Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chrysler bankrupt but wait...

it's not that simple as the BBC reports

You see Chrysler isn't going bankrupt, being wound up and sold. It is Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

No.

US taxpayers will pour US$8 billion into the "new" Chrysler, to be 20% owned by Fiat, 8% owned by the US Federal Government, 55% by VEBA (union trust fund), 2% owned by the Canadian Federal Government and Ontario government jointly.

6 out of 9 member board will be appointed by the US Federal Government.

"No jobs will be lost in the short term" and No Chrysler plants in the US will close, says President Obama. So opportunities for efficiencies are where?

It already had a US$4.5 billion loan from the Federal Government.

The lesson is simple in the USA of Barack Obama - if you have a big enough business, don't worry, you wont take the consequences of bad decision making, everyone else will.

4 billion to watch the Rugby World Cup?

Sorry John? You must mean every time an individual watches a game.

It doesn't stack up.

World population in 2011 will be about 7 billion.

Over 4 billion of those are in Asia, and let's face it, you'd be lucky if 1% of that population were rugby fans. The big countries (China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia) are not rugby nations, it is a minority activity in all the others, so let's assume 40 million watch in Asia.

Another 1 billion are in Africa, South Africa is 50 million and Zimbabwe has 12 million. Let's assume all of them, and 1% of the remainder, so another 10 million to be generous. That's 72 million in Africa.

Around 730 million are in Europe. Let's be ridiculous and assume all of the UK, Ireland, France and Italy watch, and 5% of the rest. 200 million or so.

Around 600 million are in Latin America/Caribbean. Assume all of Argentina, and 1% of the rest, so say 100 million.

Around 340 million in North America. Be generous and assume 5% give a damn, that's 17 million.

And let's assume all 35 million in Oceania, including Australia are keen.

So that's less than half a billion. Assuming every man, woman and child watches, which is a bit mad, so we should round it down to 400 million.

Plus ça change - government advisors aren't new

Idiot Savant damns the Nats for installing their own handpicked "purchase advisors" taxpayer paid, to provide advice that the Nats presumably don't think the state sector can.

It does not particularly surprise me, partly because I can't see any real shift from what Labour did.

Idiot Savant says:

"As for why English is doing this, it seems he trusts neither the public service, or his newer Ministers - so he's planting personal spies in their offices to micromanage them and ensure that they "[produce] outputs that align with government priorities".

Not surprising, neither did Helen Clark. Heather Simpson was her personal appointment as Chief of Staff, but was often referred to as the "Associate Prime Minister" as Cabinet papers would go through her first, as Helen's trusted sidekick. Ministers regularly got a roasting for not reflecting "government priorities" with their papers, and that was partly because after 15 years of a public sector advising governments from Lange to Shipley (which all had a free market bent), many departments were not trusted.

It went further, Ministers appointed their own political advisors, but had to get approval for this. Michael Cullen had more than one. These political advisors were on the Ministerial office payroll, but personally selected by Ministers, and would be the primary interface many departments would have with Ministers. It was helpful when senior Ministers had large or multiple portfolios, as it meant Ministers devolved workload to the political advisors, but it also kept Junior Ministers in check.

Political advisors would co-ordinate together, and would run cabinet papers past Heather Simpson, before the Minister concerned would submit the paper to cabinet committee. Few Ministers were brave enough to submit papers themselves without Heather's approval, only the most senior Ministers could do so (Cullen and Anderton are ones known to do it).

So for Idiot Savant to say "So under National, we'll have the public service, and a parallel bureaucracy of handpicked hacks overseeing them. And all at taxpayer expense, of course." I'd say, well, just like Labour then?

He is right though in saying "If this is what National calls a "cleanup", I'd hate to see what they think is a "problem"..." unless, of course, these "purchase advisors" are temporary, and a different approach to Cabinet is now apparent.

UPDATE: The Standard is adopting its usual "see no evil" view of the Labour Party saying what National is doing is unprecedented. Labour had its own political advisors, but The Standard is willfully blind when its own political allies do something it accuses the Nats of.

Student unions are an arm of government?

Yes that's the argument made by Tony Milne at Just Left criticising David Farrar:

"Instead he advocates for student associations to become voluntary. The equivalent of course is the public refusing to pay their taxes when the Government does something they don't like."

My response to that is fairly clear:

Tony that is absolute bollocks, student unions are not like some arm of government, they are associations no different from a political party, industry association, trade union, environmental group, sports club or the like. This same old tired argument gets trotted out time and time again.

Governments have a monopoly of the use of legalised force against citizens. This is typically used to protect citizens from each other and from invasion. Local government has specified devolved statutory responsibilities regarding the enforcement and operation of certain laws (e.g. RMA, dog laws, food premises).

Student unions do not by any stretch of the imagination carry out any statutorily defined functions or have a legal right to use force in any way - except to force students to belong.

I don't "belong" to the New Zealand Government, nor Wellington City Council or Wellington Regional Council. All those entities have legally defined powers related to my behaviour in public places and the use of my property, student unions have none of the sort (all the powers they have are private property rights).

There is a fundamental human right of freedom of association. That means if I don't want to belong an association because I do not want it to represent me (which is the core function of student unions), then I shouldn't be forced to. Whatever other services student union's provide can largely be rationed by showing a membership card, or other techniques that, remarkably, virtually all other voluntary associations manage. For example, associate membership just to use certain facilities and not cross subsidise the political activity.

I know the left pined for compulsory trade union membership after the Nats abolished it in 1983 and again in 1991, but it is no different.

Yes members can vote, but why should one vote in an organisation that you don't believe in, that you don't want representing you, and which doesn't deliver what you want.

The truth is that student associations oppose voluntary membership because they are scared shitless that most students would rather keep the money than support a student association if they use few to none of the facilities, and don't agree with the fringe Marxists who run the show.

Of course Marxists have never been known for their belief in individual rights.

This follows up the appaling case of some turd at Salient spamming Big News, and then when Dave at Big News outed it, Salient threatened a defamation law suit, until it was outed that Dave was right. Salient thinks an apology makes up for someone being threatened with a lawsuit. Like kids left with the liquor cabinet open, they behave as if they are responsible to no one, because they aren't.

It also follows up the ANZAC Day celebrates war, so we wont celebrate ANZAC Day view of the communists running the VUWSA. In the past a couple of VUWSA Presidents have had the audacity of laying communist wreaths, happy to insult veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as if it would have been better had Kim Il Sung made all of Korea a totalitarian hellhole instead of half.

Most students don't vote at student union elections for some obvious reasons, many go to university to go to lectures and tutorials, not to spend time figuring out how to vote. Most students get little chance to really understand the candidates (it's a bit different from a general election!), and so many candidates are mediocrities that nobody can be bothered voting for.

Most students will see their vote not counting at all, because student unions are almost always run by leftwing activist types, so the student union is not seen as relevant to them.

David Farrar is dead right, Anne Tolley should be putting voluntary student union membership on the agenda (although she's never struck me as a supporter of individual freedom in the past). The primary opponents will be Labour and the Greens, both of whom treat student unions as training boot camps for future candidates, but it is ACT policy, and National might get some kudos from students by making student associations truly accountable.

It is about freedom, fundamentally.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Everyone is equal but?

Idiot Savant has said that it is a "fundamental principle that everyone is born equal and should be treated as such" in damning Kevin Rudd's opposition to gay marriage or civil unions.

I agree, the state should treat everyone equally, the state should be blind to race, sex and (NIOF*) sexual orientation.

However, he doesn't carry that view consistently.

He has called abolition of the Maori seats (without the "consent of Maori") racism, although Maori seats do not treat everyone equally by definition.

He supports government policies requiring the state and private sector to give preferential treatment to women in employment;

He supports government policies to spend more on Maori health proportionately than other citizens, because Maori do not “choose” unhealthy lifestyles

He damned Don Brash for promoting equality before the law saying “Brash is just the latest in a long tradition of beneficiaries of unequal status quos using egalitarian arguments to defend their advantages. But the sort of formal, legal equality that they espouse is about as useful as the formal, legal guarantees of human rights in the old Soviet constitution.”

So formal, legal equality is useless then. The state should treat individuals differently on the basis of race and sex. If you're born Maori, you have guaranteed political representation, but not if you're born gay, or become a Muslim, or are a libertarian. If you're born Maori, the state should spend more money on your healthcare, not because YOU'RE unhealthy, but because on average others like you are.

Are redheads more likely to suffer mental illness? Blondes more likely to catch STDs? Brunettes more likely to be hired to managerial positions? Maybe someone should investigate and get the state to interfere to "fix" this.

So treating everyone equally isn't much of a "fundamental principle" then is it?

* Non Initiation of Force. Rapists of adults and children are not entitled to equal treatment on the grounds of sexual orientation.

What's wrong with David Shearer?

I have read his article on "Outsourcing security" (thanks DPF) where he makes a strong case for allowing mercenaries to be contracted to protect civilians in the midst of a civil war, or governments seeking to terrorise a local population. He also wrote "outsourcing war" which continues on a similar vein

Imagine, for example, if such a group were placed to protect Tamils in Sri Lanka, or the people of Darfur? Indeed, what good they could do in protecting ships from Somali pirates!

The man seems to have character, indeed far more than any other Labour candidate, and dare I say most National candidates. John Key's cheap shot that "he wants to privatise the army" is nonsense, and unfair. He no more wants to privatise the army than National wants to privatise ACC.

David Farrar appears to be supporting the guy, quite right too, although is also publicising his pro-mercenary views more to "foment happy mischief" I suspect.

Of course Labour passed legislation banning New Zealand mercenaries, led by Phil Goff himself. The Greens, supported it (why let civilians defend themselves? war is bad no matter what).

National opposed the Bill, so I would have thought the right thing for National to do is support his candidacy, on one level anyway.

However, his views on many other topics are unknown, and so he can't be judged, good or bad, without knowing those. Being a member of the Labour Party of course, instantly raises some obvious suspicions, but I haven't heard any substantive reason to be against him yet.

If National opposes him, because he has a policy National implicitly supported in the past, then you have to wonder whether National regards politics to be just a game of point scoring, or is about principles? (Then again, isn't that question just tautological?)

The beginning of the end of the Progressives

With the announcement that the Progressives (which have long just been the Jim Anderton fan club for Labour supporters) are not standing in Mt Albert, how long before Jim Anderton retires, along with his party?

Clark gone.
Cullen gone.

Surely the man who was Deputy PM from 1999 to 2002, who brought Kiwibank, converted the Ministry of Commerce into the Ministry of handing out subsidies Economic Development, has nothing more to add?

What Dr Cullen's valedictory ignored

Dr Cullen’s valedictory speech is the cause of much fawning from the Labour side. The best that can be said for Dr Cullen is twofold:
- He is witty and entertaining (which of course would be fine if he hadn’t had his hands on your wallet);
- He kept his less intelligent colleagues away from totally destroying the national finances. In short, despite the mistakes he did make, he said “no” a lot.

He cited tax reform, the creation of the Cullen Fund, and Working for Families as among Labour's major achievements.” On tax reform presumably he means GST. Labour certainly simplified and broadened the tax base, but it did mean people paid more tax.

However, the Cullen Fund is a very mixed achievement indeed. Yes it shows the government is better off investing taxpayers money rather than running a PAYGO pension, but it doesn’t address the fundamental unfairness of national superannuation. Everyone pays, to different degrees, but not everyone receives what they paid in, and more importantly some receive nothing because they died before they were eligible.

Working for Families extended welfare to the middle class. Instead of granting tax cuts, it targets credits and payments to people regardless of whether they earned the money in the first place. It expands the state’s role in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who now must be grateful that the benevolent state is helping them gain a living – it would have been cheaper, simpler and fairer to grant tax cuts.

He responded to calls about NZ being a Nanny State saying “"New Zealand is, in fact, far less of a nanny state than it was in 1981 in terms of both social and economic freedoms.”

Well hold on Michael, was that you who did that? No it was mostly the previous Labour government and National government that followed it. It was Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson on economic freedoms, and personal freedoms? Well that depends on what you are talking about. Alcohol? Yes Smoking and drugs? No Homosexuality? Yes Censorship? No. The record is mixed, and the last Labour government did precious little to enhance freedom and a fair bit to erode it. Helen "the state is sovereign" Clark was no fan of individualism.

In the transport sector few know that Cullen essentially ran the show on the railways, and pushed for spending more on roads, largely because, with the exception of Pete Hodgson, the transport ministers were all fairly lowly ranked (Gosche was largely sidelined for example). Policy on Air NZ, railways, Auckland transport and highways funding was driven substantially by Dr Cullen. Having the purse strings means you can do that. Which of course brings me to his low points:

1. Refusing to allow Singapore Airlines to bail out Air New Zealand (by owning 49% of it), preferring to listen to Qantas which had a vested interest in kneecapping Air NZ as a competitor, and having the whole South Pacific aviation market to itself. Then “having to bail out Air NZ” when he need not have. His interference in what was then a privately owned company was palpably incompetent.

2. The ongoing fiasco over rail. Buying the Auckland rail network at 4 times its market value. Buying the national rail network for $1 and then not enforcing track access charges against the company granted monopoly access rights. Then paying 50% over the market price for “Kiwirail” when it knowingly would almost never make a return on capital. It has destroyed over $200 million of taxpayers' wealth, and counting. His own justifications, were a joke.

3. The waste of money in health. How there was next to no increase in productivity for an over 50% increase in health spending in real terms. Money down a black hole (which even he would privately admit).

4. The unnecessary “sin tax” of 39%, cutting in at the ridiculously low $60,000 which sent a signal that under Labour, successful people were to be penalised.

5. Letting the state sector grow, with little to see for it beyond more bureaucrats and policy wonks, and little improvement in advice. It soaked up hoards of mediocre university graduates in Wellington, bright eyed, bushy tailed and keen to do what they were told, without questioning the fundamental wisdom of any of it.

6. "We won you lost eat that" attitude shortly after the 1999 election when dealing with the business sector. Imagine the Nats doing that to the union movement.

So while most will miss the wit and humour of Cullen, I wont miss the fact he was Helen Clark's right hand man in taking from everyone, and being the great renationaliser when he need not have been. He expanded the welfare state, the commercial role of the state and frightened off a major foreign investor (Singapore Airlines) because of his own pig-headedness and attitude to some foreign investment. If the best that can be said is it could have been worse, it is a low threshold to cross for success.

Clark needed Cullen, he was the only person in the Labour caucus that business started to trust, and who was seen as a fairly safe pair of hands to deal with the economy (she certainly wasn't seen that way). Sadly, he squandered so much of the proceeds of surplus for more welfare, a bigger state sector and more spending on health and education, with very mixed results, that now in recession the country faces a huge deficit.

Bill English is stuck with having to the dirty work of cutting this bloated state sector down to size to deal to the deficit - that is Dr Cullen's true political legacy - growing the state so much in nine years that the Nats have to have courage to reverse his work - and you all know what Labour's reaction to that will be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cindy Kiro's swan song - blame everyone for abuse

The Dominion Post has published an article interviewing Cindy Kiro as she leaves the role of Childrens' Commissioner. While Kiro undoubtedly is a passionate and honest advocate for children, her collectivist way of thinking remains.

She says the risk factors for child abuse are "long periods of neglect, harsh physical punishment, caregivers being unemployed, drugs, a history of spousal abuse". Hold on. The first two of those ARE forms of abuse. Unemployment is a risk, but intergenerational welfare is moreso one. Other risk factors are criminality, poor education and unplanned/unwanted children.

She says the reason for child abuse is "It's pretty simple actually. The reason they're so high is that we tolerate violence to children."

Who is this "we"? She could have said "some people", she could have said "many", but no "we" tolerate violence to children. Because "we" all do, "we" all must be part of the solution.

Then she said "I actually feel quite optimistic about the next generation of parents. I think they are much more conscious of their parenting and they want to do a really good job." As opposed to the past ones, who were abusive and didn't want to be good parents.

She concludes by supporting her highly paid role "Somebody has to be there to step up. Somebody has to make sure that when laws are made, what's happening for children and young people and their best interests are at the forefront. And that's not a simple job."

Actually Dr Kiro, it should be the part of any good Justice Ministry to take into account the impacts of all laws on different groups of people. You were an advocate for surrendering the freedom and privacy of all families for a terrifying level of state surveillance all because you believed that "we" tolerate violence.

Most parents and most families do not abuse their kids, they love them more than you ever will, and do more for them than you ever will. It's about time that you focused your efforts on the minority who do abuse and neglect, instead of thinking you should be doing your bit for all kids.

Thankfully you'll no longer have the power and influence you have had.

Time to use your Qantas Frequent Flyer points

Not only because it is easier whilst Qantas flies domestically within NZ (although you can still use them on Jetstar), but Qantas is reporting a major drop in premium business to the point where it is contemplating reducing the number of business and first class seats from some of its planes.

That means if you have Qantas Frequent Flyer points and want to book an upgrade, or a flight in one of the civilised cabins, then the time is now - clearly there are plenty of seats for the picking.

Your chances are higher if you have status of course, but in a recession there are always reasons to be optimistic - and whether you're going from economy or premium economy to business, or from business to first, it is a good way to use frequent flyer points, and to appreciate the difference between flying misery and flying in a civilised way.

Police picking on the victim... again

Oh dear, Andrei at NZ Conservative blogs about the case of Zhuofeng "Titan" Jiang.

His brave story is told in the Dominion Post. It's almost too easy to guess.

Thug attempts armed robbery of takeaway shop, having already fired a warning shot into the floor and pointing the rifle at a 19yo worker. Owner confronts thug and wrestles rifle from him, shoots the floor and then the thug in the leg. Thug runs off in agony.

Jiang rightly said "I was not scared. I would do it again. I hate these people. I will never give them any money".

Police response?

Threatening prosecution of the shop owner. A civilian who the Police could not protect, and took 10 minutes to respond to (although Jiang claims it was 25 minutes). Now the Police are also "hunting a fat man, 1.8 metres (6ft) tall, wearing dark-coloured clothing".

Yes, the Police should warn that people are taking big risks by retaliating, but when the public are denied having the right to defend themselves, when the Police are patently incapable of acting quickly to respond, what are people meant to do?

It would be nice if the Police acknowledged that the owner's actions were understandable, and the Police priority is the thug who started it all in the first place.

Sorry Rodney, it doesn't answer the question

Rodney Hide attempts to answer concerns about the Auckland super-city in the NZ Herald.

He makes a minor mistake:

"Instead of .... eight local transport entities.... there will be one of each." No Rodney, there will be three core transport infrastructure agencies, Ontrack and the NZ Transport Agency will both be responsible for the railway and the motorway networks. ARTA is the single local transport entity that is meant to co-ordinate local road network development. So no material change here.

However, more fundamentally he evades the core issue.

What should be the role of local government in Auckland?

The government's answer appears to be "whatever local government wants it to be".

ACT's policy appears quite contrary to this.

It states:
  • Local government will be required to shed its commercial activity, thereby eliminating the need to separate regulatory and commercial functions between local and regional councils.
  • Roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis.
  • Abolish the local government power of general competency.
  • Require councils to focus on their core functions.
  • Ensure there is much greater scrutiny of regulations that undermine property rights.
  • Promote contracting out of many council services.
  • Lower the cost of complying with the Resource Management Act and other regulatory regimes.
  • Review the two-tier structure of local government.
It's a lot less than I'd want, but it's a start, but all we are seeing is the last point.

So why is Rodney Hide doing next to nothing to implement ACT policy on local government?

It isn't good enough.

If an ACT Minister of Local Government is just going to maintain the Labour/Alliance/Green policy - then what was the point?

Maori Party sympathetic to Tamil Tigers?

Well it is unclear. The NZ Herald reports that the Maori Party blocked a parliamentary motion expressing concern about civilians caught in fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This has upset Jim Anderton and the Labour Party, who are both implying that the Maori Party is sympathetic to the LTTE.

Hone Harawira preferred "calling for restraint from the Sri Lankan Government in dealing with the last enclave of the Tamil Tigers", which appears to be sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers.

Now I know the Sri Lankan government has behaved appallingly towards Tamils in Sri Lanka, as the dominant Sinhalese minority discriminates against Tamils. There are legitimate issues to be addressed. However the LTTE is a terrorist organisation.

It has carried out suicide bombings, carrying out 168 such attacks over 20 years. It has been responsible for the death of hundreds through terrorist attacks. It uses civilians as human shields, and has previously recruited child soldiers.

The end of the LTTE should be welcomed, there should not be restraint in wiping out that organisation, but the fate of Tamils living in territory controlled by the LTTE is a real issue.

So the question is this. Does the Maori Party sympathise with the murderous LTTE? If not, why can it not simply express concern about the plight of civilians caught in the civil war?

Satirical twitter NZ MPs

Following from David Farrar's handy list of Twitter accounts of NZ MPs, I thought I'd filter out the serious ones and list the funny ones. Most seem to be of Labour "men", suggesting they are good characters to have a laugh at, and that maybe most National MPs don't have enough public personality to poke fun at - and Nick Smith looks like he is absent any sense of humour.

Clayton Cosgrove
David Cunliffe
Hone Harawira (new)
Keith Locke (new)
Maryan Street
Parekura Horomia
Phil Goff (he has a real one here)
Shane Jones
Sue Kedgley (she has a real one, protected though)
Trevor Mallard

Catherine Delahunty on the other hand is funny, whilst being authentic
Nick Smith's one has been suspended (haven't noticed others suspended yet)

I like Cunliffe, Horomia, Kedgley and Mallard, and Horomia looks promising. If the Nick Smith one has been suspended because Smith is a humourless git, then thumbs down to him. If Trevor Mallard, Sue Kedgley, Parekura Horomia and others can take it, then more power to them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

UK's big brother state inches forward

The BBC reports that ISPs and telcos are being "asked" to keep records of all phone calls, all emails and all website visits to assist the Police in surveillance.

Nice.

Maybe the Royal Mail should keep a record of who sends and receives mail too.

Maybe there should be microphones in public places to keep a record of who has conversations with whom.

Why? Well the usual "it's about protecting you from murderers and paedophiles" nonsense is being trotted out, ignoring that most murders are between people who know each others, as is most molestation of children - and it is rarely planned over the internet.

It is the state being lazy. Too lazy to get warrants for interception of communications of people who are suspects of real crimes. Far preferable to hold information on anyone, communicating with anyone, looking at anything online. It has abandoned the idea of a single government database of communications, but wants voluntary agreement from the comms sector (which implies if it doesn't get it, it will legislated).

"Advances in communications mean that there are ever more sophisticated ways to communicate and we need to ensure that we keep up with the technology being used by those who seek to do us harm." says Jacqui Smith.

Of course it would help if the UK didn't have prisons overflowing, with limp wristed sentencing for those committing most violent and sexual offences.

No, we would all be safer under a Police state where we were all watched and if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. After all you can trust the state can't you?

UPDATE: Crusader Rabbit has essentially posted about the same thing.

The smallest most oppressed minority

All governments treat this minority with contempt to a greater or lesser extent, although some do talk respectfully of it, their actions are rarely supportive.

They say members of this minority are "only" that minority, denigrating them as being insufficiently worthy of consideration. Members are told they are "just a ......" or "you're just thinking of yourself as a ........".

Members of this minority are always told they should think of others first, sacrifice themselves.

Members of this minority regularly have violence done to them by governments, gangs and others.

This minority has an endless history of being robbed and its diverse cultures suppressed.

All of its people belong to the land of their birth, and have no common religion.

They comprise a global diaspora seen in every country.

A common philosophy to oppress them is to talk of the "greater good" and the need for "sacrifice for the public good". Schools even raise members of this minority to believe in sacrifice and in a greater power than themselves.

What is most tragic is how some members of this minority turn on their own kind, for power, in collusion with the oppressors.

Perhaps most universal is how the most successful, talented and brilliant are subject to punitive taxes, denigration and told they are "up themselves". Those who set up businesses are thought of as slave merchants. Those who are simple workers are treated as imbeciles incapable of making their own decisions.

You should know this minority well, it is the human individual.

and if governments treated everyone on the same basis, gave everyone's body and property the same rights, and protected this minority as a non-negotiable absolute - then no minorities would be oppressed.

(Reminded of this by Andrei at NZ Conservative)

Auckland's new motorway

9 May will give Aucklanders a chance to walk and bike for the first and last time on a piece of transport infrastructure paid for motorists that motorists can use, and which will deliver significant benefits in reduced journey times and vehicle operating costs, whilst also improving the local environment.

The Mt Roskill extension to State Highway 20 (SH20) will be open for cyclists and pedestrians to have a look around before it is opened for all traffic.

It has long been a worthwhile project, delayed by a group that wanted to save the volcanic cones along the route, and latterly by the Greens, it cost NZ$201 million and will greatly speed travel between west Auckland (Avondale, New Lynn, Blockhouse Bay and Glen Eden), the airport and Manukau City. It also widens the section from Queenstown Road to Hillsborough Road to 3 lanes each way.

What is effectively now the South-Western Motorway will now run from Puhinui/Wiri in the south (where it currently terminates at Roscommon Road) to Owairaka. It will also mean both Dominion Road and Sandringham Road will be connected more directly to the airport, relieving Mt Albert Road of congestion and providing alternative routes from central Auckland to the airport.

The Greens opposed it, pushed for it to be delayed by the government (which it was, briefly), supported protecting the volcanoes and wanted a rail line instead. Keith Locke even claimed that "SH 20 is a waste of public money at a time when climate change, local air pollution and oil depletion will all be much worse by the time it is opened".

Give Labour credit, this is one project that your fuel taxes have been spent wisely on.

Judge for yourselves. The 4.5 km extension will start opening for road users between 15 May and early June.

Already under construction is the next phase of SH20, linking the southern end to the Southern Motorway, then there will be a fast, efficient route from west Auckland to the south.

Funnily enough, whilst there is debate about having a megacity for Auckland, Auckland City Council seems to have stuffed up its small related projects. The foot and cycle path is incomplete because of a 66% cost blowout, and Auckland City Council hasn't prioritised widening Tiverton and Wolverton Roads (which link the motorway to New Lynn) so those routes are likely to remain congested.

Auckland City appears far more interested in My Fair Lady than paying its share to complete roads linking to a new motorway. Having said that, the contract for the motorway was signed at $168.9 million and is finishing at $201 million - nice bit of contract management there :/

While the Mt. Albert by-election proceeds you might ask the Labour candidate (whoever that turns out to be, Labour doesn't seem to care) why it wants to spend $2.9 billion on the final section of this motorway entirely in a bored tunnel when it is a similar length to the section just completed for $201 million? Why is Mt. Albert special?

Anyway, more detail on the exact design of the motorway extension is here and the overall project.

The Economist lays into Gordon Brown

In the leader this week, the Economist talks about the latest UK budget and describes it as "a dishonest piece of pre-election politicking", concluding that "the public is losing patience with him, and so is this newspaper".

It describes his strength as "dour pragmatism", but that he resorts to scheming and incompetent tribal politics.

Gordon Brown brought "two all-too-political sleights of hand: a string of over-optimistic economic assumptions and the misleading message that soaking the rich could absolve the other 98% of the population from personal sacrifice"

It assumes the UK economy will be growing by the end of 2009, and will grow by 3.5% in 2011, meaning public sector spending need only grow at 0.7% that year, which the Economist says is "a far more optimistic view than either the IMF or most private-sector economists take. No prudent prime minister would have allowed it." The prediction that state spending would go up so little was due to strong economic growth.

The implication being that assuming Labour loses the next election, the Tories face cutting spending significantly to meet this target if the economy does not recover so rapidly.

The higher tax on incomes over £150,000 is just as problematic, as it fails to address the need to drastically cut spending (or increase other taxes if that isn't done).

The Economist concludes:

"This must seem like clever politics to Mr Brown and his crew: folk have been inflamed by the greed and grubbiness of bailed-out bankers. In the short run, a bit of class war may work. But, like Nixon, Mr Brown is already struggling to escape the suspicion that he has a grudge against the world. And for every voter who likes the idea of soaking the rich, there may be several who remember that Labour pledged at the last election not to raise tax rates during the life of this parliament. "

It is worse than that, as the tax free allowance starts withering above £100,000 - a psychological threshold that now says "don't bother".

The Labour government has pretended for far too long that the top rate taxpayers will tolerate being milked for the inefficient and inept NHS, and the enormous welfare sector that includes huge state spending on housing, cheap education and a multitude of programmes for business and the general populace. The truth is UK taxpayers can't afford it - the Tories also know that if they win in 2010, they will have to tell taxpayers this, and cut spending, harshly. Then Labour will say how "cruel" the Tories are, without proposing to hike taxes up by a similar proportion.

It shows how utterly bereft of moral authority Gordon Brown's government is, systematically wrecking the public finances for the next government, delaying the inevitable, so it can blame the Tories for doing what could have been done years ago - balance the budget.

Hone Harawira vs Steve Baron

David Farrar has blogged the case of Steve Baron, who Hone Harawira MP "shut down" using rather strong language according to the Waikato Times.

Hone called him "racist" because Baron apparently

Steve Baron has his own blog and presents his view here.

He said:

Here is the question I was trying to ask, as requested.

""Given the injustices past governments have imposed on minorities like Maori, Chinese, homosexual (he became very agressive and cut me off here), would you and or the Maori party support the introduction of binding referendums as a check and balance on governments."

I attempted to rephrase the question so as not to refer to any of the three as a minority but got shouted down again. His opinion is that Maori are not a minority, but tangata whenua."

Now I don't know Steve Baron from the proverbial bar of soap, he was an independent candidate in the 2005 election in Pakuranga, and came third (beating the ACT and NZ First candidates). However, that is besides the point.

Of course National relies on the Maori Party for confidence and supply, so I expect little concern to be expressed about Hone Harawira's outburst from government quarters.

Hone sees Maori as "special" being "tangata whenua" (well some of the tangata whenua, if you're born in New Zealand you are not tangata whenua), and indeed this is the fundamental point of difference.

For Hone, (and Metirei Turia and many others) this is why they do not see being Maori as a matter of race, for being Maori is more than just being ethnically different - it is being ethnically special.

For for him, who your parents and grandparents and great grandparents are really matters as to how he wants the law, government and himself to treat and judge you. Calling you "racist" is a simple way to dismiss you as irrelevant and call on the hounds of others of your race to evade argument.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

John Key questions more sin tax

Yes, what a shift from Nanny Helen!?!

According to Stuff, the Prime Minister John Key on NewsTalk ZB said:

"I think you've got to be very careful you don't get in a situation where you simply whack up the price of booze and everybody gets affected because some, particularly young people, are going out on benders," he said.

"Because they (the Labour government) did that with the sherry tax and all that did was stop grandma having a sherry at night as opposed to the real purpose. . . I am not saying we have a closed mind to this issue, we will look at solutions.

"It is a problem, alcohol abuse, but not everybody drinking is abusing alcohol."

Yes - don't punish everyone for the bad behaviour of a minority. We no longer have a Headmistress running the country, but someone who actually believes that it is ok that many people drink alcohol responsibly, and that it is NOT ok to just tax them more because some people behave criminally while drunk.

This will amazingly confuse many bureaucrats. It is OK some people drink alcohol? Not everyone who drinks should be punished for it? Who would've thought?

Prince of Wales hypocrisy continues

It's not really news that Prince Charles is a Royal hypocrite on environmental matters.

So his latest antics say it all - according to the Mail on Sunday he decided to embark on a five day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues. He, with an entourage of 11 are flying to Rome, Venice and Berlin. For a man who is "so concerned" about climate change, you might think he'd avoid flying all over the place.

To top it off, he has a chartered a plane for the trip instead of booking commercial flights. Apparently 52.95 tons of carbon will be emitted by his trip, "nearly five times the average person's 11-ton footprint for an entire year".

Really, it does demonstrate how clearly having this man as a head of state is ridiculous. Of course he does a wonderful service is discrediting almost everything he says by his own actions.

David Farrar gets it but...

Yes on Kiwiblog he posts about "The Stalinist Wellington City Council" because WCC does not want new town centres and shopping malls to compete with existing shopping districts.

He is decidedly libertarian saying "So the Council has decided Kilbirnie and Miramar can get big shops, but Rongotai and Seatoun can not? I’ve got a better solution - let every business decide where they want to be located, and let the public decide if they will shop there."

Yes exactly David of course.

Now in the comments he gets some flack for saying Stalinist, given WCC doesn't run gulags, suppress free speech or have gun toting secret Police. Of course it is a hyperbole, but it is one with a core underlying point. Stalinists were central planners, those who thought they knew what was best for everybody and everything, and believed human beings could be moulded according to what was best for them, nor for their surroundings to be moulded into what human beings wanted.

That you see is the problem - planners want people to fit a plan, not for plans to fit people.

The comments are well worth a read, with Owen McShane, PhilBest and Paul Walker making perhaps the best.

Take this from Owen:

"Stalinist planning is planning from the top down based on the notion that central planners have superiour skills and knowledge and have the authority to direct and control the economy and of course the use of land. Stalinist planning refuses to acknowledge the efficiency of market led allocation of resources and the resulting spontaneous order..

We used to have a Town and Country Planning Act which gave councils the authority to direct and control the use of land and to manage the local economy. The RMA was supposed to have reversed this Stalinist approach by removing that authority and replacing it with the mandate to focus on adverse effects on the environment. Of course the central planners did not like this at all and soon persuaded the courts that you could not manage environmental effects without directing and controlling the use of land.

Climate change alarmism has now provided all the excuses they need."

The market "failures" are actually government failures to use the market, roads being the classic example.

Now what I'd like to know is why David persists with the National Party when it seems to positively embrace this in the RMA, and is doing nothing to change it, whilst promoting a mega-city that will enable Auckland to do one "Stalinist" plan for the whole region?

Why is Libertarianz now the only party that is fighting is?

The Standard distorts the idea of "service"

The Standard has made a peculiar post saying:

"All those engaged in service violate the neo-lib/neo-con ‘ethic’ of looking out only for yourself. Since neo-liberals depend on the stable running of society to pursue their own interests, they operate as free-loaders on the efforts of others to maintain a civil and just society. Since they do not understand the urge to help others, they denigrate."

Where is the evidence for this? When has anyone either conservative or laissez-faire liberal ever condemned those who either choose to be in the armed forces or engage in voluntary or paid work that is primarily about helping others?

It goes on to claim those who "denigrate service" are "parasites on society" because they rely on the stability that comes from those who "give service".

What?

What planet of Orwellian doublespeak and lies is The Standard coming from?

The condemnation of Helen Clark as "engaging in service" is valid because she has NOT engaged in defending the country, or providing health, education, food or housing for ANYONE? Politics is not some sort of self-sacrificial "service" it is a relatively well paid (for a fair number who enter it) activity that is primarily about controlling people and spending their money. How is this service? What else would she have done? Who can possibly say Helen Clark feels unsatisfied or that she has sacrificed herself for what she did? Moreover, how can this be compared to being a doctor, cop or an entrepreneur who sets up business and employs people?

The "stability of society" primarily comes about because most people most of the time get on with their own lives, look after themselves, families and loved ones, and don't try to meddle in or control the lives of others. The Police play a role in being called upon in last resort when people initiate force against each other. This is seen as "service" because it isn't obviously self interested, but few join the Police to suffer. The Police are paid, and most enter the job for a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. THAT is part of the selfishness Ayn Rand talked of, the virtue of looking after yourself as the primary goal.

You see for virtually everyone there is satisfaction in providing for yourself materially and emotionally, and in being benevolent to your friends, family and loved ones. It is what being human is.

Sadly some on the left think they have a monopoly on this, bizarrely translating "service" into meaning the superstructure of their beloved state - a series of interlocking institutions which initiate force.

That's where the two visions of human benevolence differ.

Statists believe your primary goal should be to "serve others", to "sacrifice yourself" is the highest virtue, and the best way to do this is through the state. You do this by working for the state and "doing service" through this, or you can surrender your taxes and know you are "caring" somehow by having it all done through this mammoth collective exercise.

Objectivists believe your primary goal should be to "live" and "enjoy life", and that is up to you. Human nature means people are social beings, so will be generous, benevolent and kind to family, friends and loved ones. It is, after all, how families are created. By maximising your life, you also maximise your own capacity and willingness to give to others - witness the generosity of Bill Gates.

Human beings who live their own lives pursuing their own values produce enormous positive externalities to others, as well as often being generous in their own right.

However nobody exists to satisfy the needs and wants of others. That is slavery.

Time for ACT to do something for freedom

It doesn't take much. Given this repulsive childishness from the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (of which I was a member under protest, without choice), which I now understand includes the following in the past:

"In 2007 exec member Heleyni Pratley laid a communist wreath on ANZAC Day, reading “To the dead and the dying in the struggle against imperialism, victory shall be theirs”. The same wording featured in the wreath laid by 1973 VUWSA President Peter Wilson in protest against the Vietnam War and again 30 years later by 2006 President Nick Kelly."

No different from putting a swastika down - unspeakably vile.

Rodney it is time to set students free from being forced to fund these lowlife scum, enjoying the freedom of liberal democratic Western capitalist civilisation to spread their filthy philosophy of theft, death and denial of truth.

They have ever right to be Marxist fools, but no student should be forced to fund the cheerleaders of the most murderous philosophy of the 20th century.

I said it earlier this year here. What's stopping you?

Friday, April 24, 2009

ANZAC Day 2009

I have nothing to say that I have not said before, or others have said so well. So here are my sentiments:

"take time today to remember those who lost it all for your freedom. They did more for peace than anyone who protests for it ever have" (ANZAC Day 2008 post)

"The only thing that would've been worse than World War 2 is surrender" (ANZAC Day 2007 post)

and to conclude, I like Not PC's post this year very much " if you want to give thanks for peace, then thank a soldier. But do not forget to thank the trader more"

So take a moment to remember the loss of those who gave their lives so you can have one in relative freedom and peace. Very few of us can begin to comprehend how hard that job is.

Zimbabwe's troubles? blame capitalism!

So says the Standard

Setting new high standards in blogging by linking to a four year old article on a US Marxist website (nothing like those articles that make assertions without any back up evidence) to damn the IMF and World Bank for wrecking Zimbabwe's economy in the 1980s.

"Mugabe’s government which followed the IMF and World Bank’s neo liberal plan for their economy to the letter, has shown us all how these policies will finish up."

Welcome to the Orwell's world of doublespeak.

No, I am not making this up.

Referendum on mega city for Auckland?

Don't make me laugh. There wasn't one for the 1989 local body amalgamation. There wasn't one for the Local Government Bill 2001 (now LGA 2002) which fundamentally changed local government from being prescribed specific powers to having a "power of general competence".

There certainly wouldn't have been one had the Royal Commission recommendations been adopted in full, by a Labour Government, which instituted the Royal Commission in the first place.

If I had a vote, I'd vote no in a referendum. For the reasons outlined succinctly by Not PC.

However, for the likes of Jordan Carter, Idiot Savant and the Standard to lobby for a referendum smacks of stinking hypocrisy. These promoters of big local government didn't even raise a peep when Labour, the Alliance and the Greens let local government off the leash in 2002.

More fundamentally

If the Opposition's only concern about the mega city are:
1. It should have race based political representation (saying that non raced based representation "shuts Maori out";
2. It should be subject to a referendum.

and if National and ACT are happy to create a mega city with the power of general competence (power to do anything).

Who the hell is against the mega city and wanting LESS local government for Auckland?

It all comes back to Libertarianz. Read the Libertarianz detailed policy on local government - after all, it's the only policy around that is substantially different from the Labour/National/United Future/ NZ First/ ACT/ Maori Party/ Progressive idea of a mega city for Auckland (as these are the parties which support the current government and supported the last one for calling for a Royal Commission).

Bad boys and girls

I heard Geoffrey Palmer, ever the old school prefect, on RNZ (via wifi radio) last night talking earnestly about how people drank too much and how there needed to be steps to address it. The Law Commission is arguing for a higher drinking age, for higher taxes on alcohol and shorter opening hours. A bit like keeping the whole class behind after school because a few kids did something wrong. The NZ Herald reports further on this.

Will de Cleene correctly slams this, as raising the drinking age makes alcohol MORE of a forbidden fruit than it is, and all the measures combined just raise the black market opportunities, including increased theft of alcohol.

Yes, some people commit crimes when they are drunk - that is a matter for the criminal justice system. Yes there is legitimate concern about people who drink so much they barely function or act in ways dangerous to themselves and others. However, that isn't because alcohol is available, it is cultural and particular to certain individuals.

You might ask yourself why so many people want to escape reality. Could it be because far too many people talk as if something isn't what it is? Could it be because so many live lives of quiet desperation and intoxication is an escape from them loathing reality?

UPDATE: Blair Mulholland puts it rather succinctly "Why should the government stop restricting alcohol sales? Because alcohol is fun. Because people enjoy it, most of the time responsibly. Because I like it and want to buy it. That should really be all the argument anybody ever needs."

South Africa rewards scoundrels and thieves

According to the BBC the South African election seems to have granted the ANC the two-thirds majority needed to amend the Constitution - again. On the bright side, it appears to be a relatively free and fair vote. On the downside, it shows just well the ANC has branded itself as the only political party that can do good for the black majority, and how it has branded the Opposition Democratic Alliance as racist (it is anything but), and the Thabo Mbeki breakaway (though he is not standing) party COPE as a wasted vote.

The ANC has gone from being a rebel terrorist movement (which brutally treated those within its ranks who did not follow the party line - shades of Zanu-PF) to being a dominant party in a liberal democracy. However it is one where the executive dominates the legislature, almost treating it as a formality, and where the President treats the Constitutional Court with contempt.

In South Africa, the separation of ruling party from state, executive from legislature, and judiciary from executive, legislature and party is highly blurred. However, this is far too complex for many South Africans to follow. It is also something the state owned and controlled broadcast media largely ignores - the SABC is by and large the mouthpiece of the ANC.

Zuma's past is known - there is ample evidence of him having extremely questionable financial dealings, he treated his rape trial with an appalling misogynistic attitude. He said he prevented AIDS by having a shower, and he is quite the polygamist (4 wives and 3 fiancees), as well as being homophobic.

None of this bodes well for any substantive change in South Africa. The main beneficiaries of ANC rule have been ANC rulers, now including the convicted fraudster and promoter of murder (necklacing) Winnie Mandela. ANC MPs have remarkable levels of wealth and so called "black empowerment positive discrimination" appears to have benefited relatives and friends of ANC MPs and high ranking officials, and their businesses, not the tragically poor underclass - who remain largely as they were.

So where now for the state with the second highest murder rate and highest HIV infection rate in the world? It wont become Zimbabwe - yet - the economy is far better run, and liberal democracy hasn't been quashed, it just has a playing field rather tilted in one direction.

What should Zuma do? Well I'll leave that to the Economist of last week:

He should state unequivocally that he will not propose a law to render the head of state immune from criminal prosecution. He needs to resist the temptation to elevate some of his dodgier friends to high judicial posts. Parliament needs more bite to nip the heels of the executive; the present system of election by party lists shrivels the independence of members and needs reform. To curb cronyism, all MPs, ministers and board members of state-funded institutions should register their and their families’ assets. He should also keep the sound Trevor Manuel as finance minister. Finally, Mr Zuma should ask his government to revise, perhaps even phase out, the policy of “black economic empowerment”. This may have been necessary 15 years ago to put a chunk of the economy into black hands. But its main beneficiaries now are a coterie of ANC-linked people, not the poor masses.


Time to cut the VUWSA off at the knees

Yes I believe in Voltaire's maxim - if Jasmine Fremantle wants to burn a flag at Anzac Day, then she should have the legal right to do so. If she wants to damn those who saved New Zealand from Japanese imperialist occupation, who helped save Western Europe from Nazism and Fascism, who helped deter the Red Army from rolling across the Iron Curtain, who helped roll back the Korean People's Army and "Chinese People's Volunteers" from making all of Korea Kim Il Sung's slave state, who helped prevent Malaysia from being an outpost of Communist slavery, who helped push back Saddam Hussein from occupying Kuwait - she can.

It is one of the freedoms defended and fought for by those who died in wars that they would rather not have had to fight.

However, if those forced by law to belong to an organisation that expresses these views opposes her, they should say so to.

Wherever the VUWSA Executive is on ANZAC Day should be confronted head on by those, who silently, tell them to go fuck themselves. Go contemplate how New Zealand would be had the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere been running for a few years - go contemplate how an OE in the UK would have been under the jackboot of the Third Reich. In fact go to fucking North Korea and enjoy the free speech there.

Meanwhile, if the government ever needed a stronger reason to abolish compulsory student union membership, it has it now.

The VUWSA can be a tinpot club for Marxist apologists for appeasement and letting fascist and communist imperialist forces impose tyranny on the world.

However, why the hell should anyone be forced to join it?

So go on - burn your flag - but enjoy the free speech of the others watching you, taunting you and telling you what childish ungrateful fools you are. I have yet to see anyone commemorating ANZAC Day glorifying war - but I've seen enough immature little "heroes" taking for granted the freedom that men and women fought for, which make any privileged little leftwing student look like a cowardly little nobody.

Oh and students? Time to demand your student fees back, to protest the university and really tell the VUWSA what you think, while it's time for a Bill to roll through Parliament.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

High taxes don't win votes or attract winners

Not when you've run deficits and borrowed the country into the ground.

The Daily Telegraph reports a massive swing to the Conservatives in the latest Yougov poll.

45% Conservative
27% Labour
18% Liberal Democrats

David Cameron has a 56% approval rating, vs Gordon Brown with a 69% disapproval rating. Not that the Tories have earnt it, they are just very lucky they didn't win the 2005 election.

Expect Labour to get a pounding in the forthcoming MEP elections for the European Parliament and the selection of local body elections that are run at the same time.

Meanwhile, the FT reports the new 50% tax rate will drive talent from the City of London.

The head of one City institution with a strong private client business fumed, “What are they trying to do, drive all the high-earners out of London?”

New York must be rubbing its hands with glee, and ready to welcome an influx of talent in a year's time.

Of course the knuckle dragging tracksuit wearing "werking peeepill" will think it's fair - and as a result the Tories are not promising to remove the new tax. Oh well, let the UK get what it votes for - and watch the talent leave.

Be nice if the left were honest

Idiot Savant's two clangers this week:

1). How fair is it to increase taxes on those who don't actually cost the state money? The UK is introducing a new 50% tax rate on earnings over £150,000, he says New Zealand could "do the same" by introducing a 45% rate on earnings over NZ$100,000. Wait a second, did you see that? NZ$100,000 is only £38,000. The new tax rate in the UK is cutting in at NZ$393,000, which in NZ would mean very few taxpayers indeed, because NZ is a low wage (and largely low cost of living) country.

He says "This move would not be contractionary, because the rich tend to stick their money in the bank (or in a housing bubble) rather than spending it." Really? Not term deposits or buying shares or investing in businesses or buying high end consumer goods or travel? What nonsense, where does he get this?

"it will help balance the books while helping to reduce the inequality which is fundamentally harmful to everyone in our society" he says. Why does that inequality exist? Oh yes is it because some people are more successful and entrepreneurial than others, or maybe because a lot of people come out of state schools barely literate, get paid to breed or be lazy, and get sold a philosophy that people get rich unfairly, or that someone owes them a living?

Higher tax rates and this attitude about "equality" sells the philosophy that people who are richer owe everyone else, through the state, more of their income than those who are fiscal failures in life. The real unfairness is the vast underclass of people who spend their lives from unearnt income off the hard work and risks taken by others, ungrateful, expecting more every year, and voting to thieve more from those who pay to keep them alive.

2.) Seeing Sweden as a great example to New Zealand, forgetting of course that its education system is based on vouchers, based on ANYONE being able to set up a school, including private businesses to run them for PROFIT, and parents being able to send their children to any of them, with their tax money flowing to their chosen school.

In other words ACT policy, and far more liberal and competitive than the centrally planned, bureaucratic system he often clamours for.

He ignores criticism of the Swedish health system for chronic waiting lists. A Swedish study in 2004 reports that 77 out of 5,800 heart surgery patients died on the waiting list.

For a bouquet though, he was dead right regarding Damian Green, the Conservative MP who had his office raided and was arrested because he received leaked information that embarrassed the Labour government. The UK Labour government is beyond a joke, is tired, stinking and should go as soon as possible. My only question is whether I'll go before I get a chance to vote the bastards out.

More air security for what?

Airlines and airports think it's unnecessary, but it doesn't matter. Government security goons are keen on it, because it will mean they get more money and more power, growing in influence.

According to the NZ Herald up to 14 extra airports could get security screening, but it isn't for terrorists. No. It is to cover drunk people (who surely can be dealt with without everyone being screened), the mentally ill (who airlines should be able to discriminate against, if it weren't for the Human Rights Act) and the disaffected.

I called for a serious cost/benefit analysis of the measure, if only because I believe the delays, and inconvenience to travellers (simple things like stopping people taking water on flights) will outweigh the risk, particularly if other options are selected.

Take this comment from Ray Dumble, chief executive of Tauranga Airport Authority, who said the government is "using a boulder to crush an ant".

"To me the action is potentially disproportionate to the actual problem. But, like anything, it's a business cost which will be passed on ... in the end it will be the poor old passenger who pays."

It's simple. In the UK thousands of trains travel every day without ANY security screening, some go up to 125 mph carrying over 250 passengers at a time - and passengers are screened for nothing. If this can be sustained every day in a country with far more serious terrorism (and domestic anti-social behaviour) problems than NZ, then we can let people fly from Napier, New Plymouth, Tauranga and Nelson without being harassed because 1 in 10,000 people who fly are mad or drunk.

What business should run for free?

The news from the NZ Herald that TV3 faces fines of up to NZ$300,000 because it broadcast advertising - its primary source of revenue on a Sunday morning should raise a more serious question.

Why should any privately owned broadcasters broadcast for free?

The laws restricting when TV broadcasters can broadcast advertising are a little recognised but very real limit on free speech. Why should the government dictate when a broadcaster can sell the only thing that broadcaster has to make money? Advertising.

Imagine a cinema that had to offer free tickets on a Sunday morning, or any other business that was told if it opened on a Sunday morning, everything would be free. Indeed, imagine the internet without ads on Sunday morning - um yes, got the point?

Of course look at who brought the case - the cheerless Ministry of Culture and the Arts. People who produce nothing, who risk nothing, but use your money to promote their view of what culture and arts should be subsidised. Not the culture and arts you consume and want, no. You're forced to pay for a statist view of the world. It's wrong, and the Ministry of Culture and the Arts should be disbanded.

Meanwhile, a small step forward would be to end restrictions on advertising on Sunday mornings, as well as Good Friday and Christmas Day (the only days radio stations cannot broadcast advertisements, but I doubt most of you even notice).

If you don't like advertising on TV on certain days then you can avoid it - do something else, turn it off.

What do you want councils to do then?

Given this news

You might ask why National and ACT are doing nothing to constrain the powers of the new Auckland mega city.

You want the new mega city to get involved in promoting shows with your money?

Well National and ACT don't care if it does.

So if the council will do what it likes
Wont reduce rates
It wont fix transport

What's the point? Especially when it makes some on the left get excited about the possibilities.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Iran's benign proxy?

Leave it to Trevor Loudon to post to remind us how an Imam from Hamas calls for extermination of all Jews.

Then wonder why, with this rhetoric, Israelis and Jews generally should "get over" the Holocaust, as so many leftwing commentators say.

While Palestinians support the likes of this, is it any wonder Israel wont compromise?

Oh and Iran funds and arms Hamas. However, you never hear calls for Iran to end its imperialist ambitions do you?

IRD cuts seen differently by Labour

250 jobs to be axed from the Department of Legalised Theft - which can only help boost the economy, as there are less claws trying to clasp money from the productive.

However, I found it funny that Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson on Twitter said:

"250 jobs to go at IRD. apparently its a good time to ask people to take voluntary redundancy! services we get from IRD will suffer."

Services? What are they Grant?

IRD is the state institution that says you're guilty and you have to prove your innocence to it. It harasses people to pay for what they never asked for, for services whether they deliver what you want or not, all without asking - it takes.

I've never understood the mindset of someone who would work for IRD - what joy is there is forcing people to pay for government? What joy is there is forcing people to surrender between 20 and 40% of their income for monopoly education, health and pension schemes which are never accountable if they fail you, and which you can't opt out of?

Taliban rolls further in Pakistan

First it was Swat Valley. I blogged about this tragedy here, here (the consequences of Taliban rule shutting down so much freedom) and here.

Just like the 1930s in Europe, the Taliban did not stop there. It didn't say "thanks we'll be good now", the Taliban have used Swat as a base, to fight onwards and now capturing Buner District, nearer to Islamabad.

CNN reports:

"The Pakistani government appears unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban's steady advance deeper into the territory of this nuclear-armed country"

Is Pakistan a failing state? What will it take for the West to be worried about Pakistan's apparent impotence against the Taliban? Will it take Islamabad to be surrounded before governments wake up and realise that the Taliban is taking over a state that holds nuclear weapons - and if you think a nuclear armed Iran is scary....

UK government hikes up taxes and subsidies

Alastair Darling has read his (hopefully) last budget, what a fizzer.

The same government that wants to borrow and spend, in order to boost the economy, is now raising taxes at the same time.

A new top tax rate of 50% is to be introduced from 1 April at a threshold of £150,000. So the UK is back to discouraging the best and brightest to remain, back to penalising success to pillage for the bloated public sector, and welfare for the underclass. It is a breach of Labour's 2005 manifesto pledge "We will not raise the basic or top rates of income tax in the next parliament".

Alcohol and tobacco duty increase by 2% today - the typical sin tax.
Fuel duty goes up 2p a litre in September, don't pretend it is about anything other than pillaging the motorist, as 5x as much is generated from fuel tax in the UK than is spent on roads.

Government debt is going to be 79% of GDP by 2013/2014 because Darling and Brown before him have wasted the good years, constantly running deficits. Now borrowing an additional £175 billion. Fiscal child abuse on a grand scale, because Gordon Brown refuses to cut unproductive government spending.

It's Gordon Brown's huge fiscal "gift" to an incoming Tory government, which will find it difficult to cut taxes easily without massive cuts to spending - and at the same time Labour will accuse the Tories of being heartless, when Labour has been stealing from future generations to buy itself power.

He is subsidising those with cars more than 10 years old by paying £1,000 subsidies to those buying a new car who already have an old one. Nice that, so those without cars get nothing and those already with newer cleaner cars get nothing. A nice subsidy to Labour voting knuckle draggers in the north.

250,000 jobs will be "created" through subsidies, and everyone under 25 who has been unemployed for 12 months or more will get training.

£500 million to "kick start stalled housing projects", great when you already have a deflated housing sector. Nothing like government to help further deflate a sector in decline.

The bloated Scottish Executive is to get another £104m, which upset the socialist SNP government which sees government jobs being cut there - good. The Welsh are similarly unimpressed with a reported £400m cut. Good. This is all part of reducing growth in state spending to 0.7%.

Tax credits for breeding are to increase, when the UK already has a massive problem of people on low incomes breeding when they can't afford to house, educate or provide healthcare for those kids.

£1 billion to subsidise low carbon businesses. £750 million to subsidise "emerging technologies". £525 million for offshore wind generation, because presumably it isn't efficient for users to pay for that electricity.

Pensioners get a 2.5% increase even though there is no inflation - Labour's bribe to pensioners taken from their grandchildren.

Leader of the Opposition David Cameron is unimpressed according to the Daily Telegraphthe worst peacetime public finances ever known. Any claim to economic competence is over, dead, finished.” He added: “With debt like that, our children are going to be in poverty for decades.

It's appalling. The British governnment squandered years of prosperity, milked the increases in the speculation of the housing market, and ran deficits, poured money down the black hole of the NHS, boosted welfare and kept subsidising the criminal underclass through housing, welfare, health and education, and now it is squandering more.

This budget wont boost the economy, as it borrows to subsidise some industries, and means that future budgets mean more tax increases and tougher spending cuts just to get a balanced budget.

What's most insidious is the philosophy behind it. It is class warfare returning. Labour is saying:
- If you're wealthy and successful, you owe it to the country to have more of your money taken to prop up the government's past failures;
- If you're a pensioner or a welfare beneficiary, don't worry, we'll improve your standard of living so you can vote for us to borrow and hope some more;
- If you run a business that bureaucrats decide is "new technology" or "low carbon" expect money that was taken from other businesses.

It is a return to the old Labour borrow, tax and spend. There is so much wasteful pointless government spending in the UK, tinkering here and there, subsidies here and there, schemes, projects and other nonsense that could be cut - but no, Labour wouldn't hear of it.

So the message is clear- from April 2010, the best and brightest can either be taxed in the UK more heavily, rearrange their affairs to avoid it, or just fuck off.

Why would you stay to get half of every pound you earn to pay for the UK government?

ALL budget documents here

UN Racism conference farce continues

UN Watch continues with highlights of the Durban Review Conference, to show the madness did NOT end with Ahmadinejad's tyrade against Israel.

Testimony presented at the conference challenged the Libyan chair by exposing Libya's own racism (remember the foreign nurses imprisoned in Libya for spreading HIV?). Most poignantly presented by a Palestinian, who was one of those nurses imprisoned.

"Thank you, Madame Chair.

I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with five Bulgarian nurses.

Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.

Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death. All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners."

Watch the France 24 news coverage (in English) here.

A racism conference chaired by a representative from a totalitarian dictatorship that randomly villifies foreigners.

UN Watch also notes a side event which included Iranian political dissidents, including a representative of the Azeri minority in Iran, which claims persecution by the Iranian regime.

Meanwhile the Palestinian delegate used the conference to accuse Israel of being the worst human rights violator (hardly surprising). Syria's delegate echoed this damning Israel, and saying all foreign occupation is racism. (Turkey would be a bit worried about this, China might be less keen on this, as would Pakistan and Russia, since all have some territory claimed by others).

Gee is there no racism elsewhere? Besides, can you really trust delegates from authoritarian states to give an objective view of racism in their states?

UN Racism conference was a farce before it started

While most of the focus on the UN Racism Conference (Durban Review Conference) has been on Ahmadinejad, the signs were there well before that this would be a farce. Islamic countries all wanted the conference to be an effort to prohibit defamation of religion, and to slam Israel. Cuba also wanted anything to do with freedom of speech removed. Iran sought to overwhelmingly dominate the conference proceedings.

Even more sinister is the effort by China, Cuba and South Africa to promote the idea that victims of Trans-Atlantic slave trade should be compensated - i.e. implying the old call that African-Americans should be compensated for what their distant ancestors suffered. That all fell flat.

UN Watch has excellent coverage of the background meetings before the Conference, showing just what rogues so many attendees were looking to be:

In the Intercessional Working Group for the Durban Review Conference, Pakistan, speaking for the group of Islamic states (OIC), objected to paragraph 56, which “Stresses that the right to freedom of opinion and expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society,” saying that it did not see how this relates to the conference’s focus on racism.

(In which case what harm does it do? Yes you can guess).

Cuba argued that paragraphs about freedom of speech and expression should be moved to the more passive Section 1, which reviews progress of states rather than demanding action from them.

(Funny that, you don't get freedom of speech and expression in Cuba)

Cuba also endorsed mention of the ad hoc committee on complementary standards, an Algerian-chaired U.N. committee that is seeking to add an additional protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that would define criticism of religion as a violation.

(In other words, trying to say criticising a religion is a form of racism - what nonsense).

China, Cuba, and South Africa argued that there needs to be more work on paragraphs 60-62 on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. China said these paragraphs should be more “victims oriented,” implying support for the African-led effort to demand that Western countries pay reparations for the past injustice.

(In other words, the US government should pay African-Americans compensation for the suffering of their ancestors - even though Africans in Africa today almost all have lower standards of living than African-Americans).

In a meeting of the Durban II working group at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Iran was extremely active, proposing amendments and language changes in more paragraphs than any other state, and in a few instances, ignoring the Chair’s plea to hold off on certain paragraphs for the time being and engage in a constructive manner.

The closing session of the working group on the draft Durban II declaration:

Iran asked that the paragraph on Holocaust remembrance be deleted;

(because of course, it mind never have happened right?)

The Czech Republic for the EU requested an amendment to the controversial paragraph 30, which “Takes note with appreciation that the Ad hoc Committee on the Elaboration of International Complementary Standards convened its first session,” proposing to delete, “with appreciation.” The ad hoc committee is primarily responsible for promoting the campaign to criminalize the “defamation of religions” within U.N. human rights law. Nigeria lashed back at the EU, proposing to keep “appreciation,” while adding, “and commends” the committee. The paragraph was then tabled and skipped.

(Czechs bravely wanted to dismiss the Islamic driven attempt to restrict religious criticism, while Nigeria endorses Islamofascism).

Cuba
proposed the deletion of paragraphs 55 and 56, which emphasize the importance of freedom of expression, saying, “There is no reason why we should single out one right, which is not even associated with the fight against racism.”

Iran proposed a new paragraph 56 that calls for “permissible restrictions to freedom of expression.” It also suggested integration of the “defamation of religions” concept into article 66, which deals with incitement to hatred.

(Both being great opponents to freedom of expression).

So is it any surprise that New Zealand felt that there was no point going to fight a gallery of rogues that were uninterested in racism, and driven more by fear of their own appalling standards of free speech and openness being scrutinised?

Single Auckland council wont fix transport

"There will be an integrated single authority for Auckland's roads and public transport"

Wrong.

There will be three.

Megacouncil will look after local roads and contracting public transport, kind of like ARTA is meant to do now, but doesn't do a good job of local roads. You might reflect on why that is.

NZ Transport Agency will continue to look after the state highways. Ministers don't trust the Auckland Megacouncil to do that. Who would blame them? So the busiest most strategically important roads in Auckland wont be a matter of the Megacouncil.

Ontrack will continue to look after the rail network. Ministers also don't trust the Auckland Megacouncil to do that. Again, key routes for freight (set aside the unprofitable low frequency low density passenger services) are too important to leave to a local authority.

If you want to see how poorly a local authority can perform on transport planning and management you need only look at Auckland's past, which is littered with several planning screw ups. Here are a couple.

1. SH20: Land was designated for the so-called "South Western Motorway" in the 1960s, to link the Southern Motorway to the North Western Motorway. The land was empty at the time, so placing a designation on it meant anyone using the land would know it would one day be acquired for a motorway, so short term leases were the order of the day. However, the ARA and Auckland City Council decided in 1974 that the route beyond Richardson Road to the northwest was not well defined, and so the designation should be dropped from there. As a result the designation only comprises the sections now being built - from the Southern Motorway to Mt Roskill. The Waterview Extension debate is purely because previous Auckland councils decided the South Western Motorway need end at Mt Roskill. Well done. Cost of that decision now runs at least to $1 billion.

2. South Eastern Arterial: Auckland City Council decided in the 1980s that there were inadequate connections between Pakuranga, Mt Wellington and the Southdown areas so decided to revive plans for the "South Eastern Motorway" to link Church St to Mt Wellington Highway and the Pakuranga Motorway, with on and off ramps to the Southern Motorway. It did so on the cheap. The resulting road has few shoulders to accommodate breakdowns, and traffic lights on multiple busy intersections when it should be a proper motorway with flyovers. Ultimately this will need perhaps $100 million of improvements to bring it up to standard to relieve the bottlenecks on this important road.

The Auckland mega council wont change that - and in fact the government doesn't even trust it to manage its own networks.

So let's stop hearing arguments that a single council will be good for transport in Auckland - when there isn't any evidence for that.