Saturday, June 30, 2007

Glasgow Airport and British Islamism

So now an attempted suicide bombing at Glasgow Airport. The car rammed into the airport terminal contained gas cylinders and petrol, and one of the arrested occupants of the vehicle had a suicide belt.
^
It's not just London at risk from Islamist bombings. This is an attack on ordinary British people, in London it was those who dare to have fun late at night - people who would stone, rape and murder women who dare show their legs have no hesitation at murdering those who they see as sinners. In Glasgow, it was those who dare to go on a summer holiday.
^
Today there is an interesting article in the Sunday Times from Ed Husain. He points out that most British Muslims fail to distinguish between private belief in Islam, and Islamism's political objectives. As he says:
^
"Just as the IRA bombed and maimed, and Sinn Fein explained the motivations for mass murder, jihadists today plant car bombs and dispatch suicide bombers, while entryist Islamists from the Muslim Council of Britain and a host of other organisations explain their “legitimate grievances” to us. But unlike Sinn Fein’s demands, Islamist calls for the annihilation of Israel, overthrow of all Arab leaders, and changes in western culture cannot, and should not, be met. "
^
He points out that for some young Muslims in the UK (particularly men) there is a "them and us" mentality. The "them" being not only the police but "clubbers, Jews, gay people, Christians, atheists and even moderate Muslims who reject the extremists’ war call".
^
He also says it is telling that US Muslims are at the forefront of reporting Islamists in that country, but they are hidden, protected and rarely reported here in the UK. This is partly due to the British Muslim communities being often tightly bound together. Dobbing anyone in could be dangerous. Emigrating to the USA is also more an explicit acceptance of the values of western civilisation. The UK for too long has been timid about its core values - which are fundamentally the same as the USA - freedom, individualism, tolerance, liberal democracy.
^
I heard on the BBC about how some young Muslim men in the UK go through a crisis of identity - raised by their family with conservative values, they then enjoy the temptations of liberal British society. This means young women who are sexually available. They then face their personal hypocrisy of despising that, despising their sisters who may also enjoy that society, and after they sate their appetite, feel like they have betrayed god and then want to attack the society that "seduced them into sin". They seek solace with Islam, and find a stream of Islamists more than willing to spread their poison of hate against western civilisation, blaming others for temptation.
^
Ed Husain was once associated with Islamist organisations and a former associate of convicted terrorist Dhiren Barot. He has written a book called The Islamist, telling of his journey to Islamism and back. He has received both bouquets and brickbats for his book, he has received a death threat for this and was advised not to call his local Police Station. This is because the relationship the police have with Islamic organisations in order to "represent Muslims" is leaky enough that his address details may leak to those who could do him harm. Some criticise him for supporting the war on terror and "neo-cons".
^
Well, you either fight those who want to kill us, or you don't. Islamism is not just about getting western military out of the Middle East, or the destruction of Israel, or the conversion of Muslim countries to be Islamist states - those on the left who wish to appease it, are appeasing those who would treat women as slaves, imprison gay and lesbian people and shut down free speech. It is time to defend why secular enlightenment western liberal democracies are morally superior to Islamist dark ages authoritarian nightmares. It is because of reason.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Attempted bombing in London

In the early hours this morning a Mercedes was intercepted in Haymarket containing gas cylinders and nails. Ambulance crew notified the Police after seeing smoke emitting from a car. The BBC has reported the car was driven erratically before crashing into a bin, and the driver running off.
^
Gordon Brown has clearly been granted a welcome by those who hate peace, liberal western civilisation and who worship violence.
^
As a result, half of Piccadilly Circus is closed, along with Piccadilly tube station and it will also be affecting the NZ High Commission.
^
so who is to blame?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

You don't own your body - the government does

Jim Anderton's proud announcement, like big daddy telling off all the children - that it's good for them and they wont be allowed party pills anymore, is utterly sickening. Not PC has so much of this right. It is immoral and it wont work.
^
You see the point to me is simple.
^
I own my body because I am an adult. As a result of that, I have the right to ingest whatever the hell I like. Think about it for a moment. If I forced you to ingest something, you'd be infuriated. What if I told you that you were not allowed to have that cake, or that drink, or whatever in your own home? Why does anyone else have the right to stop you putting anything into your body?
^
Ahhh.... you say, but what if taking that substance makes me reckless and likely to harm others. Well then, you should be responsible for your behaviour under the influence of that substance. Your employer probably has a condition of your employment contract that you don't turn up for work that way for safety reasons. However, it is your risk to take. Remember we allow people to drink alcohol, and taking a lot of sugar can also affect behaviour. You're an ADULT - you know, like Jim Ol Son - Great Commander of your bodily ingestion. Why does HE know better?
Ah.... you say, but this might be bad for me. Indeed, it might. In fact, most things you ingest can be bad for you. Swallow half a kilo of butter everyday and you might find your arteries harden up. Drink 20 litres of water a day and you might end up in hospital. Don't drink anything in a day, and you'll be listless and maybe constipated. Paint a room without opening windows, and you might find yourself feeling faint. The list is endless. Thousands of people have taken party pills and their health remains fine. Do you think you need Jim Anderton to tell you so?
So what IS this about. Quite simply, Anderton is on a personal crusade about drugs besides alcohol because of his family circumstances. He would rather criminalise those who take the substance and distribute it, than deal with the cultural reasons why some people act stupidly with certain drugs.
The National Party, ever the sellout to its principles of less government, more personal responsibility and more freedom, is jumping on this bandwagon because it hasn't the guts to stand up and say - hold on, prohibition doesn't work and it is immoral. Jacqui Dean said "The longer he has delayed, the more young people believe you need to take a pill to have a good time". How fucking patronising and ignorant? So she thinks that banning it will fix it? Nothing like the naive, and the head prefect attitude of wanting to make rules for the bad kids to have to follow or they'll be punished. THIS attitude shows so much that is still wrong with the National Party - no principle, kneejerk populist policy and virtually no objective assessment as to effectiveness, just bandwagon jumping.
^
The Greens have opposed this, maybe not entirely on principle, but they do get credit for getting this somewhat right.
^
So what will happen?
^
The price of BZP will go up substantially after it is banned, it will become a lot cooler and more exciting, and its quality will slip. Less parents will know their kids have taken it, and less people will admit to A & E that they took it, or tell doctors that they have. Some people will have their lives ruined by the Police, courts and prison system penalising them for having a good time or selling the means for others to do so. Oh, and you'll find gangs will get involved in selling it, and it will be sold with cannabis, crystal meth and the like - so BZP will truly become an entrance drug into a wider market of substances.
^
Brilliance, such short sighted brilliance.
^
I hope the families and friends of those who get ruined because the quality of BZP plummets and becomes more poisonous, or those who fear admitting to doctors they take it for fear of being prosecuted, or those prosecuted for the crime of putting something into their own bodies, go and thank Anderton, Jacqui Dean and the other fascists against personal freedom for repeating a failed policy. Can't the likes of them (and the MPs who will support it like the robots they are) leave peaceful people alone?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Blair years

The swearing in of Gordon Brown as British Prime Minister is seen by both the Labour left and the Tories as being positive.
^
The Labour left, feeling burnt by 10 years of Blair (forgetting they experienced 18 years of opposition in a row prior to Blair) is champing at the bit to have more government and more spending of other people's money, and backing off from the relationship with the USA, but happily going along with the growth of Brussels.
^
The Tories see Brown as less charismatic and less fleet in his speaking abilities compared with Blair, and easier to contrast with David Cameron. Unsurprisingly the Tories are calling for a general election, you know, like they never had when John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher.
^
Both, I believe, are wrong. However, before reflecting on what the Brown premiership might look like, it is worth considering the pluses and minuses of the Blair years:
^
POSITIVES
^
1. Amended Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution which once called for nationalisation of "the means of production, distribution, and exchange" to a far softer statement of belief in solidarity, and having power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few. In effect, he cauterised the Marxist wing of the Labour party.
2. Took a strong line against the warmongering Milosevic regime in Bosnia and Kosovo.
3. Stood side by side the USA in fighting Islamism and supporting the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein and Taliban dictatorships.
4. Granted independence to the Bank of England (albeit a Gordon Brown initiative).
5. Facilitated peace in Northern Ireland (not half helped by the withdrawal of much US private funding for the IRA though, and mitigated by the early release of out and out criminals).
6. Liberalisation of laws allowing civil partnerships, and other measures removing state barriers to treating gay/lesbian/transgender people on an equal basis.
7. Supporting more private provision of healthcare and education, including trust schools having far greater autonomy. A small step towards proving that state provisions doesn't satisfy everyone.
8. Introduction of tertiary tuition fees, at last rescuing most UK tertiary institutions from funding impoverishment and ongoing demand from those who are less than enthused about their studies.
9. Personal commitment, in general, to liberal democracy and the values of Enlightenment society, over Islamism.
^
NEGATIVES
^
1. Instituting a culture of spin, surrounding himself with advisors that end of providing filtered advice. Preferring style over substance.
2. Establishing the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies and Executives, helping to cement socialist government in both "countries", and the higher levels of state funding per capita for Wales and Scotland, relative to England- and the ongoing relative impoverishment of both as their economies rely more and more on the state.
3. Establishing the Greater London Authority and Mayoralty of London - another expensive layer of government in London, with an authoritarian Mayoral role. The result is that London has a lunatic leftwing Mayor hellbent on doing deals with dictators and penalising road transport more out of ideology less than economics.
4. Millenium Dome. Classic example of a big government project, too expensive and a white elephant for far too long.
5. Cash for honours, disgrace pure and simple. The word begins with "C".
6. Supporting the evangelical rise of environmental puritanism in the UK, with councils fining people for throwing away envelopes in rubbish bins as they walk out the front door or for NOT recycling material that may not even be recyclable in the first place. The biggest ethical crimes in the UK today could include flying, driving, not recycling newspapers and not buying fairtrade organic locally produced whatever!
7. ASBOs instead of genuine law and order. Allowing the Police to avoid protecting the public and prosecuting people effectively, and avoiding building enough prisons, instead giving people orders to not do things because they are anti-social. A distraction from core government responsibility, and as a result prisons are overcrowded because of inadequate provision, and also due to ....
8. Inexorable growth in nanny state laws that prohibit more and more personal behaviour, and allow more and more state monitoring of individuals with little accountability, culminating in...
9. Support for national ID cards - the tool of the authoritarian state, to make the state's business of taxing, subsidising, regulating and compelling people more efficient. Britain has more CCTV cameras per head of population than any other country.
10. Signing off the new EU Treaty which grows the Commission and role of the EU over the UK. Selling out some sovereignty for no good reason, without a mandate to do so.
^
I probably could never have voted for a Blair government, had I been allowed to vote here. However, by and large, the Blair government's record is briefly summarised as being:
- Status quo on economic management (following Major);
- Pro-Western civilisation on international policy;
- Mildly submissive to the EU bureaucratic/ Franco-Italian-German agenda of big government;
- Mildly more market in social policy;
- More authoritarian in terms of civil liberties, individual freedoms and approach to law and order (except where it counts).
^
I could say he has failed miserably to confront a wide range of problems in Britain, but would John Major have done much better? Unlikely. Will Gordon Brown? Highly unlikely. Would David Cameron? Well, except for perhaps more market in social policy, taking a tougher stance on the EU and opposing ID cards, there isn't much to choose from.

Greens and communists

So Frogblog is cheering like a groupie at the visit by Angela Davis, which appears to be funded by the New Zealand taxpayer. Maia is one of the biggest cheerleaders for her as well.
^
What is she about? Well Frogblog linked to Wikipedia about this woman, who has her place in history because she was charged as an accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping and homicide. This was because a gun registered in her name was used by the brother of a man in prison to enter a courtroom and take a judge hostage in order to get his brother freed. The judge was murdered by his captors, two of the captors were killed in a police shootout. She was acquitted of all charges and pursued a life of political activism, which until recently included the US Communist Party. She stood as Vice Presidential candidate for the Communist Party in 1980 and 1984.
^
Understandably, growing up in Alabama she experienced the rampant racism of the 1960s and 1970s, but she turned to communism for intellectual solace. As a student she found appeal in communism, gained her Masters in San Diego before crossing the Iron Curtain to get her Ph.D at Humboldt University of Berlin, East Berlin that is. Humboldt was a true communist university till the end. It was run by the Socialist Unity Party (east German communists "by rigorously selecting students according to their conformity to the party line, made sure that no democratic opposition could grow on its university campuses. Its Communist-selected students and scholars did not participate in the East German democratic civil rights movements of 1989 to a considerable degree"). A training ground for the bureaurats who liked the world in the Orwellian oppressive superstate of the GDR.
^
In fact, her view of dissidents to these suffocating police states is noted in Wikipedia:
^
"Russian dissident and Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn criticized Davis' sympathy for the Soviet Union in a speech he delivered to the AFL-CIO on July 9, 1975 in New York City, claiming hypocrisy in her attitude toward prisoners under Communist governments. According to Solzhenitsyn, a group of Czech dissidents “addressed an appeal to her: `Comrade Davis, you were in prison. You know how unpleasant it is to sit in prison, especially when you consider yourself innocent. You have such great authority now. Could you help our Czech prisoners? Could you stand up for those people in Czechoslovakia who are being persecuted by the state?' Angela Davis answered: 'They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.'
^
Bitch!
^
How despicable to be so callous towards those wanting the freedoms she took for granted in the USA. Indeed, the fact she campaigned for the Communist Party indicates clearly she didn't believe in political or individual freedom, she believed in communist revolution that would entrench a single party, with one truth, one source for media and imprisoning anyone who disagreed.
^
The main reason the Greens are excited about her is because she supports the abolition of prisons. All those rapists really should have their freedom shouldn't they?
^
Now to be fair Davis left the Communist Party USA because it supported the failed August putsch against Gorbachev and also supported the Warsaw Pact (funny, because she did too for so long), and founded the Committees_of_Correspondence_for_Democracy_and_Socialism. Nevertheless, she still holds up Cuba as a great example of democracy and socialism working together (no doubt forgetting those Cubans in prisons for their political activities and the complete lack of freedom for Cubans to set up private organisations without state approval).
^
However, if Davis has repudiated her sympathy towards the USSR and its former satellites, then good. However, she should be held to account for her past sycophancy and lack of compassion to the victims of the communist nightmare. What sickens me is FrogBlog's complete evasion of the truth. It said:
^
-"A woman who faced capital charges in the USA three times for her work for justice" Or being an accessory to kidnapping and murder, how about that? Or is it ok to demand the freedom of some men by kidnapping and shooting a judge at point blank range?
- "but also her warm humanity that really shone through". Maybe she has it now, but she shows little towards Cuban political dissidents or indeed showed none at all to Czech dissidents. Maybe she'd like to visit Prague and apologise, given that the Czechs have freedom no thanks to her.
- "She spoke of the enormous international solidarity of progressive people that has been demonstrated at times". Progressive meaning - people who want to replace one form of statism with another. It's a code word for socialist.
- "She also pointed out that women are the fastest growing section of the prison population". Couldn't be because they are committing more crimes could it? No! It's the capitalist industrial complex oppressing them.
- "Prisons, she said, are a dumping ground for people, as a means of control and maintenance of economic domination and conceptually, as a way of disposing of the unacceptable face of capitalist society" Or a place to put a lot of dangerous people who kill, rape, assault and defraud others. Not saying there is room for removing those who commit victimless crimes, but to say that violent offenders are the "unacceptable face of capitalist society" is actually true. They are unacceptable, and why not?
^
Now I am not saying that she is wrong about many points, such as the role of prisons in not rehabilitating, and the uselessness of a single minded approach to law and order, but there is a point for prisons as preventive detention. To keep bad people from committing more offences. Angela Davis has some useful points to make, but she is no angel - her past support for murderous totalitarian regimes is despicable, and I am disappointed nobody seems to have asked her what her views are of that time now. I am certain Keith Locke regrets his cheering on of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, you think the Greens might have learnt, or is it ok to have friends who believed in dictatorships?
^
UPDATE: This website has a fuller quote from Solzhenitsyn's book. He noted "Although she didn't have too difficult a time in this country's jails, she came to recuperate in Soviet resorts."
^
You're either stupid or immoral to think the Soviet Union was a more moral system than the USA.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The shine comes off Cameron the unprincipled

After a honeymoon run, and on the verge of the beginning of the Brown premiership, it is becoming clear that the David Cameron remaking of the Conservative Party is no longer looking that attractive to voters.
^
David Cameron, as you may recall, has been rebranding the Tories towards the centre, his top priorities being the NHS (as if that model isn't fundamentally flawed) and the environment - advocating taxes on aviation for example. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown increased tax on aviation, but also reduced the middle rate of income tax by 2% in his latest budget. Cameron has been unable to commit to tax cuts at all, terrified that he can't defend it on principle (how can you defend something when principles seem so easy to sell out) .
^
None of this was helped by the grammar school debacle, with the party having two different policies in concert!
^
Now Tory MP Quentin Davies has defected to Labour. I hardly approve of course, given his constituents voted for a Conservative MP - had they wanted Labour they would have voted Labour. Nevertheless, according to the BBC Davies made some very good points about Cameron:
^
"Under your leadership the Conservative Party appears to me to have ceased collectively to believe in anything, or to stand for anything.... It has no bedrock. It exists on shifting sands. A sense of mission has been replaced by a PR agenda....Although you have many positive qualities you have three, superficiality, unreliability and an apparent lack of any clear convictions, which in my view ought to exclude you from the position of national leadership to which you aspire and which it is the presumed purpose of the Conservative Party to achieve"
^
Indeed, although why Davies thinks Labour is any better is unclear. All I can say is that more points of principle seem to come from Blair and Brown than from Cameron anyday, which shows you how much of a vapid marketing exercise politics now is.
^
Brown is perceived, quite rightly, as being strong. He might seem like a grumpy old sod, but he also speaks when he has something reasonably intelligent to say.
^
Don't get me wrong, I'm no friend of the Brown administration, it has failed miserably in its core goal of law and order, with overcrowded prisons and moves to defer prison sentences and encourage some early releases. This is when there is someone under 18 stabbed to death every week in Britain. Money has been poured into public spending, often with derisory return and local authorities continue to be the new generation of fascist enterprises, keen to regulating and prosecute to ensure people follow the religion of recycling. Meanwhile, Labour signs up to a new EU treaty, which increases the role of Brussels in British affairs and continues to expand the bureaucracy of what should simply be a glorified free trade agreement. There is nothing much to celebrate from Labour, at best it has slowly taken some of Thatcher's reforms further, and in some instances backwards. It is distinctively uninterested in personal freedom, and uninterested in challenging the cultural wasteland of underclass worshipping Brits.
^
The point is, the Tories are probably a slight improvement - but how can you trust political prostitutes who will sell everything they once stood for, for power. This is what happens when you're ashamed about freedom and capitalism, and don't know why they are both practical and moral.
^
David Cameron has done a bit of good for the Tories, taking it out of the gentrified grey haired old bigoted white men brigade, ready to pass judgment on non Anglo-Saxon immigrants, gay couples and people of other religions (or none, good god!). However, he hasn't stood up for anything that couldn't also be seen in Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
^
I wonder what other political party, and especially leader does that? and I wonder how long that honeymoon will last?

Video on demand entertainment on Air NZ Trans Tasman/Pacific flights

Well about time really. Thankfully the government is a passive shareholder in Air NZ, otherwise it might regard the $50 million investment in installing individual on-demand entertainment TV screens for all classes on the Boeing 767s and Airbus A320s as a waste of money.

^

The 767s fly all services to Cairns, Honolulu, Perth, and Tahiti, and some from Auckland to Apia, Nandi, Rarotonga, Nuku'alofa, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney, and extensions of flights from Apia, Nandi and Rarotonga to/from Los Angeles (the long slow way from Auckland to LA).

^

The A320s fly all services from Wellington and Christchurch to Australia and the Pacific, and from Auckland to Noumea and Port Vila, and some from Auckland to Adelaide, Apia, Brisbane, Melbourne, Nandi, Norfolk Island, Nuku'alofa, Rarotonga and Sydney.

^

Finally NZ can compete a bit better with the likes of Emirates across the Tasman, only the odd international 737 flight (usually to Niue and Norfolk Island, but occasionally elsewhere) will be without any decent entertainment. What the report doesn't note is that this means new seats on the 767s in both classes.

^
On top of that, shortly you'll be allowed to use Air NZ Airpoints to upgrade on flights by other Star Alliance carriers that have joined the Star Alliance upgrade scheme. They are:
- ANA (Japan);
- Asiana (South Korea);
- Austrian Airlines;
- LOT (Poland);
- Lufthansa;
- Singapore Airlines;
- Swiss;
- Thai;
- TAP (Portugal); and
- United.
^
I'll wait and see how many airpoints dollars I need to upgrade to first class on Singapore Airlines!
^
UPDATE: It appears the Boeing 767s will be losing business class in favour of premium economy class - hmmm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rushdie knighthood provokes murderous talk

Salman Rushdie gets a knighthood, and the self appointed spokesmen (it's always men) of the Muslim world demand "justice" because they have been offended "If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified" said Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister (even having one of those is ridiculous and tells you how much freedom of religion and religious impartiality Pakistan has).
^
Funny how a man writing a novel creates talk of murder, but this, this, this, and this don't. You figure out what values that culture has that puts being offended ahead of the systematic abuse and subjugation of women.
^
Salman Rushdie has had to put up with many years of have a death threat hanging over him, which some Muslims condemned, but few did anything to confront those who threatened him. He is a symbol of free speech, enlightenment values and secularism, against the bloody minded caveman like murderers who would kill him and all of us who refuse to submit to their chosen religion. Britain has nothing to apologise for granting him a knighthood. Lord Ahmed who condemned the knighthood could have at least respected Rushdie's right to free speech and his bravery against those offended by his literature. As is all too often the case, others are expected to censor themselves to not offend Islam, but they are not.
^
Many Muslims need to go through the enlightenment and separation of church and state, instead of continually showing that they are stuck in a medieval era.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nanny State UK on breasts

According to the BBC soon in England it could be legal to breastfeed in public. Fine, no problem with that in public spaces like parks or on the street. However, it is also proposed that it be allowed on public transport, in shops and in cafes!! So Gordon Ramsay will have to put up with breast feeding in Claridges perhaps?
Why?
This is because some mothers fear being stopped, so they don't do it and this is a "public health" problem. Well I'm sorry, it is not a reason to pass a law that takes away property rights from shopowners, cafe owners and public transport operators?
Why doesn't a cafe owner have the right to stop a lactating mother from feeding her child? Whose bloody business is it in the first place?
^
What's next? Should it be that if I feel like a wank I can whip it out, get some relief (presumably ensuring I don't make a mess) and put it back in again? After all, it is only natural (and please religious conservatives, don't tell me it isn't, because if I don't have a sexual partner by body will do most of this on its own anyway).
^
What sort of peculiar law makes it compulsory to allow someone to carry out bodily functions on private property? Ask the Labour government, and ask the Tories why they wont stand up against this nonsense.
^
It's simple, because for too many in Britain the answer to a problem is make it compulsory or ban it - kind of like the Green Party in NZ.
^
Of course to be complete, I should point out I don't care if women breast feed in front of me or not, it doesn't bother me. It bothers me that if I own a shop, I couldn't set rules that say you can't do it.

Bill English provides hope?

With Bill reported by RNZ as saying that large numbers of taxpayers should only pay a top rate of 20%, there may be hope yet that the 39 and 33% rates are either cut or the thresholds raised sky high. Of course I'd go one step further and say 20% should be the top rate.
^
Yes there are the usual groans from the left that either part of the "punish the successful" brigade (because people earning more than $38,000 p.a. are rich and they do so by milking the blood of children), or that it would be damaging. You see, they believe the state, which produces nothing itself (it does own producers, but it has to keep its sticky hands off them for them to be successful), is efficient and when it takes your money (takes it, remember that, it was never asked. If it stuffs up the best you can expect is a chance every three years to tick a couple of boxes in the hope that you out of over 2.5 million people can fire those responsible, but they never get to compensate you for the stuff up), it has that "right".
^
Imagine if a company required you to pay for everything it sold, by force, and the most you could do is vote at a shareholders' meeting where you and everyone else had one vote to vote in or out one person out of the 120 or so that decide how the company is run. If the company's services were inadequate, didn't meet your needs, or the company paid for goods and services you were ethically opposed to, the company spent money on telling you what to do, and absolutely none of those 120 or so directors could ever be imprisoned or fined for misspending funds, breaking fiduciary responsibilities to the shareholders (promises), or destroying the value of the company, or being negligent.
^
It's called government. Where people are voted by you to take your money and spend it on what they think is best for you. Where after taking a fair proportion of your earnings, when it doesn't provide the healthcare you want, doesn't provide the education you want for your children, is not responsive to you as a victim of crime, and spends large sums for people to breed, make music videos and tell others what to do, the response basically is "it's a democracy, it's what you pay for civilisation".
^
Only politicians, public servants and the starry eyed state worshippers of the left could defend a system that makes them as unaccountable as possible for spending other people's money and failing to provide what people expect.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Putin's week (by Hugo Rifkind)

From the Sunday Times, this is just funny... take this excerpt (the first person is Putin):
^
"“Yo, Blair,” I say, to be sure he realises where he stands. “I am sick of your patronising, yes? I am sick of your excluding Russia from the cosy club of Western capitalism. No longer, my friend. We demand access to your institutions!”
^
“Now come on,” says Blair. “We let you into the G8. And Eurovision. What more can you want? Not Nato?”
^
“Ha!” I say, scowling as I realise how much nicer his suit is than mine. “Maybe I will run for the deputy leadership of your Labour Party, yes? Impeccable left-wing credentials, ha?”
“That is ridiculous,” says Blair, adding, “Gosh! Nice sandals.”
^
“Boom!” I say, darkly, and then wander off, to mutter combative things about whales to the man from Canada, and freak out Angela Merkel by inviting her to lunch.
"

Albania welcomes Bush as a friend. Do you wonder why?




The first time I had ever heard of Albania was when National Geographic magazine visited it, in the early 1980s. It profiled a country that was, by and large, medieval. People went around in oxcarts, technology seemed to have passed it by, and it had what was, on the outside, a quaint insular appearance.

^

Albania had no private cars and hence no traffic lights. It exported hydro electricity, from plants developed by the Chinese (internal demand for electricity was very low). Shops were open short hours and the range of consumer goods available was very limited. Whilst traditionally Muslim, religion had been banned in 1967. Mosques and the handful of churches were converted into secular buildings, like a basketball court, or museum. News media was very heavily censored, televisions rare, but none were allowed to listen to radio broadcasts from other countries. The University of Tirana (established in 1957) had no law school, because "there is no need for lawyers in a country run by the people". Possession of religious texts was a crime, as was art that didn't follow "socialist realism" and dancing "Western style". There were some notable achievements, literacy had dramatically increased as free compulsory education was introduced and law and order was little problem, the blood feuds that haunted rural Albania largely halted. The simple reason why is because a police state had been established. Albania was the poorest country in Europe, and the most hardline police state.

^

That Albania eschewed relations with almost the entire world. The USA, UK were considered evil capitalist powers, and their allies little better (although there was a modicum of trade with Greece and Italy). Yugoslavia was a hated traitor of socialism, and Albania officially feared invasion constantly (shades of Orwell's 1984 for certain). The USSR and Warsaw Pact were also hated and feared. No diplomatic relations existed with Moscow, Belgrade or even Beijing by this time. Its Chinese ally had lost its way after Deng Xiaoping started opening up, so Albania was left having minimal ties with some Western countries (and flights were resumed with Belgrade, the only air route).

^

Albanians remained almost totally isolated from the rest of the world, whilst a police state was maintained within. The predominantly rural society continued to stand still, whilst using its ample hydro electricity to broadcast high powered shortwave radio broadcasts worldwide in over a dozen languages - as Radio Tirana sought to be the last beacon of socialism in Europe and maybe even the world. Albanians could not travel internally without internal passports, besides even the infrastructure was hardly up to many people moving on dirt roads and railways patched together since their Soviet and Chinese friends had long departed.

^

That Albania was the creation of Enver Hoxha, a ruthless communist who admired and followed Stalin's lead. That was why he repudiated Tito, then the USSR and China in turn. Hoxha died in 1985, but it took six years before his successor Ramiz Alia finally gave up the police state. The fall of communism in neighbouring countries, particular Romania gave courage for small groups of Albanians to start protesting and resisting. Radio Tirana had cut back its broadcasts dramatically (from once being the fifth largest shortwave broadcaster in the world).

^

The road to freedom for Albanians was not easy. The vacuum left by the end of a hardline police state was easily filled by organised crime, and the pyramid savings schemes of the late 1990s saw many Albanians cheated of what little wealth they had.

^

Albania is not the poorest country in Europe anymore. That title is unfortunately held by Moldova, which has been badly affected by the split of the Soviet Union denying it that guaranteed market, and the expansion of the EU, denying it alternative markets for its (primarily) agricultural products in eastern Europe (that beloved Common Agricultural Policy shafting the poor again). Albania has also enjoyed substantial foreign investment, with infrastructure improving remarkably, and new manufacturing industries appearing. Many have left, crime has certainly increased, and very sadly blood feuds have re-emerged. Albania has a long way to go. However, it is free.

^

So having gone through Stalinism for over 40 years, Albanians look West, even though many are Muslims (now that religion is legal again). Albanians do not look to Islamists, and they do not look to Marxism. So as the Times reports they have welcomed GW Bush as leader of the free world, the world that most of them had shut out from their eyes.

^

Oh and you probably have heard of the most famous Albanian. Mother Theresa of Calcutta (although born in what is now the state of "Macedonia" the former Yugoslav Republic). She allied herself with Enver Hoxha (among other mass murderers), which Christopher Hitchins reported on around ten years ago.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Why freedom?

I get asked from time to time why I am a libertarian, why I believe in a lot less government, why I criticise those who believe laws, subsidies and taxes are the answers to problems. Those on the left criticise that it is "uncaring", as if the only way to care is for the state to do it, those on the right criticise it as being "naive", as if you can't trust people to make the right decisions for themselves.
^
The simplest answer as to why I believe in freedom, is that I have a brain, a consciousness and the ability to make the best decisions for my body, life and property. I respect the rights of others to do the same, and I believe that is way everyone should be. I'm an adult, and I resent other adults thinking they know what is best for me.
^
So when the state takes between a third and a half of what I earn, I expect either what it does to be done to a high standard (after all I can't switch to a competitor easily, unless you mean other countries and most of them aren't much better). I expect the law enforcement system to work, to focus on people who do harm, keep them from doing harm to others, and ignore those that don't. I expect the services I am forced to pay for to be first class, and to meet my needs, otherwise why bother?
^
I do believe state welfare should be phased out, but that is hardly heartless. State welfare has provided a bridge for some, but for many it has sapped their will to do better. Worse, it has become a tool for electoral bribes, with Working for Families being the latest example of trying to bind most families to the state. It is far better for the state to not take any tax from those on low incomes and have a flat tax of every dollar earnt about a threshold of, say, $10000. Voluntary charity is far more caring, moral and effective. I don't believe there is a right to a living paid for by everyone else, what if everyone claimed that right?
^
I don't believe that the state does a good job as a health or education provider, or that all children should have similar education. Children are as diverse as their parents, and parents generally know best what education their kids should have, as most parents love their children more than anyone or anything. Education should truly impart a spectrum of philosophies, a respect and appreciation for success - something that our current youth culture appears to denigrate especially amongst boys, especially amongst Maori boys. It is a damning indictment on post-modernist education that schools look to accommodate the tall poppy syndrome by catering for the average, instead of nurturing the tall poppies. I'm not interested in the average, very little of the difference between life today and life one thousand years ago is because of people being average.
^
Health care is also diverse, and the system should incentivise people to live healthily, not through taxes or health campaigns that treat people like children.
^
Most of all I oppose people who think they have the right to the property of others, unearnt, without choice. It could be those calling for unbundling Telecom's local loop, or any lobbyist wanting money from the government for their pet project.
^
The fundamental measure of civilisation is the extent to which human beings are allowed to make choices, to use their minds to decide for themselves, on everything. As long as one human being does not initiate force against another, then they are civilised. Violence is the tool of the caveman. Using the state to apply the violence for you is no more civilised, it is the velvet glove over the fist. Ask yourself next time when you wish the government would do something (other than law and order and defence), whether you'd do it yourself, or whether you'd like the government to do it to you too.

Friday, June 08, 2007

How the US views political freedom today

GW Bush is undoubtedly one of the most international loathed figures, it is trendy in many circles to despise him, consider him stupid. He is not above criticism, I would strongly condemn him on many quarters, not least his own promotion of an evangelical agenda. However, his recent speech in Prague deserves a 9.5 out of 10. Nitpickers may pick, but there is little to criticise in this. (hat tip Lindsay Perigo).
^
Take some highlights:
^
"The communists had an imperial ideology that claimed to know the directions of history. But in the end, it was overpowered by ordinary people who wanted to live their lives, and worship their God, and speak the truth to their children. The communists had the harsh rule of Brezhnev, and Honecker, and Ceausescu. But in the end, it was no match for the vision of Walesa and Havel, the defiance of Sakharov and Sharansky, the resolve of Reagan and Thatcher, and fearless witness of John Paul. From this experience, a clear lesson has emerged: Freedom can be resisted, and freedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied."
^
"In truth, 9/11 was evidence of a much broader danger -- an international movement of violent Islamic extremists that threatens free people everywhere. The extremists' ambition is to build a totalitarian empire that spans all current and former Muslim lands, including parts of Europe. Their strategy to achieve that goal is to frighten the world into surrender through a ruthless campaign of terrorist murder...Like the Cold War, it's an ideological struggle between two fundamentally different visions of humanity. On one side are the extremists, who promise paradise, but deliver a life of public beatings and repression of women and suicide bombings.On the other side are huge numbers of moderate men and women -- including millions in the Muslim world -- who believe that every human life has dignity and value that no power on Earth can take away. "
^
"Expanding freedom is more than a moral imperative -- it is the only realistic way to protect our people in the long run. Years ago, Andrei Sakharov warned that a country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respond to the rights of its neighbors. History proves him right. Governments accountable to their people do not attack each other. Democracies address problems through the political process, instead of blaming outside scapegoats. Young people who can disagree openly with their leaders are less likely to adopt violent ideologies. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support extremists -- they will join in defeating them."
^
"America calls on every nation that stifles dissent to end its repression, to trust its people, and to grant its citizens the freedom they deserve.
^
"There are many dissidents who couldn't join us because they are being unjustly imprisoned or held under house arrest. I look forward to the day when a conference like this one include Alexander Kozulin of Belarus, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Oscar Elias Biscet of Cuba, Father Nguyen Van Ly of Vietnam, Ayman Nour of Egypt."
^
"We recently created a Human Rights Defenders Fund, which provides grants for the legal defense and medical expenses of activists arrested or beaten by repressive governments. I strongly support the Prague Document that your conference plans to issue, which states that "the protection of human rights is critical to international peace and security." And in keeping with the goals of that declaration, I have asked Secretary Rice to send a directive to every U.S. ambassador in an un-free nation: Seek out and meet with activists for democracy. Seek out those who demand human rights."
^
"People living in tyranny need to know they are not forgotten. North Koreans live in a closed society where dissent is brutally suppressed, and they are cut off from their brothers and sisters to the south. The Iranians are a great people who deserve to chart their own future, but they are denied their liberty by a handful of extremists whose pursuit of nuclear weapons prevents their country from taking its rightful place amongst the thriving. The Cubans are desperate for freedom -- and as that nation enters a period of transition, we must insist on free elections and free speech and free assembly. And in Sudan, freedom is denied and basic human rights are violated by a government that pursues genocide against its own citizens. My message to all those who suffer under tyranny is this: We will never excuse your oppressors. We will always stand for your freedom"
^
"The United States is also using our influence to urge valued partners like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to move toward freedom. These nations have taken brave stands and strong action to confront extremists, along with some steps to expand liberty and transparency. Yet they have a great distance still to travel. The United States will continue to press nations like these to open up their political systems, and give greater voice to their people. Inevitably, this creates tension. But our relationships with these countries are broad enough and deep enough to bear it. As our relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold War prove, America can maintain a friendship and push a nation toward democracy at the same time.
^
"We're also applying that lesson to our relationships with Russia and China. The United States has strong working relationships with these countries. Our friendship with them is complex. In the areas where we share mutual interests, we work together. In other areas, we have strong disagreements. China's leaders believe that they can continue to open the nation's economy without opening its political system. We disagree. In Russia, reforms that were once promised to empower citizens have been derailed, with troubling implications for democratic development. Part of a good relationship is the ability to talk openly about our disagreements. So the United States will continue to build our relationships with these countries -- and we will do it without abandoning our principles or our values"
^
"Some say that ending tyranny means "imposing our values" on people who do not share them, or that people live in parts of the world where freedom cannot take hold. That is refuted by the fact that every time people are given a choice, they choose freedom. We saw that when the people of Latin America turned dictatorships into democracies, and the people of South Africa replaced apartheid with a free society, and the people of Indonesia ended their long authoritarian rule. We saw it when Ukrainians in orange scarves demanded that their ballots be counted. We saw it when millions of Afghans and Iraqis defied the terrorists to elect free governments. At a polling station in Baghdad, I was struck by the words of an Iraqi -- he had one leg -- and he told a reporter, "I would have crawled here if I had to." Was democracy -- I ask the critics, was democracy imposed on that man? Was freedom a value he did not share? The truth is that the only ones who have to impose their values are the extremists and the radicals and the tyrants. "
^
I'd like to think the next US President could speak of the same and believe in the same.

20 years nuclear free and no better off

The long and sorry tale of the fourth Labour government's eventual prohibition on nuclear arms and nuclear powered vessels says a lot about the internal tensions in that government at the time. David Lange capitulated to the far left of the Labour party, which for reasons partly of hysteria, but mostly the insidious anti-Americanism infecting their minds, saw nuclear powered ships banned and even a banning of conventionally powered ships that the US did not categorically deny had nuclear weapons.
The background to this is something the left today is in denial about. The USS Buchanan was conventionally powered, had no means to deploy nuclear weapons, so the likelihood it would carry nuclear weapons was fairly obviously nil. Nevertheless, the US had a broad "neither confirm nor deny" policy, for obvious strategic reasons. However, the shrill harpies of the left (and it was Margaret Wilson, Helen Clark, Ann Hercus and others) didn't think that was good enough - they cared next to nothing about relations with the US. This implied a moral equivalency between the US and the USSR, which is nothing short of disgusting.
Some see it as a coming of age, and believe there was some sort of broad support by "that generation" for the nuclear ban. In fact, it split the nation and I wasn't supportive of it. Even though the Cold War saw many actions by the West that were difficult to defend morally (support for fascist dictators against communist ones), the fundamental point was that the Soviet Union and its empire was expansionist and evil. Only by denying how evil it was, how utterly oppressive, life destroying, authoritarian and anti-reason that system was, could someone see that deterring its military aggression was immoral. Most of those who now live in the EU, but who until recently were part of the Warsaw Pact see this. The supposed liberal credentials of some on the left who turned a blind eye to this must be questioned.
^
The Green Party press release on this shows clearly how anti-Western the anti-nuclear movement is. Keith Locke said:
^
"In fact, George W Bush is escalating the arms race with the Star Wars weapons programme and his nuclear missile shield, while the British government is spending billions on a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines. Nuclear Free New Zealand shouldn't shrink from criticising existing nuclear states for further developing their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems"
^
What about India and Pakistan Keith? What about Iran refusing to accept IAEA inspections? What about North Korea, a brutal dictatorship dedicated to wiping out the South Korean government, now holding nuclear weapons? What about China, itself an authoritarian one-party state?
^
The truth is that the anti-nuclear campaigners wanted the West to disarm unilaterally. Some thought naively that in some sort of John Lennon moment, the USSR and China would also lay down their arms (even though they were more than willing to execute citizens who disagreed with them), but others didn't really give a damn.
^
Without nuclear deterrence, there is little doubt that North Korea would have sparked a second Korean War (it did start the first). There is also little doubt that the USSR would have been more aggressively expansionist (think it wasn't? Remember Afghanistan).
^
As ACT's Heather Roy has pointed out, the ban on nuclear propulsion was largely motivated by dangers that are imagined rather than real. Indeed, the Somers Report (dismissed wholeheartedly by Labour) points out how the US naval fleet emits less radiation than Auckland hospital does in a year. The nuclear propulsion ban is irrational and childish. Rational debate on this is almost impossible, as many on the left don't want it, and take an approach to risk management that the Greens love - prove it is safe. Well, on that basis nobody should ever use motorised transport, or eat almost anything.
^
Phil Goff's naive press release (honestly does he believe this crap? He's smarter than that) calls for worldwide nuclear disarmament. The simple truths are:
- Some countries will not disarm, even if others will. It would be foolish for our allies (US, UK and France) to disarm unilaterally, while other states that are not allies wont (China, Russia, North Korea).
- Verification of nuclear disarmament is impossible with dictatorial regimes, so any commitments cannot be confirmed independently. In other words, while Russia, China and Iran are authoritarian and non-transparent regimes, any agreement to disarm cannot be trusted.
- The ability to manufacture nuclear weapons will never go away.
^
In other words, until the End of History IS true, unilateral or multilateral disarmament by Western countries and Israel, of their nuclear deterrents is very unwise. If most countries co-existed peacefully without aggressive intent, without wanting to destroy other governments (like Iran, North Korea, Russia and China all do to greater or lesser extents), then nuclear weapons would be redundant. It wont happen because a peaceful country that threatens no one bans its allies from visiting with their vessels.
^
The number of nuclear weapons in the world declined significantly after New Zealand banned nuclear weapons/nuclear powered ships. You'd have to be mentally unhinged to believe the two events are linked. The reason it happened was because the USSR dismantled Marxism-Leninism, let go of its oppressive empire in eastern Europe and no longer threatened Western Europe, the USA and its Asian allies. Russia, the USA, France and the UK have all cut their arsenals. The USA and Russia by over half. It was Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush senior, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin that did most for reducing nuclear arsenals
^
New Zealand can claim not one iota of credit for that.

The abolition of sedition

^
"The Government introduced a Bill to Parliament today to abolish New Zealand's sedition laws. The Crimes (Repeal of Seditious Offences) Amendment Bill was introduced by Justice Minister Mark Burton who also tabled the Government's response to the Law Commission's report eforming the Law of Sedition.
^
The Bill will repeal and not replace sections 81 to 85 of the Crimes Act 1961, which sets out the seditious offences.
^
"The sedition provisions infringe on the principle of freedom of expression and have the potential for abuse," Mark Burton said.
^
"The Government agrees with the Law Commission's finding that the present law of sedition attacks the democratic value of free speech for no adequate public reason.""
^
Wonderful stuff, repealing law and not replacing it. A (rare) step forward in individual freedom, and I hope all parties in Parliament support it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The real cause of African poverty

The Ayn Rand Institute has an excellent press release describing the true moral status of the claims of those who want the G8 to bail out Africa's poverty. Africa is not poor because we made it so.
^
It says:
^
"Africa is poor because it is rife with bloody tribalism and superstition--ideas that in the Dark Ages kept the Western world as poor, if not poorer, than today's Africa. If aid advocates were genuinely concerned with helping Africans, they would campaign for political and economic freedom, for individualism, reason and capitalism, for the ideas necessary to achieve prosperity."
^
Indeed, but what happens when Tony Blair meets Thabo Mbeke, a practitioner of superstition and backer (by deed if not word) of the murdering destructive Robert Mugabe? He says very little. South Africa is slowly but surely sliding down the path that destroyed Zimbabwe and did little for the rest of Africa. Talk of promoting property rights, individual freedom and rights is seen as "culturally inappropriate", when it is fundamental to human development, growth and prosperity.
^
Reason will save Africa, superstition, ethnic squabbling and corrupt kleptocracies will continue to milk Western aid for the benefit of few, whilst the majority scratch out a living.
^
Similarly, removing barriers to free trade to and from Africa (which means the West opening up and Africa opening up) will greatly reduce costs of doing business in Africa and open markets to African goods and services.
^
Most of those who say they care for Africa only demand money, money and more money, ignoring the families of African politicians who jet into Heathrow to go shopping at Harrods, staying in 5 star hotels. Wiping debt, only for new debt to be borrowed. Why not? It will be wiped again. As the Ayn Rand Institute points out:
^
"advocates barrage wealthy nations with reproaches and accusations of stinginess. Such abuse is necessary to induce the unearned guilt which impels Western leaders to do penance by sacrificing billions more in aid."
^
There is nothing wrong with private aid, donations through voluntary agencies who do genuine benevolent good work in such things as disease prevention, installing wells, education programmes and the like - directly helping those in need. However, the agenda that should be pursued should be primarily:
- Liberalise trade. The West can open up markets and stop subsiding exports into other markets that African countries cannot compete with;
- Isolate brutal regimes. Don't supply intergovernmental aid to those that do not reform, treat them with contempt and starve them of aid, debt and arms, so they can no longer persecute their people or live the high life off of them;
- Promote friendly relations with those who do work towards less corruption, transparent and independent judicial systems, enforcement of property rights and the advancement of reason.

She said the "n" word

^
Channel 4 is obviously very nervous.
^
On the side, I find it sad because Emily stated that she values education above anything else, and appears quite bright and articulate, and quite hot. Charley on the other hand is the perfect example of a parasitical nobody, unemployed living off of the income of her premier league footballer cousin who makes sure she can buy what she wants and goes to all the right parties. She is completely image obsessed and thinks she is special because she meets celebrities.
^
Here is a summary of the contestants, and seriously, most of them are not worth watching, except of course there is one man and (now) ten women, six of whom he could only even vaguely be interested in, probably one seriously (and she thinks Victoria Beckham is a role model!).

Helen Clark seeking the Pacific Islander vote

Just over a month ago someone very close to me passed away. He worked for many years in Pacific Island communities, working and living in the Pacific, and knew it well. He was a long serving teacher, Justice of the Peace, and known well and respected in various communities, Roman Catholic and Jewish. He worked long and hard hours, enjoying both teaching and his small business dealing in fine arts. Indeed, as a teacher he inspired several thousands over the years, some of whom are now working all over the world. He was a generous man, independently minded, well spoken, but also did not tolerate rudeness or those who wouldn’t take responsibility for themselves. He enjoyed a whisky, loved good food including steak, liked his toast hot fresh and dripping with butter. Indeed, he enjoyed a smoke in social circles.
*
However, Helen Clark didn’t go to his funeral, thankfully. He would have hated it, since she didn’t know him, and he despised her politics. However, he did a lot for the community and others, in fact I think he probably knew more about Pacific Island cultures (having lived on various islands for years) than Helen Clark.
*
No, she went to the funeral of a Pacific Island woman, whose claim to fame is dying because of a combination of her lifestyle (which was not adequately changed to take into account doctor’s advice), the public health system (which let her stay at home rather than remain in hospital, which was probably an error of judgment), and her family’s failure to pay the power bill and preference for praying rather than take her to hospital. A series of unfortunate but hardly unpreventable events.
*
Helen Clark spoke at Mrs Muliaga's funeral, as of course one does when you never knew the person who died. I simply don’t care about Mrs Muliaga’s death, I don’t have enough time or energy to grieve for those I didn’t know. Mrs Muliaga meant as much to me as the other 80 people who die in New Zealand every day. If it were different, I would never live, I’d grieve day after day, and it would show what little value I did have for those I DO love and care about.
*
How many more New Zealanders has Helen Clark met in the discharge of her duties whose funerals she will never go to? People of all ages who may have received awards and accolades, there will be thousands for the years she has been in Parliament.
*
Now you see what value Helen Clark puts on grief – it’s a PR stunt. Not content to let Mrs Muliaga’s family and friends grieve in peace, genuinely and honestly. It became a media circus, which Clark gleefully participated in.
*
A funeral is about grieving for someone you knew, whether close or as an acquaintance, but rather someone who had a personal impact upon your life. You need not have met the person, but you can respect some work the person has done, whether it be literature, art or something that meant something to you. It shouldn’t be about guilt or PR, which is what Helen Clark has done.
*
Clark said “What has been simply inspirational through these sad days has been the spirit of forgiveness that has radiated from this family - far more than could humanly be expected”. Inspirational how? How does Helen Clark intend to use this? Will she forgive Ian Wishart, Don Brash, the exclusive Brethren or anyone else she likes to vilify? I hardly think so. What sanctimonious rot. Will Helen Clark go to the funerals of crime victims? How about the funeral of those killed by dangerous driving? Will she find inspiration with every death?
*
Will Pacific Islanders rally towards Labour at the next election because of this nonsense? Helen Clark thinks so. How despicably patronising that like some colonial mistress she can trot along to a funeral, say some words as if she knew Mrs Muliaga, completely ignore that one of HER hospitals let her be discharged in her condition, and expect the Pacific Island community to go “oh that Miss Clark she’s so caring about us, we will vote Labour again next year”.
*
Regardless of the results of the Police inquiry, and indeed regardless of your personal views on blame regarding the cut off of power, Clark hopped on this sad death as a PR stunt.
*
UPDATE: Apparently Mr Muliaga invited Helen Clark to the funeral specifically. In that case she was welcomed, and it is inappropriate to criticise that specifically. However, outside of that case I do wonder if the PM will attend any funeral of New Zealanders that she did not personally know, that family members invite her to? What is the criteria by which the PM decides whether or not to attend funerals of people she did not know?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

5-0

Well done Team New Zealand, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup, in what is almost certainly the first government sponsored syndicate in America's Cup history (which also happens to help Emirates in its publicity efforts).
^
You ought to cheer, it is your victory even if you didn't like yachting, Helen made sure you were forced to pay.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Recycling con - I told you so

Back in July 2006 I mentioned how contaminated paper can't be recycled, and have commented about the fascist lengths that some councils in Britain go to in criminalising people who don't follow the, what I call, faith based initiative of recycling.
^
I asked that it was about time that someone fisked this in the mainstream UK media, and The Times has:
^
The issues are:
- Combining recyclable materials making it inefficient and wasteful to separate them out, leading to cases such as "A paper recycling company in Kent is sending to landfill 9,000 tons a year of cans, bottles and plastics. These have been mixed up with the paper and the firm does not have the capability to process them. " and "A Warrington-based aluminium processor, regarded as a world leader in its field, is regularly rejecting British waste because it is so poorly sorted".
- Contaminated recyclable material which is virtually unusable. "Britain’s biggest glass recycling company is sending tons of glass to roadfill because it is so contaminated. ".
^
Recycling has always happened, it has long been efficient to recycle car bodies, aircraft fuselage, unsold newspapers and magazines, and glass bottles if people hand them in. However, the obsession with recycling has a fervour surrounding it that means if you don't recycle some see you as an "environmental vandal".
^
Don't forget:
- Paper is biodegradable, it is produced from a renewable resource (trees);
- Glass is made from silicon, which the second most abundant element on earth. Silicon comes from sand, ask yourself how scarce that is;
- If recycling everything made economic sense, it would be happening by now, and don't say there is an environmental cost, until you've costed it. The environment cost of landfills is not infinite, despite the Green rhetoric.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Peace protests against Russia perhaps?

"It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond. This system of missile defence on one side and the absence of this system on the other . . . increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict" so said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with The Times.
^
Part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US has been located in Europe for decades, but then so has the Russian one, and still is. The missile defence system is aimed mainly at rogue states (Iran in particular) but Russia is, after all, not always that friendly and far from being a friend of liberal constitutional democracy and rule of law. Putin is dreaming if he thinks the US might attack, but then Putin is propping up a Stalinist dictatorship in Belarus and continues to play his strong man card against more open regimes in Ukraine and Georgia.
^
I'm looking forward to the so-called peace movement organising protest marches with Russian flags to burn, outside Russian embassies at Putin's sabre rattling. However, it almost never in its history of protesting nuclear weapons would ever confront Russia or the USSR - which spoke volumes about its true agenda, largely hidden to many of its supporters (and well known to Moscow, which in the Cold War delighted to watch protests at Western nuclear facilities, given that any totalitarian regime can avoid such inconveniences).
^
The US missile defence system if put in place in Poland and the Czech Republic, should not surprise Russia. After all, the Soviet Union invaded and occupied those countries with its puppet regimes from not long after World War 2 until 1989, when Gorbachev declared they were on their own - and like the meek little cowardly bullies those regimes were, they fell. Poles and Czechs may rightly feel somewhat fearful of the bear to the east, which has done little for it - the liberation from Nazism was like going from the fire to the frying pan.
^
Putin concluded "We have brought all our heavy weapons beyond the Urals and reduced our military forces by 300,000. But what do we have in return? we see that Eastern Europe is being filled with new equipment, two positions in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as radar in the Czech Republic, and missile systems in Poland. What is happening? Unilateral disarmament of Russia is happening".
^
and Mr. Putin, if you think there is any appetite by the Western world to attack you, you're dreaming. Bulgaria and Romania lost two generations to a previous version of Russian imperialism, why should you be surprised that it is suspicious of Russia?

Some answers to Jeanette's questions

"Firstly, at what level did they plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions and who will the get permits?"
None, as a country with a growing population and economy, it would be unwise for the state to set as a goal capping greenhouse gas emissions, which may cost the standing of living of the population. Most countries in the world are not intending to restrict economic growth because of this one environmental concern, neither should New Zealand - but the government should adopt economic policies that get out of the way of environmentally friendly developments and end the socialist way that some key infrastructure (especially roads) are managed, funded and charged for. This will benefit the economy and the environment.
^
"Secondly, how much bigger are they prepared to allow the dairy industry to grow given its damaging effects on water quality, water allocation and climate change?"
^
Given that the New Zealand dairy industry has a lower climate change impact than the dairy industries of many other countries, as much as it can grow without state intervention. Issues of water supply will be dealt with by the privatisation of waterways through farms and the institution of property rights over water. This will incentivise the cleaning up of rivers and streams. If you don't want the dairy industry to grow, then stop drinking milk and eating cheese, yoghurt et al.
^
The statement that "Climate Change is the biggest looming threat to our economy and our civilisation" is sheer nonsense. The biggest looming threat is a failure to achieve agreement at Doha on trade liberalisation and a new wave of environmentally driven protectionism on trade and travel, that effectively destroys many export markets and the tourist industry.
^
“The third question for John Key asks what he intends to do about the people he has labelled as the ‘underclass’. Will you make a public commitment now that benefits levels will not be cut and the conditions for receiving them will not be made more stringent under any government you lead? Will workers still enjoy the options of seeking collective agreements? Will the minimum wage be frozen at the level you inherit or will it continue to rise? Will we see bulk funding or vouchers introduced in education?”
^
How about cut taxes, make the first $10,000 everyone earns tax free in the first budget. Cut GST from 12.5% to 10%. In other words, let people have all of their money while they struggle on low incomes.
^
What do you intend to do about the underclass, Jeanette, with your own time and money? Answer that question before you force others to spend theirs.
^
Benefits should be kept at current nominal levels and eligibility be tightened as the economy grows. Time limits on benefits would be helpful. What have benefits done for many of the underclass other than give a whole cross section a lack of motivation to do anything other than persist in their situation? Why is it caring to force New Zealanders who work hard for themselves and their families to pay for those who do not?
^
Of course workers will have the options of seeking collective agreements and individual ones, we are not into banning things like you are.
^
The minimum wage should be abolished as an incentive to encouraging more jobs, especially seasonal unskilled work like picking fruit. We don't believe in banning jobs.
^
There should be vouchers in education as a first step. You'll be surprised, Jeanette, how the underclass often do want their kids to do well, to be well educated, but find the schools which treat all kids the same aren't that good. They want to choose the education their children have - "their" children, not yours, not the state's. You're doe eyed naivety that all schools should offer equal education is about as brainless as expecting all rental homes to be of a similar standard or all restaurants. Vouchers are one step forward, and by the way, private and integrated schools should be set free to set their own curricula. Parents, by and large, can make the best decisions for their kids on this, despite what you think.

Finally, food miles under attack

Front page of the Sunday Telegraph and a large feature inside it raises the point that has been made all along on this blog and elsewhere, that food miles are an inaccurate measure of the environment impact of food production and distribution - but one that the inefficient European farming sector (propped up as it is by tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers' funds) milks. I shouldn't put all European farms on the same level, it is fairly clear those in the east are more efficient, since they get a fraction of the subsidies of French farms.
^
The point is made that:
^
British lamb takes, on average, 2849kg of C02 for every tonne raised
New Zealand lamb takes, on average, 688kg of C02 for every tonne raised including shipping it to the UK
^
British apples are "greener" in autumn and winter, but not in spring and summer when importing them from New Zealand is better than keeping stock in storage.
^
A similar story applies to lettuces, tomatoes and strawberries, as the growing season for such veges and fruit is short in Britain, requiring heated greenhouses. It is better to import them from Spain.
^
Even importing beans by air from Kenya or Uganda is more environmentally friendly than growing locally.
^
However, onions can be grown in the UK for 14kg less C02 per tonne than importing from NZ.
^
Still, it's a start in breaking down this nonsense about food miles. Some of the details are listed here. The Guardian reports the same point, with no figures or mention of NZ.
^
The solution is cold turkey on the CAP step by step:
1. Eliminate all export subsidies by the EU (stop distorting foreign markets by your protected grub);
2. Eliminate all non-tariff barriers to agricultural imports in the EU (quotas and specific bans);
3. Put a ceiling of 100% on all agricultural tariffs ratcheting down to 75%, 50% and 25% each year, do the same to subsidies capping them in nominal terms and reducing them annually to zero.
^
Meanwhile Sarkozy threatens to veto WTO talks over agriculture - see he isn't Thatcher after all.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Clark and Tizard on power

It's outrageous Clark has waded in on this, judging the contractor so quickly, instantly believing one version of events - but then she is Prime Minister and should be expected to have opinions on everything her subjects do.
^
However I did laugh with this comment:
^
"Labour MP Judith Tizard said when she was on the Auckland Electric Power Board from 1977-1983, it had a no-disconnections policy in cases when people genuinely could not afford to pay the bill."
^
So you might ask why Auckland had a blackout due to underinvestment in its network some years ago?
^
Desperately blaming the Nats for this - because of commercialisation of electricity, something that started under Labour, in fact Clark was in Cabinet at the time. Never mind it has nothing to do with that, never mind that it was a state owned enterprise that took over a locally owned company.
^
Name one thing Judith Tizard has done for Auckland, and cutting ribbons on road projects that had nothing to do with her doesn't count.

Anti-globalisation protesters are communists

The usual travelling roadshow of naive young dreamers and old-fashioned hate filled socialists are causing trouble in Rostock, Germany, protesting the G8 summit. It should be noted Rostock is in the former GDR, which had the Stalinist regime of Erich Honecker until 1989. The flying of the hammer and sickle flags there, when millions were watched and thousands imprisoned, tortured and murdered for questioning the GDR regime is disgusting.
^
The rather inane BBC is talking about far left groups as if they are benign compared to far right groups. The communists protesting at the G8 are no better than neo-nazis, both back the oppressive use of state violence to tell people what to do and what not to do.
^
There are reasons to protest at the G8. You could protest:
^
1. Russia's continued slide towards authoritarianism.
2. The impoverishment of primary producers throughout the world due to heavy protectionism for agriculture by Japan, the EU and the USA, and the negative environmental impacts of that protectionism.
3. The unwillingness of the G8 to get the Doha round to make much progress in liberalising world trade (a major step towards lifting standards of living).
^
The protestors are intellectually vapid. Poverty in African is largely due to governments in Africa being corrupt kleptocracies in many cases, more than happy to use aid to pay for their families to go on shopping trips in Knightsbridge, London. These countries do little to protect property rights (necessary for people to protect what they produce and own, and without that poverty exists) or have independent judiciaries and police. It also isn't helped by the lack of free trade in primary products, as the EU and USA subsidise exports of agriculture undermining the export competitiveness of many other countries, and block or highly tax imports from those countries.
^
The protestors current pinup boy Hugo Chavez is now into shutting down broadcasters that disagree with him - the lack of interest in this by many on the left speaks volumes.

Urophilia or watersports

David Farrar has posted wisely on this, and I add just a few points:
^
1. The acts depicted in the DVDs imported by the man concerned are legal, in real life. Anyone could undertake them in the comfort of their home and there is no crime committed. What the law does is criminalise the photographing, filming or even writing about it, and also criminalises those viewing any of the above. Yes urophilia erotic stories are a crime in New Zealand, though you'll find ample at Alt Sex Stories website, because, you see, such stories are legal in the United States (you know that bastion of Christian conservatism - the Constitution guarantees it as free speech).
^
If you want to ban viewing acts that are legal in real life, then perhaps you should lobby to ban anyone peeing on any one else for sexual purposes, and that opens up a whole range of potential bans. Ones that religious conservatives, whether christian, muslim or others, would no doubt enjoy, but which would be a fascist imposition upon the private lives of consenting adults. Adults own their bodies, the state does not. I've known more than one woman who has said she likes watersports.
^
2. Even regardless of legal status, urophilia (assuming it is consensual) is a victimless crime. Just because it is not something you would do, is not something that others should be stopped or criminalised from doing, let alone criminalised for reading about it or watching others do it. No doubt threesomes offend plenty of people, as does men dressing as women, women dressing as schoolgirls for sexual titillation of men, masturbating with stuffed toys, or indeed relatively common sex acts like fellatio and cunnilingus (if you need a link to find what they are then you shouldn't be searching).
^
I remember when Libertarianz raised this very point when the Film Videos and Publications Classification Bill was in Parliament, pointing out how absurd it was that these acts are legal but depictions of them are illegal, and that pornography of urophilia is very widely available online because it is legal in the USA and many continental European countries.
^
The response to this was that David Cunliffe simply went into a tyrade of "why should we do what the USA does" in an insulting rant, instead of debating the point. In other words, he lived up to the silent T in his surname. The point is, of course, that no MP wants to be known as a defender of free speech, for people who want to watch videos of those peeing. In fact the penalties were raised for producing or viewing urophilia, because it is in the same category as child pornography - being objectionable - which is absurd!
^
However, the businessman in question is now getting his life ruined because Labour and National MPs prefer to side with the likes of Brian Tamaki. Even the Greens have said nothing and they like to claim they are "liberal" - my arse!
^
Censorship law should simply be a reflection of criminal law, in that those who record real crimes with or as the offender are accessories to the crime, and the recording is evidence. Urophilia is not a crime, and any depictions of it should be nobody else's business. Otherwise you believe in patrolling people's bedrooms!