Wednesday, 7 December 2016

“The Top Ten Greatest Beers in New Zealand”



It’s important, it’s official – and just in time for summer, Michael Donaldson at Beer Nation has revealed their Top Ten New Zealand beers for 2016. Or as he likes to call their list, The Top Ten Greatest Beers in New Zealand.

He has criteria, It includes:

  • Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer;
  • Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions;
  • The influence the beer has had on the New Zealand brewing scene;
  • Enduring quality;
  • Personal taste preferences.

It’s hard to argue with the carefully-crafted selections. The top three are produced by what’s arguably the country’s three top brewers – and the fourth by a fine chap who was once a beer writer at this very blog, before somehow going on to fame, fortune and world conquest without us.

Every beer in the top ten, every beer bar one, is a killer brew that has all but become a staple of sundry great beer fridges and the centre of many a local beer drinker’s social drinking sessions. And every one of the beers has a great story to tell!

But see if you can spot that odd one out.

And don’t panic if you don’t agree with the Beer Nation’s Top Ten List. You have a whole summer to make up your own.

How bad a project could that be?

PS: You can find the beers they ranked 20-11 here; 30-21 here; 40-31 here and 50-41 here.

Go wild!


Meanwhile, back in Brazil …


Any Brazilian interested in politics has developed a new morning habit: checking to see which politicians were arrested in the earliest hours of the day. Such arrests have become common lately, writes Raphaël Lima in his guest post on ‘The Glorious, Hilarious Political Chaos in Brazil’—a tale with a moral that affects us all.

Any Brazilian interested in politics has developed a new morning habit: checking to see which politicians were arrested in the earliest hours of the day. Such arrests have become common lately.

This very morning, there was a police raid on two former big kahunas who are being investigated for taking bribes and disrupting investigations on the mega-company Petrobrás. On the evening of the same day, I left my gym to find that the president of the Senate has been ousted by order of the Supreme Court.

Because he is standing trial for corruption, he can´t legally be in the succession line to the presidency. In his seat now sits another senator accused of essentially the same corruption scheme, but investigations haven’t caught him yet. Any morning now.

Operation Carwash

Brazil1This is all part of a gigantic clean-up operation called Operation Carwash, and if politics is a sport in Brazil, Carwash just elevated us into a new World Cup. Scoring comes in the way of the feds knocking on politicians' doors at 5:30 a.m. with search and arrest warrants.

It all started in a very unassuming way. Your average money launderer gets arrested in an international drug trafficking scheme. It turns out that his books list a Petrobrás director as a client. Said director is then arrested and confesses to taking bribes from a huge construction cartel operating within Petrobrás. Some of the bribes are traced to politicians who appointed him.

The construction companies’ owners and directors are arrested and confess to operating as a cartel. Everyone who is anyone in Petrobrás knows it and they are indirectly financing a big scheme to buy support in the legislature, control Congress, and elect politicians allied with the government.

This is not tall tale, but all true. Investigators officially dubbed it a “bribocracy.”

Somewhere in the thick of all of this there was a car wash and gas station that was used as a front to distribute the money: hence the name Operation Carwash.

Delightful Devastation

Fast forward two years and in the last hundred days we have impeached a president, ousted and arrested a leader of the house, arrested a senator for interfering with investigations under orders from the former president Lula da Silva, arrested and convicted dozens of politicians involved, and just hours ago ousted the president of the senate.

And the political World Cup is only going to get better from here on.

Any morning now, we’ll get to see the plea bargain from Odebrecht, the largest construction company involved in the scandal. The bargain was signed last week and statements are being taken as I write this article.

Odebrecht was so organised that they had a “Department of Structured Operations,” entrusted with handling the hundreds of millions of dollars that went to different politicians and parties. It’s expected they will rat out somewhere north of 150 politicians: the current president, two former presidents, and pretty much everyone else in between.

Those politicians aren’t silly gooses though. They realised ending the investigation was a simple matter: pass a law stopping it. In fact, a senator was recorded explicitly talking about that. He’s now the leader of the government in the senate, and was also in Odebrecht’s “Structured Operations” list.

Any morning now.

But back to their plan. The idea was to create a law saying that all illicit or unaccounted donations are pardoned. The law created very strict mandates to arrest judges and investigators for “abuse of power.” The result, they believed, would be simple: any politician accused of anything could simply say it was an unaccounted donation and get away with everything, and if Sergio Moro, the judge in charge of the investigation, or the investigators themselves pushed too hard, they could simply be jailed.

To add insult to injury, they took a law proposed by the very same investigators and undersigned by 2.5 million people, dubbed “10 measures against corruption,” and turned it into, “10 measures in defence of corruption.”

The original proposal included harder sentences for corruption, easier seizure of property from illegal operations, and measures to speed trials, as 96.5% of corruption-related trials that go to the Supreme Court end up with no punishment and one-third get thrown out for being too old. The new proposal slashed eight measures, made the other two pointless, and added many devices to defend against investigations.

Back to the Streets

We Brazilians decided we’re not having any of that and took to the streets again. That was what last Sunday was all about.

The people came out in the tens of thousands in many cities in support of Sergio Moro, Operation Carwash, and for justice. Because it's Brazil, the protests included 20-feet-tall inflatable puppets of politicians in jail uniforms.


Some opposition politicians came out to get some press and had some success, but the general mentality was that attacks against the investigation would not be tolerated. As far as we can see, the message was heard and the attacks have stopped, for now. Protests were peaceful, friendly even, but the truth is that everyone is at the breaking point.

It´s a protest that unites all people, old and young, in the same sense of revolt and disgust against the whole political system, its parties and politicians, its institutions and bureaucracy. It feels like everyone is angry, but at the same time joyous to find that everyone else is also angry. It reminds me of the story about Warsaw´s blinking lights. Add to that the major economic crisis we are suffering, and you have yourself a good ol’ powder keg of angry masses.

On November 16, we saw how close we are to flipping out: between 50 and 100 people invaded the House floor in protest, sang the national anthem and chanted for a few hours. Some even demanded the military take control. The leader of the House ordered all media evacuated for “security reasons” and ordered TV transmissions cut. My guess is he didn´t want that stunt to get publicity and become a new national habit, because it very well might.

The Next Shoe

Brazil2And so here we are. Any morning now the biggest political shoe in our history will drop with Odebrecht´s plea bargain. Or maybe another former governor or senator will be arrested. Or maybe a new spinoff of Carwash will open a new path of investigations with big raids. Or maybe a new law will be passed halting everything, and we will all collectively lose our cool.

But one thing is for sure: something will happen. In the early days of Carwash, there was a general feeling that this would be all for nothing, Director Comey-style. As the investigation broadened, we the people grew bold. But even during the impeachment process, there still was a strong feeling that nothing would come out of it. As it is now, there is no putting the cat back in the bag. Something will have to happen.

The people stand closer now, united by something we all have in common. We all got the bill, and it was paid in unemployment, taxes, collapsing public services or what have you. And the politicians, who are not us, have collected. For example, one former governor of Rio de Janeiro was recently arrested with roughly one million dollars of jewellery in his apartment, all bought with cash, while the state is in a fiscal calamity and officials are discussing pension cuts.

The State Is Them

Brazilians have understood something deep, even if only implicitly: the state is not us, politicians are not us. The system exists for this theft; it´s working for the thieves.

We are coming to the realisation that the system cannot be repaired, and more and more people are willing to entertain apparently crazy ideas such as privatising everything, the free market, maybe even capitalism. Efforts to block investigations and pardon crimes have only made this more explicit to anyone who was living under a rock or was in flat-out denial: a condition ever more common to the remaining defenders of socialism in Brazil.

It´s impossible to tell what will happen. But something will.

Any morning now.

Raphaël Lima

Raphaël Lima
Raphaël Lima is a popular media commentator and author in Brazil. His YouTube channel is one of the largest and most closely watched in the country.
His post previously appeared at FEE.


John Key: “His political career ends in a failure much more indelible than that of a mere electoral defeat or internal coup.”


John Key said he would do many things prior to election in 2008. Michael Reddell examines whether any got done.

Short answer: No.

At one level, John Key’s political career won’t have ended in failure.  He remained popular and had had a pretty good chance of leading his party to a fourth term in government next year.  But at another level, so what? … [Politicians like Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, and John Howard, and even Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill or Charles de Gaulle] left having made a difference. I’m not sure that same can be said of John Key.

Reddell suggests you should judge Key’s performance by how he proposed to judge himself.

In his 1975 election campaign, the then Opposition leader Robert Muldoon stated that if his party was elected his goal was to leave the country no worse than he found it.   That wasn’t how John Key articulated his vision.  In his campaign opening address in 2008 he talked about serious change … “a Government that will focus on the issues that matter to you” … “with a plan for economic recovery” … “National’s plan faces the fact that we must lift productivity in this country.”

How did he propose to do that?

“National’s plan [said Key] recognises that lifting productivity … means removing the bottlenecks in the economy – the roading problems and the creaky communications networks that are holding business back. That’s why National will fix the Resource Management Act and that’s why we’ll invest more in the infrastructure the economy needs to grow… [L]ifting productivity also means encouraging businesses to invest… The number 1 reason that private companies invest is because they are profitable and feeling positive about the future. All the R&D credits in the world won’t cut it if companies aren’t making any money. We have to get the fundamentals right first.

In 2008, a young Reddell had found this so inspiring he pinned the passage up on his wall at Treasury:

“I came into politics [said Key] because I believed New Zealand was underperforming economically as a country. I don’t think it’s good enough that so many New Zealanders feel forced to leave our country each year to seek higher wages in Australia. I don’t think it’s good enough that our average incomes lag so far behind the rest of the world. And I think it’s unforgivable that the Labour Party has done so little to address these fundamental challenges.
    “I believe that a very big step change is needed in our economic performance to ensure New Zealand can make the most of its considerable potential. Growing the economy of this country continues to be my driving ambition. I stand before you today ready to deliver on that ambition for New Zealand.
    “You have my personal commitment that if I am elected Prime Minister in eight days’ time I will work tirelessly over the next three years to deliver the stronger economic future our country deserves.”

So how did he do?

Well, as of this morning “the National Party has now taken down the link to [this] economic speech.” That might suggest their own assessment.

Another measure is the Prime Minister’s own. In 2008 he proposed to measure his premiership not by simply leaving the country no worse than found it, but by “lifting productivity” and increasing economic performance. In 2016, in his leaving speech, he now says “the test of a good Prime Minister is that he or she leaves the country in better shape than they found it.” And “over time, others will judge whether I have done that.”

Even by his own standards, says Reddell, he clearly hasn’t – and he very clearly knows that.

I don’t doubt that he has worked tirelessly over the last eight years, but to what end?
    There has been no “very big step change” in our economic performance.  What is worse perhaps, there has been no serious attempt to bring about such a change.   The 2025 Taskforce’s prescription was dismissed –  from some Caribbean island where the Prime Minister was –  the night before its report was released.  And if he didn’t like that prescription there was no sign of any energy being put into finding a package of measures he really believed would make a difference.  Worse still has been the sheer dishonesty of the last few years in which the Prime Minister repeatedly asserts that New Zealand is doing very well by international standards, and is somehow the envy of the advanced world.  Only a few months ago we had the nonsensical claims that he was remaking New Zealand as the Switzerland of the South Pacific, or the frankly rather offensive proposition (to all those struggling in that market) that Auckland house prices were just what one expects in a successful global city –  when all the time, Auckland’s GDP per capita has been falling relative to that in the rest of the country (and when the government knows it has been making little or no progress in freeing up land use restrictions).  And for all the talk of international connections etc, there has been no nationwide productivity growth in the last few years, and exports as a share of GDP are, if anything, a bit lower now than they were in 2008.

There is much more, and it is damning. He concludes:

I could go on.  About, for example, the suspension of property rights following the earthquakes, about the weak regard for the institutions of our democracy, or –  mundanely –  about the fiscal and moral failure that the big increase in (already high) prisoner numbers over the term of this government represents.  But I’m sure you get the drift.  It has been eight largely wasted years –  building on at least the previous nine largely wasted years –  in which none of the big structural economic challenges New Zealand  faced has been even seriously addressed.  On not one of them can the government show serious progress and on some –  house prices most noticeably –  things are now even worse than they were in November 2008 when John Key spoke of his goal of securing a very big step change in economic performance.  He has held office, and left at a time of his own choosing.  But to what end?  In that sense, surely, his political career ends in a failure much more indelible than that  of a mere electoral defeat or internal coup.


National leader/new PM: Your pick? [updated]


Unless you know something I don’t, there’s nothing to pick between any of the contenders for John Key’s job when it comes to rolling back the state. To my knowledge, the credentials of all of them on that score measures pretty close to zero. At best.

But let us know you have any cogent thoughts about any of them – or why they might be especially good or bad at the job.

And in the spirit of #dick’sdailyquestions, maybe answer this one for us too:

Q: How will John Key's resignation affect your everyday life?

UPDATE: While updating the archives, amid discovering Bennett and Joyce were both much more nannying than I’d remembered, and that Jonathan Coleman had barely attracted any mention over the years, I discovered this amusing idea from Not PJ’s Bernard Darnton for a new reality TV show that could, with these contestants, be once again very topical. He called it Benny TV:

Here's a new 'reality' TV that someone might like to pitch to Julie Christie.  Or perhaps an idea for some good research for a keen statistician.

Time for a top-rating prime-time TV show to answer the question:  “Who’s the country's biggest beneficiary?  Who really is the biggest moocher on the taxpayer, the biggest sucker on the state tit, the biggest bludger, trough-snuffler and rent-seeking-rort-mongering-entitlement-bogan in the country.”

You can see the show now, can’t you.

“Our next guest is the new Minister of Housing 'Whack-it-on-Your-Bill Phil' Heatley – a man who takes the idea of “state houses” so seriously he’s tried to corner that market himself.  A man with so many houses being paid for by so many taxpayers it would take a Cook Islands taw lawyer to work out.

“Could he be the country’s biggest beneficiary?

“Or is it the new Mistress of Police, Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins, whose arse isn’t so big that she can’t shoot up a taxpayer-funded housing loophole when she sees one, or a good old-fashioned taxpayer-funded limo ride when she can get one.

“Or the new Welfare Matron, Paula Benefit, who’s racked up a whole lifetime on the taxpayers’ tit – “a poster girl for National’s welfare policies” she called herself when she was appointed to head up NZ’s biggest spending department-- and doesn’t look like stopping any time now."

“Or is it our current Minister of Finance, Beneficiary Bill, who pulls down a bigger salary than any business would ever pay him, and claims still extra for having "a place of residence" he visits around twice every year?  A man with so many children only a thousand-dollar-a-week taxpayer subsidy is apparently enough to keep the whole brood together.

“Champion effort that.

“Or could it be it’s the former Minister of Finance Dodger Rugless, who likes to take advantage of the taxpayers' largesse to swan around on foreign holidays, making sure it’s us who picks up his tab?

“Or is it one of EnZed’s former ministers or Prime Ministers, one of them who hasn’t been picked up the latest News From the Trough, but who got a taste for things taxpayerish early on and is unable to kick the habit?  One of the former tit-suckers who can't take their mouth from the teat, and who's pulling down all the free travel and perks and the platinum-plated politicians' superannuation scheme that we're all paying for?

“What about the former Minister of Wine & Cheese Jonathan Hunt, or former PMs Shipley, Bolger, Palmer, Moore -- or the UN's new pin-up girl Helen Clark? Could one of them be our champion?”

"Stay tuned for another thrilling episode of Who’s the Biggest Beneficiary?  Brought to you, naturally, by NZ on Air, so you can see more of who you’re paying for.”

Well, maybe not such great TV – although you would see plenty of red herrings and a lot of scuttling for cover. But high time surely for someone to answer the question.

Could be fun!


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

American Politics and the rise of Trump - Liberty on the Rocks: Happy Hour



Well, technically, I guess, given the election and the candidates on offer it should be called an unhappy hour. But since it’s at a handy Mt Eden location filled with liberty lovers and Belgian beer, the last Liberty on the Rocks event for 2016 can’t fail to be a happy affair.

And this time we’re joined by someone who was once a delegate in the US Presidential Election political process to answer all your burning questions. Like:

How does the American political system work?

Is it a Republic? A Democracy?

How in the world did Donald Trump just come to power?

Come get all your burning questions answered by someone who was a delegate in the US Presidential Election political process.

Liberty on the Rocks is a happy hour for liberty-minded folks looking to meet others, build their knowledge and friendships over beers, food and great conversation.

Join us anytime between 6-9 PM at De Post in Mount Eden. Anyone is welcome! This is a very informal happy hour although we do bring in speakers for about 30-minutes each night and sometimes host activities/games. We are always welcoming to newcomers and anyone interested in the ideas of liberty, peace and voluntary interaction.

When: Tomorrow, 7 December
What time: From 6-9pm
Where: Upstairs, De Post Belgian Bar, 466 Mt Eden Rd (

See you there!


A can-kicking PM



In years to come, I suspect, John Key’s long-term legacy will be seen as being the PM who kicked the can down the road.

He was a man who understood many of the issues a new government urgently needed to address, and even clearly articulated what that government needed to do to address them. Yet he didn’t do any of them. Not one.

Instead he smiled and waved, and he kicked the can down the road.

John Key said in 2008 that "Nanny State is storming through your front door.” She still is. He did nothing to stop her.

He said (correctly) that in hoovering up well over a third of working New Zealanders and turning them into welfare beneficiaries Labour’s Working for Families programme was “creeping communism.” Yet he never touched it when in office, and the unsustainable welfare programme is now cemented in and generations of children will grow up knowing nothing but mooching as a way of life.

He said that Labour’s election bribe of interest-free loans for student was “unsustainable.” He did nothing about it in office, and the tertiary and student-debt bubble he subsequently oversaw continues to inflate.

He supported Don Brash in his call for One Law for All, and ran on a platform that promised to abolish the Maori seats. Eight years later separatism now, if anything, is worse – partly because his government has been propped up for three terms by MPs holding the very seats he had pledged to abolish.

In his first election, at at time when the global economy had already melted down, his signal policy was a programme of very substantial tax cuts –“a tax cut programme [fully costed and funded] that will not require any additional borrowing” – a “pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age” – and a promise not to raise GST. He broke both promises. And taxes remain too high, even as government debt and spending increases.

On present numbers and demographics, superannuation is a ticking time bomb. He knows that. He knew it when he promised not to touch it. And even with explosion coming on, he didn’t. It still ticks – and the sound is getting louder.

He oversaw a disaster-recovery programme in what was the country’s second-largest city that took power away from property owners and vested it in instead in several layers of bureaucracy and grand plans from which the central city is still struggling to recover – if it ever will. It could have been different. But it wasn’t.

Aware back in 2007 that housing was already severely unaffordable, he articulated then an unbelievable solution to fix it. Which might have. Yet he never did any of it it, not one jot. Instead he left the the bubble to inflate, creating serious imbalances, rampant consumption of capital, and leaving a generation locked out of home ownership.

Taking office in 2008 government debt was just over $10 billion. In eight years he has taken it six times higher – with no plans in place for it to retreat.

When he took office the wage gap with Australia made us the poorest ‘Australasian state,’ with the average NZ wage around one-third less than the average Ocker. He made that one of his main tasks. His top job. Eight years later, after refusing to do anything to lift NZ productivity (and refusing to even listen to proposals that might), that wage gap remains the same, and the average Tasmanian still earns more than we do.

This is a man who resolutely refused to make hard decisions. Who elected to promise much, and deliver little.

To smile and wave, while refusing to spend his considerable political capital on what former National leader Don Brash calls “the crunchy issues.”

He's jovial, he's friendly, he's cordial ... he's very much seen as one of us and in that sense he's done a good job. But has he tackled the big issues facing New Zealand? Unfortunately not.

It’s said that Key is respected in Australia for keeping the electorate close while still making significant reform. Yet with respect, what reform?!

If Helen Clark’s inadvertent legacy was to cement in virtually all of the reforms enacted by Roger Douglas, then John Key’s will be to have cemented in hers – while offering none of his own, not one, as any kind of counterweight.

It’s said that NZ is better now than it would have been if any of Key’s opponents had been in power – and, certainly, you have to shudder if you imagine where the likes of a Cunliffe-Norman team would have driven us.

But John Key has done precisely nothing to arrest the slide towards big government that makes the policies of a Clark or Cunliffe possible and the statism they promote still palatable – and when one of their ilk does take over again (and with MMP still in place, against which he refused to campaign, then that is more likely than not sometime soon), they will have a state more swollen after his eight years to play with, and the Clark platform he so carefully maintained to give them a flying start.  As Peter McCaffrey observes from Canada,

for many 'conservatives' who seek to maintain the status quo, that [preservation] can be considered an achievement in and of itself.
But for those of us who are reformers, who think government is too big, who think bureaucracy is out of control, who firmly believe in new ideas and policies, then leaving Helen Clark's status quo largely intact (if not worse in some places), is no success.

New Zealand under John Key was always “on the cusp of something special,” which now with his end is revealed as being only the campaign spin that it was.

He is well liked, and by very many. And that is perhaps the very worst thing one could say about a Prime Minister after eight years in office …


[Hat tips Peter McCaffrey, @caffeine_addict. Key Cartoon by Richard McGrail, Thatcher pic and slogan FNK Creative Workshop.]


Monday, 5 December 2016

PM to be ex-PM sooner rather than later



PM Key has announced that by this time next week he will be ex-PM Key, resigning to spend more time with his family.

In this case, that much-overused political alibi is probably true.

For a PM who’s been there nearly three terms, you would think he would leave a legacy. But in his own estimation, the “achievements” he highlighted were “the overhaul of justice agencies,” “trade liberalisation,” “advanced race relations” and “and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.”:

This is not great work. He calls these “reforms” and says they are “far reaching.” In any other language you would call it all “a wasted opportunity.” That’s at best; at worst, they are all destructive of the liberty that remains..

Yes, he remained extraordinarily popular with NZers – which, in many ways was a good thing (NZers taking for what he seemed to be but wasn’t: as what they think of as representing capitalism). But instead of using that political capital to roll back the state, nothing was achieved at all in that direction and much instead the other way.

After eight years of John Key, the country’s policy settings looks little different than they would have under Labour. That is his real legacy as leader.

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper said attention will now be turned to who will take over.
    "Like Helen Clark, there's no natural successor in line, so this is indeed a big announcement from the Prime Minister, and totally unexpected."

Unexpected?  Easy to say in hindsight (yeah, isn’t hindsight great), but if you were to map out the ideal time for a PM to retire if they didn’t plan on a complete fourth term (as he’d previously signalled), then a year out from an election would be a good time to give a successor time to bed in for the campaign, with a holiday period upcoming to give them some space free of media pressure. So in hindsight, early-December 2016 looks ideal.

No natural successor in line? There rarely is, is there.

Joyce and English will fancy themselves, undoubtedly, but the former has less charisma than a telephone pole, and no caucus would surely want a repeat performance from Mr 22%.

Collins too would rate her chances, but I doubt any electorate would agree.

Perhaps Paula Bennett would be the one with most credentials and the least likely to scare the horses. If I were placing a bet, that’s where my money would go. But not any sentiment. 

But the choices aren’t really thick on the ground, if the last eight years look uninspiring for liberty-lovers then, none of those four are likely to correct things.


Global earthquake animation


Required viewing after NZ’s recent experience:

Check out this new SOS dataset of all the earthquakes from 2001 through 2015 from the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center! You can read about it here:



One thing that strikes me very clearly: New Zealand is on very shaky ground that it shares with many other places, yet we take so much our architectural inspiration from places with ground that is much more stable.

Something to rethink, perhaps …

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Not PC’s blog stats for November


The Christmas songs have started and there are trees on sale in the streets. Must be December, time to review last month’s blog stats. Here’s the broad overview:


I started posted my blog stats here again a few months ago because a few donors were asking. Q: How do you become a donor? A question that deserves an answer: So here’s your PayPal link:

Now, that graph above is what Google says my stats are for last month, whose stats system seems to capture many of the readers using RSS feeds and the like. (And I’ll happily take a figure suggesting over 100,000 page views per month!)

Statcounter has the more sober and maybe more serious figures here:


So if you’re wondering about the reach of NotPC, you have two ways above by which to measure it. (And if you’re thinking that’s pretty good and want to encourage it, then why not click on that handy PayPal link above and say so.)

Now, here are Statcounter’s figures for the months just finished:

Visitors [from Statcounter]: 47,321 (down from 54, 200 last month)
Page views [from Statcounter]: 67,541 (down from 70,930 last month)
Returning visits [from Statcounter]: 19,231 (up from 17,164 last month)

Down a bit on last month overall, but an increase in regular readers – so not too much to complain about.

Any questions? 

Here’s one. Where would that place me among NZ’s political blogosphere?

Well, neither Whale Oil, nor Public Address make their own figures public – for reasons, they say, due to the advertising they smear across their sites. But based on my Statcounter figures NOT PC would comfortably be the fifth-most read blog in the only place that records NZ blog rankings, and the fourth-most read behind Kiwiblog, the Daily Blog and the Double Standard– and with way fewer ads than all those other scum buckets. (Although the blog-ranking system uses SiteMeter, which I don’t.)

So: fourth- (or sixth) -most popular political blog. Not a bad rating I reckons.

And here’s what Google says were the Top Ten Most-Read Posts in the month of November:

  1. 'Zabriskie Point' house - Paolo Soleri
  2. LEAKY HOMES, Part 2: What’s going on inside your walls?
  3. About last night …
  4. Earthquake engineering is harder than you think
  5. Who is Steve Bannon?
  6. While your attention was elsewhere, separatism becomes a feature of the RMA
  7. Bullshit News
  8. John Key has learned nothing from the Christchurch disaster
  9. Who is Milo Yiannopolous?
  10. Safety, stupidity, and why common sense isn’t very common anymore

And these seem to be the Top-Ten Sites and people that sent people here, in order:

No Minister, Facebook, Kiwiblog, Lindsay Mitchell, NZ Conservative, Gus Van Horn,, Pinterest, Life Behind the IRon Drape, Real Good Name, Twitter, and Samizdata. (Thank you all. And thank you too Leighton Smith.)

So in summary, things are still going moderately well, and the blog is still a force in the thinking world. (A unique force in NZ’s thinking world, I humbly suggest.) So if you want to donate to help keep that going, please do be my guest at that Pay Pal link above!)

Either way: Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading, linking to and talking about NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

PS: Now, for the geeks…



My Friday ramble is a kind of market research for me. It gives me some inkling what you, dear readers, like reading.

These are the links you liked reading most from last Friday’s reading feast:

  1. Why is the Left Reviving Apartheid? – Matt Ridley, RATIONAL OPTIMIST
  2. A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words – WASHINGTON POST
  3. The Ninth First Climate Refugees – Willis Eschenbach, WATTS UP WITH THAT
  4. As the Great Lao-Tzu once said ...
  5. Why Policing Drug Crime in London Simply Isn’t Working – Alex Stewart, VOLTEFACE
  6. Letter to Phil Goff – RATEPAYER’S ALLIANCE
  7. Debris to be dumped in ocean to fast-track Kaikoura road repairs – STUFF
  8. Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, evacuated to NZ from Antarctica – NEWSTALK ZB
  9. Contradictions of Christianity and the Bible - Some Striking Examples and Cases – WAKELET
  10. The Quotes of Steven Wright – THIS BLEW MY MIND


The by-election that didn't matter


One of the least consequential elections in this country's history has just concluded.

Astonishingly, a safe Labour seat returned a safe Labour candidate.

One more trade unionist is added to the caucus.

Not even front-page news, is it.

So little about which to be surprised, or interested – unless your name is Little. Which is perhaps why no-one was apart from Mr Little and his new apprentice—certainly not the good people of Mt Roskill, who stayed away in droves.

The only folk feigning excitement were those huddled around the beleaguered Labour Leader who, from the closing of the polls, were using words like “triumph” “landslide,” “stunning victory,” and “humiliation” and “a bloody nose for National.” It shows, they say, that “the Key “brand” is well stuffed now.”

This is bullshit. “The result exceed[ed] all expectations," said Labour leader Little. Really? Did he truly expect his candidate to lose a safe seat in a by-election nobody cared about enough to show up?

Get real.

In a by-election that mattered not a jot his trade unionist pulled 11,170 votes out of a possible 46,000 who were enrolled. In the 2014 election Labour’s Mt Roskill candidate, the uninspiring Phil Goof, pulled 18,637 votes. 7500 more.

So hardly a triumph.

The real winner, if winner there was one, was the ‘No’ vote: the vote of all those who stayed home. Around 35,000 votes of no confidence from the electorate, who chose to do something far better with their lives on Saturday than support the charade. Which is just what one candidate, Richard Goode, had predicted:

“Once the votes are tallied, the largest group of voters in this by-election will be the group that voted for nobody at all,” [predicted Goode]. “If we truly live in a democracy, shouldn’t we respect the wishes of the majority and leave the seat of Mt. Roskill vacant?”

It’s a fair point.


Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday Morning Ramble, 2 December


“Business creates wealth;
government divides it.”

~ Will Spencer

The good news story of the day…
Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, evacuated to NZ from Antarctica – NEWSTALK ZB

National is now just Labour without the identity politics.
Nick Leggett’s “defection” surprisingly revealing – NOT PC

Trump's potential incoming Commerce guy, Wilbur Ross, has a bizarre take on sales taxes. And it might mean that the New Zealand government should rethink how it treats imports and exports in GST.
Tax and trade barriers – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

I haven’t fully followed the story, but on the face of it there is much here that needs answering.
Tolley needs to apologise – THE STANDARD
Tolley rules out apology for child abuse in state care – RADIO NZ

When the law gets in the government’s way, the government changes the law. If only it were that easy for the rest of us.
Debris to be dumped in ocean to fast-track Kaikoura road repairs – STUFF

“Of those children born in 2010 who'd been abused or neglected by age two, 76 percent were born into a single-parent setting. This startling fact comes from government research which received little or no publicity. Why?”
Child abuse and family structure – LINDSAY MITCHELL

“It is illegal to pay organ donors for their gift. Economists can easily explain the consequences: at a price of zero, you have a big shortage… Most of the time, economists would just take this as example of the stupid that happens when people can't think clearly about prices and exchange.
    Al Roth instead saw it as a constraint to work around, and came up with matching donors as a way of making things suck less given the constraint that money can't be involved.
    And Chris Bishop, in an excellent bit of policy entrepreneurialism, saw the opportunity to save lives by repackaging things.”
Compensating organ donors – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

“Dear Mr Goff,
Only a politician would think that introducing new targeted rates is the best scheme to ‘keep rates down’ … “




“Identity politics is taking us backwards to division and prejudice.”
Why is the left reviving apartheid? – Matt Ridley, RATIONAL OPTIMIST

“In your lifetime, how many times can you remember when everyone agreed about the significance of a major cultural phenomenon? It is happening now, as libertarians, conservatives, left-liberals and far-leftists all agree that a deep rot has set into Political Correctness.”
Understanding Triggers and Microaggression as *Strategy* (Part 1) – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE
Understanding Triggers and Microaggression as *Strategy* (Part 2) – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE

“He feels he has a moral responsibility to raise it, as it is what he believes.”
Boris Johnson calls for illegal immigrants to be granted amnesty after Brexit – TELEGRAPH

“Over the course of the last twelve months, there has been increased focus on the role of policing drugs in the UK. TV presenter and writer Alex Stewart spent six years working on the front line combating drug related crime in London as a Metropolitan Police Officer. Here he provides a genuinely eye-opening insight into the capricious nature of policing the illicit drug market in the capital.”
Why Policing Drug Crime in London Simply Isn’t Working – Alex Stewart, VOLTEFACE

“About 3% of all medals awarded in Beijing 2008 & London 2012 have been stripped due to doping retests (= 52/~1800).”
A Summary of Olympic Drug Re-Testing So Far – Roger Pielke Jr.,  THE LEAST THING

“Well, the claims of the “first climate refugees” are coming up again. I think we’re up to the ninth first climate refugees, it’s hard to keep track. In any case, I came across this..”
The Ninth First Climate Refugees – Willis Eschenbach, WATTS UP WITH THAT

“Modi govt sold elimination of banknotes as 'surgical strike' against criminality. Result more like carpet bombing.”
Foreign capital outflow from India since demonetisation (below).
India: Demonetisation & its Discontents – INSTITUTE FOR NEW ECONOMIC THINKING
Angry Mobs Lock Up Indian Bankers As Cash Chaos Soars: "We Are Fearing The Worst" – ZERO HEDGE
India’s currency chaos – NOT PC
First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold – NOT PC



“Long-term, generalised conflicts are always about abstract principles in collision. … Defeating an enemy such as politicised Islam is a multi-front battle — requiring police, military, plus diplomatic, cultural, and philosophical engagement.”
The Fight with Religious Terrorism is a Philosophical, Multi-Generation, Winnable Battle – STEPHEN HICKS

“’I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” the future killer stated in a school profile of him.
So your way of coping is to brutally attack innocent people, Mr. A**** R*** A** A****? Poor baby!”
Islam and P.C.: No Evidence Need Apply – Michael Hurd, LIVING RESOURCES CENTER

“This is the pure evil Mitchell and his colleagues confronted each day at CIA ‘black sites.’ ‘I have looked into the eyes of the worst people on the planet,’ Mitchell writes. ‘I have sat with them and felt their passion as they described what they see as their holy duty to destroy our way of life.’ …
”But perhaps the most riveting part of the book is what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Mitchell about what inspired Al-Qaeda to attack the United States – and the U.S. response he expected.””
A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words – WASHINGTON POST

“Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticise white theocracy, they’ll criticise Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us. . . . The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of 'Islamophobia,' where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people. . . . We have to be able to criticise bad ideas, and Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.” ~ Sam Harris
Sam Harris States the Obvious about Islam, Enrages Ben Affleck – OBJECTIVE STANDARD

Q: “Why would the pope need bullet-proof glass in his car?”
Contradictions of Christianity and the Bible - Some Striking Examples and Cases – WAKELET

“Conflict across the Middle East has many causes. But the combination of an interconnected world in which young people can see and hear how others around the world are living, combined with a system of political and economic governance that makes it extremely difficult for many of them to attain even a modestly secure middle-class economic future, is a recipe for social turmoil.”
Youth and the Economic Future of Arab States – Timothy Taylor, CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST

Surprising, but true: “Venezuela’s infant mortality rate has actually been above Syria’s since 2008.”
Socialism Kills More Babies than War – Chelsea Follett, FEE



Looks promising: “Australia and New Zealand Students For Liberty is compiling a selection of student and academic works on freedom in society, and is releasing a new, semesterly magazine, with its first edition out on December 21st, and print copies to be distributed in O-Week 2017!” Keep your eyes peeled for their first edition – or contribute!
Coming Soon: ‘The Gold Standard’ – STUDENTS FOR LIBERTY

“The son of a domestic worker raised by his sisters in a black township near Pretoria under apartheid, Herman Mashaba became a self-made millionaire in a country that systematically excluded blacks from economic opportunities. Sworn into office on August 22, he must wrangle a coalition that includes the revolutionary socialist Economic Freedom Fighters as he tries to implement an anti-regulation, pro-market agenda.”
Meet Johannesburg's New Libertarian Mayor – Leon Louw, FEE

“If leftist critics want to decry the focus of modern economics on consumption, they should turn their sights on the Keynesian interventionists.”
Consumerism Is Keynesianism  - Steve Horwitz, FEE

“Economists are too detached from the real world and have failed to learn from the financial crisis, insisting on using mathematical models which do not reflect reality, according to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane.”
Economists need to get into the real world, says Bank of England chief economist – TELEGRAPH

Deirdre McCloskey on the origins of the minimum wage…

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“Contrary to the dominant political narrative from members of both parties, which is parroted uncritically by most of the press, there is little evidence that these public works projects promote long-run economic growth.”
The Great Infrastructure Myth – Marc Scribner, FEE

“The Fed's policies continue to cripple the middle class while favouring those few who benefit from the Fed's inflationary policies.”
End the Fed To Really ‘Make America Great Again’ – MISES INSTITUTE

“When it comes to grand, ambitious government programs imposed to make the world more wonderful, nothing ever goes according to plan.”
If All Had Gone According To Plan – Jeffrey Tucker, FEE
The Pretence of Omniscience – Don Boudreuax, FEE

“One of the leading delusions of social engineers, central planners and government regulators is that they know enough to redesign, direct and command the development and evolution of human society and its social and economic institutions…
“It was Adam Ferguson who coined the phase so often used by Austrian Economist F. A. Hayek, that “nations stumble upon establishments [institutions], which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.”
Economic Ideas: Adam Ferguson and Society as a Spontaneous Order – Richard Ebeling, FFF

“How have economic ideas transformed over the past hundred years?” Lawrence H. White, author of The Clash of Economic Ideas, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economists and their ideas of the past one hundred years. They discuss Keynes and Hayek, monetary policy and the Great Depression, Germany after the Second World War, the economy of India, and the future of monetary policy.”
Lawrence White Podcast on EconTalk: The Clash of Economic Ideas – MERCATUS CENTER/ECON TALK


Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?"
But Tu Quoque asks the question, did Hillary do it first?

~ Keith Weiner, with apologies to Martin Luther King


“For us non-Americans it is sometimes hard to understand Donald Trump because he speaks and writes in what the British philosopher Bertrand Russell called “little patches of color”—micro-facts that must be pieced together to form a meaningful picture…
”As I’ve pieced together Mr. Trump’s little patches of color, I’ve come to realize that his real enemy is not globalism but mercantilism…”
The Real Enemy for Trump Is Mercantilism, Not Globalism – Hernando de Soto, WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Donald Trump won the presidency with a promise to ‘drain the swamp’ of crony insider deals in Washington, DC.” Yet “there’s always an excuse for why your gang’s favour-trading is in the public interest, while the other guy’s favour-trading is cronyism. So before Trump even takes office, he’s letting us know that he definitely won’t drain the swamp. You didn’t really think he would, did you?”
Change the swamp – Robert Tracinski, TRACINSKI LETTER
Trump meeting with Goldman Sachs president – THE HILL

“How Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary, made millions buying failed IndyMac.”
Steven Mnuchin’s Defining Moment: Seizing Opportunity From the Financial Crisis – WALL STREET JOURNAL

“The economic illiteracy of protectionism.”
Threats & cronyism–and he’s still only President-elect! – NOT PC

“Six months of fake news stories about Hillary Clinton didn't doom her election chances; two decades of real news stories did. But the fake-news meme provides Democrats with an excuse to avoid self-reflection; it clears Clinton (and them) of any responsibility for the loss."
The Liberal Postmortem on 2016 Is Not Going Well – Barton Hinkle, REASON

“Which might make you wonder: Why were we donating to them in the first place?”
Australia ceases multimillion-dollar donations to controversial Clinton family charities – NEWS.COM.AU

“The alt-right didn’t invent post truth. But it’s certainly learned how to take advantage of the left’s abuse & overuse of it.”
Who gave us post truth, conspiracy culture and the alt-right? – Mehrdad Amanpour, HARRY’S PLACE

“Instead of keeping them in place, we must finally understand that such policies are seen as acts of war and that they do not hurt the ones they are intended to. Instead, only the poor  in nations targeted by these embargoes suffer the consequences.”
Castro Was Monstrous, and So Is the Embargo – Alice Salles, FEE

"A president on his way out of town, like a dinner guest who frets the next morning that he talked too much and stayed too long, is obsessed with how he’ll be remembered" -- from this Washington Times editorial. My view: Obama should be remembered as the vapid ideologue who fanned the fires of racial tension; imposed a ludicrously expensive and unworkable health care scheme that broke virtually every promise he made on the subject; ballooned the national debt more than all previous presidents combined; shamelessly politicized the Justice Department, IRS and FBI; supervised a foreign policy of one flop after another; vilified the productive and successful of the country; delivered the weakest economic recovery of the last hundred years; and projected an endless aura of arrogance amid massive incompetence. If there's one program of his eight years that serves as the best metaphor for his presidency, it would be "cash for clunkers." We paid a monumental sum of our hard-earned cash for one sorry clunker of an eminently forgettable administration. If this had been a private sector operation over the past eight years, it would be fiscally and morally bankrupt; most of us would be suing on grounds of breach of contract, negligence, malfeasance, extortion and fraud--and we'd win easily.”
Obama’s legacy rhetoric belies scandal-scarred presidency – WASHINGTON TIMES

“Obama may be leaving the White House, but he still has big plans to destroy America. Please be aware of the following from my LYING monograph…”
LYING AS A WAY OF LIFE: Corruption and Collectivism Come of Age in America – Alexandra York, AMAZON

Bugger the pollsters:


Let’s hope this is true news.
First paralysed human treated with stem cells has now regained his upper body movement – THE HEARTY SOUL

File under “Virtue of Productivity.”
Napping can Dramatically Increase Learning, Memory, Awareness, and More – REFLECTION OF MIND

“Q: You talk about capitalism and that the politics would just be the police and the law courts and the military. So, what is going to be done for like the sick people that are needed of healthcare and they can't pursue their own happiness if the government is just restricted to that. What's going to happen to them?
”A: …”
From the Q&A following Leonard Peikoff's talk Introduction to Objectivism – FACEBOOK

“The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
3 - Half the people you know are below average.
4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.”
More here: The Quotes of Steven Wright – THIS BLEW MY MIND


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This looks great, coming up at the Auckland Art Gallery: 'The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate' to open at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki from 18 March 2017. Journeying through time, from the classical, biblical and literary subjects of the 1800s to the body politics of contemporary art, 'The Body Laid Bare' brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including JMW Turner, Auguste Rodin (pictured above), Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas and many more …
International masterpieces to reveal the naked truth at Auckland Art Gallery in 2017 – AUCKLAND ART GALLERY

And the Auckland keeps getting better …
Pop-Up Globe
Shakespeare's Henry V tempts star back to theatre – NZ HERALD

Told as a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities offers descriptions of imaginary cities Polo hopes will delight his host as much as they delight the reader. Every lover of architecture should have a copy – and in imagining each city for themselves, will delight in these beautiful illuminated illustrations by Lima-based architect Karina Puente of how her mind’s eye sees them …
Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Illustrated – ARCH DAILY
55 (In)visible Cities Project – KARINA FUENTE

“…shows the state of Hollywood, only 3 films from the last 16 years on this list.”
The 100 greatest American films – BBC

Not for everyone … but for those who loved him this is definitely something they will love.
Hear a 9-Hour Tribute to John Peel: A Collection of His Best “Peel Sessions” – OPEN CULTURE

It’s called parallax.
This GIF shows the camera really does add 10 pounds — here’s why – BUSINESS INSIDER

“Craft brewing’s growth is supply-driven. Production is growing fast, not because breweries are growing bigger, but because new brewers are entering the industry. The industry as a whole is showing excellent (and very tempting) growth, but breweries are not growing nearly as much."
Yee Ha! The Great Craft Beer Gold Rush! – BEER TOWN

Answering the important questions.
What’s the best Gin and Vermouth for a Negroni? – DRINKS & DRINKING

[Hat tips quips etc … F.A. Hayek PPE, Shishir BajpaiPaul Rooney, Alison Ballance , Libertyscott UK, Hernando de Soto, Old Whig, Jim Rose, Josh Perry, Screwed by State, Damien Grant, Steve Simpson, Timothy Sandefur , Kevin D. Williamson, Alex Stewart, Yaron Brook, hockey schtick, Drinks Info, New Thinking, Peter R. Neumann, Keith Weiner, Christian Wernstedt, Mark V. Kormes, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official), Riko Stevens, D.K. Williams, Scott DeSalvo, Anthony John Loder, The Cato Institute, Michael Hurd, For The New Intellectuals, Michael Yon, Dale Charteris]


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Experimental method’s most famous experiment finally proven experimentally


If science built the modern world – specifically, if the scientific attitude towards knowledge built the modern world – and there is much evidence to say that it did -- then it really did all begin with Galileo. Because it was with him that the experimental method really began.

For millennia armchair philosophers had just sat around and debated whether objects of different mass would fall at different rates – whether, when dropped from a height, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers would land first. For centuries, the armchair theorists had sat back and argued and had concluded, in their wisdom, that the lead would fall fastest. And then they sat back and fell again into their dogmatic slumbers.

Bugger that, said Galileo (but he said it in Italian) I’m going out to find out for myself.

And he did.

Dropping cannonballs of different weight from the Tower of Pisa (which fortunately for him was built on a lean) he could prove that no matter their weight, they would all land at the very same time.

Thus were the theorists disproven. And so was born the experimental method.

Except that the feather and the cannonball would still fall at different rates. Air resistance, you see. So despite the clear experimental evidence filled in and confirmed again over several subsequent centuries that mass played no part in the rate at which objects fall to earth, there was still a frustrating lacuna when it came to the feathers …

Until now*:


* Well, 2014 actually. But what’s 2 years between historians of the scientific method.

[Hat tip Azizi Hashim]


Nick Leggett’s “defection” surprisingly revealing


In that Labour’s Nick Leggett’s decision to become ex-Labour – and worse, to join the Blue Team! – is so unimportant, it’s important.

It’s not so much a defection as a jump aboard one train as his former one was leaving him.

He said he grew up "with Labour burned deep into my DNA" and both sides of his family were supporters.
    But the party's activists, staffers and MPs had become distant from the party's voting base.
    "They take their heartland for granted and sadly fail to understand the ambitions and challenges of working New Zealanders,' Leggett said.

Leggett is hardly the Waitakere Man that Trotter reckons the party needs. He’s the type of handwringing centrist apparatchik that’s virtually interchangeable with every other of the type. But where those types now might have been happy to wring their hands on Labour’s benches, they’re now discovering that Labour is not their home. National is.

NationalNational is that home because under John Boy Key the former party of free enterprise has made itself so “centrist” that it’s now virtually Labour without the identity politics – and without the Green tail on the red dog. So for those to whom identity politics is a bust and the Greens are too much watermelon to handle – those working Waitakere Men and Women who were once happy to call themselves “True Labour” people – it’s a train to jump aboard for the journey. Soo too the apparatchiks, who no longer see anything in the Blue Team to scare them (which should scare us).

It’s not so much that the apparatchik has changed; it’s the parties that are changing under him.

No wonder that Labour’s Andrew Little was seething. He’s “not True Labour,” spewed Little. When there’s nothing but identity politics separating the two biggest parties, then party tribalism like that is all you have left to draw on.

Several elections ago True Labourites were casting around wondering what their party stand for in a modern world in which the Blue Team is happy to pinch all their policies. If they thought embracing identity politics and the Greens were recipes for success, the gentle attrition seen since tells them the answer is probably “no.”

That’s why Angry Andy was so angry about something so apparently not-so important. And this is why it probably was.

UPDATE: From this distance it now looks like John Tamihere’s rant against the “front bums,” Shane Jones against the xxx, and Damian O’Connor’s against the . Bookend those and many other less celebrated moments with Leggett’s departure and the like of today’s TVNZ report, and you begin to sense the trend:

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson. It includes one supporter who held membership for 30 years and the campaign's coordinator is also understood to have walked away.

To lose one hardcore Labourite may be put down to misfortune. To carry on losing them looks much worse than just carelessness …


First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold


Following up on yesterday’s blog about Indian Prime Minister’s confiscation of “large” rupee bills (the largest being similar to a $20 note): any confiscation of banknotes has to be just a first step, argues Reason magazine’s Shikha Dalmia, because everyone is being hurt, and everyone is trying to rescue themselves. “Yes, the rich have indeed gotten poorer. But the poor have been decimated. Call it trickle-down poverty.”

Modi’s scheme will only encourage more movement out of the rupee from all classes.  There is a massive influx of interest into bitcoin from India’s rich and young professionals.; a move into things like tangible assets (such as gold and real estate), foreign currency and offshore bank accounts, corporate shares, and so on. And the poor are already buying jars of laundry powder for barter, “giving new meaning to the term money laundering,” quips Dalmia, “This means,” she goes on, “that this crackdown will set the stage for future crackdowns.”
    Dalmia argues this war on the private economy is far from over: “… you can be sure that Modi, who has already warned of further action before the end of the year, will go after gold and other assets next. He's already raised excise duties on gold and requires jewellers to check the tax identification card of anyone purchasing gold worth over $3,000, echoing India's notorious
1968 Gold Control Act that criminalised gold holdings by private citizens.”

America too has experienced a gold confiscation in the past century (see Franklin Roosevelt’s notorious Executive Order 6102) – and “only the naive would believe it couldn’t possibly happen again.”

You’d be wise to pay attention, argues Jim Rickards in this guest post, because India’s simply pulling from the global elite’s playbook. What’s happening in India could happen anywhere …

First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold
by Jim Rickards

The global elites are using negative interest rates and inflation to make your money disappear. The whole idea of the war on cash is to force savers into digital bank accounts so their money can be taken from them in the form of negative interest rates.

One way to avoid negative interest rates is to go to physical cash...

They can’t impose negative interest rates on cash.

In order to prevent people from using that option, the elites have launched a war on cash, as recent events have borne out. The war on cash is old news, but it is escalating rapidly…

India’s decision to make 1,000- and 500-rupee notes worthless is having devastating ripple effects in the Indian economy and the market for gold.

The consequences of the decision are both appalling and encouraging — appalling because they show governments’ ability to destroy wealth, and encouraging because they show the ingenuity of individuals operating under the thumb of an oppressive government.

One immediate consequence of the cash ban was that paper money began trading at a discount to face value. The entire banking system in India has been running out of cash and alternative forms of payment such as gold and barter have been emerging.

In plain English, you might be able to sell your illegal 1,000-rupee note to a middleman for 750 rupees in smaller denominations. You would get legal tender for your worthless 1,000-rupee note. The middleman presumably has some connection with the banks that allows him to deposit the funds without being harassed by the tax authorities.

It’s not unusual for bonds to trade at a discount due to changes in interest rates or credit quality, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen cash trading at a discount (although I did predict this development in Chapter 1 of my new book, The Road to Ruin.)

The second distortion is that gold is selling in India for over $2,000 per ounce at a time when the world market price is under $1,200 per ounce. This is because Indian citizens are rushing to buy gold for cash.

The gold dealers can then deposit the cash for full value. This is just another form of discount on the face value of the cash. It’s not that gold is more valuable; it’s just that your $2,000 is worth less than $1,200 (in rupee equivalents) when it comes time to buy the gold.

I’ve said for a while that the war on cash would be followed quickly by a war on gold. India may prove the point.

Don’t think of this as something that happens only in poor countries. Similar scenes will play out in the U.S. and Europe as elites become more desperate to take your money.

It should be clear that the war on cash has two main thrusts. The first is to make it difficult to obtain cash in the first place. At home, U.S. banks will report anyone taking more than $3,000 in cash as engaging in a “suspicious activity” using Treasury Form SAR (Suspicious Activity Report).

The second thrust is to eliminate large-denomination banknotes. A 1,000-rupee note may sound like a lot, but it’s only equivalent to about $15 U.S. dollars. The U.S. got rid of its $500 note in 1969, and the $100 note has lost 85% of its purchasing power since then. With a little more inflation, the $100 bill will be reduced to chump change.

Of course the European Central Bank announced that they were discontinuing the production of new 500 euro notes (worth about $575 at current exchange rates). Existing 500 euro notes will still be legal tender, but new ones will not be produced.

This means that over time, the notes will be in short supply and individuals in need of large denominations may actually bid up the price above face value paying, say, 502 euros in smaller bills for a 500 euro note. The 2 euro premium in this example is like a negative interest rate on cash.

Ken Rogoff is a leading voice of the elites in the war on cash. He recently wrote an article detailing the ways elites can steal your money. The first is negative interest rates. The second is the elimination of cash (governments can do this by declaring the $100 bill worthless, just as India did with the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes).

The third way is to set higher inflation targets. Rogoff wants to raise the Fed’s inflation target from 2% to 4% per year. At a 4% rate, the value of a dollar is cut 75% between the time you’re 30 years old until a normal retirement age of 65. The money you save in your younger years is nearly worthless by the time you need it.

Why should you care what Ken Rogoff thinks? Because Rogoff is not just another big brain. He’s a professor of economics at Harvard University and the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. More importantly, his name is frequently mentioned as a possible nominee for a seat on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. If Rogoff were on the Fed board, he’d be in a position to turn his confiscatory ideas into policy.

But even if Rogoff remains at Harvard, his views are highly influential on economic policy in general. Rogoff is not alone in his views.

One solution to negative interest rates is to buy physical gold. But if the government has a war on cash, can the war on gold be far behind?

Probably not.

Governments always use money laundering, drug dealing and terrorism as an excuse to keep tabs on honest citizens and deprive them of the ability to use money alternatives such as physical cash and gold.

When you start to see news articles about criminals using gold instead of cash, that’s a stalking horse for government regulation of gold.

Guess what? An article on the topic of criminals using gold just appeared this spring, in Bloomberg….

Jim Rickards is the editor of Jim Rickards' Strategic Intelligence. He's an American lawyer, economist, and investment banker with 35 years of experience working in capital markets on Wall Street. Rickards advised clients of the impending 2008 financial collapse, of a decline in the dollar and a sharp rise in the price of gold, all years in advance. Rickards is the author of The New York Times bestseller Currency Wars, published in 2011 and The Death of Money, published in 2014.
This post and its introduction first appeared at Laissez Faire Today.