Sunday, November 28, 2010

How impartial is Wikileaks?

As interesting as it is for Wikileaks to publish stolen communications from US diplomatic sources, are there not similar communications being made available for Wikileaks to publish from countries that are not Western liberal democracies?

Will it receive such uncritical coverage if it publishes British diplomatic communications regarding strategy with the European Union? How about New Zealand's diplomatic communications on trade access issues?  How about South Korea's diplomatic communications about north Korea defectors?

Would it not be at least as interesting, and indeed more valuable if Wikileaks also gained access to material from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Zimbabwe, Burma, Cuba etc?

After all, what has happened so far has undermined confidence in US diplomatic communications, but not that of others.  

Not that Wikileaks has an agenda, no.  Surely not.  I hope not.  Maybe it is more a factor that Wikileaks is anglo-centric?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Idiot Savant wrong about London student protest

I’m fascinated about the authority Idiot Savant claims to talk about a protest in a city he wasn’t in, based on media coverage he was selective at looking at.  From his post you’d get quite a distorted picture of what happened, but then he couldn’t possibly know.  Not even the Guardian and Independent articles he quotes support his distorted propagandist view of what happened.

He’s either stupid, lying or just wilfully blind.   You see I actually am IN London and SAW the protests.

Let’s start. 

He said “The UK government is currently trying to balance its budget by shifting costs onto the young, through a trebling of university fees. This will prevent many kids from poor families from going to university”.  Bearing in mind this is shifting costs from future unborn taxpayers to current students.  However, he is wrong about it preventing kids from poor families going to university as they can get student loans to pay for fees, that they do not have to start paying back until after they earn the average wage.   A barrier to poor students?  Hardly.  In fact, the threshold to repay the loans is being increased as well, but that fact spoils the tale the socialists are stringing out to justify their protests.   That’s just him swallowing the spin of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Then he claims that the protest was kettled (when the Police surround a group and confine them) and THEN the students rioted in response.

No.  Quite where he got this from is curious, as none of the major media reported this either.

In Whitehall a group descended on an unused Police van and vandalised it, others vandalising bus shelters and ticket machines, Transport for London reported objects had been thrown at buses carrying passengers at Trafalgar Square, smashing windows.   Buses were diverted away to avoid further incidents.  Some spray painted slogans on buildings.  To be fair a handful of schoolgirls who were skiving off school tried to stop some of this, but to no avail.

The kettling happened after this as the group descended on Parliament.  The Police responded appropriately to protect property and the public, and it isn’t surprising why.  There are reasonable grounds for opposing kettling, but to keep a protest contained when it has become violent is quite acceptable.  However, Idiot Savant is painting a picture of students surrounded, kept confined and THEN lashing out - which is completely wrong.  He should know better, but he isn't driven by reporting the facts, but by his own socialist agenda.

You see he completely ignores what happened on the last protest, when students ran amok, vandalised the Conservative Party headquarters, occupied the roof and one threw a fire extinguishers onto the Police below narrowly missing them (that person has since been charged).   Does he really think the Police should stand by and let private property be destroyed and peaceful citizens be threatened and intimidated by a mob?

No.  He wasn’t there.  I have seen both protest marches and the aftermath.   I know what the policy is (and I didn’t vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat) and it isn’t keeping the poor out of university education.  This is largely a group of na├»ve middle class students who are bemoaning the fact that when they start earning above average incomes, partly due to their education, they might have to pay the majority of the costs of that education.   These protests are hijacked by violent criminals (anarchists who don't recognise property rights).  The Police acted appropriately.  

Maybe Idiot Savant should concentrate on protests on cities where he is actually there, or maybe he should either report what actually happened rather than undertake a Gramscian reworking of the facts to fit his political agenda.

Oh and if students want something to protest about, how about that university education in Scotland has no fees, that this is funded from Westminster and on top of that the European Union demands Scotland offer the same education to students from any OTHER EU Member State.  That does NOT include England, because England is deemed to be in the same Member State as Scotland (which is true).

So English taxpayers subsidise free Scottish tertiary education so that Bulgarians, Romanians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Poles, Finns, Swedes, Danes, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Austrians, Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Cypriots, Maltese, Portuguese, French, Belgians, Luxembourgians, Dutch and the Irish can get a free tertiary education - but they can't.


That's a serious reason to be pissed off with the European Union, the Scottish government and the whole devolution experiment.   However, socialists love the European Union because they think it can help make everything "free".

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sue Kedgley says your diet is not your responsibility!

Frogblog has this astonishing post from Sue Kedgley where she damns a new UK government policy because:

"The idea is to shift responsibility for health and improving diets from the state to society and to convince people that public health is all about personal responsibility"

Yes you read it right. Sue Kedgley does not think people should be primarily responsible for their own health and their own diets.  She wants responsibility to be held by the state.  Not only that, she also thinks you all agree with her, you want to be treated like children, because she follows her comment with:

"And no, this isn’t a joke, it is for real. And since its happening over there, we will probably see a version of it happening over here soon."

You mean New Zealand might see an end to finger pointing joyless control freaks using force and regulation to control people's diets, smoking, exercise (or lack of)?  Speed the day!!  

The question is, how does Sue get up in the morning without having the state organising her meals for the day?  Maybe she simply uses Bellamys and other state owned eating houses to get reassurance that she is eating correctly. 

You see, not having had much attention lately, she has turned her attention to events outside New Zealand (because being an elected New Zealand MP means you should comment on what are basically internal policies of other liberal democracies).  She is having her perennial panic about consensual collectives of multi-ethnic adults seeking to make a living out of investing in capital and selling goods without regard for borders, race, nationality, religion or background - in other words multinational corporations.   Those despicable evil companies that sell people want they want, at prices they can afford at conveniently located stores.

Her concern is that the British Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government has invited the food industry to develop policies to encourage healthier eating or as she describes it "will focus on persuading –or ‘nudging’—people to make healthier choices without force or regulation"

This is when her synapses short circuit.  One shouldn't persuade people to eat healthier now, she disapproves of persuasion when there are the glorious tools of state "force and regulation" to compel people to eat healthier.  Presumably she wont take this as far as it has gone historically, when the Khmer Rouge had communal kitchens and cafeterias for the hard working proletariat (no disparities of wealth or inequality!) to eat the same rice gruel every day. 

Though why should I be surprised, Sue is legendary for being the greatest proponent of the use of force in Parliament.   Her dismay at the UK government not wanting to use force is because:
Apparently it’s all part of a wider Conservative agenda to replace state intervention with private and corporate action!
Her beloved Nanny State is threatened, and the exclamation mark shows how outrageous she thinks it is!
Now I have a beef about governments getting involved in this at all.  Producers of healthy foods are able enough themselves to promote their products.  Consumer and health lobby groups are also able to pay for campaigns to promote healthier eating.  The state shouldn't even be doing this.

However what is astonishing is that the Green Party thinks you shouldn't be responsible for your own health - you should be like a child, who guzzles what it feels like, on a whim, and needs the carrot and stick of the Nanny State to force you to do what is right.

She thinks the lumpenproletariat are stupid little people who need the state to force them (she doesn't like persuasion according to that article), like gullible children, to eat more fruit and vegetables, stop smoking, exercise more and get strength through the joy of being healthy.

Kedgley and her health bureaucrats wet themselves with excitement at being able to control how people live their lives, in the name of "public health" because to them, personal responsibility is a failure.  Personal responsibility means some people don't do the "right thing", and so only the state can make sure they do.  She can't stomach that lots of people LIKE McDonalds, LIKE chocolate, LIKE smoking, LIKE getting drunk, LIKE high fat high sugar food.  

Of course there is something even more sinister behind this.  Like a patronising imperial empress, she and other health busybodies, treat Maori and Pacific Islanders as children, because they disproportionately tend to eat less healthily etc, she wants to help because she thinks she should be responsible for people's lives.  Sadly she hasn't picked up that the hectoring she has advocated fails, and that people by and large know what are the healthier things to do, but don't always want to do so.  Their lives though, NOT Sue's.

Go to hell Sue, the sooner New Zealand sees the back of joyless, finger pointing, busybodies like you from Parliament, the better.  Go peddle your hectoring bullying, force people to do that, regulate this, philosophy somewhere where it is warmly welcomed - Rangoon, Pyongyang, Ashgabat or Minsk.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DPRK anoints Kim Jong Un with some murder and vandalism

That is my explanation for the murderous and vandalous assault on Yeonpyeongdo (do = Island) (37°40'N,125°41'E), by the Korean People's Army.  Yeonpyeongdo is an island well north of the 38th parallel and is far closer to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)  mainland than the Republic Of Korea (ROK).  So it was an easy target.  The Korea Herald reports one marine is dead and four seriously injured, but also there have been 60-70 homes damaged of what is largely a community of fishermen.  Chosun Ilbo (in Korean) is reporting that 1772 residents of the island are in shelters, with others fleeing on fishing boats south towards the mainland.  Certainly the destruction has been overwhelming and overshadows the usual occasional skirmish of gun fire that is the DPRK's means of "practicing".

There is little doubt that the DPRK will claim it is a response to the military exercises started on and around the island in the weekend, which the DPRK threatened would not go without a response.  Typically the DPRK response would be the odd shell falling well short just to send the signal that the "military demarcation line" is nearby, although the exact location in the two seas either side of Korea is always disputed.   This time it is real, perhaps the greatest incident in Korea since the war, in terms of sheer damage.   It may well be simply part of the process of demonstrating to the people that Kim Jong Un is a great general (he was anointed the status of 4-star general in September), fending off the "provocative" imperialist forces.   Yet it also shows the tension in that regime, as recent rhetoric and activities have been far more peaceful, with exchanges between families and a toning down of DPRK rhetoric.   The truth being that the Korean People's Army has some leaders who see no interest whatsoever in a reduction in tensions, as transformation of DPRK-ROK relations could only result in a lowering of military expenditure.

The only appropriate response is to respond militarily to this response in kind and then freeze aid and further discussions.  The DPRK deserves to be condemned forthright not only by the ROK government, but by the US, Japan, China and other countries.   Hopefully the rather lackadaisical attitude of many ROK citizens will have been shocked open by this to realise the real threat from the north.  Sadly most in the DPRK either know nothing about the news (the story of which is being carefully crafted for the Korean Central News Agency as I type this) or will have the usually manufactured story about the DPRK having been the victim of provocation, and responding boldly to a threatened attack under the wise guidance of General Kim Jong Un.

It would be funny if it didn't cost lives. 

However, in the spirit of "if you can't shoot 'em laugh at them" you too can create a DPRK propaganda insult with the DPRK Random Insult Generator you "half-baked philistine".

By the way, if you want the latest and best intelligence on the DPRK that is published, you will find it hard to beat North Korea Economic Watch.  It is responsible for by far the best overlay of detail on Google Earth of the country called North Korea Uncovered.   Bear in mind that much of that overlay shows what 99% of citizens of the DPRK do not know, and think of how much it irritates the DPRK that it is known by everyone else.

UPDATE:  The Korean Central News Agency does its job with typical "unique" use of language.  Merciless strikes that don't quite note the destruction of the homes of families on the island.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ireland's troubles can be blamed on its government

The "Celtic Tiger" has gone astray and is now seriously considering a bailout from the EU or more widely.   Such a bailout will be embarrassing for a country and economy that was booming and considered a successful role model for economic growth.   However, whilst it looks like  "just another government bailing out banks" let's understand why this has happened, and why the Irish government is bothering to save the banks.

First is that the Irish banks were flooded with cheap credit because of the Euro.  Unlike other fiat currencies, the supply of Euro is set not by a national central bank, but the European Central Bank, which is largely driven by the three major Euro economies - Germany, France and Italy.  Monetary policy in the age of fiat currencies is driven by management of inflation, so it has been economic growth and inflation in Germany primarily, but also the other large economies that has driven interest rates with the Euro.  For Ireland, which has had economic success partly on the back of economic reform and low rates of company tax, this has meant inflation of assets and consumer prices. 

In an age of national fiat currencies, governments tighten monetary policy to reduce the supply of credit and control inflation (although the only inflation measured is consumer prices, which neglects inflationary speculation of property).   Ireland had no such instruments, so "enjoyed" a boom fueled by cheap credit.  That cheap credit fueled a bubble of investment, largely related to property.  Many companies relocated because of the lower corporation tax, and Ireland's infrastructure improved significantly (telecommunications, electricity, water, roads and airports all upgraded significantly, as well as public transport in Dublin).  Ireland's government borrowed to fund this and expenditure on health, education and welfare.

The bubble can be blamed on three key sets of players.  Firstly, the European Central Bank for continuing to maintain low interest rates for the Euro, expanding credit and helping to fuel loose credit for Irish banks.   Secondly, Irish banks for taking these cues to lend and fuel the property boom.   Lending was imprudent, not by all banks, but by enough to create a bubble of bad debt not only for property, but businesses based on the wider economic bubble.   Thirdly, the borrowers.  Those people and businesses who chose to ride the wave of the property bubble.  They sought quick capital gains, they borrowed on the basis of the same chimera.

Yet when things started to look shaky elsewhere, the Irish Government made the most foolish move of all, it decided to prevent a run on Irish banks by providing a government guarantee for all deposits, debts and investments.   The purpose being to shore up the banking system by attracting investment and deposits from elsewhere, the result being to make Irish banks far less interested in being prudent and shifted the liability from bank shareholders and debtors to Irish taxpayers.

Now that bubble has burst, and the Irish government is to get a €100 billion bailout from the EU.  A bailout that is worth a staggering €16400 per person.

Meanwhile, the Irish government is to engage in further austerity, cutting spending significantly.   The Austrian government has already complained about the low corporation tax wanting Ireland to be forced to increase taxes (which make it more competitive against the many higher tax Eurozone economies).   The Irish government has been resisting this quite rightly.

It has been suggested the Irish government should abandon this guarantee of the banks and abandon the Euro.  Allister Heath says it shows the treaty on the Euro is worthless.   Of course the dimwitted Labour Party in the UK says it is the fault of the Irish government's austerity measures from last year, which is a bit like blaming a heart attack on the stress of going to the doctor.    It is claiming the UK could face the same crisis, demonstrating how astonishingly out of its depth it really is.

Sadly the medicine Ireland needs is to abandon the Euro, maintain its low tax policies and swallow the price collapse in property, and the end of several of its banks.  The government probably has to guarantee bank deposits up to a certain level, but withdraw its guarantee for future deposits or liabilities for banks it does not own, and privatise the ones it does.   It needs a new relationship with the EU which is not one of dependency, but one which only embrace the open flow of goods, services , investment and people. 

However, it has wider repercussions whatever happens.  Some in the Eurozone say the real need is to strengthen EU control of national fiscal and taxation policies, that in fact the crisis in Eurozone countries can only be managed by a more centralised EU - which would be an economic disaster and politically unpalatable.    The alternative of the end of the Euro has already been described by EU Council President as risking the end of the EU.

Frankly, bring it on.  The EU has been the transformation of a sound project to remove barriers between European countries into a statist socialist monolithic unaccountable super-state which seeks to regulate (and tax if it could) European citizens into a pablum of mediocre non-competitiveness with each other.   The more it is in crisis, the better it will be in the long run for European citizens, or rather the ones that don't work for the EU and aren't the recipients of its ill gotten largesse.

The Irish will resist pressure for Brussels to control its government spending and taxation policy, the stronger Eurozone countries will get fed up bailing out those others who have been profligate with government spending.   Something has to give.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An average couple announce engagement

and the British media become airheads.

The tabloids I can expect, but the Daily Telegraph, Times, the Independent, the Guardian, the BBC, all fawning over what is, at best, a state funded celebrity event.

The Guardian isn't allowing comments on its website, and my comment on the Daily Telegraph was heavily edited even though all I was saying was that it is empty headed banal celebrity worshipping of people who have done nothing remarkable in their lives.

Even the brainless fawning of celebrity culture is at least usually about people with some talent in music, sport, thespianism or the like.  This is nothing but the glorification of people because of who their parents are.

Now let's be clear, William and Kate are at worst benign suckers on the state tit, although he does have a real job for now.   However, it would be a tremendous step forward if they simply said "we are getting married in a small private ceremony with our families", and got on with their otherwise dull lives.

William is likely, one day, to have the dreary constitutional function ably performed by his grandmother, of signing off on legislation passed by Parliament, regardless of what it does to the rights of British citizens. 

Given the reaction of the proletariat and the media (a story that writes itself and allows otherwise intelligent adults to get fascinated about minutiae), I doubt Britain will mature enough to move on and demand a constitution that preserves its freedoms, rather than reinforces prejudices that what matters the most is who your family is, not what you do.

Mr Barroso can go to hell

So the  European Commission President Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso (who, believe it or not, is more free market oriented than most in that entity) is upset that some Member States are opposing the expansion of the EC's budget, which means that a 2011 budget has not been approved which might mean the EC works on a month by month basis.

How sad.

Tough.  Time to wake up to the real world.

When he says "Those that think they have won a victory over 'Brussels' have shot themselves in the foot. They should know that they have dealt a blow to people all over Europe and in the developing world"

He is so wrong.   People all over Europe don't want to pay more to your unaccountable, unaudited monolith of  bureaucracy and socialism.  

Taxpayers are already reaping what has been sowed as overspending by their national governments has created mountains of national debt, and continued deficit spending that is growing those mountains.   They all face spending cuts in national budgets, and many also face tax increases.  

On what planet does Mr Barroso think Europeans will be disappointed if they pay more for his bureaucracy and its socialist inspired programmes (which are basically subsidies for inefficient farmers or development assistance for former Soviet bloc economies)?

No.  It is time for European taxpayers to stand up, to tell their feather-bedded MEPs in Brussels a big no to more spending.  

The most the European Commission ought to expect next year is a ZERO budget increase, which would be the case if it went to month by month approvals hopefully.

What I'd like to see are cuts, of the kind that would help match the savings of many Member States cutting spending.   33% next year would be a good start.  The same again the following two years, and by then what's left is enough to fund the windup of the European Commission into a small monitoring team to ensure barriers on free trade and investment within Europe are maintained.  Those who will complain the most will be some thousands of people in Brussels who will need to find real jobs, thousands of farmers who will face having to sell goods for a living rather than live off of subsidies and those who seek the lucre of EC construction projects in the east and south.

A touch of North Korea for New Zealand

I can tell from first hand experience, that this story from Not PC, is philosophically and ethically identical to how north Korea sees its citizens.

You are owned by the state, your property is the property of the state if it so wishes, the state is sovereign.   You are to take this as an honour more than anything else.

Moreover, individuals whose greatest achievement is stringing together some sentences in Microsoft Word dare tell those who have worldwide acclaim for REAL achievement (and his wife) that their property is somehow more special if the party state sees it as special for the nation.

The NZ Herald reported: "Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief executive Lewis Holden said today its focus was on getting the watch back because of its heritage and historic importance to New Zealand."

So a collective nation carries "importance", like it has a collective brain, and therefore Holden (now there is a name with heritage for some) must get zee watch back!! It is too important for the people, the party, the state, the nation for filthy foreigners to get their hands on it.

The appropriate response to this is a two fingered obscenity.

Yet one could ask the Minister and the government if it approves of such nationalisation of private property of the family of famous achieving New Zealanders.

Of course the real reason any of this is happening is a family feud, whereby the progeny of Sir Edmund Hillary are upset that mum is selling the watches.  Who is right? I am not in a position to say, it should  be a matter for the courts. What should only be a dispute about chattels among relatives now has the state stomping in, invited of course, by the same progeny (after all, they deserve more than simple property law to mediate such disputes) to nationalise the disputed property.

There hasn't, of course, been a peep from the government, in any party, just going to show, once again, that ACT can't even raise a peep when its alleged principles are sold out like, well any politician really.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi's moment and maybe hope for Burma

Burma has been misgoverned for nearly 50 years.  It started with General Ne Win's coup in 1962 and the "Burmese Way of Socialism" led by the radical Marxist-Buddhist Burma Socialist Programme Party.  It combined the economic illiteracy of centrally planned Marxism-Leninism, with racism, superstition and heavy authoritarianism.   The country stagnated and protests gathered so that the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) was established after another coup in 1989, with brutal suppression of dissent.  Elections held in 1990 saw the National League of Democracy, led by Aung Sang Suu Kyi, win the majority of seats in the national assembly, which was promptly ignored as she was put under house arrest.  Burma was renamed Myanmar and continued to be one of the hermit states, ignoring the criticism internally and externally, whilst doing business will all those that have similar standards of concern for freedom and individual rights (China, Iran, North Korea).

It's important to not think of Burma's reign of repression as only starting when Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest - Burma has been suffering for most of its post-independence existence, including many years when the Soviet Union was its friend, along with Pakistan.   Burma has suffered from policies that expelled foreigners, but restricted movements and speech of local people.  Ethnic minorities were suppressed or ignored.   Mass uncompensated nationalisation cost the economy badly, so that it has stagnated for decades.   Only the government is allowed to broadcast or publish.   It was widely noted how the government ignored pleas to allow humanitarian aid in after Cyclone Nargis - a government that prohibits others helping its citizens is completely devoid of any moral claim to exist.   Burma has been following socialism for decades, and has demonstrated wonderfully how a regime exists for itself, and to treat the population as either slaves or a nuisance to its warped vision.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi's release may be a prelude to reincarcerating her if she is seen to "cause trouble", which may explain her low key statements in the past few hours.   However, her release whilst not covered in Burmese media, is widely known throughout Burma via foreign media outlets such as the BBC World Service and Voice of America services in Burmese on shortwave (yes a media largely forgotten but critical for people in any dictatorship).

The regime may seek to achieve some reconciliation and abandon isolation, or it may simply be biding time to let everyone know who is boss.   The great hope can be that the people of Burma stand up, and the slithering entities who keep this despicable regime in power turn their back on it.   If only they had the weapons to protect themselves and rid themselves of the scum who think they own their lives. 

Perhaps Aung Sang Suu Kyi's bravery, calm and strength will give the people of this impoverished land the strength to stand up and overturn the mediocre bullies who are contemptible.   All strength to her and those Burmese who want to say enough, and to hell with the traders of many countries (included the French company Total) who happily do business with murderers.

It's NZ's best blogger's birthday

Well he might be aging disgracefully but he still strings out plenty of thoughtful posts on an (almost) daily basis, so wish him happy birthday, although by the time (and timezone) most of you read this in, it will be past.

I call him NZ's best blogger not because of humility (bugger that), but simply because it is the ONLY NZ blog I read almost every day.  It almost never annoys me, it regularly inspires me and is not filled with the tribalism seen in too many other places.  He attacks the poseurs and pseuds on the right as much as the obvious targets on the left.   He laughs and expresses dismay when advocates of Islam and Christianity are found wanting, but also points out when some on the left actually get it right (though almost always for the wrong reasons).

It's beyond the middle muddle ground of current history that is Kiwiblog, the abusive hypocrisy of Idiot Savant and the "politics for kids" partisanship of The Standard.   Not PC has been more philosophical than most, with smatterings of art and lifestyle.   

All in all it is a pretty good read, not just because I usually agree with him, but because it tends not to be a rant.

So go over there, wish him a belated happy birthday, he's the best daily read you can get on NZ public affairs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Privatisation reveals high speed rail is a dud

For the Blair Government, building a high speed railway from the private built, funded and owned Channel Tunnel was a matter of national pride.  The "business case" was questionable, with a benefit/cost ratio of less than 1, propped up by estimates of "regeneration" impacts at Ashford (which have by and large failed to come about).   However it was about Britain have a high speed railway because France had one at the other end (and Belgium too).   The support for a high speed railway was driven by emotion, because the economic (and the monetised environmental) case was not driven by reason.

The main beneficiaries of the line are not freight users (freight trains don't operate at high speeds, and the lines bypassed were not near capacity), nor those who move road vehicles by shuttle through the Channel Tunnel, but travellers on the Eurostar international service.   Many of them are business people who otherwise would have travelled by air, leisure travellers are not so time sensitive so would largely have gone by rail anyway. 

Why does it matter now?  Well the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government has privatised it.

Yes amazingly coalition government in the UK, (which includes a party that has been solidly leftwing for some years)  is not shy about privatisation.  It doesn't upset the government that railway unions are upset about it, because most people don't care.   

It was bought by foreigners.  Yes!  A foreign consortium dominated by two Canadian pension funds is paying £2.1 billion for a 30 year lease on the rail line from St. Pancras to the Eurotunnel railyard near the tunnel entrance.  If you believed socialists you'd think that it will result in the asset being run into the ground, services deteriorating and becoming too expensive, in actuality the expectation is that there will be more services, as new train operators are expected to be allowed to use the line.

Yet the real tale is what an atrocious "investment" this line was in the first place.  You see the line cost £5.8 billion in the first place.   Taxpayers' money (well borrowed on their behalf).   A 63% write down on the initial investment.   Yes, it can be leased out again, but in 30 years the interest on that write down value is more than double the sale price.

So yes, the first high speed railway in the UK was a deadweight loss, a destruction of wealth for the British economy.   Even a bid that goes beyond expectations shows that the new owners can't even expect to recover half of the capital cost from train companies.  

So you might wonder if that was such a dud "investment" then why is this deficit cutting government so keen to pour money into another one that wont even come close to covering its costs from users?   More grandstanding, national pride and totem building.

Of course if it's lousy for Britain, it is many times more lousy for the USA.

Marxist thuggery takes over London protest

The UK government faces a chronic budget deficit and so one of its policies has been to significantly increase university tuition fees so students pay a far higher proportion of tertiary education costs.  Given the benefits of university education are carried almost exclusively by the people getting the education, it is hardly unfair.   The state student loan scheme even allows students to borrow their fees and not have to pay back the loans until they earn over £27,050 a year.   So it hardly forms a barrier to anyone, unless they fear their education isn't worth it once they start earning the average annual income. 

Of course to the socialist National Union of Students (voluntary membership in the UK by the way, but universities fund it directly), it's unfair.  They moan that current generations of politicians got a free university education - back in the days when a far smaller fraction of people went into tertiary education and the welfare state wasn't draining taxpayers of so much money.  

This attitude that the world owes them an education, that the budget deficit isn't their problem (presumably they don't think they should pay more tax to cover the debt Gordon Brown threw their way) and that other people should pay for their choices means they are obviously disrespectful of property rights.   It shows too.

A bunch of them marched to Conservative Party headquarters, smashed it up, invaded it and one even threw a fire extinguisher off the roof at police officers below.

In other words, if you don't give us what we want, we'll take it and do violence.

and the Labour Leader of the Opposition is silent...

The state and children

One of the perennial issues that fires up politicians, the media and many of the public in the UK, as with many places, is when a case of horrendous abuse and neglect of children is discovered.  More often than not one or more parents are implicated in it, and accusations are thrown around about why it wasn't detected earlier.  

The role of the state in this is enforcer of criminal law, but it is in the difficult area of crimes against children by their parents and guardians.   Children inherently do not have the rights and powers of adults, because their rights are held in trust by their parents/guardians.   The opportunities for children to reach beyond these people to seek help for violent or sexual abuse are varied, but may be severely impaired by abusive adults who threaten or apply violence and detention upon them if they say anything.   The situation of the scared small helpless child being beaten or raped, and fearful to tell others is one of the most appalling and repulsive images for most sane adults.  

Until comparatively recently, many children in those situations had to rely upon other relatives to rescue them or for trauma to be severe enough to be obvious to a doctor, if medical attention was made available.   Even in such cases, sadistic parents/guardians might lie, "she fell down the stairs" excuses abound.  Sexual crimes in particular being difficult to prove, or even link to an individual in an age before DNA evidence.   The word of abused children alone was often not believed.  

Yet most children were and are raised by parents/guardians who love them, who don't beat and abuse them, and while never perfect (who is?), they genuinely acted in the child's best interests.  Such children would be fed, clothed, kept warm, given medical attention, taken to school and given the attention, love and dedication of normal loving parents.   In other words, the family unit works, most of the time.  

Yet the cases when it failed came to increasing attention in the 1970s and 1980s.   It started with physical abuse, as more women in particular came to no longer tolerate men beating them up (and their children).   It then came with sexual abuse, and the truly disturbing issue of incestual child rape (when children wouldn't be believed because their father was a "pillar of society") which gained attention.

The road to hell was then paved with the good intentions of those who wanted to protect children.  I recall in the 1980s a NZ Telethon which claimed that 1 in 3 girls in NZ were sexually abused by their fathers.   A bogus statistic sourced not from prosecutions or even charges, but by writers in feminist social policy.  Some of the definitions of "abuse" included "seeing dad naked" - which is highly likely to occur at some point, given families can share bathrooms, or children can walk into bedrooms uninvited etc.  

Of course there was a wider agenda going on.  The focus was on men committing abuse (which was no doubt backed up by statistics) and the focus on taking children away from fathers.  A similar philosophy was taking over in the UK, Australia and the US, including the now largely discredited theory that children who say "no" are scared of saying "yes" when asked about abuse.

The approach was rather simple.  A child was placed in an interview with a psychologist, who would progressively ask leading questions as to whether "certain things happened" that would constitute abuse.  If the child kept saying "no" this wouldn't be believed, until finally the child, having figured out that she was giving the wrong answer (and being uncomfortable with being constantly questioned) said "yes".  At that point there was glee from the psychologist, and the apparatus of state would come into play and split up a family, putting it through criminal investigation and trial.

The snake-oil merchants and pseuds who perpetrated this nonsense caused enormous harm and damage to parents and children.   "False memory syndrome" was a similar theory, which implied that people who were abused "blanked out the memory" (true in the case of very severe ongoing trauma), so when they couldn't remember any abuse, they would be probed more until they finally "remembered" something that could have been interpreted as abuse (e.g. "I was on dad's lap and I can't remember if he might have had an erection or not, I don't know, he could've, but I don't remember noticing it, though I might not have known what it was to remember it").    

So whilst some were looking for abuse at every corner, every time a real case would appear (maybe once a year or so), there would be horrors that "not enough had been done".  

Well in the UK today plenty is done, although Ofsted (the bureaucracy responsible for "children's services" in the UK) claims 119 children suffered serious injury or death due to a failure  to intervene.  Meanwhile, the untold story is that of cases of intervention that are traumatic and dead wrong.

You see under pressure to ensure every child is safe, authorities in the UK respond hysterically to suspicions and allegations, and put parents through processes where it is assumed that they are guilty, until proven innocent.   Christopher Booker has been highlighting these issues in two articles in the Daily Telegraph:

in the latest year for which we have figures (2008), of 7,340 applications for care orders made by social workers, only 20 were refused.  Meanwhile, the children themselves are handed over to foster homes, which receive £400 a week or £20,000 a year for each child, and where many are intensely unhappy and not infrequently abused. Foster carers and social workers routinely conspire to tell bewildered children that their parents neither love them nor want them back. Children and parents meet at rigorously supervised "contact sessions", where any expression of affection or attempt to discuss why the children have been taken from home may be punished by termination of the session or denial of further contact.

"one Court of Appeal judge recently compared the conduct of a council's social workers to what went on in "Stalin's Russia or Mao's China". But in general this cruel, dishonest and venal system continues on its way, hidden from view, accountable to nobody but itself."

Data privacy laws prevent anyone getting any decent information about specific cases, and parents also know that if they talk about their experiences, they are under further suspicion.  "Kafka-esque" is one description of it  

Parents are forbidden to talk to the media or even to their MPs about the injustice they are suffering. Several times in recent months, councils have sought injunctions to prohibit me reporting anything at all about a case, even though no person or even the council itself would be identified. More than once, parents have been threatened with contempt of court and prison if they talk to me or anyone else about how they are being treated.

He writes about a case of a family that fled to northern Cyprus after social workers took their child off them because a neighbour complained about the parents having a noisy argument.  Grandparents on one side of the family had decided to work with social workers and got custody of the child, and the whole mess unravelled.  After the interim care order had taken away their child they wondered:

Last June, puzzled at why the interim care order had not been renewed as the law requires, Carol called the court. She was told that the order had lapsed three months earlier. When her husband confirmed this by a second call to the court, Carol drove to her in-laws’ home to explain that there was no longer any legal reason why her daughter could not be returned to her. Her mother-in-law protested, but the child was so overjoyed to go home that she ran to get into her mother’s car. The mother-in-law stood in front of the car but Carol reversed and drove off.   When her daughter said she was hungry, they stopped at a motorway service station. The grandmother had alerted the police, the car number was picked up by a camera and before long Carol (who was pregnant again) was arrested, handcuffed and pushed into a police van. At the police station, she collapsed and was taken to hospital.

What is clear is that many thousands of people are involved in a state industry of child protection that assumes intervention is preferable to investigation and assessment.   The common law right to assume someone is innocent until proven guilty is under attack, and children are assumed to be in imminent danger when there is no objective evidence as to that danger.  More importantly, the risk and harm involved in forcibly separating children from their parents in these circumstances is almost completely underplayed.

What is needed is to consider objectively what the role of the state should be in protecting children.   It certainly should intervene when there is sufficient likelihood that failure to do so will put the child in danger of violent or sexual assault - (and I don't mean a smack, i mean a beating).

That isn't a threshold of balance of probabilities, it isn't a threshold of beyond reasonable doubt (that's for the courts), but it does mean accepting that sometimes children wont be saved.   Yet it is better that this be the case than for the state to recklessly damage families and harm children by intervening when it shouldn't.   Police forces may have washed their hands of assessing families in favour of child protection workers, but how well placed are they to make judgments about intervening below criminal standards of proof.

The culture and philosophy behind child protection needs a serious investigation.  The priority given to protecting children should also include an assumption that it is best children stay with their parents/guardians unless there is enough prima facie evidence that they are criminally abusing the child.  That doesn't mean shouting, it doesn't mean being drunk, it doesn't mean seeing mum and dad naked, it doesn't mean accepting hearsay as enough reason to intervene.

Moreover, some serious thought needs to be given about whether it remains appropriate for the state to subsidise the raising of children.   The clearest message to adults should be that if you breed, it is a cost upon you to raise children - they will cost part of your income - YOUR income.  You wont get extra money for extra kids, or a bigger house.  You will have to cope.   If you don't like it, then don't breed.  If you breed accidentally then put up with it, or give up the child for adoption.  

If it seems harsh to abolish it, it only needs 10 months worth of warning that no new applications for benefit for children will be accepted, and people will be on their own if they have more kids.   The existing benefits can be frozen nominally.   The quid pro quo is that taxes can be cut.  

The welfare state pays people to breed, it rewards fecundity, yet the same state seeks to punish if it gets a hint that children are not being treated "as they should be".   The very same state relies on taxes from the vast bulk of families who never create a single problem.  

At one time the state let families be autonomous and people daren't intervene in their neighbours affairs - the Fritzl case in Austria being an extreme example of what happens when people become completely atomised from each other.   However things have moved too far towards a culture of assuming that when allegations are raised, they are true.   It will never be perfect, there will always be children who aren't saved, there will always be families who are unfairly and brutally split because of false allegations and assumptions, but a free society should always presume innocence first.

Humans first, not animals or the supernatural

I don't say it enough.

I detest cancer, I detest the fear of cancer.

I thoroughly embrace and endorse all those who develop pharmaceuticals, ontological procedures, stem cell treatment and other research to eradicate this heartless scourge.

I detest those who interfere with such development because they care more about the brief lives of animals than the lives of humans who would be saved suffering and death from it.

I detest those human hating environmentalist  Zeus's who treat those who engage in the bio-chemistry of genetic engineering like Prometheus, and do all they can to spread their lies of fear and blind hatred of science, through their Dark Ages worship of the "natural".   Cells growing out of control and taking over a human being is fucking natural you fools.

I detest those religious believers who treat embryonic stem cells as if they are equivalent to human beings, and who seek to interfere with that research.

Most of all I am fed up with having to face the fear of cancer in loved ones again and again.

This time it better not be.

Monday, November 08, 2010

McCarten a ranting fool

For some time Matt McCarten has had a profile in New Zealand politics, because he has been able to express himself rather well.   For he has not been much of a success story, having been President of the New Labour Party then the now virtually defunct Alliance Party.   Bear in mind the Alliance peaked in vote in 1993, when first past the post made it a safe protest vote at 18%, 1996 saw it drop to just over 10% and when it was almost certain to get into power in 1999 it dropped to just under 8%.   After losing its personality cult leader of Jim Anderton, McCarten's Alliance fell out of Parliament in 2002.  Quite why he still has a column in the NZ Herald remains a mystery, and the Herald should think very carefully about whether he still deserves it after his latest rant.  For rant is all it can be described as, being as devoid of fact and pithy analysis as many talkback callers.

We start with a headline that tells us that McCarten basically doesn't believe in liberal democracy.  Quite something for a man who has had such high level involvement in a party that sought power and was part of a coalition government for one term.  The "idiots rule" at poll booths.  Unlike Matt, who knows better.   Not that many of us who comment in politics don't sometimes wonder why people vote as they do, but for him to suggest that voters are stupid implies he is better than they are, and should make their decisions for them.   I guess given his political heritage that may not be all that surprising.

Of course he doesn't mean New Zealand voters (yet) but rather Americans.  Nothing like bashing a whole nationality of people, particularly Americans.  I mean had he said Indians, or Chinese, or Kenyans or Samoans or... but he wouldn't would he?  It's ok to bash people according to their nationality because in Matt's world white Americans have power, and can be insulted and denigrated.   Not that he would tolerate anyone saying people of his nationality are stupid with "naivete and proud ignorance" (sic).

Then he has his own vision of the Bush years "Two years ago the Republicans, led by that boofhead, George Bush the younger, idiotically ran their own form of Rogernomics: giving the rich huge tax refunds; slashing public services".  Matt did you actually follow US public policy over that period or just fit it into your binary left-right framework that fits New Zealand rather well, but doesn't fit the US?  Where do punitive tariffs on steel imports fit into Rogernomics, where does bailing out banks, where does expanding state education ("No Child Left Behind" was a bipartisan initiative with that known "Republican" Ted Kennedy), where does increasing state spending and deficits fit into Rogernomics Matt?  Yes there was a tax cut, which applied from middle to upper incomes, but slashing public services?  No. Any privatisations? No, even though USPS, Amtrak and the FAA are all easy targets.  

No, you see Matt is dumbing down US politics so you can understand it, except it's so dumb he's wrong.  It is why the Tea Party opposed so many Republican nominations for the mid term elections and why the Tea Party has specifically rejected the past politics of both main parties.   Such details confuse Matt, he obviously forgot Rob Muldoon was one of New Zealand's most socialist Prime Ministers, because he opposed him at the time.

Matt ignores that "going to war against two countries" was in part retaliation for 9/11.   Of course he would rather the US sit back, take 9/11, feel guilty and let the Taliban be emboldened and maintain their totalitarian rule in Afghanistan without interruption.   He would deny it, but that is precisely the implication of his statement.

He continues to be wilfully blind on Obama "."He used his majority in both houses of Congress to get an economic stimulus to save greedy capitalists from themselves and then introduced a health system to cover just about everyone who got sick".  Actually Matt, the Bush Administration was playing big spend ups and bailouts first, but you were ignoring things at the time.  The "health system" is compulsory health insurance, which you opposed when it was actually Roger Douglas's policy for New Zealand in a slightly different form.   Too complex I know, just blank it all out Matt.

"Obama also saved millions of skilled jobs by nationalising the car industry" Steady on Matt, keep a tissue handy.  Your economic illiteracy only gets you excited by seeing money taken off of millions of people somehow "saving jobs" by going to a few thousand.

"The liberals and progressives have been sidelined to a large degree. In New Zealand, the power of corporations and wealthy individuals in United States politics seems extraordinary" Yes you noticed how rich all those Tea Party supporters and American voters are.  Oh that's right, they didn't decide things really did they?  The US media was completely against Obama from the start, not that you'd notice this on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, NPR, PBS, New York Times or the LA Times etc, but Matt doesn't bother consuming much foreign news, obviously.

"Can you imagine a corporation in this country being able to spend as much money as they liked to get a policy they want adopted, or unlimited funds to get a favourite candidate elected?"  You mean like the campaign for electoral reform?  Oh you mean spending their own money as much as they liked - their own money.   However, you think it isn't their money do you?  You think anyone with money must have taken it from someone somehow.   Bit of envy is it, or just disbelief as to how free people actually function on a grand scale?

"the calibre of the "teabag party" Republican candidates are just plain scary. Many of their serious contenders oppose abortion openly, even in cases of child rape or incest on the basis that it is "God's plan". One of them opposed masturbation. Others argued that if they didn't get elected their supporters would take up arms to overthrow the country ."

Many? Really Matt?  Or is that just your own spin again? Yes that's right.  One opposed masturbation once yes, but it wasn't her policy platform, and your party had Alamein Kopu - one of Parliament's greatest non-entities, and screaming Pam Corkery, an enormous intellect there.   Maybe had you quoted the Tea Party website which had only three policies you might have had some substance there: fiscal responsibility, smaller government and lower taxes.   Hard to paint that as hysterical madness isn't it?
"Attendees at their rallies carried assault weapons" How many Matt? Do a handful at hundreds of rallies count at significant?  Does this not happen with Democrats? 

"The leader of the Congress Republicans campaigned actively for a candidate who dressed in Nazi regalia,"  Yes as a joke Matt, and your Sandra Lee once compared what happened to Maori as a Holocaust.  Given Obama's past links to far-left radicals and a pastor who blamed the US for 9/11 and made numerous anti-semitic remarks, you might want to look in your own ideological backyard.  

Then, finally, Matt sees this as advice for Phil Goff!  "Working people need a party with specific visionary policies. Merely being a more pastel version of the other party won't get you elected next year, Phil."

Why not? It worked for John Key, he was Labour lite par excellence.  Your party had a vision, and it didn't get close to the 5% threshold once it lost its "great leader" Jim Anderton.  

The message Matt didn't get from this is that many Americans became scared at vast overspending by government of THEIR money (Matt doesn't understand that taxpayers think their money is theirs!) and borrowing ever more that will have to be paid off.  He didn't get that maybe a lot of Americans WANT more of their money back, and don't like ever growing government doing more for them.

You see Matt, while you and your ideological compadres were thinking the USSR was simply an alternative way of looking at things, and it was best to be neutral in the Cold War, Americans by and large did not.

It would help if you took down the hammer and sickle in your brain and opened your eyes.  You're more prejudiced than most Republicans, you're more stupid than many of them too because you can't even engage in basic research or read sufficiently widely to figure out what was going on in the US.

US voters rejected Obama because he was elected on a vapid bubble of hype, empty slogans of "change" and "can we fix it, yes we can".   There was nothing behind this but the hype of believing one man could make people's lives better.   That bubble has been burst, and Americans fear being pushed into second place by an Administration that keeps spending far more money than it gets in taxes.

Sadly, because you can't think beyond your ranting leftwing cage, you spout out empty nonsense which has at best a few grains of truth in it.

Friday, November 05, 2010

ACC - Another reason to hate Nick Smith's politics


"he poured cold water on speculation that workplace accident insurance might be opened up to full competition from private insurers after an ACC "stocktake" completed in June by a group led by former Labour Party Finance Minister David Caygill. Its report has not been made public.

Dr Smith said opening the business to competition would be "a very major decision and, consistent with the John Key pragmatism and cautiousness, we are not in any hurry".

Could you be more of a spineless hypocrite if you tried?

You VOTED FOR opening the workplace accident insurance market up to competition when National was last in government.  You VOTED AGAINST returning it to a statutory monopoly, and now you are in charge of it you have the testicular fortitude of a mouse.

What has changed Nick? The rest of the developed world has open markets for accident insurance, for both workplace and motor vehicles.  New Zealand once led the world in reform, deregulation and opening state monopolies up to competition.   

You've shown you're little better than the Jim Andertons, Jeanette Fitzsimons and the Winston Peters, scared that without nanny state running everything, people will make the wrong decisions.
Just join Labour and be done with it, you'd be happier there.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Greens think smokers are just so stupid and pathetic

Nothing shows the Green Party up for the authoritarian control freaks they are than this press release with this statement:

We need to get smokes out of our homes and out of our shops,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said. 

So blatantly collectivist, so blatantly uninterested in personal responsibility, choice and property rights.  

Who is this "we" Metiria?  Why do I have to do anything as a non-smoker?  Why should I have anything to do with what other adults do in their homes and their shops?

What are "our homes" and "our shops"?  They are NOT your homes or shops.  YOUR homes and shops are the ones you own, not everyone elses.  Property rights still exist in New Zealand.  It is not some grand socialist uber-state where everyone is responsible for everyone else.  

"Too often the focus is on punishing smokers and not controlling the industry that profits from the drug"  Oh and the Greens want smokers to have the right to smoke on their own property or to allow smoking on their own property, including restaurants and bars?  No. The Greens like punishing smokers too.
She has taken upon herself the role of Big Mother, given that Cindy "Stalin" Kiro no longer has he position:

"Mrs Turei said her main focus was on caring for New Zealand’s babies and children.
“This means giving our wahine, our mothers, all the support they need to quit and to stay smoke free."

New Zealand's babies and children?  They don't belong to the state, or the nation or country or whatever collective entity you want to ascribe to them.  They belong to their parents and guardians.  NOT you.  They are not "our wahine, our mothers".   After all, over 90% don't even vote for you.  
Feel free to give them support Metiria.  Through your own efforts and money.   However, you should stop treating smokers as stupid, pathetic and incompetent children who need you to protect them from their own actions.  How patronising and disgusting it is to think of yourself as better placed to make their decisions for them.

The only people who can get tobacco out of their homes and shops are the people who own them.  Feel free to try to convince them, but get the hell out of the way if they tell you where to go.   Yet the problem with the Greens is that they don't believe in peace, they don't believe in non-violence.  They warmly embrace the violence of Nanny State taking people's money, telling them what to do in their shops, and treating them like children.

I say this as someone who personally loathes tobacco, hates the smell of it and who has seen people I love suffer the consequences of smoking.   However, as much as I would not shed a tear if tobacco became a thing of the past, I find far more threatening the finger wagging patronising petty fascism behind the Greens treating people like they are children.

It makes one want to light up.

UPDATE:  Meanwhile the Netherlands has taken a step towards freedom according to the Daily Telegraph.  The new coalition government, which includes the Party for Freedom (the much maligned party of Geert Wilders who is more a libertarian than anything else despite the braindead media thinking he is aligned to neo-fascists) has abolished the smoking ban for owner-operator pubs.  In other words pubs with no staff.  It is a small step, but it shouldn't be debated.  It is simple.  It is private property.  If you own a pub, then you can decided if you or your patrons smoke there.   It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.  If you don't like it, don't go there.

Want growth? Get a spatial plan

Yes that's what the Green/ACT government thinks.

The headline is "Spatial Plan will ensure economic growth for Auckland".

The main space I can find is between the ears of the press secretaries of Nick Smith and Rodney Hide that have let such empty nonsense escape their offices.  It plunges new shallows of vapidity, reaches new epic heights of failure and demonstrates once again that this government is devoid of philosophical challenge to the leftwing, planning obsessed arrogance of the past.

The press release is so empty that you could drive a train through it, and it shows once and for all that Nick Smith, the Green Party member in Cabinet, is driving policy.

There is more substance between an electron and the nucleus of an atom than this piece of pontificating waffle

"One of the most important roles of the Auckland Council will be to articulate the 20-30 year vision for Auckland through the spatial plan"

Really?  What happens if it doesn't happen? Will there not be economic growth?  Indeed when has ANY local government successfully forecast economic activity by sector, location and the like ever?  Did the local government plans of 20 years ago talk about the internet and online economy?  Of course not.  Did the local government plans of 40 years ago talk about an economy driven by services and tourism from China and India?  Hardly.  So why is it important?  
Take this piece of Sir Humphreyism.. "Cabinet agreed the spatial plan is the key vehicle for developing an integrated approach to managing Auckland’s urban growth."

Why manage it?  Why must there be an integrated approach? Who told you this (the Ministry for the Environment Smart Growth control freaks no doubt)?  
Oh the faith... "The spatial plan will illustrate how Auckland will develop in the future. It will show where and when growth will occur in transport, housing, energy, water, recreation, education and health infrastructure and services"

Will it Nick? Will it, bollocks!  Unless you live in an authoritarian nanny state where you stifle the private sector growing anything that is not in zee plan.  How do you know Auckland will develop like that, and most of all, how do you know it is right?

Oh and he knows what Aucklanders like "Aucklanders will be looking to see that the spatial plan sets out their aspirations for their city – all those that are affordable and feasible – and which supports efficient and effective resource allocation"

No they wont, they will be looking to see how best to live their own lives peacefully, with their family and friends, minding their own business.  Most of them are not busybodies who want to tell other people where to live, how to move and what businesses they should run and where. 

Imagine Auckland without a spatial plan.  It isn't hard. 

Auckland hasn't had one up till now.  However, you voted for National or ACT to make sure there was one didn't you?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The US votes for something different

The Democrats are about to get their nose bloodied, Obama will no longer be able to defer to Congress to write his legislation for him.   He wont be able to increase spending again.  He wont be able to increase taxes.   In other words, he wont be able to spend his way out of trouble.

Yet they wont get it.   

"Though it has been typically misrepresented by the liberal media as a rattlers’ nest of gun-toting fruitcakes who want to ban masturbation and abortion, it is, of course, nothing of the kind. It is – whatever the increasingly redundant Moonbat may claim – a genuine grass roots movement inspired by the one great political cause truly worth fighting and dying for: the cause of liberty. " says James Delingpole in the Daily Telegraph.

The Tea Party is a libertarian inspired movement, which has the backing of more than a few conservatives.   Yes there are some wingnuts, but the Democrats are not without their share of the same. 

Toby Harnden in the Daily Telegraph has written what he thinks will be the top 10 excuses for losing.
1.   Opponents (or enemies) don't believe in science or facts.  They are stupid.
2.   Democrats have been gutless and haven't defended their "amazing achievements" well enough.
3.   Democrats did the right thing, even though it is unpopular (oh yes, really hard decisions to spend more money they didn't have).
4.   It's history, you always lose somewhat after 2 years.  Nothing new.
5.   Democrats were too moderate, not enough change.   Not enough government.
6.   Democrats have communicated badly.  It's about marketing.
7.   Evil big business and foreign (remember these are people who name others as racist) money is feeding the enemy.  They aren't real Americans looking after real Americans.
8.   Racism.  Why else would you oppose a Black President? 
9.   The media is to blame, especially evil Fox News.   It does a lousy job.  It didn't give Obama an easy run at all did it?
10. It's Bush again.  Yes all that small government rhetoric, so common wasn't it?

Obama is desperate to increase turnout by his core of youth, Latino and Black voters, but he isn't inspiring.   Instead of preaching hope, he is preaching fear, based on at best misunderstanding, at worst lies.   Harnden says of Obama "at its core, his message is one of promoting what Margaret Thatcher called the "nanny state" at home and Wilsonian internationalism abroad.  The problem last time was that Obama DID express hope and seemed to embody something different, but what wasn't clear to many was what it meant - it didn't mean an end to pork barreling, it meant more spending, more taxes and no limits on what government was prepared to do.   This has scared people, they fear the world's biggest economy is being hamstrung by being the world's biggest debtor nation, and that free enterprise and free markets aren't important anymore.

The Tea Party is saying to hell with you all, but has managed to inspire enough Republicans to its cause.  

What will happen?  Well Congress wont be quite the same again.  It wont be a matter of Republican majorities back to their old ways, but it also wont be a Congress ready to compromise.   

Indeed, objectivist Harry Binswanger reckons that Republicans should be favoured across the board because the Tea Party has already taken over the political initiative in the party.   In other words, the Republicans will not be in a position to resist the energy and determination of the Tea Party.

It will mean gridlock, as a leftwing President faces a libertarian/conservative House, and a hung Senate.  

It has inspired much comment, as James Delingpole's article shows with over 1000 comments, many from disgruntled British Marxists who want to treat Americans as either stupid or having been duped. 
He describes elegantly the problem:

"in the last 80 or more years – and not just in the US but throughout the Western world – government has forgotten its purpose. It has now grown so arrogant and swollen as to believe its job is to shape and improve and generally interfere with our lives. And it’s not. Government’s job is to act as our humble servant."

He even mentions New Zealand as among one of the countries maintaining this philosophy:

"Wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere run by a notionally “conservative” administration, the malaise you will encounter is much the same: a system of governance predicated on the notion that the state’s function is not merely to uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders, but perpetually to meddle with its citizens’ lives in order supposedly to make their existence more fair, more safe, more eco-friendly, more healthy. And always the result is the same: more taxation, more regulation, less freedom. Less “fairness” too, of course."

Exactly! You can see it in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the UK, the National-ACT-Maori-Dunne coalition in NZ, and you could see it in the former Howard administration in Australia.  Meet your new boss, same as the old boss, bossing you about, just with a different bitter taste.

Government has been growing barely checked, but as he says:

"With Hitler and Stalin it was easy: the enemy was plain in view. Today’s encroaching tyranny is an of altogether more subtle, slippery variety. It takes the form of the steady “engrenage” – ratcheting – of EU legislation; of the stealthy removal of property rights and personal liberty under the UN’s Agenda 21; of the eco-legislation created by democratically unaccountable bodies like America’s Environmental Protection Agency".

The future starts tomorrow, in the USA.  For Obama will have been stopped in his tracks, and the next step is to carefully find the right Presidential candidate (it is not Palin by any stretch), and for the Tea Party to push on.   For all the next two years will mean is stasis, not progress, so the Tea Party needs to maintain momentum at the local, state and federal levels.

It angers and distresses the left, they will pull out all the stops to portray it as a war against the poor, or driven by rich who are painted like how Stalin described the Kulaks, or the left's old fashioned xenophobia will come out.   They will seek to scare minorities that it is racist or sexist, frighten the poor and the elderly, claim environmental armageddon, and want to not offend anyone (except those who disagree).   Because when you give people back their own money, take away the laws that tell them what to do, give them back their property rights, and make free choice and persuasion the tools protected by government - not regulation, tax and spending - then those who don't like people's choices and do like other people's money will get upset.

Because the future wont be about the initiation of force, but about the power of argument, of convincing individuals to act differently, to spend their money differently.  

Now that is an audacity of hope.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How to kill a boondoggle

Just say no!

That's what the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, said to a US$11+ billion rail project to build a new line from New Jersey into Manhattan.  A project that was doomed to go over budget, and never make a single cent to contribute towards its capital costs.  He essentially cancelled the project because New Jersey couldn't afford it, although he would have let it proceed had the Federal Government been willing to cover any cost overruns.  There was a 90% certainty that it would have exceeded previous budget estimates of US$9.8 billion, with the highest end estimate being US$13.7 billion.

He wants to use money that had been planned for the project to fix up the state's badly maintained roads and bridges, and refused to increase fuel tax to pay for it.   However that's another story, of state managed roads that are falling apart because of mismanagement and pork barrelling from the past. 

If there was so much demand for rail travel, then fares could go up to generate net revenues to pay for it, yet fares don't pay enough to run the existing services (and yes, the roads to Manhatten from New Jersey ARE already priced, although not particularly efficiently). 

Know any other boondoggles that need someone to say no to them?

What the Green Movement Got Wrong

A documentary with this very title is to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK this Thursday.  This article in the Daily Telegraph summarises the key point of the broadcast - that environmentalists were wrong to oppose nuclear power and genetically modified crops.

American activist Stewart Brand said "Environmentalists did harm by being ignorant and ideological and unwilling to change their mind based on actual evidence. As a result we have done harm and I regret it."

None of this is news to me, since identifying the ideological rather than the evidential behind environmentalist claims is rather easy.  Jeanette Fitzsimons, the former Green MP, was a master at this, claiming 1999 was the last Christmas to enjoy potatoes "you could trust".   One of the reasons minds have been changed on GM foods for example, is because people have been eating them for over a decade, without a shred of evidence of any ill health effects.

However, beyond that documentary one of the latest scientific breakthroughs will help put paid to the myth that new roads shouldn't be built, because the "inevitable" end of cheap oil will mean private motoring will be too expensive for most people.

According to Geek.com, DBM Energy, a manufacturer of batteries for forklifts, decided to trial its rechargeable battery in a car.  An Audi A2.  The result?  A battery cheaper than existing Lithium Ion technology in cars, with a range of 375 miles (603 kms), averaging at 55 mph (89 km/h) on a charge of 6 minutes.  Now obviously there are a few steps to take before this becomes mass production, but a future of rechargeable cars might just have moved a little closer. (more on UPI)