Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Morning Ramble: No, No, No

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“There are going to be big changes, even with a NO vote.”
What next after the Scotland referendum? – Eamonn Butler, ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE
Scottish referendum: Alone, Scotland will would go back to being a failed state – Niall Ferguson, TELEGRAPH
The masses are far more rational than the unhinged political class – Brendan O’Neill, SPIKED
Celebrities react badly to the referendum result – SPECTATOR
Scottish Leader Quits – VODKA PUNDIT
Scotland and the irrational media – Alberto Mingardi, ECON LOG
Scotland the Brave – James Allan, QUADRANT

Most socialists will tell you that they became socialist out of concern for the poor. So if they learned that 600 million people have ben lifted out of poverty over the last 25 years, wouldn’t they be shouting that revelation, and the reason for it, from the rooftops?
Who Really Wants to Solve the Problem of Poverty?Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE

An excellent way to brush up on the most colossal and destructive political and economic flop of all time.
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism – Kevin Williamson, AMAZON

“The potential gains from planning liberalisation are clear: lower housing costs, a reduced cost of many goods and services, a better functioning labour market, and higher productivity and wages. The question is whether there is any appetite among our politicians to take on the vested interests opposed to reform.”
Planning liberalisation is the closest thing there is to an economic silver bullet – Richard Wellings, IEA BLOG

The Capitalist’s Guide to the Ideas Behind Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
GREAT DEAL: Why Businessmen Need Philosophy for Under $6 On Amazon – DOLLARS AND CROSSES

There’s an easy solution you know.
Looming shortage of prime office space in the capital, says Colliers – INTEREST.CO.NZ

The world has one Colbert too many. Possibly more.
Colbert's legacy lingers on – Oliver Hartwich, NBR

Book Launch: “It takes a lot to really wreck either a city or a nation.”
The plan against the rebuild – Eric Crampton, SPEAKER

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“Which countries actually believe in free trade?, understand free trade?”
Why don’t we have more free trade? – Tyler Cowen, MARGINAL REVOLUTION

“The potential gains from planning liberalisation are clear: lower housing costs, a reduced cost of many goods and services, a better functioning labour market, and higher productivity and wages. The question is whether there is any appetite among our politicians to take on the vested interests opposed to reform.”

It’s stimulus season again. They hope.
Weak uptake for new eurozone stimulus program- HERALD
Our obsession with monetary stimulus will end in disaster – DETLEV SCHLICTER 
Keynes was a failure in Japan – No need to embrace him in Europe – DETLEV SCHLICTER 
As Germany loses battle for ECB, QE goes global – DETLEV SCHLICTER

After a sharp slowdown, stimulus is back on the agenda in China

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“The global warming movement is imploding.”
EU Dismantles Its Climate Commission Amid Economic Struggles – Michael Bastach, DAILY CALLER

“Misuse of climate models as false prophets is costly in lives as well as treasure. To condemn the poorest of India’s poor to continuing poverty is to condemn many to an untimely death. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is right to have no more to do with such murderous nonsense. It is time to put an end to climate summits. Real-world evidence proves they are not needed.”
Stop the Scare! (GIGO climate models vs. human needs) – Willie Soon & Christopher Monckton, MASTER RESOURCE

“So how did we end up mistaking a wicked mess for a tame problem? The main problem has been putting the policy cart in front of the scientific horse.”
The Sound Of Settled Science – Judith Curry, SMALL DEAD ANIMALS

“Yesterday marked a not unimportant court deadline in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century…”
The Lonesomest Mann in TownMark Steyn, STEYN ONLINE

“Anytime you hear the green corporate marketing buzzword "sustainable", you know you're likely being had. Sorry to break your hearts, hippies.”
Green energy more hype than benefit – Larry Bell, CLIMATE FACTS

“If a science has an adjective,
it probably isn’t a science.”

- Richard Feynman

“Tens of thousands of protesters will be swarming New York this Sunday to encourage the United Nations to call for drastic cuts for fossil fuels. They think they are doing the moral thing in encouraging the UN to oppose the use of coal, oil, and natural gas. In fact they’re supporting policies that would cut billions of lives short.”
Six Reasons Why the United Nations Should Not Intervene on Fossil Fuel Use (A Response to the Misguided People's Climate March) – Alex Epstein, FORBES

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"...there is a soon-to-be released and incredibly compelling book written by the Center for Industrial Progress’s Alex Epstein titled The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Its main premise is that both the short- and long-term benefits of using fossil fuels greatly outweigh the risks of any climate change that may occur as the result of the accompanying carbon dioxide emissions."
Is it “Moral” to Restrict Fossil Fuel Use to Mitigate Future Sea Level Rise? – Patrick Michaels & Chip Knappenberger, CATO AT LIBERTY

It would be a lot better if it really were warming

“It suited Western Leftists, during and after the War, to argue that Hitler had been uniquely evil, certainly wickeder than Stalin. It was thus necessary to forget the enthusiasm with which the two tyrants had collaborated.”
The greatest cultural victory of the Left has been to disregard the Nazi-Soviet Pact – Daniel Hannan, TELEGRAPH

“"If we want to work toward a free society, it is not enough to say that we have 'rights' or that aggression is 'bad' or that free markets are 'good.' Nor is it enough to explain why and how free markets work. If we want to advocate liberty successfully, we must understand and be able to explain where rights come from, why we have them, and how we know it. We must understand and be able to articulate what the concepts 'good' and 'bad' objectively mean—and how we know this. We must engage in philosophy."
Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism—Craig Biddle, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

“Multiculturalism is not really about choosing non-Western clothes if you like, or listening to World-beat music, or about rejecting racism. That is individualism. Multiculturalism is an anti-intellectual movement that denies truth to avoid facing facts, and rejects human rights and morality in the name of humanity.”
Multiculturalism Is a Failure: The Islamist's War with the Western Culture – Walter Williams, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

"It is time for Americans to demand of themselves and of their fellow Americans that they first-handedly face the facts before their eyes, reject the dogmas of relativism and religion, realize that our enemies in this war are our enemies because they take religion seriously, and demand that our government demonstrate to our enemies that America the Beautiful is greater than Allah the Nonexistent."
Looking Back at the Post–9/11 Decade – Elan Journo, VOICES FOR REASON

“He declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a
part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. The
essence of his doctrine was violence and lust. To exalt the
brutal over the spiritual part of human nature.”
- John Quincy Adams, 6th president of the United States

So, who’s feeding IS’s maw? [Click the pic for an interactive map.]

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Eugenics in the US: the guy who designed ObamaCare thinks people should die at 75 so they're not a burden to society.
Why I Hope to Die at 75 – Ezekiel Emanuel

“Out into the cool of the cyber dawn stroll the pretenders. NSA can't tell diff between criminal hacking & act of war?”
NSA Director Says Agency Is Still Trying To Figure Out Cyber Operations – SLASHDOT

“There is a troubling phenomenon I call "the anti-originality argument." The argument is that there is no such thing as genius or originality, because every new idea actually borrows from previously-established ideas…”
The "anti-originality" argument – Stuart Hayashi, CAPITALISTS FOR INTELECTUAL PROPERTY

Every man needs a project.

"We typically go through our days without devoting a thought to this this magnificent material (concrete) that helps make modern life possible. The next time you enjoy a modern building, drive down a street, or so much as stroll down a sidewalk, you might think for a moment of Joseph Aspdin (creator of Portland cement) and of the modern producers of concrete.” Unlike every politician you’ve ever met, their thought and work literally support your life.
Concrete: The Foundation of Modern LifeAri Armstrong, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

While you were looking at other things…
CERN closes in on antigravity answer – BBC NEWS

“It’s a wonder so many of us lived through childhood considering how little it seems our parents knew about safety.”
5 Things Our Parents Did That Would Get Them Arrested Today – LIBERTY CRIER

“Will Self's attacks on Orwell only expose his own alienation from and disdain for the public.”
Self, Orwell and the English language – Bruno Waterfield, SPIKED

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“Peter sees a big vagina. ‘That’s a big vagina,’ says Peter. ‘Big vaginas are feminist,’ says Mummy. Peter is scared.”
Peter and Jane Go to the Art Gallery – Miriam Elia IMGUR

“Four books that I learned from and that focus on the postmodern challenge in specific intellectual areas…”
Four recommended books on postmodernism – STEPHEN HICKS

Zapp: Why's it still blurry?!
”Kif: That's all the resolution we have. Making it bigger doesn't make it clearer.
”Zapp: It does on CSI: Miami.”
Then 'Enhance' Button – TV TROPES

The previously untold true story of David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Tony Visconti recording "Warszawa" from Low. Seriously. True story.

And the result…

How to get the most out of your orchestra…

Another method…

“Truly awful.”

[Hat tips Maria Montessori Education Foundation, Stephen Hicks, Bosch Fawstin, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Stats Chat]

And finally …

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Concerned, from Epsom [updated]

We each have our hot-button election issues.

Mine is property rights.

Has been for years.

For years I’ve been saying the Resource Management Act (RMA) is an abuse of property rights and has to go. It has empowered councils to take your property rights under all their thoroughly meddling district plans and directives, and has to go.

It has to go, I’ve said, to be replaced with common law protection of property rights – protecting private property rights and the environment, in which the common law can point to several hundred years of success.

No major party has followed that line. So, consequently, I’ve followed no major party.

But this year is different. This year, after years of seeing  Old ACT offering weasel words about “reforming” the RMA, tinkering around the edges but nothing to frighten their consultant constituency, this year the new leader of New ACT finally recognised and stated the obvious:

"The problem with the Resource Management Act is not in its administration, the problem is with the very conception of it."
   
The Act was "an assault on private property rights that stifles investment and economic growth", he said, blaming the Act's restrictions for the increasingly expensive property market.
   
Act instead would return a "sensible plan based on private property rights."

And:

ACT believes parliament should admit [the Resource Management Act] is a 30 year experiment that has failed and we should start again using the common law as the basis for environmental protections. 

And:

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Bravo! I said.

I said it many times. I said it despite my fear of politicians saying one thing and meaning another.

I even said I’d head out tomorrow for the first time in my life and vote ACT, and David Seymour.

So when they started this week to talk instead about “reform” again, I had to check with David. Were they going blancmange again?, I asked. Not at all, he said.

I think it should be repealed. Could we negotiate that? Probably not.  There would still be regulation in its place, just far narrower.

Hmm, but your policy was to abolish RMA and replace it with common law.

That's not right, Jamie's always said replace with specific laws when and only when common law is deficient.

(Well, see above.) But you’re still saying abolish?

Yes. To be clear there would still be regulation, not promising common law only, just that RMA is beyond redemption, scrap and replace with much simpler law only when common law problems are clear.

So, customers, what do I do?

Was that the ringing re-endorsement I was hoping for? Or is New ACT going blancmange?

And what should I do about it tomorrow?

UPDATE:  It’s not just me with doubts.  Former ACT board member Peter McCaffrey writes…

Tomorrow I will cast an absentee vote for ACT from Canada because I think Jamie Whyte would contribute significantly to New Zealand’s Parliament, and of all the various party’s list candidates who are on the margin of getting elected, he is by far the best.
   
Having said that, ACT’s campaign has been woeful.
   
… the party [was presented with] a fantastic opportunity to finally become properly liberal, to campaign on some new policies (drug reform, civil liberties, etc) and look to slowly and steadily grow the party.
   
In short, [however] the party was too risk averse, too worried about the few votes they might lose, and never considering the votes they might win – a disappointing ignorance of Bastiat’s principles of the seen and the unseen, for a supposedly economically literate party….
  
In short, you still probably should give your party vote to ACT, in hopes of getting Jamie elected…
   
But I don’t blame you if you can’t bring yourself to do it.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Economics for Real People: Great Myths of the (First) Great Depression

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Yes, the students are back, and they’re inviting you to tonight’s seminar at the Auckland University Economics Group for some sense and sensibility …

Several years on and, despite ourselves, we’re still mired in a slowdown that has now lasted longer, any by some measures has been deeper, as the original Great Depression.
Everyone knows about that first Great Depression—but is everything they know correct?
There are multiple lessons from the Great Depression for the times we live in now—if only we were in a position to draw them, and if only the history of the Great Depression wasn’t so encumbered with mythology.
We look at a few of the many myths around the Great Depression, and try to draw some lessons for today, asking:
    · Was the Depression really a Crisis of Capitalism?
    · Which great economist (whose theories are stilled followed today) lost his shirt in the Crash he never
       saw coming?
    · Did the Fed really do too little to help? Or too much?
    · Did Herbert Hoover just sit back and watch things get worse? Or make it worse?
    · Was Franklin Roosevelt chiefly responsible for getting the US back on track? Was Michael Joseph
      Savage the maestro here in NZ?
     · Did World War II finally bring about the Recovery?
Join us as we examine these stories and many more about the FIRST Great Depression.
   Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014
    Time: 6-7pm
   Location: Case Room Two, Level Zero, University of Auckland Business School
                             (plenty of parking in the Business School basement, off Grafton Rd)
All welcome!

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The All-New, 100% Pure, Official 2014 Liberty-Lover’s Voting Guide [update 2]

Every MMP election you have two votes, and two questions: to whom should I give my party vote, and to whom should I give my electorate vote.

Well, three questions really, the this being: should I vote at all?

My default answer to this is always: don’t vote, it only encourages the bastards.

My default position on voting has always been not to vote for bastards. To vote only to vote for what I believe in. Voting for the lesser of two evils still results in evil. And voting against a greater evil just results in the folk you’re voting for ruling with the help of your blank cheque, and their pathetic claim for your mandate.

For every election since 1996, liberty lovers  been able to give their party mandate to something they could believe in, but now that option is gone I personally had been intending to stay home.

I’d been intending to stay home until I became bowled over by what I like to call New ACT.  Especially by their promise, finally, to abolish the RMA and replace it with common law.

Old ACT deserved to die. But David Seymour and Jamie Whyte are for once genuine liberty lovers, and Jamie Whyte has done an outstanding job of promoting policies that any liberty lover can get behind. I gave him four out of five; Liberty Scott gave them 8 out of 10. And as Lindsay Mitchell notes

There have been so many polls I missed the Colmar Brunton poll that has ACT on 1.2%.
That'll do it. I feel I can safely give them my party vote without wasting it.

To the incredulity of many of you who’ve read me tearing strips off this party for 18 years – and, truth be known to my own incredulity as well -- I’m now intending to do the same. I think you should too.
[UPDATE 1: Lindsay Perigo draws my attention to ACT’s 5-point plan now resiling from abolishing the RMA, and retreating back the weasel word of “reform.” Since driving a stake through the heart of that Act is my litmus test for a party’s support for property rights, my own personal bottom line, I’m now wavering from lending them my support until I have that clarified.
UPDATE 2: Clarification here.]

But what about your electorate vote?

Every election the irrepressible Liberty Scott offers readers the official rooting, tooting all-shooting liberty-lover voter’s guide to how to fill out your electoral ballot, with which I only ever have minor quibbles. (Mostly because he’s too nice to the bastards.) Same again this time except for two minor caveats.

First, given all National has done to Christchurch, if any Cantabrians even consider voting National they can quit moaning for ever about the state of their city.

Second, there’s no point recommending votes for the racist seats. The only thing to recommend there is abolition.

So with that done, let’s take a deep breath and dive right in …

Liberty Scott's 2014 New Zealand voting guide for lovers of liberty (IN PROGRESS)

Click here to read more ... >>

Don’t vote for Colon

I keep hearing whispers from some readers of this blog that some of your are intending voting for the odious and manipulative Colon Craig tomorrow.

What on Galt’s green earth are you thinking!?

Have you not noticed that he proposes land confiscation?

Have you not noticed he wants to ban immigrants, and ban foreigners being part of NZ?

That his tax rates or either silly, dishonest, or well above what they are now?

That he wants to make alcohol more expensive, and jail even more peaceful cannabis smokers?

That he favours what can only be called mob rulea policy that makes every other policy null and void?

Liberty lovers: don’t be fooled. This thin-skinned excuse for a man is not your friend.  Any man who can soberly and with forethought suggest the state should confiscate your land so they can build on it themselves is a man who is a stranger to property rights – a man in love with state power.

Do not be fooled.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

So, what about the roads?

Since the blogosphere discussion of transport is dominated by one passionate but mono-dimensional Transport Blog, transport specialist Liberty Scott has done the blog job of assessing political parties’ transport promises and policies. You know, for those who think these things are important in the last week of a campaign.

Scott asses them on five criteria:

  1. do they know what they’re talking about?;
  2. do they reduce barriers to entry for new competitors?;
  3. do users pay or will they be heavily subsidised?;
  4. do their proposals make economic sense?; and,
  5. other stuff.

Marking the parties out of 25, and excluding joke parties like Maori, Conservative, and Dunne Nothing  who dont have any policy) they rank from lowest to highest:

  • InternetMana: 3/25
  • Social Credit (yes, they still exist): 6/25
  • Greens: 7/25 (yes, there are two parties with worse transport policies than the Ginger Whinger’s)
  • Labour: 7/25 (almost three!)
  • NZ First: 8/25 (big on trains but, sadly, doesn’t include reintroducing smoking carriages)
  • National: (a surprising) 16/25
  • New ACT: 18/25 (could do better)

Head to Scott’s blog for his analysis: ‘Comparing parties' transport policies (in progress)

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Privacy, Property and the #SurveillanceState

Have you ever wondered why the right to privacy seems to have risen in importance even as rights in property have diminished?

It is not altogether coincidental.

“The ‘right to privacy’,” says legal scholar Arline Mann, “is a misguided attempt to save some shreds of certain [legitimate] rights while retaining a way to eviscerate others.”

Yes, we each of us need privacy. But our need for something is not a claim on someone else. Privacy is a good, not a right. It’s not something to be recognised, it’s something to be earned.

Civilisation itself is the progress toward a society of privacy, argues Ayn Rand. “The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”

A right to privacy however while a compelling idea, is not persuasive. The right to privacy, if it exists, “stands as a bulwark against meddlesome other people, especially governments,” says philosopher Tibor Machan.  And when all other bulwarks are being banished, that is not unimportant.

But while we have the legitimate right to take actions to protect our privacy, and while our own private communications for example remain our property as long as we wish them to, this doesn’t make privacy itself an actual right. The broader concept which a privacy right obscures is our legitimate property rights which, says Arline Mann, so-called privacy rights –which are inherently vague and conflict-ridden – are actually designed to obscure.

“The claim that some information is private (or that some observation is an intrusion) is [itself] a value judgment,” says Amy Peikoff,

often substantially dependent upon the individual’s personal preferences. In contrast, the law should just concern factual, perceptual judgments about whether force was initiated or not… Consequently, upholding a right to privacy means that people cannot protect their privacy to whatever degree they please, but rather must depend upon the government’s idea of a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy,’ as set by community standards and limited by community welfare.

My reasonable expectation of privacy is clearly not John Key’s. Or (since she helped shape today’s system of surveillance) Helen Clark’s. Their standards are not mine, and no law or legal principle should be built on such vagaries.

“Privacy is a good -- like food, music, or love,” concludes Amy Peikoff. “So while we have the right to take the actions required to secure our privacy via judicious use of our property and voluntary contracts with others, we have no direct right to privacy per se. . . Laws designed to protect privacy undermine genuine rights to property and contract.”

Like the property we have in our communications. Protect that – properly protect that – and not just this election but the whole debate about surveillance would be very different indeed.

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That’s democracy, David

I have to laugh at David Farrar getting angry because DotCon turns out to be a bigger blowhard than Winston Peters.

For months and even years we have given Kim Dotcom a slight benefit of the doubt. He claimed back in 2012 that he had evidence John Key knew about him before 19 January 2012. He said he would produce this evidence in court.
    He never ever did.
    But he kept insisting he had the evidence…Most of us thought the evidence would be ambiguous at best, or inconsequential – but thought he would at least have something.
    But it seems he had nothing at all. The claimed e-mail is so obviously a fake (
see Danyl McLauchlan), that he didn’t even present it at the meeting…
   I’m angry about this, and you should be also…

David’s angry.

Why is David angry?

Because election. [Emphasis that follows is all David’s.]

   Kim Dotcom has tried to hijack our democracy and we should be angry about this… New Zealanders should have been having a final week debating . But Dotcom’s media manipulation has tried to make it all about him…
   
Yes some of the stuff alleged by Snowden is of public interest …

Butt me no buts, David. The stuff alleged by Snowden and Greenwald is of public interest [emphasis mine] and no matter how flaky their host is, (which is substantial0 it is perfectly appropriate to spend a week or more debating their allegations.

It’s not like there’s really a major item of difference about which to debate what any of the major parties propose in the economy, the health system, the education system, jobs, incomes, welfare, housing or the like. All (both?) propose various degrees of state intervention, often along remarkably similar lines.

It’s true that there’s not really a scintilla of difference either in what they might do about what Snowden and Greenwald allege, but that doesn’t make it wrong to debate it in the last week of the election campaign. [Emphasis mine, that time.]

Because, you know David, in an election campaign there’s no “we should” about what we discuss.

You and the major party campaign managers might like to talk about the economy, the health system, the education system, jobs, incomes, welfare, housing or the like – and I talk about these myself, because I too think they are important. But some people want to talk about property rights and individual liberty; some want to talk about why they should be arrested for smoking a joint; some just want to talk about the lies that politicians tell (which are many) and the promises they tend to keep (which are few); but whatever they want to talk about in the last week of the election campaign is entirely up to them. [Emphasis, once again, all mine.]

That’s the whole point about democracy, I’ve heard.

In a democracy, you don't get to dictate what everyone gets to talk about. You don’t get to dictate what issues they want to vote about. What everyone talks about is, well, up to everyone. That I guess is one of the key  points about a democracy. Like it or not, it's not a bug, it's one of its features.

That’s the lesson for today.

If democracy is the counting of heads regardless of their content, and it is, then you don't get to complain about what those heads want to talk about, if what they want to talk about is not always of your own choosing.

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