Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Clint: “Keep buying our shitty cars” [update 2]


Americans stopped buying American cars several years ago. Mostly because they were rubbish.

That didn’t bother American car makers. They kept making the shitty cars anyway and just went cap in hand to the government for a bailout.

"We shouldn't be bailing out the banks and car companies," actor, director and Academy Award winner Eastwood told the Los Angeles Times in November 2011.

That was November 2011. Now, however, in February 2012? He’s delivered an ad for half-time at the US Superbowl over the weekend about job growth, about “the spirit of America,” and how Americans should join together again and buy American cars.

Carefully, however, they show very little of the American cars they want Americans to buy.

Because they’re still shitty.

And the only “roar” is the roar of bullshit, and the sucking sound of money disappearing down a black hole.

UPDATE 1: Speaking of shitty cars … it’s half-time in the Lincoln Tunnel.

UPDATE 2: Here’s how a halftime ad by Clint Eastwood should have sounded …

[Hat tip Small Dead Animals]

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Printing money is not sustainable [updated]

Morons like Bernard Hickey have been beating the drum for our Reserve Bank to do what every other Reserve Bank in the world has been doing: to cross their fingers and print money like there’s no tomorrow.

_Quote_Idiot[Other governments’] print and hope strategies look set to leave anyone who doesn't print and hope sprawling in the dust [says Hickey]. 
The last one to print and devalue is the loser.

As I’ve said before, Bernard Hickey is a moron.  If anyone in authority listens to him, we will be the losers.

As if we should put our heads in the oven just because everyone else is! As if propping up share markets and bankers’ profits by faking reality is somehow a sound policy. As if  the printing of more coloured pieces of paper can somehow bring new resources into existence.  As if printing these new bits of paper doesn’t destroy your savings and devalue every existing piece of paper in your pocket. As if printing ever increasing tranches of this bailout crack (just another hit, please Doc!) isn’t like taking a tiger by the tail. As if the creation of new credit “out of the ether” is all it takes to create a sustainable boom…

“The boom can last only as long as the credit expansion progresses at an ever-accelerated pace. The boom comes to an end as soon as additional quantities of fiduciary media are no longer thrown upon the loan market. But it could not last forever even if inflation and credit expansion were to go on endlessly. It would then encounter the barriers which prevent the boundless expansion of circulation credit. It would lead to the crack-up boom and the breakdown of the whole monetary system.”
            - Ludwig von Mises, “Interest, Credit Expansion & the Trade Cycle,” Chapter 20 of Human Action

[Hat tip Foundation for Economic Growth]

UPDATE: From Detlev Schlicter’s Paper Money Collapse blog:

    …the public believes it was greedy bankers and ‘unfettered capitalism’ that brought us down. But cheap credit through state fiat money and the systematic subsidization of the housing market are not features of the free market but of politics. The present mess is the result of decades of institutionalized monetary debasement and the accumulation of public debt. These policies have left us with bankrupt welfare states and overstretched banks, yet none of this has diminished the enthusiasm of politicians and bureaucrats to give us more of their medicine…
Prosperity through money printing?
The persistent debasement of money in the modern state fiat money system is an obstacle to the smooth operation of the market, the production of wealth and the growth in prosperity. It keeps the middle class in bondage as its efforts to save and gain financial independence are constantly undermined by the official policy of inflationism.
   But the central planners and central bankers and their apologists among journalists and economists tell us that it is exactly the other way round: “Prosperity through monetary debasement” is Big Brother’s slogan, and he has spokespeople with outstanding academic credentials to explain this absurdity to the masses. In November 2010, MIT and Princeton man Ben Bernanke, the U.S. government’s money-printer-in-chief, wrote this in the Washington Post when explaining to the less educated why creating $600 billion out of thin air and messaging yields on government debt down was a clever policy:

_Quote_IdiotEasier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion.”

Well, that was 14 months ago. As it turns out, manipulating the economy by artificially lowering rates (lowering rates not by saving but by simply printing money) has not started a virtuous circle. Such manipulations come with nasty unintended consequences, and after a few decades of such a policy the accumulated unintended consequences far outweigh whatever short –lived growth blip money debasement may have manufactured otherwise. None of this has anything to do with healthy growth and a functioning free market economy.
    But it is important that those in positions of authority do not admit that they are clueless. They never make mistakes. Their policy is never wrong. They simply need to do more of the same – and then even more. As I write this, the Fed is, of course, preparing another round of quantitative easing, and so is the Bank of England. And the ‘economists’ on Wall Street and the City of London cheer them on.
    The debasement of paper money certainly continues.

And the morons (and those who get first use of the new printing) stand by and cheer.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday Morning Ramble: The ‘Waitangi/Rand’s Day’ edition

Yesterday was Rand’s Day: Ayn Rand’s birthday. Not everyone wants to celebrate that, but I do.
Not every country has a reason to celebrate its birth. We are one of those happy few, yet we don’t.
So how about more Rand and less Waitangi today. Deal?

“A new report says that Facebook has created over 450,000 jobs. Unfortunately
photos posted on Facebook have ended 550,000 jobs.”

- Fallon

  • This is the guy who says we have to live with less?
    Cameron buying 2,600 acres of land in NewZealand – A P
  • Ministerial briefings to new ministers are being censored. This incenses the political opposition. These briefings, says Eddie at The Standard, “give the public (via the media) an insight into on coming challenges in portfolios, elaborate on how election promises will be converted into real policies, and—most importantly—reveal things the government is planning. So, it's disturbing that the Nats are censoring them,” says Eddie.
    “Arrogant and unresponsive,” says Labour’s Clare Curran.
    “Cult of secrecy”! says Idiot/Savant. “We should not tolerate it.”!
    So down with censorship; and all power to transparency!
    On the other hand, information about school performance (or lack thereof) must be kept from prying eyes, says Trevor Mallard, who wants to make school level assessment information more secretive than security information held by the SIS.
    So down with transparency; and all power to censorship!
    Don’t bother to examine such a blatant contradiction. Ask yourself only what it achieves.
    For your eyes only – Eddie,  T H E   S T A N D A R D
    Is Amy Adams’ work programme a state secret? – Clare Curran,  R E D   A L E R T
    No right to know – Idiot/Savant,  N O   R I G H T   T U R N
    The hypocrisy of Robin Duff -  W H A L E   O I L
    More on Education and OIA-  K I W I B L O G
  • Eric Crampton finds much to celebrate in Treasury’s briefing paper.
    Treasury! O F F S E T T I N G  B E H A V I O U R

Good advice from Imperator Fish:
“With all these folk swearing off the booze for February, it is important
that the balance of the universe be maintained. Time to up my game.”

  • It’s a slam dunk. New Labour MP Raymond Huo takes aim at the Chicago School of Economics: it’s all their fault, he says, “that particular school of thought … is one of the main reasons the western world is in the doldrums.” From the financial crisis, to growing income inequality in Europe and the United States, to leaky buildings … it’s all their fault for promoting unfettered free market and deregulation!
    Naturally, since he’s writing on a blog, numerous more intelligent commentators leap to their keyboards to put him right—both politely and succinctly.
    It’s a slam dunk.
    Everybody loves Raymond – W H A L E   O I L
  • Auckland welcomed its 1.5millionth citizen this week. But how will the city accommodate its growing population with the grey ones so firmly in the way?
    Are we there yet? Auckland welcomes 1.5 millionth citizen –  Phil McDermott, C I T I E S  M A T T E R
  • “Once again I am shocked at how easily and automatically so many intellectuals are willing to use compulsion to solve problems.”
    Another anti-freedom conservative: David Brooks – S T E P H E N   H I C K S

"Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death."
- Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged 

  • With the coming to these shores of Charter Schools, it’s time to take up the catchphrase “Separation of School and State!”
    Restore the Separation of State and School – T H E   U N D E R C U R R E N T
  • You’ve all heard the Keynesian litany from every alleged economist from Krugman to Hickey to Morgan: the world’s economies are collapsing and there’s a worldwide shortage of demand; governments are deeply in debt and can’t provide the necessary investment to make up the shortfall.
    What a shame they’re talking crap.
    Is government spending really "investment"? – K R U G M A N  I N  W O N D E R L A N D
  • Oh, for those of you wishing to gain some insight into our genius overlords' thinking, these four “classes” by Ben Bernanke (Central Planner in Chief) might be of interest.
    You could call them a “Master Class,” i.e., lessons the Class of your Overlords.
    Make sure you pack some difficult questions.
    Bernanke to teach class on Fed at GW in March – M A R K E T   W A T C H
  • Antarctica is melting! says Al Gore, Richard Branson, James Hansen and Kevin Trenberth.
    Um, no it’s not, points out Steven Milloy.
    Al Gore’s ‘melting’ Antarctic claims refuted by reality – J U N K   S C I E N C E
  • Some people buy gold. Others buy cheese. Here’s how to make your fancy cheeses last.
    How to make your expensive wedge of cheese last for weeks – F O R B E S
  • World-Wide Factory Activity, by Country.
    World-Wide Factory Activity, by Country. -  W A L L  S T R E E T   J O U R N A L
  • You know what’s holding us all back here? Don’t worry, the Ministry of Economic Development has all the answers.
    Most notably, they’ve determined that what ails us economically is not their fault. Got that? It’s not taxes, regulations, public sector idiots or bureaucracies getting in our way. No, says the Ministry, it’s not that at all.
    No, it’s all our fault.
    Ministry suggests poor management holding economy back -  R A D I O   N Z

"The man who lets a leader prescribe his course
is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to
achieve, not by the desire to beat others."

- Ayn Rand

  • imageGuess what? Yesterday was Ayn Rand’s Birthday—and some folk had a great idea to make February 2nd, Rand’s Day,  a day worth celebrating!
    Randsday is Justice Day. Give YOURSELF a present.
    Rand'sDay -  A Y N   R A N D  M Y T H S
  • And why is a philosopher who died thirty years ago still have Tea Partiers, political commentators, and politicians still taking (and arguing) about her now?
     ppy Birthday, Ayn Rand -- Why are you still so misunderstood? 
    – Don Watkins,  F O X   N E W S
  • Ayn Rand: 10 more great quotes on her birthday
    Ayn Rand: 10 great quotes on her birthday 
    -  C . S.    M O N I T O R

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny
individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."
- Ayn Rand

  • From our environmental page … there is hope for the weka, but only if the grey ones get out of the way.
    Hope for the weka? -  O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • And on Waitangi Weekend, it’s appropriate that environmentalists ask themselves: “Were Maori environmentalists?” Most NZ environmental law assumes they were.  So if they weren’t…
    Were Maori environmentalists? -  N O T   P C ,  2 0 0 6
  • Some environmentalists don’t like oil drilling because of oil spills. But what if you could fight oil spills with cool technology like this?
    Magnetic soap made for oil spills -  F U T U R E   O F   T E C H N O L O G Y

"Money demands that you sell, not your weakness
to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason."
- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead  





[Thanks to readers Shaun H, Julian D., Paul van D. and hat tips to Thrutch, Anne McElhinney, Stephen Hicks, Bosch Fawston, Noodle Food, Geek Press, ]

Keep watching.
More later.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Cabin porn


Anybody fancy a snug little cabin many miles from everything that troubles you?

Then the website Cabin Porn is just for you.

But maybe not exactly what you might think….

(Yes, Virginia, it is safe to view at work.)

GUEST POST: Christchurch people say “enough is enough!”

_hugh-pavletich-smlGuest Post by Hugh Pavletich

At noon yesterday some 4,000 local citizens gathered next to the Civic Building in Christchurch to express their anger at the poor performance of the Christchurch City Council. Many of these people had never attended a protest in their lives before—as New Zealand’s Television Close Up programme “Anger in Christchurch” (Video 3.45 min) explained last night.

Rev Mike Coleman (a leader who has emerged in the east of Christchurch and chairs  the Wider Communities Action Network representing the devastated people of the east) ably chaired the protest meeting, facilitated by Peter Lynch and his  team, who also spoke. Members of the public who wished to do so were asked by Rev Mike Coleman to express their views as well.

imageThe beloved Christchurch Wizard also spontaneously contributed his well-received views too.

This was very much a spontaneous outpouring by the wider Christchurch community. They left heartened and emboldened from this important gathering.

Within the Close Up programme, Andrea Cummings of North New Brighton is featured. Andrea and her husband, who run a small lawn mowing repair shop, spontaneously became the focal point of their community through the earthquake events – meeting the communities immediate needs and distributing food parcels where required.

As Andrea explains within the interview, this had to happen because the Authorities – and particularly the Christchurch City Council – were not set up to respond because of their centralised structure.

The Simmering Discontent Continues

While there had been deep concern in Christchurch for many years about the poor performance of the centralised Council structure, incapacitated by bureaucratic bloat [the writer has written extensively on these issues – latest October 2011 - Christchurch earthquake recovery: The political circus], the “final straw” was the Council’s decision on the advice of its consultants to award the Council Chief Executive Tony Marryatt a $68,000 14% pay rise mid December 2011.

The public fury was immediate.

Peter Lynch, a local resident with no prior involvement with politics, was so incensed, he set up a Facebook page  - No Pay Rise For Tony Marryatt - announcing publicly that there was to be a protest 1 February 2012.

The “blundering” Council decision announcing this extraordinary pay rise to a largely “invisible” Chief Executive of the Council Tony Marratt was followed soon after by an equally odd announcement by the Earthquake Recovery Minister Hon Gerry Brownlee, urging the local elected representatives and citizens to “settle down” and support the Council authorities. Brownlee “threatened” dissenting local representatives (those supporting clean local government) with dismissal, as reported by the local morning daily The Press soon after – “Quake Minister Gerry Brownlee Scolds Council.”

Normally, the summer Christmas breaks in New Zealand are when the country shuts down for a month and the media “goes to sleep” because there is so little news to report.

In Christchurch this year however, following the political blunders of both the local Council and the Recovery Minister Brownlee, the atmosphere was very different, with the public and the local media erupting with “enough is enough.”

South Islands major daily The Press led the extraordinary public conversation, with other print, radio and television media participating as well. The Press however had been covering these issues for a period of 17 months, since the time of the first earthquake event 4 September 2010.

In normal times, Local Government issues tend to attract little media or public interest. But with the earthquake events still persisting (in excess of 9,500 shakes to date), the performance of the political authorities at both the local and national levels, came under increasing scrutiny – as they failed to perform to an acceptable standard.

The Emerging Focus on Solutions

The critically important public conversation over this time has meant that the wider public has an increasingly better understanding of the problems and what the solutions need to be. While there is loose talk about the possibility of “rates revolts” and other approaches, the three major changes required are emerging –

(1) The need for a fresh mid term election as soon as possible – likely April / May.

(2) A replacement Council Chief Executive (realistically – only a newly elected Council can do this).

(3) Abolish the Councils centralised structure and replace it with a One City/Many Communities model – where the “control” is at the local level. This is clearly essential for both elementary reasons of risk management and because, as the TVNZ Close Up programme highlights, the importance of local communities being able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of local people.

As the writer pointed out in a brief address to the people gathered at yesterday’s protest meeting, some 17 months following the first earthquake event 4 September 2010 the recovery has still not yet got underway in Christchurch  – simply because the “top down” approach, with bureaucracies incapacitated with bloat and weak political leadership, have not been able to respond to the community’s and businesses’ needs.

The atmosphere with respect to the Christchurch City Council bureaucracy is that it has long been At War with its communality and business.

In development and construction terms, Christchurch has long been considered a “disaster zone” well before the first earthquake struck September 2010. The writer has covered these issues extensively within earlier articles [see Performance Urban Planning].

The Christchurch Rebuild Disaster

The situation has only worsened since the time of the first earthquake – and is best illustrated by the new housing consent construction performance through 2011.

Christchurch, with a population of some 370,000 people, consented just 750 new conventional housing units over that period (with 150 relocatables deducted) – a miserable consent rate of just 2 units per 1000 population - well below replacement levels in a normal market, let alone through an earthquake recovery.

By contrast, to the south and west of Christchurch is the county of Selwyn with a population of about 40,000, which over the same period consentedwell  in excess of 400 new residential units through the year – a consent rate of about 10 units per 1000 population.

To the north of Christchurch is the county of Waimakariri, of (again) some 40,000 people, which consented around 500 new residential units in 2011 - a consent rate of about 12 units per 1000 population.

So the construction volumes in these two smaller and more responsive Local Government areas are some 5 and 6 times greater than Christchurch on a population basis.

Christchurch in essence is being “hollowed out” as people and businesses are departed for these adjoining counties and other centres throughout New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand’s Woeful Home Building Performance

Statistics New Zealand announced recently building consents granted in 2011 represent the lowest level in 46 years.

The situation is even worse than these “bald figures” from Statistics NZ suggest – because taking account of the population changes over this 46-year period are not properly taken in to account. New Zealand’s current population is about 4.414 million, and with only 13,662 residential consents issued during 2011 this suggests a low consenting rate of 3.09 consents per 1,000 population. Some 46 years ago in 1966, New Zealand's population was 2.711 million. Adjusted for population, if the consenting rate per 1,000 population in 1966 was 3.09, that would mean that just 8,376 residential consents were issued in that year. It was likely substantially higher then.

The 2011 consenting rate per 1,000 population figure is therefore likely to be the lowest since the Great Depression, or in history. As noted above, the Christchurch situation is even worse still – throughout a supposed recovery.

Blundering Politicians Protecting Mates

To date, the political authorities have persisted with their “blundering responses” to the wishes of the earthquake ravaged city of Christchurch.

Within The Press today there is “Talk Of Rates Revolt as “serial political blunderer” Local Government and Environment Minister Hon Dr Nick Smith is reported to have said that a fresh new mid term election is “highly unlikely,” further compounding the political problems for his Government.

In essence, the current Government has just three options – first, do nothing; second appoint Commissioners; or third, allow a fresh mid-term election so that the locals can directly deal with the local political problems and inadequacies.

The current Council is clearly seriously dysfunctional, and the Smith “non-solution” of appointing Kerry Marshall as an “Observer” in a vain endeavour to dampen the protest down backfired by the Monday. When the Council’s Chief Executive Performance Review saw the light of day Monday, after it was “extracted” under the Official Information Act by the diligent media, Smith’s ham fisted plans were already in tatters. Contrary to earlier public statements by local politicians talking in glowing terms about his performance, justifying the $68,000 pay rise, the Review itself when it finally saw the light of day clearly illustrated otherwise.

The Government will not appoint Commissioners (contrary to the current public musings by Smith), because this would immediately collapse the local public support for the National Party, which did undeservedly well in Christchurch at the last General Election November 2011. The support for the National Party is in no small measure because the Opposition Labour Party is so internally conflicted and confused. As a political participant in local issues, it is currently “missing in action.”

Further to this, the appointment of Commissioners by the Government to the Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury), was not popular and has not been successful to date.

While Local Government Minister Smith is technically highly ranked in the Cabinet, in reality he is very much seen as “yesterday’s man” so far as political influence within Government is concerned.

Common Sense Must Prevail

It therefore seems likely, that as the local political pressure intensifies and Christchurch and citizens communicate directly with the politicians involved, that Prime Minister John Key and his Government, must see it as “desirable” to allow the local Christchurch people to sort out their own problems - with a fresh mid-term election.

Hugh Pavletich is a Christchurch entrepreneur, the owner of website Performance Urban Planning and the co-author of the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, 2011 .

Quote of the Day: No, Dr Brash, inflation targeting has not "worked well." Not ever. [Updated]

"The financial-market crisis is not over but has grown into a vicious sovereign-debt crisis. Nevertheless, monetary policy makers of the major economies go on to practice the same sort of policy that has led to the crisis. Following the model of inflation targeting, they continue to disregard the quantity of money and the amount and kind of credit creation. As they did before, central bankers cut interest rates as low as they can. Few seem to remember that the monetary-policy concept of inflation targeting was adopted with the promise that low and stable inflation rates would produce financial and economic stability. Reality has not confirmed this assurance. On the contrary, inflation targeting was instrumental in bringing about the current financial crisis...."
             - Antony P. Mueller, "Inflation Targeting Hits the Wall"

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

How about we kill the planners instead? [update]

It looks like planners helped to kill people in Christchurch. From the ongoing Christchurch inquiry:

The building at 605- 613 Colombo St, … was green stickered following the September earthquake. The Boxing Day aftershock caused much more significant damage to the building, and it was red-placarded. [On February 22 it killed four pedestrians and crushed eight passengers on a bus.]
    Consultation between the owner and its engineers resulted in a decision to demolish the building but, because the building had a heritage classification, the city council required that the demolition application be a notified consent application. This process would have taken some months.
    There was no protective fencing in front of the building at the time of the February earthquake.
    Ann Brower, a lecturer specialising in regulations [who was pinned under rubble on the bus], said: "There's some irony in the fact that it was a failure in regulations that nearly killed me and which did kill those closest to me [on the bus].''
    …[T]he collapse of the facade of the building at 603 Colombo St killed Joan Weild, 76, and Graham Weild, 77, and Israeli backpackers Ofer Levy, 22, and Gabi Moshe Ingel, 22, who were walking in the street nearby.
    The heritage classified building was severely damaged following the September earthquake and was yellow-stickered. Following Boxing Day, it was red-stickered. Make safe works were to be completed before January 31 2011.
    But no make-safe works were completed on the building and instead a decision was made to demolish it. As this building was also heritage classified, the process involved a notified consent, which was to take months…

An entirely avoidable tragedy.

[Hat tip Julian D.]

UPDATE:  That was then: Here’s Councillor Frau OberGruppenFuhrer Sue Wells speaking out on CTV after the first quake  to tell building owners, sorry to ORDER building owners, that they may not even THINK about demolishing their dangerous buildings, not without the express, explicit, paid-for permission of one her grey ones.  The bitch.

And now? … “‘An engineer lashed out at city council processes for being “too time consuming” at the Royal Commission of Inquiry today, after paperwork delayed the demolition of a red-stickered building which later collapsed in the February quake – killing four people…’

Feel free to email Sue and tell her or any other councillor what you think: sue.wells@ccc.govt.nz .

It’s those fantastical ‘Treaty of Waitangi Principles’ again

Here we are again, having the same tired, washed-out old arguments:


YET AGAIN WE SEE all the political classes jumping into the trough for a mud wrestle over the so-called “Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi,” with the National Party wanting to diminish their impact in the partial sale of SOEs, the Maori Party wanting to use the bout to boost themselves, and Browntable iwi  leaders hoping to further feather their nests.

The impossible-to-define "principles of the Treaty" were a late and pragmatic addition to law some twenty-five years ago—and a leading lesson in the dangers of pragmatism in politics. As you might not know, the “the principles of the Treaty” are not part of the Treaty at all, just a recent accretion adding great confusion and a huge amount of expensive litigious activity. Not least  because to this day they have still not been adequately defined.

FOR THOSE UNAWARE OF the history of these “Principles,” you might be surprised to hear that were never there at the Treaty’s signing; they only emerged in recent times, and only because of the appalling political judgement of a former ACT Party luminary. A rushed addition to legislation that for the first time put the destructive ideas of “biculturalism” and race-based political “partnership” on the table, into the courts, and into the bank accounts of folk who saw the “Principles” as their main chance at piles of money.

So take a bow Richard Prebble while we tell the story of the birth of these “Principles” that have poisoned politics ever since.

Like Rodney Hide when he first got his feet under a ministerial table, Richard Prebble was so excited to “get things done” he didn’t care how he did them. So when, as Minister of State-Owned Enterprises in the Fourth Labour Government, he wanted to sell state-owned enterprises (a good thing), to quieten down the race-based dissent that started to affect the Labour’s relations with its Maori voting base, he asked his colleague Geoffrey Palmer to insert a section in the new State-Owned Enterprises Act the phrase “principles of Treaty of Waitangi,” insisting that “decision-makers” must have regard to these Principles. Here’s all their now infamous Section 9 said:

Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

What were these Principles? No one knew.

Had they ever been defined? No, they hadn’t.

Did these two clowns have any idea what they might have started? Not a bit of it.

So in order to get the sales under way, these two simply brought these Principles into being without ever defining what these Principles are.

imageRICHARD PREBBLE DIDN’T CARE. He just wanted to sell things. And Geoffrey Palmer didn’t care, because his life’s work was based around writing legislation so vague, so ambiguous, that it allowed the courts to define things any way they wanted to. This, said the Idiot Palmer, is how you make law “flexible”: by giving the courts bullets which they could elect to fire in any direction they wished.

So much for the legal acumen of Geoffrey Palmer and the political nous of Richard Prebble.  Because in the time it takes to say Motunui, a huge number of claims based on these newly-fangled Principles were rapidly being manufactured and presented, and the courts were beginning to dream up all sorts stuff to fill up Palmer’s empty vessel.

This is where  the fictions of “biculturalism” and race-based political “partnership” were born.  And this was the beginning of the deluge of claims based on these twin fictions—a deluge unseen by the twin geniuses how gave birth to the legislation  (“In the course of a relatively few years,” said the woeful Palmer for example, “most of the outstanding issues in this area will be settled. Most of the claims now are known…” )

The result is that to this day no-one knows with any kind of clarity what these “principles” are supposed to be. They were a legal fiction waiting for courts to define and redefine, and for litigants to quarry in an attempt to make their fortune—which they did, in their droves.

And because, over time, they were inserted in all their vagueness in virtually every piece of quasi-constitutional legislation written since, they became a poison that soon infected every piece of legislation they touched.

What that poison did—as subsequent court cases quietly morphed these “principles” into something ever more lucrative for the lawyers who lived off them—was to transfer the Treaty’s clear and straightforward promise of legal protection of and the recognition of rights into the sort of vague, indefinable mush that help lawyers afford large launches. 

THE NET RESULT OF evoking principles that didn’t exist was to to create a Treaty that had never existed at all, except in the wet dreams of a lawyers and activists. And lo, a whole Gravy Train was created to feed off this New Thing.

It’s been a hard Train to stop now it’s got rolling.

It set the platform for a whole generation of youngsters to join the Grievance Industry and become, as virtually their sole occupation, professional Maoris. Three of this ilk, ironically, are now propping up John Key’s National government and throwing a tantrum over this very issue.  Many others simply see the tantrum as yet another opportunity for a lucrative dip into this trough.

_DougGrahamAnd it allowed the then Minister of Injustice Doug Graham to mellifluously opine a few years later that “The sooner we realise there are laws for one and laws for another, the better.”

That this piece of human excrement  is on this very day before the law courts for fraud—for which his defence has been to limit his dishonesty by talking up instead his incompetence—is perhaps an appropriate contemporary comment on the fraudulent “Principles” themselves.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Governor resigns. Not before time. [Updated]

_BollardIt was no surprise that news of Alan Bollard’s forthcoming resignation from the job of Reserve Bank Governor was followed almost immediately this morning by calls to “shake up the monetary policy.”

Directly out of the blocks before the starter’s gun was even trousered was Ganesh Nana from BERL, never backwards in coming forwards when it comes to being proved an idiot, who opined that the new governor “needed to be ‘actively involved'’ in all avenues of economic policy setting”—in other words, not just focussing on interests rates as a means by which to attempt to control inflation, Bollard’s replacement should be empowered to pull every lever he can find in the pursuit of every policy objective he (or Mr Nana) might think of.

This was bad enough. What was worse, however, was to hear the response of former Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash to this rank stupidity.  Not what he said about how no foreigners need apply for the forthcoming job.  Sadly, that sort of provincialism is now par for the course in this pathetic authoritarian backwater. (Just ask the receivers of the Crafar farms.)  No, it was how Brash had the boldness to say that monetary policy, when focussed only on” keeping inflation under control” by manipulating interest rates, has “worked very well.”

“Worked very well”?

Yeah right.

'Here we sit in 2012, not half-a-dozen years since an orgy of malinvestment and a world’s record housing bubble was inflated in every developed country by the policies of their central banks—the popping of which in large part caused the depression which we are still enduring—and we have a former central banker telling us that the policy that played a leading part in this disaster (a policy that, in the name of a non-existent price stability, spatchcocks together an unstable mix of rampant monetary inflation with a stuffed-shirt bureaucrat dictating interest rates) has “worked very well.”

What a crock.

That a stuffed-shirt bureaucrat is unable even to do this job well, let alone what Messrs Nana, Hickey, Morgan et al would like them to, should be apparent just from the record. But if you want to see just how far from “on top of things” these central bankers are, , just how far from being “experts” these these desiccated economic dictators are, just read the now-released 2006 transcripts of the US Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, i.e, the shysters who “oversee” the economy. These morons don’t have a clue what they’re doing. They really don’t. It’s just laughable. Page after page of “what bubble?” “aren’t we great!” and “can I get the same retirement plan as Alan.”

Or read Alan Bollard’s own book Crisis, which reveals him and his so-called “experts” permanently engaged in a game of “What the Fuck is Going On Out There?!” If there was one “expert” whose record was exploded by the global financial collapse it was surely Alan Greenspan. And if there was a chook with its head cut off during the global financial crisis, it was Alan Bollard.

The point is not that we need better experts in charge. The point is that the people in this job don’t lead the markets at all. Despite their now-exploded claims to omniscience, they just dictate to markets what they will pay for money while staying inside playing catch-up. As I’ve been at pains to point out here at NOT PC over recent years, it is their attempts to lead the market however that caused and causes such calamities as we are now enduring—and will continue to endure as long as the alleged experts continue to insists that things are “working well” [Brash], or that central-bank-based solutions to recovery can be found and acted on [Bernanke].

Not true. Not possible. As The Privateer says in his latest newsletter [hat tip Louis Boulanger],

“Before even a hint of a genuine recovery can take place, there has to be recognition of what it is that the financial world must recover from. What the financial world must recover from is a system whose vital components - money, prices and interest rates - are all controlled by edict and not by the voluntary interaction of people exchanging goods and services in the marketplace.”

I’m all for “changing the role of the Reserve Bank governor. I’m all for “shaking up the policy settings” of an economic dictator who has no place in a free market.

But what I’d like to do is give him less work, not more.  Radically less work.

And I wouldn’t even mind if it was a foreigner who was paid not to do it.

UPDATE: Libz Propose Winding Down Reserve Bank

The Libertarianz Party is asking John Key to consider postponing and possibly cancelling any replacement for retiring Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard, ...

Those programmers!

Those programmers! Always yammering. Always chattering.

Here’s the sort of shit those programmers area always saying. Watch until the end.

[Hat tip Geek Press]


No, apparently it’s not just me who’s wondering.

While I’ve been recuperating over the last week, a man has been thrown in jail, his property seized, his bank accounts frozen, and his business shut down—yet no evidence has been filed in a New Zealand court to assert, let alone prove, his guilt.

It seems too that up to 76  NZ police officers were involved in the raids on Mr DotCom’s home and business, “working with four FBI officers and backed by the Armed Offender’s Squad.”

What on earth is going on?

What New Zealand law(s) allows foreign officers of the law (e.g FBI) to operate within our borders like this?

What New Zealand law(s) and/or international treaties allows for an arrest warrant to be issued without any evidence against the accused even being presented to a New Zealand judge?

I’m no fan of copyright theft, of which Mr Kim DotCom and his MegaUpload site is accused, but there was a time when justice demanded that evidence be adduced before incarceration, and guilt be proved before property is seized, businesses are shut down and livelihoods destroyed.

What on earth has happened to our justice system?

I think we should be told.

[Hat tip Willy S.]

Google Ads

I’ve just got rid of Google Ads on this blog. 

The amount I was earning was worthwhile, but I got sick of advertising things I wouldn’t personally recommend.

Seeing Google Ads pushing Gareth Bloody Morgan’s bogus “investment” vehicle this morning was the last straw.  I wouldn’t just not recommend putting your money with him, I would personally recommend you didn’t—not if you wanted to get it all back.

So now I have no ads. Perhaps for the time being, or perhaps until someone makes me an offer.

What have you got?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Great Depression and the Broken Window Fallacy

Yaron Brook discusses the economics of the Great Depression, with an explanation of the broken window fallacy, the most common error in economics.

From his talk 'Why Bad Economics Won't Go Away.'

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

GUEST POST: The absence of PC explained

Dear readers of Not PC,

Peter suffered a herniated disc. He's in a lot of pain, and hasn't been able to update his blog; or do much of anything really.

Stay tuned; hopefully he'll be back online soon. In the meantime have a look at the 'REGULAR READS' links on the left of the blog for some excellent writing from elsewhere on the Web.

Julian Pistorius

P.S. I blame it on the vegetarianism.

P.P.S. There is no substance to the rumours of an assassination attempt by a rabid Ron Paul fan.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday Morning Mini-Ramble

How enjoyable was it yesterday to see so many bloggers and website owners going on strike yesterday over the misguided Stop Online Piracy Act. For one day, the internet shrugged at the projected imposition of security through censorship. And maybe the reptiles in Congress listened. Maybe.
In other news, I’m still waiting for my call-up to be one of the bloggers interviewed on Radio NZ’s Kiwi Summer series. No, not really. I reckon Martin Bradbury has more chance of a call-up, wouldn’t you think?
Anyway, on with the show here. A small one, this morning, of a few things that caught my eye.

  • So what is it central banks are going to inflict on us worldwide? Inflation, or deflation?
    Out of Mises’s frying pan –  Sean Corrigan, C O B D E N   C E N T R E
    How Deflationary Forces Will Be Turned into Inflation – Thorsten Polleit,  M I S E S    I N S T I T U T E
  • Speaking of central bank inflation … “It's important to watch what European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is doing rather than what he is saying, and right now he is madly printing euros out the backdoor.”
    The Dancing Draghi – E C O N O M I C   P O L I C Y   J O U R N A L
  • Bernard Hickey hasn’t got a clue about economics.  We can all agree on that. But, speaking for all of us who’ve stopped watching terrestrial TV, he can still recognise bad TV when he sees it.
    Bernard Hickey was forced to watch some TV ads during the holiday rain and was stunned with what he saw 
    – I N T E R E S T . C O . N Z
  • Food Minister Kate Wilkinson justifies her new Food Bill banning some fresh foods and giving police power to raid private kitchens without a warrant on the basis of, basically, some very dodgy figures.
    Food Bill -  O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R
  • Reader Paul Van Dinther has made the world press with a Google Earth simulation of the path of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that went aground last week off the coast of Tuscany. Onya Paul!
    Track the Costa Concordia's course via a digital simulation -  L . A .  T I M E S
  • Anybody else wondering how Gareth “Captain” Morgan managed to be paid $50 to $100 million for a company handling only $650 million in Kiwisaver accounts, the fees on which are a risibly low multiple of the taxpayer-funded purchase price—as Mark Hubbard says, “as I'm going to own this business, can I please have a look at the valuation used to make the offer.” Particularly so since  a large lump of the capital being handled is his own (which he’s now threatened to withdraw whenever he has a tantrum) and his company has achieved success only in turning himself into a megaphone and other people’s capital into manure? A And will he be voluntarily paying capital gains tax on his taxpayer-provided windfall, as he demands others be forced to do? People would like to know.
    Gareth Morgan Investments Sale To KiwiBank - Some Questions – N O   M I N I S T E R
    Gareth Morgan: What the hell has happened to him? – Mark Hubbard, S O L O
    Gareth Morgan sells to Kiwibank – W H A L E  O I L
  • Egalitarian impulses will sink a struggling economy.
    Death by Wealth Tax – Richard Epstein,   D E F I N I N G   I D E A S
  • If you want affordable housing in Auckland, then it’s time to throw out the council’s Auckland housing plan. Mind you, if you don’t want affordable housing, just continue supporting the status quo.
    Throw out Auckland housing plan says Productivity Commission – D U G   A   H O L E
    The Productivity Commission Report on Affordable Housing  - O W E N    M c S H A N E
  • From the “we wish it were only in America” file: The New York Times reports that energy producers are being fined by the U.S. government for not selling a biofuel that doesn't even exist.
    Make-a-Wish Politics – G U S    V A N   H O R N
  • Sadly, one law that wasn’t written into statute.
    “Dressing psychiatrists like wizards on the witness stand” -  O V E R L A W Y E R E D
  • Universities are making it tougher for students to get into university. “Good!” says one mother whose youngster has missed entry.
    Universities raise the bar -  L I N D S A Y  M I T C H E L L
  • In case you missed it last year, U.S. economists (including, be aware, some who are just alleged economists) explain the last year in terms of their favourite charts
    Economic experts explain 2011 in charts – W A S H I N G T O N  P O S T
  • Ever thought about the morality of making a profit. In a free society, "creating value" and "making a profit" are just two sides of the same coin!
    Why Is Creating Value Good, But Profits Bad? – Paul Hsieh, P A J A M A S   M E D I A
  • This is the Montessori eucation website you’ve been waiting for.
    Aid to Life – A S S O C I A T I O N   M O N T E S S O R I    I N T E R N A T I O N A L E
  • And the article about Montessori you’ve always wanted.
    The Montessori Method: Educating Children for a Lifetime of Learning and Happiness 
    -  O B J E C T I V E   S T A N D A R D
  • Want to learn about Ayn Rand and Objectivism? Here’s the teaching website you’ve been waiting for.
    Ayn Rand Campus – A Y N  R A N D  I N S T I T U T E
  • Speaking of which, here’s a new project that tries to match students who want to read Rand with donors willing to buy the books.
  • And since Objectivism is a philosophy for living, it should come as little surprise that some of the best ways to do business are in line Objectivism's ethics and epistemology.
    SMART Goals and Philosophy – John Drake,   T R Y   R E A S O N
  • “Normal science progresses through the collection of observations (or measurements), the conjecture of hypotheses, the making of predictions, and then through the usage of new observations, the modification of the hypotheses accordingly (either ruling them out, or improving them).
    In the global warming ‘science,’ this is not the case.”
    On IPCCs exaggerated climate sensitivity and the emperor’s new clothes – S C I E N C E   B I T S
  • How did great artists become great?  By intense engagement with the great works of the great minds.
    How great artists become great – S T E P H E N    H I C K S
  • I love it when people I like recommend my favourite books…
    Trustee from the Toolroom’ Review -  Rachel Miner,  T H E   P L A Y F U L   S P I R I T
  • Don’t give up the Oxford Comma yet! "The Oxford Comma is not only stylistically necessary, it is logically necessary and its absence can lead to absurdities."
    The Logical Necessity of the Oxford Comma – Jason Stotts,  E R O S O P H I A
  • Today is the last Big Day Out. Speaking for myself, who’s never been a fan of stadium gigs, I still endured it three times. It was a mess. You couldn’t get around. You couldn’t get a beer. If you wanted to be treated like cattle, you’d come to the right place. And if you wanted the sound of your favourite music to be delivered in a manner that no music deserved, you couldn’t ask for more.  (Mind you, it did bring out the Stooges.)  Nevertheless, as an antidote to all the undeserved  the BDO nostalgia, here's Gary Steel on why he too just can't care about its death.
    BDO DOA?  Gary Steel,  W I T C H D O C T O R
  • And don’t say you’ve never wondered…
    What's the best animal to slice open and crawl inside to stay warm? – T H E   S T R A I G H T  D O P E
  • Finally, here’s a small piece of advice for New Zealand readers: Do yourself a favour. Buy a @DresdenDolls ticket.
    If you like punk cabaret; if you enjoy the music of Kurt Weill; if you like smart, sharp women; if you like music with melody and guts performed with humour, attitude and pizzazz; if you like any part of these, then do yourself a favour and get along to Dresden Dolls on Wednesday 25th at Christchurch’s Aurora Centre for Performing Arts, Friday 27th January at The Powerstation, Auckland, and Saturday 28th January in Wellington at The Opera House. And look out for ninja gigs.
    Upcoming Shows – A M A N D A  P A L M E R . N E T

  • And to finish on something completely different, here’s one of my favourite sopranos, Gundula Janowitz, singing sing the duet "Sull'aria"  from The Marriage of Figaro with Lucia Popp at the Paris Opera. Gorgeous! [Hat tip http://www.greatoperavideos.com]

That’s all from me.
Have a great weekend.
Peter Cresswell

Thursday, 19 January 2012

‘Solar Hemicycle,’ by Frank Lloyd Wright

A 1992 tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s second house for Herbert and Katherine Jacobs—built in 1944—a house he called his “Solar Hemicycle”—with expert guidance by Katherine Jacobs herself.

Scum rises to the top

As a reward for all his sterling work in Christchurch—including barring businessmen’s access to their own property, evicting people from their own homes, shutting down the CBD while simultaneously closing off the city limits, and (as a consequence) making sure new homes are beyond the price of those who need to buy them—in other words, for pretty much everything his mailed fist has done since the earthquake to make the city worse, to do to the city and its spirit what the earthquake couldn’t, plus all his acts of self- aggrandisement in “running” a dysfunctional council, and mayoral aggrandisement in promoting Mr Parker—for these achievements and more council “Chief Executive Officer” (sic) Tony Marryatt has rewarded himself  has been rewarded with a pay rise equal to the size to which the Grand Chancellor used to tower over his city.

Now, why did I say “sic’ after the use of his officially appointed title?  Let Joe Bennett explain:

The sickness, as always, shows up in the language. Mr Marryatt, for example, is known as a CEO. But he is not a CEO. A CEO runs a competitive business that has to earn money. The council is a monopoly that does not have to earn money. It just demands money from ratepayers. So Mr Marryatt's job is merely to oversee the spending of a guaranteed income. Spending is easier than earning.
    Mr Marryatt's role used to have the more accurate title of town clerk.
    I think we should revive it. It is an honourable title but it stresses that the role is clerical. No-one pays a clerk half a million bucks.

That Clerk Tony’s pay hike is even contemplated in the current environment is reason enough for campaigning and marching against it  on 1 February.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

KiwiBank and Gareth Morgan up a tree … [updated]

imageimageSo KiwiBank is to buy out Gareth Morgan Investments, including the Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver Scheme—a case of the politically appointed “People’s Bank” buying out the self-anointed “People’s Financier.”

KiwiBank’s CEO Paul Brock reckons “The ‘aligned values’ of the two businesses reinforced the decision to buy rather than build.”

Rarely has a truer word been spoke. Their “values”are aligned—and in more ways than one:

These are two entities clearly made for each other.

So now the directors of Gareth Morgan Investments are eager to get a payday for their consistent underperformance.  And with this buyout of industry-leading underperformers, KiwiBank has once again confirmed their own.

UPDATE: Taking time today out of his busy schedule writing another book about how good he is, Gareth Morgan  responded today to criticism of his funds’ less than stellar performance (his balanced fund has returned a negative - 0.1% per annum since inception; its “growth fund a negative -3.4% p.a.; its conservative fund  faring better at a positive 2.4% p.a, which still however sees his investors losing against inflation) blaming, in order, the ignorance (of others), the financial illiteracy (of others), and the league tables produced by ratings agencies Morningstar and Fund Source—who shamefully use actual figures instead of the ones provided by the voices in Gareth Morgan’s head—before pausing to point out his funds had done brilliantly against the “benchmarks” in his head.

He also said a “key focus” for GMI with respect to its KiwiSaver funds was “wealth preservation,” at which performance he maintained anyone criticising his growth portfolio’s return of negative 13.1% just doesn’t understand risk like he does.

He then touted for KiwiBank’s Kiwisaver work, before heading off to the travel agent to book his next holiday.