Thursday, January 31, 2008
Now the BBC isn’t stupid. It knows that a profit figure of £14 billion means little unless you have the context of the value of the company. After all, if the assets are worth £500 billion, it isn’t great, if the assets are worth £50 billion it is a tidy profit indeed. However the socialist minded British public see profit like a lottery win – not a return on investment. The BBC didn’t disclose the current market capitalisation of Shell. Secondly, it didn’t reveal where the profit goes. This isn’t clear yet, but presumably some will be reinvested capital and much will be dividends to shareholders, many of which are financial institutions with pensions, deposits and other funds that affect the wealth of many people. Keeping vague about this ensures that many think that it just means a few people living the life of Uncle Scrooge or Montgomery Burns, whereas Shell has generated a profit that will benefit plenty.
One thing the BBC did report was where the profit came from – exploration and discovery of new fields, the wholesale market for crude and refined products. It wasn’t retail at the pump, where the margins are closer to 1-2p per litre (noting than in the UK around 70p is tax). This doesn’t stop the leftwing union Unite stating calling it obscene – when what is truly obscene is the extent to which taxes on fuel fund big government at Westminster. Of course Unite doesn’t produce anything itself, it calls for a tax to add to the money that the state takes from oil customers, like far too many socialists Unite worships the fist of the state over the choices of consumers and shareholders.
So there you go, big British firm makes a hefty profit and it is held in suspicion. The UK wonders why so many people have a poverty of ambition while a culture of envy is cultivated, and the thieving hand of the state is largely ignored.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The puritanism, the idea there is something immoral about two teenagers kissing in public. The Islamists are closer to how some Americans think than many will admit.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The tenor of her press release is seriously unhinged and outright scaremongering with statements such as “telecommunications companies will be able to clutter power poles in residential areas and next to schools and childcare centres with new cellular and wireless technologies”.
In that once sentence she loads so much evidence absent value judgments to frighten the ill informed, i.e. those who vote for her. “Clutter” apparently implying that somehow we’re all using the top of power poles now, and will be interfered with, or that it will be ugly. I am willing to wager than in one day, Sue Kedgley would be unable to identify every single telecommunications transmitter site in Wellington City – because so many of them are unobtrusive, and plenty are on top or on the side of building with nobody noticing them. However, I am sure it wouldn’t be “clutter” if they were broadcasting a free to air commercial free channel of leftwing doggerel.
Then she talks of “next to schools and childcare centres”, implying, though not saying, that transmitters are “unsafe”. She likes claiming new technologies are unsafe, it gives her something to regulate, something to blame at and it looks like she is saving us all from the evil companies who don’t care. The truth is that she is an unscientific busybody who prefers fear and hysteria to science and balanced debate – she squawks like a parrot, happily stirring fear to gain votes.
She continues "We have set up a power pole in Mount Victoria with antennae and masts, to demonstrate how visually intrusive power poles around New Zealand could become”. No doubt using the latest technology with every incentive to make it work efficiently and be unobtrusive right? Of course most homes in New Zealand already have antennae, masts, some have satellite dishes. Perhaps they are visually intrusive too, as are the trolley bus wires that provide a 550v netting over many major arterial routes and city streets in Wellington – but that’s ok, because electric buses are good – telecommunications companies are bad. Of course she has a cellular phone and rarely catches a trolley bus – funny that.
She continues her rant “there will be no restrictions on the number of masts and antennae hanging on poles outside homes and bedrooms, regardless of concerns about the health effects of increased exposure to radio frequency radiation”. Forgetting that the laws of physics do impose such restrictions, given poles can’t carry unlimited numbers of these things, and there are serious issues of avoiding harmonics and interference between antennae, and if you have a bedroom next to a power pole then more fool you. More importantly the “health effects” are largely a beat up by her. She completely ignores that every single radio and TV transmits non-ionising electromagnetic radiation, she also ignores the proliferation of home wifi systems as well – presumably this is all good, or because it isn’t an evil entity (telecommunications companies fit that category), it isn’t worth her attention.
Finally she says “There is no obligation under the proposed national standard for the companies to pay rentals for the usage of power poles, which in many cases are owned by state-owned enterprises”. Again, her lack of command of the facts says a bit about her. Very very few power poles are owned by state-owned enterprises, largely because most are owned by electricity lines companies. These are not retail companies (which SOEs most certainly own). The implication here is that the beloved warm embracing state that she loves is being “robbed” because of a lack of rentals. She should relax. Not only are they not owned by state owned enterprises in almost all cases (and transmitters on top of Transpower masts are likely to be hardly an issue for numerous reasons), but the issue should be whether owners of poles should be allowed to.
So there it is, a press release of hysterical assertions, and leading value judgments with next to no evidence. It bears a mild resemblance to the sort of nonsense that passes for news from North Korea – blurting out fear, blame and demands that something be done – when scratching the surface it is just a grasp for attention, pleading to the ignorant by the power hungry and envy ridden.
- He called for a balanced budget, and not by increasing taxes. Good.
- He wants to save Social Security. Bad, but hardly surprising.
- He believes "Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools". Bad, public schools are the problem.
- He wants public school control to be further devolved, and effectively endorsed education vouchers. Good, but it wont happen. Democrats don't like school choice or performance monitoring of schools or teachers.
- He wants standard tax deductibility for health insurance. As far as this reduces taxes for those looking after themselves then good.
- He wants to subsidise state programmes to fund private health insurance. Bad, it undermines the earlier programme, states should raise their funds locally.
- He wants to establish a temporary worker programme for foreigners. Good.
- He wants to use taxpayers' money to subsidise alternative fuels. Bad, let the market decide based on price signals.
None of this excites me particularly, in fact, sadly I can say at best it could be worse. However, Bush does inspire me in one direction - his response to Islamofascism. He said:
"Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent. Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."
Take that "death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us". THAT is the enemy, as cold and murderous as that. THAT is who is appeased by withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq and by befriending Islamism. Bush continues:
"What every terrorist fears most is human freedom"
In the letter, Mr. Minto claims, amongst other things, to have been nominated for the prestigious Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.In this regard, the Presidency wishes to place it on record that Mr. Minto has not, as a matter of fact, been nominated as a candidate for any of our national orders"
"My understanding was that an award of some substance was being offered, and Minty said that he would have concerns and issues about accepting such an award," Ms Cuthbert said.
"I didn't hear the preamble to it, but I thought the offer had been made and Minty had basically said thanks but no thanks.""
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
So will Michael Moore pay for all of Colette's treatment? Now there's a joke. The truth is that it is too late for her to benefit from the interaction of the new drug and her treatment.
meanwhile the system happily pays for me, on a well above average salary, to get free doctor's visits, and happily services for free thousands of drunken gits who poison themselves every weekend - for nothing. Great isn't it?
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Some of the claims include:
- London maintains "embassies" in Brussels, Beijing and India costing between £300,000 and £400,000 each per annum. A new one is being opened in Caracas. Ken claims it is to encourage investment and trade, because, of course, nobody has heard of London, and London needs to have a "foreign policy";
- Many of Ken's chief advisors were members of Socialist Action who openly talked of London being a "city state" of socialism;
- Ken's trip to Beijing cost £140 000 for the whole delegation, including £605 of room service for him personally;
- Ken said that Tiananmen Square was like Trafagar Square in that their histories had many parallels;
- In welcoming Hugo Chavez to London, he said "It is not that socialism has failed, but socialism has yet to come". Of course his deal for £15 million of cheap diesel from Venezuela is in exchange for transport advice. He didn't consult Transport for London on the deal, and part of the contract includes promoting the Chavez regime on the sides of London buses. The Chilean socialist PM rejected a similar offer for a deal because it would "not be fair to Venezuelans";
- Ken welcomed Muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to London personally, even though Al-Qaradawi said on the BBC "Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do". Ken's response to criticisms of his warming to Islamists is to call them Islamophobes or being in the pay of Israeli intelligence;
- Ken's office spends £23 million p.a. on PR, double that of the Scottish Executive and more than Microsoft's UK advertising budget;
- Ken's office asked staff of the GLA to assist with his re-election campaign including raising money for his campaign. In short, using London taxpayers' funds to fund his campaign (familiar?);
- The well known episode of him calling Jewish Evening Standard reporter like a concentration camp guard;
- The London Development Agency which spends £575 million p.a. (!) spending £1.8m over 3 years to companies struck off or liquidated, this includes companies that liquidated the year they got funding. Includes wonders like £10,000 for a company developing a jetpod powered by vegetable juice. LDA is referred to as "Ken's moneybox" and it has been called as transparent as a mediaeval secret society;
- Ken's chief advisor on transport, Raymond O'Neill rarely talks to the Transport for London Board or the London Assembly;
- One of his key advisors, John Ross, was a member of the Soviet Communist Party in the 1980s.
So when the left attacks this unaccountable wasteful nutter, what future does he have?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
You see electricity in South Africa is all state run and provided, the government aborted its privatisation exercise for political reasons, but also banned Eskom (the state monopoly) from building more power stations. Meanwhile, it has subsidised extending reticulation to more and more poorer districts (clearly without charging sufficiently for using electricity). South Africa generates most of its electricity from coal, for obvious reasons and has now stopped exporting electricity to Zimbabwe (at last, given reports it was subsidised), Botswana and Namibia because of shortages.
The Daily Telegraph reports "Hospital operations have been interrupted, restaurants cannot cook for customers, traffic lights are regularly off and angry commuters set fire to six trains left immobile in Pretoria. Managers blame the problems on years of under-investment that have resulted in capacity failing to keep pace with a growing economy. Poor maintenance was also a factor"
Yet still there is no interest in privatisation or private sector investment.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Consumers are too stupid to know what is best for them, and Sue can't be arsed spending her own money (does she have any that doesn't come from the state?) convincing people to not use them, so it is "pass a law, that'll fix it" from Sue.
Is there something that doesn't move that she doesn't want banned, regulated or made compulsory? Oh yes, "natural medicines" - she likes that being free, that is about it.
Now the Times reports that his replacement, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who in one of his early moves legalised the internet, has now decided to remove bans on cinema, opera houses and circuses. He also would revitalise libraries. Opera, circuses, cinema and libraries were all either closed or starved of funding in the totalitarian state under Niyazov.
There is hope in Turkmenistan as the screws gradually come of, whilst it is far from being a bastion of freedom, the lunacy of the Niyazov era is over.
Friday, January 18, 2008
As an association of users, it seeks to represent their interests. Now this isn’t in itself a bad thing. There is always value in consumers having product information, and to inform suppliers about demand and what they are interested in. However the agenda of TUANZ is a bit more than that. TUANZ demands that the state ensure that suppliers provide it with what they want.
Imagine a FUANZ for food. FUANZ would demand that the state regulate the price of food, guarantee a certain variety of produce and foods be available across the country at a similar price, and probably would want supermarkets which had no competition within a certain area to open up parts of their property to competing retailers. FUANZ would be ridiculous, so why isn’t TUANZ?
TUANZ talks as if competition in telecommunications is new, just because Telecom is forced to allow other companies to use its property at a price dictated by the state. It largely takes for granted the vast reduction in prices for many basic telecommunications services, such as national and international calls, internet provision, mobile phone services, which all arose without local loop unbundling. TUANZ would say it wasn’t enough- but did you see TUANZ investing a dollar in a network? Well it might argue some of its members did, as TUANZ has been supported by many of Telecom’s competitors for years. At one point if I recall correctly, Telecom gave up on membership of TUANZ, because it was sick of helping funding a lobbyist that was so against it, and was effectively representing the interests of its competitors.
TUANZ has long supported local loop unbundling, which is now compulsory in NZ (as it is in many countries admittedly, but then so is a state monopoly on postal services). It is predicated on it being economically unviable to duplicate Telecom’s twisted copper pair local telecommunications network, and therefore the provision of broadband internet capacity.
Ironically, having achieved the effective nationalisation of the local phone network of Telecom (though not the duplicate one of TelstraClear in central Auckland or suburban Wellington and Christchurch – one rule for one), Ernie Newman is not yet happy. Decimating Telecom’s property rights of course decimate its interest in investing in that network, something dismissed by Newman and the Labour regime as being of less interest than competition. You see, it wasn’t seen to be reasonable to simply sit back and let competitors invest in a duplicate network. Telecom's competitors wanted access to Telecom's network to resell its services under their brands.
- Bellsouth, then bought by Vodafone, virtually duplicated Telecom’s entire mobile phone network within five years;
- Saturn/Telstra-Saturn/ Telstra-Clear duplicated Telecom’s residential phone network with a combination twisted copper pair/hybrid fibre coax network in most of suburban Wellington/Hutt Valley/Kapiti Coast and Christchurch;
- Satellite based broadband (high speed downloads not uploads) has been available nationwide for around nine years.
Now Newman in the NZ Herald is saying”
“As telecommunications increases its role as a dominant force in our lives, a small country like New Zealand has a vast amount to gain in productivity and lifestyle terms from taking the extra step to be an early adopter.In the 21st century this means replacing copper wires with fibre optic cable”.
Words of a sector seeking protectionism or subsidies if ever there was one.
“In total, the cost of digging up the nation's footpaths and rose gardens to replace copper with fibre looks daunting.”
Surely not Ernie, if after all, everyone wants what you say they want, they’ll pay for it! He says it will work this way:
“Fibre to the street cabinets is the job of the phone companies - they've already started.”
“From the street cabinet to the letter boxes should be a job for local authorities or power companies - provision of infrastructure services is work they excel at.”
“And the letter box to the living room should be the customer's contribution - once I have fibre running past my letter box I'll gladly pay to get it to the house to improve my quality of life and ability to work, and add value to my home.”
Well Ernie good for you, surely you would pay the phone company for the lot directly or through the fees you pay for the services you think everyone wants to improve their productivity.
You see, Mr Newman sees telecommunications like roads – except roads are paid for by users of course, and he ignores the tragedy of the commons of roads – which is congestion, gross overpayment by some users (trucks on rural Canterbury state highways) and gross underpayment by others (car commuters on most congested Auckland routes).
“Broadband is infrastructure - the "roads and railways of the 21st century". Investment in infrastructure is inter-generational and has an economy-wide payback.”
Complete rubbish of course, as broadband infrastructure hardly has a depreciated life anywhere approaching a road or a railway line. It doesn't justify why those who DON'T use it should be made to pay for it. It is easy to physically duplicate telecommunications infrastructure, and it can be done wirelessly as well as by cable. Roads aren’t quite as easy. The “economy-wide” payback is the same sort of socialist nonsense that farmers, motor vehicle manufacturers, and ever other featherbedded industry put forward for state protection and subsidy. The truth is that state investment in infrastructure has been incredibly wasteful in many many cases. Why should it be any better now?
You see governments tend to invest not based on commercial returns at all, but on a combination of economic appraisal and political imperatives, because they are not spending their own money, but other people’s for which they are not accountable fundamentally.
TUANZ is now the telecommunications subsidy association of New Zealand. New Zealanders should tell Newman to get the hell out of the wallets and that if he stopped lobbying for government to hamstring the largest investor in telecommunications then he might get more investment in new technology and networks. Newman might ask Telstra Clear why the hell it doesn’t roll out a competing network and if it isn’t economic then he might ask his members to invest in one themselves. Newman might wonder why the hell he thinks the people he represents are more important than consumers of books, music, shoes, air travel, antiques or the like, or why telecommunications providers are more deserving of taxpayer support than farmers, manufacturers, restaurants, trucking companies or others?
Or maybe why people need to be forced to pay for something? Maybe people don’t really want the “triple play” of high speed services he says are so compelling, or rather they wouldn’t choose to pay for that over a new car, overseas trip, new shoes, reducing their mortgage or a nice bottle of wine. He uses the arguments of a socialist, and does no service to users or producers in doing so.