Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bits and pieces

Yes, I do now have broadband internet at home, but this little interregnum of blogging will be brief as I will be away for a couple of weeks sans any sort of electronic communication at all.

So what's been happening?

1. The right concerns but the completely wrong answer. While Nicolas Sarkozy proves there is nothing a French politician likes doing more than regulating the lives of others, Old Holborn makes the point quite succinctly here. After all, plenty would be offended by the scene of a man walking around with a woman on a collar and lead, but why should it be banned? Meanwhile, is one of the key reasons for this issue being raised because the liberal socialist left refuses to confront Islamism directly, and is willfully blind to the oppression of women by most Islamic cultures because it sees any enemy of the West as a friend?

2. The Con-Dem British government is off in several directions, primarily focused on cutting spending it has decided to slash spending on its core responsibility - law and order. Whilst there are undoubtedly efficiencies to be gained in the sector, and undoubtedly many people shouldn't be imprisoned for a whole raft of offences that are more civil (e.g. not meeting child support payments) than criminal, is the question being asked as to whether there should be less criminal offences at all? In other words, if there is no victim, why should it be a criminal matter? Prison is effective at its core role - protecting the public from criminals. One report suggests that replacing prison time with community sentences will increase crime.

3. The Obama Administration is showing how empty headed and vapid it really is, by its continued embrace of xenophobic anti-capitalist rhetoric against BP. Now it is accusing BP of lobbying to release Libyan terrorists from British custody, when Exxon-Mobil and Shell did exactly the same thing. It is accusing the British government of being a party to providing succour to terrorists, when it happened over a year ago under the Gordon Brown regime, and was in fact the devolved Scottish government (albeit with Downing St tacit approval). Quite what the Obama Administration thought would be gained by hassling the newly elected Prime Minister about something he had nothing to do with, is rather curious.

4. Australia is having a Federal election. A choice between a feral unionist and a feral evangelist. Neither are deserving of a vote from a libertarian. Whilst it is tempting to back the "mad monk" Abbott, because of climate change alone, the Liberal Party remains liberal in name only.

A better choice, given the preference/AV based voting system is the Liberal Democratic Party which lists Ayn Rand as one of the great classical liberals of history. It seeks to abolish victimless crimes, significantly cut taxes (income tax would have the first $30,000 tax free then a flat tax of 30%), engage in a major privatisation programme, replace welfare with negative income tax and promote free trade. Think of it as ACT with balls AND a belief in personal individual liberty.

It has more to it than the Secular Party which seems more a reaction to the Christian politics of Abbott and the now defunct Rudd. It is broader based than the Shooters Party, which is essentially just about the freedom of peaceful people to own firearms. It also doesn't have the obsessive believe in anti-discrimination laws of the Australia Sex Party, as tempting as that party may be to some.

4. A city councillor in Wales is suspended for Tweeting "I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off." Apparently this is against the local authority code of conduct according to the Public Services Ombudsman. If ever there was a reason to abolish this body or to make those on it undertake training in fundamental individual freedoms, this is it. Britain is a country where expressing your opinion about a religion is restricted, because it might upset the precious little flowers who believe in ghosts.

5. New Zealand's government continues to disappoint. The weak will surrounding mining in national parks, the continued evasion of reality over climate change and the inability to lay down an agenda that directly confronts the anti-human anti-science statism of the Greens, and by default the Labour Party, should cause many more National and ACT voters to weep. Now you're going to vote for an Auckland Mayor who will be more of the same.

UPDATE: Well it would appear the Australian Liberal Democratic Party is more disappointing than it may seem. I have been informed privately that it is largely marketing driven, and that the presence of Ayn Rand on the front page was for marketing purposes. I'd be curious if any Australian libertarians and especially objectivists would interrogate Liberal Democrat politicians as to what they REALLY believe in. A laudable goal would be to return the Liberal Party to its core principles, but the chances of that may be as much as there is in getting the (New Zealand) National Party to do so as well.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mines, railway or jobs

I just had to comment on this.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty is waging war against Nightcaps, a small town in Southland I have long been aware of, as it is the locality of a collection of lignite mines. Well it isn't the town, but the mines she hates.

There is some local concern about the pollution arising from the mines, which have existed in one form or another for over a century. The mining is carried out by two companies. One is Australian (boo hiss bad) which she mentions as "Eastern Corporation of Australia", the other she doesn't mention is state-owned Solid Energy.

Now let's be fair here, if the mines closed, then the town would be a shadow of its current self. Jobs would be lost, and people would have to relocate (although Catherine would probably want a generous welfare state to keep people living there off the taxpayers' back).

What she neglects to mention is that the government COULD actually cut back the mining there rather easily. Solid Energy is the obvious first target. Presumably the Greens would close the company down.

However a less visible target is Kiwirail. You see most of the mined lignite leaves Nightcaps on a railway branch line, which has a daily coal train. The line is the last railway branch line in Southland (other than that there is the Main South Line running from Dunedin to Invercargill and onto Bluff), and if it was being run commercially it would probably face closure. Unless, of course, the mining companies would pay commercial rates for freighting the coal (they did under privatisation, but the line needs bridge and track replacement as it has not had serious renewals since it was built).

Yet with Kiwirail now state owned and subsidised, a policy endorsed and cheered on by the Greens, it effectively subsidises the mining operations they despise.

On top of that the mine she talks about is apparently on local authority land. Presumably she believes in empowered local government, yet Southland District Council doesn't do what she likes

So one state intervention - propping up a railway, is having results (keeping open some mines) that those who PROMOTE state intervention, despise.

So what will it be Catherine?

Keep subsidising the railway?
Keep local people employed in mining and supporting those employed?
Let local authorities continue to own land used for purposes you don't like?
Close the mine and the town?

What a choice for those addicted to planning the world around them.

What would I do?

1. Run the railway commercially or offer it to the mining companies to buy if it is that important to them.
2. Enable the property owners of Nightcaps (and across New Zealand) to enforce property rights against noxious levels of trespass of gases (smoke) and dust.
3. Tell the local authority to sell the land (as it should with any surplus land).
4. Leave the mining companies to do as they wish.


What law do you want abolished?

Yes, it may be hard to believe, but the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is asking just that.

Now it would be too much to hope for taxes, planning laws and much much more to be abolished, but there IS a chance here to do some good.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said in today's Daily Telegraph:

"today we are taking an unprecedented step. Based on the belief that it is people, not policymakers, who know best, we are asking the people of Britain to tell us how you want to see your freedom restored.

We are calling for your ideas on how to protect our hard won liberties and repeal unnecessary laws. And we want to know how best to scale back excessive regulation that denies businesses the space to innovate. We’re hoping for virtual mailbags full of suggestions. Every single one will be read, with the best put to Parliament"

Now you may be cynical, and I am a little, but this is STILL a great step forward. Imagine anyone from the Brown/Blair regimes saying anything like this. Administrations that thrived on passing new laws to fix problems.

So it is a great chance. The website to make suggestions is here. It helps if you have a UK postcode and probably helps most to vote for the best ideas (there are many wingnuts out there and people wanting new laws passed).

So what would YOU abolish?