Saturday, 23 September 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017

Quote of the Day: Election thoughts


“Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.” 
~ P.J. O’Rourke, from his book Parliament of Whores

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On racism


"Racism negates two aspects of man's life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.” ~ Ayn Rand
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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

James Shaw is a wanker


The delightful prospect of the country seeing the back of the Green Party after they fall below 5% on Saturday and depart the precincts of Parliament is given added importance by their continuing and rank hypocrisy.

Latest example from a top drawer of top-class chutzpah to choose from is their response to the damaged oil pipeline running south from Marsden Point that now holds Auckland’s airport hostage: Green Party undertaker James Shaw (to whom it may fall to take out the party’s corpse, fingers crossed), leapt into the fray to say that

the government's failure to provide [this] critical infrastructure was “negligent” … the government has a role in ensuring we've got fuel security," he said.

Can you smell the same stale stench of sanctimony there that I can?

At the same time as he and his colleagues in the Green movement talk about oil use as an “addiction” and protest every drop of oil taken out of the ground — oil drilling is “mad,” they say — it must be stopped “for the sake of the children” — and do everything they possibly can to make the production of power and the refining of fuel more difficult and more and more expensive; everything they can to raise costs and taxes on fuel; everything they can to make fuel more expensive and, with the RMA they support, to make construction of infrastructure and pipelies more costly and more uncertain; cheering loudly every time Lucy Lawless lambasts Shell or their own protests help sink a new pipeline — even as this anti-energy anti-industry zealot waves his anti-oil flag so flagrantly in our faces he has the gall to lecture in public about “fuel security” in a way that looks like he would know about or would value such a thing.

What a wanker.

An insult to those who do.

Let us hope after Saturday we wil never hear from him or his fellow luddites again.

It is the one thing about this election worth looking forward to.

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Quote of the Day: On music


"Music turns maths into emotion."
~ unattributed
 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On state-worship, and its worshippers in chief


"Politically, statism breeds a swarm of "little Caesars" who are motivated by power-lust. Culturally, statism breeds still lower a species: a swarm of "little Neros" who sing odes to depravity while the lives of their forced audiences go up in smoke."
~ Ayn Rand


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday School: Let’s look at Biblical morality


DJeWkeyXcAEMN6R
And there’s more, much more, where that came from!

As they say, if you’re a Christian who reviles misogyny, prejudice, rape child abuse and slavery then it clearly means you are not getting your morality from the Bible (and thank goodness for that). It means you’re getting the better part of your nature from somewhere much more wholesome.

So if you don’t get those ethics from that book, why on this green earth would you take any at all?
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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On impatient reformers


"[I]mpatient reformers, thinking it easier and shorter to get possession of the government than of the intellects and dispositions of the public, are under a constant temptation to stretch the province of government beyond due bounds..."
~ John Stuart Mill

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On politics and crime


"In power politics there are no crimes, because there are no laws."
~ George Orwell

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On musical inspiration


“I never know what I’m going to write about, so I think there is a psychological aspect; just what mood you’re in. Early on, when we started writing, we used to say, it’s like a psychiatrist - you know, you talk into your guitar, you’re telling your problems to your guitar, and it comes out as a song.”
~ Paul McCartney, explaining it all to Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfied

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Monday, 11 September 2017

A word from Thomas Sowell


Greed quote

“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you
have earned but not greed to want to take somebondy else’s money.”
~ Thomas Sowell

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Quote of the Day: A reminder on all those spending promises


“There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money.”
~ Margaret Thatcher

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On academics and dictators


"Foreign despotisms only have to declare their passion to improve the condition of the poor, and many an academic is lying with his back on the floor waving his paws in the air."
~ Kenneth Minogue, on how too many intellectuals too often end up as unpaid PR officers for dodgy regimes

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Friday, 8 September 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Quote of the Day: A word from Sam Houston


Sam_Houston_head-570x427

“The great misfortune is that a notion obtains with those in power that the world, or the people, require more governing than is necessary. To govern well is a great science, but no country is ever improved by too much governing. Govern wisely, and as little as possible. Most men think when they are elevated to position that it requires an effort to discharge their duties and they leave common sense out of the question.”
~ Sam Houston, President of Republic of Texas 1836-1838 & 1841-1844, US Senator for Texas 1846-59, Governor of Texas 1859-1861

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The primary difference between Nazism (national socialism) and traditional socialism


The primary difference between Nazism (national socialism) and traditional socialism is that while the traditional socialist divides the world along lines demarcated by class, the national socialist divides the world along lines demarcated by race.

Both are thoroughgoing collectivists. This is their essential similarity. The only essential difference between them is to which mass of humanity the particular collectivist demands that individuals sacrifice.   One puts human beings in a collective pot according to where they work; the other according to where they were born – but to each of these two variants of collectivism “the individual has reality only as part of the group, and value only insofar as he serves it.”

Thus, as Ludwig Von Mises explains, where traditional socialism seeks a specially privileged position for the members of a definite class, “national socialism is a system of socialism which seeks a specially privileged position for the members of a definite nation.”

And where the pre-and-post-World War I Internationale aimed at a socialist organisation of the world in which the working masses of the proletariat would be assigned a privileged position, while the blood and riches of the bourgeoisie would serve this new dictatorship, “the pre-World War II German National Socialist Party aimed at a socialist organisation of the world in which the people of ‘pure German blood’ would be assigned a privileged position, while members of the ‘inferior’ races would be assigned tasks where they would serve the ‘Master (German) race.’

The essential similarity in both cases is the sacrifice of the individual to the collective. The only essential difference is which particular sub-division of the collective is granted supremacy – or, to put it another way: who, in each case, is sacrificed to whom.

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Monday, 4 September 2017

Quotes of the Day: Compare and contrast


“No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor … arrested or deprived of liberty by the state … without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”
~ from the statutory rendition of Magna Carta, 1354

“No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law …”
    ~ from the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, 1789

“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
    ~ from the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, 1868

“National say they'll give police powers to search the homes and cars of some violent gang members at any time without a warrant or warning…”
    ~
report on press conference with PM and Deputy PM, Sunday September 3, 2107

“It was good New Zealand lacked a written constitution as it gave governments flexibility.”
    ~ Prime Minister Bill English, reported remarks from press conference with Paula Bennett, Sunday September 3, 2107

“Question to Deputy PM Paula Bennett: ‘Does an [alleged] criminal have human rights?’
Paula Bennett: Some have fewer human rights than others…”
    ~
remarks from press conference, Sunday September 3, 2107

Friday, 1 September 2017

Debate? Bring back the bell.


Was that really a debate last night? It would have been more instructive if it were.

A televised election debate is a unique opportunity to size up two or more opposing candidates: to watch them lay out their own views and challenge their opponents’. How they present (and what) are as important as how (and what) they choose to oppose in their opponent. Their skill and judgement both in what and how they choose to make their case is as important as what and how they choose to engage and challenge their opponent – as is how they mount their defences.

What do they challenge? What do they let go? How effective is their challenge? How effective the defence?

These are all very helpful in judging a candidate’s effectiveness.

We did not have that opportunity last night. Nor have we enjoyed that opportunity in any of the other staged televised pseudo-debates aired in recent times.

These are not debates; they are little more than candidate interviews held in parallel.

In a formal debate, which is how this and these other pseudo-debates are billed, each candidate is allotted a certain time to make their opening, a certain time to respond to their opponent, and a certain time to sum up – at the end of which a bell is often rung. The candidates challenge each other; they question and answer each other; they address each other and their audience. They do not answer or address the moderator. He is just there to ring the bell.

That was not what was presented on prime-time TV last night.

Instead of their own choice of what to present, which may have revealed what they themselves see as their strength, the candidates were asked selected questions by a moderator – and not even the same questions  to each. The questions were chosen by the moderator.

Except when (rarely) invited, instead of the chance to formally respond and challenge their opponent, which may have revealed where they see the oponents’ weakness, the candidates instead had to realy upon the moderator to challenge their opponent – and I was not aware the moderator was up for election. The only opportunity the candidates themselves had to challenge was to make faces in the background (something at which Ms Ardern seemed more accomplished than the more wooden Mr English) and to interject at what they considered appropriate moments: making the test of a candidates’s skill not one of being able to sum up and then skilfully demolish an opponents’ point, but essentially one of who can shout louder and deliver the wittiest “zinger.”

There were few zingers last night. Nor was there very much wit.

But there was a a moderator, and he was far too visible, and much too voluble.

There was much online discussion before this pseudo-debate began about the suitability or otherwise of Mike Hosking for the job of moderating this “debate” because of his alleged political views. But if the format of a debate were followed as faithfully as it should be – which would, I submit make much better television than last night’s yawn-fest – the political views of any moderator would be entirely irrelevant. The moderator could be the resurrected corpse of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin himself, but as long as they were able to read a watch and ring a bell on time, their own political views would be entirely irrelevant.

Make Hosking irrelevant. Bring back the bell.

PS: So who won the “debate”? Assuredly, it won’t be the taxpayer.

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Quote of the Day: “When the govt makes loans or subsidies…”


Hazlitt

“When the government makes loans or subsidies to business, what it does is to tax successful private business in order to support unsuccessful private business.”
~  Henry Hazlitt

Thursday, 31 August 2017

You can’t fix poverty with loot-and-plunder economics


Anti-poverty campaigners in general exhibit little understanding of what it would take to actually relieve poverty.

They claim, for example, that high taxes and a so-called “living wage” will alleviate poverty and raise general wealth, without realising that it is the goods and services those wages buy (that must first be produced) that constitute the real wage by which everyone is finally paid – that production of these goods and services, this wealth, cannot be raised simply by legislative fiat.

They fail to grasp that it is actually poverty that is mankind’s natural state, and that it is past wealth production (not redistribution) that has been rescuing people from poverty worldwide in ever-expanding numbers – the great (but almost unheard) story of our era --  but the campaigners’ own knowledge of (and interest in) the process whereby all this wealth is produced is less than that of a small child – and their efforts to simply legislate higher wages by law amounts to little more than a “loot and plunder” approach to economics.

The science of wealth production (which used to be called political economy) begins with the observation that one person alone can barely produce enough to satisfy a small percentage of their wants, as George Reisman explains:

A man can do the labour of one but would like to benefit from the labor of many. Thus labour is scarce and needs to be made more productive.
     Unemployment is not the result of a lack of work to do, but of wages that are too high and a capital supply that is too low.
    A fall in money wages and increase in capital supply can quickly achieve full employment, and at rising real wages [i.e., at increased amounts of goods and services able to be purchased with a given money wage].
    But our contemporaries think that prosperity can be achieved by forcing up wages and taxing away additions to capital. These beliefs, which are held by most of the educators and journalists who shape public opinion, are responsible for mass unemployment. People just don’t know that wealthier capitalists and more capital translates into a larger supply of products and greater demand for labour.
     Minimum wage laws violate the freedom of opportunity. They deprive people of the opportunity for employment by making money wages too high. The higher are wages, the smaller is the number of opportunities for employment offered in the market.
    For example, at a minimum wage of $15 per hour, all the jobs that would have been offered at wages below $15 are prohibited. All those employment opportunities are wiped out. A rising minimum wage traces a path of declining job opportunities. A free labour market [by contrast] reates employment opportunities equal to or greater than the number of workers seeking employment.
      Advocates of minimum-wage laws are both profoundly ignorant and implicitly advocates of physical force. Only the threat of physical force is what makes employers pay the minimum wage. Advocates of minimum wages know nothing of economics and want the government to use physical force to raise wages.
    The fundamental policy tools of statist politicians are clubs, guns, and prisons... What allows statist politicians to conceal the fact that they’re thugs is the belief that they have a special account with Santa Claus. As though Santa Claus, rather than extortion, were the source of the funds extorted by the politicians.
      The statist politicians and the leftist “intellectuals” dismiss the teachings of sound economics by calling it “trickle down.” They do not allow themselves to see that their theory of economics is the loot and plunder theory. They propose to enrich the country by plundering its capital through ever higher taxes and reducing the buying power of what remains.

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Quote of the Day: On hating


“The term ‘hate,’ in its modern political usage, is an invalid concept and has dangerous implications.
    “Hate is defined in the dictionary as ‘intense or passionate dislike.’ What's wrong with intensely disliking something? For example, I hate serial killers and cancer. As George Reisman recently tweeted: ‘There are things that deserve to be hated, and people must be free to hate them. It is an essential requirement of fighting evil’."

~ from the post ‘Hate is an Invalid Political Concept’ at The Rational Capitalist

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Antifa: socialists or fascists?


Argument has continued over which side of the political fence lie the blackshirted thugs beating up passersby and opponents in Charlottesville and Berkeley.

“They’re socialists,” says one side, “because they’re waving red flags and quoting Karl Marx.”

“No!” says the other side, “they’re fascists, you see, because they’re thugs in black shirts.”

“No,” respond the other side, ”they’re anti-fascist – it’s right their in their name, Antifa – and only socialists can be antifascist.“

“You mean,” says the other side, “like the DPRK, i.e.,North Korea, must be democratic because it says so in their name?”

The funny thing is, both these sides are right in their analysis, just as both the sides in combat are wrongas George Reisman so sagely points out. The key here, he explains, is that:

Socialism comes in two leading variants: the German or Nazi variant and the Russian or Bolshevik variant.
    In the Nazi variant, the appearance of private ownership exists but all the actual powers of ownership are exercised by the government.
    In Charlottesville, both the protestors and the anti-protestors included numerous socialists, German or Russian style respectively.
    To that extent, the two sides were equivalent in their human-life-hating immorality.
    Among the protestors in Charlottesville, were many who sympathised with the Confederacy either in spite of or because of its slavery.
    But even sympathy for Confederate slavery pales in comparison with advocating slavery for today, for everyone, as does socialism.*

NOTE:

*  Reisman: “Socialism is an economic system based on government ownership of the means of production; … a system of slavery, established by armed robbery and maintained by totalitarian dictatorship and mass murder.
    Mass murders under socialism, including government caused famines (in millions): Mainland China: 76; Soviet Union: 62; Nazi Germany: 21 …. [Source: R. J. Rummel, Death By Government. New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers, 1994. For proof of the nature of socialism, see pp 282-94 of my book CAPITALISM, available on
Amazon.]

Every party’s policy this election


Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table at which he's fed ...

.Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table at which he's fed ...

Quote of the Day: Ideas matter!


"There is a fundamental conviction... that ideas matter. In one’s youth that conviction is radiated as self-evident truth. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one’s mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth.
   “Its consequence is the inability to believe in the power or the triumph of evil. No matter what corruption one observes in one’s immediate background, one is unable to accept it as normal, permanent or metaphysically right. One feels: ‘This injustice (or terror or falsehood or frustration or pain or agony) is the exception in life, not the rule.’ One feels certain that somewhere on earth—even if not anywhere in one’s surroundings or within one’s reach—a proper, human way of life is possible to human beings, and justice matters. And if justice matters, then one fights for it: one speaks out—in the unnamed certainty that someone will understand… .
    “The dedication to ideas leads, in practice, to an almost involuntary goodwill toward men —or rather to something deeper and more important, which is the root of goodwill: respect. It leads to the attitude, in individual encounters, of treating men as rational beings, on the unstated premise that a man is innocent until proved guilty, that he is not evil until he has proved himself to be; ‘evil,’ in terms of this attitude, means closed to the power of ideas, i.e., of reason."

- Ayn Rand, from her article ‘The Inexplicable Personal Alchemy’

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Q: Is Houston flooding a sign of global warming?


Q: Is Houston flooding a sign of global warming – or what the fellow travellers now call “climate change”?
A: No. No, it’s not.

To explain why not, here’s climate scientist Roy Spencer:

The flood disaster unfolding in Houston is certainly very unusual. But so are other natural weather disasters, which have always occurred and always will occur.…

His first point: “Floods aren’t due to weather.”

Wait, what? How’s that again? Floods aren’t due to weather?? Well, floods aren’t just due to weather.

Major floods are difficult to compare throughout history because the ways in which we alter the landscape. For example, as cities like Houston expand over the years, soil is covered up by roads, parking lots, and buildings, with water rapidly draining off rather than soaking into the soil. The population of Houston is now ten times what it was in the 1920s. The Houston metroplex area has expanded greatly and the water drainage is basically in the direction of downtown Houston.

Ah, I see. Still, this was Houston in the great flood of 1935, when the water level at Buffalo Bayou in Houston topped out at 16.6m:

Houston-flood-1935-550x311

This latest Monday morning (Texas time) saw the water level at that same location at just 11.6m – still bad enough and, as Spenser says, certain to rise. But given this has happened before, it does makes you wonder why the city isn’t better prepared to deal with such a disaster.

So, the inevitable next question: Is the recent rainfall unprecedented?

Even that question is difficult to answer. The exact same tropical system moving at, say, 15 mph might have produced the same total amount of rain, but it would have been spread over a wide area, maybe many states, with no flooding disaster. This is usually what happens with landfalling hurricanes. Instead, Harvey stalled after it came ashore and so all of the rain has been concentrated in a relatively small portion of Texas around the Houston area…. There is no aspect of global warming theory that says rain systems are going to be moving slower, as we are seeing in Texas. This is just the luck of the draw. Sometimes weather systems stall, and that sucks if you are caught under one.

Bugger. But what about those levels?

Even with the system stalling, the greatest multi-day rainfall total as of 9 a.m. this Monday morning is one metre, with many locations recording over 500mm. We should recall that Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 (a much smaller and weaker system than Harvey) produced an 1100mm rainfall total in only 24 hours in Houston.

So, is Harvey itself unprecedented in intensity?

In this case, we didn’t have just a tropical storm like Claudette, but a major hurricane, which covered a much larger area with heavy rain. Roger Pielke Jr. has pointed out that the U.S. has had only four Category 4 (or stronger) hurricane strikes since 1970, but in about the same number of years preceding 1970 there were 14 strikes. So we can’t say that we are experiencing more intense hurricanes in recent decades
    Going back even earlier, a Category 4 hurricane struck Galveston in 1900, killing between 6,000 and 12,000 people. That was the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history.
    And don’t forget, we just went through an unprecedented length of time – almost 12 years – without a major hurricane (Cat 3 or stronger) making landfall in the U.S.

So, what does make this event unprecedented?

The National Weather Service has termed the event unfolding in the Houston area as unprecedented. I’m not sure why. I suspect in terms of damage and number of people affected, that will be the case. But the primary reason won’t be because this was an unprecedented meteorological event [but because more people now live in the affected area than ever before].
    If we are talking about the 100 years or so that we have rainfall records, then it might be that southeast Texas hasn’t seen this much total rain fall over a fairly wide area. At this point it doesn’t look like any rain gauge locations will break the record for total 24 hour rainfall in Texas, or possibly even for storm total rainfall, but to have so large an area having over 20 inches is very unusual.
    They will break records for their individual gauge locations, but that’s the kind of record that is routinely broken somewhere anyway, like record high and low temperatures.
    In any case, I’d be surprised if such a meteorological event didn’t happen in centuries past in this area, before we were measuring them.
    And don’t pay attention to claims of 500 year flood events, which
most hydrologists dislike because we don’t have enough measurements over time to determine such things, especially when they also depend on our altering of the landscape over time.
    Bill Read, a former director of the National Hurricane Center
was asked by a CNN news anchor whether he thought that Harvey was made worse because of global warming. Read’s response was basically, No
    “Unprecedented” doesn’t necessarily mean it represents a new normal. It can just be a rare combination of events. In 2005 the U.S. was struck by many strong hurricanes, and the NHC even ran out of names to give all of the tropical storms. Then we went almost 12 years without a major (Cat 3 or stronger) hurricane strike.
    Weird stuff happens

“Weird stuff happens.”

And “weather disasters happen, with or without the help of humans.”

Spenser has much more in the comments section of his post, where he answers questions.

Thoughts are wth everyone affected. Here’s the inevitable Stevie Ray Vaughan:

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Individualism is the cure for racism.



_ObjectivistCat

Objectivist Cat says:

One cannot be a racist and an individualist at the same same time. Individualism is the cure for racism.

That’s one smart cat.

DIQpP8mUQAAehei.

Quote of the Day: Politics itself is the cursed paw …


monkeyspaw


“And then election policy announcements started getting a little strange…  [like they often do when politicians start talking policy. It’s like the] old folk tale: A couple asked the monkey paw for £200; their son was killed in an industrial accident and the company paid them £200 compensation. They then wished their son’s return but thought better of it on hearing something shambling in the darkness towards their door. Their last wish sent it away.
    “Politics itself is the cursed paw. Voters wish for things they think they want, politicians promise to deliver and what comes out at the end is often as horrifying as that unseen thing that shambled in darkness.
    “Be careful what you wish for in elections. It can be hard to wish it away.”

~ Eric Crampton, from his post ‘Cursed Policy Wishes

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Monday, 28 August 2017

Pay it back, Winston


Some folk don’t forget. Like the Taxpayers Union, who ask, after this election’s latest mini-scandal:

But while we’re on the subject of [Winston Peters] repaying public funds – that $158,000 of taxpayers’ money NZ First illegally spent in the 2005 election, can we have that paid back too?

And if not, why not.

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Q: What are the three most harmful modern myths?


Myths

[Hat tip Vinay Kolhatkar]