Friday, October 31, 2008

Labour transport announcement nothing new

Yes, nothing to see here. It is just trying to publicise what it had previously announced months ago. It isn't a new NZ$19.4 billion.

It is saying it is dedicating all fuel tax, road user charges (RUC) and motor vehicle registration (MVR) fees to land transport, when the latter two were fully dedicated before Labour was elected. Oh and the fuel tax dedication came after National campaigned on it in 2005.

The NZ$19.4 billion is over 6 years, a good 35-40% of that will be for road maintenance - so business as usual. The rest is divided between public transport and new road construction.

However it ISN'T news. The money is already being collected from road users, the only issue is how that is allocated. Presumably National would spend the same.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trying to steal another election with other people's money?

Well desperation isn't the word for it.

According to the Press, using your money, through the Labour Party Parliamentary research unit, to dig dirt on John Key should be a turning point for how people with any sense of morality consider the Labour Party.

Labour should spend its own money on digging dirt, not its taxpayer funded policy unit.

Of course given Labour supports compulsory taxpayer funded of political parties, you shouldnt' be surprised. Labour thinks it is good for the country, so you should be made to pay for it.

I think political parties are clubs of like minded people who seek power. You shouldn't have to pay for any of them. You should choose who you pay for.

Remember, Labour believes in making you pay for the party.

Libertarianz unequivocally believes political parties should be funded voluntarily, and broadcast advertising for political parties should be funded and broadcast voluntarily.

National?

Why grow the welfare state?

Think about it:

Been in a job for five years
Lose the job
Doesn't matter if you have a partner or not

Perfect for many outgoing Labour MPs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote communist?

Yes you can do so, if you think the Greens are gutless libertarians in the advance of the state in stealing, thieving, regulating and controlling your life, the Workers Party is for you.

Having said that, a quick glance at its nine policies sees three Libertarianz wouldn't be shy in supporting. Specifically:
- Abolish GST;
- Abolition of all immigration controls (although Libertarianz would deny any access to a welfare state, state health and education, and wouldn't allow those convicted of genuine crimes whereas the Worker's Party would let the world enter!);
- All Elected Representatives on the Average Workers’ Wage. Yep no problem with that.
- and part of the fourth policy which is to abolish the Electoral Finance Act.

However, the other six policies look a lot closer to the Greens. In fact given how close they are, and the Worker's Party is avowedly Marxist-Leninist, thinks Barack Obama is an instrument of capitalism, then you can see how leftwing the Greens really are.

Vote Labour for your taxes to subsidise importers

Yes, the Prime Minister took a train trip from Wellington to Paraparaumu where she was briefed about a very expensive project to duplicate the rail tunnels between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki. The press release says it would cost NZ$150 million, not a small amount of money, and for what? Well it will allow bigger containers to operate on freight trains between Palmerston North and Wellington, and allow more frequent train services to the Kapiti Coast.

Who are the main beneficiaries of this? Well large containers coming into Wellington are primarily about imports, as the goods flow southbound is primarily about delivering consumer goods to Wellington and the South Island, after unloading and dispatching from Auckland based distribution warehouses. Exports tend to flow out of more regional ports, so in fact the south-north rail freight flow has historically been lighter than north-south. Wellington doesn't produce much that goes north by rail.

Secondly, of course, are Kapiti coast commuters who would enjoy perhaps a 3-5 minute travel time saving on the train trip, and the chance for a major increase in train service frequencies at peak periods.

So who is Helen Clark expecting to pay for this? The freight customers who presumably would want to pay a premium for " improving journey times, reliability, and capacity for freight trains" as she says. No. Presumably the benefits aren't good enough for Kiwirail to borrow and charge these customers appropriately for the added convenience.

What about the commuters? Shouldn't they expect to pay more for some travel time savings, and a more frequent service? Shouldn't enough extra passengers make it worthwhile? Well no. You see they already don't pay enough to cover the cost of running the existing trains, and a more frequent service would mean buying MORE trains, which is an added cost - and most of the day those trains would be sitting in yards doing nothing.

So it's simple. Helen Clark wants your taxes (or to borrow, your children's taxes) to give Kiwirail freight customers a subsidy, presumably damaging the business of the competing trucking (and shipping) companies, so they can shift containers of largely imported consumer goods into Wellington and down to the South Island more cheaply. She also wants you to give the safe Mana and highly marginal Otaki electorates Kapiti Coast commuters a subsidy for their trips into Wellington.

I looked at this project in some detail a few years ago, and it isn't worth it. If Kiwirail wants to pursue it, it should borrow the money and recover it from charging customers over the depreciated life of the project - which would admittedly be many years. However it wont. It's not worth it. It's a waste of your future taxes. It's money you should have back yourselves, to decide what to spend it on.

Greens want Nanny State to control broadcasting

Basically the Green Party press release on broadcasting policy says it all:

"It's pretty much open slather in New Zealand. Unlike most countries, there are no rules around local programming, foreign or cross ownership of the media."

so says Sue Kedgley, as if it is a bad thing! This control freak loathes and despises the very notion of freedom in broadcasting, and freedom in the media because how dare people use their own money, buy some spectrum rights and broadcast what they think people want to watch and hear, seeking to attract audiences and give them what they want. Don't people realise that they don't know what is good for them?

It's those foreigners I tell you, once again! Foreign programming, foreign owners. How can our nations socialist kultur be protected from the foreigners.

Typically it calls for more money to be taken by force to pay for programming that the Green Kultur Ministry deems good for the nation and "our children".

Free speech? Screw that because...

"The Green Party believes all broadcasters should be required to meet public service obligations in return for the right to broadcast in New Zealand, such as a requirement to screen local programming"

The fact that local content requirements are contrary to New Zealand's international trade obligations, and CER means that Australian content is deemed to be New Zealand is obviously a detail that wont get in the way of this Nanny State policy.

The Greens would encourage Labour to put more broadcasting under state control and direction, and remove the freedom of broadcasters to broadcast what they see fit. It is an anathema to the Greens that broadcasters broadcast what they want. It isn't good enough for the state to own 7 TV channels and 3 radio networks.

It's a xenophobic rant, it is pure nationalism, that the National Front would support. It is socialist in that the means of communication can't be left to private individuals to decide how to use it.

Do you want the state to have anything to do with broadcasting at all?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grab the Green sick bag file

"With the Green Party vote spread across the country, only a proportional system of representation will see the future of our children and the planet represented in Parliament at all" says Jeanette Fitzsimons

Whose children? They are not yours, not the state's, not the Green Party's.

and most parents look after the future of their children rather well, without you.

So kindly stop talking about "our children", they are not yours, and more than 9 out of 10 New Zealanders don't want them to be either.

Greens share National Front perspective

Oh dear, the Green Party’s agricultural policy continues the theme of “do as we say”.

It wants 15% of farms organic by 2015 and half of all production organic by 2020. The Greens don’t intend to do this by promotion or market demand. Indeed, they want food self sufficiency. Like Japan, like North Korea, like many dictatorships, like fascists. It smells so much of a centrally controlled state, with an attitude to both imports and foreigners that stinks of xenophobia. Clearly if you hate foreigners and foreign muck, vote Green – somehow I think most Green supporters wouldn’t really like the range of imported foods being banned because they don’t meet the strict standards they demand.

However if you vote Green you are voting to ban things – it’s compulsory or it’s illegal.

According to Stuff the policy includes:
- Sovkhoz (State farms) (ok I used that word) modelling the example of organic farming to other farmers, through Landcorp. Yes comrade farmer, learn from the state farm. Buy your organic produce from state farm number 13675;
- “Regional councils could advise farmers on cost-effective options, and land and water management plans such as nutrient budgets and stocking rate limits” Yes now the regional council is the State Farming Advisory Authority. Turn to your council for advice on how to run your own farm!
- “Landowners would be offered incentives for appropriate land use” Read landowners would be offered YOUR money taken from you to pay for what is appropriate. Don’t want to use your own land “inappropriately now do we”?
- “there should be incentives for maintaining or enhancing the environment, such as riparian plantings or preventing soil erosion and nutrient run-off” Earth to Greens, these already exist it is called “protecting the value of your property”. However that P word is one you just can’t grasp right?
- “cut pesticide use by 50 per cent in five years, and it says landowners using sprays should be responsible for chemical trespass when pesticides affect areas outside their property” Well how will you cut this use? However, amazingly suddenly property matters – and yes, landowners should be responsible, if damage is caused of course. It is basic tort law (just when you thought they didn’t understand);
- “Aerial spraying would only be permitted when it was the safest, least toxic, most effective method of control” Yes zee state wont allow it otherwise (couldn’t just make trespass the issue surely?);
- “levy vessels, passengers and freight entering the country to better fund biosecurity services” ah more taxes on trade and tourism, though the problem isn’t exactly defined. Keeps those foreigners out though from stealing “our jobs”;
- “prevent people buying land here unless they were residents or held New Zealand citizenship” Yes those foreigners, dirty little bastards, let’s decimate the value of existing farms instead. True loyal patriotic kiwi farmers will welcome this. Ka Pai.;
- “farmers should not have to face unfair competition at home from cheap imported food and agricultural products produced with lower environmental, health and safety standards, such as garlic from China and imported pork” No of course not, consumers should never be able to choose from filthy foreign muck. If the dirty foreigners wont let us export there, who cares – our people happily will be self sufficient, and paying a lot more for the satisfaction of food sovereignty;
- “Importers should have to show their products meet minimum environmental, labour, health and safety standards, and country of origin labelling for all single-ingredient agricultural products should be mandatory” Yes those filthy foreigners from poor countries try to undercut us at every moment, because they don’t understand how to run a fair society. We do, we are proud of it, so when you want to buy foreign muck it better meet our standards or else!

Oh that’s enough. I mean take this “Urban sprawl should be limited to stop prime agricultural land being taken for housing, lifestyle blocks and commercial developments”. Taken? Taken from whom by who? Taking is what the state does. It takes your money, you didn’t choose to do that.
Buying is what individuals do. They use their own money and buy from a voluntary seller.

You don’t know the damned difference. You also want “affordable housing”, but want to forcibly limit the amount of land available to it – so you can effectively force housing to be high density London type high rise next to your beloved railway stations.

The Greens are, once again, proving their addiction to big Nanny State, addiction to telling people what to do and not do, banning, regulating and subsidising. It is socialism, but the agricultural policy is far more sinister. It has so much that is “anti-foreign” that the National Front would have little to disapprove of.

Why do you trust them?

It's a simple point. One I have made before.

How much trust, belief and even faith does the average person put in the average MP?

How much trust, belief and faith does the average person put in the average bureaucrat?

So why would you choose to give up between 30 and 50% of what you earn/spend so such people can buy your:
- Healthcare;
- Childrens' education;
- Retirement income;
- Accident insurance;
- Income protection insurance.

Would you own shares in an airline, railway, logistics company, power company, bank, coal company, if you knew those choosing the directors faced no financial risk in getting it wrong?

So why do you vote for this?

At this election a vote for National (let alone Labour, NZ First, Greens etc etc) is a vote for the status quo - it is a vote for state funded and controlled education, health care and retirement income. It is a vote for MORE welfare. It is a vote for maybe getting competition into ACC employer accounts. Does that get you excited?

A vote for Libertarianz is a vote to say no to all of this. No to the fraud of National Superannuation, no to the fraud of state rationed health care and state dictated education. No to trusting people you wouldn't let do your grocery and clothes shopping from spending money you spent 2 days a week working for.

I know some on the less government end of the spectrum want to vote National. If this doesn't make you think again, what will? You already fear Labour could get in with less votes than National because of coalition deals with the Greens, Maori Party et al. Don't fear National getting less than Labour - because a National government that includes Peter Dunne - a man who created a new bureaucracy for families, and the Maori Party, a party full of Marxists and other collectivists who think in group speak and group responsibility, rather than individuals - will be nothing more than a different crew, same ship, same direction, slower speed.

Yes, I know, you're going to say what about ACT? Stay tuned.

Monday, October 27, 2008

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear

The New Zealand Police catch on quick. Given the report that the UK government is looking to ban anonymous prepaid cellphone accounts, they are looking to do the same thing Justify Fullaccording to the Dominion Post.

Yes, a government mandated national database of everyone using cellphones. Although it is remarkable that there isn't one to require everyone using internet messaging services to display IP addresses, or indeed one to require everyone with a PC to be registered, or every letter. How have the Police coped? As I said before, in communist Romania the Securitate required all typewriters to be licensed. In the former East Germany, the Stasi kept meticulous notes on everything suspects did, down to the minute. The film The Lives of Others, gives a chilling insight into this.

Of course, Detective Senior Sergeant Darrin Thomson has the classic response to those who might query it:

"I certainly don't think that this is a system to be implemented that would be abused - it's no different from you and I having a landline. People who are going about their lawful business, which is a great majority of the community, have got nothing to worry about".

Which of course is how the Police will justify any intrusion into your privacy. After all, you could let the Police search your home without warrant under that basis, open all your mail, tap your phone calls, read your emails.

Why fear the state?

The Police say it is no different from having a landline after all - except that the phone company HAS to know where you are since you are connecting fixed infrastructure. This is different. This is the state demanding that there be no anonymity when you do something that 9 times out of 10 is innocuous.

Of course criminals will all be caught through this. After all, none would use false or temporary addresses. This couldn't possibly increase the attractiveness of stealing phones. No. In fact, it wont cause a run on prepaid phones now will it? Then a legal market in prepaid SIM cards. No, the Police are totally switched onto this.

However, this is hardly surprising. Only an idiot or someone blind to history about police states would let the Police determine public policy. However, both Vodafone and Telecom are quite happy to do so, which begs the question, why the hell aren't you doing it now? If it makes sense to you, do it, don't want for the state to make you. Maybe it's because enough people WANT anonymity, maybe people want to be able to share a cellphone and as long as someone pays, who cares?

So people, which political party will oppose this? Labour? Hardly, it greatly enhanced the laws on telecommunications interception this term. National? Likewise, it is all about the war on crime - National has never been a secure believer in civil liberties. ACT? Well it is about zero tolerance as well now, but I'd like ACT to state its position - clearly. Given Australia already requires ID for purchasing cellphones, I'm not hopeful. The rest? Well United Future who knows, NZ First will happily go along with this, the Maori Party and the Greens will oppose it, because they fear their violence loving mates being caught.

So, which MP or candidate is the first who is going to trot out the Orwellian title to this post as the justification for this extra inch of Police state?

Aotearoa Central Television Pasifika

Yes, Labour is trying to bribe Pacific Islanders to voting for it, as according to Stuff it promises to force you to pay for a Pacific Islands television channel.

That would bring the number of state owned TV channels to 8 (One, Two, TVNZ 6, TVNZ 7, Maori Television, Te Reo, Parliament), one more and it will half the number the state runs in China. Of course in the UK the state owns more (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3/Cbeebies, BBC4/CBBC, News 24, BBC World, Channel 4, E4, More 4, Film4).

So go on, vote for a government friendly channel, that you have to pay for whether or not you watch it, all specialised at the Pacific Islander audience.

Mana MP Winnie Laban justifies it saying "We are committed to ensuring that Pacific voices and cultures are well represented on the airwaves". Why can't Pacific voices do it themselves, with their own money? Why aren't other cultures equally as important? What about libertarian, objectivist voices, what about Bahai, Chinese and Greek voices? Why must they be "ensured"? What about ensuring them in newspapers as well?

What does it take for the Labour Party to want to set up a TV channel for you? Ah, couldn't be votes could it. I mean, there isn't a state owned channel for Asian New Zealanders (although they are more numerous than Pacific Islanders).

It's simple identity politics. Labour wants Pacific peoples to see it as their saviour, and is bribing them with their own money, being the colonial mistress patronising them as if they can't organise themselves, set up their own radio station (they did of course, but the state effectively nationalised it by setting up a state funded network privately owned). It implies Pacific Islanders aren't up to the mark, that they need Nanny State to give them what they want. Don't ever expect state owned broadcasting to give much time to those who think there should be less government - how can they?

It's very simple, National should promise to not proceed with this. The state should NOT be involved in broadcasting. It should simply get out of the way. Government should not own radio or television stations.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dunne choosing before the election

Really, it isn't that important. The man who spent the last two terms of Parliament keeping Labour in government has now decided to not support a Labour led government after the election according to the Dominion Post. A party that polls no better than Libertarianz has been promised a seat at the Cabinet table in exchange.

Dunne has been gutless. On the one hand he has supported Labour up till now, and is still a Minister. He always maintained he couldn't back a government the Greens were a part of. Now he is saying he couldn't back a government the Greens would be a part of, and National "policies lined up "far better" with his own and would move the country in the right direction." Clark maintains "I remember at the last election Peter Dunne went for coffee with Don Brash, and that didn't stop him becoming a minister in a Labour-led government, so I wouldn't read too much into what happened today". Indeed. Although it is almost certain Labour would also need the Greens to govern after the election.

Note Dunne's statement said "his own". Even Dunne knows he will be a one man band after the election. United Future is about to go back to whence it came, it is an irrelevance, and Peter Dunne's future is up to the people of Ohariu. I can only hope they will vote for Katrina Shanks so the Minister of Revenue has to get a real job, and stops demanding Transmission Gully.

Rating Labour's top 19

Oh yes, finally I've decided to profile the top 19 on the Labour list. I said I would. Now I'm expecting all these people to be MPs under the list, so really it is about whether the electorates stay red. All have profiles, all have photos so here goes:

Darren Hughes - Otaki - number 19: The 30 year old MP claims to have brought his Otaki electorate many things. Hmmm. New health centres. The Kapiti Western Link Road (a council project and no, it actually hasn't even started yet). Mackays Crossing overbridge (actually outside his electorate, and had nothing to do with him at all). New pensioner housing (council again). Rail electrification to Waikanae (um nothing to do with him either). Transmission Gully (if you call a green light money to do investigation, not construction, and again outside his electorate and nothing to do with him). Yeah well done claiming pork that wasn't up to you Darren. He won it with a slender 382 vote lead last time, so it would be fair to say that the people of Otaki are unlikely to reward Darren for his truth stretching, especially since the Kapiti Coast has a fair share of people who have worked for their money. Prediction: This fresh faced young leftie will be defeated by National's Nathan Guy, already a list MP.

Clayton Cosgrove - Waimakariri - Number 18: What DID he do to please the feminocracy? After all he is one of Mike Moore's acolytes and would have had to be staunch to stick through the Maoist coup that instituted Clark after the 1993 election. His profile lists portfolios and awards, like a CV, although when you include "Minister for Rugby World Cup", "Senior Parliamentary Advisor to then Prime Minister the Rt Hon Mike Moore" (surely his shortest tenure position, as was Mike's), "Public Affairs Manager, Clear Communications Limited (then New Zealand’s second largest Telecommunication Company)" (it wasn't your fault Clayton!), finally "A member of the New Zealand Labour Party since age 14". Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Why? Why? Why? He had a 14% majority over National in 2005 (48.6% vs 34.3%) with Ron Mark making a respectable third place showing at over 10%. On the list vote though the Nats slipped ahead with 41.7% vs 41.5%. Yep those boguns aren't a fan of Clark and co. So Cosgrove has a local following, which may just protect him, but only just. Prediction: Cosgrove will hang on, because he's not the typical Labour MP, but it wont be by much.

David Parker - Waitaki - Number 17: Parker is a list MP and is Minister of Energy, State Services and Land Information. However, his passions are clear on the website profile:

"David became active in Labour in the 1990s, incensed by the last National Government forcing local authorities to sell community-owned electricity assets". Yep those communities looked after those well!

Furthermore "He believes in an open trading free-market economy which funds quality public health and education services and avoids extreme divisions between rich and poor. His policy interests include structural unemployment, energy, environment, justice and economics." Yep foot in both camps. However, he's against the madcap party pill opponent Otago MP Jacqui Dean. Prediction: He hasn't a chance against her in this election.

Shane Jones - Northland - Number 16: Shane of course is a list MP, one of the rising stars of the party. His profile is nice "I understand the need for efficient broadband network, well maintained roads, user-friendly public transport, well-resourced schools, and accessible health services." Fair enough, but he doesn't say what he has done "I ask that you vote for me because I pledge to deliver even more than I have already done in my first three years in Parliament." We just don't know what that is. Of course he has no hope of winning Northland. The Maori seats suck up the Maori vote, so it is comprises mostly non-Maori voters, so Hone Carter was 30% ahead in 2005 with 54.1% of the vote for National, Jones only got 23.8% for Labour, not helped by Sue Bradford taking the loser vote of 9%. Only a little closer on party vote, with National on 45.7% and Labour on 30.2%. Prediction: Shane knows he has no chance.

Lianne Dalziel - Christchurch East - Number 15: Once one of the rising stars, but she lied so is in some abeyance at the moment. She blathers on about pork with new state housing in her electorate, increases in the minimum wage, some government programmes she credits and Welfare Working for Families. She also blathers on about Aranui being devastated with "market rents for state house tenants", "the Employment Contracts Act", "the virtual freeze of the minimum wage", clearly indicating her electorate has many at the bottom end, living partly off the state - making her look good. Now in 2005 she won convincingly. She got 60.3% of the electorate vote against National's David Round on 25.9%. Party vote was also a clear win for Labour on 53.4% vs 27.9% for National. So National's Aaron Gilmore has little chance of picking this up, sadly. Prediction: Dalziel has her electorate in the bag.

Trevor Mallard - Hutt South - Number 14: Yes fighting Trevor is still battling on. Trevor was once a Hamilton MP until the 1990 landslide by National, and he picked Pencarrow in 1993. He has led opposition to polluters like Exide apparently, and he talks of a few local and national achievements like lower unemployment, four weeks annual leave, paid parental leave and interest free student loans. Not much on the profile about his Ministerial career hmmm, so what has the Minister for the Environment, Minister of Broadcasting and Minister for State Owned Enterprises done lately? Trevor got 50% of the vote in 2005 against National's Rosemarie Thomas on 32.2% of the vote. Party vote saw Labour get 47.5% against National's 35.1%. There has been some talk that Mallard's more recent antics, like punching Tau Henare, haven't won him support, but I'm sceptical that he is in serious trouble. Wainuiomata votes Labour, and not enough of Petone has been gentrified yet to put Mallard in serious trouble. The gap will close, but it wont be enough for Paul Quinn. Prediction: Mallard will quack in (yes yes I know).

Ruth Dyson - Port Hills - Number 13: Yes nothing like drink driving ex. ACC Minister to make you proud to vote Labour. "I have always tried to be accessible, hard-working and to get things done!" The last thing I want in a Labour MP, I want them to do nothing! Not much else in her profile at all really, you need to go to the Parliamentary site to see she is Minister for Disability Issues, Senior Citizens and Social Development and Employment. Unnecessary portfolios all of them. With new boundaries, Port Hills will be a closely fought race between her and, oh, National's Terry Heffernan? Frankly, I'm stuck. Heffernan is an idiot, he was with Social Credit for many many years, which is a sign of some sort of mental illness. Dyson is far from being an angel, but she did win in 2005. Prediction: Heffernan will make it into Parliament as part of the swing against Labour. Good luck John Key.

Rajen Prasad - list only - Number 12: Look he's a nice man, my ex.wife often assured me of this. He is the chief Families Commissioner, a role which is of course, contrary to the welfare of families, since it is funded by taking money from them. His profile is quite disturbing though: "I am committed to working for a society in which we aspire "to wipe every tear from every eye" and where we guarantee dignity and control by people over their destiny. Such a society will not emerge automatically from the operation of the market. It has to be carefully constructed in partnership with citizens."

Sheesh, the state will wipe every tear from every eye? A carefully constructed society? Shudder. He'll be on the list, so no point in predictions. He will be an asset to the Labour caucus without a doubt, if only because so many of the caucus are such under achievers.

Winnie Laban - Mana - Number 11: Oh smiling Winnie, though her website is rather inert.. Her odd electorate includes Labour core state dependents in Porirua and half of Kapiti. Fortunately she doesn't lie about transport achievements by outlining her main achievements as "increased employment opportunities, cheaper health care, income-related state house rents, Working for Families, 20 hours free early childhood education. So nothing new there. Winnie got 53.2% of the vote in 2005, against National's Chris Finlayson on 31.8%, so she's pretty secure. Party vote only slightly tighter with Labour on 50% but National did worse with 31.5%. It's safe territory for her. Prediction: Winnie is probably Labour's most secure Wellington MP, and she wont be worrying.

Nanaia Mahuta - Hauraki-Waikato - Number 10: Yes Princess is back. She is Tainui MP and that seat is being replaced with Hauraki-Waikato. She is Minister of Customs and Youth Development. "I am proud to be a member of a Labour-led government who understands the importance of a good paying job" which is presumably what she has got by her measure. She's up against Angeline Greensill, former Mana Maori Party candidate, now Maori Party. Greensill is daughter of the late Eva Rickard, and has solid leftwing credentials. It will quite a battle, although you'd have to think that Princess Mahuta's family would bring a lot of votes with it. Prediction: It will be very tight, but her sad personal circumstances (and decision not to be too public about them) will mean she'll squeak in.

Maryan Street - Nelson - Number 9: Don't be fooled, Street is part of the central committee, she is smart, hard working and core to the Clark government. Her profile is nothing controversial or exciting, focusing on skills and the cost of housing for Nelson. She is a list MP now, Minister of Housing and Minister for ACC. It would be fair to say she's been a reasonable performer in those roles, for one who supports Labour. However, in Nelson she has little chance. Nick Smith has the control freak centre-left vote sewn up getting 55.7% of the electorate vote last time, against 27.7% for the Labour candidate, though Mike Ward did pull in 11.7%, for the fruitcake vote. On the party vote side it is a Labour seat (see? the left loves Nick Smith), with Labour getting 43% of the party vote against National's 37%. Smith performs well as a Green/Labour MP in drag so. Prediction: It will remain a Labour lite seat, Maryan wont win, though given the electorate profile she should.

David Cunliffe - New Lynn - Number 8: Old silent "T", Minister of Communications, once a consultant, diplomat and this from someone educated at Pleasant Point High School (where the pleasance was left). "he has championed regional development, environmental protection, education and health care, and multiculturalism in a diverse and growing area of Auckland" well he's an over achiever isn't he? Silent "T" got a fair majority in 2005, with 56.1% of the vote against National's Mita Harris on 31.1%. This time he is against Tim Groser list MP, a better match. Party vote was 49.2%v vs 33.1 for National, so it is solidly Labour. Prediction: Silent "T" confounds the reputation, as the boguns give him the tick.

Chris Carter - Te Atatu - Number 7: The man who used to play North Korean songs when he had a slot on Radio Liberty. "I have involved myself in a huge range of local issues from the $60m upgrade of Waitakere Hospital to the double tracking of the Western rail-line. One of my proudest achievements was playing a significant role in saving at least half of the former Harbour Board land on Te Atatu Peninsula for a public park". Good on you Chris, and he is Minister of Education and Ethnic Affairs. He was once Minister of Conservation, you know the one that liked making unilateral decisions under the RMA. 59.4% of the vote in 2005 means Chris is pretty secure, when Tau Henare got 25.1%. Labour got 52% of the vote in 2005 against National's 30.4%. Prediction: Carter wont be worrying either.

Pete Hodgson - Dunedin North - Number 6: Grumpy Pete. He loves his electorate. His profile is like a travel brochure "Where we live in Sawyers Bay, near Port Chalmers, we are surrounded by bellbirds, tui, keruru – you name it. If we decide to jump in our kayaks at Aramoana and cross the harbour entrance then it’s shags, seals, sea lions and albatrosses". Frankly Pete I don't need to know where you go in your kayak to go shagging (yes yes obvious I know). You can't blame Pete for undercooking his electorate, check this out:

"Dunedin North is where lots of things started – university education, teacher training, Plunket, the finance sector. These days other things are also at play – fashion, film, design, biotechnology, IT. Our health, social and community services are simply the best." So Cambridge and Oxford (England, not Waikato and Canterbury) weren't where university education started? Sheesh, the cradle of civilisation Pete.

However, why did it happen? Pete's not modest. He did it all!

"I’ve been the MP for a while now. Long enough to simply say that with almost every major development or change, I have had some involvement."

Don't hold back Pete, I mean really, at least the Southerner's gone so your head doesn't need to fit through the tunnels northwest of Port Chalmers on the railway! Pete got 55.1% of the vote in 2005 against Katherine Rich on 31.4%, party vote was 54.8% vs 25.1% for National (so Rich won more votes than she did for National). This time it wont change. Prediction: Pete's cockiness is for good reason, it's his seat.

Parekura Horomia - Ikaroa-Rawhiti - number 5: This enormous man as Minister of Maori Affairs cites as achievements "tuning into iwi radio stations and not one but two channels on our own Maori Television network". Admittedly after healthcare and education, but wow listening to the wireless too, cool! I'll give him a point for saying "I promise to tackle the hard issues facing whanau like domestic violence " I'd have put it over the TV mate, but good for mentioning it. He will give his voters a voice too, well no surprise there. In 2005 he won with 53.8% of the vote against the vile Atareta Poananga from the Maori Party on 42.8%. Labour got 58.3% against Maori Party on 28.1%. This time he faces Derek Fox. That will be a battle. Prediction: Parekura will squeak in, the electorate wont want a National victory and the Maori Party is not riding on the wave it did last time.

Annette King - Rongotai - Number 4: Yes, when this is what Labour offers at number 4 you know things are sad. She cites nothing specific about her electorate though "Labour has helped families, older New Zealanders, students and children through a vast array of health, education, law and order, social justice and superannuation policies that are making a real difference to the lives of people everywhere, including Rongotai, of course" Vast array! She is Minister of Justice, Minister of Police and Minister of Transport. Lot of work, not much for the electorate of course. I know Rongotai well, since I grew up there and besides being an odd name for an electorate (Rongotai is, after all, just the name of an industrial area near the airport, an all boys high school and the airport), it is solidly Labour since it combined Miramar with Island Bay. King got 59.4% of the vote in 2005 against 24.3% for National's Nicola Young in 2005. A huge majority. Party vote was slightly closer, but Labour still got 50% against National's 27.8%. Prediction: King has this one in the bag

Phil Goff - Mt Roskill - Number 3: Possibly the next leader of the Labour Party, Minister of Trade, Defence and Disarmament. He claims creating Kiwibank and renationalising Air New Zealand and Kiwirail as achievements. Oh dear, he has been too close to the Labour left hasn't he? The future? "I want to see strong investment in public transport and infrastructure continued, greater emphasis on ensuring our economy and the environment are sustainable and New Zealand’s independent foreign policy and nuclear free status retained" Hmm, bleh. With 59.9% of the vote in 2005 against National's Jackie Blue on 29.5%, it's clearly his seat still. Party vote was 49.7% for Labour against National's 34.8%. Jackie Blue is a list MP and standing against Phil again, but it's a lost cause Prediction: Goff's only going to be unseated by a volcanic eruption.

Michael Cullen - list only - Number 2: The Great Helmsman, the economic wizard, the Fat Controller. "Most New Zealanders like the fact that Labour has stopped the sale of strategic assets and that we have made strategic investments in the country’s future – from the rail system to a controlling stake in Air New Zealand and the establishment of the New Zealand-owned nationwide retail bank, Kiwibank." Yep Mike, the bank was Anderton's idea, but hey. Little point saying more, unless Labour announces it will release all rapists from prison immediately, Cullen is in Parliament.

Helen Clark - Mt Albert - Number 1: No photo! Maybe because you can see it everywhere, on websites, like Kim Jong Il! Of course she claims credit for doubling the price of the Waterview extension of SH20 "As a local MP I’ve worked to protect the character of the electorate. I’ve supported the building of a tunnel to ensure that the extension of State Highway 20 doesn’t have an undue adverse impact on our suburbs and parks." Well, what can be said about the Great Leader. She commanded 66.6% of the vote (well 66.55% really not so ominous) in 2005, against National's Ravi Musuku who got a sad 19.6%. Labour got 54.3% against National's 26.4%. Ravi's a glutton for punishment, having another shot, but he wont win. Prediction: Ms "the state is sovereign" is sovereign over Mt Albert.

Now I need a bath, I need to wash myself after that cornucopiae of mediocrity. Ugh, should I do National?

Green Party so wrong on oil

US$60 a barrel! That's right, it was never going back down, it was running out, panic panic, make you all pay for low carbon energy and transport modes you'd rather not use. All those predicting it would drop are wrong. You see the Greens have maniacally been cheerleading, gleefully, the rise in oil prices in the last year. Oh how wrong they have been...

Let's look at the forecasting geniuses got it wrong:

Greens describe Treasury, MED and Reserve Bank forecasts of prices dropping "dishonest" 20 February 2008
Greens debunk Treasury, MED and Reserve Bank view that oil will return to US$60-US$70 within two years 6 May 2008
Maybe we are at the peak now 7 May 2008
Greens debunk John Key's view that the supply side will respond 23 May 2008
Oil's going to hit US$150 a barrel - it's peak oil! 7 June 2008
There could be pre-emptive war against Iran because of the price of oil 20 July 2008
"We" need to do something about "our" reliance on oil 28 July 2008
Not believing oil will drop below US$100. 3 September 2008

Yes and they still have a "peak oil" policy which hasn't changed. It still believes in forcing you to pay for different transport modes, it doesn't believe that you make the best decisions about your energy and transport use. No.

Oil isn't running out, the price has dropped dramatically because demand has weakened, and supply increased at the peak of price in response to demand.

It's called a market- something the Greens can never understand, because they are far too busy planning for what hasn't actually happened. The price of petrol went up, and you and millions around the world drove less. Transport companies consumed less, so the price has dropped. Amazing really.

The only people disappointed with the drop in oil prices are the ecologists, who absolutely love people not being able to drive and fly, they want peak oil. They are looking for your vote to take your money to act as if it still is happening.

UK economists reject big Keynesian spend up

In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, 16 economists oppose plans by the British government to spend its way out of recession, by borrowing from future taxpayers.

The letter states:

"It is misguided for the Government to believe that it knows how much specific sectors of the economy need to shrink and which will shrink "too rapidly" in a recession. Thus the Government cannot know how to use an expansion in expenditure that would not risk seriously misallocating resources. Furthermore, public expenditure has already risen very rapidly in recent years, and a further large rise would take the role of the state in many parts of the economy to such a dominant position that it would stunt the private sector's recovery once recession is past."

Indeed, the state is too arrogant to know it doesn't know best and that what it does crowds out the private sector. Now these economists are clearly not of the small state Austrian school kind, but they do come to one conclusion:

"If this recession has features that demand more active fiscal policy, which is highly disputable, taxes should be cut. This would allow the market to determine which parts of the economy shrink and which flourish to replace them".

Indeed. Politicians of all persuasions and parties may think about that.

Oh and if you continue to believe that all of this is about the failure of free market capitalism, then you might read George Reisman's response to this (Hat Tip: Not PC)

UK sex pay gap is not about discrimination

Professor J R Shackleton in the Sunday Times writes that the so called "gender" pay gap is not an issue for public policy concern:

"What accounts for the gender pay gap? Not discrimination. For one thing, you find differences within male and female populations that employer prejudice can’t explain. As an example, although married men earn more than married women, single women earn the same or, as they get older, more than single men."

Don't see too much concern about THOSE variations do we? Furthermore:

"There are differences between ethnic groups. Black Caribbean women earn slightly more per hour than black Caribbean men, while Bangladeshi women earn a quarter more than Bangladeshi men. Or consider sexual orientation: gay men earn more per hour on average than “straight” men, while lesbians earn more than heterosexual females. How does that fit the view that labour markets are riddled with discrimination? These pay differentials arise partly from differences in the jobs people do. Few Bangladeshi women work: those who do are well educated and so have jobs where they earn more than the typical male, a third of whom work in restaurants. Gay men are relatively highly educated and concentrated in a narrow range of well-paying jobs. "

On top of that there are other factors, such as risk:

"Men are 1½ times more likely to be made redundant than women and 2½ times more likely to suffer a serious injury at work."

The UK's pay gap is higher than other European countries, but only because of a higher proportion of women in work. Bahrain, Shackleton notes "has a pay gap of about 40% – in favour of women. Very few women, only the educated members of elite families, are in paid work". I doubt whether leftwing feminists would regard that to be a role model country.

As British "Equality Minister" Harriet Harman said, her new "equality bill" will be about "empowering the resentful". Surely public policy can be on a basis of evidence and rational analysis, not the anger of aging socialist feminist politicians?

UK government could learn from the Stasi

The report last week of the proposal of a compulsory national register for everyone who owns a mobile phone in the UK harks back to the era of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania. There, everyone who owned a typewriter had to have it registered, so that any anti-government literature could be traced to the person who typed it.

GCHQ wants to keep a database of every single phone call, email and website accessed by the general public. The presence of millions of anonymous prepaid cellphone accounts interferes with this. This is being sold, obviously, on the basis that "terrorists and criminals" are the ones with such accounts, because obviously if you're innocent, why would you fear such surveillance? That, you see, is the answer of every defender of dictatorship.

You shouldn't fear the state, unless you have a good reason to do so, and a good reason obviously is because you've done something wrong.

Simon Jenkins in his final Sunday Times column makes a plea for liberty. He notes:
- Privacy International put Britain bottom of the European league for surveillance and civil intrusion (A mistake as Belarus would be lower, he means EU);
- The "interception modernisation programme" is budgeted at £12 billion, on top of ID cards;
- How 25 million child benefit recipients had their personal details, addresses and bank accounts lost by the state;
- How the anti-terror laws have been used to seize Icelandic bank assets, and for councils to monitor rubbish disposal by residents;
- the Association of Chief Police Officers warned that collecting so much data was "a real threat to the individual".

Virtually nobody defends the innocent British citizen from this Stasi like growth in state surveillance. It is fueled by a pernicious infectious desire by security services to "know more", be "more intelligent", to be "more responsive" oblivious to who they are serving and why. It ignores the sheer incompetence of such a state, and its complete lack of accountability when it gets it so very wrong - my mismatching data, by leaking it, and most of all by accusing the innocent.

Jenkins concludes:

"The war on terror has been a wretched blind alley in British political history. It has revealed all that is worst in British government – its authoritarianism, its sloppiness and its unaccountability. Yet restoring the status quo ante will be phenomenally hard.

In all my years of writing this column, from which I am standing down, I have been amazed at the spinelessness of Britain’s elected representatives in defending liberty and protesting against state arrogance. They appear as parties to the conspiracy of power. There have been outspoken judges, outspoken peers, even outspoken journalists. There have been few outspoken MPs. Those supposedly defending freedom are whipped into obedience. I find this ominous."

However, I expect few will do anything. The Conservatives get sold this snake oil on the basis that it fights criminals. Labour gets sold on it making the state "more efficient in delivering services". The public shrugs it off and doesn't care. The criminals care even less. After all, what nincompoop in Whitehall thinks registering prepaid cellphones will stop criminals getting falsely registered or unregistered ones? Ah, so there needs to be more surveillance...

(Check out the NZ ranking by Privacy International here)

GM tomatoes with higher antioxidants

The Sunday Times reports scientists at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK have developed genetically modified tomatoes, including snapdragon genes, to produce anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that offer some protection against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This complements the lycopene in tomatoes.

A great step forward which potentially could enhance the health and wellbeing of millions.

So of course Pete Riley of the anti-science group "GM Freeze" says that even the idea of "GM superfoods is fundamentally flawed". There being "no need" for foods to ward off cancer. Furthermore it is unlikely to "benefit the world's poor". How utterly evil. Almost every single major advance in medical science has not benefited many of the world's poor, because they are hardly in a position to access it or afford it. Pete Riley would presumably prefer that research on disease stop till the "world's poor" (him not being one) have access to all other treatments, something he no doubt is doing little to achieve himself.

My own family, and a friend of mine both have propensities to cancer, without smoking, without any of the other lifestyle factors, it is genetic. Anything which can help ward off cancer is welcome, but the ecologist zealots, worshipping their "nature is better than science" dogma would stop that.

This is one area where it is clear what the Green Party (in any country no doubt) would think. It would say no. Ask yourself on what basis. Is it evidence of ill effects of genetically modified food? No. It is purely a belief that there are no positive effects and people "don't want it". People not wanting something is a good reason to ban it, apparently. That's what the Green Party is about.

The sad filthy fury of the Red Army in Berlin

"A Woman in Berlin" is a film to be released early next year about the experiences of women raped by Red Army soldiers as Nazi Germany fell. According to the Daily Telegraph:

"An estimated two million women faced savage, multiple attacks which would start with the spine-chilling words – 'Frau, Komm'. The film is based on "Anonymous," an autobiographical account originally published by a German journalist and editor in the 1950s, describing her experiences between April and June 1945...Most have hidden their agony and shame since those terrible days in 1945 when girls as young as seven and grandmothers as old as 90 were attacked by legions of drunken, depraved and diseased soldiers. Women were raped on their death beds, pregnant women raped hours before they were due to give birth. Some women were raped by 30 men one after another and day after day. "I can smell them now," said Ingeborg Bullert, now 83, but 20 when the soldiers came for her in her bomb cellar in Berlin."

It is clear the atrocities of that era remain to be uncovered, but sadly it is unlikely that the current Russian government is likely to countenance any denegration of the great myth that the Red Army "liberated" Berlin. For it would be justice if those who committed such crimes could be brought to trial. Sadly it almost certainly is not to be.

Richard Dawkins going off beam

Yes, I can see my conservative friends smiling.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Richard Dawkins, author of the compelling book "The God Delusion" has declared that he is to "write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in "anti-scientific" fairytales."

Oh dear oh dear. His concern is that fairy tales might have an insidious effect on rationality! This being because there is no scientific evidence to back them up.

"Prof Dawkins said he wanted to look at the effects of "bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards". "I think it is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don't know".

Professor Dawkins, I am an atheist. I enjoyed fairy tales and other such stories from a very young age, with talk of magic and the like. I always knew they were stories and made up. It is called fun. Do your research of course, but do you not see parallels between your own desire to combat all that is fiction and magical with that of evangelicals who think Harry Potter is satanic?

That's the irony. I will happily take up serious reasoned arguments against organisations and individuals who wish to use their supernatural beliefs as a basis for government or to initiate force or fraud agaist others.

Go on Professor Dawkins, write your children's book on how to think about the world, even have a go at children's fiction. You are an intelligent thoughtful man with much to add to secular society, and to increase the understanding of science. Waging war against fairy tales will alienate many with a sense of life and fun, and they are hardly the enemy when the world remains infected with the likes of this and this. Teaching children martyrdom is a little more disconcerting than magic.

One NHS fraud may end

According to the Daily Telegraph, NHS patients will be permitted to pay for drugs that are not funded by the NHS AND not lose their NHS treatment. I blogged on the current scandalous state of affairs some months ago. In short, the status quo is this:

Say you have cancer, and you receive treatment. You are made aware that there is this new, expensive drug, that is probably your only chance of recovery and saving your life. However, the National Health Socialists wont pay for it. You say you'll pay for it, you are desperate after all. The National Health Socialists say, "oh you're rich are you? Well pay for all your treatment now, bye".

The philosophy being simple - the NHS is either something you pay into and take what it gives you and be grateful it exists, or you buy something yourself and having taken you money, it gives you nothing. Nobody on the NHS should get a higher standard of care than anyone else, even if that higher standard is paid with using your money.

Apparently, the Brown government may relent. Apparently it can see how unpopular it is for people to pay to the socialist health system, and then have it turn its back on them when they want care that might actually save their lives. The left's magnanimity to those who pay for its totems knows no bounds!

McCain not tortured? Who can you believe?

I'm not inclined to fully believe the story of John McCain's jail director - Tran Trong Duyet - from the Vietnam War who claims "I never tortured or mistreated the PoWs and nor did my staff" which comes from an article in the Times by Leo Lewis.

John McCain does, of course, have every incentive for hyperbole, but so do those interviewed in the article, including nurse Nguyen Thi Thanh who looked after him. It seems Leo Lewis has forgotten that Vietnam remains a one-party state, with the communist party firmly in power. Those who looked after him are hardly going to confess to torture or mistreatment, and indeed the regime itself does not admit to how it currently treats political prisoners.

In the report there is nothing much other than a statement that “I never tortured or mistreated the PoWs and nor did my staff" and " He was very brave, very manly, he dared to argue with me and he was very intelligent. But all the talk of being tortured is for the sake of votes". In response "The McCain campaign refused to comment on the claims yesterday."

Now it would have been more helpful had others who stayed there spoken up, it would have been even more helpful if others who were on guard were talked to, off the record. However no, we just have a claim by those living and who fought and worked for a communist insurgency that they never tortured, against those who said they did. It's not convincing.

Times calls for review of euthanasia laws

It's always one of those difficult issues. On the one hand, the assertion that you own your life, including the right to terminate it when you choose to do so. On the other hand, the fear that putting that decision in the hands of others creates, however small, the risk that you really didn't want to do it at that point. After all, the decision is irreversible.

Few argue for open slather, after all those who do what is asked of them want legal protection from accusations of murder. However, whilst many defend the status quo I find that morally reprehensible as well.

This is where I think of values. Objectivists value life, but also that you own your life. This means that nobody else can tell you how to live it, or even to live it. Assuming you are sane, there should be no legal barrier to you ending you life, and being able to express that. This is not just about pain, for many who suffer terminal illness also suffer in great agony, or with great despair about what they have lost in dignity and independence.

The Times on Saturday contains a short editorial asking that Parliament reconsider a Bill on death with dignity. This is due to the growing number who go through the effort to be "assisted suicide tourists" to Switzerland.

In New Zealand, of the political leaders, Helen Clark, John Key, Winston Peters, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Tariana Turia and Rodney Hide all voted for the Death with Dignity Bill, Peter Brown's only political moment I give him credit for. Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne were the leaders who voted against it. However, only NZ First and ACT all voted in favour. (Sue Kedgley was opposed, presumably because it wasn't banning anything).

It is a worthy issue to debate, across parties, because this should be about balancing the right to own your life, and the right to terminate it under clear and consistent guidelines. There are legitimate fears about misuse of such a law, but let us not close our eyes to the agony doing nothing creates. Regardless of the political, religious or personal views you may have about it, and how it may apply to those you love, you cannot - ever - have the right to decide what another person does in these circumstances. I know if someone I loved had clearly expressed a will to die under circumstances of great pain, indignity and with no hope for recovery, I would do what I could to end that person's agony.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fueling child murderers

Yes, makes you proud doesn't it? The "independent" foreign policy of New Zealand, so moral, claiming the high ground internationally.

What that means is that this Labour/Anderton/United Future/Winston Peters government is considering using your taxes to buy oil for a regime that arrests whole families for political crimes, from infants to the frail elderly, and keeps them in gulags. That is what Stuff is reporting a Japanese newspaper is saying.

Why? Because it was good enough to disable a nuclear plant it should never have built in the first place.

Japan is postponing it because it, rightfully, wants some answers about Japanese citizens abducted by this hideous regime. You see various Japanese citizens, from children to adults, have been abducted by North Korean agents over many years, and the fate of some is unknown. North Korea returned some remains that DNA testing proved could not have been of the people concerned.

However, to New Zealand presumably the abduction of innocent people, the imprisonment, enslavement, abuse and murder of children for political crimes, comes second, to the great goal of denuclearisation.

It's quite simple, if you are going to give this aid then make it conditional on two simple points:
1. Address the Japanese government's concerns about abductees;
2. Allow the ICRC and MSF into the gulags to observe the release of all persons under 16 into their aid and custody.

It's the bare minimum. So come on John Key, Rodney Hide, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Tariana Turia, leaders of all parties NOT giving this government confidence and supply, declare whether you think the taxes of hard working kiwis should reward this murderous tyranny for not wanting to threaten its neighbours, whilst treating children as it does.

Helen, if you want to donate the oil do it with your own money. Same with you Winston, Peter and Jim. After all, it is your government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A word to be wary of

"Invest"

You'll see it being used by politicians of all stripes. Labour, National, the Greens, NZ First, Maori Party etc etc. They all want to "invest".

However, when have you ever gained a return from one of their investments better than you would with your own money?

I invest. It involves a simple concept:
- I use my own money;
- I choose where I want to invest it, seeking a return that increases the value of my initial investment;
- I use that return to invest more, or purchase something else;
- If I get it wrong, I lose my own money, learn something and move on.

When politicians say "invest" they mean:
- They use YOUR money;
- They wont ask you before they take it, and will use force to make you pay it;
- They choose where they want to invest it, and they are almost always not seeking a return that increases the value of the initial investment;
- Virtually none of their investments mean you get any of your money back, let alone more;
- If they get it wrong, they don't compensate you, they keep getting paid well above the average wage and face virtually no accountability for it.

Want an examples?

Dr. Cullen buys the Auckland rail network. Treasury valuation at best NZ$20 million, Dr Cullen pays NZ$81 million. Current market valuation? About NZ$20 million.

John Key promises to invest in the Waikato Expressway. Net financial rate of return zero. Economic benefit/cost ratio, 1:1 over 25 years (in other words you - by which I mean everyone on average, will only get your money back after 25 years, except you wont really, some people will save a lot of money on time and fuel, but you - by which I mean you and everyone else - will have paid for those people to get that).

Green party promises to invest in housing. Net financial rate of return zero. If you own a property already it will depress the price. You wont get any money back from that.

So next time you hear a politician talk about investing, ask them what rate of return you'll get from them spending your money.

It isn't an investment to spend someone else's money on something they didn't approve of and which wont see them get any of their investment back.

It's called spending other people's money.

So I am calling for some simple honesty. Don't say invest, when you just mean spend. You are campaigning for people to elect you so you can spend everyone's money on what you think is best for them.

That's not investment. It's being Nanny.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wellington City Council to cut spending

"The rocky economic climate has forced Wellington City Council to review its performance and cut spending by more than $50 million.

The move is to ensure that future rates increases do not exceed inflation and cause undue hardship to cash-strapped ratepayers"

Which of course is the least it should do, which begs the question why ACT's policy of restricting rates increases to inflation plus population isn't National policy, when Wellington's Mayor - a long standing National Party member - can implement it?

Of course Libertarianz would go a lot further. I'd start by prohibiting rates increases, at all, ever. So councils could shrink, and shrink. Imagine not having local government, I find it hard to imagine what you need it for, once property rights are fully applied, and services are privatised.

Clark and Key stick beaks into private company

Yes it's Contact Energy. It is increasing its directors' fees. It is nobody else's business, it is a private company in a competitive market. If you don't like it, sell the shares or don't buy its electricity.

Clark, the interfering harpie that she is said "This is absolutely extraordinary when the ordinary consumer is extorted over power bills".

How Helen?

Who forces anyone to buy Contact Energy's products?

If you think the ordinary consumer is extorted over power bills, does that include the three power companies your government owns and extracts dividends from?

How about this rudeness? To get paid NZ$250,000 as directors is "many more times than people earn in a hard-working job". Really? Well I earn more than that Helen (albeit in the UK) and I'm hard working, in fact people on high incomes more often than not are.

John Key was more mild mannered but still said "All New Zealanders are being asked to tighten their belts because of economic conditions and I would have thought the directors of Contact would have taken that on board, especially given the price increases that are flowing through to consumers".

No John. All New Zealanders are NOT being asked to tighten their belts. Who is asking them? The Great Leader isn't.

The right response is simple: "Contact Energy is a privately owned company, it can choose how it remunerates directors, managers and staff, and what it charges consumers. Shareholders who disagree can vote at the AGM or sell. Customers who disagree can choose a different power company. It is not for the government to hold a view of what private companies legally do in a competitive open market, especially one when the government owns that company's biggest competitors!"

Only Libertarianz seems to think so.

Smith foolish, but Williamson made sense

Well Lockwood Smith's demotion is hardly surprising. He is one of the most slippery MPs they have, and when he had the chance he didn't confront the teachers' unions as Minister of Education. The man is gutless, and his stupid remarks were always going to be interpreted as him being racist. The left has always harboured a belief that those not on its side are racist, sexist and the rest, but then enough of us know about Smith's gutlessness. Tariana Turia called him racist, which of course is the pot and kettle really.

Williamson on the other hand was expressing nothing shocking at all. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane all have toll roads, Auckland is about to get one thanks to Labour. Labour has done more for tolling than National ever did, but John Key is gutless. He hasn't the courage to stand by his caucus or attack Labour on policy substance. Maurice of course could have avoided talking about how much tolls would be, he would have been better talking about Labour's new regional fuel tax. However, we don't really know if National would abolish it.

Are there any tax rises National would reverse?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Labour's hypocrisy on tolls continues

I like tolls, pricing the roads is user pays after all, and if the roads were properly priced then the ones people want would be properly funded, and the ones too many people wanted would be at a premium, and not gridlocked (and the scope would be there to build more capacity, or for public transport to emerge as competition).

National and Labour both like tolls too, though you wouldn't think so reading Labour's press releases and leftwing blogs which pretend tolls are something Labour know nothing about.

Following National’s pork for Waikato roads announcement, Labour is saying that it thinks National will do it by Public Private Partnerships with tolls, although National said nothing of the sort. (Frankly I’d happily tell the private sector if it wants to build some motorways, paying for it itself and charging tolls, go right ahead without any taxpayer money).

Labour is saying it doesn’t like Public Private Partnerships, despite introducing and passing legislation to allow them six years ago! On top of that Labour announced it would investigate using PPPs to finance the Waterview extension of State Highway 20! It then welcomed a report recommending this approach! In August 2008 Ms King said:

"It seems that Waterview, New Zealand’s largest ever roading project, could well be the first PPP, but the generic blueprint provided by the steering group report could, of course, lead to other examples in the future, such as a new Auckland harbour crossing or Transmission Gully in Wellington"

On top of that, Annette King says National isn’t to be trusted to not toll the remaining sections of the Waikato Expressway. This is hilarious, given that the former Transit New Zealand investigated where across the country tolling COULD be introduced, and one section of the Waikato Expressway came up as being a possibility. Labour has never ruled out tolling parts of the Waikato Expressway.

Indeed it approved tolling the next extension of Auckland's Northern Motorway, and the Transit former website identifies four more roads for tolling.

Then she creates conspiracies “Ms King said she believed the National Party's secret agenda "is to change the law so a free alternative route isn't required when a toll road is built". Why, Ms King, has Labour funded the first and second stages of the Auckland Road Pricing Evaluation Study, which is specifically about tolling existing roads in Auckland? Not that there is anything at all wrong with this, but Labour isn’t much different from National on this.

She then says “the National Party had opposed the potential increase in non-roading expenditure, like coastal shipping, and rail freight”. Maybe because National believes that taxes collected from road users ought to be spent on roads? What a radical concept! So unfair!

Labour is fighting against National because National talks about tolls – a policy Labour introduced, passed legislation to allow and approved for two toll roads(and surrendered one as the price to pay for NZ First support after the last election). Labour is criticising National because it talks about public private partnerships, a policy Labour introduced and passed legislation to allow.

Labour itself commissioned studies into introducing tolling on existing roads in Auckland. Paul Swain as Transport Minister, in 2003 said:

"Cordon tolls, zone tolling and congestion charging also offer significant potential as both a source of funds and a tool for traffic management."

Indeed, so why the desperate fuss to point the finger at National when you've been funding a project, using motoring taxes, to build a tolling system that will be scalable to more toll roads.

and what is a 10c/l regional fuel tax (12.5c if you include GST) if it isn't a sneaky toll, of around $5-$8 every time you fill your tank up.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Get your pork, Waikato

Oh dear, National disappoints again. It's decided, based on ignoring objective analysis, that it will direct the Waikato Expressway to be built.

Is it the best use of road users' funds? No. Why? Because there are lots of other projects which have a lower profile, do more good for the dollar. Don't know what they are? Of course not, you're no better than a politicians - why would THEY know?

Politicians the world over have played this game. The high profile big road like a totem they support, Peter Dunne has Transmission Gully. The Nats have the Waikato Expressway.

So given I know a bit about it, let's examine it. given National's bizarre policy! The Waikato Expressway HAS been getting built by Labour, albeit a little haphazardly.

Labour says it will build three more sections within 10 years, the sections worth building in fact:
- Rangiriri Bypass: A small section to link the existing section of expressway with a rather well built 3 lane section of highway. Basically means the highway is of a good standard all the way from Huntly to Auckland.
- Ngaruawahia Bypass: A very valuable shortening of the highway, bypassing the deadly slow section through Ngaruawahia.
- Cambridge Bypass: Another valuable bypass, avoiding heavy traffic through this small town and making for a far more direct route south of Hamilton.

Now it would make sense to consider accelerating those, but beyond that National would push these projects:
- Longswamp to Rangiriri: An expensive, very poor value project, unnecessary because accidents along here have been largely avoided by some smaller upgrades. Money could be better spent on saving lives elsewhere on Waikato roads, particularly SH2 and SH3.
- Huntly Bypass: A very expensive hilly bypass of Huntly. Basically to relieve the township of through traffic, but at what cost? Over $300 million? The congestion isn't that bad, at all. Again, that money could be spent on plenty of congestion relieving projects in Hamilton city itself.
- Hamilton Bypass: An even more expensive pie in the sky project. Hamilton has a rather half complete western bypass. Parts are being upgraded and more is to come. That's because much traffic entering Hamilton starts and finishes there. However what National wants to support is a big four lane motorway to the east of Hamilton, going nowhere near it. You'll notice there is a signposted eastern bypass already called SH1B, it is far from congested today. At best this project has a benefit/cost ratio of 1:1, meaning that, if all goes to plan, if it doesn't go over cost, it will generate enough savings to motorists to be worthy of the cost.

However what is telling about ALL of these is National isn't willing to use tolls to fund them. A Hamilton eastern bypass could never be built as a toll road given current traffic predictions because there isn't enough willing to pay to justify spending over $400 million on the road. The same for the planned mountain range climber Huntly bypass. If the likely users wont pay, why the hell should you?

National once passed legislation that prohibited the Transport Minister from ever influencing what road projects got funded, to avoid this sort of nonsense. National once supported taking the roads even further from political hands, and the highways being run as a commercial business - setting tolls, and enabling motorists and trucking companies to contract directly for road services, and getting fuel tax refunds in the process.

Now it's back to old Muldoonist style Think Big projects, showing it isn't thinking, it's buying votes with stinking pork. Don't be fooled, these big projects seem glamorous, but they take money from the roads fund that would otherwise go on hundreds of smaller projects, to fix dangerous bends, add useful passing lanes, strengthen bridges, and not a few better value larger projects - like the Maramarua bypass, Petone-Grenada link road and Schedewys Hill bypass north of Auckland.

However not enough people have heard of those, unlike the Waikato Expressway and I suspect Transmission Gully. On this, National is no better than Labour.

Is nobody going to....

Delve the depths of aesthetic political incorrectness and ask....

Who is the hottest female political candidate in the 2008 New Zealand General Election?

Public health care + ACC = no accountability

This appalling set of cases reported in the NZ Herald are not the sort of thing Michael Moore describes when he waxes lyrically about how socialised health care is so wonderful. Take this:

"Patient 1 - Aug 2006: A suspected retinal detachment in Whangarei is referred to specialists at Auckland DHB.

Ten days later: No word from Auckland; patient asks Whangarei doctor to follow up. Auckland confirm they have the referral.

Feb 2007: Still no action from Auckland. Patient again asks doctor what is happening. By then the condition has worsened too much for the treatment.

Nov 2007: Patient's left eye is removed."

It can be explained, at one level, by the following.

- Capture by providers, who get funded according to what bureaucracies recommend, and certainly not based on what consumers want;
- ACC protecting providers from being sued.

ACC, you see, is an absolute travesty. It provides a one-size fits all socialised insurance scheme, where you get what the scheme dictates - because you couldn't have chosen another provider. The insurer doesn't claim it from the incompetent or the incompetent's insurer (which is ACC too), doesn't hike up the premiums from the incompetent. The incompetent says sorry, and the victim loses an eye.

Yes, fantastic system, so low cost - except for the victim of medical malpractice.

Yes, in the USA it would take months for a lawsuit to proceed, maybe years with appeals. However, the incompetent ones would seek to settle, to avoid those costs, and the mere fact of having to face up to these costs directly changes behaviour.

ACC is the socialist way of spreading the cost of accidents among everyone, including those who don't cause them, don't have them, and the costs for victims are flattened, ironed out, so you don't get more than "your share".

It needs to be opened up to competition, at all levels, so that people can choose the cover they want, so insurers can charge premiums according to risk, so that the incompetent face their costs, and others do not.

In the meantime, it will be simply another "oh we're very sorry" to those who lose an eye, have cancer spread potentially fatally, and have another stroke.

At this election, ACC has barely a mention. National will consider re-opening the employers' account to competition, which wont touch this. ACT would open all of ACC up to competition, which would make a difference. Libertarianz would open all of ACC up to competition, privatise it and restore the right to sue.

So what do you think? Would competition in ACC be enough, or should health professionals face being sued for their incompetence? I don't mean the crazy subjectivist US tort cases where people sue for their OWN incompetence, but clearly establishing on the balance of probabilities that the other party has been unreasonably negligent.

What is rich?

I was astonished a few years ago when visiting part of my family in the provincial south and discovering that it was generally thought among them all that NZ$60k per annum was high income. Given that at the time, even though I was still living in New Zealand, I was comfortably above that income, I was slightly embarrassed, for fear that said relatives (who I love dearly) would think I was living the high life, when I most certainly was not.

I never considered that paying the mortgage on a three bedroom house in Northland, Wellington, an annual overseas trip, regular domestic trips, occasionally buying new appliances and clothes to be an extravagance. Indeed, at the time I eagerly gathered airpoints so my overseas trips could be upgraded, and was remarkably frugal.

Of course the UK offers much more, although it is dangerous to do the simple NZ$-£ conversion and think one is wealthy. If I do that it seems crazy, but Purchasing Power Parity is far different between London and Wellington.

So that's why Cactus Kate's post on the pathetic SST piece on how to earn NZ$100k a year is apt. NZ$100k is not good money, it is £36k - which is only slightly more than a good teacher would earn in the UK.

New Zealand has a currency that has a poor value. This, of course, is seen as wonderful by exporters simply because it makes it easier to compete with others. This, strangely, wasn't a concern in the 1970s when the NZ$ and A$ were on a par, and when the £ and NZ$ were at a 2:1 ratio, instead of 2.5-3:1. However, the quid pro quo of a low dollar is that, in reality, your buying power is low. Buying capital goods is more difficult, travel is more difficult. The result is the quality of life is reduced because less can be bought, which is why (until the recession), tourism from the UK boomed. British tourists saw a bargain paying as little as £750 to fly to NZ (less than flying premium economy to the USA) and everything being relatively "cheap". Some were more than willing to pay double that or more to fly premium economy for what was to them the most epic flight they would ever do - which is why Air NZ has expanded premium economy on its long haul jets three times.

Which brings me back to NZ. Salaries are lower because the cost of living is lower, competition for positions is lower, and expectations are lower. I have seen an enormous difference in standards among some people I have worked with the UK compared to NZ, but I have also seen the UK have (in government in particular) absolute fools who seem to comprise an extended make work scheme. Yes, bureaucracy in the UK is occupied by many people who are less competent, intelligent and experienced than their NZ counterparts. Hardly surprising really, as outside high echelons of major departments, the public sector pays NZ levels of salary.

The Labour Party, Greens and other parties who drink yard glasses of envy whenever they meet, like to berate the "rich", painting to those, like my South Island relatives, that those who are even moderately successful should have their wages pillaged to pay for the lumpen proletariat to have schools, superannuation and health care that frankly, they can't afford in the 21st century.

UK exporters can sell goods at a high price because they are perceived to be high quality - selling them in pounds sterling. It is about time New Zealanders stop aspiring to be selling lots of what is cheap to the world, and started selling what isn't. Most of the developed world doesn't worry about their higher exchange rates, if you aim high you can earn them too!

Life's unfair


Green Party

Life's unfair - it's because heterosexual white men in suits are greedy and want everything for themselves, and "their system" means they can only get ahead by oppressing and exploiting others. If they had their own way they'd sell children, enslave women and treat all other races as slave labour too - Life can be made fair, if only you give us all the power we ask for, in the hands of the state, and we'll make it fair, we'll make sure it's fair.

Libertarianz

Life's unfair - it's reality, get over it - Life can't be made fair. Those who say it can be are trying to con you, and the only way they can try is by having more power over your life.

and all those in between?

Labour

Life's unfair - that's because periodically you elect the National Party, and they are greedy, want everything for their rich, foreign mates, and are only too happy to watch poor working class people, like us, work hard physical jobs for pitiful amounts of money while our kids go to school without shoes and breakfast. Life can be made MORE fair, by trusting in the Labour Party. Keeping us in government forever.

National

Life's unfair - that's because periodically you elect the Labour Party, and they are greedy, and want everything so that bureaucrats, unionists and others who don't know how lucky they are under National, can spend money willy nilly on doing everything wrong. They don't know the kiwi way, they weren't born to rule, we were. - Life can be made MORE fair, by trusting in the National Party. We'll see you right.

Maori Party

Life's unfair - that's because of British colonialism, which still exists and still applies, and denies the Tangata Whenua the wonders of the paradise civilisation of Aotearoa that existed before the imperialist genocide merchants arrived. The Labour Party have taken us for granted as well - Life can be made MORE fair, by giving us the chance to inflict impose use power trusted in us by the people.

NZ First

Life's unfair - It's all the bloody foreigners stealing our jobs, unreasonably paying market prices for our land, setting up businesses, contributing meaningfully to society and showing up half of us for the semi-literate knuckle draggers that we are. They trample on the elderly, run them over and steal their pensions, after all remember how those slanty eyed people were during the war - you can't trust them! - Life can be made MORE fair, give Winston a chance, again, for the third time. He's the reincarnation of Rob Muldoon, and he was fair.

United Future

Life's unfair - I left the Labour Party because it went leftwing under Helen Clark, I joined up with 6 other ex Labour and National MPs to be a real centrist party called United, and only I got elected in 1996. Again in 1999. Then I joined with some Christians and went in with Labour in 2002, then some left and I was down to three, now I think it will just be me. It's so unfair. I am the centrist party, the party that every coalition should live or die on - Life can be made more fair, vote for United Future!