Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boris not Ken

It was announced in the past hour that Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Henley, former editor of The Spectator and basically a witty toff who is best being a TV presenter, sometimes brilliant, sometimes a cringeworthy clown, has been selected to be the Conservative candidate for the Mayoralty of London.
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Unlike in NZ, the Mayor of London has wide ranging powers, these include setting the budget for the Greater London Authority (GLA) , the Metropolitan Police, Fire Brigade, Transport for London, London Development Agency. These roles are being extended to include planning powers, strategic policy on waste, culture and sport (!), climate change and board appointments for GLA bodies. In other words, a helluva lot.
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Ken Livingstone is a Marxist who does deals with foreign wanna dictators, eagerly wastes Londoners money and essentially despises the productive and well off, treating the GLA as a vehicle to apply socialism to London as best he can. He sees himself as knowing what's best for Londoners in housing, business and transport - he hates the private car, but has little interest in dealing with the chronic overcrowding on public transport, he hates traffic congestion but runs the congestion charge more as a penalty system than traffic management - he wants more housing, but wants to specify and dictate what he wants - he wants less crime, but doesn't want to confront the public housing ghettos that both breed crime and destroy property values.
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In short, he should go, and sadly Boris is the best alternative. Boris's thoughts so far are somewhat encouraging. He wants to be tougher on crime, closer to a New York model to be intolerant of small offences that add to fear of crime and insecurity. He wants to change the way buses are funded so that companies who run them are incentivised to give good service and generate fares, not just operate a route. Beyond that he is seeking ideas, and wants to spend the money collected for the GLA more efficiently. So I have a few ideas:
1. Pay the Police based on how local residents perceive safety for themselves and their property, which means tackling all crime that matters to people - assault, vandalism and theft. A zero tolerance approach may take a lot of courage, but it could change much of London.
2. Get out of the way of housing, and don't encourage more public housing ghettos. Much valuable land is taken up by appalling council housing operations that have essentially abandoned families in environments of squalor, it is time to seriously confront this and consider options for selling or demolishing them, and opening up more land for construction.
3. Be courageous on transport. The buses can run at a profit if you get rid of politically correct concessions and charge people more to use them at peak times. The tube could have significant investment in it if it cost significantly more to use at peak times (pricing the tourists onto off peaks). Make operating and maintaining London streets a separate corporate activity and demand a comprehensive study into best practice maintenance and traffic management, which by the way probably wont reside in anything done by UK local authorities including TfL - Ken virtually ignores street management. Open up investment into new roads in London to the private sector, you might be amazed at how and where some new toll highways might make a huge difference to traffic in London - if Crossrail can be a multi-billion pound tunnel, you can do the same to complete ring routes.
4. Treat waste management on an objective cost/benefit basis. Encourage recycling to be a privatised activity and waste collection to be on a competitive cost recovery basis.
5. Don't do anything on culture and sport, cheerlead the Olympics, but people don't need politicians to help them to play, just stay out of their way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Local government - choosing your local petty fascists

It's a good sign that I am paying next to no attention to the NZ local government elections (a good sign that I have better things to think about in the UK). Last time I was IN NZ and I could vote.
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What is remarkable is the contrast between how enthused some people are for local government and what almost everyone else thinks about it. Even postal voting has made little difference, and what I find even more remarkable is how so many in local government DON'T understand.
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The point is simple - for most people the best they can say about local government is that it is unobtrusive and boring - you don't give a damn about what happens with most things councils do as long as the roads aren't potholed, the rubbish is collected, the water/sewers work and there isn't flooding due to incompetent management of waterways/floodbanks. Choosing people to be what are effectively board members for utility administration is uninspiring.
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Unfortunately, the worst that can be said about local government is what I see in almost all candidates for these roles. Yes, most who stand for councils are well-meaning, but they tend to hold one of two sets of political philosophies:
- Ambitious, change the world (and you) leftwing ideologues who think they can make things better (from their perspective) by force using your money, telling you what to do with your land, your business, and generally being busybodies; or
- Philosophy-less benevolent do-gooders who have a few views of how to make things better, but basically just want to "make a difference". Blank slates who don't care how big or small council is, just that it can do some good.
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In other words, hopeless. Local government is loved by the left - Labour, the Greens and the Alliance passed the current legislation governing local government, which removed almost all of the restrictions on councils that had built up over the years - you see Sandra Lee, as local government Minister, had great visions of councils enabling the welfare of communities - this was strongly supported by the Labour left, including Judith Tizard (a former petty fascist herself) and the PM. You see to the left, local government is just another level of the state - it gives a chance to develop strategies, redistribute (steal and spend) money from ratepayers, and regulate and control people at the local level. It is also a chance (when the inevitable change in central government occurs) for local government to pursue leftwing policies to counter what central government does. Plenty of those in central government cut their teeth at local government, they just about wet themselves with enthusiasm to push people about.
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You see, why would most people enter into local government if they didn't want to push people around? It pays poorly, it is interminably bureaucratic, is proscribed by government to perform a range of far reaching and intrusive activities (RMA for example), and has very little prestige outside the big city mayoralties (no this doesn't include Waitakere or Hamilton).
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So I have some advice for the local body elections where you are. Since you get a little voting guide this should help you a lot, but here are some very important points:
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1. The Mayor matters less than the media or the candidates claim. Mayors have no power beyond chairing the council, and having a casting vote in councils when they are hung. They have little budget, do not decide what roads are upgraded. Figurehead and promoter, but that is about it.
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2. Most candidates use catchphrases to attract voters. Most of these are code for "I want to tell you what to do, use more ratepayers' money, ban activities, compel activities and tinker with activities that people don't actually want to pay for". Here they are:
- Sustainability (in other words, make you pay for uneconomic recycling, projects that look environmentally friendly but have had no objective appraisal, road transport is bad, public transport is good, protect trees, tell you what to do with your land, your house, your business, all because if you don't you're contributing to armageddon, by implication);
- Communities (in other words, thinks collectively. Doesn't respect private property rights, listens to busybody groups of activists, prepared to believe in groups above individuals, tribalist. Community making decisions about your business, home, how you play, travel - great!);
- Renewable, climate change, peak oil (Green party supporter, believes in armageddon and taxing/regulating subsidising anything that environmentalists think is good for the world - regardless of the evidence, in fact resists cost/benefit analysis)
- Free (you'll be forced to pay for it, rather than pay for it if you want to use it. Anyone suggesting anything that someone has to pay for must be free, is an advocate of socialism);
- Partnership (council will get together with other councils, central government or a corrupt symbiotic relationship with businesses that want favours to disadvantage you. You are excluded from any partnerships by definition);
- Accessibility (you'll be forced to pay to make it easier for people to work with the council or move about);
- Foreign (nobody standing for local government likes foreigners or money from overseas - anyone raising this is another isolationist luddite who thinks you can keep your head in the sand and make you pay for it. Should like North Korea);
- Public ownership (you bear the costs of poor decisions through rates, the councillors who make the decisions bear none of them.).
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In essence, avoid anyone saying these things - they're after your money. When was the last time you saw a council candidate who said that if elected LESS would be done?
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Simply - Bernard Darnton for Wellington Regional Council. If elected two things would be sure, he'd oppose rates increases and any growth in council activity, and he'd be mighty pissed off that he has to do it. What could be better than someone in council who is suspicious of councils, who wishes they would disappear and wants them to do less? Remember, HE was the one who took Labour to court over spending YOUR money on the pledge card campaign out of government funds for administration.
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Besides Bernard, see if anyone else challenges the size of councils to be smaller - if so, a vote might be earned - as far as the rest? Ignore them, and think about what parties NEXT year want for local government. I wouldn't be enthused about the Nats though, Mark Blumsky is giving up, he doesn't know WHAT he could be doing - in which case we'd all be happier if he went back to shoes.

Mugabe should be no surprise

With the exception of South Africa's chief of corruption, scientific fraud and accessory to murder, Thabo Mbeki (or rather the ANC), and most other African kleptocrats political leaders, and some other gangsters (and Jacque Chirac), few disagree that Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe is a regime characterised by murder, political violence, use of starvation and theft as political tools, and must go. Few can fail to be moved by the despair of most Zimbabweans, of every colour (though many closed their eyes when only white Zimbabweans were victims of theft, assault, rape and even murder), especially now that Bulawayo now has people drinking sewer water, as Mugabe refuses to fix the water supply or assist that town - dominated by supporters of the opposition.
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Even China has been withdrawing support (if only it would do the same for Burma then it might win respect, after all a new Burmese government is not going to want to turn its back on Chinese investment).
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Setting aside the need to hold the disgraceful South African government to account (which is something the Western media and certainly few governments internationally are willing to do, as if Mbeki somehow basks in the glow of post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela) or indeed the legions of African regimes which, by and large, let their people down (not all, but many), it is worth noting that many noted right from the start that Mugabe was bad news. After all, Zimbabwe has been every bit the one-party authoritarian state since it was founded, New Zealand opened an embassy there under the Lange government, and sent the (allegedly very lazy) Chris Laidlaw to be High Commissioner. Every time I have heard him speaking about Mugabe it is as if things went wrong in the last few years, that there was so much hope - in the days when he banned political opposition and locked up and tortured opponents.
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Now before the usual childish political trick of saying that criticising one government automatically means you support the previous one, it should be clear that Ian Smith's regime had to go - disenfranchising the majority of the population and operating a "benign" version of apartheid doesn't make it right. However, my case is that Mugabe has been worse and it was clear from the very start.
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Mugabe is a Marxist-Leninist, and Marxist-Leninists have spilt the blood of over 100 million people in the last century. Mao and Stalin being by far the worst, but Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung and Mengistu did their best as well. Of course Mugabe is friends with North Korea, and Mengistu - the man responsible for converting Ethiopia from a food exporter in the 1970s to a famine ridden hell hole in the 1980s (not that you'd have learnt that from Bob Geldof) - is now one of Mugabe's chief advisors.
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As Judith Todd has said in her forthcoming book "Through the Darkness: A Life in Zimbabwe" "Torture, corruption and disregard for the rule of law were the norm right away". As the Sunday Times reports:
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"Mugabe broke all the rules – his guerrillas roamed the villages when they should have been at assembly camps, there was widespread intimidation and open violence against many opposition candidates: one such candidate was last seen pinned to the ground having red hot coals rammed down his throat. What fooled many people was that once Mugabe had forcibly incorporated Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu into his ruling Zanu-PF the country was so close to a one-party state that Mugabe simply didn’t need to show the iron fist, but it was always there. “As I try to show, there were a few people, like the guerrilla veteran, Aaron Mutiti, who understood Mugabe from the start. Aaron said in 1980, ‘Family life, religious life and economic life as we know it will progressively disappear if Mugabe gets to power’. "
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Judith Todd's father was PM of Southern Rhodesia, but would be stateless if the NZ government hadn't granted her citizenship (certainly a bouquet for the Clark government for granting this, perhaps helping to make up for the fawning the previous Labour government issued to Mugabe's dictatorship).
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What particularly grates is the likes of John Minto, who blames what Mugabe is doing on the West for "forcing" him to not implement Marxist economic policies at the time which has (get this) created the impoverishment of black Zimbabweans which is what he is responding to. However, Minto, as all members of the new left, are economic illiterates - they think Zimbabwe's economic disaster has something to do with holding onto capitalism, when the Mugabe regime has done progressively the opposite for years. Minto's Marxist credentials are well summarised by Trevor Loudon (and no, opposing apartheid is not a socialist position, it is a position of supporting individual freedom).
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Of course the Maori Party did refuse to condemn Zimbabwe two years ago, refusing to back a Parliamentary resolution damning the regime - a position it has expunged Orwellian style from its website - and which tells you a lot about the racism that lies at the heart of those who founded the Maori Party. Solidarity with a despotic, kleptocratic murderer because he is African is vile, I hope Pita Sharples flies to Zimbabwe to go tell the starving, AIDS ridden, desperate Zimbabweans that it is a "bit of rough and tumble".
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As Phil Goff has said "Zimbabwe has been independent now for 25 years, and was the richest country in Southern Africa. It has been destroyed by incompetence, greed, corruption and authoritarianism to the extent that life expectancy has dropped from 61 to 33 years."
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The only point I'd add is why should we be surprised - and watch South Africa, it could very well be next.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bravery in Rangoon

As Burmese monks and civilians continue to protest against the bullying military dictatorship, I can only hope that troops don't turn on them. Burma has long suffered under a bizarre regime of corrupt authoritarian thugs, funding themselves through pillaging Burma's forests, oil and gas supplies and its relationship with China.
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Of course Western sanctions on Burma are increasingly weakened, thanks to China's bloodthirsty bullies cozying up to Rangoon, selling arms and investing in its client state - but then you wont see many people criticising Chinese imperialism will you?
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The BBC has reported a curfew has been called, and the regime is not shy of opening fire on civilians, having killed 3000 in 1988 during previous protests.
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Of course don't forget that if you and your friends wanted to be mercenaries to help confront Burma (or Zimbabwe or Syria) as dictatorships, Helen Clark and the Labour government banned that, supported by the Greens who always oppose violence, unless it is the state imposing its own law upon its own people. After all, the state is sovereign isn't it?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad the homophobic, anti-semitic liar

There has been much criticism about allowing Iranian dictator President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia university. However, he did show his true colours. CNN broadcast the speech/question and answer session live and while trying to come across as the diplomat, he sidestepped plenty of questions, questions that were simple and to the point. I watched it, and he was sickening in his sidestepping and outright lies - lies leftwing pinups like Michael Moore and John Pilger will ignore, because it's far simpler to just demonise George Bush and consider anyone who opposes him to be better. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger rightly said "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator" - and like most dictators, Ahmadinejad denies the truth of his blood thirsty regime
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His answer to a question about why Iran executes homosexuals was simple... "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it". (AFP quoted him correctly) North Korea has responded similarly to UN enquiries. Of course Iran DOES execute homosexuals, over 4000 have been murdered by the regime - but then Ahmadinejad is into denial.
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On the claim that women don't have equal rights he lied again, saying they had "absolute freedom". The blood on the hands of his murderous regime includes Atefah Sahaaleh - who was hanged by a noose at the age of 16 because she admitted to having been repeatedly raped by a married man. Yes, you read right SHE was executed because she was raped and because she removed her hijab in court and dared to say the rapist should be punished not her. Previously she had been arrested for being in the same car as her male cousin, a crime as boys and girls are not permitted to meet without an adult present - she was whipped for that offence.
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Mosleh Zamani is on death row in Iran now for having sexual relations with his girlfriend, you might care to sign the petition against his execution. It helped free Nazanin Fatehi who was sentenced to death for stabbing a rapist.
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He slithered around questions about Holocaust denial, claiming that research should never stop on anything scientific or historical and that he is an "academic" and why should people blame him for encouraging more research? There is no more need to research whether the Holocaust happened than there is need to research whether the earth is round not flat. Well, when you invite racist scum like David Duke, your claim to academic or scientific credentials holds no water. Gutless and dishonest, he deserves to meet a number of Holocaust survivors to stare into his eyes and tell him what happened to them, for the men who found the camps in 1945 to tell him what they saw.
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He also slithered around the question about whether he or the Iranian government sought the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, claiming that the "people of Palestine should hold an election" and it should be respected, and claiming that the state of Israel was formed purely because of Jewish suffering in Europe. Gutless again. Everyone knows he has called for destruction of Israel - he couldn't even admit that he said that.
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He lied blatantly by claiming that Iran complies with all the IAEA requests. The IAEA doesn't think so itself, given it voted 27-3 to submit its concerns to the UN Security Council, which passed a resolution on this, which the IAEA has also admitted Iran has failed to comply with. The UN Security Council can't pass something solely on the votes of the US and the UK! Of course oil rich states need enriched uranium.
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He slithered out of concern for terrorism by saying Iran was a victim of terrorism, as if that justifies Iran's support for it. He also implied that 9/11 was more complicated than it first appeared, with oblique references to who was REALLY involved and why - he could have been implying the increasingly common references in the Islamic world to propaganda that 9/11 was a CIA/Jewish conspiracy - you know the same one that Robert Fisk has signed up for.
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He spoke of peace, of wanting to be friends with all nations, he spoke of being friends with the Jews (well presumably not those in Israel or those claiming to be Holocaust victims, or those wanting to promote Judaism in the religious bigot land of Islamist Iran), but I thought his statement about homosexuals said it all - they don't exist - just how chillingly Hitler liked to think of the Jews.
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I wonder if the feminists on the left, who claim to give a damn about womens' rights will ever have the courage to stage a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Roseneath, Wellington against the murder of rape victims for daring to defend themselves. They'll protest outside the US embassy like lemmings on automatic (imagine if one ever questioned being anti-American, it would be like farting in front of the Queen), but wont confront true despicable state sponsored evil - they'll use the freedoms that are taking for granted in the West but never confront the dark ages violence of Islamist Iran. They'll accuse the open Western media of being biased, but wont ever fight for ANY media plurality in Iran, where the state owns the media and punishes swiftly any freedom of speech.
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So go on, I look forward to the freedom loving left protesting outside the Iranian embassy against executions of homosexual and rape victims. No? Didn't think so. However, I bet you'll all be sheeplike at the next pro Islamisation of Iraq anti US forces in Iraq protest - mindless drones!
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UPDATE: Full transcript of Ahmadinejad's lies, denial and slithering here, the best lie has to be "Women are the best creatures created by God. They represent the kindness, the beauty that God instills in them. Women are respected in Iran. In Iran, every family who is given a girl -- is given -- in every Iranian family who has a girl, they are 10 times happier than having a son. Women are respected more than men are. They are exempt from many responsibilities. Many of the legal responsibilities rest on the shoulders of men in our society because of the respect, culturally given, to women, to the future mothers. In Iranian culture, men and sons and girls constantly kiss the hands of their mothers as a sign of respect, respect for women. And we are proud of this culture. " Respected until they are raped of course

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Socialism's striving for medals

I remember well the Olympics in Seoul, one of the most competitive countries was East Germany, with an impressive medal tally - 102 - unfortunately what was also noticeable was how some of the female athletes looked little like being female. Critics at the time would be accused by leftwing feminists of being patriarchal and judgmental - the truth was bleaker, the steroid many were forced to take were changing their hormonal balance. Heidi Krieger (now Andreas Krieger), 1986 European shot put champion, had a sex change operation in 1997 directed attributable to the drugs she was forced to take to perform. She could have said no? Well of course, and no longer been an athlete and be seen to be disloyal to the great socialist state.
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Of course, the Olympic spirit was that politics and sport should not mix, but that was hardly the case for decades. Hitler ensured the 1936 Berlin Olympics were to be a triumph of Nazi glorification of order and prosperity. Certainly Moscow in 1980, LA in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 were all about thumbing noses ideologically. The Stalinist authorities of East Berlin treated it as such, as East Germany's best athletes were encouraged to perform their best for the "German Democratic Republic" - this meant being forced to take steroids. Now, as the Sunday Telegraph has revealed it included construction of an underground training facility which included a depressurised bunker designed to mimic conditions at an altitude of 4,000 metres, as athletes would have to produce more red blood cells, improving their performance.
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"Athletes were ordered to train underground for weeks on end, being sent off to big contests only when their red blood cell count was drastically raised. Because of the immense psychological strain of the hard training in an isolated subterranean environment, some considered it a form of torture"
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Only slightly amusing is how in the underground facility, banned Western songs by Bruce Springsteen and Supertramp were among those played, as a "reward", so that they could be happier while training.
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The tragedy of lives ruined by the 20th century experiment with Marxism-Leninism continues to be found. Around 2000 former athletes in the GDR had their health damaged due to Erich Honeker's enslavement of them for medals, how many in China face the same pressure today?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Global warming's agenda of fear

Few policies can be quite as bizarrely dreamt up as carbon trading at the purely national level by a small, export dependent economy, which faces highly subsidised and protected competition from around the world. We all know that if New Zealand became uninhabited tomorrow, that it would make not one iota of difference to global warming -it is similar to someone with a bach on Lake Taupo deciding that they better not pee in the lake.
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The hyperbole about global warming is wrapped up in the armageddon complex that has had its previous incarnations in fear of nuclear holocaust (which was eased by the surrender of the Soviet Union - not by the bleetings of the peace movement which treated both sides of the Cold War as being morally equivalent), ozone depletion (eased by a technological solution, albeit agreed by global treaty), acid rain (never really a problem anyway, and partly cleared up by the end of the Cold War shutting down filthy communist era factories) and the coming ice age (yes in the 1970s that was the fear). Of course there have always been "end of the world" nutcases claiming mankind is doomed, driven either by eternal pessimists who are so bleak and depressed with their own lives they want everyone else to feel the same, or more importantly by the irrepressible human urge to judge and damn.
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In the UK you can see it in those who engage in school prefect like finger pointing against those who don't recycle as much as they could, those who drive big cars, those who fly, even those not buying (heavily subsidised and sometimes more carbon intensively produced) local food. It has become a national obsession by some media (BBC, ITV, The Independent) to the point that it is akin to the days when people finger pointed at couples who lived together unmarried, or single men in their 40s and up who seemed to have male "companions", or women who got pregnant without a husband. I've encountered a handful of people who seem to get off on criticising people for what they do with their own money and property, because that - fundamentally - is what this is about. The Liberal Democrats are the biggest cheerleaders for this, but Labour and the Tories have joined in.
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The Greens of course love it, Sue Kedgley is the pin up big sister who if she had half a chance would want to raid your kitchen and your home, police your parenting (ala Cindy Kiro) and tell you what choices you should be making. It is the new puritanism.
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Now I don't mind choosing myself when to switch off lights, appliances and the like because it saves me a little money. Recycling would be a worthwhile activity if:
- It happens to be a commercial viable way of recovering basic commodities for reuse. It is for metals used in motor vehicles and aircraft, it isn't for plastic bottles;
- Councils privatised landfills and rubbish disposal so that people paid a realistic price for waste disposal. In other words, stop subsidising the act of throwing away rubbish and recycling might stand up on its own.
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Recycling has always happened, it's just now an obsession. I can proudly say I virtually never recycle, because the apartment block I live in has no such facilities. I am proud of it because it is a big "fuck off" to the people who want to tell me what to do, and it makes no difference.
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I buy food from wherever I want to, and I tend to prefer buying it from outside the EU because of the vast economic (and environmental) nightmare caused by the Common Agricultural Policy. Food miles are (of course) bullshit.
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I like flying, it is one of the most remarkable achievement of humanity in the past century, it is cleaner and more fuel efficient than it has ever been, and it would be more efficient if it weren't for governments propping up inefficient airlines (Alitalia, Olympic Airways), or engaging in protectionism (virtually every country barring NZ, Singapore and a handful of others).
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I like driving too. However, governments own almost all roads, in the case of the UK and USA they often get poorly maintained, increasing fuel consumption. Moreover, governments strangle road building and don't properly price the roads to smooth demand, which would reduce congestion and significantly improve fuel efficiency. Roads are congested because they are operated effectively as public domain.
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Carbon dioxide is not a "pollutant", if you're that concerned about it slit your wrist now, you'll produce more of that than you will any bodily fluids or gases in your life. Don't have kids either, because they'll breathe, drive, fly, use electricity. If humanity is contributing to climate change then ask yourself this - what are the solutions put forward by those who claim to care?
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If the solutions are new and innovative technologoes, then ask yourself whether there are wider benefits to these? Such advocates at least appreciate science, although there is a risk they are engineering bound.
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If the solutions are government stopping the protection and subsidy of carbon intensive activities, or the taxation and regulation of carbon neutral activities, then they are being advocated with the desire for more freedom, and to let choices to be made on an economically neutral basis.
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If the solutions are to subsidise "green" initiatives with little clear evidence that the initiatives actually are "green", then they are probably bandwagons - a bit like recycling fanatics.
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If the solutions are to call for you to restrict your behaviour, move around less, punish you for owning or using things you bought yourself and involve widespread setting of rules and judging those who fail to follow them, then call their bluff - these people are little Hitlers, tell them to fuck off and get a life.
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It's about time more people told the environmental nazis of our day to leave us alone - maybe they might care about the child slaves of North Korea instead of whether I drive or catch the bus - but then most North Koreans throw out little rubbish, don't own cars and never fly anywhere - and most environmentalists seem to care less about human beings that are tortured and enslaved than animals. The proof is in the Greens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Christian politics NZ - the triumph of commonsense

MMP brought with it high expectations from the Christian Heritage Party. It saw a chance to hold a government to account according to Biblical principles - you know, reversing the Enlightenment concept of separation of church and state - as it believed it could easily rally 5% of voters to stand behind "traditional values". Meanwhile another group had a similar idea, backed by the homophobic advocate of strong censorship laws, ex. National MP Graeme Lee. The Christian Democrats and the Christian Heritage Party were competing at the soft and hard end of Christian politics, but even when they came together as the Christian Coalition in 1996, 5% couldn't be reached.

Brian Tamaki promised great things for his flock - the flock that sadly or stupidly, depending on your point of view, present tithes to keep him and his comrades in a style very few of his flock would be accustomed to. It certainly shouldn't be banned, but there is something immoral about spreading judgment among the ignorant, and convincing them to pay him to live a lavish lifestyle, while condemning those who don't to hell. Tamaki's promises that the Destiny NZ party would enter Parliament in 2005 and be in government in 2008 were either a marketing exercise or the voice of the truly deluded. No one looking relatively objectively at NZ politics can see fundamentalist Christian politics having much of a market.

The best a Christian party has done in NZ was when Peter Dunne's centrist (middle muddle ground as Bob Jones once called it) United Party, which had been languishing at 0.9% merged with the happy clappy Christian Democrats (once led by a charismatic young preacher, of whom it has been said fell from grace following allegations of conduct that is all too often laid at the feet of high profile Christian politicians, although nothing like Graham Capill). Dunne becoming the media darling in 2002 saw his party hold the balance of power then, and now - and we have the Families Commission. However, with United Future halving its vote in 2005, and Dunne distancing himself from the Christian dimension, AND Gordon Copeland slipping away, it would look like United Future will be a party of Dunne only in 2008 - which of course, is a triumph of commonsense. Dunne after all is a man with more intelligence than he has shown, with a political career of highlights such as creating the useless Families Commission, appealing to homophobes by not debating civil unions, but saying they are a proxy for gay marriage (without saying whether he thought that was bad or not, but implying that it was), and campaigning for a cargo cult highway with a billion dollar cost that the funding system he supported in Cabinet has constantly rejected.

The relaunch of Destiny as PC has pointed out, has to make you laugh.

What the new party will do is continue to attract a small number of voters who, in all probability, would either have voted National or stayed home. However, Brian Tamaki's time will come.

I believe fundamentalist pre-enlightenment Christian politics are a potential disaster for humanity, fortunately in New Zealand (as in the UK), the appetite for going back to witch hunts, jailing heretics and abolishing free speech on Christian grounds, is not high. What good that some churches offer their members in setting some rational moral rules around treating others, and instilling some discipline and respect is not seen in Christian politicians - the likes of Tamaki have no respect for those of other religions or no religion - they are the wannabe Taliban of New Zealand.

Over 95% of New Zealand voters reject this, now if only the US could follow...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

National socialist Party again - John Keycescu

I see the Dominion Post reporting that on Cindo Kiro's Stalinist plan to track all NZ children, that
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"The proposal calls for a database to track the development of New Zealand children, which Mr Key would not oppose. "You have to balance the intrusion of privacy over the need to try to get a resolution to an issue that is of quite great concern. In this case the issue warrants that." "
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Kim John Key, John Keycescu, Mao Key John.
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What a fucking waste a vote for National is then - want a reason to join Libertarianz? Don't want your family tracked by the state and Cindy Kiro's social worker mates? Well go on go here.
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Yes I know Family First is against it, but they'll track your internet use and burn books.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Media useless in protecting our freedoms - Big Sister Kiro

So finally the mainstream press reports on Cindy Kiro's Orwellian plan to save "our" children, collectivising families under a Big Brother state which spies on every family, all those which are happy, healthy and fairly well balanced, to capture the small number which are dysfunctional, abusive and negligent.
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I reported on this atrocious proposal in October LAST YEAR. It's not NEWs, it's just that the standards of journalism in NZ are often shockingly low.
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and what's the headline in the Dominion Post? "$5m-a-year to save our our children" (sic). I don't care if it is $5 million, $50 million, $5 billion or $50 - THAT isn't the story Keri Welham.
The headline should be "Shades of Orwell in plan to cut child abuse" or the like.
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Think about it, all "caregivers" (not parents, no we must have a euphemism that places everyone on the same footing) must nominate a Nazi/Stasi agent - I don't use the term lightly - because it is someone to essentially spy on their parenting, or face being reported to the authorities. In other words, it doesn't matter how good a parent you really are, you must nominate some busybody to intrude.
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It will allegedly save five children a year - I don't doubt that a strategy of targeting the perpetrators - the scalpel rather than the sledgehammer - could easily achieve much of the same. However, we could easily reduce crime by having a Police state, squads could march around the streets, detaining people without charges, threatening, going into the houses of suspicious people - after all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear - expect THAT phrase from anyone wanting to interfere with your privacy.
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I recall the tale of one victim of Ceaucescu's Romania that what people didn't have in those abominations of Stalinism was privacy - your job, your home, your day to day life, you couldn't get on with your life without the state intruding into everything - requiring you to report, go to meetings, to prove that you were not to be a suspect. It is the world of the Police State, and Cindy Kiro - not a fool by an stretch of the imagination - is either bereft of any understanding of philosophy and history, or is herself a Stalinist who sees the states involvement in people's lives as positive and embracing, not the gloved fist with the authority to give, take and regulate what you do. Nazi Germany is alien to her, perhaps the history of totalitarian societies was not part of her education, perhaps the experience of the world is not seen as important as understanding the Tangata Whenua. Who knows? All I know is that this proposal should be resisted at all counts.
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Kiro should be given a strongly worded "f... off" by any parents who love and care for their children. She wants to take away the privacy of your family for the sake of an underclass of virtually useless people who are at best parents in absentia, at worst undiscovered criminal abusers. Her strategy to deal with child abuse is about as sensible as putting tv cameras in all homes to spy on people who might do illegal things, with the right of the Police to randomly switch them on to catch you doing something "wrong".
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and if you want an answer as to how to stop the vermin who damage, torture and kill children? Start by prohibiting those convicted of serious violent and sexual offences (I mean grievous assault and rape, not just a punch in a pub or the 16yo boy with the 15yo consenting girl) from being able to live in the same home as a child. This includes prohibiting any men or women with such convictions from having custody of their own children. In addition, how about denying those who have abused children the right to any state welfare whatsoever.
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So go on Rodney Hide, John Key - say something...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Death

Dead – what a word, how final, empty and completely awful. I never understood people who said death is a part of life. It is like saying war is a part of peace, or bankruptcy is a part of property ownership. It is cold comfort that it is, currently, inevitable. I say currently because I don’t doubt that as long as humanity proceeds on a path whereby science and reason can continue to make significant advances, that the onset of death will continue to be delayed. One need only look at comparisons in life expectancy. In 1800 in London it was 28, today living to your 60s is the norm, and averages now tend to lie in the late 70s and early 80s.

I don’t think there is anything beautiful or wonderful about death, the only comfort I ever think there can be is when it is the alternative to excruciating agony. Those who consciously choose euthanasia for themselves are to be respected in that light. Beyond that though, death of those you love is a loss, a waste. It isn’t a “fact of life” or anything beyond what must be accepted, it is a cruel devastating removal of someone that is valued and loved.

The loss is noticed because you can’t talk to the person anymore, can’t hear their thoughts, share laughter, stories and experiences. That is irreplaceable because people are individuals, and the pain is only real because you have loved and lost.

You can avoid grief rather easily, be a hermit. You’ll never get close to anyone, never enjoy who they are, their mind and their sense of life, and you’ll never attend a funeral. However I don’t want that, and I value what time I’ve had with those who I have lost recently. That time is precious, and so easily wasted and frittered away on nonsense.

One point is to value memories, and to have memories to value you have to create them, live them and as you get older you can share them, smile and look back upon all those years.

Eventually technology will allow more transplants, the growth of replacement components for the body, and may even allow consciousness to remain forever intact. The desirability of this will be the subject of much debate, who wants to be conscious without a body, and who wants to be forever patched up in old age. This sets aside the typical debates about the sustainability of perpetual life and breeding. However, as lives extend it will continue to become more interesting, until, of course, I am dead.

I don’t have religion for comfort, as easy as it would be and in some moments I did wonder if those I lost could hear and see me. However, I don’t feel they are in a better place, there are no place, they are no more, as romantic as alternatives may seem (and frankly as pleasant as that seems at first). The most recent loss has also hit me about my own mortality, dying at 56 of a blood clot to the brain from a varicose vein, with cancer also spreading. She was a fit, slim, non-smoker.

I’ll do what I can to delay it all, but it is only when a parent dies young that the truth of ones own mortality is clear. Realism strikes hard, and I have to live, frittering away time is over. It is not a time to be reckless, but a time to embrace life and those who you love – for some of them will die before you, and then your time will come, and if in the moments beforehand you can reflect, then reflect upon what you had – and remember every day from now until then is all you have.

Carpe Diem has never felt so true.