Friday, April 15, 2011

FRIDAY RAMBLE: The ‘Atlas’ Weekend Edition

I have no idea yet whether it’s good, bad or (most likely) indifferent, but on the weekend that Atlas Shrugged:Part 1 opens on screens across the States, how could I not start with the principle the book most clearly illustrates:

“There are no victims and no conflicts of interest among
rational men, men who do not desire the unearned …  men
who neither make sacrifices nor accept them.”
                   - Ayn Rand

A principle that, once recognised, provides the strongest possible reason for benevolence that could possibly be imagined.
Think about it.
And now, on with our usual Friday morning show. But first, a message from Wesley Mouch:

  • Who’s Wesley Mouch? “When Rand created the character of Wesley Mouch, it’s as though she was anticipating Barney Frank (D., Mass). Mouch is the economic czar in “Atlas Shrugged” whose every move weakens the economy, which in turn gives him the excuse to demand broader powers. Mr. Frank steered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disaster with mandates for more lending to low-income borrowers. After Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of their subprime mortgage books, Mr. Frank proclaimed last year: ‘The way to cure that is to give us more authority.’ Mouch couldn’t have said it better himself.”
    Remembering the Real Ayn Rand – Donald Luskin, W A L L   S T R E E T  J O U R N A L
  • Here’s one question to ask yourself this weekend: Are you a maker, or a taker?
    Are you a producer or a moocher? – Gen La Greca & Marsha Enright, D A I L Y  CA L L E R
  • 340x_custom_1276644309238_picture_43 Whatever the success or otherwise of the film Atlas Shrugged, and reviews are already mixed, there’s no doubt that there’ll be yet another huge spike in interest in the book. And just to be ready for it all, the Atlas Shrugged website has been drastically updated with substantial new content and new resources to enhance understanding of the ideas behind the novel.
    Atlas Shrugged website 
    –A Y N   R A N D   I N S T I T U T E
  • It’s not only Christchurch earthquake victims being screwed by organisations like EQC. Japan had its own version of interventionist ineptitude.
    How the Japanese Insurance Industry Screwed the Average Person on Earthquake Insurance – E C O N O M I C  P O L I C Y  J O U R N A L
  • “Nice to have”? Or impossible to afford. I can’t help thinking that  if this economic plan had been implemented back in 2008, we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. "We call it the Don't-Spend-So-Goddamned-Much Plan" …
    Finally: A Credible Economic Plan – L I B E R T A R I A N Z, 2008
  • How many NZers would have left money with Mark Hotchin if they’d known he was so credulous?
    Suppression of market-relevant information – O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Copyright protection on the net? Right idea, wrong process.
    An own goal  - David Farrar, K I W I B L O G
  • No wonder, when you have MPs involved. Why do people want people like this making decisions for them? About, well, about anything really?
     Katrina Shanks internet law parody by Kurt Sharpe. – S T U F F
  • Quick, download NationalMP2.o now…
    It's Upgrade Time – I M P E R A T O R   F I S H
  • “Human character (or at least behavior) was changed, and changed forever, by seventeenth-century Britain’s insistence that ideas were a kind of property. This notion is as consequential as any idea in history.”
    The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention
    – Dale Halling, S T A T E   O F  I N N O V A T I O N
  • “Unfortunately, Libertarians, Socialists and many Economists do not know the difference between a monopoly and a property right. Here are three easy questions for Libertarians, Socialists, and Economists to determine if a right is a monopoly or a property right.”
    Monopoly/Rent Seeking vs. Property Rights/Intellectual Property 
    – Dale Halling, S T A T E   O F  I N N O V A T I O N
  • As always, Paul Walker has some excellent Blog Bits. Two in particular.
    Blog Bits – A N T I   D I S M A L
  • Eric and I will have to disagree about the merits of playing NWA at a club—or anywhere else for that matter—but we don’t disagree it’s a disgrace to be arrested for it.
    Two disgraces that are, and one that isn't – O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Mind you, it has always been so in this small authoritarian backwater.Anyone else remember how the riot squad used to “visit” gigs up in Airedale St just to bust them up?  As the Newmatics remembered, those weren’t the days.
  • “The Marxian doctrine of the alleged arbitrary power of employers over wages appears plausible because there are two obvious facts that it relies on, facts which do not actually support it, but which appear to support it. These facts can be described as ‘worker need’ and ‘employer greed.’”
    Wages and the Irrelevance of Worker Need and Employer Greed 
    – G E O R G E   R E I S M A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • “There is a sense in which the whole of Marx’s writing boils down to several embarrassing questions.” This is truer than Marxists care to admit.
    Terryfied – Don Boudreaux, C A F E  H A Y E K
  • Here is a chart of oil prices.
    216546_177936218925442_100001271958300_466275_5134679_n And here is a chart of oil prices priced in gold.
    215330_177936535592077_100001271958300_466276_6101348_n Do you think maybe there might be some kind of lesson here? [Hat tip Keith W.]
  • You’re just in time for our 2011 Gold Quiz! How much do you know about gold? Jeff Clark challenges you to test your knowledge. Also in this edition: Gold – the performing commodity; and, three ideas killed stone dead since the 2008 crash.
     The 2011 Gold Quiz  - C A S E Y   D A I L Y   D E S P A T C H
  • “Aggregate economics just doesn't work.” So why do we even need macroeconomics at all?
    Macro is not having a good day - A N T I   D I S M A L
  • Debt? Think it’s your grandchildren paying for your government’s  debts? Think again. As with war, so too with profligacy and waste…

“One now and then hears the interpretation expressed that
financing war by state loans signifies shifting the war costs
from the present onto following generations… This interpretation
is completely wrong. War can be waged only with present goods.
One can fight only with weapons that are already on hand; one
can take everything needed for war only from wealth already
on hand. From the economic point of view, the present generation
wages war, and it must also bear all the material costs ...”
                       - Ludwig Von Mises, Nation, State & Economy

FEMEM-Potemkin1

  • When Denis Dutton died, it seems his magnificent Arts & Letters Daily died with him.
    Arts & Letters Daily  - C A T A L L A X Y   F I L E S
  • The book The Spirit Level is still being taken seriously as an evidential tool to argue for interventionism. Chris Snowdon explains that the “evidence” is painfully thin, and terribly tortured.
     Should We Sacrifice Economic Growth for Equality? – I . E . A .
  • A debate to watch over the weekend: “Government, what is its proper role?”
  • 4731533855_7d65790718_oBob Jones writes more politely about “leadership” than I think I’ve ever seen him write before.  But he still thinks it’s bollocks.
    The Actual Habits – Bob Jones 
    – G E T   F R A N K
  • Here’s a question answered to help you buy baby’s clothes:  “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Can you guess how long ago that was written?
    When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? – S M I T H S O N I A N  [hat tip Noodle Food]
  • This is cool. This amazing software developed by a NZ company takes raw photo images, and constructs digital 3D models from them. [Hat tip Lyn B.]
    A R E O S C A N
  • Ho w Google works, in one simple flow chart. [Hat tip Geek Press]
    How Google Works – P P C   B L O G
  • You do know it’s okay to dislike good art, don’t you?
    Appreciating Art (It’s OK to [Dis]Like It.) – T R E Y  G I V E N S
  • And finally, there’s music for everyone this Friday. For everyone else going those “extra Miles” (ho ho) …
  • … for everyone moving on …
  • … and for everyone suffering from absent lover(s), here’s Rainbow. (I liked the comment at YouTube: “Graham Bonnet may have looked like a Miami Vice extra, but what a fucking awesome voice.”)

Have a good weekend, y’all.
PC

PS: Time to start thing about those beers for the colder seasons. Just sayin’.

PPS: And by the way, who’s this bloke?

atlas-shrugged-still1

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perigo! #4

PERIGO!-Crawshaw-V2-F 

Tonight on Perigo! Lindsay and his guest Graham Crawshaw, a specialist in teaching troubled teens to read, discuss undoing the damage done by those who inhabit the government’s factory schools. 

Join them for a half hour of intelligent discourse as well as a special romantic music gem by the late, great Joan Sutherland.

PERIGO! Stratos at 7.30, Freeview 21 & Sky 89.

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Snail’s pace [updated]

Ten days after the devastating 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan, China, nearly one million temporary houses had been built for quake victims.

q16_17016885 Less than one month after Japan’s devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, families have begun moving into temporary homes there.

Meanwhile, nearly two months after Christchurch’s second quake and with around 10,000 homes needed … all eyes are on the Department of Building and Housing, awaiting their announcement of Fletcher Building of which Kiwi company will be allowed to build temporary housing here … on the new Earthquake Authority to see whose land they will “requisition” … and on Christchurch City Council, to see if by some miracle their ring-fencing of the city with zoning laws will be relaxed.

Because nothing is allowed to happen here without the say-so of the Czar and his satraps.

UPDATE: Eric Crampton has some thoughts on the newly minted powers of the Czar.

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Open thread—and plenty to talk about

There's lots going on in the world right now—CERA, Syria, Libya, inflation, debt, Obama’s class war, Ayn Rand’s new film, Auckland’s Maori Statutory Board, NZ’s new copyright protection laws, French anti-burqa laws, secret bank bailouts, the nationalisation of lawyers, the end of property rights in Canterbury—and I'm sure you want to talk about it all and more.

Your topics—your points—your links. Make them and raise them now in the comments.

If you’re (un)lucky, I might join in myself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Constitutional Hooey

When the Clark government held a high-profile hui to review the New Zealand constitution, there was a muted undercurrent to have “group rights” [sic] accepted as superseding individual rights, and an overt attempt to incorporate the Treaty of Waitangi into a new constitution.

The attempt is now being made again under this government—under the guidance of Bill English and Pita Sharples, and with the assistance of an “expert” advisory panel. Seeking to be said “experts” are the likes of Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu, who is on the record as seeing the constitution of Bolivia as “a future model for New Zealand.”

For the record, this is a constitution that gives special “group rights” to “indigenous” Bolivians, and gives nature “equal rights” to human beings.

Maybe not a future model for New Zealand then, we hope, but certainly a strong candidate for the world’s next famine.

Helen Clark’s constitutional conference was ultimately unsuccessful—not because attendees were opposed to the idea of group rights (an anti-concept wiping out the recognition that individuals hold rights “not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective—”as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross”), but mainly because Maori themselves were opposed to tying the Treaty down as long as they weren’t tying the knots themselves.  Such incorporation, said Shane Jones at the time, might “tie down the Treaty's mana as a 'sacred covenant'”; or as Ngatata Love said "I say what my tikanga is, not the law." Meaning, of course, that if law is clear and objective then witchdoctors won't be paid a fortune to give this week's interpretation of 'taonga.'

Clark was at least astute enough to realise giving the witchdoctors power to write their own constitutional ticket would be congenitally stupid, and left the constitutional question alone for the rest of her term. Key and English however, politically naive and desperate for Maori Party votes, are foolish enough to give the farm away before they’ve even realised what Sharples (and Mutu) have set their eyes on.

That vigilance, then, is going to be up to you and I.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Ninnies, nannies and more

_McGRath Libertarianz 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: Ninnies, nannies and rent-seeking guild socialists.

1. STUFF: “Labour MP Damien O’Connor fronts up over gay commentsRejected at the last election by West Coast voters, Damien O’Connor apologises but does not back away from his claim that the Labour Party selection process is controlled by unionists (Little, Dalziel, Fenton, Beaumont, Wood, Mika, Curran, Lees-Galloway, Pillay) and gays (Robertson, Chauvel, Street, Wall, Carter)…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: And apologise he should, as he omitted three other important sources of Labour Party candidates – school teachers (Street, Mallard, Davis, Beaumont, Sepuloni) political studies graduates (Goff, Robertson, Jones, Hipkins) and lawyers (Parker, Chauvel, Dalziel, Huo).
    Delete members of these groups from the Labour list and there’d be few with knowledge of the real world left to stand.
    The ultimate Labour candidate would be a gay disabled Islamic trade unionist ex-school teacher with a background in race relations, membership of CORSO, Oxfam and Greenpeace and a degree in political studies.
    Shame to see Damien O’Connor apologise, obviously he has been nobbled by someone further up the chain, probably a gay unionist who took offence at hearing some home truths. Good thing however that O’Connor hasn’t backed away from the comments, merely expressed “regret” that someone took offence. Won’t hurt his chances at the next election, provided West Coasters have forgotten Helen Clark’s labeling of them as “feral.”

2. DOMPOST: “Jetstar stops disabled pair flyingDisabilities Minister Tariana Turia condemns Jetstar’s decision not to allow two wheelchair bound people on one of its aeroplanes…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: What is wrong with letting the market judge Jetstar, instead of a minister? If this decision is so horrendous, then Jetstar’s profits will drop as potential customers vote with their feet. The last thing these two disabled travellers need is an interfering politician using the situation to grandstand at taxpayer expense.
    All the more reason to abolish the post of Disabilities Minister – along with the swarms of other unnecessary ministries and departments that harass New Zealanders and eat out their substance.

3. DOMPOST: “Proposal to regulate teeth-whitening productsThe Environmental Risk Management Authority wants to force people to consult with a dentist before they use some types of mouthwash…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Not content with trying to ban dihydrogen monoxide, our guardians now want to regulate the use of hydrogen peroxide.
    Commonly used as a hair bleach, it can also be used to bleach teeth. The Dental Council are shocked – indeed scandalised – that a person can just go and buy whitening gels direct from the shelf and (gasp) apply them to their own teeth without first paying a fee to their members.
    Why can’t these rent-seeking do-gooders be told to mind their own business and allow adults to decide what they put into their own body instead of treating them like children? If people are injured through the use of bleaching agents, word will get around, and people will very quickly learn what products are safe to use and which are not. The last thing adult New Zealanders need is more rent-seekers and more nannying, which tends to undermine our capacity for independent thinking and decision-making.
    The Libertarianz Party, of course, would abolish both ERMA and the Dental Council, and allow adults the freedom to make their own decisions and to live with the consequences.

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may
be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons
than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty
may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but
those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end,
for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
– C.S. Lewis

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swimming in the path of progress

Pelican So a ragtag bunch of anti-industrialists has headed out to sea in boats made with petro-chemicals and powered by fuel oil to protest about oil exploration and the prospective production of petr0-chemicals 30km off the coast of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, a year on from BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Gulf of Mexico (the former economic Dead Sea) has been oil-free for seven months and enjoying more fish stocks than it has ever had, and the Gulf Coast itself has largely recovered.

_Quote “The spill was a disaster, but it was not the catastrophe that many people were portraying,” said Ivor van Heerden, a marine scientist who once headed the Louisiana coastal restoration programme for the state’s fragile eco-system of wetlands.

It’s the catastrophe that wasn’t. A non-catastrophe that will still help make offshore drilling better, cleaner and safer. A non-catastrophic oil spill that is still nonetheless the touchstone for most of the unwashed. Sure, as Don Boudreaux points out,

_Quoteoil spills are compellingly photographable – and, hence, attention-getting and emotion-stirring.  In contrast, lower prices for – which, by the way, mean fewer resources used to bring to market – clothing, children’s toys, digital cameras, camping equipment, kitchen appliances, groceries, and other goods that we routinely enjoy are not photographable in any compelling way.  The result is that the social benefits of corporate innovations and competition are easily overlooked, ignored, taken for granted, forgotten.  But these benefits are enormous.

petrobras-protest So why are there so many previously unwashed anti-industrialists swimming around in front of other people’s boats off East Cape ?

Precisely because the logic of environmentalism, as practiced by the anti-industrialists, is to deny man’s needs and the requirements of his survival—to deny the benefits they themselves enjoy—to follow instead a path which would logically lead to a society without technology. Even the technology that allows these people to sit, quite literally, in the path of progress.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Invitation to an opening, from Mark Wooller

image Put your glad rags on tomorrow evening* and come out to see a friend’s new exhibition in Parnell:

Mark Wooller: The First Post

_Quote Mark Wooller’s new exhibition features stunning New Zealand native forests, but also included in the paintings are the first New Zealand stamps, early postcards, street maps of early Auckland, deed documents, and even paintings of old tobacco tins…
    These paintings of luscious New Zealand forests are interspersed with early roads, allotments and subdivisions, some depicting Queen & Wellesley streets, and Parnell Road. Parnell was one of New Zealand’s first subdivisions. Wooller says, “I found old documents relating to the division of land. These old plates and deed documents had appeal with these neatly drawn out numbered squares laid on grids offering settlers a chance to purchase their own piece of paradise…. streets and views we are so familiar with years ago would have been covered in dense vegetation, to step back and witness the inevitable tide of progress, the laying out of lots and sections the measuring and creation of land ownership out of what was, years before, a land of forest.” …
     This new series of work by Wooller is not just a celebration of New Zealand’s forests both past and present but a thoughtful narrative highlighting an iconic and often controversial aspect of New Zealand’s history…

LostWaterfall

WHERE: Warwick Henderson Gallery, 32 Bath St, Parnell.
WHEN: Tuesday 12 Aril, 5:30-7:30pm—and thereafter until the 30th.

Visit new artworks by Mark Wooller at www.markwooller.com, and follow his blog at http://markwooller.wordpress.com/.

* And don’t worry—our regular Economics meet-ups are taking a break for two weeks. So instead of coming along to uni to learn about economics, come along to the gallery and invest.  ;^)

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Politics over principle – the U.S. edition

Side-stepping a temporary government shutdown (which would have been the second-best* outcome of the Republicrat-Demopublican Budget battle) US politicians  have instead agreed to fake reality for one more year by attacking the country’s biggest deficit ever with "trims variously valued at effectively 0.00% of this year's federal spending."

Peter Schiff comments on the argument over a rounding error—and the final victory for compromise over necessity.

[Hat tip Objective Standard and Casey’s Daily Despatch]

* Can you guess what the first-best would have been?

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No party like a Labour party (list)

Labour has released their party list for the 2011 election, and like most everyone else I'm finding it hard to summon up sufficient enthusiasm to say anything about it.

Well, almost everyone. Labour Damian O'Connor at least has strong opinions about it.

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