Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something...

...to remember.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzuyAwxo2qE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Friday, October 21, 2011

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The “Isn’t There a Game On This Weekend?” Edition

Another ramble round things that caught my eye on the interweb this week.  Bookmark them now for your weekend reading…

  • Face it, campers, Don Brash’s reverse takeover of ACT has been an unmitigated disaster. Instead of him resurrecting the ACT brand, which he himself described pre-takeover as “toxic,” their toxicity has instead overtaken him.  It could have been very different. It might have been different without the Minister of Rhyming Slang on his team. And it looks like it will all be very different come November, because …
    John Banks trails in Epsom - S T U F F
  • NZ is allegedly “third in the world for the ease of doing business” according to a Wold Bank study. Mind you, what the World Bank knows about running a business could be written on the sharp end of the safety pin currently holding together Europe’s finances. Still, let’s not carp.
    NZ 3rd for ease of doing business – H O M E   P A D D O C K
  • My goodness! Sense from an unlikely source: “New Zealand needs to avoid a costly regulatory over-reaction to the Christchurch earthquakes, Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said.”
    Bollard warns against over regulation in response to earthquakes – S C O O P
  • And so too does an American seismic specialist: “A Californian scientist has warned that future buildings erected across New Zealand will never be earthquake-proof and labelled Christchurch rebuild plans "unrealistic.''…The adjunct professor of civil engineering at Berkeley said GNS Science plans to make buildings across New Zealand safer during earthquakes go much further than those in his home state of California, which sits astride the infamous San Andreas Fault.”
    Christchurch rebuild plans 'unrealistic' -  O T A G O    D A I L Y   T I M E S
  • More bad news for Green Party plans to subsidise technologies that wouldn’t survive without subsidies: Carbon capture has been scrapped in the UK, "...descended into farce.” “If only there was a completely unlimited resource then we may have been able to surmount the technical problems at Longannet,” said the subsidisee’s MD after churning through upwards of £1bn.
    Longannet carbon capture scheme scrapped – W A T T S   U P   W I T H   T H A T / B B C
  • Every party resorts to electoral bribes. But not so openly as Hone’s party.
    "Bribery and corruption " – L I N D S A Y    M I T C H E L L
  • Ironic really that it was a Labour Government that overturned Muldoonism, because the Labour Party today seems to want it resurrected. Latest example: “Labour has announced a clampdown on foreigners buying land and will widen the parameters of the Reserve Bank to help keep the New Zealand dollar's exchange rate down, should it regain power at next month's election…”
    Labour unveils agriculture policy – N Z   H E R A L D
  • Mind you, it’s unclear to me how the present mob are any different!  For example:
    image

Image from Red Alert

  • And from Papamoa, a picture of an oil boom … without any oil [courtesy of Russel Norman and Frog Blog]
    image
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy won’t be in Auckland for the Big Final this weekend. Not because he’s a new father, but because he and Angela Merkel are still trying to put together the plan they announced they would put together to rescue a Eurozone that is essentially un-rescuable. Not least because this time
    Blatant Arrogance of France – M I S H ‘ S   E C O N O M I C   A N A L Y S I S
    Unravelling the Greek basket case – Oliver Hartwich, C . I . S .
  • Great interview with Yaron Brook on economic issues in today’s world (Part 3).
    Interview with Yaron Brook on economic issues in today's world 
    – L E O N A R D    P E I K O F F   P O D C A S T
  • “This perceptive short remark, made by a steel worker in Blue Scope’s Port Kembla plant … sums up for me a key reason why specific government job creation schemes, especially popular during episodes of Keynesian fiscal stimulus, turn out to be largely futile exercises in terms of facilitating mass employment creation.”
    ‘It’s a totally different trade’ – C A T A L L A X Y   F I L E S
  • The crash will happen quickly when it happens. “We have gotten to the point when the nanosecond there is even a whiff of ‘risk off,’ everyone hits the Sell button at the same time. Observe Crude. And, yes, volume was involved.”
    Oil Tumbles On First Sign Of Risk Offness – Z E R O   H E D G E
  • Austerity? What austerity? “Like an obese person who complains that he hasn’t eaten in hours, supporters of big government complain about mythical “austerity” even when the government grows at a rapid rate.”
    The Imaginary Age of Austerity – Hans Bader, B A S T I A T   I N S T I T U T E

“Bankers aren’t any more greedy now than they’ve ever been.”
- John Allison,  Interview with Big Think  [HT Trey Givens]

  • imageOccupy Wall Street demographics survey results will surprise you:
    Occupy Wall Street Demographic Survey Results Will Surprise You -  T P M
  • Something #OWSers should understand about their favourite tool.
    How a smaller government made the iPhone possible – C O B D E N   C E N T R E
  • The Solution to Bad Speech Is More Speech.
  • “The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest reached unexpected early success today when the banking industry indicated they had taken on board the widespread criticism and offered to reform the financial system by next Tuesday.” Nah. Just Joking.
    Occupy Wall Street Declared Successful (Satire) -  N Z   C O N S E R V A T I V E
  • “Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has gone global. Thousands are out on the streets in major financial centres, protesting against... something. That's not meant to denigrate the movement.
    “The protesters are mostly (but not exclusively) young and disillusioned. They know something is up. They feel something is terribly wrong with the way the world operates. But through their youth and ignorance they can't put their finger on it.
    “There are two ways of looking at the OWS movement. One … is to dismiss the movement as belonging to left-wing crazies who just want stuff without working for it…
    “The other way of looking at the OWS movement is to see it as an accompaniment to the breakdown of the current financial system. It's societal upheaval joining in with financial upheaval. As they've done throughout history, the two go hand in hand.
    “The global system of finance is broke, both actually and figuratively. It's riddled with corruption. Built on a brittle foundation of unsound money, the termites (politicians and bankers) have gorged themselves and riddled the structure.”
    The Top 1 Per Cent  - Greg Canavan, D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G
  • The Occupy movement is utterly defined by external forces, conformist in both its outlook and its style …
    Occupy London: a ragbag of political conformists – S P I K E D
  • Having visited and spoken with protestors in Aotea Square last night, one thing that unites all I talked to was an idea—albeit only a vague idea—that something is wrong in the world.  Which there is. All I talked to were animated by that feeling, and all I spoke to had come down to see if anyone there had the answers—because they don’t, and neither do the adults and “leaders” who’ve made (and continue to make) a complete mess of things.
    They’re right.  Something is wrong. They don’t know what it is—but those I spoke to were at least honest enough to realise something’s up.
    Sadly, their teachers  are among the problem: they’ve left them too unlearned to understand what’s going on, and too inarticulate to express their rage coherently.
    They’re against special interests, for example. But they all of them support a system of money issue that brought down the world, and that rewards special interests.  So one thing the protestors do need to put their finger on is the way newly created paper money enters the system—and who gets first benefit of it. If they did, they wouldn’t just be occupying Wall Street—they’d be occupying Pennsylvania Ave and The Federal Reserve Bank.
  • Here’s another thing on which they need to put their finger: “The protesters in the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its numerous clones elsewhere in the country and around the world chant that one percent of the population owns all the wealth and lives at the expense of the remaining ninety-nine percent. The obvious solution that they imply is for the ninety-nine percent to seize the wealth of the one percent and use it for their benefit rather than allowing it to continue to be used for the benefit of the one percent, who are allegedly undeserving greedy capitalist exploiters. In other words, the implicit program of the protesters is that of socialism and the redistribution of wealth.
    “Putting aside the hyperbole in the movement’s claim, it is true that a relatively small minority of people does own the far greater part of the wealth of the country. The figures “one percent” and “ninety-nine” percent, however exaggerated, serve to place that fact in the strongest possible light.
    What the protesters do not realize is that the wealth of the one percent provides the standard of living of the ninety-nine percent.”
    How a Highly Productive and Provident One Percent Provides the Standard of Living of a Largely Ignorant and Ungrateful Ninety-Nine Percent – G E O R G E   R E I S M A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • Still, perhaps some in the OccupyLondon protest get it:

image

StPauls

  • And here’s one good form of activism, particularly so “since it is also tied into the activist's job.” [HT Thrutch]

 

  • The Republican presidential hopefuls—the only electoral answer to another four years of Barack Obama—lined up on CNN the other day to slag each other off and embarrass themselves.  Truth is, “as an advocate for secular republicanism, none of the 2012 presidential candidates are acceptable… These are ominous times … the outcome of the 2012 presidential election will affect the nation at a crucial point in our history and the current field of Republican candidates … are all contaminated and stained with the residue of a bankrupt philosophy; … whatever decent positions they hold are meaningless because they may be misapplied, tossed aside at the first test of reality, or abandoned in the name of faith, feelings or the spur of the moment. The GOP candidates do not offer what we desperately need: a consistent, bold and realistic vision for achieving a secular republic based on individual rights.”
    Update: 2012 Republicans – S C O T T   H O L L E R A N ‘ S   B L O G
  • “Herman Cain has been gaining much traction with his 9-9-9 Plan, a bold proposal to replace our dysfunctional tax code with what could be a simpler, less invasive, and more economically stimulative alternative. While I don't agree with the full spectrum of Mr. Cain's policy choices, I applaud his courage on the tax front…  However, the plan has deep flaws, the most glaring of which is its creation of a hidden payroll tax which represents a fourth ‘nine.’"
     There's A Hidden 9 In Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan – Peter Schiff,   B U S I N E S S    I N S I D E R
  • Instead of watching them all again, or at all, why not let Trey Givens help you belatedly follow the debate.
    I Tweeted the Debate and I am WAY More Funny Than They Are – T R E Y   G I V E N S
  • A combination of interview/statement of intellectual exhaustion? Obama: "even though I believe all the choices we've made have been the right ones, we're still going through difficult circumstances"  [HT Matt Welch]
    Transcript: ABC News' Jake Tapper's Exclusive Interview With President Obama -  A B C
  • Mind you, it’s hard on a bloke when someone steals your teleprompter.
    President Teleprompter -  P O W E R L I N E

“Not ‘The Buffet Rule’ but ‘The Binswanger Rule’: a 100% tax exemption
for millionaires and billionaires. They gave at the office.”
- Harry Binswanger

And just before the World’s Best World Cup Victory (there, I said it) here’s the World’s Best Anthem—from Casablanca. (Let’s hope the French team don’t feel like this on Sunday night!)

Against all that gloriousness all we have to offer is a haka. Oh, and the best team on the park.  Smile

Go the ABs!

Have a great weekend!
PC

Happy Birthday, Christopher Wren

England’s architect of the Enlightenment era would have been 379 this week. To celebrate, the Telegraph has a small gallery of his works, including evidence he did build more than just the tourist’s favourite, St Paul’s Cathedral.

imageTrinity College Library, Cambridge – a perfect, stripped down external expression of the building’s function.

image
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford – not bad for an architect’s second work.


image
St Mary le Bow – the City church within earshot of whose bells the true Cockney is born.

Wren has perhaps the best epitaph of any Master Builder: On his resting place in St Paul’s is the Latin inscription, “Si monumentum requiris, circumspice” ('If you are seeking his monument, look around you').

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quote of the Day: “The fundamental evil of government grants is …”

_Quote4

The fundamental evil of government grants is the fact that men are forced to pay for the support of ideas diametrically opposed to their own.”
                                 -  Ayn Rand

Discuss.

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Anger is an energy–and that’s about all

The left view ideas not as as the arbitrary products of warring mobs. With the OccupyEverything Mob, we are now getting ever closer to the warring mobs:

I thought of the Joker's nihilistic ramblings [says Doug Reich] while reflecting on some news related to the Occupy Wall Street protests. What did Obama’s utterly vacuous campaign slogan “change we can believe in” actually mean? Or, recall Pelosi urging the electorate to pass Obamacare "in order to find out what’s in it." Or, for a more innocuous example, recallCameron Diaz causing a furor in Peru by sporting a Maoist-themed bag.  In other words, it seems the left is very good at wearing revolutionary accessories, fighting the police, and just doing things, but, when pressed, they are very cagey about what they actually want. Well now we have the ultimate manifestation of this phenomenon - a global movement supposedly comprised of hundreds of thousands of protesters who openly brag about allegedly having no demands.

No demands, but plenty of everything to whine about and march on—including, now, Auckland’s Aotea Square and Wellington’s Civic Square. (Well, not so much a march, perhaps; more a kind of unwashed sleepover.)

And in the States, they’re starting to march on millionaire’s houses … though not yet on millionaires like Nancy Pelosi.Or Barney Frank. Or Henry Paulson.

And they’re starting to march on banks … though not yet on the Central Bank centrally responsible for the economic collapse and the increasing worthlessness of paper money, the US Federal Reserve.

Talk about “cognitive dissonance.”

Meanwhile, the representatives of the mainstream have shown an equal paucity of ideas, with even more destructive results: from their headlong creation of central bank credit that headed straight into the today’s malinvestments; ; to their failed pursuit of “price stability” that instead of stability saw assets and finance houses explode with the great gobs of counterfeit capital created by central banks; to their failed experiments with “stimulus” that delivered only rigor mortis; to the worldwide sovereign-debt crisis that is upon us all now that the bill for all that failed stimulunacy is coming due, a bill that threatens to bury the whole world.

Meanwhile, banks in the US, which was given great gobs of taxpayers’ money when their bad loans made in the Fed-created boom exploded in the bust, are now literally using police to prevent people from getting their own money out of their own accounts.

So there’s reason enough to be angry.

If the febrile minds presently Occupying Everywhere really did have a mastermind, or even a single mind using its on-switch, they’d have a lot at which to cogently direct their anger.

Mind you, that would require taking ideas seriously, instead of just being out in the streets like dogs chasing cars.

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Addicted to Socialism?

Do you have a problem with your socialism? Watch this for help.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Feeding the 100% [updated]

I’ve granted before that the #OccupyWallStreet mob do have one grain of truth in their anger, whether or not they know it.

Where they do not have a point is their whining about being the so-called 99%, i.e., the 99% who allegedly do all the work, while 1% get to take home all the cake. This is not just statistically unsound, it’s frankly Marxist rubbish.

So as Diana Hsieh says,

I cannot imagine a better response to the whiny "I am the 99%" meme of the "Occupy Wall Street" protestors than We Are the 53%. (That refers to the fact that 47% of households pay no U.S. federal income tax.)
Here's just a taste:


In case you can't read the text clearly, it says:

    My father came to NY from Croatia in 1971, with KNOWLEDGE in his head, LOVE in his heart
    & the clothes on his back.
    He built up a small construction business and put me & my 4 siblings through Catholic school
    and college, while my mother raised us and put home-cooked meals on the table.
    Business has been steadily declining and my family (still honestly abiding by the regulations,
    TAXES & fees imposed by the gov’t) now lives paycheck-to-(hopefully!) paycheck.
    We found out he has thyroid cancer - THANK GOD WE PAY for our own health insurance and
    WERE ABLE TO CHOOSE the best cancer hospital in the country, Sloan Kettering, where he underwent
    10-hour surgery this past summer.
    He was back to work FULL-TIME (12 hrs/day, 6 days/wk) within a month, even though the doctors
    told him to take it easy (he works manual labor).
    The cancer still grows, but my father STILL WORKS FOR LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF
    HAPPINESS!
   THAT is the American dream.
   WE are the 53%.
   **People like my father came here because America was the answer to all of their problems- IT
    STILL CAN BE.

These are the kind of Atlases whose work ethic and productivity (yes, Virginia, these things are virtues) keep themselves and the 47% fed.

And how inspiring to see their grassroots response.

Go read all the stories.  Go read them now.

UPDATE: In NZ, of course, We Are The 56.5.

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Bribery. It’s wrong, isn’t it?

 

So why are election bribes okay?

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Coerce more Kiwisavers, say Kiwisaver providers

Looking to their bottom lines, Kiwisaver providers came out in their droves this morning in support of the government’s plans to coerce more New Zealanders into Kiwisaver

Milford Asset Management managing director Anthony Quirk said yesterday's announcement was positive. "The broader the [KiwiSaver] coverage the better," said Martin Lewington of Mercer.  Tower Investments chief executive Sam Stubbs said he supported the move towards "soft compulsion."  "This is a positive step forward, no question," he said.  

Surprise, surprise. The government announces it intends to herd NZers’ pay packets in the direction of these suits, and the suits step up and agree with them.

By such deals are “grand political consensus” made.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: ‘The GDP Delusion”

image

Here’s the word on tonight’s discussion from our friends at the UoA Economics Group:

Tonight we will discuss one of economics' most frequently cited statistics - Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  GDP is often used to measure economic growth and it forms an important part of most courses in economics while also playing an important role in shaping government policy. However, often we accept such ideas without critical examination and without assessing the extent to which it achieves what it is claimed to do.

So in this seminar we will define GDP and show where and how it is applied by economists. But more importantly, we will examine its apparent deficiencies and weaknesses. How is it that in the midst of the current recession, GDP is shown to be rising but that the underlying real-world economic fundamentals continue to deteriorate? Should the concept of GDP be shown to be an empty concept, then the implications and consequences are far reaching for us all. We will discuss what these consequences might be.

        Date: Tonight, Tuesday 18th October
        Time: 6:00pm
        Location: University of Auckland Business School, Level 0, Case Room 5
        NB: Note the change in room, to Case Room 5.

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Unbreaking news: Poverty [update 8]

Unbreaking news, i.e., news that never changes:

UPDATE23 percent of NZ babies born in 2010 were reliant on a benefit by the end of that year. In April this year, NZ children reliant on the DPB numbered 180,845--75% of them, around 135,600, living below the poverty line. If the Child Poverty Action Group is to be believed, as recently as 2008 (before the Great Financial Crisis began) at least one in five children in New Zealand was living in poverty while 185,000 were living with severe or significant hardship. Things now are, presumably, much worse. “The underclass is still growing,” admits the PM.

It’s said “The poor will always be with us.” Why?

It’s not like there hasn’t been plenty of money, yours and mine, thrown at the problem. Welfare, including Super, accounts for one third of government expenditure. In 2006 Treasury forecast welfare expenses in 2010 would be $18.975 billion. They under-forecast by over $2 billion.

If all of the expenditure that relates to working age welfare is totalled the sum last year was $9.379 billion. Divide that by the number of working age beneficiaries at June 2010, 300,000, to get an average sum of $28,165…  Now I know I am labouring a point here but an average income of $519 per week does not describe abject poverty.

We have more people on benefits now that at any time in the country's history, more than 330,000 of them (largely due to the Welfare for Working Families package, which has suckered many middle class families into becoming beneficiaries). The welfare state, which was going to solve poverty, is bigger than it has ever been before. It has  been spending like there’s no tomorrow now for decades, and it obviously hasn't solved poverty at all.

Not, at least, as poverty is defined by the advocates of the welfare state.

What's to be done?  Beats the hell out of Paula Bennett, who massages new figures and re-announces old policies while judging her success by the extent her department keeps out of the headlines.  Beats the hell out of Labour spokesthings who, under their previous watch, increased both the numbers on welfare and numbers under the “poverty line.” It beats the hell out of the Child Poverty Action Group themselves, who tell us every year (against everything history and research should tell them) that all we need to do to beat poverty is to raise benefits; it beats the hell out of alleged economist Susan St John, who (with a straight face) continues to blames the problem on policies that "promote paid work as a way out of poverty" which are, she says, "a major reason for the widening gap between rich and poor"; and it sure beats the hell out of the rest of the poverty industry who've been fighting this “War On Poverty” since Methusaleh was born, yet after all that time they still find the scoreboard against them.

Shouldn't they be asking themselves some serious questions about now?  Or are the poverty industry and the politicians happy to accept that "the poor are always with us" simply because they're convenient voting fodder to keep the same old game going on.

Seventy years of just giving people more money has not made things better, it's made them worse. In the last ten years alone around $180 billion has been taken from taxpayers and spent in a war on poverty, that's one-hundred and eighty billion dollars on a war that no one is winning; not the government, not the taxpayer, not the 200-330,000 or so who've been the targets of this war over the last ten years.

That's $180,000,000,000 in ten years -- enough to have given every beneficiary in the country a massive half-million dollars each each to start their own war on poverty, and it still hasn't worked. And it won't. It never will. To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke,

the spending of this truly vast amount of money -- an amount more than half again the nation's entire gross national product in 2001 -- has left everybody just sitting around slack-jawed and dumbstruck, staring into the maw of that most extraordinary paradox: You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

When do we realise that government welfare doesn't work, least of all for those who it is supposed to help.

We are all worse off for this war—all worse off except for the politicians, for whom this massive sum spent on cheap lobby fodder amounts to very cheap and efficient vote-buying.

Let's try something else instead.

UPDATE 2:  Comment by “Rebecca” at Red Alert:

In 2006, $1.5 billion of Working for Families tax credits were paid out to 159,000 people. By 2009, this had risen to $2.7 billion paid out to 419,200 people. [Ref: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2011/fsr/b11-fsr.pdf]
In 2004 Child poverty was 23%. It dropped to 16% in 2007 then increased to 20% in 2008. All despite WFF. Any increases means it is not working. [Ref: http://www.everychildcounts.org.nz/]
There is only one reason for the majority of the poverty in this country: people have more children than they can afford to raise on their own merit.
The minimum wage is a liveable wage for a single person and the average wage most certainly covers the cost of living for the average person.
When people choose to bring children into the equation they choose to bring in children that they will not be able to provide the necessities of life for.
This is wrong….”

UPDATE 3: The poverty excuse is a cop-out – Lindsay Mitchell

UPDATE 4: How Prosperity Generates Poverty – Paul Trescott

“The occupants of the poverty cohort are a very diverse crowd. But there are two substantial components which, in very different ways, are in significant degree larger because the economy is more prosperous.

1. A significant fraction of the … poor are "in transition"… [Those with] a work ethic, look for work, and generally find work. As a result, most of them do not remain poor…
2. A very different component of the poverty cohort consists of the people whom Charles Murray has labeled "the underclass." These are people who make life-style choices which produce almost-certain poverty… The underclass are subsidized in many ways by our prosperous society…”

UPDATE 5: What’s Wrong with the Poverty Numbers – Robert Murphy

“There are dozens of plausible measures of income, each including some factors while excluding others, and differing in the treatment of medical expenses, child-care expenses, and so on. There is really no way to single out one of the measures as “correct,” and that’s the point: If one wants to paint a picture worse than the official statistics, one can construct measures that imply a higher rate of poverty…
”Perhaps our society would experience a tremendous reduction in poverty if only our government would stop spending billions of dollars subsidizing it. Currently the government tells its citizens: “Tell you what. If you agree to make under $10,000 or so a year, we’ll give you a bunch of money and other goodies.” As Murray Rothbard put it, we can have as many poor people as we’re willing to pay for.”

UPDATE 6The Poverty Hype – Walter Wiliams

“Despite claims that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, poverty is nowhere near the problem it was yesteryear -- at least for those who want to work. Talk about the poor getting poorer tugs at the hearts of decent people and squares nicely with the agenda of big government advocates, but it doesn't square with the facts.”

UPDATE 7:

“Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others—misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement—failure is not a mortgage on success—suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence—man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause—life is not one huge hospital.”
                          - Ayn Rand, “Apollo 11”

UPDATE 8:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.”
                         - Robert A. Heinlein

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Poverty? [updated]

Is this really what it looks like?

UPDATE:  Welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell kindly provides some relevant figures:

Cannons Creek School is rated Decile 1 while Newlands (nearby 'rich' neighbourhood) school is Decile 8. The decile rating substantially affects the level of government funding. For example from the 2011 operational funding budget:

Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement, Including Redistributed Decile Funding
(Decile Per student)

Decile 1
    A 871.49
    B 810.21
    C 703.59
Decile 2
    D 594.40
    E 487.80
    F 404.60
Decile 3
    G 336.98
    H 266.81
    I 212.23
Decile 4
    J 175.82
    K 144.31
    L 130.00
Decile 5
    M 111.37
Decile 6
    N 90.16
Decile 7
    O 68.93
Decile 8
    P 45.08
Decile 9
    Q 27.83
Decile 10
    Z 0.00
Special Education Grant, Base per school 1,354.69
(Decile Per student)
Decile 1 71.14
Decile 2 69.11
Decile 3 65.04
Decile 4 60.98
Decile 5 56.92
Decile 6 52.85
Decile 7 48.80
Decile 8 44.74
Decile 9 40.66
Decile 10 36.60
Careers Information Grant, for schools with students in years 9-15
(Decile Per student)

Decile 1 35.90
Decile 2 34.49
Decile 3 31.66
Decile 4 28.83
Decile 5 26.05
Decile 6 21.11
Decile 7 17.56
Decile 8 16.18
Decile 9 15.48
Decile 10 14.78

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I was nervous as I walked down to the ground last night [updated]

Nervous? Hell, I know I was, walking down the hill to the ground last night. And I know I wasn’t the only one.

Wearing the same tear-stained All Blacks jersey I’d worn to our 1991 semi-final loss to Australia in Dublin  (not jinxed, I hoped!) it seemed to me that night and others like it in Cardiff, at Twickenham, in Sydney, had demonstrated to every AB fan, to all of us, how difficult it is even just to get the right to play off for the big prize.  And the short and stupid game the night before had shown how easy it is to have your hopes overturned in one stupid rush-of-blood-to-the-head moment.

There were one and a quarter great semi-finals to enjoy over the weekend. Sadly, rugby’s destructive obsession with command and control* killed off the first one after seventeen minutes, but there were at least 97 minutes in all that were a great advertisement for the game.

And didn’t the boys in black step up in that second game! Apart from the two Williams boys (one of whom was a passenger, the other who was ejected from what could have been his biggest stage looking like an even bigger muppet than his mate Quade Blooper) every single player stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Even Weepu, playing with flu and the memories of his late grandfather, could be forgiven for missing the kicks that could have put Australia away much earlier. He could be forgiven because the Australian pack were being monstered, destroyed, and finally just blown apart. (Who didn’t feel as thrilled as Brad Thorn when right on cue the black pack blew them apart utterly to deliver the penalty that finally confirmed the victory.)

But think of those great moments; those great “one-percenters.” Cory Jane’s marking of the high ball. Israel Dagg’s line breaks. Cruden’s coolness. Kieran Read’s superbly dashing tackle, backing himself to come off of his man at full speed to snuff out an attack. McCaw’s driving tackle to push Genia back ten, fifteen, nearly twenty metres and then steal the ball. (Is that how it happened? In the stands around me, we were were all starting to get a bit messy by this late stage of the game.)

The pressure of the black machine was just immense.  Only one try in it at the death, but in the end there was only one team in it.

Not because Australia played badly. But because they just weren’t allowed to play well. (“Four more years, boys,” every Australian in the crowd was being told over and over.)

Roll on next weekend. **

And yes, I’m already starting to feel nervous again.

But at least I know it isn’t my jersey that has the hoodoo.

* * * * *

* I blame soccer:  The rolling on the ground by the felled French winger; the whole ridiculous read card/yellow card nonsense—both entirely inappropriate imports from a game where they do play tiddlywinks. 
Rugby is a man-on-man physical battle needing all fifteen players to make it a contest.  Yes, referee Alain Rolland followed the letter of the IRB’s rules in sending Warbuton off for his adrenalin-fuelled spear tackle (so stop your whingeing about the ref), but they’re bloody stupid rules he was enjoined to follow.
Tens of thousands of people travelled many hundreds of miles for a match that was four years in the making, and many months in the anticipating. Millions of dollars, pounds, euros and zlotis have been spent getting these teams and all their fans to this point of the tournament. Millions tune in to watch the drama, and the hopes of whole nations rest on the outcome. So to kill it off as a contest after just seventeen minutes—tokill it stone dead—suggests to me that rugby still needs to sort out its house.
My suggestion: abandon the sending 0ff rule altogether.  It doesn’t protect players; it only destroys the game. It destroyed this one-and with it, for many, the credibility of the tournament. Instead, do what AFL does in contests of equivalent tension and physicality: instead of sending players off for egregious offences (which is what Warburton’s was, make no mistake) in an AFL semi-final he would have gone on report and his team been marched back fifty metres—earning the French the appropriate outcome from the offence (probably, on the much shorter rugby field, it would have been a five-metre scrum or some equivalent), and earning the Welsh captain the well-deserved ire of his fans and team-mates, instead of (as he has been now) being elevated into the ranks of sainthood for having lost his head when all around him his team-mates were keeping theirs.

** There’s only one game next weekend: the World Cup Final! Who cares about the joke game that is the third and fourth play-off, a game unlived even by those playing in it. Put it to bed, please—or better yet, set it up as a Battle of the Hemispheres, with selected players and coaches from north and south shoulder-tapped to take part as their teams exit the tournament.
It’s not like they have anything else booked for the week.
And wouldn’t it be great to see Victor Matfield and David Pocock pack down next to each other against Sam Warburton and whatever other northerners could be found worthy of the contest. (Even throw Bryce Lawrence the whistle, to redeem himself in a much more good-natured contest than his last outing.)
Like the classic barbarian games of old, it really would be World in Union—and unlike the dreary third-fourth Battle of the Sad Sacks, it’d be a fantastic curtain-raiser for the Big Game!

UPDATE: Best line this morning from an Australian:

Was a week that started with endless [Australian] huffing and puffing over [Gillard’s] carbon tax ever going to end in anything other than a blackout?

Read the rest of Anthony Sharwood’s piece on the All Black Sabbath. I guarantee you’ll love it.

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