Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour or gulags more important?

I hope the sanctimonious act of mass onanism called Earth Hour gave people what they wanted - a sense of purpose from an act that at best is about saving a couple of cents. Auckland and Wellington cities allegedly participated in this. I'm glad the Green Party didn't promote it.
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Meanwhile, while the world looks at China - I want yet again to raise the horror of the gulags in North Korea. I'll do it because unlike "climate change" you don't hear about it most days, you don't have sanctimonious little do-gooders telling you to do something about it - just 50,000 men, women and children in slave labour camps.
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Yes, and when they escape to China - China returns them so they can all go back to the gulags.
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LiNKorea's blog takes an uncompromising view on addressing the horrors of North Korea. They should be the top of the agenda for Amnesty International, and anyone else demanding improvements in human rights.

Many Heathrow travellers enjoying relief

well not those at Terminal 5. That's a disaster. It's not even a wholesale shift of all BA flights. All that happened is that most Terminal 1 BA flights were shifted to Terminal 5, none of the Terminal 4 flights have moved. They are scheduled to move in a month, but that's unlikely to happen on time. So expect a second major failure when that shift occurs.
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However, by contrast Terminal 1 by some accounts is an absolute breeze.
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You see, with almost all BA flights having moved out of Terminal 1 to Terminal 5, those remaining ones are flying through with a capacious, though aging terminal.
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Biggest airline at Terminal 1 is BMI, enjoying its highest ever reliability levels at Heathrow, as well as a boon from those avoiding BA with all of the troubles. You can also enjoy Heathrow's easiest to use terminal if you fly:
- Aer Lingus;
- Asiana;
- Cyprus Airways;
- El Al;
- Finnair;
- Icelandair;
- LOT Polish Airlines;
- South African Airways;
- Transaero; and
- US Airways.
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BA also has kept flights to Spain, Portugal and Finland at Terminal 1, for now (partly as BA wants routes operated jointly with codeshare partners not to operate from Terminal 5).
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So, for now, avoid Terminal 5 - which continues to have flights cancelled, baggage delayed and more disturbingly luggage lost for transit. That means don't use Heathrow as a transit hub flying BA.
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On the other hand, if you are flying any of the above airlines, Terminal 1 is apparently a breeze, with a 60% reduction in passengers - there are plenty of places to sit, baggage is getting through fast, no queues for gates on arrival. Meanwhile it's getting refurbished, and both Air New Zealand and United Airlines are moving there from Terminal 3 on 10 June.
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So there is a new experience at Heathrow - it's at Terminal 1. Give the other one at least a month to shakedown.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter means farewell till Tuesday

escaping this cold place to go south!

Cullen shows how dirty politics is

Well there must be something in it if John Key denies he would let Roger Douglas implement a "radical right wing agenda", although methinks he is partly posturing cleverly to say "go on take some votes on the right and be my preferred coalition partner".

According to the NZ Herald, Michael Cullen, who was in Cabinet with Roger Douglas and voted to privatise Telecom, among other things, is bleating that Douglas would "flog off the schools, hospitals and cut benefits". Hell, if only! Cullen shows who he wants to appeal to - those who live off the state, not those who pay for it, as if wasting billions of taxpayers' money on growing the state is a great success.

What Douglas DID say was far from radical:
- Get rid of the 39% tax rate, which National voted against in 2000 but hasn't the balls to get rid of today;
- Inflation adjust all tax brackets since 1999, which was Dr. Cullen's policy writ large, but isn't exactly flat tax or abolishing income tax which was ACT policy before;
- $40,000 p.a. income tax free threshold, which IS rather radical, but does mean that perhaps as much as a half of taxpayers would no longer be so - except for GST. That isn't a bad thing, except those people will still vote to get money spent on them;
- Abolishing Working for Families, which National voted against but hasn't the balls to get rid of;
- Introducing education vouchers, which National had as policy in 1987, but hasn't the balls to introduce;
- Rental out spare hospital ward capacity to be used privately - which should hardly be an issue if public funding isn't available to use them;
- Cutting state spending by $3-$5 billion per annum, which is laudable - except little detail about where and how.
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The sad thing is, in their heart of hearts both Key AND Cullen know that what Douglas did in the 1980s (and Cullen voted for it all in the House of Representatives and was in Cabinet for half of that government) was necessary and positive, and notwithstanding that the New Zealand economy is the better for it. Neither man is half that of Douglas, who faced down trade unions, farmers, manufacturers and countless interest groups suckling off the starving state tit and said "no more", as they were all suckling the productive sector and consumers dry.
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Douglas has proposed a moderate agenda, positive yes, but hardly major leaps forward of the Unfinished Business kind, although it IS a winding back of the state. A high tax free threshold is a major tax cut.
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However, nothing exemplifies the filthy lucre that is politics more than both men willing to take out the knives to Douglas to pander to the lowest common denominator, the Muldoonists, the Alliance retards and the second handers who constantly call for the "Guv'mint" to "do something", usually involving giving them some money or giving their favourite cause some money, taking it from someone else and telling people what to do. Key and Cullen know there are far more economically illiterate socialist types than productive types, so will sell out principle for politics.
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Pragmatic? Perhaps yes. Revoltingly insincere and hypocritical? I hardly need to say so.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pity those who can't avoid Earth Hour

A bunch of hand wringing environmentalists are promoting Earth Hour. A time when at 8pm (not at the same time, but 8pm local time wherever you are) you are meant to turn off the lights. You see to some this is the most important thing i the world to do - turn off the lights, feel so good that you've saved a couple of cents on your power bill, turn them on and feel purged of the sin of consumerism.

What banal nonsense.

23 million people are going to be participating in it without much choice. Take a guess who. Almost all of them aren't allowed to leave, can't own a car, take a flight or use the internet.


Last year I blogged about the true horror there. The existence of the gulags that keep children. One is called Camp 22. Camp 22 keeps 50,000 men, women and children as prisoners.
Testimony from those who have been prisoners and camp guards talks of 5 year old political prisoners. 5! Children of most ages are expected to work at gulags.
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This 122 page report talks of the camps murdering newborn children who are not ethnically pure Korean. Some of the other stories from former prisoners include: Pregnant women have induced abortions. Prisoners do not get to bathe or any change of clothes. Prisoners are regularly beaten by fists, sticks, rifle butts or thrown against concrete walls. A 4 year old boy imprisoned with his mother dying of malnutrition. Forcing prisoners to beat each other up. Pregnant women raped by prison guards.
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Former prison guard Ahm Myong Chol describes it all here.


This Earth Hour I ask you, for the sake of the tens of thousands in Camp 22 and the millions in North Korea, instead of engaging in some easy environmental onanism, go here and donate to LINK (Liberty in North Korea). Demand that all political parties standing in the 2008 election lobby to get this and all of the North Korean gulags shut down and the prisoners freed. Demand that North Korea stop imprisoning children and pregnant women, and stop executing new born babies of prisoners. Demand that this neo-Nazi/Stalinist/Pol Pot type horror end.
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Given New Zealand's new relationship with North Korea, which Winston Peters has led - I want Winston to write to the ambassador to Australia/NZ from North Korea, demanding that, as a first step, all children are released from gulags and the Red Cross be permitted to enter the gulags and report on conditions. I expect the Prime Minister to support this. I expect Keith Locke and the Green Party to demand this as much as they demand freedom for Tibet and the end to Guantanamo Bay. This is a chance for politicians in New Zealand to stand up together for the end to the most vile oppression on earth today. We don't have a trade relationship with North Korea that's worth thinking twice about this.
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This is about children being imprisoned, tortured, enslaved and murdered! Nothing is more important that ending this. Ask all candidates for election this year what they would do about it.
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This is more important than turning the fucking lights out.

Bus patronage down in Auckland - want to know why?

The NZ Herald reports that while North Shore bus patronage has shot up thanks to the opening of the $300 million busway providing a faster ride. The increase is 66% on the express services that now use the busway. No surprise there, although by no means are the bus passengers paying anywhere near the full cost of building the busway. However bus patronage across Auckland is down 2.2% in the 6 months till the end of 2006. Why so?
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Well there are a couple of reasons. For one, the collapse of the language school business a few years ago is having an ongoing impact, so it is partly demographics. However a more important reason is what you see in the overall public transport patronage figures - they are only up 0.4%.
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You see train patronage is up 11.6%. Given the millions spent on new stations and more rolling stock, and subsidising more frequent services, it isn't a surprise, but many of those new passengers are actually former bus passengers. That is why the net increase in public transport use is a derisory 0.4%.
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So with a fortune being spent on enhancing trains and buses (hundreds of millions from central government alone), with petrol prices continually growing, Aucklanders are hardly switching en-masse to increasingly heavily subsidised public transport.
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The problem with people shifting from bus to train is that it costs. In 2002 the average subsidy per passenger in Auckland for rail was $3.69 per trip, for bus passengers it was 96c per trip (Source: Surface Transport Costs and Charges report, Ministry of Transport, Final report Table B8.1). Remember some Auckland bus services get no subsidy whatsoever, although the ARC has been trying to get the government to change that - because it wants to control all services and not allow bus operators to operate services on a commercial basis.
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So it costs more to construct, maintain and operate rail services, and with lowering patronage of buses, it costs more to subsidise them as well. So when the ARC's leftwing Chairman Mike Lee says that it will impose a full 5c a litre petrol tax increase, for Auckland only, to pay primarily for upgrading rail services, you might ask a few questions:
1. How does shifting people from bus to rail services represent value for money for ratepayers and petrol tax payers?
2. How much faster is it to get around Auckland as a result of the improved rail services? In other words, is the spending on rail reducing congestion?
3. Why are people who live near railway stations and work near other ones, deserving of an over $7 a day handout to help them get to work, paid for by people who don't, including those who don't even go to work?
4. Why shouldn't they just ride buses that would cost only $2 a day to subsidise - in fact, why can't they pay for that themselves?
5. How many Aucklanders who live near the boundaries of Auckland region will buy fuel in Northland and Waikato, which wont be taxing motorists to pay for lavish public transport? How many petrol stations on the wrong side of those boundaries will go out of business?

Gordon Brown to meet Dalai Lama, would Helen now?

Good for him, he has told the Chinese PM Wen Jiabao that he will meet the Dalai Lama when he visits London in May. Not only that the Chinese PM has said he would meet the Dalai Lama as long as he renounces violence (which appears to hardly be an issue) and does not call for Tibetan independence (which he has not lately, simply requesting the same autonomy Hong Kong has). The Chinese reaction to the proposed meeting has not been hostile.
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The British PM's meeting with be a formal one, not the Helen Clark "happen to be at the airport" meeting at Brisbane airport last year which she anxiously said "wasn't planned" and "because one doesn't know whether people are going to be in the lounge, or what time other passengers are boarded". They happened to be on the same flight from Brisbane to Sydney. Clark, understandably was in business class, the Dalai Lama in economy, but Qantas granted him lounge access at Brisbane which allowed the meeting to occur. Remarkable that Qantas could do what Helen Clark wouldn't - because she undoubtedly could have invited him as a guest (I fully expect she is a Qantas Gold frequent flyer).
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This meeting will undoubtedly raise the pressure for the Chinese PM to actually meet the Dalai Lama. Helen Clark on the other hand has no backbone at all on this.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke's passing

According to the BBC, scientist and novelist Arthur C. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

He wrote over 100 books, but is best known for writing the novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" that became a famous film directed by Stanley Kubrick, but perhaps his greatest contribution to history is his design of the concept of the geostationary satellite. Clark in a 1945 article in Wireless World proposed how a satellite orbiting over the equator at around 35,787 km over mean sea level could remain stationary over its "footprint" area. Whether or not his article was in fact the catalyst for geostationary satellites is unclear, but his science was impeccable. This ultimately had a profound influence over telecommunications and more recently television.

A dark cloud was briefly pulled over his life by the leftwing tabloid the Sunday Mirror alleging that he was a pedophile. Clark denied the allegations and a police investigation found no evidence to support the comments attributed to him, and the Sunday Mirror ultimately having to publish a retraction.

However Clark was a fascinating man - he was seen by me first in a TV series called "Arthur C. Clarke's mysterious world" which was unforgettable for the Mitchell-Hedges Skull that was part of the introduction to every episode. He had a remarkable imagination and whilst fascinated by the paranormal, was ever the scientist seeking rational answers to unexplained phenomena.

He is survived by his foundation which exists to:

  • "Stimulate creative use of communications technologies and social resources to improve health, education, and the quality of life for people everywhere, with emphasis on the needs of developing countries."
  • "Integrate science and technology with literature, film and other means of outreach to enhance recognition of our increasingly complex, interconnected world."
  • "Deepen public understanding of science and technology, and their impact on humanity and all the other components of our universe."
these are all noble pursuits inspired by a man who looked at the stars and saw endless possibilities for humanity to use science, go forth, create and discover.

Dutch ban bestiality

I've copped some flack at David Farrar's blog for bemoaning this. Clearly the Netherlands is having a bit of an attack of the conservative bug. Of course the bestiality porn/sex show industry will simply move east (pity Prague).
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Yes I blog too much about bestiality, since I wrote about it here and here. My key point in doing so is that the law shouldn't be involved when it is about "yuck" not harm.
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Some of the points are funny if this wasn't about people being imprisoned. Some talk about raping animals, neglecting that the law doesn't distinguish between consent or non consent, besides animals don't give consent to be farmed and slaughtered, or have their milk taken do they? You can see the oddity of that argument.
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My point is simple:
1. If it is your animal and you catch someone interfering with it, it's your property, trespass law should suffice. Most farmers facing this "issue" have that remedy.
2. If it is your animal or you have the owner's permission, you can do with it as you see fit, but not inflict cruelty or wanton neglect.
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Like I said in the thread, I knew a woman who had received oral pleasure from a dog when she was younger. That is a criminal offence, as ridiculous as that may be. I know it disgusts many, and I have no interest in having sex with animals at all - but disgusting things are not the realm of the criminal law. The criminal law is about rights, and animals don't have those - there is only a duty of care for humans who own them. Besides, if you really think people who engage in it are sick then the last thing you need is for the criminal law to be involved.
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UPDATE: For clarity. The key thing is this - not having something a crime does not condone it. Here is a list of practices that are not illegal, but are not endorsed by the state:

- Eating rotten food;
- Drinking milk that is off;
- Smoking lawn clippings;
- Piercing your tongue;
- Tattooing your partner's image on your face;
- Having groupsex;
- Eating lightbulbs;
- Drinking urine;
- Smoking pencil sharpenings;
- Piercing your genitalia;
- Having naked photos taken of you and placed online;
- Getting tied up, spanked and whipped;
- Eating lint;
- Drinking wallpaper paste;
- Inserting objects inside any of your orifices;
- Sniffing dust from your carpet;
- Masturbating into a sock;
- Sitting at the airport sniffing aircraft fumes;
- Tasting battery terminals;
- Dressing your animals as clowns;
- Eating any of your bodily fluids;
- Wearing a different shoe on each foot;
- Yodelling while frying a sponge;
- Dripping hot wax on someone's nipples;
- Drinking liquor from a woman's genitals;
... et cetera.


Kiwisaver policy

So the Nats will keep some version of Kiwisaver, just like they are keeping a 39% top tax rate, just like they are keeping the Maori sears, just like they are keeping the RMA, just like they are keeping the Employment Relations Act, just like they are keeping democratically elected DHBs, just like they are keeping centrally funded schools, just like they are keeping the nuclear free policy, just like they are keeping the unbundled local loop, just like they are keeping the subsidised TVNZ, just like they are keeping local government's power of general competence, just like they are keeping the Ministry of Economic Development, just like they are keeping income related state housing rents...
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Here is a thought for Kiwisaver policy.
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Grant full tax deductibility for any income from Kiwisaver, then privatise it.
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Meanwhile make it clear that National Superannuation in its present form will not be sustainable and that those who don't save for retirement in one form or another should expect little from the state. While you're at it, you might just want to the total taxation burden to let people do that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Helen Clark partly right... again

Yes I know it's strange, but true. No Minister reports on the PM saying that at least ACT believes in something, unlike National. Stuff quotes Clark saying:
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"I think the way National's behaving they are leaving room for ACT because the National Party doesn't stand for anything, the National Party only stands for power and people in ACT at least have things they believe in and they believe in them quite passionately"
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I'm not sure about ACT - certainly Douglas has beliefs, and Hide does, though you wouldn't always know them. I'm sure that, on the whole, ACT members believe in less government, sadly they have by and large not had the courage of their convictions to express them.
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However, Clark is right about National. It by and large stands for power and sells out principle for that at any cost. Of course this is a little pot calling the kettle black, Labour's backtrack on the Treaty of Waitangi before 2005 is part of that, as is backtracking on tax cuts.
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Yet for all that, as much as I disagree with Clark, I do believe that she has a vision of the state and society that she is willing to defend and argue for. She believes passionately in the welfare state, in central government control and supply of health and education, and that the state should direct areas of the economy when it sees fit. She is a statist, and has little resistance to using the state to change people and society.
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ACT may, just may, have a good go at being a party of principle and courageous policies this year, although the signs are yet to be seen. It is this failure to show conviction about freedom consistently that is why Libertarianz exists today.
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However, what does the National Party stand for that is consistently different from Labour?

Domestic airline service - quality again

Is it a sign of change that both Air NZ and Qantas have now reintroduced food service on board the main trunk domestic flights, with promises of more improvements to come?
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Back before Ansett NZ arrived in the 1980s, when Richard Prebble lifted the limit on foreign investment in domestic airlines to 50%, Air NZ offered just a simple tea/coffee/orange juice service with legendary unopenable packs of cheese and crackers. The arrival of Ansett saw hot meals arrive and first class on domestic flights (with a choice of hot meals), airbridges and business lounges. Air NZ quickly followed suit creating Koru Club, introducing cold meals (then hot meals) and business class, as well as spending several million upgrading the then clapped out mostly central government owned Wellington domestic terminal (oh yes the wonders of government ownership).
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We had around 15 years of competition on service, as Ansett NZ went from strength to strength, was hurt badly by a long running industrial dispute, and eventually was flogged off to become Qantas NZ, which folded and was replaced by Qantas proper operating domestically in NZ. Meanwhile, Air NZ was privatised and came to dominate domestic routes, before investing in Ansett Australia - due to Australian government rules on foreign investment - and nearly collapsing as Dr Cullen refused to let Singapore Airlines bail it out.
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Then Air NZ introduced Express Class, gutting Business Class on domestic flights and all food and drink, except tea/coffee and a cookie - which itself was about to be cut last year.
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Now it's halfway back, with snacks, free bar, and other enhancements. More is to come, with Qantas reintroducing flights to Christchurch, upgrading its domestic lounges, and Air NZ to create a new premium section at the front of its 737s with 3-4 inches more legroom than at present, for full fare and top tier frequent flyers.
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Just another cycle - but it is only a coincidence that service was poor under Muldoon's socialism, got better under Douglas's free market reforms - stayed that way until two years after Labour got into power -then went cheap and is now emerging again to be higher quality just as Labour is about to lose.

Cheers Helen

So according to the NZ Herald, Helen Clark agrees with me on Air NZ paying the going rate for its Shanghai based crew.
So if there is allowed to be a going rate for labour in China which isn't decided by the government, why isn't it the same in New Zealand?
Or does the fact the airline is predominantly state owned influence things?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What foreigners can do to an airport


Many people flying to and from London's Heathrow Airport are about to find out. In July 2006, Grupo Ferrovial - a Spanish company - bought BAA plc. BAA plc owns Heathrow. Yes I know, foreigners. Think of the risks!




Now the approval and plans for Terminal 5 were made in 2001, but now Terminal 5 is about to open, on time and under budget. The first passengers will use it on 27 March 2008. British Airways is transferring almost all of its flights there from Terminals 1 and 4, which will provide much capacity at both those terminals to reduce overcrowding across the airport (Terminal 1 is destined to become the Star Alliance terminal, Terminal 4 for the Skyteam alliance and most airlines not belonging to any alliance).


Now Heathrow is far too often a nightmare - largely because of gross underinvestment over many years and a lack of capacity. Terminal 5 promises to transform the experience for British Airways customers, as well as allowing for the terminals it vacates to have ample spare capacity which will be used by reshuffling the airlines broadly into a terminal for each airline alliance.

See The Times for a photo series of the opening of Terminal 5 by the Queen.

So what is happening in Tibet?

Undoubtedly the Chinese government is tackling dissent with its usual ruthlessness. David Farrar notes pointedly how Helen Clark is treating both the Chinese government and Tibetan protestors with moral equivalency:
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The Government is concerned at the reports of violence and is trying to obtain more accurate information. It calls on all sides to exercise restraint.”- Prime Minister Helen Clark
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It could have come from China's official Xinhua news agency commenting on any foreign trouble.
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However, it is important to note that the protesters are not angels. Some are targeting any Han Chinese they see. James Miles of the Economist is the only foreign correspondent legally allowed to be in Lhasa reports he saw:
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crowds hurling chunks of concrete at the numerous small shops run by ethnic Chinese lining the streets of the city’s old Tibetan quarter. They threw them too at those Chinese caught on the streets—a boy on a bicycle, taxis (whose drivers are often Chinese) and even a bus.
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As your correspondent spoke to a monk in the backroom of a monastery, a teenage boy rushed in and prostrated himself before him. He was a member of China’s ethnic-Han majority, terrified of the mobs outside. The monk helped him to hide.
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However, it is NOT an orchestrated foreign conspiracy that is "anti-Chinese", despite the hysterical claims of the Chinese government. Tibetans deserve freedom of speech. Until they have this, China has no moral authority. Without the right to criticise government and hold it to account, it is simply fascism.
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However, the condemnations from the New Zealand government, the one that so claimed the moral highground on disarmament and Iraq - are so absent.

Toll NZ demands you subsidise its investment

The Toll NZ CEO David Jackson is in the NZ Herald pleading the case for you being forced to pay to prop up its investment, having done a deal with the government a few years ago that has gone sour.
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Oh dear, how sad. Having already NOT paid what it was meant to in track access fees to OnTrack to cover the maintenance of the network it uses to make a profit - it wants more and the reasons it gives are worth closer investigation. Below are some of his points and my response:
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"Statistics show a significant conversion of freight from road to rail (meeting the Government's objectives), and the industry is poised to move forward, more so, arguably, than at any other time in the past 50 years."
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Well fine, so you've had success. Good for you.
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"We have taken no dividends, we have improved the efficiencies, we have motivated staff and we have a business that is now viable. We have done a lot of this with fundamentally the same set of tools (people, rolling stock and assets) that we started with."
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This puts paid to the doggerrell spread by the Standard that Toll has been asset stripping, which is a complete lie.
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"We are prepared to invest more but require reasonable returns. We want a regime that puts tensions in place to achieve the most cost-effective outcome, that all stakeholders are accountable in this essential service to the country, and that a true, positive economic outcome is achieved. With limited funding, maximising value is critical."
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Ohhh wait for it. "All stakeholders accountable", I know what you want, because you then say...
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"For that to occur, a subsidy is required in some form."
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Ah, so we all have to prop up your investment, by force. Some investment.
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"Road transport in itself does not carry its full costs. There is no recognition of road operators receiving a subsidy but arguably they do. "
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Neither does rail, since you are getting a subsidy on maintenance of the rail network. The only subsidy of road transport is spending on local roads from rates. Besides, since you operate a trucking network you already get a subsidy then? So presumably charges for your trucks should rise then instead? No, didn't think you'd advocate that.
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"Rail operations the world over do not meet their costs and require significant subsidisation."
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Oh really? So that's why British rail freight operations are commercially operated, why US railways are commercial and privately owned, and so are most Australian rail freight operations. What nonsense.
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"I think it needs to be understood that in a country of four million people, with distances which make rail difficult to run commercially and growth opportunities that restrict the opportunity for scale improvements, there can be no room for inefficiencies."
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In other words you bought something marginal, and it's proving harder than you thought.
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"A final word of warning - customers are key. Without their buy in and satisfaction of their needs, rail has no future. If a subsidy is required, it is ultimately the customers along with the country as a whole, which is so desperate for infrastructure improvement, who will be the true beneficiaries."
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There we have it. So Fonterra, Solid Energy and the various forestry companies and freight forwarders - give Toll an offer. You are the true beneficiaries - so you should pay for it. The average family with two kids shouldn't be subsidising your freight movements. Oh, and all those on the left who think it is strategic - you chip in too, since you think it is so important put YOUR money where your mouth is - oh you don't tend to do that do you?

So who owns your life?

David Farrar has posted a tragic story of a French women suffering intolerable agony and loss of dignity due to esthesioneuroblastoma.
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I challenge anyone to dare think for a moment that anyone BUT that woman has the right to decide when and how she should die. Who owns YOUR life?
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Few points of freedom are more important than asserting that we all have the right to control not only our life but our own death. The last attempt to grant New Zealanders this right was in 2003, with the Death With Dignity Bill proposed by NZ First list MP Peter Brown - his proudest Parliamentary move in my book.
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It was defeated 60 to 58, with one abstention and one no vote. The defeat wasn't even at the final reading, it was on the FIRST reading. It wasn't even allowed to go to Select Committee for submissions and for further work. That in itself tells you what those who voted against it thought. They don't even want to entertain that adults should decide when to terminate their lives when they become insufferable. It is worth remembering, of those in Parliament today, which MPs believe you own your life, and which ones think THEY do. You may be surprised. Of interest, Don Brash voted for the Bill.
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Those who voted FOR considering the Death with Dignity Bill (who are still in Parliament today):
Tim Barnett (Lab)
David Benson-Pope (Lab)
Sue Bradford (Greens)
Peter Brown (NZ First)
Mark Burton (Lab)
Chris Carter (Lab)
Steve Chadwick (Lab)
Helen Clark (Lab)
David Cunliffe (Lab)
Ruth Dyson (Lab)
Russell Fairbrother (Lab)
Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens)
Phil Goff (Lab)
George Hawkins (Lab)
Dave Hereora (Lab)
Rodney Hide (Act)
Marian Hobbs (Lab)
Pete Hodgson (Lab)
John Key (Nat)
Winnie Laban (Lab)
Keith Locke (Greens)
Moana Mackey (Labour)
Steve Maharey (Lab)
Murray McCully (Nat)
Mahara Okeroa (Lab)
Pita Paraone (NZ First)
Winston Peters (NZ First)
Lynne Pillay (Lab)
Heather Roy (Act)
Dover Samuels (Lab)
Lockwood Smith (Nat)
Barbara Stewart (NZ First)
Nandor Tanczos (Greens)
Georgina te Heuheu (Nat)
Judith Tizard (Lab)
Metiria Turei (Greens)
Tariana Turia (then Labour now Maori)
Maurice Williamson (Nat)
Pansy Wong (Nat)
Doug Woolerton (NZ First)
Those who voted AGAINST the Bill (and remain in Parliament):
Jim Anderton (Prog C)
Shane Ardern (Nat)
Rick Barker (Lab)
Gerry Brownlee (Nat)
David Carter (Nat)
John Carter (Nat)
Ashraf Choudhary (Lab)
Judith Collins (Nat)
Brian Connell (Nat)
Gordon Copeland (UF now independent)
Clayton Cosgrove (Lab)
Michael Cullen (Lab)
Lianne Dalziel (Lab)
Peter Dunne (UF)
Harry Duynhoven (Lab)
Bill English (Nat)
Taito Phillip Field (Lab now independent)
Martin Gallagher (Lab)
Mark Gosche (Lab)
Sandra Goudie (Nat)
Phil Heatley (Nat)
Parekura Horomia (Lab)
Darren Hughes (Lab)
Paul Hutchison (Nat)
Sue Kedgley (Greens) (big surprise, yeah right!)
Annette King (Lab)
Nanaia Mahuta (Lab)
Trevor Mallard (Lab)
Wayne Mapp (Nat)
Ron Mark (NZ First)
Damien O'Connor (Lab)
David Parker (Lab)
Jill Pettis (Lab)
Simon Power (Nat)
Katherine Rich (Nat)
Mita Ririnui (Lab)
Ross Robertson (Lab)
Tony Ryall (Nat)
Clem Simich (Nat)
Nick Smith (Nat)
Paul Swain (Lab)
Lindsay Tisch (Nat)
Judy Turner (UF)
Margaret Wilson (Lab)
Richard Worth (Nat)
Dianne Yates (Lab)
ACT's caucus (today) voted for it, as did John Key and Helen Clark. Any hope of this being resurrected after the next election, or will we have the usual swathe of conservative National MPs who think they know best?

Nanny State in the supermarket

Bill Ralston reports in the NZ Herald how the Public Health Bill has, courtesy of Sue Kedgley and her fascination with banning things, the power for the state to tell supermarkets where and how they display "unhealthy" food.
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Kedgley says it is "unlikely to be used", which of course makes it ok to have the power to direct how the internal layout of a shop might be. The word fascist clearly applies here, how DARE they!
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Set aside the technical problems of administering this, when supermarkets are all sorts of sizes and layouts, think of what "unhealthy" food is. Is it butter? After all, it is high in saturated fat, has virtually no fibre, low vitamin and mineral content and can be used for frying and baking, both arguably "unhealthy" forms of food preparation. How about sugar? A bag of sugar can cause all sorts of mischief when combined with butter, flour and eggs. Then there is red meat. The evidence linking high consumption of red meat with heart disease and bowel cancer is overwhelming. Potatoes too. After all, cut them up and deep fry them and you're in trouble. Cheese too is closely linked to heart disease due to high saturated fat content. Bacon and other cured meats are high in nitrites and nitrates which are implicated in digestive system cancers as well.
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I'm sure nanny knows what is unhealthy, but it is telling that Labour and the Greens are championing this fascist piece of legislation - with the philosophy that supermarkets can't decide how they organise their own business, but more importantly that New Zealanders can't be relied upon to decide for themselves what they should eat.
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Is there no limit to the powers that those on the left seek to impose themselves upon businesses and consumers "for our own good"?

Meanwhile, since it is election year, would National and ACT repeal it?

ACT on education, some hope?

Well ACT bloggers think so, although until I hear some details about policies I wont be getting too excited. Having said that I AM pleased to read that one of the policies will be education choice. Sir Roger Douglas has talked of "scholarships" for all kids. If ACT could just get that implemented, in a coalition with National - it could make a positive difference to education for the good. National on the other hand, will do nothing - like it did in the 1990s when it had the perfect chance to battle the teachers' unions and win.
Education is the one area where the damage wrought by the state is most apparent. The centrally planned and funded education system, which seeks to churn out kids production line is NOT a system for the 21st century. It is one of the three main areas of state activity that was NOT properly reformed in the '80s and '90s. Outside paying either for location or fees, most parents have little option but to send their kids to the local school - like it or not. They all pay taxes and get wildly different results.
The teachers' unions oppose school choice because it devolves authority from Wellington to schools, it means funding follows pupils, and means that schools will be driven to make their own choices about teachers, teachers' pay and how they differentiate themselves. The unions have left clout and monopoly power if the decisions are up to schools. The nonsense that teachers can't be subject to pay based on performance can be confronted. Teachers' unions argue they only do their best with what kids they get - and that they can't be blamed if the kids they get from low income areas don't do well. This is a blatant obfuscation of reality. Parents and kids know good teachers from bad - the ones that inspire kids, the ones that cause them to want to go to school, or that class, and who clearly demonstrate improvements. They also know the bad teachers who don't communicate, who aren't interested in extending the kids, who don't inspire and who do as little as they can.
By and large, most parents care a great deal about their kids' education. It is not good enough to repeat the nonsense socialist fairytale that "we wouldn't need school choice if all schools were excellent". Much like we wouldn't need choice in brands of car, or clothes, or food. It isn't going to happen. Some schools will be badly run, some will be excellent. Some teachers are abysmal, some are extraordinary. That's right PPTA and NZEI, some of your members shouldn't be teaching!
The big question should be - why SHOULDN'T parents choose what school their kids go to, and why SHOULDN'T taxpayer funding follow the child? We have had nine years of fully centralised funding under Labour to make the schools "equal". That is enough, it is time for New Zealand to take the baby steps towards more choice and accountability that have worked in such bastions of the unfettered free market as ... Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
No doubt the PPTA and NZEI will go on strike - showing clearly how much they really care about the education of children. They will go on strike because they fear losing members who are incompetent, and schools hiring teachers that are competent but aren't members. They fear accountability, and fear the power shifting from bureaucrats and politicians, to parents.
No, vouchers/scholarships wont be enough. No, it wont free up education from the fetters of bureaucracy and the ideology of self sacrifice, collectivism and statism that is part of the curriculum. It wont mean all kids can go to an integrated or private school, as some will have fees beyond the value of a voucher - but more will be able to, without paying twice like they do now.
There is little hope under the current environment for any other steps forward in education. I can only hope that if ACT can ever do anything if it ever is in power with National, it is this one thing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bureaucracy cutting: so many possibilities

One can do nothing but laugh at those who think National’s policy for not growing the bureaucracy will cause chaos and ruin. Besides being a bit wimpish, the truth is that far too many in the public sector are far from over worked and even more simply do things that are fundamentally useless.

I spent several years in the state sector, observing officials from many departments and seeing the differences in culture between them. There were always some hard working ones, and of them, some were heavily misguided – undertaking tasks that, with all honesty, did no good at all. One was to register postal operators.

Despite all the best efforts of the officials at the time, MPs, against advice, decided that when postal services were deregulated in 1998 it couldn’t be allowed for new companies to simply set up and carry mail. No. Because the Police were concerned that (wait for it) drug dealers could set up competing mail operators and use these services to distribute drugs (because you’d do that wouldn’t you?), a handful of MPs caved into pressure and decided that every company that wanted to carry mail had to be registered with what is now the Ministry of Economic Development.

This registration process includes, believe it or not, a Police vetting. That Police vetting is to ensure the director of the postal company has not been convicted of a range of criminal offences, excluding murder and rape. You can not carry mail if you have ever been convicted for possessing cannabis, but if you committed murder you can.

By the way none of this applies to couriers or trucking companies, only postal operators. Of course, drug dealers and fraudsters were all keen to get into the mail business weren't they?

It’s all completely absurd.

This is only one type of ridiculous bureaucracy that exists. There are many more throughout the public sector. The creation of endless “strategies” is another. Search the word "strategy" at govt.nz and you'll find one that is applicable to you - that you were not consulted on and which is trying to get people to do all sorts of things.

Imagine if a bureaucrat had developed an "online strategy" 20 years ago - would have been brilliant wouldn't it? You wouldn't be reading blogs now would you? You might have had to go to a community resource centre to access terminals with a central database of government supplied information.

So there are many ways to cut the state sector that National could pursue, although it might face some questioning about the one I just mentioned. Since it was something National approved when it was in coalition with NZ First.

The world watches Tibet

How much blood will China spill in advance of the Beijing Olympics?

2008 for China was meant to be a year to celebrate. Celebrate pride in extraordinary levels of economic development, and increases in standards of living for most people in China. China's coming of age, being the third biggest economy in the world (behind the USA and Japan) should see the Olympics being a showcase of a modern China, with pride.

China has faced a couple of challenges so far. One, regarding its foreign policy in Sudan, has moved somewhat. Another, is the heavy pollution remaining in Beijing - which bodes poorly for the Olympics.

but now it is Tibet. However, the primary issue for Tibet is not so much independence, which even the Dalai Lama does not seek now, but the treatment of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama seeks the same special status as Hong Kong, which would, of course, be a tremendous advancement. Sadly Tibetans face the restrictions on free speech, racism of the Han Chinese, and the fascism and corruption of the Communist Party run state that is found throughout China. Tibetans should have the right to oppose those governing them, to highlight abuses and corruption, and to be treated equally as Han Chinese by the state.

So China's Communist Party led government is trying to balance between suppressing what it sees as unacceptable dissent and challenges to its rule, and not appearing to be bloodthirsty.

China knows only too well that if it attempts another Tiananmen Square type massacre it risks boycotts of the Olympics, if not at the official level at least by individual athletes. The loss of face would be considerable. However, the West also knows the risks of offending China. Burma is easy - it is small, and can be boycotted and protested against with little cost. China is big, and it can do whatever it likes, knowing it is too valuable to too many countries to offend it.

The Daily Telegraph is carrying images of the protests, as Tibetan protestors attack Chinese premises. Many Tibetans are incensed at the Chinese takeover of the province, as Chinese are offered considerable incentives to relocate.

China will be restrained till it can take no more, as it has shown it is very willing to oppress when the rule of the bullies in the Communist Party seems threatened. If it does, then it is time to send China a message - you cannot aspire to be a global power and treat your citizens with impunity. It is not civilised.

The Communist Party and its handmaidens, the "People's Liberation Army" are fascist bullies - they seek only to tell their people what to do, push them around, arresting and executing if they get in the way. China deserves better, but for now China should consider what it has done in Hong Kong and Macau. Both regions of China now have freedoms that are unrivalled in many of China's neighbours - Tibet could be the same.

If the Communist Party set Tibet free it would suddenly dissipate an enormous amount of criticism, but at the risk of protests appearing elsewhere in China. If the killing and arrests continue, then Beijing does not deserve to host the games - it should be boycotted. The Olympics are about friendship, sport and peaceful interaction - the Chinese Communist Party led regime lies to its own people and the world, while spilling blood. That is not a fit venue for the Olympics.

Bailey's chance: our gamble

So if Bailey Kurariki gets set free, and offends again, should the victim be able to sue the state for getting it wrong that he "is very unlikely to reoffend on release"?

He apparently will get a job in the forestry industry. Yes I'd like a murderer to have access to chainsaws, saws, heavy equipment. Also an industry rife with a drug problem in certain parts of the country.

He's found "God", a bit later than when he forced Michael Choy to find out if "God" exists or not. So will Bailey tithe half of his incomes to Michael Choy's mother to compensate her?

Unfortunately he will be set free, and the outlook can't be that positive as the NZ Herald reports:

Canterbury University criminologist Dr Greg Newbold said Maori focus units helped to give young people focus and a sense of identity but the positive effects were not always long-lasting.

"It's generally the case that people come out of those kinds of units absolutely positive and feeling great with terrific ideas, but when they come out in the real world the influence of their experiences in the focus units easily evaporates."

Dr Newbold said in Bailey's case it was "a great big question mark, a dirty big guess" as to whether he would reoffend, and statistics were not encouraging.

He said 90 per cent of under-20-year-olds released from prison reoffended within five years

If he blows it, he should be back - for life. That means life. Bailey, you get a second chance because the justice system lets you - you should get no other.

and don't have kids. Seriously, you can't be a parent if your own life isn't in order, and you wont know that for at least ten to twenty years.

The saddest part of this is the message it sends to young criminals - kill a man and within seven years you can be out and free. Cool eh bro?

Want to make Air NZ uncompetitive?

So Air NZ pays its Shanghai based crew less than the NZ ones. I am sure the UK based ones get paid more. It's called a market, and presumably there was no shortage of good quality applicants in Shanghai. I guess those on the left will want pay parity - always to the highest level, which would mean paying them all like UK crew - which would kill off the routes to China for starters, and then probably kill off much of Air NZ's business.

You see the routes to China are not particularly profitable - largely because the planes are used mostly by Chinese tourists paying for the cheap seats - there is little business class demand between NZ and China. So to take advantage of this market Air NZ needs to keep costs low.

The alternative is to tell Air NZ to pay the same rate - make the routes uneconomic - and then a Chinese airline will fly back in to take advantage of the growing business, undoubtedly paying even less than Air NZ.

Meanwhile those in China who don't want these jobs could refuse of course, and China isn't exactly suffering from economic malaise. The idea that those living in Shanghai are being exploited when they are paid generous wages by local standards is a nonsense - though I doubt the Greens will catch trains all the time in protest!

Yes that's how those on the left would let it happen. Winners right?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

IKEA not allowed because it would succeed

Blair Mulholland has this one dead right:

"New Zealand once again proves it is a retarded, inbred backwater of drooling, xenophobic hicks"
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Yes, according to the New Zealand Herald the Environment Court has stopped IKEA locating at a complex in Auckland because...
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It would be TOO successful. It would "generate traffic" (you know cars would appear out of the road spontaneously, it wouldn't be people wanting to buy something they like).
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Can't have that can we? A successful business is loathesome. Better to reopen a railway line that will lose money than allow a successful business that attracts people to drive to it. Maybe if people carry their flatpack furniture on a train?
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Of course the Environment Court couldn't think to blame the owner of the roads in this case, Auckland City Council, for failing to manage them properly either by not building enough capacity or failing to toll them at busy times to spread demand - no. IKEA is to blame when it is successful. IKEA pays, and so do Aucklanders who might work or shop there.
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Well fine. as Blair said so eloquently:
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"I'd love to blame this malaise on the Labour Party, but this one is National's baby. Fuck you very much, Simon Upton. Not even your current country of residence, noted for its fortress mentality and xenophobia, has laws this retarded and draconian. So lucky you for not having to live here and deal with the consequences. I bet they have Ikea in Paris, you bastard. I hope you choke on your croissants."
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and so look at this New Zealand. Those who might have jobs at IKEA, or have family who might have had jobs there, as well as those who might have shopped there. THIS is what the RMA does, THIS is what Labour thinks of success, THIS is what National will do nothing about and THIS is what the Green Party cheers on - it's the philosophy of zero growth.
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UPDATE: Elliot Who and Not PC have blogged similarly.

What might ACT do?

ACT's annual conference is coming up and, given the swing against the government, it will hope that it can ride a part of that trend. However, it has an uphill battle.

ACT has done best when it looks like National can't win. That being 1996, 1999 and 2002. In 2005 ACT's vote collapsed because most ACT voters saw more hope in National under Don Brash AND because the election was such a close call. Now it has a chance to differentiate itself and sell the message that National WILL be the next government - but it needs a coalition partner to ensure it shrinks the state. The problem is that most of ACT's supporters are so keen to ensure Labour is defeated that they will want to vote National. Unless a National victory is pretty seen to be a sure thing, ACT does not face much chance of improving its vote.

Some of us hoped ACT under Rodney Hide would be more freedom oriented than before, that it could combine it laudable enthusiasm for economic liberalism with social liberalism. Sadly it has shown only limited signs of this, although the vote against banning BZP is a positive one.

So what SHOULD ACT do? Well it is very clear that with the removal of Don Brash National has moved to the left, closer to Labour than it has been for a long time. ACT should have the field wide open, with a wide range of policy choices it can put forward.

So here is a go, and no it's not radical, it's all rather minimal actually:

1. One law for all: Abolition of the Maori seats and abolition of all race based funding and legislation. Simple, it was National policy and it should be ACT's. The state should be colourblind.

2. Low flat tax: The surpluses, although wasted by Labour, could easily sustain a combination of introducing a tax free threshold and dropping the 39% and 33% income tax rates, with company tax to match.

3. Eliminating unnecessary bureaucracies: ACT should easily argue to abolish plenty of departments and agencies, from the Families Commission, to the Commissioner for Children, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Pacific Island Affairs, Youth Affairs and so on.

4. Protecting property rights: Ideally scrapping the RMA, but at least introducing the primacy of private property rights into it over everything else. More importantly, restoring Telecom's property rights over its own infrastructure.

5. Privatisation: Proudly stating the state should not own businesses, whether it be rail, electricity, television, coal mining or the like. Allowing the private sector to finance, build and own new roads when they see it as being economic.

6. Choice in health and education: ACC is the easy one, opening all accounts up to competition. Education could start with vouchers and setting all schools free to govern themselves and set their own curricula. Health could see a shift towards an insurance model with a dedicated portion of income tax for health - which you could opt out of in favour of private insurance. The status quo is failing and only radical change will improve that. These measures are tried and proven elsewhere in the world.

7. Repealing victimless crimes: Blasphemy, the ban on BZP, bans on cigar advertising, the list is long - but it is about working towards getting nanny state out of our lives. I don't expect ACT to advocate legalising drugs entirely, but I could expect it to advocate decriminalising private usage by adults on their own property. I expect shop trading laws to be liberalised. I also expect repeal of human rights legislation, except for state agencies.

8. Reforming welfare: Time limits for all benefits, shifting the DPB to an alimony/contract model, reviewing sickness beneficaries to consider what they COULD do, allowing state housing tenants to have first option on their homes before they are sold, making at least the first $5000 tax free, no benefits for convicted violent criminals. Eliminating "Working for Families" in favour of tax cuts. What matters is weaning people off of state welfare.

9. Fight real crime: Demand accountability from the Police, preventive detention for the dangerous, and deny custody of children from convicted child abusers, rapists and serious violent offenders.

10. Ringfence local government: Repeal the "power of general competence" and constrain all councils to specific so called "public goods". Cap rates and require councils to phase out activities such as business subsidies, housing, arts and other non core activities.

It's a start, and not libertarian, but it would be a point of difference from National and a move in a right direction.

Racism on the left

Now imagine if a Maori dominated company was overseas and seeking to buy shares in a company - imagine if a national of that country said that after lowering the value of that investment "The fact that it may annoy the Maoris is just icing on the cake"

Yet Idiot Savant is saying just that - except it is about Canadians. Yes, annoying Canadians is a GOOD thing. Evil Canadians. You see, it's ok to be racist on the left as long as you are racist when a handful of the people of that nationality want to legally buy shares in an airport in your country. The British National Party would agree wouldn't they?

No doubt he would claim this ISN'T racist. However it IS racist to want the New Zealand Parliament made up of seats that represent one people by party vote and by electorates determined by demographics and geography, not race.

Confused? Well you can't ask him directly on his blog, but it is a peculiar kind of reality evasion that the left undertakes when it refuses to be TRULY colourblind.

I am. I don't care about whether one is foreign or not, or Maori or not. It is the behaviour and what an individual advocates that concerns me.

So many on the left claim to be anti-racist, but have a deep suspicion of foreigners who do business, and positively embrace racism by those they deem "oppressed". I guess if you think of people as pigeonholed in groups, then it is hard to give up a habit.

Yet another victimless crime.

Stuff reports that Labour, National, NZ First, United Future and Jim Anderton have all voted to ensure you can no longer legally choose to ingest BZP. Well done Jim Anderton for pursuing a crusade driven in part by his own personal tragedy - and being blinded to alternatives, and National's most vapid MP - Jacqui Dean, for engaging in a piece of personal fascism.
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Good for ACT - at last - standing up for personal freedom and voting against it.
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Good also on the Greens and the Maori Party, the latter being a surprise given the views of some of its MPs on banning tobacco.
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Nanny State has extended her tentacles to another substance that adults can ingest - and the National Party was a leading cheerleader. This alone should demonstrate to lovers of individual freedom that National IS no friend of freedom. It does so in the face of pitiful evidence of any benefits from the ban, as fisked so well on Not PC recently by MikeE.
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However perhaps the inane statement of the day comes from Damien O'Connor - the truly switched on Labour MP for West Coast-Tasman - "I believe that party pills will virtually disappear from New Zealand following the enactment of this bill," he said.
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Much like cannabis, ecstasy, P and all other drugs have.
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Meanwhile the jobs from the BZP industry will either disappear or be transferred to the criminal fraternity - and those who consume it now face the risk of it being poorer quality, higher priced and being distributed along with a whole host of other drugs.
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Now it's naughty and illegal too. However I wonder if ANY of those MPs who voted to ban it have tried it? If they haven't, why not?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

British budget - just more taxes

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has released his first budget and it's about tax.

Sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco are up, and the extortionate fuel tax will be up in 6 months (in the UK over 80% of fuel tax does not go on roads).

New taxes are imposed on new cars - a "showroom tax" on all new vehicles, rated at CO2 emission levels. Of course taxing new cars means it is cheaper to keep an older car for longer, increasing net emissions - but this is about tax.

A tax on plastic bags also has nothing backing up whether it will generate net benefits for the country - just an excuse for more tax, with the money going into an environmental charity slush fund. Set one up today to take advantage of it!

Then there is the "non dom" tax. Non domiciles resident in the UK for more than 7 years will have to pay £30,000 to retain their status, or face being taxed on their overseas income. That will undoubtedly have a negative effect on London's status as a world financial capital.

On the other side there is more money for the military because of the cost of commitments in Iraq, and more money on welfare - allegedly to relieve child poverty, but I guess others can make judgments as to how much extra welfare is spent on children, and not on the higher cost of alcohol and tobacco. Pensioners get more money to subsidise their energy bills (yes its funny that the compulsory state pension that you can't inherit isn't one to survive on).

and all this with £43 billion in borrowing. The UK has a huge budget deficit and growing state debt. The prospects for that being addressed in the near future are very slim indeed while Labour continues to grow the state sector.

So why overthrow the Taliban?

It takes a bit for me to agree with both Peter Dunne and Idiot Savant, but the case of Afghan student Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh is compelling.

One reason I supported the invasion of Afghanistan and overthrow of the Taliban was to liberate the Afghani people from Islamist oppression. Unfortunately, instead of invading, occupying and introducing open liberal values and government, the coalition, including New Zealand, allowed a less radical form of Islamism to take over.

That is where Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh comes in. He faces the death penalty for blasphemy, for the simple act of writing an article questioning the treatment of women in the Koran. Afghanis should have free speech and should be able to debate matters of religion and morality. It is abhorrent and unconscionable for Afghanistan to murder someone for saying something that offends many.

What is worse is that New Zealand has troops there, defending the current regime. As Idiot Savant says "We wouldn't support Iran's rabid theocracy with troops; why are we supporting Afghanistan's?"

Indeed. It is time for all of the New Zealand Parliament to condemn this, for the government to raise this with the Afghani government, and demand that the sentence be commuted. Indeed apparently Condoleezza Rice and David Miliband have both raised the issue on behalf of the US and the UK.

Otherwise, all we have done is gotten rid of a set of aggressors against the West in favour of a set of aggressors against their own people.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Muldoon's back with more subsidies

Back in the bad old days of Rob Muldoon, industries would clamour for a subsidy or a tariff or import quota, to protect them, promote exports or help “encourage jobs and innovation”. Those days were largely gone after the fourth Labour government, which ruthlessly purged corporate welfare partly to save taxpayers’ money, but also to ensure a “level playing field” with the government not “picking winners”.

After an initial shock, most businesses accepted that with the government out of the game of dishing out subsidies and protectionism there was no longer the need to lobby for such things and business could get on with producing and selling.

However, this started to be eroded with Jim Anderton converting the largely policy advisory Ministry of Commerce into the more interventionist subsidy Ministry of Economic Development. The “winners” picked by Jim Anderton’s subsidy machine – NZ Trade and Enterprise – are probably not worth looking at too closely, when you write off the losers. Of course since you didn’t want to “invest” in those businesses anyway, you were the loser either way.

Now according to the NZ Herald Labour is throwing $700 million of your money away on the food and pastoral sectors to promote innovation. Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly responds to this by saying “This is an excellent model for commercialising research, based on research-industry collaboration”.

Commercialising? Since when it is commercial to use taxpayers’ money, which might otherwise have been used by OTHER businesses for their innovation?

Nobody would argue with innovation by business, but wouldn’t it be simpler to just forget subsidies and cut company tax some more? For starters, how about a company tax rate of 15% (half that of Australia, and lets bring income taxes down to match)? How much innovation might THAT bring?


Meanwhile National, showing a growing pattern of "me to" ism, has a press release saying "National Party Leader John Key says National will make a significant increase in funding for agricultural research and development, but it does not support the model announced by Labour today.... We will make long-term funding commitments that provide certainty to the sector because we see it as a way of lifting productivity and helping to make New Zealand a smarter nation."

Um, how about letting businesses keep more of their own money? "knock knock" any policy innovation at the National Party?

Easter Sunday is for individuals not politicians

As is far too often the case, the Greens show their flagrant hypocrisy regarding their principle of "non violence" . You see, violence is ok for the Greens, as long as it is performed by the state pushing people around the way THEY like it.

My response to Sue Bradford's press release saying "Easter Sunday is for families not finance" is "Easter Sunday is for individuals not politicians".

Sue wants to prosecute shopkeepers, including sole proprietorships, that open on Easter Sunday - because she thinks the shopkeepers should "be with their families". How dare she!

Sue wants Labour Department goons, which taxpayers are forced to pay for, to WORK on a Sunday (what about their families Sue?) to find businesses - private businesses - not ones Sue owns, risks money on, works on - to charge, prosecute and fine. Non-violence? Bullshit!

Of course Sue isn't concerned about businesses, they only create jobs. She pours out concern for employees she claims are "forced" to work on Easter Sunday. How are they forced Sue? Would someone arrest them if they didn't work then? How many employees WANT to work then so they can have a different day off during the week? Doesn't matter to Sue, she knows best.

Here are some simple points Sue, which chop through your weasel words about "community" which are just about you imposing your will on peaceful people:

1. Owning a business means having the right to control when it is open for business and when it is not. That is because owners risk their own money, and don't expect anyone else to bail them out when they lose. It's private property.

2. Nobody forces any businesses to open on Easter Sunday. By contrast, YOU want to force them to be closed.

3. Nobody forces people to be customers for businesses on Easter Sunday. In fact, thousands of people do that. Funnily enough apparently their view of community and what should happen on Easter Sunday isn't yours - but you ignore them, and want to force your view on them indirectly. Nice.

4. Nobody forces people to work on Easter Sunday. Employees take up employment understanding the terms and conditions of that employment.

Sue is apparently at ease letting airline pilots, nurses, police, power station workers, farmers, bus drivers, customs inspectors, service station workers, television presenters etc etc work on Easter Sunday and do business. She is happy for state owned airline Air New Zealand to fly thousands of people across the country on Easter Sunday, but not for a gardening shop to sell some pot plants.

She is a hypocrite, and a bully - and she shouldn't decide what you do on Easter Sunday, either with your business, your family or yourself. You should. It would be nice to have a day a year when politicians just left us all alone.

Fat chance with the likes of socialist Sue.

Strategic assets

For all those on the left (and Muldoonist right) who fear strategic assets, like airports, run by foreigners. Consider these airports with at least 40% of the shares owned NOT by nationals of the country they are in:

- London Heathrow Airport
- London Gatwick Airport
- London Stansted Airport
- Glasgow International Airport
- Glasgow Prestwick Airport (owned by New Zealanders no less)
- Athens International Airport
- Hamburg Airport
- Tirana Airport
- Copenhagen International Airport

Monday, March 10, 2008

SMS surveillance

For some years the Police wanted the right to tap internet communications like they could phone conversations, that right was granted after 9/11. Now the NZ Police want telcos to archive all text messages, so that, on the off chance any might be "suspect", they would all be stored.
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"our police want to archive everything we say, just on the oft-chance that one day they might be interested in it. But we don't let them force NZPost to photocopy every letter which goes through the mail, and we don't let them force Telecom to secretly record every phone conversation we have. We recognise and reject these as Orwellian demands, grossly invasive of privacy, and hugely open to abuse. Their demand that all TXTs be recorded and archived should be treated the same way."
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The Police quite clearly think we are all guilty till proven innocent, or more importantly the old adage "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear". Yes, that's what totalitarian regimes say when they raid homes, arrest without charge and interrogate. It's what the Stasi in East Germany thought.
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Don't forget the next will be emails. The Police will want all emails, all records of all internet communications to be archived forever. Besides being a gross imposition upon telcos, this suggestion is a grotesque invasion of the state into personal privacy.
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The Police needs warrants to enter private property, to tap phone lines and to open mail. They should need warrants to intercept text messages and emails too.
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Fighting crime is the core duty and role of the Police - but it is not something to be carried out at ANY cost. Yes it would be easier if the cops could access anything of ours without a warrant. More criminals would be caught. More would be caught still if the police could arrest without charge, but one hallmark of a free society is that we accept that some criminals will be free, in order for us to all have some measure of freedom and privacy. North Korea has precious little crime.
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According to Stuff "Police national crime manager Win van der Velde said that, though phone companies were private businesses, they also had a role as good corporate citizens."
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Respecting the privacy of its customers is being a good corporate citizen. Warrants are they right way for the Police to start intercepting the communications of suspects.
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However, see how quickly Labour or National hops on this bandwagon.... on the wrong side

Clinton-Obama isn't going to be

Barack Obama has decided he wont be vice president to Hillary Clinton according to the Daily Telegraph.
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He said "You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate. I'm running for president. We have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton, and have a higher popular vote, and I think we can maintain our delegate count"
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Clearly Obama feels he can sniff victory, and Hillary's desperation. She wont be deputy when she's spent a good period of her life being second fiddle to Bill.
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Bleh, a curse on them all - all uninterested in the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all hungry for power.

Bit late isn't it?

According to the NZ Herald "The country's youngest killer, Bailey Junior Kurariki, is an articulate, intelligent young man, who appears genuine in his desire to live an offence-free life, the Parole Board said yesterday".

Of course the Parole Board doesn't meet many articulate, intelligent people presumably.


Meanwhile, in related news, Michael Choy remains dead.
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Nice to see the Parole Board believes one of them deserves a chance after denying all of the chances of the other - in a cold and brutal manner.
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An offence free life is a bit late now isn't it?

Little piggies in the trough

Yes, 2 Labour MPs (Marian Hobbs and Margaret Wilson), 2 National MPs (Brian Connell and Katherine Rich) and 1 from NZ First (Peter Brown), all engaging in a farewell hurrah tour to Europe - to perk up their airpoints, flying business class on Singapore Airlines to the political hub - Milan! I've calculated around 680 airpoints dollars per MP for that - not bad when you consider an airpoints dollar is worth a dollar to spend on future flights. Peter Brown as a rabid enthusiast for shipping ought to be sailing though.
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Now I DO know that Singapore Airlines flights to Milan are not cheap, since they have the brand new business class onboard the Boeing 777-300ERs on that route. Stuff reports the fares alone will be little short of $10,000.
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Brian Connell, a National MP suspended from caucus for 18 months, was suggested by no less than John Key for having one of the National "places on the tour".
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So you see, National wont stop spending your money on pointless overseas travel by MPs.
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Brian Connell's reaction was "It was very pleasant - a nice change of circumstances" . Marian Hobbs doesn't know why your money is paying for her to go to Europe saying "I don't know too much about the purpose. I think it's about MMP. I'm not sure." It's a jolly Marian isn't it?
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Katherine Rich, who is meant to represent people who voted National in New Zealand said the trip would be a chance to represent Parliament overseas - because that is, so important, isn't it?
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Margaret Wilson's office said "the trip was an opportunity to establish relations with countries that were part of an enlarged Europe". Um hello? What value is there in them establishing relations with outgoing MPs? Besides we already DO have diplomatic relations with Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Europe hasn't enlarged either, the countries have always been a part of Europe - the European Union isn't "Europe".
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Peter Brown's office said "he's so excited to go on a big plane at last" (no I made that up).
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So while Labour defends its "impeccable record" at being frugal, and National claims it will be more frugal - it's clear that while this is small fry, none have any such interest. How, as an MP, living off of the money taken from others, can you with clear conscience go on a trip that has no clear purpose?
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UPDATE: Not PC suggests that we are better off with them taking jollies. Well I'd definitely like to see most of them go on a permanent jolly. They can't make laws while they do.

Sudan – kinder on bestiality than NZ

Whilst you would question whether women and children get much recognition for individual rights in Sudan, a BBC report suggests there is less question that zoophiles have far superior individual rights there than in New Zealand.

In New Zealand if you did what Mr Tombe did to Mr Alifi’s goat, you’d end up in prison. In Sudan you are made to marry the goat and pay a dowry.

In a case that, to be fair is actually about conversion of property, the man caught fornicating (a word some Christians say with the passion of a pervert) with a goat was told as he used it “like a wife” he should marry it such.

Given the owner was happy with the outcome, there is no reason to take this further. Certainly this is far more enlightened than the NZ way of incarcerating someone because it offends and upsets people. The very same people who in many cases would happily have the milk molested to provide milk for them! Of course getting oral pleasure from the bodily fluids of a goat is acceptable in one sense.