Monday, 25 July 2011

Vermeer: The Geographer


ACT reject coalition

Don Brash announced yesterday that the ACT Party, if it still exists after November, may not go into formal coalition with any government.

And nor should they

A principled party would not need to.

And a party with John Banks holding the anchor seat would not want to.

What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR'

    Imagine a ‘Party X’ that was actually committed to opposing statism ,and to advocating for free enterprise. Imagine such a party had a cabinet committing to rolling back the state, and an environment minister brimming over with ideas to do that.
    Here, in several parts, are the sort of environmental policies such a party (and such a minister) could advocate. Seven simple policies using present-day political realities to roll back the state without introducing any new coercion along the way.
This morning, two proposals to propel property rights towards the heart of New Zealand life:

diving for pennies2The newspapers this morning carry the news that  the world-famous famous penny-divers at Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa are being told by the authorities not to swim in the Puarenga River if they value their health. It seems the stream is being seriously polluted.

    Tests over the years have shown poor results for water quality and [authorities] says companies like the Red Stag Timber Mill could be doing much better.
    But Tim Charleson, the mill's environmental manager, says the company carries out regular chemical tests on its effluent and it's meeting the conditions of its resource consents.

I have no doubt Red Stag et al are indeed “meeting the conditions of [their] resource consents.” But as this story and others clearly demonstrate, resource consents are not a form of environmental protection. If you think they are, think again.

In cases like this one and all over the country, from the Tarawera River (into which the paper mill has a license to dump chlorine and worse) to Akaroa Harbour (where the council has given itself a license to dump nearly raw sewage), a resource consent is nothing more than a license to pollute.

The RMA, under which resource consents like this are issued, is hopeless at protecting the environment because it’s hopeless at protecting property rights. Contrast this common law, which has seven-hundred years of sophistication at protecting both, and you realise how far from ideal NZ’s so-called “environmental legislation” really is.

With strong property rights under common law, for example, the tourism operators along the Puarenga River—and the former fishermen at the head of the Tarawera River; and the aquaculture operators in Akaroa Harbour—would all have had legal standing to take action against polluters damaging their property right.

Historically and in principle that’s the best protection the environment ever had – both for the natural environment and for the human environment. Property rights in streams and rivers for example coupled with common law systems of protection would at a stroke solve the ‘dirty dairying’ problem about which so much is said, but so little achieved. Property rights in flora and fauna and land is the best means of ensuring a genuinely sustainable nation.

So how do we do that? Here’s two ways:

1. Putting Property Rights in the Bill of Rights Act

We know that common law protection of property rights has been buried by statute and regulation and the Foreshore and Seabed Act and its replacement--but it’s not too late to resurrect it. Placing property rights in the Bill of Rights Act would be a start—a politically possible start—repairing an omission that Bill of Rights architect Geoffrey Palmer has publicly conceded was a mistake, and that National's disgraceful about-turn three years ago overturned.

It should be simple enough to insert a new clause in the Bill of Rights adding property rights to the rights protected.  (But a responsible ‘Party X’  would know they would need to add pressure to make the Bill of Rights  superior to all other law, as it always should have been.)

After all, the principle of property rights simply promises the protection of the right to peacefully enjoy that in which one has property. What reasonable objection can be brought to a law that protects an individual’s right to peaceful enjoyment? (Let me stress the word "reasonable.")

Let’s place on the back foot those who object to that right by challenging them to say for what reasons the right to peaceful enjoyment should not be made superior to all other law. Why should that right not  be put beyond the vote? That is, beyond the power of politicians to tamper with.

Our putative ‘Party X’  may not be immediately successful in this goal, but it could at least flush out the bastards who oppose such peaceful rights, and expose the reasons they do.

In the meantime, you might like to consider what would happen if property rights ever actually were placed at the heart of the likes of the Resource Management Act . . . would it be something like the meeting of matter and anti-matter ?

2. Coming to the Nuisance

Planners like nothing more than than telling you where and how you may live.  The RMA gives them that power in spades, and the country is infested with the well-fed bastards writing and administering District Plans empowered by the RMA to boss you and your family around.

It wasn’t always that way. Back when common law was being invented, the English king was becoming increasingly frustrated at having to fix issues about the damage that someone’s chickens did to someone else’s crops.  Keen to stop his castles being overrun by defendants’ chickens, the king quickly realised the three important questions that could quickly solve these issues:

  1. Whose chickens (and whose crops) are they?
  2. What damage did they do? (And how to remedy it?)
  3. Who was there first?

Such was the birth of common law—and right there in those three questions the English king had hit on the three ingredients that have been at the heart of common law ever since:

  1. Property rights.
  2. Damage.
  3. Nuisance (and who came to it?).

Once these principles were established, the English king was able to solve these problems rapidly, to cleanse his castles of chickens, and to head north to invade Scotland—which is what the king known as “The Hammer of the Scots”  he’d been trying to do when he got bogged down in these disputes.

What I’m going to propose here is another simple modification to law that would allow New Zealanders to once again repair to the common law protections that “The Hammer” had made possible. In particular, the codification of the common law principle of Coming to the Nuisance (seen in palimpsest in point three above), which on its own would a powerful antidote to the zoning that the RMA has entrenched -- perhaps the strongest possible antidote to zoning there is. Supplementary to putting property rights in the Bill of Rights, then, ‘Party X’ could promote the reintroduction of the Coming to the Nuisance doctrine for use as an absolute in neighbourhood disputes.

The Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine is an enormously powerful principle protecting pre-existing rights, and quickly establishing rights in situations of apparent neighbourhood conflict. Move next door to a clean and well-run chicken farm or pig or mushroom farm for example (even if the place has been re-zoned since the farm opened), and under this doctrine you have no right to have them thrown out.

Move next door to a speedway track, for another well-known example, and you have no right to complain about excessive noise.

I assume you see the difference with how things presently work. If the farm or the speedway or whatever it is was there before you chose to buy next door, then that’s probably why you got your land so cheap.

And if the track (or farm) is well and properly run, then those pre-existing rights should and can be protected in law; and if they were you then have a strong incentive to either make a more careful choice in future (whereas now the incentive is there to move in and force them out), or to buy out the speedway or the farm, or buy easements or covenants over the neighbouring land.

Either way, when the coercion is removed from all parties and bargaining is all that’s allowed, the tendency is for property to end up in its highest value use. This is not something planners can ever claim to have achieved.

Furthermore, what this principle will demonstrate over long use is that zoning is not only coercive, but unnecessary. It will on its own provide a daily demonstration that sound property rights work for everybody except the grey ones and the looters.

Coming To The Nuisance then is THE pre-eminent antidote to zoning.

Not only that, at the same time as undercutting the zoning law established under the RMA, if  introduced it would ensure that if neighbours of Western Springs speedway aren’t prepared to stump up enough for the bikes and midget cars to go elsewhere, then the noise of fast cars and motorbikes will continue to annoy wankers like Peter Williams QC for some years to come. You can’t do better than that.

[Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number three: Small Consents Tribunals.]

* * * * *

THE SERIES SO FAR:
INTRO: 'What Would 'Party X' Do About the Environment?'
PART ONE:
Un-taxes
THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE: 'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ayn Rand Goes Mainstream... In Ecuador

Guest post by Jeff Perren

Gabriela Calderon de Burgos writing at Cato gives us the details, and this quote that appeared on the front page of Ecuador's largest newspaper:

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed.
Yes, that quote does remind me a lot of contemporary America. No doubt it reminds a lot of you lot in NZ of New Zealand.

But its presence in an Ecuadorian newspaper also gives me some hope and reminds me of something Nathaniel Branden said in the original Basic Principles of Objectivism course way back in the early '60s. He was lamenting the loss of 75% of Aristotle's works from the fire in the Library of Alexandria. (I, too, mourn that event still.) But he noted, referring to the remaining 25% aiding the birth of the Renaissance: "A little reason goes a long way."

Indeed it does. Whether that little will be enough in our present circumstances, it is too soon to tell.

Friday, 22 July 2011

What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 1: Un-taxes

    Imagine a ‘Party X’ that was actually committed to opposing statism ,and to advocating for free enterprise. Imagine such a party had a cabinet committing to rolling back the state, and an environment minister brimming over with ideas to do that.
    Here, in several parts, are the sort of environmental policies such a party (and such a minister) could advocate. Seven simple policies using present-day political realities to roll back the state without introducing any new coercion along the way.
    This morning,
Un-taxes:

Every party in parliament wants subsidies for its favoured “outcomes,” and “resources” for their favourite pork barrels.  And every party is wont to waffle ad nauseum about “sustainability,” “renewable” energy, and other words they’re ill-prepared to define. Put the two together and you have a buggers muddle of bullshit and budgetary blowouts—of Eco Taxes, Eco Subsidies and Eco Grants—that’s unsustainable both for the taxpayers forced to pick up the tab, and producers trying to survive.

All parties blather on about the need for “grass roots” eco businesses and “sustainable” alternative technologies, yet between taxes, regulations and indecipherable rules about how to qualify for the various grants and subsidies they promote, they make it near impossible for alternative technologies and grass roots businesses to thrive.

All of them waffle on about subsidies for this and grants for that and assistance with the other, and at the same time they talk about “sin” taxes to discourage so-called “polluters” like the energy companies who produce the power that keeps our lights on.

I say that’s bullshit. I say the only thing that’s truly sustainable is stuff that stands on its own two feet, i.e., stuff that’s economically sustainable, i.e., that produces more resources than are consumed. I say if a profit can't be made on all these schemes for solar panels and wind farms and for turning banana skins into biofuel, then those schemes shouldn’t exist. If they can’t turn a profit, then they’re a waste of the resources that Russel Norman and Nick Smith insist are so scarce.

But what new business gets a chance to turn a profit when they’re buried under tax and compliance costs? We know that tax is theft. We know that how you run your company is your business. So why not let at least some companies in this country be free of the burden and show just how their profits rise when they’re not being taxed to hell and back—when they’re not burdened by paperwork, and weighed down by bureaucrats.

And why not let the current fad for “sustainable” this-that-and-the-other help drive this gradual unburdening, and let the eco warriors themselves learn at first hand that free trade and profits are always superior to subsidies and socialism.

What I suggest then is that eco industries, eco businesses and eco products be made totally tax free, and that all these eco industries be freed as much as possible from the regulations and compliance costs imposed by the likes of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Income Tax Act, of collecting and calculating GST, and comforming to minimum wage laws (what’s wrong with volunteers who freely volunteer?).

Let’s say for example you’re doing research and development on micro-power producers or wave turbines, or trying to erect and bring on small and economically viable hydro stations or domestic wind turbines. All of these are potentially viable and small alternatives to the Big Thinking state-owned and state-controlled power producers (the state always Things Big, doesn’t it), but not when burdened by Kafka-esque problems with resource consents (for which the large producers maintain a large staff to make opposing submissions), by the compliance costs that weigh down every business, and by taxes on research and development and production, and on any profits that might be made down the line.

I say let’s help out these smart small producers—not by laying out the fatted calf, but by not goring them with the state’s lumpen big bullocks. Let’s help out every business we can, starting with these ones.

Let’s free up “eco” businesses, and at once we liberate at least some businesses from the shackles of the grey ones (and perhaps help kick start some fashionable export industries selling to the gullible overseas, and initiate the partial removal of the RMA and other onerous laws and regulations here).

At the same time we demonstrate the power to produce when the shackles of statism are removed; and we lay down a serious challenge to the prophets of sustainability that requires them to objectively define what they mean by sustainability so that investors and the grey ones know clearly and in advance what an eco industry actually looks like.

Sure, this don’t give every business a break, but with eco un-taxes, at least there’s more freedom and no new coercion, and nothing here that the eco warriors shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to sign up to. It’s a start, right.

THE SERIES SO FAR:
INTRO: 'What Would 'Party X' Do About the Environment?'
THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE: 'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number two: “The Overwhelming Importance of Damn Nuisance”

“Shall we kill them in their beds?”–or, Transitions to Freedom: Good & Bad

A post from the archives offering advice for any putative Party X wanting to roll back the state.

Two bakers are talking politics. "How do you roll back the state?" asks the first. "One roll at a time," answers the second. A poor joke, but good advice. If you're serious about rolling back the state, then you set your compass in the direction of more freedom and less coercion, and you start hacking a path in that direction through the overgrown thickets of the overbearing state one hard-fought step after another.

You might start by preparing 'transitional policies' - policies that roll back the state and reduce coercion one machete stroke at at a time. Writing in The Intellectual Activist (July 1995), Robert Tracinski gives the necessary principle for formulating all such policies:

In judging a measure [advises Tracinski], one cannot hold it responsible for all aspects of a mixed economy - only for those aspects it changes. These changes can be evaluated by a straightforward application of the principle of individual rights: Does the reform remove some aspect of government control or does it add more control?... It is not a compromise to advocate reduced government control in one sphere even if controls in other spheres are left standing. It is a compromise, on the other hand, if one seeks to purchase increased freedom in one area at the price of increased control in another.

Ayn Rand explains the error of compromise:

When a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture. There can be no justification for choosing any part of that which one knows to be evil.

Clear enough then: Start with what you find, and design the means to work step by step towards your goal, without ever purchasing increased freedom at the expensed of increased coercion. This is what is meant by the phrase ‘ratchet for freedom.’ A principled opposition -- call them 'Party X' -- would promote such policies. Policies that implement more white, with no new black.

An intelligent opposition party committed to working for more freedom and less government would design such policies to be picked up and passed around.

And in order for them to be picked up and passed around (and to be worth passing around) the policy should pass The Test of the Three Ps: it should be Practical, Principled, and arse-grabbingly Provocative. Provocative enough to be noticed; Practical enough to be work; Principled enough to move the game in the right direction.

The principle with each policy must be clear and unequivocal: More freedom with no new coercion.

Below are some examples of some policies that pass the test, but first, here's four proposals that fail:

  • “Shall we kill them in their beds?” How about this: presently, a strong case can be made for the proposal to kill the entire front bench of Government in their beds, along with the Leaders of all Opposition Parties and all the various Human Wrongs Commissars. Practical, and easily done (although I'd expect difficulties coordinating the overabundance of volunteers.) Certainly provocative – and strongly based on the principle of self-defence. A proposal I’m sure we could all live with, so to speak. But as Tracinscki says, we activists must beware of purchasing freedom in one sphere at the expense of increased controls in another - the subsequent police crackdown on the assassins would undoubtedly remove all the freedoms gained by such a move, and for that reason it should be shunned -- and I say that with obvious sadness.
  • Flat Tax: Here’s another example of this same error. A “low flat tax” would reduce taxes for some, true, but this reduction would be purchased at the expense of increased sacrifice by those whose present tax rates are below the chosen flat rate. That means it’s a new coercion. Not good. Not good at all. Far preferable is the Libertarianz transitional proposal (and Green policy) to offer a threshold below which no tax at all is paid, along with the slow and gradual increase in the level of this threshold.
  • School Vouchers: The idea of school vouchers is popular, but so too is living at someone else’s expense. Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but only at the expense of either bringing private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early childhood sector now understands), or of throwing the taxpayer’s money away on bullshit ( Remember the Wananga debacle?). So school vouchers fail the test.  Best just to give the schools back and be done with it.
  • Cap & Trade & Fishing Quotas: For some reason these two are still fashionable with people who fancy themselves as free-marketeers (at least, that’s what it says on their lapel pins). But it doesn't take much examination to realise both measures purchase the very minimum of freedom, if at all (compared to the other measures designed to “fix” the alleged problems these are designed to meet), and do so at the expense of increased bureaucracy and the effective nationalisation of industry and of fish stocks respectively – and in the case of ‘cap and trade’ sets a finite limit on industrial production. Even carbon taxes would be better than this. Tax credits even better.

So those are some failures. By contrast, here’s two measures that do pass our test:

  • A Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would increase freedom and, far from requiring more controls and more regulation, would actively promote and engender their removal.
    Here's how it could work: The Conscientious Objection Tax Policy should allow an individual to opt out of paying for and using the government’s die-while-you-wait Health system, its factory schools, and its featherbedded welfare – to conscientiously object to the theft required to pay for these multiple disasters, to agree to make his own arrangements for these (thank you very much), and in return to pay only 10% income tax!
    What a deal.
    At a stroke the objector is better off (and with no new government controls introduced).
    Further, without the figleaf by which statists pretend big governments are there to “help” taxpayers, the advocates for taxing the hell out of you and I would be in the position of having to state clearly they are in favour of naked theft. 
    And like all good policies, the Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would have a flow-on effect, kick-starting an explosion of freedom in the currently stagnant Health, Education and Welfare pools—because how else are these dire disasters going to attract custom if they don’t wake their ideas up?
  • Here’s another intelligent transitional measure, the Transitional Drugs Policy proposed by my colleague Dr Richard Goode. Why not make drug law both more rational and more free by legalising all drugs less harmful to health than tobacco and alcohol? Who could object, right? Even Jim Anderton and Jacqui Dean don’t want to ban alcohol. Yet. (Although Jacqui wasn't too sure about water). According to Britain’s widely respected Lancet journal of medicine, under this standard we could immediately legalise for recreational use (in decreasing order of harm): Buprenoprhine, Cannabis, Solvents, LSD, Methylphenidate, Anabolic steroids, GHB, Ecstacy, Alkyl Nitrites, Khat, and di-hydrogen monoxide. On what rational basis could anybody object? More freedom, less government, safer drugs, less money going into gang leaders’ pockets – and the apostles of moral panic challenged to explain the rational basis of their War on Drugs. Everybody except Jim Anderton and Jacqui Dean kicks a goal.

There you have it. Two measures that will advance freedom without introducing any new coercion.

What other ideas can you come up with?

Great Britain, 100 Years Ago:

Guest post by Jeff Perren

From English History, 1914-1945 by A. J. P. Taylor:

Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card.

He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit.

He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police.

Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence.

Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so.

The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8 per cent. of the national income. … broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves.

It left the adult citizen alone.

No doubt it wasn't perfect, but it's amazing how far western civilization has fallen in just 100 years.

[Hat tip: Daniel Pipes, writing at NRO.]

P.S. Queue the "Yes, but..." cynics in 3, 2, 1...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

What would Party X do about the environment?

INTRODUCTION: How to roll back the state using environmental judo

When New Zealand first announced it had made up the new position of Minister for the Environment, his professor at UC Berkeley told him, “If New Zealand now has a Minister for the Environment then eventually he must be Minister of Everything.”
Socialist_WildlifeThis is true.
But the position could be used for good as well as bad. Using his position, and making the best use of present-day political pressures, a smart environment minister (were such a thing to exist) should be able to devise several cunning plans to roll back the state. 
Clearly, however, the current incumbents have no such interest.
So starting this morning, I’m offering up seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state. (The vigilant reader will notice they might have read them before in my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' that you can download in the sidebar.)
This morning, the introduction…

Wouldn’t it be good if there were a real opposition party, one that really represented genuine opposition to today’s malaise? Thinking of Phil Goof’s Labour Party in that manner stretches the imagination a bit too far--and Russel Norman’s Greens are no more interested in rolling back the state than flying to the moon. And ACT? Well, pardon me for being an unbeliever on that score.

But how about a “Party X” that genuinely did fit that bill? What exactly could they do? Ayn Rand offers the prescription for such a party:

Party X would oppose statism and would advocate free enterprise. But it would know that one cannot win anybody’s support by repeating that slogan until it turns into a stale, hypocritical platitude—while simultaneously accepting and endorsing every step in the growth of government controls.

Party X would know that opposition does not consist of declaring to the voters: “The Administration plans to tighten the leash around your throats until you choke—but we’re lovers of freedom and we’re opposed to it, so we’ll tighten it only a couple of inches.”

Party X would not act as Exhibit A for its enemies, when they charge that it is passive, stagnant, “me-tooing” and has no solutions for the country’s problems.

It would offer the voters concrete solutions and specific proposals, based on the principles of free enterprise. The opportunities to do so are countless, and Party X would not miss them.

As New Zealand opposition parties are slowly recognising, a local Party X would need to recognise the MMP environment – but that’s no reason to withdraw from a commitment to removing the leash from around our throats. Quite the opposite in fact, as it offers opportunities to use other party’s strengths in the same way that a judo master recognises opportunity in the strength of his adversary: a way to use his opponent’s strength against them.

Let’s suppose then that you wished to formulate concrete solutions and specific proposals to deregulate the environment along the principles of free enterprise — an area which I’m sure many regular readers will agree is one of increasing urgency. Let’s suppose you wish to ensure (as you should) that the leash is loosened without introducing any further tightening; to achieve specific and concrete gains in freedom, with no new elements of coercion.

Any party claiming to value freedom and enterprise should be simply brimming with cunning plans to get the state’s boot off our throats. Indeed,  can suggest at least seven specific proposals that will fit this very principled Bill. For instance . . . Eco Untaxes, about which I’ll talk more tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

GUEST POST: The crab-bucket mentality

imageAnother guest post from the archives of The Free Radical, this time from tennis ace and all-round fine bloke Chris Lewis, on the sort of envy that’s stifling. And everywhere.
A post so relevant, it could have been written this morning …

Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is.

Take what is commonly called "The Tall Poppy Syndrome." This is where anyone who is brazen enough to strive for success — or, god forbid, to achieve it — immediately becomes a target for the "crab bucket mentalities" who, rather than strive for success themselves, derive enormous pleasure from attempting to cut the tall poppy back down.

As a tennis coach running a comprehensive junior & senior development programme for Auckland Tennis Inc., it is my job to produce future tennis champions. Among other things, this involves demanding the maximum amount of effort from every player with whom I work. If a player is to become the best he can be, he must dedicate himself from a relatively early age to the single-minded pursuit of his tennis career. Along the way many obstacles & barriers will be put in his path. One such obstacle, which brings me to the point of my article, is the tremendous amount of negative peer pressure that is brought to bear on anyone who attempts to climb life's peaks by those who have defaulted on the climb.

And whether those peaks represent success on the sporting field, in the business world, in the academic arena, or in any other realm of life, including life itself, there will always be those who give up on their quest to climb life's mountains, and instead choose to remain at the bottom of life's bucket — which would be fine, as long as they didn't then devote their destructive efforts, like the crabs, to pulling the climbers back down.

Consider for a moment the following three scenarios, & ask yourself how you would react in each situation. Then ask yourself if each situation has a ring of familiarity to it.

  1. You attempt to do well in exams; however, one of your low-achieving peers tells you not to study but to enjoy yourself. Do you continue to bury your head in the books? Or do you get mindlessly drunk at that night's party?
  2. You have done really well in your exams, but another one of your less successful peers accuses you of being a "try-hard" — the implication being that effort is bad & non-effort is good. Do you ignore him? Or, next time, do you take pains to show him that you do not try hard?
  3. You conclude that taking drugs is harmful — anti-life — but your friends tell you that to refrain from smoking dope is incredibly "uncool." Do you light up? Or do you keep your own company until you find some new friends?

When these three typical teenage scenarios & their accompanying questions are reduced to a single philosophical question — a question of principle — it should become clear to you that your answer has serious implications for the way you choose to conduct your life.

That question is: in the face of pressure from your peers, do you act to pursue your chosen values? Or do you reject them & embrace the non- or anti-values that others have prescribed in their place? In other words, do you run your own life by selecting, then scaling, your own mountain peaks? Or, by letting others run your life for you, do you default on the climb?

Did Christopher Columbus listen when everyone told him he would sail over the edge of the earth? Did Henry Ford listen when everyone told him that attempting to replace the horse & cart with the automobile was a futility? Did the Wright Brothers listen when everyone told them that building a "flying machine" was impossible? No, they did not. They did not — because they refused to consider the opinions of others above the conclusions they had reached with their own minds — conclusions they were not prepared to sacrifice in order to satisfy the mediocrities who exhorted them to give up.

It is heroic role models like these who have demonstrated that no matter what obstacles are put in your path, whether those obstacles be the exertion of negative peer pressure designed to drag you down or the masses telling you that attempting to build a "flying machine" is absurd, achieving your goals is possible.

And in a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.

The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."

At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.

For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.

Chris Lewis

Monday, 18 July 2011

Tax, tax, tax, tax …

Let’s just say I work hard and plan for my future. (Yes, there are still some folk around naive enough to think like that.)

I go to work. I get paid … and I pay tax on every dollar I earn at the current rate of Envy Tax Income Tax.

I’ve got a few dollars left after the grey ones have finished goosing my pockets.  So I save some and I spend some.

And I pay tax on every dollar I spend, at the current rate of Grab, Snatch and Take. And I pay tax on every dollar of interest I earn on the savings which have taken me so long to build up.

So far, so unfair.

Now let’s just say I’ve got a few dollars of capital left after the grey ones have taken their income tax, their GST , their withholding tax and whatever else those gorgeous bastards dream up. So let’s just say I keep building up that capital with my savings (which takes more time than it would if I didn’t have the grey ones in my pocket) and I eventually have enough capital to put towards starting a new business.

Naturally, the grey ones want a cut of every dollar of profit I make. And they put their hand in my till for ACC levies and for the PAYE on every dollar I pay my employees. So with the capital built up over many year, and the earnings I’ve got left after the grey ones have taken what they call their “fair share,” I navigate my way for many years through the govt’s rules, regulations and “guidelines”—and I do this for so many years I lose count, until eventually I decide to sell the business.

And then the Labour Fucking Party want to put their hand in my pocket again because, they say, I haven’t been taxed enough.

Well, phuck you again, Phil. Fuck you David.

You pair of thieving rat-faced bastards.

You are so bad, you make Smile and Wave & Sir Double Dipton electable.

And if any of you think the the answer to fixing New Zealand is more frigging taxes, then you sure as hell don’t even know the right questions to ask.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Who Pays The Tax? [update 2]

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

This week: Who Pays The Tax?

Someone posted this to me recently, so I have to acknowledge the work of David Farrar in getting this information out first. However, Bill English’s comments merit further comment, which is why I reproduce much of what has been posted already on Farrar’s Kiwiblog.

First, a table which apparently comes from Bill English’s office (so take that for what it’s worth), followed by the Minister’s answer to a question about who pays most of the tax collected by government (as opposed to tax collected by gangs and various other extortion rackets outside of the IRD):

clip_image001

Hon [sic] BILL ENGLISH: Our tax and transfer system is highly redistributive, and the number of people paying income tax is surprisingly small. The lowest-income 43 percent of households currently receive more in income support than they pay in income tax. The 1.3 million households with incomes under $110,000 a year collectively pay no net tax—that is, their total income support payments match their combined income tax. The top 10 percent of households contribute over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers—over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers. This system is highly redistributive and we believe it is fair. (My emphasis in bold).

So there you have it. On average you have to earn over $110,000 a year before you pay any net tax, even though you start paying net tax on income bands above $50k. That makes nearly 79 per cent of New Zealand households net welfare beneficiaries, supported by the other 21% and by the $380 million Bill English borrows every week.

So most of the country are moochers.

And the 10% of households who have visible earnings over $150k pay 70% of the tax collected.

Bill English admits this system is highly redistributive and he believes it to be “fair.” Fair? It’s outrageous. It’s so biased against success that it almost makes a person want to give up. Or emigrate. Or vote Libertarianz. Be advised: if you dare to work hard, or innovate, or invent; if you are an entrepreneur, if you succeed (or even if you fail) you will be punished!

Now be advised too that this is the system presently in place—even before David Cunliffe gets his hands on your wallet, your business and your art collection. Even under the system as administered by Sire Double Dipton, you will not be given an opportunity to employ others or to use your profits as capital investment. Instead, you will hand most of it over to the government as income tax, GST, ACC levies, consent fees, permit costs, etc.

Mr English believes that’s fair, because Mr English is in every way that matters  an old-fashioned redistributive Marxist. Mr English is a man who believes in the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” (And as we know, Mr English and his family are very needy.)

That approach is fine when the community is a voluntary co-operative, where people can come and go of their own volition. That does not apply in New Zealand. We can’t opt out of paying tax, which of course is filtered through government departments before it reaches those to whom it is officially destined.      

Greece… Ireland… Italy… Spain… Portugal… New Zealand. We live in interesting times.

And still 53% of people support that nice Mr Key and good old Bill English. No wonder Labour are faring so poorly in the polls. They and National are fighting over the same group of voters: those who want to live at the expense of everyone else.

There are only two political parties that want to abandon this self-destructive Marxian death cult. One is led by Don Brash, the other by me. Both our parties are “lunatic fringe” extremists. Both parties are “right wing”, and “racist”—or so the media would like you to believe.

Neither party appears likely to play any meaningful role in government of this country in the near future, for the simple reason (as a much wiser head than mine once opined) that there hasn’t been a revolution in people’s heads. And because 10% of the country are paying for the other 90%, and none of those turkeys will be voting for Thanksgiving any time soon.  Frankly, things haven’t moved on since 1990; we’ve been in a time lock through the eras of Prime Minister Spud, Headmistress Shipley, the long decade of rule by Clarkistan, and what now looks to be six and possibly nine years of the Smiling Assassin and his sidekick Billy Bob.

Do New Zealanders really want to change? Or do they value the equal destitution of a collectivist state above the uncertainties of freedom and the accompanying obligation to think and act and experience consequences? Looks like that crab bucket mentality that tennis ace Chris Lewis wrote about all those years ago is still thriving. It’s so damned hard to shift people away from a mindset of utter denial about where our economy is headed. Perhaps the future is too scary to face.

And that’s the thing about the Libertarianz and ACT parties. They scare people, because people will do anything to evade reality.

See ya next week!
Doc McGrath

UPDATE 1: Rob Salmond takes issue with the Farrar/English figures, saying the rich are not paying so much as they say—and then argues govt should get out there and soak the rich anyway. Read: Tax Burdens: Some Facts (For a Change).

UPDATE 2: And David Farrar responds, saying Rob Salmond can’t count.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Comte on Altruism

Guest post by Jeff Perren

Anyone still muddled over the actual nature of altruism would do well to read the man who coined the term.

Here, August Comte makes it completely clear that when he talks about the duty to sacrifice self for the sake of others, he really means it. It's also clear, even from this brief passage, that it is incompatible with liberty.

“[The] social point of view . . . cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries.

After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service. . . . Any human right is therefore as absurd as [it is] immoral.

This [to live for others], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] humanity, whose we are entirely.”

[Cat├ęchisme Positivist, 1852]

Thursday, 14 July 2011

NOT PJ: The Labour of Subdivision

_BernardDarntonThis week Bernard Darnton looks for a new house and discovers that Christchurch is a handyman's dream.

People think I’m mad to be looking for a house in Christchurch at the moment. But the entire property market’s just been thrown up in the air - literally - and it might be possible to grab a bargain from a “motivated vendor.”

We looked at a property that may meet that criterion over the weekend. It has large rooms, plenty of outside space, and fields either side. It’s zoned “Rural 5” and the barbeque area has a serene country outlook, populated by a few happy lambs.

CaptureCloser inspection of the District Plan reveals that “Rural 5” is whimsically nicknamed “Airport Influences”. If there’s one thing I like more than serenity it’s being on the final approach for lumbering military transports returning from Antarctica.

I reckon it’s a reminder of man’s ability to build lumbering military transports that return from Antarctica.

I have nothing but gobsmacked admiration for the extraordinary, distorted-reality world-view of real estate agents. I cannot imagine matching the incredible heights of optimism they reach, where it’s always sunny and the air’s a bit thin. One place we looked at fronted onto State Highway 1. When I expressed some concern about ever being able to get in or out of the driveway, the agent told me that the good news was that the road was being widened from two lanes to four, which would make access easier because I’d have more lanes to choose from.
Apparently there has never been a better time to buy. In fact, we should buy every property we look at - right now. According to one agent, I absolutely have to buy a place in the next month because after that all the houses in the red zone are going to be demolished and the government is going to tip hundreds of millions of dollars into the property market. I’ll be competing with ten thousand other people for every sale.

Fortunately, I am also counter-assured by Christchurch’s silky-tongued mayor Bob Parker that there’s nothing to worry about because there are 20,000 sections around Christchurch ready to be built on. Well, almost 20,000. Almost ready. By “20,000” he means maybe up to 10,000. At a push. And by “almost ready” he means stuck in an endless loop of consents, notifications, objections, consultations, hearings, and reports.

Even where development is almost certain to occur there are still conditions to be met. And often those conditions are conditions the developers can’t meet because they’re waiting for - guess who - the council. The Prestons Road development can’t go ahead until a new sewer main is built - a council job. Part of Wigram Skies is waiting on the completion of the Western Interceptor (another sewer line) and the Southern Corridor (a road). These last two are at least under construction. Other developments are frozen in similar states.

Even when the critical infrastructure eventually comes into existence, the council forces developers to develop things that nobody wants. Zoning rules set a minimum density for new developments meaning that, for every 600 square metre section that somebody wants, developers also have to provide a 300 square metre section that’s much harder to sell. It’s deeply unfashionable for chickens to live too close together but allowing humans free range in the suburbs is a no-no.

The question of whether my house-buying plans are thwarted by displaced hordes from the Eastern suburbs probably comes down to two things. First: who has the slower bureaucracy? Central government, with it’s red zone payout? Or the city council, with its tortuous consents process? And second, will Roger Sutton, CEO of CERA, use his awesome powers to slash through Christchurch’s Gordian knot of red tape and open up new lands?

We know the demand is coming. Will there be any supply?

Read Bernard Darnton’s column every week here at NOT PC. Except when you can’t.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

GUEST POST: Stateless Standards

Regular readers will have noticed that I’ve been a bit distracted recently, the reason for which is mostly that I’ve been moving into a new office in Dominion Road (about which more in due course), and partly because local politics is presently so lack-lustre it’s barely worth commenting on. 

But rather than disappoint both of you regulars by having just spartan offerings scattered across the blog, I’ve decided instead to seize the opportunity to post a few of the more provocative pieces from the earlier pages of Not PC and The Free Radical magazine. So here, from the 1996 pages of what was then Lindsay Perigo’s Free Radical, is a classic by the curmudgeonly Bob Jones.

main-resized-6130029559-bobjonesStateless Standards

The debate following publication of my book Prosperity Denied* has exposed the real beliefs of those who support the Reserve Bank Act while purporting to be market adherents.  What in fact they believe in is nothing more than private ownership. But ownership is meaningless if subject to controls and taxation.

As I explained in my book, true market believers recognise that all economic laws impede the market’s functioning** and ultimately result in the opposite outcome of that intended.

For example, let us imagine there were no health and hygiene laws applying to restaurants or no building standards***, and consider the possible outcome.

The socialist, with his inherent contempt for individuals capability of making their own judgements, would claim the outcome would be mass poisoning.  Indeed, it goes without saying by inference, that anyone who supports the current regime of restaurant health standards has that view, otherwise he would not see the need for such regulations.  But is he correct?

If there were no standards regime, undoubtedly and inevitably some customers would be poisoned and some even die.

But mindful of that possibility, people would simply not eat out—at least in theory.

Yet, as is evident, people do want to eat out—and it’s here the market would swing into play, filling the void of people’s desires.

What would eventuate would be Moody’s or Standard & Poors type rating organisations establishing their own hygiene codes****, which would probably be similar to the existing ones currently monitored by local government inspectors.

So why bother, you ask?

Well, the answer is the same as always when it comes to comparing the relative performance of private and public ownership.

A private standards setting and policing organisation, unlike the current public one, would be more efficient and therefore cheaper, and more effective.

The public health inspector will always be more lenient on offenders for a variety of reasons.  Currently a non-compliant kitchen owner is issued a notice allowing him a period of time to correct the problem, but still allowing him to carry on business.  A private entity could not afford that risk.  Non-compliance would mean the immediate withdrawal of the rating certificate, perhaps in the form of a colourful sign displayed in the door just like credit card signs.  If it wasn’t there then customers would shy away.

The net result: higher standards and lower policing costs, and also a fairer user-pay cost burden.  The cost of the current inspector system falls on all rate payers.  This way, the cost would be incurred by restaurant owners and be borne, albeit indirectly, by restaurant patrons.

A lax inspectorate would risk their entire business and additionally, given a poisoning occurrence, could open up the ratings entity to a damages action.

And what of restaurants not participating?  I doubt if any would survive but should they, well, the customers accepted the risk with open eyes and any consequence would be their problem alone.  The market economy is all about individuals making their own uninterfered-with decisions, weighing risks, and bearing the consequences of their judgements.

Frankly, I doubt any restaurants would survive if they didn’t buy a rating company’s services.

Exactly the same thing can be said about building standards, like restaurants, administered at great cost***** and generally inefficiently with only a marginal (and therefore unfair) user-pay aspect.

Who would buy a high-rise apartment, or even an ordinary bungalow, if it didn’t comply with an established ratings organisation’s standards?

Who would rent a factory, apartment or office if it didn’t have a compliance certificate?

The answer is: nobody.

Yet building controls and the permit and inspection system unnecessarily remain in public control, are notoriously inefficient and, in not being user-pays, are inequitable.

There’s a general belief that New Zealand enjoys a market economy, yet nothing could be further from the truth.  On a scale of one to ten, we’re probably only on the second rung at best.

Currently, all that can be said about the New Zealand economy is that it’s a private ownership, private enterprise system, but a market economy it ain’t.  Basically, it’s fascist, with its private ownership structure subject to a mass of directions, licensing and other control factors vested in central and local government.

* * * * *

* The book was a full-blooded attack on what was then Don Brash’s Reserve Bank, and the Reserve Bank Act that set it up (partly, it must be said, because as a developer-as-was Bob fancied a bit of inflation). A decade-and-a-half after publication, sitting midst the wreckage that the Reserve Bank’s meddling with the money supply created, you’d have to say Bob is at least partially vindicated.

** Especially those that set up a Banking Czar to dictate market rates!

*** A situation contemplated by at least a few intelligent types in the Department of Building and Housing. (And it’s not often I’ll use words like “intelligent” and “Department of Building and Housing” in the same sentence.)

**** That is to say, Moody’s or Standard & Poors type rating organisations without the sort of govt monopoly that  Moody’s and Standard & Poors enjoy, and without which their incompetence in the financial crisis would have been duly punished by the market—if indeed they had not already been punished for manifest prior incompetence.

***** And, as the leaky homes fiasco proved, at great (and unnecessary) financial risk to ratepayers.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

PERIGO!

Here’s the Perigo! TV show’s interview with staunch freedom fighter and retiring Business Roundtable head Roger Kerr, from last week’s show. 

An intelligent discussion of revolution, reform and Capitalism Derangement Syndrome, all topped off with some beautiful music.

In short, just exactly the sort of show that the likes of Martin Bradbury could never begin to understand—or appreciate.

Monday, 11 July 2011

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: On non-“Maorification” and beyond

_McGRathLibertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath invites you to come on down to his surgery for an inoculation against this week’s stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.
This week: A tale of two Ansells

  • NZ HERALD: “Act ad man quits after blasting 'apartheid'”:  Former ACT marketing 'guru' John Ansell has been sent packing by Don Brash following his airing of outspoken views on pre- and post-European Maori and the government's attitude to Maori cultural values…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: John Ansell is perfectly entitled to hold opinions of any kind. Whether he should have shared these in his previous capacity as a representative of the ACT Party is a matter for ACT leader Don Brash to decide - which he did. Rightly.So, what does the Libertarianz Party think about Ansell's comments? Initially, Mr Ansell's name rang a bell, and a quick online search reminded me that one Colin Ansell (formerly King-Ansell) had been the leader at various times of the NZ version of Britain's National Front.

John Ansell has no connection to Colin Ansell beyond his name. But in perusing the websites of the haters while pursuing the bell-ringing, I noticed a few interesting things that strongly distinguish intelligent libertarians from the shaven-headed race-baiters.  A perusal of the NZ National Front's policies, for instance, as outlined on Wikipedia, reveals just how different far-right parties are from the libertarian ethos of small government and maximum freedom:

    • There are a few area of commonality - the fascists want abolition of the Waitangi Treaty; Libertarianz would respect the Treaty as a historical but outdated document which should not be the basis for assigning rights and responsibilities. These should be based on a constitution that champions individual rights and does not allow for race-based legislation.
    • And they claim to want the abolition of institutionalised political correctness - as does Libertarianz - but I wonder if instead the fascists want to replace the current multicultural form of PC with their own white Anglo-Saxon nationalist version.
    • The fascists want a ban on foreign ownership and control of New Zealand assets. In this, they would of course have the support of Jane Kelsey, John Minto and the other CAFCA xenophobes. The Libertarianz Party believes in free trade and would welcome investment from overseas, just as it would push for New Zealanders to be able to invest in foreign markets.
    • The fascists want government to enforce the maintenance of Western Judeo-Christian morality and values; Libertarianz believes Government should not be endorsing any particular cultural values, and just as it would not promote "Westernisation" neither would it promote "Maorification."
    • The fascists are opposed to the immigration of people with non-Western values, and advocate the deportation of Asians, Africans and people from the Middle East (which would no doubt include Jews). Libertarianz would welcome the arrival of anyone willing to obey the laws of the land. In a society with a privatised welfare system, immigrants would not pose the sort of threat to the economy that currently exists when the newly arrived are corrupted by the availability of unconditional money obtained from other New Zealanders by force.
    • The fascists want an apartheid arrangement where "Maori" and "white" cultures enjoy separate governance. Impossible without a partitioning of races/cultures. The Libertarianz Party want the opposite - a blending together of all New Zealanders with mutual respect by all for the (individual) rights of others.
    • The fascists want State acquisition of the Reserve Bank - Libertarianz utterly oppose state ownership of any banks, believing in free banking independent of political interference. The Reserve Bank would be shut down by a Libertarianz government under which there would be no such entity as a central bank. Interest rates and money supply would be determined by allowing a free market in banking and by prosecuting counterfeiting of the type practiced by our Reserve Bank.
    • The fascists want a withdrawal from free trade agreements - in fact from all international trade! Yes,a fortress New Zealand, as favoured by Jim Anderton. A recipe for stagnation, poverty, starvation, famine and death.
    • The fascists want organic farming supported by state subsidies - the Greens would love them. Libertarianz would call a halt to political interference in the farming sector and in research and development. Organic farming would have to stand or fall on its own merits. There would be no favouritism toward any particular business model.
    • The fascists, in line with the Catholic church and conservative lobbyists, oppose women having control over their bodies and being able to procure safe, legal abortions. The Libertarianz Party believe a woman's body is her own and as such should have total ownership and control over everything within it.  
    • The fascists, like the left wing of the Labour Party, Minto, Kelsey et al, want New Zealand to withdraw from ANZUS. Actually, that may not be a bad thing given President Obama's past links to communists and racists, and signs that Julia Gillard's premiership may be brief due to her abandonment of rational thought.
    • The fascists want to reintroduce capital punishment - the Libertarianz Party opposes capital punishment, believing that governments should not violate the individual rights of their citizens by killing them, instead enforcing restorative justice.
    • And of course the fascists want compulsory military training, as trumpeted by the Winston Peters Party. Lots of young people marching around in brown shorts carrying huge flags and saluting The Leader. Fortunately, because it opposes slavery of any sort, there would be no CMT under a Libertarianz government. The army would be small during peacetime and made up of volunteers.
    • I would wager the fascists would also advocate the prosecution of anyone self-medicating without Nanny's permission, just like National, Labour, the Greens, Maori Party, the Anderton and Peters Parties, Peter Dunne-Nothing and even ACT. They would probably want homosexuality recriminalised. Libertarianz believes the sovereign is individuals and thus that adults should be able to make decisions for themselves about such things as medication and sexual preference. The other parties don't trust New Zealanders and want to treat them like children.
      Only the Libertarianz Party believes in treating New Zealanders aged over 18 years as adults. Under a Libertarianz administration, the only activities that would be banned are those that cause harm to others. Anyone got a problem with that?

John Ansell did get two things dead right.

First, Prime Minister John Key is an incompetent economic manager - Bill English is still borrowing a billion dollars every three weeks.

Second, the National Party have abandoned - betrayed - their stated values. Key, English and most, if not all, of the National Party caucus are quislings, interested only in the retention of power at any price. Disgusting specimens of humanity, corrupted by the baubles of office. Why anyone would waste their vote on these cockroaches is beyond me.

The alternative to choking down the bile as one ticks the box next to your local National drone this November is to vote for a Libertarianz candidate. There is a candidate in Epsom who left Auckland ratepayers with a debt equal to what Bill English borrows every fortnight, and he may just find himself reminded of this as election day draws closer by someone from Libertarianz. Watch this space.

And, before anyone takes umbrage, I don't believe John Ansell is related in any way to the former leader of the far-right lunatic fringe National Front head cases.  But what I found when I confirmed the lack of connection was interesting enough to comment.

See you next wwek
Doc McGrath

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Why The Global Warming Agenda Is Wrong

A debunking of the global warming agenda by Roy W. Spencer, former NASA climatologist. [Hat tip Ian J.]

Thursday, 7 July 2011

PERIGO! tonight, with Roger Kerr


Tonight on this special impromptu episode of Perigo! Lindsay’s special guest is the admirable Roger Kerr. Executive Director of the Business Round Table, tireless and oft’ derided defender of free-market capitalism, Lindsay and Roger discuss life, the universe and Roger’s terminal illness.
Join them tonight for a half hour of intelligent discourse.
Stratos TV, 7.30. Sky 89, Freeview 21.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

To Don Brash, regarding the RMA

Don Brash has been a disappointment.

In recent weeks he’s been talking up the problems created by the National Party’s Resource Management Act (RMA), and talking down the ability of people to do business on their own property because of it.

That’s not disappointing, by the way. That much at least is excellent.

Little Hitlers”he called the bossy-booted small-minded vermin who get to act out their delusions of power under its wing. And so they are.  “The biggest single obstacle to economic growth in New Zealand” he called the RMA. And so it is.

He could have, but didn’t, point out it represents “the greatest theft of property rights since the war”—but I’m sure he knows that.

So like ACT leaders of the past, he can talk a good game about the various iniquities of the ACT. Yet (just like ACT leaders of the past) when he comes to actually advocating anything is done to remove this piece of postmodern fascism, he turns into blancmange.

Instead of advocating removal, abolition—a stake through its heart—instead of any of these things it’s crying out for he talks about “reform.”  Just like every other ACT leader has in the past.

What a pathetic, weak-kneed, misinformed disappointment.

When I challenged Don about this backsliding the reason he gave for this softcock soft soap was:
if Parliament were simply to "remove" the RMA I think you'd be left with the Town and Country Planning Act, which hardly seems to me to be an improvement. If the RMA were to be amended so that it was made abundantly clear that property owners should be free to do on their own property whatever they please, provided it does not jeopardise the property rights of others, that would be a major step forward.
This is very disappointing. Not to mention misguided and misinformed.

It would be like saying a rejection of Vladmir Putin would require the reincarnation of Leonid Brezhnev. Or (to put it in central banking terms) the overturning of the Central Bankers' "Great Moderation" would  require the reintroduction of Arthur Burns' profligate 1970s inflation. Or to put it in terms teenagers might understand, like saying a rejection of Justin Bieber implies we must embrace Britney Spears.

This is, of course, nonsense. Nonsense on stilts. It’s nothing more than a bureaucrat's false alternative.
If that's all the advice Don is getting about replacements for the RMA, then I suggest he very quickly change his advisers.

It’s true that the virus of town planning came to NZ in the twenties, but it didn’t really begin attacking the economy’s internal organs until recently.

Introduced by the National Party, the RMA has now been with us for just eighteen years. The Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA)*, which was also introduced by National (are you seeing a pattern here?) had been with us for around two decades before that.

These are hardly historically significant time periods over which to measure the failure of these two acts to “balance” property rights and the environment.

Compare that with the signal success of Common Law over seven-hundred years to protect both. That Don and his advisers are apparently so blithely unaware of this history is worse than disappointing. For a party, and a leader, who purport to stand for strong property rights this is simply unforgivable.

The point anyway is not just to advocate AGAINST the RMA (and then to accept what you're given by the bureaucrats and your advisers as a replacement) but to advocate FOR property rights, and with that advocacy to promote the system with around 700 years of success in protecting both property rights and the environment, i.e., common law.

As ACT Party candidate Cactus Kate once pointed out, common law represents and protects the “Freedom to do what you want on your property as long as it doesn't impinge on others' right of peaceful enjoyment of their property.” So why wouldn't ACT Party leaders promote that? Your guess is as good as mine. They don't, but they should.

The return to common law would eject both the RMA and TCPA regimes, along with all the bureaucrats, consultants and other parasites and hangers-on  that go with them, and represent a long overdue return to property rights and to sanity.

There are undoubtedly many ways to effect the change, but I'd suggest the simplest would be this:
  1. have enacted a codification of basic common law principles, such as water rights, profits a prendre, rights to light, air and so on (which protect many long-standing and long-recognised property rights destroyed by the RMA) and the Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine (which on its own represents a powerful antidote to the disease of the planners);
  2. place property rights in the Bill of Rights;
  3. set up Small Consents Tribunals to begin the process by which the change can be done gradually;
  4. while all this is taking place, have property titles amended with easements and covenants and so on to reflect the basic present District Plan provisions of height, density, and height-to-boundary (i.e., the very things in place when many property owners bought their present property, and on whose protection many of them rely) and make clear that property owners are now quite able  to negotiate among themselves for mutual relaxation, restriction or furtherance of these covenants.
None of that is beyond the wit of man to either grasp or introduce—certainly not someone with the intelligence of The Don.

Set that up and then go from there.

And if anyone tells you it's "not practical," then point them to the nearly 700 years in which common law was successfully practiced.

We owe it to ourselves and our grandchildren to return to it.
_ _ _ __ _
* (And despite the protestations of planning parasites, these two acts in the way they’ve been applied are really just kissing cousins, since the RMA has essentially become the TCPA with more restrictions,less certainty, and a great deal more expense—and many, many more delays. Think of it as the postmodern TCPA—the TCPA plus kaitiakitanga.)

Phuck you, Phil

Phil Goff has pledged to deliver a Capital Gains Tax if elected in November,partly to fill the multi-billion dollar gap between his promises on spending and what he can steal from taxpayers,and partly to demonstrate to the world his abject ignorance of how the world works.

Goof reckons the tax will make housing affordable again--housing he reckons was made expensive by "speculators."

Phil, you are a moron.

Housing prices boomed under your party's watch because the Reserve Bank inflated the money supply by around ten percent per year, which spilled over into the housing market, and because planners used their powers under the
RMA to strangle land supply in NZ's cities.

And if he thinks a Capital Gains Tax would have stopped this -- if he thinks his new tax would somehow ha,he defied economic reality -- then I suggest he look at the experience of every Western country that had one, where in every place it did nothing of the sort.

Which is to say the tax would be wrong, immoral and iniquitous. So no wonder it's going to be flagship Labour policy this election.

Monday, 4 July 2011

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: I divorce thee, I divorce thee,I divorce thee

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

  • NZ HERALD: “Swim star 'divorces' parents - A 17 year old New Zealander wins a court battle to allow him independence from his parents so that he can compete under his own steam as a swimmer without his parents' permission…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: This sort of situation may become more common over time, as social norms evolve. With 18 year olds now having the vote and being considered adults, there will be 16 and 17 year olds who feel they are ready to take on the rights and responsibilities of adulthood, and who are entitled to take that case before a court equipped to hear it. (Equally, there is very little option left to parents when their offspring will not accept 'house rules' and declare they wish to charter their own course through life.) 
    Of course, for the teenager this will mean having to finance all their living expenses and the cost of leisure activities, health maintenance and the like, and pay rent if they wish to remain living with their parents. It will mean teenagers having to do the time if they do the crime, or parents being expected to settle the bill for their children's misdemeanours - but not the taxpayer having to pick up the tab, as is too often the case now. 
    In a society based around respect for individual rights, there would need to be a clear indication as to exactly when parents pass onto each of their children the rights they hold "in trust." Either this would happen at age 18, or earlier if the child decided they were ready to assume adult responsibilities. 
    The Libertarianz Party supports the court's decision but hopes that in time the process of 'divorcing' ones parents could be streamlined and settled outside of the formal (and expensive) justice system through mediation and therefore with the consent of both parties.

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Fair enough comment, as far as it goes. Deborah points out that if you want to make sure that MPs rejected in electorate seats don't sneak back to the trough through the back door, then cross MMP and SM (supplementary member) off your list of options. Personally I like the sound of Single Transferable Vote, as you can vote for only those candidates you like, in order of preference. 
    But the Libertarianz Party's preferred electoral system is any system you like—provided the activities of our elected “representatives” are strictly limited to the protection of individual rights. Ideally, New Zealand would be a constitutional republic, a 'New Freeland' as it were. 
    Years ago, a handful of Libertarianz Party members wrote a suggested constitution for New Zealand that has stood the test of time. It is set on the bedrock of a principled defence of human rights, not the liquefaction of a 'living document' that can be interpreted to mean whatever the government of the day wants it to mean.  
    Basically, the Libertarianz Party doesn't have an opinion on the system by which MPs are elected but what they are able to do once they have been. We want more freedom and less government, regardless of how our governments are elected.

Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by
each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind.

- Hugo Black (American jurist, lawyer and politician best
known for his absolutist belief in the Bill of Rights)

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

Obama Gets It: It's the Morality, Stupid

Guest post by Jeff Perren

Like most shrewd Democrats, one reason Obama,usually wipes the floors with Republicans is that he unashamedly defends his positions from a moral point of view.

In another biased editorial masquerading as a news report, the LA Times lays out this one gem:
"This is not just a numbers debate," Obama said Thursday in Philadelphia. "This is a values debate."
Would that the Republican leadership understood that – and had the courage to fight back the right way.

Instead of endlessly talking about jobs, haggling over deficit reduction numbers and the like, Republicans should be talking about what the Federal government should and should not be doing. Mostly the latter.
They'll only make substantial progress when they're willing to declare, as even the generally head-and-shoulders-above Rep. Ryan does not, an important moral truth: that Social Security and Medicare aren't just absurdly expensive, they're morally wrong.

No rational moral argument could justify taking from some citizens to support others, particularly at the Federal level. No taxpayer in Illinois has the moral obligation to support another in Idaho, no matter how much I might need it. Theft is considered wrong in almost every moral code adopted in the past 2,500 years.

While Progressives sometimes lose debates over economics, they've been winning the culture war for a long time, and will continue to win because of this very reason. Only if — and it's a very big if — Republicans will confidently come out in favor of self-reliance as a moral imperative, and in favor of charity as a marginal, personal matter, only then will the welfare state get significantly shrunk.

No, I'm not holding my breath, either.

Friday, 1 July 2011

“Little Hitlers”

Whose_Bloody_Land_is_it_Anyway

All the chatterati are pretending to be incensed about Don Brash’s characterisation of council’s clipboard-wielders as “little Hitlers.”

Oh the outrage! I’m so offended! What sort of term is that to call all those nice helpful folk at the council!

What sort of term is it? Answer: as a random trawl around the internet “reveals” (as if you didn’t know) it’s a very common one:

  • 1957, "Three Ways," Time, 1 Apr.:
    Editorial writers were saying last week that Egypt's Nasser was getting too big for his boots. . . . The tabloid New York Daily News asked: "What has this little Hitler ever done to make himself noteworthy?"
  • 2001, “"SI" Equals "System Imbecilic",” APS Physics website
    The new abomination is SI. Because the size of approved units progresses by thousands it is awkward for almost everybody. Democracy has been achieved. The Angstrom is verboten. One must use nanometers, which make molecular structures harder to think about. The Pascal (one apple-weight per desktop) is the approved unit of pressure, perfect in the eyes of the little Hitlers because it is unintuitive and unpopular. Here even scientists rebel. Many authors give pressures in atmospheres, thus using a familiar and enduring standard. Their papers will be understandable after the Pascal is forgotten-which it will be if scientists have any sense.
  • 2002, “ Rooker attacks council planning 'Hitlers' ,“ The Guardian
    The new housing and planning minister, Lord Rooker, complained today about "little Hitlers" in council planning departments and urged them to be more supportive of new developments.
  • 2005, “Unleashing the Little Hitlers,” No2ID website
    Carol Sarler, writing in The Observer, warns of the tide of petty bureaucracy that would follow in the wake of compulsory ID cards
  • 2005, “Cricket Fan Piers Lashes Out ar Council's 'Little Hitlers',” Mid-Sussex Times
    PARISH councillors have been accused of acting like 'little Hitlers' by controversial newspaper editor Piers Morgan in a row over a village cricket match
  • 2006, “The labyrinthine links of the 'Little Hitlers',” Website of the Families & Social Services Information Team (UK)
    “A significant number of (abusive) parents,” say the guidelines, “are likely to report having experienced genuine medical problems. They may or may not have been substantiated by medical investigations.” Come again? Their children may “present a rosy picture to the outside world”, “have been seriously ill” or have a medical history that started early in life. This is a charter for Little Hitler's and busybodies.
  • 2008, “Now the Little Hitlers at the town hall are getting bigger and nastier,” Daily Mail
    Why is it - and this could concern you directly, since you may be helping one of their number either into or out of power on Thursday week - that so many of our local authorities these days are swinishly vindictive?.. Little Hitlers, we used to call them 60 years ago. Now they're getting bigger.
  • 2009, “Little Hitlers,” Sunday Times
    Encouraged by Silvio Berlusconi, groups of far-right vigilantes are patrolling the streets of Italy…
  • 2010, “Why aren’t the Conservatives doing better?,” Adam Smith Institute
    I also think that there is a rich vein of public sentiment to be exploited by railing against all the incremental infringements of our liberty that we have suffered over the last decade – promising to get rid of all the bureaucratic little Hitlers that make British lives a misery would surely be a vote winner. In 1951, Winston Churchill campaigned under the slogan "set the people free". If the Conservatives want to reverse their decline in the polls, they desperately need to capture that same sentiment.
  • 2010, “Banned by 'little Hitlers' for daring to speak out? ,” Letter to ThisIsDerbyshire website
    The little Hitlers who run Derby City Council have really exposed themselves.
  • 2011,” Spoke too Soon,” Chrissie’s Place
    The traditional image of the typical council manager as a micro-managing "Little Hitler" is well entrenched in British comedy, and that is because it is so often true.
  • 2011, “Bureaucracy in America,” The Economist
    The common description of bureaucrats as “little Hitlers” (does anyone know who first used this phrase?) fails, or wilfully refuses, to recognise that we all have a little Hitler in us, or more to the point, that Hitler had a little human in him too, and that a human given power will exercise it, no matter how measly it may be.
  • 2011, commenter at CiF Watch , CiF Watch
    I am afraid I really think that was overkill on Spielberg’s part [to “demand Megan Fox be fired from ‘Transformers’ for calling the (Jewish) director of the film, Michael Bay, a Nazi]. Saying ‘X is a jumped up little Hitler’ is part of common discourse. C. S. Lewis described his prep school as ‘Belsen’. OK, poor taste, maybe deserves a talking to and a slapped wrist with a public apology, perhaps, but not firing. This is unhelpful, I think, and totally unnecessary.

Get the point?  And if you’re still pretending you don’t know what the term means:

little Hitler (plural little Hitlers), Noun (derogatory)
An unnecessarily or pretentiously dictatorial person - a jobsworth.
A little Hitler is a self-important tosspot who thinks he's in charge. Someone who makes up arbitrary and/or self-serving rules and has a tantrum if they aren't obeyed. They tend to have a park-keeper/traffic-warden mentality; rules are Law and rules come first. They can't handle people who threaten their authority.

Looks like the perfect term to call these jumped-up sawdust Caesars who tread so heavily on other people’s dreams.

My only disappointment then is that instead of proposing to abolish the Resource Management Act, the RMA, the Act that gives these little Hitlers their power, he instead offers only to “reform” it. Frankly, after nearly two decades of evidence against the RMA and its abuse of property rights, that’s just pissweak. Even Nick Smith talks about “reform.” And he doesn’t mean it either.

Ayn Rand once observed that “When the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know your culture is doomed.” They do. And we are. And with the explicit approval of the chatterati.

Here’s Nick Lowe from his album Jesus of Cool:

Here’s Elvis Costello:

And here’s Everything But the Girl (undoubtedly the only time they’ll ever appear here, I promise!):