Friday, June 08, 2012

Austrian Microeconomics: FREE online lecture!

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Um, I thought some of you might like to know there’s a free (yes, free) internet lecture on Austrian microeconomics tomorrow morning.

This is a free lecture with Peter Klein on Austrian microeconomics. (Did I mention it’s free?) If you enjoy this lecture, you can sign up later for the full course (which is not free, but is only 59 rapidly inflating US dollars for the six-week course)—about which you can read details below.

Tomorrow’s lecture starts at 10:30 NZ time tomorrow morning, Saturday. You can (and should) sign up here.

And you can, of course, enjoy the lecture wherever in the world you can wangle a decent internet connection. But if you want to join us in my Mt Eden office to do tomorrow’s course, feel free to join us  from 10:15am at:

Organon Architecture offices
Level 1, 236 Dominion Rd (cnr Valley & Dominion Rd)
Mt Eden, Auckland

* * * *

Here’s the course description of the full course, to which you can sign up if you like tomorrow’s free sample:

The heart of Austrian economics is its theory of value, exchange, production, and market intervention, what we typically call “price theory” or “microeconomics.” Austrian microeconomics was introduced by Carl Menger and developed and extended by Austrian, British, and American followers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including Eugen Von Bohm-Bawerk, Ludwig Von Mises, Philip Wicksteed, and Israel Kirzner.
    Unlike his contemporaries Walras and Jevons, Menger focused not only on the principle of marginal analysis, but also on the ‘subjective,’ human aspects of valuation and the scientific principle of cause and effect. As such, Austrian price theory is substantially different from the microeconomics of contemporary, neoclassical textbooks.
    This course provides a systematic overview of Austrian microeconomics, starting with the basic of scarcity, choice, and value; then moving to exchange and demand; the determination of prices; factor markets and factor pricing (including labour); profit, loss, and the entrepreneur; the structure of production; and competition and monopoly. The emphasis is theoretical, but we focus on principles that apply broadly to everyday, ordinary economic problems and include several brief case studies.

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It’s the Battle of the Books!

It’s      image        versus     image .

It’s the Battle of the Books!   Peter Schiff’s new book The Real Crash - America's Coming Bankruptcy: How to Save Yourself and Your Country came out late last month—just a few weeks after the release of liberal economist Paul Krugman’s End This Depression Now! Books, authors and prescriptions for recovery are very different, and so too the reception given to their release.

Krugman’s message boils down to the idea that the government can spend us out of our economic troubles. Schiff offers a somewhat different prescription. Krugman received a huge media launch, in which the Nobel prize winner was treated with extreme reverence, and his book began a slow and worthy climb up the book charts. Schiff’s on the other hand was sold on his reputation and by word of mouth, and quickly rocketed up the best seller charts.

However Schiff’s book quickly passed Krugman’s to the top of the economic charts, where for two weeks it was the #1 selling economic book on Amazon, it made #10 spot on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list (unheard of for a book with Schiff’s prescription for economic change) and has got the pundits talking.

This terrific little video that really illustrates the stakes of this economic book battle. Perhaps forward this to your friends and family. Maybe it, and the economic ideas it promotes, could go viral.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

1001 things to do with your iPad, #227

After seeing this and playing with the Swedish-developed Spotify for a while (very, very good) I’m inclined to believe then about Stockholm:

Zombie Keynes [updated]

Jeffrey Tucker ably crystallises both the error of Keynesian “rescues” of the economy and the economic implications of the zombie apocalypse.  “Rescues” first, zombies later:

Apocalyptic themes are everywhere. The glorified European currency union that was to fix all that was wrong with Europe is falling apart. The patchwork bailout schemes introduced month by month delay the collapse. But the time between fixes is growing shorter and shorter…
    In the United States, the combination of stagnant labor markets and struggling stock markets has cast a spell of doom over nearly everyone…
    For those of us who have been watching the unfolding folly since 2008, it’s very difficult to take any of the current panic too seriously. What else should we expect from Keynesian policies after half a century of failure?
And you don’t even have to know the history to know that the path of spending, money growth and interest-rate manipulation is going to prove fruitless. You need to know only that
government has no power to create bread from stones.
    It’s a tossup as to which aspect of Keynesian policy is silliest. Maybe it is this idea that government can ramp up spending and that this spending can be a viable proxy for private-sector investment. Where does government get its money? From the private sector. Draining resources by force from one sector to be spent by another creates no new wealth. It destroys wealth, because you are throwing good money after bad.
    Or maybe it is this idea that a sector can be rescued from deleveraging pressures with enough infusions of newly created government money. In this case, it was mainly the housing sector that was the target. If the bust were the correction of the error, why would you want to throw resources at re-creating the error? In any case, it didn’t work. The tailspin continued, despite the interventions.
    Or maybe it is this idea that we can push interest rates to zero and thereby inspire people to stop saving and go out and borrow and spend. But interest rates are prices that imply a meeting of minds. Subsidizing one side of the transaction, the borrowers, penalizes the other side of the transaction, namely the lenders. And even if people can make deals under these conditions, they won’t be economically wise.
    Even aside from the goofy logic of this policy, didn’t Japan already try this approach all throughout the 1990s? Yes, this very thing happened. Interest rates were pushed to zero in an effort to give the economy a jolt after the asset bubble collapsed. Now these years are typically referred to as “the lost decade.” One might suppose that if a decade is lost, people might blame the bad policies that caused it to happen.
    But that’s just the problem. It is a matter of establishing cause and effect…

imageHe makes another reasonable point too. You remember how during the fifties there was a rash of movies aliens, about invasion by aliens, about the body of loved ones being taken over by aliens. It wasn’t just the excitement of an era that promised space travel: the fear of alien takeover was a metaphor for the fear that permeated the Cold War of Soviet invasion, and of one’s loved ones and luminaries being taken over by the alien virus of communism.

Fast forward to today and there’s now a rash of movies, comics, stories and fanzines about zombies, about the “zombie apocalypse; about walking corpses we can’t kill eating out our brains; about the flesh-hungry undead slowly taking over the world. Which they are. Metaphorically. Because the feeling is afoot today that something dreadful is happening to the world, some drooling beast is stalking us, and no amount of reasoned argument can avert it.

And when you read the likes of Paul Krugman and realise the undead flesh-eating theories of John Maynard Keynes have risen from the grave and are destroying the world all over again—and no amount of reasoned argument appears able to avert the tragedy—you understand precisely what they mean.

Keynes just won’t stay dead.

UPDATEFor Genuine Economic Recovery, Ask “What Would Mises Do?”

Mises’s advice is as timely now as it was then:

To these people [who say follow the United States] one should answer first of all: “One of the privileges of a rich man is that he can afford to be foolish much longer than a poor man.” And this is the situation of the United States. The financial policy of the United States is very bad and is getting worse. Perhaps the United States can afford to be foolish a bit longer than some other countries.

Mises noted that the usual alternative to financing government spending through taxation is to finance it through inflation (government fabrication of fiat money). Such a policy, he explained, is disastrous, the economic chicanery of Lord Keynes notwithstanding, for it enables the government to go further into debt while devaluing the currency in the marketplace. Fortunately, he argued, it is a policy that can be reversed:

Inflation is a policy. And a policy can be changed. Therefore, there is no reason to give in to inflation. If one regards inflation as an evil, then one has to stop inflating. One has to balance the budget of the government. Of course, public opinion must support this; the intellectuals must help the people to understand. Given the support of public opinion, it is certainly possible for the people’s elected representatives to abandon the policy of inflation.

Obviously most of today’s Argentines have forgotten or ignored Mises’s warnings; annual inflation in that nation proceeds at around 25 percent… [And so too have local morons like Bernard Hickey, for whom print, baby, print is their new mantra.]

If [we] want genuine economic recovery, rather than mountains of government debt and dollars worth dimes, they would do well to ask “What Would Mises Do?”

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Getting “tough”

No, I can’t get excited about Paula Bennett’s latest announcement to “get tough” on someone. Or at least to look like she is.

Her announcement this week informs us she intends to “’consider’ giving courts the power to remove children from abusers at birth,* something CYFS can—and does—already do.” **

This is not the first time Bennett has announced what has happening without her for some time.

In this she differs from Judith “Crusher” Collins, her cabinet mate, only in that while Bennett’s reputation for “getting tough” is based on announcements she might do something about something already being done, “Crusher” earned her nickname for announcing she will do something about things that still aren’t being done.

They make an ideal pair of virtual book ends, fiddling with “announcements” while their portfolio areas burn.***

* * * * *

* Not that there should be excessive controversy. The job of governments—the only job—is to protect individual rights. The primary way this is done is by criminals losing  rights commensurate with their crime. The only principled objection to this could be what government agencies do with the children they seize. Which is not always pretty.
** Thanks to Dim Post for the observation.
*** Both child abuse rates and benefit numbers are up on Bennett’s watch. While under Collins’s watch as minister for police and ACC the reputation of both reached their nadir.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Get the hell to ‘Rigoletto’

I was lucky enough to sneak into the dress rehearsal for Rigoletto last night at the Aotea Centre, and I have just one word for you: “Wow!”

‘Rigoletto’ by NZ Opera

If you can beg, borrow, steal or even buy a ticket, then get the hell along. Even if you’ve never seen opera before, get the hell along.

Trust me. This is the real deal.

Not only is this Verdi’s most thrilling music—which is saying something—not only is it based on Victor Hugo’s most acerbic drama, not only is it held in the Aotea Centre (yes, yes, I know, but a long, long, loooooong-overdue acoustic upgrade finally allows the singers to be heard) and what the singers are delivering is thrilling.  And I say that after just a listen to them in the dress rehearsal, where they’re holding back!

The truly outstanding  performance is by Australian Warwick Fyfe singing the tragic character of Rigoletto, whose voice last night was like thunder. It’s a monster (so no surprise to discover he’s a Wagnerian!)

I have just one word of advice: Go!

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Is that it?

I don’t understand Hekia Parata.

If you’re going to pick a fight with teachers, teachers unions and parents—and there’s nothing wrong with that at all—then why do it for change as nugatory as “class size” or as frankly foolish as saying there will be no new teachers on your watch.

Galt knows the government’s factory schools are like the Augean Stables: overripe for a clean out. But if you’re going to have a fight, then why not do something radical to education like, oh I don’t know, throw out whole language and bring back phonics; or thoroughly overhaul the socialist studies curriculum without all the social engineering; or abandon the dumbing-down of the NCEA experiment, abolish the NZQA, and introduce a curriculum properly recognising the integration and hierarchy of knowledge; or remove the presumption against home schooling; or encourage, rather than discourage, alternative educational philosophies to flourish; or abandon zoning  and introduce scholarships, or even vouchers, so even the poorest geniuses can attend good schools; or bring in tax credits for education so folk who do pay for private don’t have to pay twice?

It’s not like there’s a shortage of things that could be done if you did want to pick a fight about something really worth doing.

But if you do insist on picking a fight, you really need a real issue and far more ammunition than she can muster here or here.

Mind you, the same criticism stands for her National Party. If this is the only thing they plan to do anywhere this term to make a change and buy a fight—which is how it looks—then what the hell are they there for anyway?

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

How one Labour blogger hopes to destroy production and slash real wages

Economic ignorance rears its head again at Labour blog Red Alert this morning.  Someone called David Clark* writes:

Our economy is stagnant under National… It doesn’t have to be this way…For starters, National passed over a huge opportunity to stimulate the economy.  The latest Treasury figures estimate the cost of income tax cuts made by the National Government in 2010 at around $11 or $12 Billion.

Leave aside for the moment both the numbers involved, the sad fact the GST hike fully balanced out the tax cut for most people, and the inanity of referring to people keeping some of their own money as a “cost.”

But this Mr Clark writes as a Keynesian, under whose theories a tax cut is recognised as one classic form of stimulus—especially when accompanied by hefty borrowing, which this “tax cut” was.  So why is he decrying this as not stimulus? Perhaps he just hasn’t read his Keynesian script properly himself, because he then waffles on for a while about how high-earners spend less of their income than low-earners—typical Keynesian claptrap—before using alleged economist Joseph Stiglitz to illustrate this point:

“Consider someone like Mitt Romney, whose income in 2010 was $21.7 million. Even if Romney chose to live a much more indulgent lifestyle, he would spend only a fraction of that sum in a typical year to support himself and his wife in their several homes. But take the same amount of money and divide it among 500 people—say, in the form of jobs paying $43,400 apiece—and you’ll find that almost all of the money gets spent.

So what does he think happens to the rest of that notional $21.7 million not spent supporting “someone like Romney and his wife” in their several homes? That it gets baked into pies? Or buried in the back garden? Or rolled into doobies and smoked? No, of course not (not by Mitt Romney, anyway). No, the remainder not spent on consumer goods also gets spent—only, as with all savings, it gets spent by someone other than “Romney and his wife,” and (mostly) on things other than consumer goods.

This is a process to which Keynesians are profoundly blind: both in what happens to saving, and in where those savings are actually spent--virtually the whole of which goes to the productive part of the economy.

You see, saving is not dis-spending—it is deferred spending. Savers defer a portion of their own spending power and direct it (or have it directed for them by their bank) into investment vehicles, where it then adds to the pool of real savings from which entrepreneurs and businesses can borrow to grow their businesses.

Which means all the $21.7 million is spent just as surely if it was taken and given away to voters low-income earners. But the chief difference is that, if saved, the overwhelming majority of that $21.7 million is spent not on destructive consumption and consumer goods but on productive consumption and capital goods, i.e., on the very part of the economy that grows the economy and from which the overwhelming proportion of  wages are actually paidand about which Keynesians like Mr Clark are virtually one-hundred percent blind

George Reisman illustrates this point:

The truth, which real economists, from Adam Smith to Mises, have elaborated, is that in a market economy, the wealth of the rich — of the capitalists — is overwhelmingly invested in means of production, that is, in factories, machinery and equipment, farms, mines, stores, and the like. This wealth, this capital, produces the goods which the average person buys, and as more of it is accumulated and raises the productivity of labor higher and higher, brings about a progressively larger and ever more improved supply of goods for the average person to buy.
    Thus, for example, because the automobile companies have numerous modern and efficient automobile factories, there is a production of automobiles sufficient for almost every family in the United States to own one. Because Exxon-Mobil and other oil companies own oil wells, pipelines, and refineries, there is gasoline and heating oil for the average American to buy. (And if the wealth of these companies were greater, and if its use in developing sources of supply were not blocked again and again by those who value the wildness of nature above the welfare of people, there would be a larger and more affordable supply of gasoline and heating oil to buy.)
    The capital of business firms is also the foundation of the demand for labor. The wealthier and more numerous are business firms, the greater is the demand for labor and the higher are wage rates. As illustration, just consider where it is more desirable to work: in an economy with few or no business firms or only small, impoverished business firms, or in an economy with large numbers of wealthy business firms. It is obvious whose competition for one's services will be more beneficial.
    Thus, in a market economy, people have a two-sided benefit from the capital owned by others. The capital of others is the source of the supply of the goods they buy and the source of the demand for the labor they sell. And the greater is that capital, the greater is this two-sided benefit to everyone. To the extent that the supply of goods produced is greater, prices are lower. And to the extent that the demand for labor is greater, wages are higher. Lower prices and higher wages: that is the effect of capital accumulation.
    An essential prerequisite of capital accumulation is saving.

Which is precisely what Mr Clark, whoever he is, decries.

Mind you, at least he’s arguing for tax cuts for some people, which on a Labour blog is sure going to have his head pulled in very quickly.

If the economic world really operated in accordance with the dreams of Messrs Clark, Stiglitz and Keynes, however, we would see even more penury than we do today, because if the greater part of spending was really to be spent on consumption rather than production—i.e., on consumer goods rather than capital goods—then production would fall, capital would diminish, the wage share of national income would fall, and real wages and real profits would plummet.

So be careful what you wish for, Mr Clark.

PS: You might argue that if consumers slowed their spending it wouldn’t matter how much businesses were producing because no-one would be buying what they’re selling—so that taxing business and “the rich” is “necessary” to give stimulus money to consumers.

This, too, would be profoundly blind to who actually purchases most of what businesses produce: which is other businesses, for whom savings is their primary source of spending.  Indeed, business in itself “generates a monetary demand that is fully sufficient for the profitable sale of its products.”

And to take money from businesses (or to reduce the pool of real savings, which amounts to the same thing) just in order to give to consumers the money with which to buy those same business’s products? This would be tantamount to businesses standing on the corner handing out hundred-dollar bills to passers-by in the hope they purchase eighty dollars worth of goods from them. In other words, it would be as insane as it would be destructive.

* * * *

* Oh, go on then, he’s Labour’s latest Dunedin North MP and adviser to someone called David Parker.

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Queen's Birthday Dishonours List

The folk selected for honours on the Queen's Birthday Honours List don't usually interest me.

But I think it's high time for a Dishonours List.

And Douglas Graham, LOMBARD, is the ideal candidate to be first on that list to have his honours stripped.

So why isn't he? And who else would you nominate?

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Re-designing Russel’s “green” economics [update 2]

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace
alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing
it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
-
H.L. Mencken

_RussellInteresting to see Greens’s co-leader Russel Norman getting back at his party’s weekend conference to talking about the impending demise of the environment”—the alleged reason for the party’s existence, and for them the ultimate imaginary hobgoblin.

Mind you, while he’s talked up by the usual useful idiots as if he’s saying something new (“New Zealand needs to redesign its economy to live within nature's limits”) he’s still peddling the same warmed-over nonsense we’ve been hearing since his first leader’s speech   the 1970s   the 186os   basically forever:

You must know that the world has grown old, and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the sun’s warmth are both diminishing; the metals are nearly exhausted; the husbandman is failing in the fields, the sailor on the seas, the soldier in the camp, honesty in the market, justice in the courts, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals. This is the sentence passed upon the world, that everything which has a beginning should perish, that things which have reached maturity should grow old, the strong weak, the great small, and that after weakness and shrinkage should come dissolution.

No, that’s not Russel Norman on the weekend. That’s a quote from third century doom merchants, hoeing the same row then as the Ginger Whinger now.

sky-not-fallingThe fact is that ever since mankind starting putting one stone on top of another there’s been scare story after scare story about the so-called “limits to growth.”   But there are no natural limits to growth. The Stone Age for example didn’t end because it ran out of stones—it ended with the discovery of Bronze and Iron and agriculture and beer. 

Which is the way human beings survive: not by hunkering down in fear crying “Woe is me,” but realising “man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage.” Which is to say (and on this fact lies the fundamental refutation of Russel’s woe-betide-us environmentalism) man must create the very resources on which he depends.

The resources provided by nature, such as iron, aluminum, coal, petroleum and so on, are by no means automatically goods. Their goods-character must be created by man, by discovering knowledge of their respective properties that enable them to satisfy human needs and then by establishing command over them sufficient to direct them to the satisfaction of human needs.
    For example, iron, which has been present in the earth since the formation of the planet and throughout the entire presence of man on earth, did not become a good until well after the Stone Age had ended. Petroleum, which has been present in the ground for millions of years, did not become a good until the middle of the nineteenth century, when uses for it were discovered. Aluminum, radium, and uranium also became goods only within the last century or century and a half.

The ultimate creator of goods character is man’s mind. In fact,

nature’s contribution to natural resources is much less than what is usually assumed. What nature has provided…is the material stuff  and the physical properties of the deposits in these mines and wells, but it has not provided the goods-character of any of them. Indeed, there was a time when none of them were goods.
    The goods-character of natural resources… is created by man, when he discovers the properties they possess that render them capable of satisfying human needs and when he gains command over them sufficient to direct them to the satisfaction of human needs…
    And this brings me to what I consider to be a revolutionary view of natural resources... Namely, not only does man create the goods- character of natural resources—by obtaining knowledge of their useful properties and then creating their useability and accessibility by virtue of establishing the necessary command over them—but he also has the ability to go on indefinitely increasing the supply of natural resources possessing goods-character. He enlarges the supply of useable, accessible natural resources—that is, natural resources possessing goods-character—as he expands his knowledge of and physical power over nature.

Which means, when you think about it, that the ultimate resource is not what we find in the ground but the ideas we produce in our heads. Which means the only “limits to growth” that existed in the Stone Age, and exist  now, are either in the heads of human beings who refuse to think—or in the legislation dreamed up by the likes of Russel to stop the exploitation and creation of new and existing resources.

Russel however continues to talk about "a smart, green economy.” But the fact is, no such thing exists—at least not in the terms he means, with bans on power producers and subsidies for so-called “green tech.” The failure of any “green stimulus to get off the ground—in Spain, in Germany, in the US—even with huge motivation and billions of dollars in subsidies is just another clue that Russel is talking nonsense.

If any “smart, green economy” were to exist, it would be the result of improvements brought about by property-rights protections—which is the simplest, most principled and most successful means of protecting both individual rights and the environment yet devised.

And if Russel really does want some lessons from economics for his environmentalism, he might reflect that the whole of economic activity consists in creating new values and, new goods and new resources, and moving them and transforming them to the place(s) and the state in which they are most valued.  In other words,

all of economic activity has as its sole purpose the improvement of the environment—it aims exclusively at the improvement of the external, material conditions of human life. Production and economic activity are precisely the means by which man adapts his environment to himself and thereby improves it.

But this fact continues to elude Russel and his followers, who continue to cry wolf while remaining blind to the incredible results all around him.

Here we are. We enjoy an incredibly marvelous industrial civilization, whose nature is indicated by the fact that because of it vast numbers of human beings can travel at breathtaking speeds for hundreds of miles at a stretch in their own personal automobiles, listening to symphony orchestras as they go—indeed, can fly over whole continents in a matter of hours in jet planes, while watching movies and drinking martinis; can walk into darkened rooms and flood them with light by the flick of a switch; can open a refrigerator door and enjoy delicious, healthful food brought from all over the world; can do all this and so much more. This is what we have. This, and much, much more, is what people everywhere could have if they were intelligent enough to establish economic freedom and capitalism. 
But all this counts for virtually nothing as far as the environmentalists are concerned. They are ready to throw it all away because, they allege, it causes global warming and ozone depletion, i.e., bad weather. [Or because, they allege, there are “limits” to such pleasures.] And the best way, they say, for us to avoid such bad weather [or confronting such limits], and thus to control nature more to our advantage, is to abandon modern, industrial civilization and capitalism.

In other words, to stop our depletion of so-called “finite” resources, Russel would have us exploiting them altogether, and would shut down the system of (already-well-shackled) economic freedom that produced them all.

Russel et al refuse to see any of the benefits in the present of any of these wonderful achievements. And to the extent their sky-is-falling doom-saying is successful in creating sentiment and legislation banning or hindering new achievements, the future we face will be all the worse for it.

The great irony here really is that while Russel decries the running out of resources, it is his own brand of politics that has stopped resources being used and created—on the West Coast, in the Coromandel, in Northland. In fact, the truly great irony is that  the only way we would ever truly run out of resources would be if we ever did fully follow Russel down the path of abandoning our industrial civilisation.  Only then would he be proved right.

The fear that Russel rests on is a fear of the future.

But since he and his arguments are so widely accepted, it’s worth answering and understanding the questions: Why are so many so gosh-darned afraid of the future?

And why are there so many votes in pandering to this fear?

UPDATE 1:  Right on cue:

The Decline And Fall Of The Green Empire?

“It was interesting while it lasted. But it looks as if the ‘green revolution’ has entered the long slide into ‘What was all that about?’

“In January, the Spanish government ended absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable-energy industry, and the renewable-energy industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable-energy industry at all. It was a government-subsidy industry where in exchange for creating conscience-soothing but otherwise inefficient windmills and solar panels, the government gave the makers piles of cash consumers never would have.”

“At the beginning of his administration, President Obama insisted that if we didn’t follow their lead, we would surrender the hugely profitable renewable-energy sector to those sagacious Spaniards.”

"In 2009, researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that Spain had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it had created. The researchers also calculated that the Spanish government had spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000, and wind-industry jobs cost more than 1 million euros apiece."

“The reason the Spanish example is so important is that it demonstrates how the whole green-energy ‘revolution’ was really an ideologically driven green boondoggle from the start.

UPDATE 2: Russel bashes the increase in “dirty dairying.” Like virtually everything else he says, not true:

The number of convictions [for unlawful discharge] fell from 51 in 2008-09 to 18 in the year to date. Abatement notices and infringement notices have also decreased, from 537 to 329 and 500 to 330. 

Further, the number due to dairying is falling. The number due to council sewage treatment however is rising

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Where Jesus goes… [updated]

Mainstream reaction to Brian Tamaki’s church continues to amuse me. Stuff reports Brian Tamaki’s latest “revelation”:

Bishop Brian Tamaki has raised the stakes with his Destiny Church followers, exhorting them to leave behind houses, jobs – even family members – to join him at a "City of God" he is building in South Auckland.
    At the church's annual conference in Rotorua on Friday night, Tamaki spent his entire two-hour sermon talking about how God had told him to build the city and why his followers had to lose their "parochialism" towards their home areas, even if it meant leaving behind loved ones. 

Keeping Stock quotes “an expert in cults” who  sees this as sinister:

Cult expert Mark Vrankovich said the speech was designed to "soften up" Tamaki's followers and the real pressure to move to South Auckland would come with one-on-one sessions with local pastors.
"Saying that the church family is more important than your physical family, that you must go with the spiritual family, is a classic cult idea…”

With the help of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible’s “family values” page, I feel obliged to point out that it is also classic Christianity. To whit:

  • Jesus says that his disciples must hate their families (mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children) and themselves. Luke 14:26
  • Families will be torn apart because of Jesus. Matthew 10:21 Luke 12:52-53
  • Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. Matthew 10:34
  • If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must abandon everything, including your family. Luke 14:33
  • Jesus will reward men who abandon their wives and families. Matthew 19:29 Mark 10:29-30 Luke 18:29-30 Luke 21:16

It’s true that cults are destructive, dangerous and sometimes suicidal.

And it’s also true that the line between a “cult” and a religion is nothing more than the number of your supporters.

So the basic question is: why is it only Brian who is treated like a nut?

UPDATE: But there’s more:

[Cult expert Mark] Vrankovich was also concerned that Tamaki appeared to be encouraging people to sell their homes. “They’ll be pressured to give the money from the house sale to the church, and they’ll never see it again.”

Pressure!? I’ll bet they don’t experience anywhere near as much pressure as Ananias and his wife, both of whom the Bible says Peter and his god literally scared to death for not forking over all of the money they made when selling their land.  Acts 5:1-10

This sort of bloodthirsty, disgusting nonsense to which all christians subscribe, makes Brian look like a piker. Or a copycat.

Or is that christians don’t actually care to follow their own rules because they know they’re bollocks…

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