"It’s a great mistake to think that dictators are motivated by a rational
calculation of their own happiness. They are motivated by an irrational
obsession with raw power, power for its own sake, which they pursue far
beyond the point where its benefits might conceivably justify the effort.
Whatever opulence there is in their palaces, whatever empty satisfaction
there may be in the pomp and circumstance of their office, it cannot outweigh
the burden of living in fear, doomed to endless scheming and intrigue."
~ Robert Tracinski, from his article ‘No, Obama Critics Don't Admire Vladimir Putin’
Monday, 12 October 2015
Capital leverages human effort. Capital in the form of modern machinery can make one person far more productive today than a hundred, or even a thousand might have been in the past. (Making a thousand of us … well, you work it out…)
Take this logging machine by Ponsse North America …
How cool is that!
PS: There are over 3 trillion trees on Earth, 7 1/2 times more than previously expected; and where property rights are strongest most trees harvested for commercial use today are re-planted, making plantation forestry an actual renewable resource. What’s more, rapid growth of plantation timber and rapid logging of it could, between them, rapidly lower the worldwide price of housing …
Any reason you shouldn’t be able to sell your blood, or buy a kidney? Not really, say guest posters Zac Gochenour & Peter Jaworski. And it would save lives.
How to Get a Spare Kidney
The good news is that you already have one
by Zac Gochenour
A common complaint about a market in kidneys is that the sick poor would not be able to get kidneys as easily as with a first-come, first-serve system. Even the lowest estimates of the price of kidneys in a free market is asignificant sum for many of the world's poor. But this argument ignores one of their biggest assets — their healthy kidney before the onset of failure.
Most underlying causes of renal failure affect both kidneys, so keeping a reserve kidney in case one fails will usually not work. Also, kidneys can only be stored outside the body for about 30 hours, so storing your healthy kidney for future transplant is impossible.
In a sense, though, it is possible to store your kidney: in a market for organ transplants, your healthy kidney can be sold and the money earned from the sale used for another purpose, such as the purchase of another kidney in the future.
One way to help ensure you will have the market value for a kidney in the future is to sell one now at current market value and save the money. Prohibition of the sale of kidneys takes away the one asset that most of the poor have that could potentially save their lives.
Why We Should Let People Sell their Blood
There's nothing special about human blood
by Peter Jaworski
Many people think blood is special in a way that means it shouldn’t be “commodified,” or bought and sold on a market. It is a basic human need. It’s not like the latest gadget or a pair of shoes; it is to be revered, not remunerated.
I’m glad we don’t think food is special in this way. If we did, imagine how many people would die of starvation, or would suffer from hunger.
But Canada is just one place that thinks this way about blood. This past December, the Ontario legislature preserved the sanctity of the exchange of blood through Bill 21, entitled the “Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act.” Schedule 1 included provisions from Bill 178, the “Voluntary Blood Donations Act,” which prohibits paying and receiving payment for blood, either directly or indirectly.
With this bill, the legislature has made the giving and receiving of blood a sacrament.
Canadian Blood Services does not have to kneel before the Act, by the way, since they are exempt from the requirements of holy sanguinity. Subsection 3 of Schedule 1 exempts them, and only them, from the subsections that make it a heresy to buy and sell blood. So they could, without being subject to an inquisition, engage in blood simony.
Is this way of describing the Act unfair? It would be, if the provisions of the Act were not based on magical thinking and were consistent with contemporary studies about the relationship between compensating donors and the quantity and quality of the blood supply. But the Act is not.
Opponents of a blood market cite worries about the safety and quantity of the blood supply. They also claim that selling blood “expresses” the wrong attitude to something sacred.
The right response to worries like, “if we buy and sell blood, doesn’t that mean that we have the wrong attitude towards blood?” is, first, to point out that attitudes are independent of markets. We buy and sell cats and dogs, for example, but think of them as members of our family, not “commodities.”
And, second, that if a market in blood would save lives, as it would, then we should criticise the social practice of attaching these symbolic meanings to these kinds of exchanges. We don’t have to think that the buying and selling of blood is profane — we could, instead, think it a wonderful thing. And we should.
The former worries about the safety and quantity of blood were most prominently raised by Richard Titmuss in his ground-breaking 1971 book The Gift Relationship. Titmuss argued that we can expect poorer quality blood, and maybe even fewer donations, if we compensate donors in cash.
He thought that many of us donate blood out of concern for others. But no one will think you’ve done a ‘good deed’ out of the goodness of your heart if they know you pocketed a few Wilfrid Lauriers [ed. note: guy on the Canadian five dollar bill] in the process, and this will turn many of us off of donating blood. And who will give blood? People who need money, people whose blood is a little bit more dangerous.
Indeed, Ontario and the rest of Canada had a significant problem in the 1970s and 1980s. The Canadian blood supply, which included blood and plasma taken from U.S. prisoners who were compensated for donations, was tainted. Many Canadians who had blood transfusions ended up with HIV and Hepatitis-C because of it. This historical fact is a significant reason raised by many opponents of a market in blood, like in this Globe and Mail opinion piece.
If this is a reason to prevent compensated blood donations, why doesn’t it apply to tomatoes or blueberries?
Every year, about four million Canadians get a food-borne illness, with 11,600 hospitalizations and 238 deaths.
Despite this, no provincial government has yet proposed a bill entitled the Voluntary Tomato Donations Act, making it illegal to buy and sell tomatoes. There are no commercials urging us to replace our lawns with tomato gardens (“Tomatoes. It’s in you to grow.”).
And of course they haven’t. If anyone were to seriously suggest it, we would all laugh. We all understand that if we don’t permit farmers and grocery stores to profit from a basic human need, the basic human need will basically go unmet. We still romanticise the idea of a family farm, but we’re not prepared to see our friends and neighbours starve or go hungry for the sake of a pastoral romance.
Instead, we respond to food-borne illnesses with improved methods of testing foods, improvements in farming techniques and machinery, and certification of farmers and agricultural workers by both regulatory agencies as well as by grocery stores, neither of whom want anyone to get sick.
That’s also precisely what we’ve done with our blood and plasma supply. While no tests are perfect, modern donor assessments as well as screening and processing methods have made the worry about the quality of that supply basically moot. In the past 20 years, for example, there have been no cases of HIV or hepatitis transmission by any member of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, an association representing private-sector plasma-derived therapies. And many of them pay donors.
We don’t eliminate or try to neutralise the profit-motive from our food production. We recognize that money can help to encourage people to direct their energy toward food production rather than some other endeavour. We recognize that paying people is an effective way to encourage them to provide us with things we value.
And without the added incentive, hardly anyone bothers. Lots of Canadians will support the idea of charitable blood donation, and endorse this legislation that prohibits payment. But when it comes to showing up and giving blood, it turns out it’s just a lot of worthless talk, since only a lousy four per cent of us show up.
In fact, there exists no jurisdiction in the world that gets its entire blood and plasma supply from voluntary donors. That includes the Ontario supply, which will be topped-off with blood and plasma purchased from jurisdictions that do compensate individual donors.
That means, of course, that Ontario participates in paying individual donors. If you buy a product from a third party that you know gets the product by paying individual donors, then, morally speaking, it is the same as you paying those donors. Paying a third party is not a magical moral cloaking device, it’s just obfuscation.
Claims that compensating donors lowered the supply of blood and plasma had some purchase based on a few early studies following Titmuss’s book. But those studies were small, non-representative, depended on survey data, or were not controlled. More recent, large-scale studies have shown that compensating for blood and plasma does not crowd-out charitable giving.
Economic incentives — whether in the form of a day off work, a lottery ticket, a gift card, t-shirts, coupons, or free medical tests (with the sole exception of a free cholesterol test which had no effect) — consistently increased donations in all countries studied so far, with larger effects from items of greater monetary value.
The simplest solution to the blood and plasma shortage is to desacralise blood and plasma. Instead of bowing our heads to this idol, we should see it as the false idol it is, and get back to having a market in blood.
Zac Gochenour (left) is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Western Carolina University. He earned his PhD in economics from George Mason University.
Peter Jaworski (right) is an Assistant Teaching Professor teaching business ethics at Georgetown University. He is a Senior Fellow with the Canadian Constitution Foundation, and a Director of the Institute for Liberal Studies. He has also been a Visiting Research Professor at Brown University.
These posts first appeared at Anything Peaceful.
Top-ten most popular links from last Friday morning’s ramble ….
- Formidable Fox
- A Deep Look Inside The Tyrannical Regime In Saudi Arabia
- Top Scientist Resigns Admitting Global Warming Is A Big Scam
- '97% Of Climate Scientists Agree' Is 100% Wrong
- Perth electrical engineer’s discovery will change climate change debate
- WATCH: Cruz Humiliates Sierra Club Prez at Senate Hearing
- Strong support for guns in town shocked by college shooting
- The Case for Open Borders
- Farm-To-Table Weed Exists — & It Comes In A Mason Jar
- New Research: How Islam is Psychologically Toxic
Sunday, 11 October 2015
Temporal Rhythms, Yellow, by Jasmine Kamante
Graphite, acrylic and oil on canvas
1000 x 1500 mm
Hey, did you know this week is Art Week in Auckland? Yes, true story.
And you know where I’m going to be tomorrow evening? I’ll give you a clue:
ECDYSIS*: A pop up exhibition by two local artists, opening Monday 12th October and showing until Sunday 18th October as part of Artweek Auckland.
Preview: Monday 12th October 5.30pm - 8pm
Artist Talk in conversation with Amy Stewart: Thursday 15th October 6pm
"Kamante and Sundwall are partners in art as well as in life, and together they constitute a microcosm of the act of painting. They support and complement each other through the exploration of their practice, through the unmaking and remaking that comes with the shedding of skin, a process that lends its name to this joint exhibition. While Kamante is on a passage of biotic colour, Sundwall defies the anti-aesthetic essence of unconventional still-life subjects. Both are classically trained, but both also possess an idiosyncratic mastery of their media that allows them to turn it inside out – explode colours, blur lines and uncover narratives." - Amy Stewart
As well as exhibiting their new body of work, the artists will be collaborating on a piece in situ during the week. Pop by to see their progress. All works are for sale.
This exhibition is part of Artweek Auckland which runs from 10-18 October 2015.
Kindly sponsored by Mac & Co. Lawyers, Sacred Hill Wines, Ponsonby Central and Artweek Auckland.
See you there.
Exuviae No. 2 (detail) Jesper Sundwall,
1000 x 700 mm, graphite acrylic and oil on canvas
* Ecdysis is the process of an arthropod moulting its exoskeleton. Moulting is necessary as the arthropod exoskeleton is inflexible and so, to grow larger, arthropods must moult. Moulting is a critical but vulnerable time for arthropods.
Saturday, 10 October 2015
Allow to me to pull on your coat about something: a wee story about Art, Tragedy and Catharsis.
You’re watching a good ‘weepy’ with a box of tissues on hand, and you cry your eyes out – that’s what we call ‘catharsis,’ isn’t it?
As everyone knows (or thinks they know) catharsis is a healthy purging of all your repressed emotions. You see a devastatingly good film or heroically moving play and pretty soon there ain't a dry eye in the house.
Aristotle himself suggested that’s what happens when you see decent drama – particularly a good tragedy like Medea or Oedipus Rex where the stage ends up littered with corpses, and the hero ends up … well … we all know where Oedipus ended up and what what happened to Medea’s children, don’t we. Who wouldn’t weeping over all that?
So, we all know about catharsis. Or think we know. And in case you don’t know, we got the whole notion from Aristotle who argued in his Poetics that catharsis is, in fact, the number one reason for good drama and good literature.
That’s quite a claim: that the number one reason for good drama and good literature is is a healthy purging of all your repressed emotions
Ayn Rand didn’t agree. She said the number one reason for literature, and indeed for all art, is that it anchors us to existence. Art we respond to, she argued, shows us in concrete form what our own individual world-view actually is.
We experience a performance of Tosca, for example, or we look at a statue of David or a painting of Icarus Landing, and we say to ourselves (if we’re healthy): “This is the way I see things. This is the way I feel about the world.” In short, when art truly touches us we say to ourselves: “This is me!” And it is.
This is why art is so crucially – selfishly - important for us. Because the human mind operates on the conceptual level, we need art to help us integrate our broadest abstractions, and to bring them before us in concrete form. You need art to concretise for you -- in a painting, a story, a piece of music -- the way that you view the world around you and how you feel you fit in. Everybody sees the world differently, some aspects being more or less important than others. The artist selects elements of reality to re-create and integrate into his work based on his own most profound choice of how he sees the world – and if we see it the same way we experience almost a shock of recognition.
So art, according to Ayn Rand, is a re-creation of reality. A selective re-creation of reality. The elements in each art-work are selected according to the artist’s view of what he sees as fundamental – as being of real metaphysical importance. “By a selective re-creation, art isolates and integrates those aspects of reality which represent man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence.” That’s why we experience such a profound shock when we ‘recognise’ the artist’s selection as our own. That’s why art art we respond to we respond to so powerfully, and why it feels so personally important.
So we have two views of art that appear to be in fundamental disagreement. So it seems.
But … what if we got Aristotle wrong?
What if Aristotle didn’t actually say what everyone thought he said? What if Aristotle didn’t agree either that the the purpose of art and drama is simple sharing a protagonist’s emotions.
Well, arguably he didn’t. Arguably, our whole idea of catharsis and what Aristotle is supposed to have said about it is based on a profound mistranslation. Leon Golden, Professor of Classics at Florida State University and described as “the single most influential living authority on Aristotle's Poetics” argues that on this subject we’ve all got Aristotle wrong, and since 1962 he’s written a book and several articles arguing the case. The Greek word katharsis, he argues, has been mistranslated leading to our misunderstanding of what Aristotle was actually saying.
Based on some elegant philological detective work, Golden suggests that tragic katharsisis as Aristotle meant it is neither medical purgation, nor intellectual purification; katharsis, he says, is "intellectual clarification":
Katharsis is that moment of insight which arises out of the audience’s climactic intellectual, emotional, and spiritual enlightenment, which for Aristotle is both the essential pleasure and essential goal of mimetic art.
A moment of insight arising out of your climactic intellectual, emotional, and spiritual enlightenment. That’s a serious engagement with something!
So what does Aristotle mean by ‘mimetic art’? He means art that re-creates reality. Uh huh! You see where I’m going with this? As Leon Golden has it, mimesis comes from a fundamental "desire to know." People derive a pleasure of "learning and inference" from mimesis; a katharsis far different to one commonly understood by the word. This is what art that does re-create reality casts such a powerful intellectual, emotional, and spiritual spell upon us.
This is a view that must surely resonate with Objectivist aestheticians. Golden concludes his argument:
For Aristotle art is neither psychological therapy for the mentally ill nor a sermon directed at imposing an appropriate ethical and moral discipline on an audience. On the contrary, his aesthetic theory explains our attraction to tragedy and comedy on the basis of a deeply felt impulse, arising from our very nature as human beings, to achieve intellectual insight through that process of learning and inference which represents the essential pleasure and purpose of artistic mimesis.
It seems once again that the position of Ayn Rand and her teacher were once again not very far from each other. When Rand talks of art 'recreating reality' we can see her standing once again on Aristotle’s shoulders - one giant standing upon the shoulders of another.
One final word: none of this means you that you aren’t allowed to cry at the movies if you want to. If that’s your bag, then I wish you good weeping.
This post is based on my 2004 post at SOLO, archived here. But this one is way better.
Friday, 9 October 2015
“Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.”
~ Robert J. Hanlon
“If we're tallying the social costs of obesity, what should we make of this one? ‘Obese men make more money than their slimmer counterparts…’”
Obesity and Income – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
“The drop in Maori teenage birth is quite phenomenal. Though untested, the Youth Parent Payment reforms must be a factor.”
Bennett's biggest contribution – LINDSAY MITCHELL
“Our idea for flexibly responding to refugee flows: allow private refugee sponsorship.”
Welcoming Refugees – Free Press, SCOOP
“A better option than exclusion would be to restrict migrants’ eligibility for benefits.”
The Case for Open Borders – Bryan Caplan, TIME MAGAZINE
“Suggestions that strong net NZ migration (i.e. strong net immigration) will contribute to the unemployment rate increasing from 5.9% currently to 6.5% over the next year will be music to the ears of the anti-immigration lobby, but the opposite is likely to happen.”
The bullshit meter was set off by one of Westpac's economists – Rodney Dickens, RODNEY’S RAVING [4-page pdf]
“Barring people from carrying guns on campus made it particularly vulnerable to a ‘lone wolf’ attack.”
Strong support for guns in town shocked by college shooting – NZ HERALD
“Residents in Roseburg, Oregon, are rallying around the Second Amendment in the wake of the heinous attack on Umpqua Community College, suggesting the attack itself is proof of why citizens need to be armed for self-defence.”
Roseburg Oregon residents say school shooting shows why citizens must be armed – BREITBART
“Look at it this way. Do you want to live in a world where a violent criminal knows that all the nonviolent, non-criminals out there are disarmed?”
The Massive Ignorance Behind The Guns Cause Crime Agenda – Michael Hurd, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE
“People who go around saying ‘Violence never solved anything!’ should
study the sudden decline of Japanese imperialism in late summer 1945.”
~ Kevin D. Williamson
“Recent events in Syria have demonstrated that when the USA, and with it the Western world, decides to withdraw from being involved in other countries, that others will fill the vacuum.”
Abandoning foreign policy now means Pax Rus - is it what you wanted? – LIBERTY SCOTT
“With Saudi Arabia a critical player in the latest flare up in mid-east violence … an honest and fresh perspective … into what is really going on in the kingdom was long overdue.”
A Deep Look Inside The Tyrannical Regime In Saudi Arabia – Ali Alyami, CONTRA CORNER
“Opponents of patents [and copyrights] often … say that “real” property rights do not expire, they go on in perpetuity. Since patents and trademarks [and copyrights] expire after a certain period of time, they cannot be true property rights. To answer this question, it is necessary that examine the nature of property rights more carefully…”
Can Patents be a True Property Right When They Expire? – Dale Halling, STATE OF INNOVATION
The chairman of the film and television production company South Pacific Pictures refutes suggestions that the extension to copyright under the Trans-Pacific Partnership will stifle creativity.
South Pacific Pictures' John Barnett defends copyright extension in TPP – RADIO NZ
“The idea that a drastically reduced copyright term will “encourage artists to keep creating new work” is probably the most offensively flawed statement too-often made in favour of radical reduction of copyright terms.”
Copyright Doesn’t Restrain Culture – Part II – David Newhoff, THE ILLUSION OF MORE
“Q:’Why do individuals or families (such as the Walton family) need or deserve millions and billions of dollars in personal wealth?’ A: In short, because they earned it.”
All Earned Wealth, No Matter How Big the Fortune, is Deserved Whether ‘Needed’ or Not – Michael LaFerrara, PRINCIPLED PERSPECTIVES
“Depriving patentees of licensing income based on these myths will remove incentives to invest and take risks in developing new technologies.”
Busting Smartphone Patent Licensing Myths – Keith Mallinson, CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
“There is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property
rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights.”
~ Ayn Rand
World's 'extremely poor' to fall below 10% of global population – STUFF
“Just imagine if they tried immodest market liberalism."
Who Really Wants to Solve the Problem of Poverty? – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE
“The prevailing social dogma of our time — that economic and other disparities among groups are strange, if not sinister — has set off bitter disputes between those who blame genetic differences and those who blame discrimination.”
Economic Inequality: There is No Economic Determinism Under Capitalism – Thomas Sowell, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE
“Poverty occurs automatically. It is wealth that
must be produced, and must be explained.”
~ Thomas Sowell
DEBATE: Is Inequality Fair:
“There is no way to describe current Federal Reserve policy other than as monetary confusion and misdirection.”
Time to end monetary central planning – Richard Ebeling, COBDEN CENTRE
“Here is the current state of unemployment. In terms of pre-GFC it's not pretty, particular for females.”
Stalled recovery? – LINDSAY MITCHELL
“Our research indicates recession is very real possibility in 2016.”
They Say Recovery, We Say Recession – RUNNYMEDE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
“It's shaping up to be the crummiest year for U.S. stocks since the implosion of Lehman Brothers.”
Brace for worst year on Wall Street since 2008 – CNN MONEY
Ben Bernanke says the biggest impact of QE was to “create jobs”:
“…may change everything about the climate debate, on the eve of the UN climate change conference in Paris next month. A former climate modeller for the Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office, with six degrees in applied mathematics, Dr Evans has unpacked the architecture of the basic climate model which underpins all climate science. He has found that, while the underlying physics of the model is correct, it had been applied incorrectly. He has fixed two errors and the new corrected model finds the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) is much lower than was thought.”
Perth electrical engineer’s discovery will change climate change debate – Miranda Devine, NEWS.COM.AU
New Science 1: Pushing the edge of climate research. Back to the new-old way of doing science – Dr David Evans, JO NOVA
Warmist: "the apocalyptic version of climate change no longer works" to motivate people. Crying wolf too much?
Conservationist says apocalyptic views about climate change don't work to change minds – BLOOMBERG
Recycling: The Equivalent of Prayer in Urban Religion? – Michael Hurd, LIVING RESOURCES CENTER
The Reign of Recycling – John Tierney, NEW YORK TIMES
“Coal & oil, steam engine, electricity, roads & fertilizer saved more nature than all environmental laws ever written.”
How to strand assets – Ted Nordhaus & Michael Shellenberger, THE BREAKTHOUGH
“Those who argue that the science is "settled," also apply for millions in government
research grants to ... study the settled science further and settle it even further. Go figure.”
~ Vinay Kolhatkar
"It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists.”
Top Scientist Resigns Admitting Global Warming Is A Big Scam –... – YOUR NEWSWIRE
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Dr. Robert Stadler…”
WATCH: Cruz Humiliates Sierra Club Prez at Senate Hearing – PJ MEDIA
“"Think about how many times you hear that 97 percent or some similar figure thrown around. It’s based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.
It’s time to revoke that license."
'97% Of Climate Scientists Agree' Is 100% Wrong – Alex Epstein, FORBES
“Despite our deeply rooted prejudices against ‘filthy lucre’, however, money is the
root of most progress…. The ascent of money has been essential to the ascent of
man…. Far from being the work of mere leeches intent on sucking the life’s blood
out of indebted families or gambling with the savings of widows and orphans,
financial innovation has been an indispensable factor in man’s advance from wretched
subsistence to the giddy heights of material prosperity that so many people know today.”
~ from Niall Ferguson’s 2008 The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
“To understand something, especially something involved in the creation of evil, is to risk offending it. Evil and irrational people are usually quite cranky. You risk offending Nazis by trying to understand what animates such an ideology. The same applies to Islam. If you don’t like this fact, then you’re due to get over it.”
New Research: How Islam is Psychologically Toxic – Michael Hurd, DR HURD.COM
“What may be the world's oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham.”
'Oldest' Koran fragments found in Birmingham University – BBC
Theist and atheist have completed their series of articles debating key issues in religion. The full seven-round series is available here …
Theist vs. Atheist – STEPHEN HICKS
“Achievement Unlocked: 4chan pranksters wage successful hashtag campaign to get feminists to post peed-pants selfies.”
Feminists Fall For #PissForEquality Hoax – LEGAL INSURRECTION
“A real man is a thinker, a wrestler/boxer/physical figher and a reader. Knows guns. Not afraid of emotions, but knows how to control them. Understands objective truth and reality. Principled, but not a narcissist.”
25 Ways to Be a Real Man – AMERICAN THINKER
It's always an adventure with a woman in the passenger seat …
“Persuading laureates they’re winners can be a tough call; ‘it’s not a prank’.”
No, Really, You Won a Nobel Prize – WALL STREET JOURNAL
“I get a text message alerting me that my marijuana delivery will be at my apartment in four minutes.”
Farm-To-Table Weed Exists — & It Comes In A Mason Jar – REFINERY 29
“The sky is no longer the limit.”
Markets Could Take Us to Mars – Chelsea German, ANYTHING PEACEFUL
“Suppose the US Government made the following declaration: ‘The first person to land on Mars, and to live there some specified minimum duration (such as a year), and to return alive owns the entire Red Planet.’”
Mars: Who Should Own It – RON PISATURO
NASA has uploaded the entire catalogue of its 8,4000 Apollo mission photographic archive onto Flickr - with images spanning the Apollo 7 mission (the first manned test flight in 1968) through to Apollo 17, the final lunar mission in 1972 …
NASA gives us free space – THE 1709 BLOG
PS: “I had a pint of fresh 8 Wired HopWired IPA in one hand, a steaming bacon butty in the other, World Cup Rugby was on the big screen, England were getting knocked out of their own tournament and it was quarter to nine in the morning. It Was a Good Day.”
The Hunt for Red October, Rugby and Bacon – Neil Miller, MALTHOUSE BLOG
“The ANZ Bank has come out with the most detailed report on the New Zealand Craft Beer industry ever…”
NZ Craft Beer: Industry Insights – ANZ BANK
“The big brewer's win at the Brewer’s Guild awards is being questioned by some, but the process is transparent.”
Why Lion won top brewery award fair and square – Geoff Griggs, STUFF
“The exercise of drinking beers he often ignored, because they were common, seems to have been educational - if only to see why some beers were worth passing over.”
Find room in your fridge for familiar beers – Jono Galuszka, STUFF
“The interesting observation I made at the time was a lot of feedback from people was “I use to be a beer drinker but I drink wine now because it has a range of flavours.” Now 10 years on I can see a turning tide. The wine drinkers are returning to beer, this time its craft beer. Why? because it offers flavour, and a diverse range of styles.”
Craft Beer VS Wine in New Zealand – LUKE’S BEER
[Hat tips and quips Ayn Rand New Zealand, Stephen Hicks, David Burge, Famous-Quote.net, Jesse Colombo, Andrew Wang, Jason Krupp, ACT Party, Bibliophilia, Bjorn Lomborg, Screwed by State, Luke’s Beer]
Thursday, 8 October 2015
As Daryl Kerrigan sagely observed in The Castle, power pylons are a reminder of man’s ability to generate electricity. What he didn’t go on to wonder about is why they have to be so bloody ugly.
In Iceland however they’re not, Choi+Shine Architects explaining that their unique designs “transform mundane electrical pylons into statues on the Icelandic landscape.”
Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity…
Even better . . .
The pylon-figures can all be achieved from the modification of existing lattice towers.
All they require is imagination…
A great pity that Choi+Shine—or anything along the lines of creativity—never visited the many pylons now littering the Waikato, Franklin and around the foreshores of the Manukau Harbour.
[Hat tip CCR]
“What would cutting Canada’s emissions in half really look like? Which schoolbuses and fire trucks would Mulcair say we shouldn’t use any more? Which farms will be shut down? Which factories? (Has Mulcair he told his union friends about that last part?
“Mulcair’s plan will cripple our country without changing the world’s temperature one degree. Because as the UN IPCC itself admits, even if every country in the world obeyed the Kyoto Protocol, including China, it would not change the temperature of the world by 1/100th of one degree, even after 100 years.
“These cap and trade schemes are really about deindustrialising the West, and crippling capitalism and progress.”
~ Ezra Levant
[Hat tip Samizdata]
The unhinged opposition to increasing free trade might make you ask the question “Why do so many people fear freedom and free enterprise?”
Fortunately, guest poster Nick Sorrentino asks and answers the question for you . . .
Since I write about capitalism and crony capitalism and government and business every day, I have the opportunity to read quite a lot about these subjects from various perspectives. I read libertarians, and conservatives, and liberals, and progressives, and just about anyone else who is interesting. I read the comments at my Against Crony Capitalism site, and at sites all over the web.
One of the things I am fascinated by is the degree to which some people are seriously afraid of free enterprise, the voluntary exchange of goods and services, of capitalism. It is bizarre to me as it seems pretty self evident that where free enterprise is allowed to flourish people also flourish. History has shown us this over and over and over. And yet people still fear.
Is it ignorance? Is it ingrained lessons from school? Is it an overall culture of statism? Is it the search for a religion in a world which often lacks religion? (I am convinced that “big government” is in fact a religion. I will admit this from the outset.)
There are probably dozens if not hundreds of reasons why some people fear free enterprise. Some reasons are more valid than others. I think however that there are some core reasons which can be readily identified and I’d like to take the space to explore some of them.
This essay will be an ongoing one which I will revisit periodically. Below are a few reasons why I believe people fear freedom and free enterprise. This is just the first batch.
The fear created by perceived (and sometimes real) powerlessness
A sense of powerlessness induces fear. If one feels that one is simply being swept along by the economy, with no ability to determine direction, with no ability to steer one’s life, one is going to look for solutions. As such many people who feel tossed around and out of control look to the government as a stabilising force.
That the government has often created the raging river they are trapped in is not readily apparent nor does it matter much when one thinks that one is drowning. (And one may be.) One is going to reach for whatever solution one can. Politicians, who know the power of relieving pain, are always there to “help.” Vote for me and I’ll tame the raging waters. I’ll throw you a life preserver. The flailing flood “victim” grabs whatever he or she can get.
The fear that markets are “unfair.”
It is true that free markets do not distribute wealth uniformly. That in a system of voluntary exchange some will be better at deriving value from such exchanges than others.
Some people for instance absolutely hate to haggle over the price of a car or a house. It makes them uncomfortable. So when someone who is better at haggling, who is more comfortable (or overcomes their discomfort to a greater extent) with haggling, who enters the dealership better informed etc. gets a better price than the people who don’t want to haggle, the non-hagglers may think that an injustice has been done. Why don’t the people who don’t want to haggle get the same price as the person who was good at haggling? That isn’t “fair.” We should all get the same price.
Thing is the person who haggled paid for their discount. They entered the fray, overcame their discomfort, researched the purchase, so that they were able to extract the lower price from the dealer. They earned the cheaper car payment.
Still, many see this difference in price as unfair.
The fear of perceived and real privilege
There is such a thing as institutionalised privilege. That’s what I write about at my site. But what many people who are most concerned about countering this privilege fail to understand, tragically (often people who come from privileged backgrounds by the way), is that free markets offer the best way to counter such privilege.
When people can gather capital over time, without the government or a mafia stealing their earnings, wealth can be created. Work, ingenuity, insight, just plain hustle can be converted into a living. Then from a living perhaps into a nest egg. Then, if invested with a keen eye perhaps that nest egg can become a fortune.
It is true that some people are just born with fortunes. (Not very many people but some.) But in a free market/free price system this can be a good thing. This is capital which can then be invested into various productive enterprises. Traditionally some of this money often finds its way into the charitable sector too, where it also does much good. This is not appreciated as much as it should be.
Regardless, unless one is talking about a full-on Maoist redistribution of wealth (with the ensuing death and ultimate grinding poverty and moral deprivation) it is always the people of “privilege” who end up running a large government apparatus, and almost always to their own advantage. This is almost without exception around the world. A large government further entrenches the “privileged,” who now have official control over the levers of power to protect their privileges and exclude those who might challenge them economically.
If you want to make sure that the families which occupy an aristocracy stay there generation after generation, then institute a heavy-handed government. Free markets threaten the status of such people. Free markets allow for the emergence of new power centres that challenge and overturn the old. As such the “privileged” have often argued against free markets. (Kings historically have not been big fans of free enterprise and capitalism.)
One does not see capitalism defended in this country’s most elite universities for instance. At the universities of the particularly privileged, almost universally there is a refrain of statism which comes out of the halls of economics and pol-sci departments. Why? Do you think that these folks are suicidal? Of course not. Big government is to the advantage of the “privileged.
The fear of competition
This is not completely different from the tendency to think that markets are unfair.
Some people don’t believe that trophies should be awarded. That when someone rises above the crowd in sports or business or whatever this shouldn’t be celebrated. Such celebration exacerbates the inherent inequalities in any endeavour. Better to give participation ribbons to everyone than to risk hurting the feelings of anyone. (Other than the winner of course.)
Better to have a broadly egalitarian society within which everyone lives their life in a shade beige than to suffer the inequities of a rainbow. Even if free markets facilitate beautiful hues. the beige the state can impose is better because everyone is the same. (For some reason.)
Part 2 next week.
Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.
A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, his work has been featured at Chief Executive Magazine, Breitbart, Reason.com, NPR.com, Townhall, The Daily Caller, and many other publications. He has spoken at CPAC, The Commit Forum, The Atlas Summit, and at many other venues. Sorrentino is the CEO of Exelorix Consultants and a senior fellow at Future 500. A graduate of Mary Washington College he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
If this is all Jane Kelsey can find to damn the just-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement as “toxic,” (her word, meant seriously) then one wonders what she normally takes as poison:
Who gave the Prime Minister and Trade Minister the right to sacrifice our rights to regulate foreign investment, to decide our own copyright laws, to set up new SOEs, and whatever else they have agreed to in this secret deal and present it to us as a fait accompli?
That “damning” paragraph (my word, meant very unseriously) comes as the culmination of two-thousand of her words calling for the “campaign” against the agreement to “move into a new phase.” Yet in all those words she gives few to engender any reason to campaign against, and many more to campaign for.
She huffs and she puffs and fails even blow off a door. Indeed, the more she talks about the agreement, the more I shift from grudging approval for the agreement to outright enthusiasm. Were you aware, for instance, that under the agreement
future governments may not be able to establish new state-owned enterprises … which foreign competitors say has an adverse effect on their activities.
So no new nationalisations then? Or that
[foreign] investors are also expected to be able to use ISDS to enforce their contracts …
The cross-border services chapter … will require governments to maintain the current failed risk-tolerant light handed approach to regulation of services.
And while listing it among her own “downsides,” she grudgingly admits “New Zealand’s patent laws currently meet the final TPPA threshold.”
So on close inspection, it seems the only real downside appears to be that she no longer has any valid reason to complain. Because even through gritted teeth she has to admit “there do appear to be more significant gains for beef, fruit, seafood, wine, forestry products, lamb – but, as the Australia Japan FTA showed, the devil will be in the detail.” If these are the details she chooses to highlight, then it seems more like a benevolent deity hidden with than a harbinger of dark satanic mills.
And but me no buts, there seem few if any real reasons for her campaign to move into any phase other than one called “shutting down now.”
Equally Bryan Gould struggles to maintain relevance for himself, let alone the “campaign.” The TPP he says:
is about managed, not free, trade - and trade that is managed in the interests of large, international, and mainly US corporations…
his evidence for which is, apparently, that it “represents”
a further, large, and largely irreversible step towards the absorption of a small economy like New Zealand into a much larger economy – an economy that is increasingly directed from overseas, not by politicians or even officials, but by self-interested and unaccountable business leaders.
In other words, it connects little old New Zealand much more closely into the worldwide division of labour. Hardly a bad thing.
Look, the TPP looks to be about as close to full-blown, unhampered, knock-your-socks-off free trade as Dan Carter looks to putting a forty-point game together. But to complain, as both Gould and Kelsey do, that because, you know, NZ dairy doesn’t achieve full tariff-free access to the US, Canada and Japan while ignoring the small sliding tariff reductions that are allowed for is like a teenager whinging because their mummy has bought them the wrong coloured iPhone for their birthday.
It’s not full free trade—but trade between the 12 nations will be freer than it is now. There is some cronyism, but since even the cronies are quietly whimpering about things there’s less clearly less than they thought they paid for. So on balance, there are more reasons to be for than against-and being against would be to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
And since the increasing expansion of the worldwide division of labour has already meant around 138,000 people have been moved out of poverty every day for the last 25 years, unless you think that’s a bad thing rather than a good, the you and I would surely see very little to complain about that expansion continuing.
You might see this work by Rodin and ask, “WTF?” "Why the ugliness?” “Who would want to look at that old crone?"
In answer, let me quote the words of two masters.
An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl she used to be. A great artist can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is... and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be... more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo see that this lovely young girl is still alive, prisoned inside her ruined body.Or you might consider the sentiments of Shakespeare from his Sonnet 73, apposite here, in which he spoke of:
~ R. Heinlein via Jubal Harshaw, speaking about on 'La Belle Heaulmiere' in Stranger From a Strange Land.
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west…
So, d'you think Rodin has pulled it off the task described by Harshaw?
Or do you have the sensitivity of an armadillo?
(Or, perhaps, are you just not letting on . . . )
[Previously posted in 2007]
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
With the finalisation of a TPP deal yesterday, could this week’s discussion hosted by our friends at the Auckland Uni Economics Group be any more topical? (And remember, you’re all invited whether students or economists … or even, most especially, if not).
Seminar: Does New Zealand Economics Have a Useful Past?
Looking at the role that economic thought has had on the economic development of New Zealand, and focussing mainly on trade policy over the period from 1920s to the early 1980s, the newly-appointed editor of the History of Economics Review Dr. Geoffrey Brooke will explain the different perspectives taken by academic economists in New Zealand, and relate these to the activities of policymakers over that period.
And he asks: Is the often held view that the reform decade beginning in 1984 illustrated the power of what J. Maynard Keynes had called the “gradual encroachment of ideas” trumping the “power of vested interests”?
Date: Thursday, October 8
Location: Room 040C, Level Zero, University of Auckland Business School
(plenty of parking in the building’s basement, entry off Grafton Rd)
About the Speaker:
Dr. Geoffrey Brooke is a Lecturer in Economics at the Auckland University of Technology. Dr. Brooke holds both a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and a PhD in Economics from the University of Auckland. Prior to this, he completed a Bachelor and a Masters (Finance) in Business Science from the University of Cape Town.
His research interests are equally divided between economic history and the history of economic thought.
Annette King, Jane Kelsey, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all have denounced what, they say, “the TPP will mean with regards to life-saving drug costs.” It’s unfair, they say, that drug companies should have even the five years recognised by the TPP to make the most from selling the many future life-saving drugs that wouldn’t have existed without them.
Is it not too much to recognise where all these life-saving drugs actually come from that everyone takes so much for granted?
And to acknowledge that we in NZ are, to be blunt, mooching on the people who develop and pay for them.
As Jason Potts says of similar folk in Australia, Don't Complain About TPP Pharmaceuticals, We Already Free Ride Off US Consumers:
These folk present themselves as fighting for the public health care system by holding firm in an intellectual property battle against big greedy US pharmaceutical companies who want provisions that will cost sick Australians [and NZers] hundreds of millions of dollars. The media optics are clear about who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil in this fight.
But biologics are extraordinarily expensive, difficult and risky to make. All the huge costs are upfront, with very small marginal costs. The spectacular economics of a few blockbuster drugs need to be set against the enormous costs, and often losses, of the many stages of testing and developing safe and effective new biologics.
So who pays for this?
The reality is that the US healthcare consumer pays for most of this - this is why the US spends a much larger fraction of its GDP per capita on healthcare (about 17.4 percent) than Australia (about 9.8 percent) [and NZ (about 8.7 percent).
Let me put that more starkly – Australian healthcare consumers are free-riding on US healthcare consumers. Sick people in the US are paying more so that sick people in Australia can pay less. That's the issue here. This is about fairness and Australia doing its part to pay its share of the cost of developing life-saving drugs that benefit everyone in the world.
Let’s put it more starkly for NZ readers: Spending on healthcare in New Zealand is the second lowest per person among a group of developed countries. New Zealand healthcare consumers are free-riding on US healthcare consumers and producers. Sick people in the US are paying more so that sick people in New Zealand can pay less. That's the issue here.
Is it fair that the folk paying for and producing life-saving drugs are given so little recognition, either legally.morally or financially?
Absolute poverty will be gone by 2030
Guest post by Marian Tupy
According to the World Bank, for the very first time in human history, “less than 10 percent of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.”
The bank has “used a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25. It forecasts that the proportion of the world’s population in this category will fall from 12.8 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent.”
To give one example,
by a test employed in Lyons, France, in the 17th century, poverty was reached when daily income was less than the daily cost of minimum bread requirement – in other words, when a person could not make enough money to buy a crust of bread.
The condition was common.
Prior to the advent of industrial capitalism (in roughly the 1760s) the lot of the English working class was generally miserable. Utter destitution was rampant, literal starvation not uncommon and the country was overrun with paupers. “There was, in point of fact, widespread poverty of the most abject kind in England and other countries of 18th century Europe.” It is difficult for men in the industrial West today to conceive of the kind of poverty that was widespread in pre-capitalist Europe.
Thanks to industrial revolution and trade, economic growth in the West accelerated to historically unprecedented levels, and the numbers in grinding poverty pushed back. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, real incomes in the West, at least, increased fifteen-fold. But the chasm that opened up as a result of the Western take-off is now closing.
The rise of the non-Western world is, unambiguously, a result of economic growth spurred by the abandonment of central-planning and integration of many non-Western countries into the global economy. After economic liberalisation in China in 1978, to give one example, real incomes rose thirteen-fold.
As Princeton University Professor Angus Deaton notes in his book The Great Escape,
The rapid growth of average incomes, particularly in China and India, and particularly after 1975, did much to reduce extreme poverty in the world. In China most of all, but also in India, the escape of hundreds of millions from traditional and long established poverty qualifies as the greatest escape of all.
Capitalism destroyed poverty in the west. It is now rescuing people in the east and elsewhere.
You’d think more people would be celebrating this.
Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
A version of this post first appeared at the Cato at Liberty blog.
The character ‘Pierre,’ from Rodin's evocative Burghers of Calais ensemble sculpture is a great figure in his own right, one of Rodin's finest in my view, and part of a piece of intense nobility and powerful human drama -- and doesn't that hand just say so much?
The Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais) is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1888. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.
The story goes that after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, England's Edward III laid siege to Calais, whereupon Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs.
Philip himself failed to lift the siege and starvation eventually forced the city to parlay for surrender. The dealing did not go well. Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out almost naked with nooses around their necks, and be carrying the keys to the city and castle. The burghers volunteered, to save their city, and began their final short journey …
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Few details have been released on the final TPP deal agreed last night in Atlanta, but enough to get a broad overview—and to realise much of the opposition to it has been as unhinged as it has been incoherent. “Peak Kelsey” as one politician dubbed it. An orgy of uninformed eloquence, said another. And a very good reason for Labour to keep talking about lack of details as they work out how to quietly backtrack from the anti-TPP corner they inastutely painted themselves into.
In evaluating the deal that places us smack bang into the world’s largest semi-free-trade zone (to be excluded would be, as former PM Helen Clark suggested, unthinkable), it’s worth just recalling why human beings trade: because as Frederic Bastiat pointed out many years ago, left to our own devices few if any of us would be able to produce enough just to get through a mild winter, let alone produce enough to survive and flourish and hang around long enough to produce a mid-life crisis and a second family. Yet when we trade with each other the products of our efforts, we can, and we do. (Without trade, even a simple sandwich is beyond our individual means.)
Somewhere or other, I’ve called this the Miracle of Breakfast, the realisation that the division of labour is as benevolent as Adam Smith once explained.
As John Stossel would say, “What could be more benign than the freedom to trade with whomever you wish?”
Trade between nations connects us to the worldwide division of labour.
Trade between individuals demonstrates how trade benefits both parties to it—the double thank-you moment demonstrating that we each benefited from the exchange.
How many times have you paid $1 for a cup of coffee and after the clerk said, "thank you," you responded, "thank you "? There's a wealth of economics wisdom in the weird double thank-you moment. Why does it happen? Because you want the coffee more than the buck, and the store wants the buck more than the coffee. Both of you win.
Economists have long understood that two people trade because each wants what the other has more than what he already has. In their respective eyes, the things traded are unequal in value. But this means each comes out ahead, having given up something he wants less for something he wants more. It's just not true that one gains and the other loses. If that were the case, the loser wouldn't have traded. It's win-win, or as economists would say, positive-sum.
We experience this every time we have that double thank-you moment in a store or restaurant.
That we each trade to get the things we want, and we all want very different things, are the two facts at the heart of free trade’s many benefits. The benefits accrue not just because we allow access to our markets—to use the language being bandied around this morning by peak-Kelseyites—but because the benefits increase exponentially as the network of exchange expands.
Of course, we don’t need volumes of paper to make a “free-trade deal.” All it takes for free exchange to happen is legal protection and no outright bans. (In Adam Smith’s words, "the Division of Labour is limited by the Extent of the Market.")
But free exchange can be hampered. It can be hampered by distance—which is why people build shipping lines, roads and railways to get goods and people to markets more easily and more cheaply—or it can be hampered by tariffs and quotas that make getting goods and people to markets is more difficult and more expensive, all but cancelling out the many benefits of those shipping lines and railroads. No wonder Bastiat likened the effect of tariffs and quotas to a negative railroad—one with so many breaks in the track that costs and delay are as certain with the railroad as they are with tariffs and quotas.
I have said that as long as one has regard, as unfortunately happens, only to the interest of the producer, it is impossible to avoid running counter to the general interest, since the producer, as such, demands nothing but the multiplication of obstacles, wants, and efforts. . .
Whatever the protectionists may say, it is no less certain that the basic principle of restriction is the same as the basic principle of breaks in the tracks: the sacrifice of the consumer to the producer, of the end to the means.
The TPP deal doesn’t take away all the breaks in the track, but it does remove many of them:
In terms of the substance, there seem to be three broad themes.
- Eventual elimination of all tariffs in all industries except beef and dairy
- Minor concessions from Canada on dairy but better deal with Japan on beef (tariff dropping from 40% to 9%)
- Most of the potentially “bad”* stuff has been resisted (change to Pharmac model, the US demands on ISP liability for copyright, tobacco companies can’t use ISDS provisions)
And it begins momentum to for those other breaks to be dismantled. Eventually.
* “Bad” is by the estimation of David Farrar, whose summary this is. There is much to be said about each of these things at some point, but suffice to say now that extended 12-year patent protection for drugs pertains not to present drugs but to future miracle drugs, preserving at least some part of the golden goose that will help us all age disgracefully.