Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: the year to devalue awards

After Barack Obama being granted the Nobel Peace Prize for absolutely nothing, the New Zealand Government has now granted Helen Clark the Order of New Zealand.

However, given the list of those who already hold it includes:

- Ken Douglas, who spent a good part of his career cozying up to the brutal murderous dictatorship of the Soviet Union, before softening up;
- Jonathan Hunt, a man whose Parliamentary career includes NZ$29,000 of taxi expenses, a man whose greatest achievement was being part of the reforms of the 1980s, like well just over half of the Labour caucus then (who aren't there); and
- Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, whose greatest achievement was winning a Ballroom and Latin American Dancing contest, otherwise she has been thought of by more than one as one of the laziest Cabinet Ministers in recent history;

then you already know it's barely worth using such an award to help hold a door open.

The Key government in granting this to its political enemy speaks volumes of how nothing much has really changed. Clark's record at the UNDP is at best disappointing, at worst appalling. As Prime Minister she was notable for being a control freak, notable for increasing taxes, dramatically increasing the size of the state, widening the role of the state and using personal attacks instead of arguing politics on philosophy, economics and merit. She presided over increasing the range of people dependent on the state on income, she demanded the bureaucracy not give free and frank advice when she didn't like hearing it, but most of all she made no great particularly historic contribution. Jim Bolger at least led a government which for three years, did implement some significant reforms (not all being steps forward, the RMA being the worst).

So that's 2009 ending, with a major international award being rendered meaningless, and New Zealand's highest domestic honour proving that mediocrity remains the standard of achievement lauded by New Zealand politicians. Most of all showing that after one year, the majority might have voted out Helen Clark in 2008, but enough of you voted in her philosophical and spiritual kin at the same time, with a blue tinge. Which is, of course, what National has really always been, except for a three year period when Ruth Richardson gave the Nats a bit of testicular fortitude.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Terrorism exposes absurdities of the security bureaucrats

The attempt to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit has exposed the ongoing risk there has been, for some years, of Islamist thugs seeking to murder civilians en masse for political/religious purposes. It has exposed enormous flaws in the screening process for airline passengers, that someone on a "watch" list gets no particular attention, not too surprising in Nigeria, but appalling in Amsterdam. More disconcertingly it has given the aviation security goons an excuse to persecute all airline passengers flying to the US with such absurdities as:

- Prohibiting people from moving in the cabin in the last hour of flight, when the 9/11 terrorists made their move in the beginning of the flight (next the security goons will be demanding passengers be strapped in seats with "bed pans" to urinate in);
- Banning the use of laptops and portable audio equipment on flights, effectively making business flights largely unproductive and boosting book sales at airports;
- Requiring some airline in flight entertainment systems to be shut down early, contrasting to Air NZ's successful and popular "gate to gate" continuous running of the systems.

Christopher Hitchens in Slate says:

The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe." The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens' toothpaste.

We have already had to put up with the absurdity of being unable to take bottled drinks through airline security, but we can buy the same ones "airside" which means being price gouged at many airports (thankfully not Heathrow which has enough competing shops to make this no problem). Replacement of stainless steel cutlery with plastic was one of the most stupid, as anyone who got a glass of champagne could well figure out how a weapon could be created.

New Zealand of course coped for decades without any domestic security screening, until 9/11, and security goons were "shocked" at the knives and various objects people used to take on flights from Auckland to Christchurch. The unspoken truth is that the people who did this had no intention of using them against their fellow citizens anymore than they do on trains, buses, in shopping centres or walking the streets. It's a blessing that the Government ignored some calls for security screening for domestic flights using aircraft of less than 90 seats.

The case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab wont see anyone fired from their jobs in Nigeria, Schiphol Airport or elsewhere in the security sector. There isn't accountability for failures, just as there isn't for the stupidity of the measures imposed on everyone else.

It should have been obvious to connect the likes of Abdulmutallab to needing additional screening, he was, after all, already on a list. However, that incompetence is now shrouded by adding hours of delays to travellers, hours of inconvenience and discomfort because some control freak has decided to make people "feel safe".

What the security goons and the politicians wont point out is that the risks of attacks remains constant, and ever present. In London, there is little difference today compared with 2004 in terms of the ease of being able to launch an attack on the underground or on a bus. The sheer numbers of people are so great, and the same applies to all metro rail systems. Fast intercity trains are also sitting targets, but then so are crowded downtown areas. The IRA didn't waste energy on transport networks, but waged much fear and death by using bombs on cars and vans, or in public areas.

So the message is, you can't be wholly safe anywhere. Islamist thugs will seek to attack as they see fit, when and wherever they wish. Some on the left wish to minimise this, and it should not be exagerrated, but it is real, it will exist for many years to come. Even lasting success in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will only reduce, not eliminate the risk.

It is reasonable to take steps with aviation to stop people taking on board weapons, to screen for explosives and to use intelligence to stop those who there is good reason for suspicion, but someone needs to be responsible for the abject failings in this case and there should NOT be ridiculous kneejerk reactions just to be seen to be "doing something".

It's about time politicians and the public said no to being literally bent over and buggered by the incompetent and the inane. Aviation security is a serious business, it should be driven by real rational assessment of risk and the detailed use of intelligence to screen out passengers. Sadly what we seem to have is the sledgehammer trying to crack a seed, we deserve better from these ever burgeoning monopolies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas, Hanukkah or simply Seasons' Greetings

Yes my blogging has been very erratic as of late, not because there is nothing to write about, but because much of the month I've been spending long hours in front of a laptop and when I haven't been, I've preferred to enjoy the season. After all, with daylight starting at around 8am and ending from around 3.30pm, with ample snow, and Europe so close, I've taken the time to enjoy time with me and my other half, as well as deal with

I will write a summary to 2009 as I see it before the New Year.

I'm about to have turkey, veges, pudding, champagne and chocolate, although it is NOT a white Christmas in East Anglia today (although ice and snow remains in a few corners), but it IS rather special to have Christmas in this part of the world rather than New Zealand.

Even more special to have spent a few days in Vienna, where hot spicy drinks, strudel, torte and umpteen sausages (and all seriously good), and the colder weather, and symbolism of this time of year is much stronger. Glad also to have not chosen the "weekend in Paris going Eurostar" option given what a debacle that has proven to be.

All I miss is my family in New Zealand, but that wasn't to be this year.

I hope all of you have a good time with your loved ones, enjoy the food, drink and simple benevolence and joy of the season. For those experiencing a little sadness at this time, I hope it gives cause to remember good and happy times.

Merry Christmas and Seasons' Greetings, and may you simply enjoy life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Australia's draconian approach to the internet

Politicians in Australia are seemingly obsessed with the "internet is evil" vision of censorship. John Howard forced taxpayers to pay for all families to have filtering software at home, but for the Rudd regime it isn't good enough.

The model for Australia? China, Singapore or the UAE. Yes none exactly known for free speech and openness. The great firewall of Australia is purportedly designed to block child pornography, which of course means anyone opposing it must be suspect.

Now child pornography doesn't sit around on websites for very long, because its very nature being illegal means that websites are set up and shut down regularly. Indeed, most prosecutions for it are by people swapping personal collections via instant messaging and peer to peer networks. Not exactly a means by which a website firewall can interfere with. In fact the one point that most of those concerned about illicit material ignores is that the internet also makes it easier to track down those who produce it and distribute it.

Now there are reports that the trial firewall is blocking legal material. The majority blocked is NOT child pornography. So it is the typical sledgehammer to crack a nut.

The simple rule that should apply to the internet and all content is that the law should be involved when the material distributed is a recording of an actual crime - that means children, that means real rape and real violence. It means the recording is an accessory to the crime, not the desire to engage in wide scale social planning.

Of course the authorities and certainly politicians have no response to the fact that increasing numbers of cases are now appearing of teenagers facing legal action because they are taking photos of themselves, which happen to be illegal. The image remains of a big bad world of adults, and a world of innocence of those under 18. The truth is there is a lot going on in between all that which parents don't know about, which politicians don't want to utter and youth culture. Sexuality is changing, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and people's heads are in the sand.

Transmission Gully subsidy to Wellington

$3 each for a $20 a user road.

Yep, that's what the Transmission Gully boondoggle will cost. Each user will pay no more than $3, you could argue probably another 65c in fuel tax/RUC for driving 22km along the road.

So that's $3.60 per user.

How much of Transmission Gully will the toll recover? $200 million out of $1.2 billion. The extra 65c will only recover proportionately another 22% more (generously rounding up) so that means $244 million of Transmission Gully will be paid for by users.

The rest? Comes from motorists using other roads, across the country and indirectly, taxpayers who wont be charged interest on the capital put into this expensive road.

So go on, thank the government for pouring over $950 million in subsidies to road users for Transmission Gully. Then again, given the $500 million being poured in subsidies to rail commuters in Auckland, it just shows you how much interest there is in economic efficiency and user pays by this Labour government.

Yes I know the report says $2, but really we're just arguing about how bad it is aren't we?

How many of those who damned Labour for wasting money are now hopping on their new cargo cult?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Think Big hits Wellington

It seems Rob Muldoon and Bill Birch are back with big road building plans for Wellington's State Highway 1.

The list is enormous, and it is justified based on agglomeration benefits. The same benefits the UK government has long used to justify a whole range of highly borderline rail projects. Quite how agglomeration benefits the economy when it is about a city primarily set up for the state sector is beyond me.

After all it is $2.4 billion we are talking about, around $7000 per Wellingtonian. My back of the envelope estimate is that the net benefits from these projects will be less than $2 billion. So National is going to destroy wealth on a scale akin to the purchase of Kiwirail.

The project are listed in three phases.

Phase 1

Aotea Quay-Ngauranga extra lane: In other words, a subsidy to peak car commuters. After all this section of motorway flows freely the rest of the time. Price it properly and you wouldn't build it. Any chance this lane will be tolled? No. What will be the result on the local Wellington streets that don't quite have the capacity to cope now? Blank out.

Four laning SH1 Peka Peka to Otaki: Four laning of the current highway will make a big difference to safety. Not probably the highest priority though, as the Ngaruawahia Bypass on SH1 north of Hamilton ought to be more important. Still not a bad project, just wonder whether it is worth doing now.

Kapiti bypass: Essentially a four lane expressway between the current highway and the coast bypassing Paraparaumu and Waikanae. The Kapiti Coast District Council, now dominated by environmental radicals, is against it. However, it is desperately needed. Undoubtedly the best project in the package, will greatly relieve congestion in the whole District. The only reason this hasn't happened before is because previous governments left the problem to the council!

Basin Reserve flyover: A stunted portion of the Inner City Bypass Wellington should have done. Basically gets rid of the conflict between airport/eastern to region traffic and southern to city traffic. Opposition is driven partly by lies around it "destroying" the Basin Reserve, when there have long been plans to build this, as part of a proper motorway to connect at the Terrace Tunnel. On it's own, it's not really worth it, it should be part of a proper bypass of Wellington, but there is little real vision to take through traffic out of the city, to reduce the width of the waterfront route and enable Wellington to properly connect to its harbour. So what's more important?

Phase 2

Transmission Gully: Half the total cost of this package of roads is in this one road, bypassing Porirua, Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Paekakariki on a road just as long as the current one, with hills as steep as Ngauranga Gorge. Why? It's called politics over economics

Phase 3

Mt Victoria Tunnel duplication with 4 laning to Wellington Road: Finally, Wellington's long standing bottleneck between the airport and the city will be removed. Again though, the traffic will be dumped on an el cheapo one way system that the Greens opposed that opened only a few years ago. Again, this project is probably not worth it until a proper bypass of the city is built.

Otaki bypass and four lanes to Levin: An Otaki Bypass is no doubt good for Otaki, to some extent, and four laning is good for safety, but again this should hardly be a major priority.

Terrace Tunnel duplication: Perhaps Wellington's last bottleneck after everything else? So will all of Wellington's traffic problems be fixed? No. Ask yourself whether two or three lanes of traffic dumped from a motorway onto Vivian Street to make its way to the Basin Reserve is really going to work. Yes, it is probably worth building - with a bypass.

Given all this being funded, I can hardly imagine a big road project NOT being approved. The engineers suggest it, the Nats will fund it. A crying damning waste of money. Whilst Labour pissed money down a hole on railways (which the Nats are only slowing rather than stopping), National now pisses money down the hole of roads.

Yes there are parts of the road network that could be improved, but with a system where everyone pays the same regardless of location or time, you will get congestion. With a system that means that those who pay have no relationship with those who build the roads or run the roads, consumers will not always be happy, and the producers will waste because they don't get signals from consumers about what they are prepared to pay for.

Roads are just an economic good, like any other piece of infrastructure. You let politicians and bureaucrats make decisions about how to spend the money taken from you for using them, and now, the money taken from you for NOT using them.

The Greens will be furious, and notwithstanding their irrational hatred of motorised road transport (and hypocrisy over railways), there will be a point. Roads shouldn't be subsidised by non road users.

However, no believer in free markets, private enterprise or capitalism should applaud what is an enormous transfer of money from taxpayers across the country to road users in the capital. It is at best the grand visions of central planners gone mad, with the irrational "Roads of National Significance" moniker used to justify gold plating State Highway 1. At worst it is cynical vote buying, securing the support of the unprincipled political minnow of Peter Dunne, ensuring Labour can't promise any more, and giving National MPs some big projects to open, Stalinist style, to applause - whilst those who paid for it don't notice just a few dollars each week less in their pockets.

UPDATE: David Farrar shows his own economic illiteracy by wanting Transmission Gully to have been built two DECADES ago, when the business case would have been far far worse, with far less traffic.

Government thieving from you to build a boondoggle

So Steven Joyce has just made a political decision to piss your taxes down a hole to subsidise the building of the Transmission Gully motorway.

He's bought a series of arguments that are sheer bullshit. Why? Because I saw the evidence a few years ago when they were rejected then.

Firstly, there is the nonsense that somehow Wellington needs a motorway with a huge viaduct to "connect" it to Kapiti and Horowhenua in the event of a major earthquake. Quite what Wellingtonians will gain from this is unclear when:
- There is only one bridge over the Waikanae River;
- There is only one bridge over the Otaki River;
- There is only one route along a faultline from the Hutt to Wellington city;
- Transmission Gully itself is on a faultline.

$1.5 billion is an expensive insurance policy.

Secondly, there is the nonsense that the coastal route would cost "as much". This could only possibly be true if you engage in ridiculous green-plating and gold plating of the coastal route. Why?

Transmission Gully duplicates about a third of the coastal route as it connects near Kenepuru not Paremata.

There has long been a designation for a bypass at Pukerua Bay, it would be little effort to buy back the few properties along the route.

The coastal route could be built along what is essentially a rather mundane coastal embankment that is already reclaimed. Paekakariki can be protected from the highway by some grade separation.

Paremata/Mana does not need a bypass, as the current route is quite adequate, and ultimately a bypass can be built at grade.

Transmission Gully has a cost/benefit ratio which means the gains in travel time savings, fuel savings and pollution are half the total cost of the road. It is a massive transfer to the property owners along Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki, and many on the Kapiti Coast.

Oh and it can't be funded by road user taxes or tolls, so your income tax, GST and company tax will be subsidising a road, primarily for people to commute to primarily government jobs in Wellington.

Before Labour supporters have a moan, they ought to note they started it. They folded against the pressure of the one man party, Peter Dunne, and the Porirua City Council, to have taxpayers pay for one of the biggest boondoggles in New Zealand's recent history. Labour has spent $90 million on consultants to allow Transmission Gully to be built, now National is going to spend 13 times that to build it.

Oh and Labour destroyed the political independence of the former Transfund to separate decisions on building highways from funding highways (something National opposed at the time).

So the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You thought there was a budget deficit, you thought there wasn't enough money to give you a tax cut. No, there's enough for Peter Dunne.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gordon Brown steals for climate change

Part of the whole Copenhagen charade is that the European Union has promised £6.5 billion of other people's money to give to developing countries because of their own ineptness in industrialising over the past few decades.

What's particularly galling is that Gordon Brown increased the UK contribution of £1.2 billion of as yet unborn childrens' taxes to £1.5 billion to be thieved from the unwilling. More than any other European country. Even though Germany and France have greater GDPs, this wasteful, thieving, now increasingly socialist Labour government is out committing more borrowing to steal from kids to pay for the corrupt, protectionist and ungrateful developing world.

Gordon Brown acts as if he has money to spend, but he has none. He borrows it to leave to future governments to take from taxpayers, and he can hold his head up high, having nearly bankrupted the UK. It's repulsive.

Developing countries are spreading lies such as how they will be "destroyed" by climate change, so they have the begging bowl out, when so many of them are led by governments of kleptocracy and excess. They ignore that the biggest per capita emitters are the likes of Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. They essentially want Western companies and holders of intellectual property to hand over technology to the likes of China, India and others who are not creators of technology, who will then copy it and out compete the West.

It is an argument of envy, envy of the developed, envy of those that have been locations of technology, of education, of capitalism. It has become an argument for, what is quite simply, socialism.

From each according to his ability (i.e. to the extent the West can pay) to each according to his needs (i.e. the extent to which the developing world asks). It isn't really about the environment so much, because if it was, then maybe the arguments would be different?

Blood for oil? Hardly

Some of the leftwing anti-American opponents of the war to overthrow the Saddam Hussein dictatorship said it was "blood for oil". The fact the Hussein regime had ignored UN Security Council resolutions on weapons of mass destruction (and had used them previously), didn't matter. The fact that the opportunity existed to overthrow a brutal aggressive autocracy didn't matter. It was seen as neo-imperialism, and simply sacrificing lives for US oil companies to pillage natural resources.

Reuters reports this week show this to be the absolute nonsense it always has been. US firms have gained few contracts in recently signed deals to service Iraqi oil fields, with firms from many other countries gaining much of the action.

Christopher Hitchens in Slate describes the result as such:

"Three features of the outcome were worthy of note. The auction was to award service contracts rather than the production-sharing agreements that the major corporations prefer. The price was set at between $1.15 and $1.90 per barrel, as opposed to the $4 that the bidders originally proposed. And American corporations were generally not the winners in an auction where consortia identified with Malaysia, Russia, and even Angola did best."

Thus, the vulgar and hysterical part of the "war for oil" interpretation has been discredited: Iraq retains its autonomy, the share awarded to outsiders in development is far from exorbitant, and there is no real correlation between U.S. interests and the outcome.

There was always an argument that spilling blood of one's military largely for the sake of negating a threat to others should be done carefully. The case for attacking Iraq was made on various grounds. The link to Al Qaeda was spurious, although the willingness of the Hussein regime to support terrorism was clear. The suspicion on weapons of mass destruction had a real basis, given the regime's clear willingness to use chemical weapons in the past, and its previous pursuit of nuclear technology, but it proved to be a mirage that even the regime may not have understood.

So what did the war on the Hussein regime achieve? Liberty.

The war removed a malignant regime, that did yes get some Western (and much Soviet) support in the 1980s because it offered a counterweight to Islamist Iran, but most in the so-called peace movement wont let that go, even though it was three Presidents ago. The deaths in the war would easily have been rivalled by the murders undertaken by the Hussein criminal gang.

However, the mostly Islamist insurgency has murdered thousands. Some in the so-called peace movement regarded them to be "freedom fighters", ignoring that whenever the insurgency controlled parts of Iraq, it applied the same approach to freedom as Mamoud Ahmadinejad or Osama Bin Laden.

Now Iraq is far more stable, the surge, opposed by the current US President, has worked enough that the UK has withdrawn, and Iraq is becoming a fairly liberal democratic open state between Islamist Iran, tired authoritarian Syria and the ruthless autocratic Saudi Arabia. It does have almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia, and looks to be taking advantage of it with a government that undoubtedly will be more transparent, liberal and democratic than any other Arab states.

There are still those who believe this shouldn't have happened, that the Saddam Hussein regime stay in place (to say you opposed the war but also oppose the Hussein regime means you either support the outcome of the war or you're lying about it). Certainly the war was conducted appallingly after the Hussein regime was toppled, with enormous incompetence, but the outcome is looking positive, at last.

We'll never know what would have happened had the war not happened, Hussein would undoubtedly have sabre rattled some more, would have killed and tortured a few thousand more Iraqis, and continued to pillage Iraq for the gain of his vile family. Would he have backed more terrorism in Israel? Probably. Would he have sought alliances with Russia? With China? Would he have found a comfortable arrangement with Iran?

I'm grateful we can't ever find out.
What we can know is that

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The state owns your shop at Easter

That's what opposing Easter trading is saying. Quite simply, it isn't your shop during Easter, and unproductive petty fascist goons will go around, at your expense, to catch you committing the dastardly deed of opening for business, paying employees and selling to willing customers.

It is disgusting, but telling of what MPs believe small businesses deserve the freedom to choose, and which ones think that this religious based public holiday is special enough that people should be prosecuted for trying to make a living.

So shame on Labour and the Greens for showing themselves up for being the petty fascist little anti-capitalists that they are.

Kudos to ACT and surprisingly Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton for actually wanting to let businesses choose. Surprised given Dunne and Anderton's previous Christian and unionist tendencies.

Kudos to Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell for supporting freedom, brickbats for Rahui Katene and the absent Hone Harawira.

However, brickbats to John Key for not making this National Party policy. For had it been so, this ridiculous victimless crime would be about to be consigned to history. Particular brickbats to busybodies Shane Ardern, Bill English, Phil Heatley, Sam Lotu-Liga, Tim Macindoe, Eric Roy, Katrina Shanks and Jonathan Young. How dare any of you claim to be "pro-business".

If you don't think a shop should be open on ANY particular day then you can do three things:
1. Don't shop there. Ever.
2. Use freedom of speech to ask others to boycott the shop.
3. Buy the shop.

Instead you choose to use force. For shame.

More tax more state more thieving from children

Alastair Darling released the Brown government’s last ever Pre Budget Statement (let’s be honest it wont be a stunning victory for Labour at the next election) and what does it bring? The Times tells all and the ledger goes like this.

In terms of restraining state spending there is:
- A senior civil service pay cut worth a paltry £100m
- Treasury approval needed for government appointments earning more than £150k;
- 1% cap for public sector pay settlements other than the Armed Forces;
- State contributions to public sector pensions to be capped by 2012;
- Bingo Duty (yes really) cut from 22% to 20% in 2010;
- Deferral of corporation tax increase for smaller companies;
- Electric cars exempt from company car tax (!) for five years.

Pathetic really. Political pablum, leaving the hard decisions to the Tories.

How about new or higher taxes?
- VAT to return to 17.5% on 1 January (buy before then);
- Threshold for top tax rate not to rise for one year after 2012;
- National insurance increased by 0.5% of income in 2011;
- Inheritance tax allowance frozen for one year (not increased);
- 50% one off tax on banking sector bonuses over £25k;
- 10% Corporation tax on patent income in the UK;
- 50p a month tax on phone lines to subsidise rural broadband.

Again, more tax, taking more from the economy because Labour is limp wristed on cutting spending, when it should be ruthless. These bastards can’t keep their hands out of people’s pockets. What’s truly disgusting is how they are going to spend MORE, so basically stealing from people’s children in debt to buy some votes as follows:
- 2.5% increase in state pensions in 2010 (go on old folk embrace Labour stealing from your grandchildren and great grandchildren);
- Guarantee scheme for bank loans to small businesses to be extended;
- £200m more money for a “Strategic Investment Fund” stealing from productive businesses to bribe new ones;
- 6 month extension of welfare to help the unemployed with mortgage payments, effectively propping up housing prices and rewarding those who don’t buy mortgage repayment insurance;
- 10,000 undergraduates from poor (Labour) backgrounds to be subsidised into jobs;
- Guaranteed training or education for all 16 and 17yos, and all under 24 who are out of work for more than 6 months are guaranteed work or training;
- Child benefit increase of 1.5% in 2010. This isn’t means tested so children of the wealthy mean a £20 benefit a week for the eldest and £13.20 for each other child. Welfare for every family;
- Four carbon capture and storage demonstrations to be paid for;
- £200m more to subsidise home energy efficiency (rather than letting energy companies raise prices);
- 125,000 homes subsidised to get more efficient heating boilers;
- Extend free school meals to half a million primary school children of poor parents;
- Rail electrification between Manchester, Liverpool and Preston (can't have fare payers paying);
- Minimal increases in education, health and police spending;
- £2.5 billion for Afghanistan;
- £5m to help ex. Service personnel set up own businesses.

Other than the last two items, this is just more bribes using stolen loot. Not surprising, but certainly disgusting. Profligacy and waste in health and education remain rewarded, picking winners through subsidies is the order of the day, and next to nothing done to confront net debt reaching 78% of GDP by 2014/2015.

A chance that Darling had to acknowledge he wont be doing this a year from now, and he could make the hard decisions to cut spending, was wasted. Why? Because the Labour Party just wants to keep their people in Parliament by bribing voters with their children's money.

So voters will face an election which will probably see the Tories win, hopefully see the Tories engage in serious cuts in spending to take Britain away from risking debt default, and saddling generations with debt.

Then Labour will say how mean and cruel and heartless they are for cutting spending on “vital services”. Yes ladies and gentlemen, if this isn’t an example of the lead up to an advance auction of goods, stolen from children, I don’t know what is.

For shame. How soon can the UK be rid of this tired vile socialist oriented big government regime?

Oh and for now, just don't remind me of what the other lot are like. Can they seriously make it any worse?

What more reason do you need?

Dr Jan Pryor has a non-job. She is Chief Commissioner to the sop to Peter Dunne Families Commission. Her organisation benefits the families of those working for it, and causes a tiny amount of harm to those who have to pay for it.

Not only that, but she has an inferior brain and believes that people of a certain class, race and sex are also inferior. Given she said she couldn't explain the Whanau Ora concept in one of her parasitical waste of money organisation's documents according to the NZ Herald:

"I am putting a caveat around it for the simple fact that I am a middle class, white woman. And so I don't feel that I should be giving definitive answers"

Are middle class white women incapable of explaining things? Is reason and analysis related to race? Oops hang on, the Nazis are on the phone, they want their race theories back.

I do like National list MP Hekia Parata's response though, as the Herald reported: "Ms Parata said she must be limited quite a lot in a whole range of areas. Dr Pryor said it was important to be aware of her own background."

You "don't feel" Dr Pryor? Well start thinking instead, it's a good idea. Why does background count? Are you inferior, can you not learn?

Clearly you are.

What more reason does the government need to shut this bloody useless office down and push Dr Pryor out into looking for a real job, instead of bleeding others of their money?

Yes Peter Dunne will huff and puff, but why should that be the slightest bit of interest to anyone? Go on Peter, convince Ohariu voters that they should support you to "bring back the Families Commission".

Tory disgrace over Heathrow

BA CEO Willie Walsh has come out a blazing against the Conservative Party's opposition to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

"I want to know, if the Conservatives don't want to build a third runway, how are they going to position the UK economy to compete on a global scale in the future?..."We will look back years from now and say, what a disgrace. We expect governments to have policies that are coherent. I don't see this as coherent."

Dead right Willie. The policy is a mindless kowtowing to the anti-growth luddites of the environmental movement, as well as residents of West London who want their property values enhanced by the removal of Heathrow.

Curiously, Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic's CEO agrees of course. Since it hinders both BA and Virgin Atlantic from growing. Although we shouldn't forget how eager Sir Richard Branson is at pushing environmentalism. This is what happens when you realise those you try to appease are uninterested in you.

Conservative spokesperson Theresa Villiers has said "We are absolutely convinced that the environmental costs of runway three, in terms of air pollution, noise and carbon emissions, significantly outweigh the alleged economic benefits"

Because you're idiots. Who gives a damn whether or not you think there are economic benefits. You are politicians, interfering with the private sector, trying to make money by providing services and therefore providing employment.

You don't create money, you seek to spend other peoples.

Get the hell out of the way of a foreign owned private company investing in new infrastructure in the UK that the taxpayer need do nothing about.

Throw off this pandering to both NIMBYism to win electorates in west London, and neo-Marxist environmentalism. Otherwise some of us will find enough reason to throw our votes away on an alternative.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What Copenhagen wont discuss

One of the leading climate change sceptics, Christopher Booker writes in the Daily Telegraph about what wont be said at Copenhagen:
- The phenomenal cost of taking the sort of measures proposed to reduce CO2 emissions. In the UK it is estimated at £18 billion a year or £725 per household. Of course what will the benefits be of this? Nobody will say;
- The targets (UK promises an 80% cut in 40 years) would mean nearly shutting down most energy and transport systems in the UK, no politicians have any idea how to achieve this;
- How will the differences between crippling developed countries and letting developing countries do what they like be bridged? Quite simply crippling the rich world wont be enough if you believe the rhetoric, China, India and Brazil all have to act too, but none of them are the slightest bit interested;
- The science is still questionable, as "in the run-up to Copenhagen we have been subjected to an unremitting bombardment of scare stories: how the ice caps and glaciers are melting much faster than predicted, how sea levels will rise much higher than anyone imagined, how we face ever more hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves. Yet every time one of these scares is subjected to proper objective scientific examination it can be found either that these disasters are not happening as claimed or that they have been exaggerated far in advance of anything the evidence can justify. "

He concludes "Far from Copenhagen being the end of the debate, the real debate is only just beginning."

As it should be.

Third Heathrow Runway "ok" on CO2

Why should that matter you might ask of me? After all, it is a privately owned airport, not seeking a pound of taxpayers' funds to expand, the business case is overwhelming and it is purchasing land for the purpose of the runway. So let it be. Especially since competing airports in Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are all expanding or have recently significantly expanded runway capacity (but don't let that get in the way of reason).

However, the Brown government has a quasi-religious view on climate change, believing, brothers and sisters that the UK must lead the world in crippling economic growth and self sacrifice cutting emissions, even though the UK doing so wont make a jot of difference. So it decided to investigate whether a third runway at Heathrow, and the extra flights it could accommodate (besides reducing the very wasteful queuing at present) would have a negative environmental impact.

The Times reports a UK government committee has said that 60% MORE people can fly by 2050 and still meet the government's CO2 emission targets. In other words, rather than the luddite like "stop flying" nonsense trotted out by the environmental movement, someone has actually looked at the figures and determined how much expansion is "ok". Now it's not all good, it is based on taxpayers' being forced to pay for a high speed railway network to take some people from air to rail on domestic trips, and draconian taxes on flying, as well as assumptions of ongoing improvements in fuel efficiency. Because, you see, without any such kleptomania, apparently demand would double by 2050.

So even if you don't take a fully pro-capitalist view on this, it can still be argued that aviation expansion is not incompatible with ongoing reductions in emissions, in part because technology and commercial pressures will encourage this.

Of course the usual religious zealots have come out bemoaning this. Friends of the Earth enemies of humans wants an end to airport expansion (in the UK). Expect more of the typical rabid "planes bad, trains good" nonsense from environmentalists. Then of course you'll understand why more and more people are more and more sceptical about the true motives behind such activists. It's a form of ascetic nationalist environmental extremism, which happily will let the UK economy be stagnate, whilst letting China, India and even France, Germany and the Netherlands expand.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Copenhagen climate change hypocrites

Oh woe is us, death be upon the world, we must meet to figure out what to do - let us fly on private planes, be limousine escorted from the airport to town (despite there being a frequent fast train service) and dine like royalty.

Is it any wonder that half of all Britons do not believe in anthropogenic climate change?

The Sunday Telegraph reports:

On a normal day, Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen's biggest limousine company, says her firm has twelve vehicles on the road. During the "summit to save the world", which opens here tomorrow, she will have 200.

Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand," she says. "We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden."

And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? "Five," says Ms Jorgensen.

Yet the sanctimonious finger pointers at this summit will demand YOU drive less, demand YOU pay more for a car that can accommodate your family.

Never mind you should fly less too, of course, stop going on overseas holidays, or planes should carry more people less often, pack them in tight unless you are going to the summit:

The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.

and if you want people to get angry at then:

As well 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders, the Danish capital will be blessed by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles.

Of course the delegates may have a new reason to go, if they feel a bit sex starved and think Danish women (or men) might be worth a try:

Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to "be sustainable, don't buy sex," the local sex workers' union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate's pass.


So the conference need not just be an exercise in mutual onanism at the expense of global taxpayers and (if you believe what they claim to believe) the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the man who ran Britain into the ground financially, with near constant financial deficits during the good times and who claims fiscal child abuse is "investment", thinks if you don't believe in climate change you're a "flat earther". Nice to see open debate is allowed by Gordon "Stalin" Brown, but then who cares what he thinks, economic genius as he is.

UPDATE: Why refer to Gordon Brown as Stalinist? Well no less than his former permanent secretary to the Treasury referred to his management style as such.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Catholic Church split on homosexuality?

From the Daily Telegraph:

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan says "Transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven and it is not me who says this, but Saint Paul".

Fairly clear. Though one wonders why he doesn't mention the elephant in the Catholic room, maybe it goes without saying, although funny how others have had to say it.

However, he's being too tough apparently because:

Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman quoted from the official Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, which says homosexual acts are a “disorder” but acknowledges that many people have “innate homosexual tendencies” and should be treated with respect and not be subject to discrimination. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful but homosexuality in itself is not.

Respect being fair enough. Of course given the number of clergymen who no doubt have "innate homosexual tendencies", it is hardly surprising.

The elephant in the room is this.

As Austen Ivereigh in the Guardian said "The real scandal is that the church ignored its own law, derived from explicit and unambiguous biblical teaching, a law valid for the church in all political and legal contexts around the world. The principle in canon law is clear and unambiguous: whatever the inadequacies of the civil law, minors must always be protected by the church's law, and their abusers brought swiftly to justice."

Fortunately the Irish Government is refusing to tolerate any cover up and is accepting the state's substantial share of responsibility:

Whatever the failings of the past, the Government is determined that there will be no hiding place for those who break the law - whatever their status. The people who committed these abominable crimes should pay for them. A number have already been brought to justice, proceedings are pending against some others and a number of investigations are ongoing. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern TD made available a copy of the report to the Garda Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions as soon as he received it in July. The Commissioner has assured the Minister that pursuing the perpetrators, whenever the abuse occurred, is an absolute priority for the Force.

Ireland for too long operated almost as semi clerocracy, with the church unaccountable to the state, and working in partnership, sometimes for good and clearly sometimes for evil. It is a clear reminder that only with clear separation of church and state, can institutions of religion start to effectively be held responsible when they conspire to commit crime or to conceal those within it who do.

Useless university research: men and porn

"All men watch porn" says the headline referring to a University of Montreal study.

Apparently the "study" investigated 20 something men, who appeared to all be university students, presumably in Montreal. Wow, cutting edge stuff, such diversity of men!

Furthermore:

Single men watched pornography for an average of 40 minutes, three times a week, while those in relationships watched it 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes.

1.7 times? "Sorry dear it wasn't a "full" time, it was only 0.7 of a "watch"". Don't let your imagination go too far in figuring out what an "incomplete" watch might represent.

The study found that men watched pornography that matched their own image of sexuality, and quickly discarded material they found offensive or distasteful.

Surely not?!!?? Who'd have thought?

So was it "bad" for them?

“Not one subject had a pathological sexuality,” he said. “In fact, all of their sexual practices were quite conventional.

“Pornography hasn't changed their perception of women or their relationship, which they all want to be as harmonious and fulfilling as possible,” he added."

Or perhaps they told you this, the sample was woefully small, none would admit to liking bestiality, dp, bdsm, urophilia and other kinks, or all the before mentioned is conventional in Montreal.

Maybe a better measure is to consider how highly ranked certain particularly kinky sites are on Alexa, how many are reporting addiction to pornography, how many relationships deteriorate as a result.

Indeed, the study that appears not to have been undertaken is what it is doing to teenagers, as increasing numbers take what are illegal photos of themselves and share them with each other, and it then ends up getting widely distributed. It is change that is profound, likely to disturb many parents, and may well change views on what censorship should be. After all, what do you do when the vast majority of what is defined as child pornography producers, are the subjects of the images themselves?

Daniel Hannan on Climate Change

The Conservative Party's best MEP, the somewhat libertarian Daniel Hannan expresses his view on climate change in the Daily Telegraph, and it is probably closest to my own:

I think the world is warming (I especially dislike the phase “climate change denial”: no one, as far as I’m aware, is positing climate stasis). And it may well be that human activity is playing some part in the process, although probably not to the degree claimed by some climate change professionals.

I also tend to agree with Nigel Lawson that adaptation would be more effective and cheaper than a programme of greenhouse gas reductions which, even according to its proponents, would slow global warming by only around 0.2 degrees.

So in other words, yes it might be warming, yes it might have some human contribution, but does it justify the draconian interventions being proposed? No. Is it the end of the world as some predict? No.

He characterises the core of the debate as follows:

Just as those who already believed in more regulation, more government, supra-nationalism and higher taxes honestly think that carbon emissions are overheating the planet, so libertarians and small government types honestly think that the whole thing is a crock. Each faction, convinced of its own sincerity, distrusts the motives of the other.

Which of course I do, it is seen most clearly in how the left hijacks this issue to wage war on international trade (because it likes protectionism and localism), the private car (because it is a symbol of individualism) and aviation, whilst being lukewarm on nuclear energy, eliminating trade barriers that could increase efficiency and reduce waste and cutting government barriers to low carbon industries. The holes appear when the Green Party ignores that increasing public transport is more likely to reduce people walking and cycling than switch people from driving, or when it seeks to ban foreign ships carrying domestic cargo between coastal ports as part of an international trip, because it supports the maritime unions and their Marxist closed shop agenda.

In other words, the policies promoted by the likes of the Green Party on climate change are in some cases fundamentally flawed, but in most cases are parallel with an agenda of more state control, more taxation, more regulation and less individual responsibility and freedom. The Green Party wouldn't promote people on welfare not breeding, even though that would reduce CO2 emissions.

Funny that.

What has happened is that a possible issue has been hijacked by one part of the political spectrum which has run off with grand solutions that come from the past, solutions that include enormous transfers of wealth to vested interests and in letting much of the world do nothing other than gain relatively from the kneecapping of developed economies.

It's about time that a new approach was taken to those who do this.

It's time for anyone promoting "climate change" policies to be honest about the costs of doing so, and what benefits will accrue. Real substantive benefits, and who will gain them. The true answer in most cases is "costs lots, gains nothing".

It's time for those arguing for any money to be spent on "climate change" to argue why it isn't better spent elsewhere.

It's time for those who seek to implement policies to address climate change to first, and foremost, advance policies that are consistent with less government, more freedom and more individual responsibility.

In other words, if we assume there is climate change and that there may be good reason to be cautious regarding it, what can governments do to get out of the way of individuals making better choices to reduce CO2 emissions, and let's not stop those wanting to voluntarily take their own steps to promote reducing emissions from doing so.

Finally, it may seem petty, but it is time to fisk the scum who continue to call those who question the climate change orthodoxy as deniers. They know they are seeking parallels with the Holocaust denial lowlives. Such language demeans and denigrates those who went through the Holocaust, by aligning the deliberate cruelty and sadism of that piece of history to theories of environmental changes that have largely occurred inadvertently. It also seeks to close any debate regarding the scale and extent of climate change, and the possible solutions.

Anyone using such language is beneath contempt.

So on climate change, first do no harm, and beware that all too many who want to do something, have a monomaniacal interest in reducing emissions at all costs, except, of course, the obvious option - which would be to do away with themselves.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

John Key aiming low

You know something's wrong with government policy when you can read this:

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Prime Minister John Key speaking from Trinidad yesterday when he said that New Zealand had adopted and implemented a radical set of policies in the 1980s with rapid and far reaching change. Key said Australia had not followed the same path but had made changes incrementally and had done much better as a result. John Key is right.

Of course this comes from John Minto. The Marxist journalist agrees with John Key, of course Key is dead wrong.

There are many reasons why Australia didn't take such a radical course, primarily because Australia wasn't in such a dire fiscal and economic state as New Zealand. On top of that Australia has long ridden on the back of a broader base of commodity exporting (digging minerals out of the ground) that has subsidised a rather profligate multi layer government.

However, what is also ignored is that, until recently, Australia hadn't turned the clock back. The Hawke/Keating governments stayed the course, and the Howard government went further, although in the latter years it was fond of dishing out pork, it did not turn back the clock. The New Zealand parallel would be if David Lange hadn't had a cup of tea, and the Bolger/Richardson government had lasted until a year ago. Australia has had 24 years of steady albeit slow economic liberalisation. New Zealand had 4 fast years, another 2 slower years, another 3 fast years, then 6 glacial years, and since then 9 years of largely going backwards.

Minto of course is an economic imbecile. New Zealand's GDP per capita had fallen behind Australia years before the 1984 election, indeed it fell from being one of the highest in the world to being down with the likes of Spain by the 1980s, lower than any other Western country, unless you counted Portugal and Greece, then the poor members of the EEC.

However, for Key to express the same imbecility is absurd.

I don't expect the government to adopt all of the policies, I do expect it to be interested in some, and in encouraging further debate and discussion. At the very least I expect this term of government to be about some level of reform and turning the opposite direction of the years of Helengrad, and gearing up voters to go much further in three years time.

It isn't about that, it is about National being a Conservative party, the very same party that sat on its hands and did sweet f'all for decades whilst the New Zealand economy slowly stagnated. The same party that allowed Muldoon to inflict nine years of control freak economics, waste and bullying upon the country, whilst they meekly let the likes of Derek Quigley get crucified for standing up against this destructiveness.

Say one thing about the Labour Party, when it gets into power it has the courage of its convictions to act, to do what it believes in, and to make changes quickly and radically. It did so after 1999, after 1984, after 1974, after 1957 and after 1935. National? It's only by sheer luck and dire circumstances that Ruth Richardson was able to drive the agenda so far so fast after 1990, after Bolger lied his way to power having been warned of how unaffordable some of the promises were.

National Party = party of professional "born to rule" conservative politicians
Labour Party = party of professional "chosen to rule" socialist politicians

For now

It is worth simply linking to this and that.

It's inevitably sad and death is damned annoying. It is not "part of life", it's the end of it.

Anna's blog showed how she has lived facing death with more certainty about its imminence than others. She sadly appears to now have rapidly slipped closer to the inevitable, so now may her family and friends simply surround her with the love, affection and joy they hold for her life.

It is only because of the joy we have from the life of one that we fear and feel such sadness for the loss.

It's a lesson to be reminded of day after day.

Enjoy life, it's the only one you have, you don't know when it will come to an end. It does have a purpose, the purpose is for you to pursue your values, your passions, your joy and to do so alone or with others as you and they may choose.

It is, after all, what Anna has been doing, even with the rude interruption.