacking Libya, if not to punish Qaddafi? …
    Obama, although he also opposes Qaddafi, goes after Qaddafi but expects us to believe ... he's not going after Qaddafi
.

This is Obama’s “little war.” A pretend war. A war that’s neither one thing nor another. A war whose goal is the opposite of the little war’s stated intention. The result, other words, of the foreign policy of a Zero.

“Quake didn’t destroy us, council is”

SCCZEN_A_170311NZHSRIPROTEST03_460x230 If the phrase “the recovery of Christchurch” is ever to mean anything, it will mean the recovery of Christchurch businessmen.

The businessmen and women of Christchurch themselves know it, even if the city’s Dictators Pro Tem have yet to begin learning it.

No wonder Christchurch businessmen are becoming increasingly restive at being locked out of their city and locked out of even of their own premises, while royals and V.I.P.s are given guided tours through their rubble.

Last week they began marching. And yesterday they stormed the armed cordon around their ruined businesses, to which they are denied access even to salvage the money from their tills—even as the demolition of their property continues without even the courtesy of consultation. [Watch the Video of yesterday’s protest here and read a report here.]

_Quote"We're hearing terrible stories of theft and looting and we don't understand why the crooks can get in and the business people can't," she said.
    "We really want to stop the demolition companies from demolishing buildings without anyone's consent...That's why there are many frustrated people." …
   "We are all going bankrupt,” said [businessman Kurt Langer, whose ruined photography studio lies inside the cordon with equipment and the work of a lifetime lying intact inside.] “We are about to lose everything and they will not tell us anything. It's a complete police state," he told reporters.

The Dictators Pro Tem have yet to even talk to these business owners, over whose livelihoods they continue to ride roughshod, and who have been reduced to running dangerous night-time raids on their own buildings simply to salvage computer equipment and records before the criminals do.

A temporary “cease fire” on demolishing buildings without consultation with owners was announced last Friday, in response to last week’s march, but there has still been no consultation at all with building and business owners---and no owners allowed inside the armed cordon unless they have political connections.

Let’s hope the protests continue until the dictators allow them to begin recovering their livelihoods.  As Stephen Franks said yesterday,

_Quote All of us who want to live on our feet and not our knees owe thanks to the business people who [yesterday] stormed the cordon to regain the right to their own properties.
    The humiliation piled on them since the earthquake by the lords of emergency, "in their own interests, of course" is humiliation we should all have felt. Lets now hope tomorrow's revolt is bigger, and the next day until the oppressors are shamed and slink away.

Until then, armed vehicles continue to man the cordons to ensure no-one commits the crime of wandering down Park Terrace—even while the looting of business owners’ property continues inside.

Chch_LavAtBealeyAndParkTce3 Chch_LavAtBealeyAndParkTce2

Monday, 21 March 2011

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: The General Gain from the Existence of Others

The Auckland University Economics Group exists for real people to discuss real-life economics. Here’s what our friends at the Group have for you this week.

Hi all,
    Further below is a summary of what we discussed at our most recent meeting. But first:
    This coming Tuesday at 6pm in Case Room 4 of the Business School, we will continue looking at Economic Harmonies. Specifically, we shall examine some leading implications of the Division of Labour—and as you will see, this will be done is an interesting and unique way.

ECONOMIC HARMONIES, II: The General Gain from the Existence of Others

  • Why, in a division-of-labour society, prosperity is open to everyone
  • What Thomas Edison gained from his cleaning lady (and what she gained from him)
  • Why Lady Gaga should spend more time caterwauling and John Grisham more time writing books
  • Why Malthus was wrong, i.e., why greater population is a blessing not a curse
  • How it is that in a division-of-labour society each of us gains from the existence of each other

data=XCVihWRtq4WsaAaVG7VezksrTNzDcIEE_YWd04ht9zkDZSpIOEWoVOQcm6ijrNG-RJHfajJgcjB4DR3sumbBl1J9R-Uy_B7Qm4inb8s Where: Business School “Case Room 4,”
                  Level 0, Owen G. Glenn Building,
                  12 Grafton Rd,
                  Auckland University [Map here]
When:   Tuesday 22 March, 6:00pm

Summary of last week’s discussion: This last Tuesday we began looking at “Economic Harmonies,” which really begin with the economic concept known as The Division of Labour.
    We saw in the seminar that there is more to this idea than we are generally taught.
    Prof. George Reisman points out four fundamental points that underpin the benefits received in a Division of Labour economy:

  • The Multiplication of Knowledge;
  • The Benefits of Genius;
  • Economies of Motion and Learning; and
  • The Use of Machinery,

So important is Division of Labour to the field of economics that Reisman defines economics as “… the science that studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labour”.
    Every topic that we will discuss this year will therefore have, woven throughout, the Division of Labour.

Remember to visit - and join - us on Facebook to keep up-to-date with our programme for the year: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_191580464208836

UoA Econ Group  22 March

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On liberating slave pens

_Quote Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today [1963], has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave-pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent "rights" of gang-rulers. It is not a free nation's duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses…
                                                                                       - Ayn Rand, on Dictatorship

Friday, 18 March 2011

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The Debt Tsunami Edition [updated]

  • Japan is still crying. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is in hysterics. I don’t know about you, but I’m still keeping up to date with the situation in Fukushima via the knowledgeable types at the Nuclear Physics blog of Mass. Institute of Technology.
    They’re whip smart, know what’s going on, and have no axes to grind. Much more rational than getting your news hysterics from John Campbell.
    M.I.T. Nuclear Information Hub - Nuclear Science Engineering Blog
  • Japan endures 10 per cent of world's seismic activity; it is also home to a disproportionate stock of the world's fortitude.
    Why quakes leave the Japanese unshakeable – Ben McIntyre, T H E   A U S T R A L I A N
  • 700 billion dollars. “That's the total amount of money rumoured to be injected by the BOJ in order to keep the Nikkei going for a whopping 4 days, and to send its currency into free fall. [Hat tip Keith W.]
    ¥55,600,000,000,000 – Z E R O   H E D G E
    USDJPY Flash Crashes As All Support Taken Out - Record Collapse – Z E R O  H E D G E
  • In the age of central banking, when confronted with disasters first instinct is to print money. Even when that instinct is idiotic.
    Why Japan Feels the Need to Print Money  – D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
    Broken Windows – Peter Schiff et al,  N O T  P C
    Japan: The Tipping Point – D A I L Y   B E L L
  • At The Daily Reckoning they predicted a meltdown in Japan – but not this kind of a meltdown!
    Who Will Buy the Bonds Japan Needs to Sell? -  D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • Look, it’s a whole meltdown of fearmongers!
    A Meltdown Of Fearmongers  - I N V E S T O R ‘ S   B U S I N E S S   D A I L Y
    • Taken from the iowahawkblog:
      “Japan tsunami damage estimate: $310 B, enough to run the US govt for March. Also less damage than US govt caused in March.”
  • That ‘Great Wave’ above by Hokusai really is the art for the moment. Here’s a beautiful animated adaptation of Hokusai’s work sent in by a reader.
  • Bill English is a man with a Plan B. When things were good, he planned to borrow.  When things turned to pooh, he planned to borrow. In order to get elected, he planned to borrow. To make his pseudo-tax cuts, he planned to borrow.  And now things are turning to disaster, Bill English still plans to borrow. A lot.  An awful lot.
    Bill English has plenty of Plan B. I just wish to Christ he’d find a Plan C.
    Govt will borrow to cover quake bill -
    NZ could face borrowing difficulties after Japan disaster – R A D I O    N Z
  • The toll from the Christchurch earthquake is enormous. And that’s not even including the incompetence of the world’s least lateral Finance Minister.
     Cut spending, don't tax more, to balance books after earthquake – N Z I E R
  • “The last time Sir Geoffrey Palmer went through the US his laptop was confiscated.” (John Burrows, Law Commission, speaking at ‘Smart Govt’ Conference). So maybe there’s an argument for the T.S.A. after all?
  • There are two types of people in Christchurch.
    Those who agree with Vicki Anderson that the last thing we need so soon after the earthquake-enforced closure of schools, shops, and businesses is a provincial holiday forcing already struggling local businesses to close or pay punitive holiday rates.
    And those who want everybody to go and hug each other while listening to Dave Dobbyn in Hagley Park.
    Manichean ponderings 
    – Eric Crampton, O F F S E T T I N G  B E H A V I O U R
  • Don’t worry, Eric. No new buildings in central Christchurch for six months, by order of the PM. No new buildings in central Christchurch for six months – N Z  H E R A L D
  • SCCZEN_170311NZHSRIPROTEST05_460x230Christchurch business owners remind Dictator-Pro-Tem Gerry Brownlee that the city does not belong to him.
    “Where are our property rights"?” they ask.
    Brownlee turns away and eats another pie.
     Perhaps you have to be Prince William? 
    – N O T  P C
    Christchurch earthquake: Business owners seek right to salvage – N Z   H E R A L D

    UPDATE
    : The protest yesterday by Kurt Langer and fellow Christchurch businessmen and women, pictured here, has won a victory of sorts. No demolitions for the next three days while “a new plan” is being considered. “The wrecking ball will rest while a new plan to allow business owners into central Christchurch is considered, Civil Defence says.”
    Civil Defence calls rethink as Christchurch building owners protest - S T U F F
protest_460x230
  • Geez, these ACT guys sure know how to deregulate...
    Raft of changes to consumer law introduced – N Z   H E R A L D
  • Message to the dumbarse from Epsom: “An Increase is Not a Saving”
     An Increase is Not a Saving – S I R   A R T H U R   S T R E E B – G R E E B L I N G
  • Day One:  Be pointed and controversial. Day Two: Backtrack and crawl. ACT’s Hilary Calvert lacks even the courage over of her unprincipled-ness. (A metaphor for her party, really.)
     Race row over Act comments on Foreshore – N B R
  • But is she right? Isn’t it true that “tikanga” won’t be legally defined until Chris Finlayson’s law is passed. If then.
     Tikanga in Wonderland  -  Mike Butler,  B R E A K I N G  V I E W S
  • Tariana says Hilary Calvert is “racist.” Other folk say the Tea Party is racist. Frankly, when is it appropriate to label someone or some group as racist?
    What is racism and Why the Tea Party is NotJ O H N  D R A K E
  • Q: What’s even worse than being “racist”?
    A: Not knowing your Lewis Carroll.
    There's glory for you! – Andrew Geddis,  P U N D I T
  • What if the U.S. Government issued a public service film on what it means to be a good citizen…


  • As Australia contemplates being hit with a carbon tax on all industry to make politicians feel good about themselves, NZ-Australian Professor Bob Carter offers 10 little facts to contemplate.
     Global warming down under: 10 little facts – W A T T S   U P   W I T H   T H A T
  • Earth Hour: a Dissent. "Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness."
    Earth Hour: A Dissent [pdf] - R O S S   M c K I T R I C K
  • Global Temperature Trend Update, February 2011
    Global Temperature Trend Update, February 2011 – R E A S O N   M A G A Z I N E
UAH_LT_1979_thru_Feb_2011
  • ”Mr. President, don’t send guns to the Libyans. Send them a piece of paper.”
    How to Get Gaddafi - Niall Ferguson, N E W S W E E K
  • I don’t know about you, but what with everything else going on (and being about a million miles away) I’ve had trouble getting my head around the Union Vs Governor dispute going on in Wisconsin. This post  helps: It’s about rights… "collective bargaining rights" … and the question whether or not they’re legitimate. Are they?
      Wisconsin Labor - Right Or Wrong?  - Jeff Montgomery, F U N   W I T H   G R A V I T Y
  • Here’s the beginning of the end: World’s biggest bond-holder drops U.S. Treasury Bonds from its portfolio
    Divesting in America: PIMCO Dumps U.S. Treasury Bonds from Portfolio 
    – Front Page, P J T V
  • Happy 260th birthday, James Madison---try not to be too upset.
    Celebrating James Madison – C A T O   I N S T I T U T E
  • Um, something seems to have gone missing. Perhaps it’s over there, under the latest disaster?
    Where Have the World’s Savings Gone? – Greg Canavan,  D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • - "I see tremendous confusion concerning inflation and the money supply.” Me too. This might help.
     Making Claims About the Money Supply -  K R A Z Y   E C O N O M Y
  • In Jones on Property I’ll always remember that the common economics of building yields will hold as long as some new revolutionary technology isn’t introduced.  I’d love to see what the technology of structural insulated panels could do for building economics in NZ if were legally allowed to exploit it. Sourced from China they can be as cheap as $60/sqm. And just look how simple they are to erect.
  • The head of the Ayn Rand Institute has had a chance to see the film adaptation of Part I of Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. What does he make of it?
  • School vouchers vs. tax credits. Which is the REAL free market in education? Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits? 
    – Michael LeFerrara, O B J E C T I V E  S T A N D A R D
  • “What is the proper role of government?” Moderated by WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Ayn Rand Institute head Yaron Brook debates Demos President Miles Rapoport in an argument that goes right down to first principles.
     Government: What Is Its Proper Role? [Audio, 109 min.] – F I R S T   P R I N C I P L E S
  • Some thoughts on the above debate.
    A Debate on Government (and the Nature of Man -  G I D E O N   R E I C H
  • Could it be that there’s something to be said for choosing investment banking as a productive career?
    Traders, not Traitors – Jonathan Akin,  U N D E R C U R R E N T  B L O G
  • Martin Jacques is right. We really don’t understand China. And we’ll need to.
    Martin Jacques: Understanding China -  Martin Jacques, T.E.D.
  • “Only a moron would try to wash her daughter in awashing machine; or shake hands with the business end of a chainsaw; or light a match to check the contents of a gas tank. And yet manufacturers continue to go to laughable lengths to protect their customers, bombarding them with ridiculous warning labels or stunningly obvious explanations of how their products work. Here are 15 of the best--er, worst--we found over the last four years"
    15 Stunningly Dumb Warning Labels – F O R B E S
  • There’s only one time in your life your brain is being wired: the first six years. If an adult could absorb at eth same rate your child does, you’d be better than Einstein.
    The Untapped Potential of the Absorbent Mind 
    – Judi Orion, M O N T E S S O R I   A U S T R A L I A
  • You know how it is. One day you relax the food limits on your children, the next thing they’re raiding the freezer for those frozen peas.
    Experimenting. Parenting. Part Three.  -  R A C H E L   M I N E R
  • Tried not yelling at your kids recently? Sounds like a good idea. Shame it seems so difficult.
    Kate Yoak shares some tools that have worked.
    Stop yelling at kids – P A R E N T I N G   I S . . .
  • The root of all philosophy worth the name is the simple observation that Existence Exists.  But that’s not quite as simple as it sounds…
     Existence exists  -  J O H N   J .   M c V E Y
  • Oy, you. Yes, you! Why businessmen need philosophy (NB: low volume, turn your volume up):
  • Berlin Philharmoniker conductor Simon Rattle explains why you should listen to Bruckner.

Picture sources NZ Herald, Reason magazine.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Broken windows

A big hello to Leighton Smith’s listeners,

The post Leighton recommended is here:

Another I can recommend is this one, posted after the first quake:

Right here you can find all the posts on the Broken Window Fallacy .

Here, Peter Schiff explains why it's idiotic to think Japan's earthquake will "stimulate" the economy.

Yaron Brook and Terry Jones talk about the same idiocy. (Eight-minute video.)

Perhaps you have to be Prince William? [update 3]

Today in Christchurch a magazine pinup from England will be given a guided tour around Christchurch’s destroyed Central Business District—yet the people who own, lease and work in the buildings that make up that district are still being stopped from going anywhere near it, and their buildings and livelihoods are still being destroyed without even the courtesy of a phone call.

No wonder they’re fuming.

Antony Gough, Central City Business Association chairman and owner of 12 buildings in the CBD has organised many “raids” on his own buildings and businesses to rescue computers and servers, dismantling them to take the equipment out in people’s pockets.

_Quote “It is shameful that we have to go to these sorts of extremes to get life back into these businesses," he said.

And yesterday he had to learn through the media that his Hereford St building housing the Vivace Espresso Bar and Fortuna Books was destroyed without even letting in the business owners to remove books or expensive imported coffee machines--destroyed because it was the same colour as its badly damaged neighbouring building.

_Quote"They were different buildings but, unfortunately, I painted them the same colour, and it was a cream day that day. Every building that was cream in Hereford St was demolished…
    "It is anarchy from the top down," he said. "They have taken lethal blows to the business community, and we are rising to fight back.”

Gough is not alone.

_QuoteMary Fraser, who owns Care Consultants in the Link Centre in Hereford St, said she was "absolutely devastated" by the lack of information from the officials. "We are not being told anything," she said. "I am worried sick.
    Kurt Langer, who owns a photography studio in the City Mall, said he felt "robbed and ruined" by authorities denying him access to his building.   It holds more than $800,000 worth of property, including his wedding albums.   He said he had begged at the earthquake headquarters for access every day since the February 22 quake.
    "I feel like Christchurch is in a police state and I believe we are living under a communist rule.  I know it sounds extreme, but they are demolishing businesses without giving information. They are ruining lives, and in a democracy this should not be allowed," he said.

City Centre Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said he has had “email after email from owners asking when they will get access to their buildings and when more information will come through, but there is no co-ordinated information coming through.” No effort at all being made by officials to get crucial information to business owners. And no effort at all to understand a point made by Kurt Langer:

People choose risk all the time—choosing themselves to play rugby, climb mountains, take gliders up to 5,000 feet above the ground.
But they're not allowed to choose their own risk (with the guidance of their own professionals) to enter their own buildings and remove their own property--even when their livelihood depends on it.

The grey ones wouldn’t begin to understand that. Instead they are still preening themselves in their own new-found importance, and today will be ferrying around a man whose face could launch a thousand magazines, but do nothing at all for the recovery of Christchurch business owners.

The business of Christchurch was business. Not any more. The business of Christchurch, if you listen to “the authorities,” is killing the very businesses that need to recover if Christchurch ever will.

There is not even a hint of Christchurch’s grey ones understanding that.

UPDATE 1Today is a day for protest in Christchurch. Photographer Kurt Langer, mentioned above, will be marching to the Art Gallery and Civil Defence Headquarters at lunchtime today and he wants your support.  Get along there and help him help other Christchurch business owners. Says Kurt:

Tell as many people as possible to come and join us at 12:30pm 4:30pm outside the Bridge of Remembrance. They can park anywhere around the Bridge of Remembrance. (But they have to drive along Montreal street from at least Tuam street coming from the hospital to get there.)From there we plan to walk to the art gallery at 1 pm 5pm, the headquarters of the new regime.
Come join us!

UPDATE 2: Contact protest organiser Kurt Langer on either 021 407 506 or mail@kurtlanger.com .

UPDATE 3: Eric Crampton has a whole slew of similar disgusting stories, including a restaurant owner, prohibited from recovering items from his restaurant “for his own good” finds out the soldiers guarding the cordon had been inside to grab a few chairs to sit on. The restaurant was then demolished without his being notified after assurances it wouldn't be… [hat tip Tribeless]

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Injustices and iniquities

_McGRathLibertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath invites you down to his clinic for an inoculation against this week’s stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Jail, and some people who should be there.

  • DOMPOST: “Disgraced ACC manager must repay $160k – Corrupt ACC bureaucrat Malcolm Mason has been given 11 months gardening leave and asked to pay back the $160k he took in bribes, as he might repay an interest-free loan…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: What is it with judges these days?
     Last week we had the appalling spectacle of “Justice” Joseph Williams reassuring Rikki Perigo-Check—a grown man who kicked a two year old toddler in the abdomen until his pancreas split, thus ensuring the little boy would suffer indescribable pain before dying. How comforting to see Justice Williams—or, as I would have him called if I had my way, Inmate Williams—reassuring this  monster that he was not one; to see man from the bench offering words of comfort to a sub-human animal in the dock for slaughtering a defenceless child.
    This week it’s Judge Denys Barry, who awarded Malcolm Mason, former employee of a rotten and corrupt state monopoly, a year on the couch watching the Rugby World Cup. God, poor Malcolm must be shaking in his boots at the prospect. He has already expressed remorse, no doubt at being caught. Better not make things too tough on him by charging interest on the bribe that he has been asked to hand back.
    Meanwhile, taxpayers who miss a tax payment are landed with usurious penalties; students are charged interest on their loans…we might well ask “What is so special about Mr Mason above such things as imprisonment and fines?”
    What is so special about Mr Mason is that he is of the bureaucrat class. The senior bureaucrat class. Imprisonment, fines and penalty payments are for lesser people, for the people who pay the bills, not for senior bureaucrats.
    Justices Williams and Barry are in my opinion a disgrace to the judiciary.
    Would they were required to serve themselves the sentences they should have handed down.

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Hmm, that sounds like a good business move. Which rocket scientist came up with that idea? Obviously, someone unconcerned with such trivial and irrelevant things as profit and viability. This story actually gets more bizarre, as one learns that those who purchase multi-trip tickets will be stung an extra 5 per cent, as opposed to the average ticket price rise of 4 per cent.
    As one commuter quite rightly said: “Why are we paying more and more for something that’s getting worse and worse?”
    Let’s face facts: there is no free market in rail services in this country. The involvement of the state ensures that rail services, as with Amtrak in the United States, will be inefficient, unreliable and a financial black hole for taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.
    Vote with your feet, Wellington commuters - boycott the bloody useless rail service and car pool instead. Do it now, while we’re still allowed that little bit of freedom. Before the green-washed city councillors in Wellington ban the internal combustion engine altogether.

  • DOMPOST: “Tax cheat gets home detention A Lower Hutt businessman manages to hang onto almost $1.5M of his own money for several years until IRD goombahs catch up with him…

It won’t come as any surprise that a Libertarianz Party MP would support any reduction—and eventual elimination—of income tax. Not only is its collection an act of extortion, but it offers completely the wrong incentive: it punishes people for the crime of employing others and being self-sustaining and entrepreneurial.
    But I had to put this item in, as it contains a quote from an IRD goon that shows just how distorted a person’s mind can become after years spent working for an organisation whose talents lie in seizing the products of other people's time and energy by using threats of violence, while producing nothing of their own.
    “Taxpayers expect their taxes to go to pay for public services,” said Department of Legalised Theft bureau-rat Patrick Goggin, “not to tax cheats like [insert name of hapless business owner]."
    Not only is that statement questionable in a grammatical sense, it is nonsensical. The extorted funds of other people are not used to “pay for” tax “cheats.” Malcolm Mason was an actual tax cheat: paid with other people’s money. This businessman on the other hand is not. He simply refused to allow his own money to be stolen, regardless of the good intentions of the people trying to steal it from him.
    Only in the twisted mind of an IRD employee, or a district court judge, could a person who refused to allow himself be robbed suddenly become the criminal.
    In contrast to the bureaucratic bribe-taking couch potato from the Accident Compensation Corrupt Corporation (a monopoly whose services we are forced to purchase), the private businessman who withheld his property from the clutches of the IRD has been sentenced to perform 350 hours of community service.
    Go figure.

That’s all for now.
See you next week!
Doc McGrath

Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person,
my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which
I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which
perhaps, I could not  surrender if I would. Nor is there anything in
the common law of England ... inconsistent with that right.
- John Adams, second President of the United States

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

GUEST POST: The Japanese Crisis

Guest post by Vedran Vuk, Bud Conrad and the Casey Research Energy Team

With the Japanese crisis unfolding, I’m thinking about the policy consequences ahead for the U.S and the rest of the world. I’m positive that Japan will rebuild itself. As Kevin Brekke pointed out yesterday, the market was back within a year after the Kobe earthquake. Of course, a nuclear meltdown would surely push this time line further out, but eventually the nation would recover. However, bad political decisions may stick around for as long as radiation. This is the perfect time for politicians to enact poor policies that could last for decades.
    So, let’s think through some of these possibilities. The Bank of Japan is already pumping billions into the system, and the yen is dropping. After the monetary stimulus, a fiscal one is sure to follow. Unfortunately, Japan is in no shape to add on to its already gargantuan debt level at 225% of GDP.
    The stimulus might not simply go toward infrastructure repair and construction. Consider that the already weak Japanese banks just took a huge hit. Loan defaults will doubtlessly skyrocket from the crisis. On top of that, depositors will soon be pulling cash out of their savings accounts, draining the banks from a second angle…
    If the Japanese government bails out the banks and insurers on top of enacting a fiscal stimulus, where will the debt level stand as a percentage of GDP? While the earthquake is a very literal crisis at the moment, the seeds of a financial crisis are being planted next. Well, to be fair these aren’t seeds at all, but rather emerging seedlings already apparent prior to the earthquake. These sprouting problems are about to receive an extra dose of fertilizer.
    So, are there any good policies that could result from the earthquake? Yes, one being improved immigration laws. With Japan’s unemployment rate at only 4.9%, they’re necessarily going to require outside workers to get the job done, and cheap. Afterwards, they may decide to let many of them stay. Japan has a serious demographic problem of the older generation soon to outnumber the young. An influx of immigrants could be positive for Japan’s fiscal situation.
    First, Bud Conrad will update us on the economic situation across the board from Japan to the U.S., to commodities. Then the Casey Energy Team will give us a briefing on the Japanese reactors: what’s the status quo and what’s the worst-case scenario, plus what should uranium investors do about it?

Japan’s Stock Market Crash
By Bud Conrad, The Casey Report

The Japanese quakes are the worst in decades and serious. The Nikkei 225 dropped from 10,500 to a low of 8,200 Tuesday, or by 22% in two days. It crashed over 1,000 points after a recovery from a low point of 1,400 points down. As the world’s third biggest economy with close ties to China and our own economy, we will all suffer the consequences.

    Certainly, Japan will need to find other sources of energy than nuclear. In my opinion, that will mean bigger imports of oil. Their refineries are damaged; as a result, their purchases will focus on gasoline and jet fuel rather than crude. And that will increase shipping rates. Natural gas could be an alternative fuel for electricity and might rise if it could be shipped to Japan as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
    Across Japan, there are already shortages of gasoline, and store shelves are bare – only partly from panic and hoarding. The shortage of electricity means trains aren't running and many manufacturing plants can't operate. The loss of more power plants besides the Fukushima reactors has required rolling 3-hour power outages across Tokyo.
    The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has floated $180 B of new liquidity in two days to stem the panic, but panic has already stricken this low-priced stock market. Japanese government bond 10-year rates are down on BoJ buying and Japanese investors’ flight to safety out of equities. The U.S. stock market is down, and Treasury rates are also lower in sympathy. Japan will not be buying U.S. Treasuries and could become a seller to finance reconstruction.
    It is likely that the reactor and unit of Fukushima 1 that experienced a second explosion in the suppression pool below the reactor came from a breach of the containment vessel. The radiation rose to 400 millisieverts per hour, which is a level that is dangerous to health (compared to normal background levels of only 3 millisieverts). The situation is still getting worse, and it will affect attitudes toward nuclear energy for years. [Keep up to date on this news at the M.I.T. Nuclear Science blog]
    A scan of world stock markets this morning (March 15) shows Europe, Asia and the Americas reeling from the impact. While Japan recovered to only 10% down, Europe is 2% to 3% lower, and the U.S. Dow lost 200 points. Virtually all commodities took a hit, but not at panic levels. However, many commodities have been up as much as 100% since last year; so they could have further to go if world economies implode. The impact on worldwide confidence cannot be underestimated.
    Every major commodity has retreated, with gold losing $33 to $1,395 and silver losses approaching $2 to $34. Even oil eased to $97 for West Texas Intermediate, despite the potential demand for replacing the loss of nuclear energy with oil. Natural gas hasn’t participated in last year’s commodity boom and as a result is suffering the least. The simple explanation is that markets tend to move together, but the bigger implication is that world economies may be forced to slow down, decreasing demand for all commodities.
    Panic seems justified until the situation stops getting worse. This seems as serious as other events that triggered worldwide economic catastrophes in the past.
    Add to this the North Africa/Middle East protests and regime changes, and the situation gets worse. With Saudis moving into Bahrain, Syria sending arms to Qaddafi and the rebels losing to him, the traditional energy source of oil from the Middle East is hanging in the balance. (See more in my article in the latest Casey Report on this topic.) Our political response to the fast-changing events is only being taken one day at time.
    And then there is the continuing financial storm: the Fed is signaling that it will stop buying all the government debt by ending QE2. Since QE2 buoyed the market since last summer, its absence could send panic throughout the market. The Fed could have been pre-announcing the end of QE2 to defend the dollar against the yen ($1.22/100 yen) and euro ($1.40/E). Who knows how this will be played out? The Fed may continue QE2 to avoid internal panic. It is remarkable that Fed policy is only third on the list of current disasters.
    My conclusion is that we will see more financial aftershocks just as Japan is experiencing geological aftershocks (6.2 this morning, 75 miles east of Tokyo) for months to come. The long-term destruction of paper currencies is likely to be accelerated from government thrashing to fix all the problems. In the short-term, we should ride out these storms more comfortably in physical resource investments than in bank deposits.
The governments will try to paper over problems with more printing as the BoJ did with $180 B in two day $320b in three days, but the real-world limitations on energy supplies compared to population growth mean that long-term energy demand will still be with us and energy and precious metals will be important areas for investment in the long term.

Uranium and Japan
By the Casey Energy Team

Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant The potential for a core meltdown at three of Japan’s nuclear reactors after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami slammed the island nation is causing another onslaught, this one against every uranium-related stock in the world.
    Stocks of uranium explorers, producers and nuclear-reactor builders, and the spot price of uranium all fell dramatically on March 14 and 15, the first days of trading following Japan’s disaster. As the country worked to keep three reactors at risk for meltdowns contained, the world’s largest pure uranium producer Cameco (T.CCO, N.CCJ) watched as its share price fell as much as 22.7% in Monday’s intra-day trading. By the end of the day the loss had softened to 12.7%, leaving the company at C$31.70. By mid-day Tuesday, Cameco shares had lost another C$2.29 to trade at C$29.41.
    Uranium One (T.UUU), another major global uranium producer, fell harder, losing 27.7% on Monday. By midday on Tuesday, it had lost another 16.9% to sit near C$3.60. The world’s largest provider of nuclear equipment and services, France’s Areva (P.CEI), lost 9.6% on Monday and continued to fall Tuesday, sitting 9.2% down by the middle of the trading day.
    The impact reverberated all the way down to uranium explorers: Athabasca Basin junior Hathor Exploration (V.HAT) dropped 28.3% on Monday and continued the drop Tuesday, 15.6% down at midday, while producer-explorer Denison Mines (T.DML) lost 22.3% on Monday and had lost another 11.3% by the middle of Tuesday.
    The spot price of uranium, which is not traded on the open market but is represented by the average price of individual transactions, dropped 11% on Monday to close at US$60.75 per pound. By midday on Tuesday, it had plunged another 10.3% from there to sit at US$54.40 per pound.
    Germany suspended an agreement to extend the life of its nuclear power stations, Switzerland put some nuclear power plant approvals on hold, Taiwan announced plans to study reductions in nuclear power output, and Senator Joe Lieberman said the U.S. should put the brakes on new nuclear power plants until the Japanese situation plays out. Other nations voiced continued support for nuclear power, including France, China, and India, all nations wherein nuclear power is important and new reactors are being built.
    What does this all mean for uranium and nuclear power? To be blunt, there are two sides to this story: the objective, supply-and-demand side and the emotional, fear-of-nuclear-radiation side. Both are absolutely legitimate, because fear is a major factor in the uranium arena.
    That fear is certainly being stoked by news stories describing the situation as “the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl” and maps showing how winds could potentially carry radiation across the Pacific to North America. So before we get into uranium forecasts, let’s talk about what is actually happening within Japan’s damaged reactors.
    There are serious cooling problems and the likelihood of partial core meltdowns at three reactors within the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which is 270 km north of Tokyo. On Saturday, a buildup of hydrogen gas caused a major explosion at the No. 1 reactor; the walls and roof of the building blew off, but the containment vessel around the reactor itself remained intact.
    On Monday morning, the same thing happened at the No. 3 reactor. By Tuesday morning, the building housing reactor No. 2 exploded violently; this time the explosion seems to have inflicted some damage to the reactor’s suppression pool, which is a donut-shaped reservoir at the base of the containment vessel. Radiation levels spiked, then settled back to the low levels that have been the norm since the disaster started. On Tuesday night, a fire in the spent fuel pools near reactor No. 4 added to problems, but it was extinguished within a few hours.
    Now efforts are focused on keeping the reactors cores submerged in water, to keep them cool. The main challenges are that coolant and pumping systems have been damaged, personnel are short, and power supplies are inconsistent, especially after the three explosions damaged the plants’ power systems. Cooling efforts have yielded rewards at reactors 1 and 3, where temperatures are now dropping. Reactor No. 2 is still very unstable, and temperatures are starting to rise in No. 4.
    Despite everything, Japanese officials continued to express confidence that containment vessels will hold, keeping the high-level radiation that results from partial core meltdowns locked away. Operators have been venting steam that contains only low-level radiation. The reported levels have remained well below the maximum exposure limits set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    The take-home message is this: if the 8-inch-thick steel walls of the containment vessels remain primarily intact, things should be fine, and that is what we expect based on the events to date. The vessels are designed to stay intact even if the cores explode. However, if we are unlucky and one or more of the vessels burst (beyond the small breach inflicted by the explosion at No. 2), highly radioactive gases would spread for hundreds of kilometers, with the worst contamination hitting in a 50-mile radius.
    Really, no one should be mentioning Chernobyl because even the worst-case scenario at Fukushima would be nothing compared to Chernobyl. In the Ukrainian disaster, a nuclear reactor exploded while still in full operation, and its sub-standard containment unit was destroyed in the explosion, which meant radioactive gases and molten plutonium and uranium spilled into the surrounding countryside. Some 4,000 people would eventually die.
    In Japan, the reactors are shut down and the containment vessels have already held for four days. Experts say that longevity bodes well. Provided the vessels do hold, the situation will be much more like the Three Mile Island incident. That is also a difficult comparison, however, because many people misunderstand that situation. At Three Mile Island, a stuck-open valve led to major coolant losses, which led to a partial meltdown in one reactor. High-level radiation was confined to the containment vessel, and little radioactive material actually escaped. (The real problem at Three Mile Island was lack of training and protocol to deal with the situation.)
    Chernobyl instilled fear of nuclear reactors into the general population, and rightfully so. Three Mile Island was scary, and today’s precarious situation in Japan is also scary. But nuclear power is a mainstay of many countries’ green power plans and, provided this disaster does not escalate, that will remain the case.
    For one thing, there are 65 nuclear power plants currently under construction, and the builders cannot back out of the long-term contracts they signed to supply those plants with uranium. And as we’ve written before, global uranium supplies are not projected to meet growing demand, so if economics prevail, the price will rebound and uranium equities with it.
    If Japan’s nuclear troubles worsen significantly, however, fear may take over from economics. Governments wanting to reassure scared citizens will suspend nuclear power plans (as some have already) and institute heavy-handed permitting hurdles for new mines and reactors. In this scenario, uranium could drop back down into disfavor...

Vedran Vuk
Casey's Daily Dispatch  Editor

Image sources Casey Research, Objective Standard