30 November 2005

Men, kids, planes, fear Part 2

Well the news is that Qantas and Air NZ are not the only airlines adopting this policy. According to an airline forum, British Airways has a policy of not allowing unaccompanied children to be sat next to a male adult (and also not the emergency exit row, or the upper deck of a 747).

That forum also reports one incident aboard a BA flight involving a university lecturer and a young girl, which ended with the girl running to the flight attendants (after the man coaxed her into touching his genitals) and the man was subsequently arrested. Of course, there is as much risk of it happening near the toilets at the back of the plane as well, where people queue and there is little supervision – or the posh pervert could lure children into the cabin type First Class on some Emirates planes. BA apparently had its policy at the time this happened – although the risks of doing anything that isn’t observed on a flight have to be high (unless you’re on a quiet flight at night with a willing companion etc etc).

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Cathay Pacific and United Airlines also have this policy because women “tend to relate more to young kids” (Cathay Pacific) or are “much more maternal” (United).

Well there are umpteen women doing time for how they relate to young kids, and to say women are much more maternal is like saying women are much more lesbian – duh!

Nevertheless I stand by what I said yesterday – if consumers don’t like it, then say so. There are probably many other airlines with a similar policy.

I dare parents to say “I don’t care who you sit my child beside” or for men to say “sit me beside unaccompanied children”. Makes you feel uncomfortable? Why? Do you have the same latent fear that drives others and therefore the airlines to respond to their customers?

A coalition of the left and right have called for the Human Wrongs Commissariat (HWC) to intervene. How convenient! The left loves the HWC as it is Nanny State at its finest – telling consenting adults what they shouldn’t and should do. Of course some on the left (driven by feminism or their own latent fear) think this policy is ok –whereas they would be livid if it discriminated against Maori because Maori are disproportionately convicted for criminal offences. The Green Party motivation is to encourage men to be seen in a positive light, particularly given their very low representation in professions that involving caring for children – a low representation no doubt partly due to the witchhunt against men and their relationships with children that started in the 1980s and is seen in the Peter Ellis case. Radical man-hating feminists have driven this agenda and it is good to see there is a more rational response from the left on this issue. Umpteen false accusations and fears that any men hugging or alone with a child are wanting to fuck them has dissuaded many men from being close to children or being seen or thought of being alone with them – I know this, I have felt exactly the same when left alone with children of friends or neighbours - I worried what they might think, that I wouldn’t be trusted.

I am pleased that Keith Locke and the Greens acknowledge this and want to rectify this ridiculous state of affairs.

The right on the other hand smacks of hypocrisy. Wayne Mapp likes the HWC when he wants to call the bluff of the left. See National, rightfully, loathes the HWC when it engages in much of its nonsense about “equal rights” applying to the relationships between private consenting adults. For example the claim that advertising a “married persons golf tournament” was discriminatory. This claim is nonsense, and the HWC is itself a pointless waste of taxpayers’ money. The National Party should commit to abolishing it, (although it did create it in the late 1970s under Muldoon) , but the National Party is happy for a state politically-correct bureaucracy to act against businesses making a decision based upon what their customers want. Wayne Mapp would loathe the HWC opposing “single’s clubs” or being silent on special funding for Maori businesses.

National is trying for the support of the average man, offended that he is thought to be at higher risk of molesting children than anyone else. The average man is right to be offended, so is Wayne Mapp – but the offence is about a belief held by many people – the airlines reflect that.

So Keith Locke and Wayne Mapp are right to be offended, and wrong to want the state to intervene. The state should not intervene when people are offended by a business decision – this is a matter for people to take up with the airline, not use the force of the state to change it. If the airlines reverse the policy, will it make people feel happier, or will many people still secretly fear their children are placed beside a child molester on planes? I doubt any policy change will change people’s attitudes.
So - why are so many people scared of men with children? Is it rational to be extra-careful, or have we been taken in by years of propaganda that has taken things too far? This airline policy is a symptom only.

Vatican and homosexuality

CNN reports that the Vatican has issued its edict that state one the one hand that it “cannot admit to the seminary and to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture” but if “homosexual tendencies are only the expression of a transitory problem ... these must be clearly overcome at least three years prior to deaconate ordination”.

So men who want to become priests who are fantasising but trying not to (in other words having a sly wank about Father McGuire or his son, but not doing anything else about it and feeling really really guilty), can become priests if it is transitory.

Kind of amusing really. The Roman Catholic Church has, of course, always regarded homosexuality as a “problem”. Now setting aside the number of existing gay priests (let alone the pedophilic ones), this is really just another example of the oppression that religion imposes upon the individual – if you choose to follow it. The Bible is full of passages damning homosexuality – as well as passages damning the consumption of shellfish, men with long hair, women with short hair and growing two different crops side by side.

As a libertarian objectivist, I don’t believe in God and since church and state are effectively separate in NZ and the UK (the heir to the head of the Anglican Church went to the last Pope’s funeral after all!), it doesn’t matter. Religion is irrational and that include Roman Catholicism, although the church has a couple of redeeming qualities – it has inspired some of the most magnificent art in history, and it was one of the founders of schooling for the masses.

And there is never anything wrong with catholic girls…

29 November 2005

Men, kids, planes, fear

There has been a lot of noise about this, including Green MP Keith Locke opposing it, discussion on an airline industry forum, opposition from the right on I Hate Socialism blog and from Wayne Mapp, and Cathy Odgers wishing she could be banned from sitting beside children on flights too, the Men's Coalition has called for the resignation of the Children's Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, and David Farrar is very angry at this too.
The bottom line is that Qantas and Air New Zealand should be able to operate their businesses in whatever way they wish. The airlines could adopt a policy of seating people man-woman-man-woman, or putting all men in the front, women in the back, or segregating people by race if they wanted to, and the state should not intervene. The bottom line being, the airline owns the planes and should be able to do whatever it likes – Air NZ almost always upgrades me on request and gives me seating I request. It could tell me to get fucked and sit down the back if it wanted, but it doesn’t. The airlines are presumably acting in accordance with customer demands – and the rationality of them is not the first issue – the first issue is that if you want to send your child unaccompanied on a flight, then if you want the airline to sit a certain type of person beside your child, and the airline agrees – (and the person sitting beside has no problem with it) then it is not anyone else’s business.

This applies readily to Qantas – it is a private company. Air NZ while publicly listed, is majority state owned – and questions can be raised as to whether it should ever act in a way offensive to its shareholders (i.e. N.Z. residents). Well, as it is a commercial investment (and the government cannot intervene in the decisions of the board or management on such matters), it should act according to its commercial interests and it appears to be doing so. If Air NZ revoked this policy, it would probably lose some business to Qantas for unaccompanied children – but would be unlikely to gain business from men. Very few men would say they wont fly on an airline because there is no chance of sitting beside a child – except those you might not want to! The airlines are reacting to consumers.

However, this doesn't mean I like the policy.
So what about the reasoning behind this, that causes the airline to respond and people to fear men?

There has been a concerted picture painted of men in the last 25 years as being potential rapists and child molesters – and the statistics bear out the fact that most cases of child sexual abuse involve men - but also that most cases involve men in the same household as the child. So we are talking about a very tiny risk. The implications of this policy are that there is a social trend to fear men having contact with children. This is not because child abuse has increased, there is little evidence of that as children have been getting abused throughout history, and it is only in the last 20 years that the complaints of children have been listened to and given credence in court (although in some cases, the evidence gatherers have manipulated children to giving them the answers that they wanted, rather than the facts).

So parents and caregivers (funnily enough, the categories most likely to abuse) are terrified of the man next door, the teacher, the coach, the priest, Uncle X and now the man on the plane. What is next? The man on the bus? Will men be not permitted to be located next to children in any cases without another adult present? What does this do for men who like working with children (it is sad that this is always a lead up for a joke that says “not THAT way”)?
Speaking of buses, I would say the odds of a dodgy man sitting beside a child go up enormously for long distance bus and train trips - largely because the driver or crew are not keeping an eye on passengers most of the time, and because the trips are a lot longer (and the passengers dodgier - with the exception of foreign tourists, the only men who travel alone on long bus and train trips are those who can't afford to fly or drive, or aren't allowed! Last time I caught a bus out of necessity, it was backpackers, the poor and former convicts travelling).

As I grew up, I encountered adult men as Santa Claus, customers of my parents’ shop, relatives, neighbours, people on holiday, and only in a very few cases did my parents warn me of one or two. Despite the popular myth, in most cases dodgy pedophilic men are easy to identify – and half of the answer is not to wrap children in cotton wool, but to encourage them to look after themselves. If someone (man or woman – women do this too, in small numbers, but those that do almost always get away with it because nobody believes it happens) does anything that makes a child feel uncomfortable, they should stop – tell them no and that they will tell someone, or hit them. Far better for a child to know how to respond to this, especially girls who are a greater risk of having creeps hitting on them in their teens than boys are.

One of the other myths is to ignore teenage boys. Teenage boys engage in far more sexual contact with children than men do, because they have more access, have almost nothing else on their minds and are trusted. Something around a third of all those getting treated for being sexual abusers are teenagers – so fear them too.

In short, I think Keith Locke is right in his assessment of the issue, in that there needs to be an end to irrational fear of men - as it has caused men to drop out of early childhood education and reduce positive contact men have with children - but he is wrong to ask the Human Wrongs Commissariat to intervene, particularly against Qantas, as it is privately owned. I find it interesting, though, that the lefties who would demand blood if Air NZ segregated passengers by race or gender or sexuality (what if a frequent flyer said they don't want to sit beside dark skinned people?), has no problem with this discrimination, presumably because it applies to men. I wonder how such people would react if the airlines seated known Muslims in the back of the plane out of fear of terrorism (David Farrar mentioned this too coincidentally)? It would also be irrational - but because it applies to Muslims (who don't have power in the leftwing subjective fantasyworld where white straight men have all the power and never get abused). Dr Cindy Kiro (the Children's Commissioner) has supported what the airlines are doing - but then if it became illegal for men to be within 10 metres of children without a permit, she'd probably cheer it on as the great advocate for state intervention that she is.
It is unfortunate that people think their children are at risk on planes with men – this is so incredibly unlikely, and it is very sad that people fear their children being hurt at every corner by men. The odds are very very low that children will be molested by strangers. As with Cathy, I am happy to have NOBODY sitting beside me on a flight, although I’d rather a quiet child than someone 20 stone (like certain bureaucrats).
The real issue are the social attitudes that have been taught and promoted by those who have a gender based collectivist agenda - the type that claimed that 1 in 3 fathers molest their daughters (TVNZ ran a telethon based on this fiction in the 1980s) - the type that regard a man complimenting a woman on looking sexy as being abusive - the type that are the feminist Taliban of our world, that listen to Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin describing consensual heterosexual intercourse as effectively never being consensual!
However, the answer is over to you. It is up to the airlines what they do, and consumers. Once again, the Greens have shown their love for state violence to intervene - they want the state to use force against the airlines to stop this.
This is not the answer.
If you don't like this policy, try an airline that doesn't do it (Origin Pacific for example) or travel another way, or put up with it. As for me, as long as I get the seat I want and preferably have no one sitting beside me (unless they are interesting and hot), then I'm not too perturbed. However, I will tell any flight attendant who forces me to shift a previously allocated seat to get fucked - unless I don't like who I am sitting beside :)
This is not about the airlines, it is about a bigger social attitude that says that men having contact with children is risky - well on that basis, because 50% of men in prison are Maori, anyone having contact with Maori men is at a bigger risk of becoming a victim of a crime. If you want to change this, then it is up to men and women who aren't suspicious of men to reject it - as consumers. The airlines are reacting to consumers, simple as that.

Green Party Promoting More State Violence: Example 1

A few days ago I said I would post everything the Green Party states which claims to be the party of peace and non-violence, advocates state violence. Here is my first example.

Sue Kedgley's vituperative response to the government NOT forcing food producers to including country of origin labelling shows the Green Party's belief in using state violence against producers. This is my example number 1 of the Green Party belief in state violence.

She is full of angry nonsense in saying that by not forcing such labelling on food, the government is denying information for consumers. The opposite of compulsion isn't a ban Sue, even though those are the only two policies you ever seem to call for!

You see Sue food producers own what they produce. They sell what they produce to a willing buyer, who chooses whether or not to pay for it. If the buyer thinks the labelling is insufficient to make a choice, the buyer might not buy it, or could complain about it, which is a matter between the buyer and seller, not the government and not some little upstart jackbooted busybody like Sue Kedgley. There is no violence in letting buyers and sellers decide what to do.

If we adopted Sue's philosophy, then grandma selling her jars of jam at the local school fair would need a label or is that ok? What if many of her ingredients were bought in a recent holiday from the USA?

So why is this state violence? Simple. If the Greens had their way, there would be mandatory labelling of all food for the country of origin. Failure to do this would be an offence, and there would be a fine, so someone who produced something from their own effort would have force initiated against them because the Greens want a certain label on the item.

Not because of consumer pressure, not because the producer thinks it would increase sales, but because the state threatens you if you don't do it. That is state violence. I doesn't matter that Australia and the EU do it - it is still Green advocacy for state violence.

Child Poverty Inaction Group does nothing for poverty

I see the Human Wrongs Commissariat is saying that the leftwing lobby group Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) can take the government to court for “discriminating” against people who make their living from money earnt by others that the governments hands out to them for nothing after confiscating it from them – commonly called welfare. Lindsay Mitchell gives a good summary as to why this case is nonsense on Scoop.

CPAG is an utterly useless organisation. I doubt that any other organisation in New Zealand that claims concern about child poverty does so little for it. Why? CPAG has never ever houses, fed, clothed or provide any material assistance for a single child in poverty in New Zealand – or if it has, it doesn’t say so. You see according to its website CPAG exists to “promote better policies for children and young people, and to promote awareness of the causes and consequences of child poverty”

So how many kids has it saved from poverty? None. You see it “CPAG publishes reports, makes submissions and conducts small-scale research projects to achieve its goals.” Big fucking deal. I am sure the families in Cannons Creek, Kaikohe, Manukau and Sydenham are thrilled that the submissions are made while they struggle to make ends meet. Do they offer a spare room in their houses for the poor? Like hell they do! However they “care”.

CPAG doesn’t actually DO anything about poverty– it is largely a bunch of academics on salaries well above the average wage, who instead of running soup kitchens, providing emergency housing, providing clothing or food for children, sit on their arses and lobby government to “do” something, when they themselves do absolutely-fucking nothing. Yes, I am sure some members of CPAG do work in the welfare sector and do help, which I acknowledge, as these are individuals – but CPAG itself is not a charity, it is out to get more of your money, by force, so YOU can be forced to “care” through the state welfare system.

Caring isn’t it?

See CPAG sees beneficiaries as no different from anyone else. The productive people who work hard for their employers or own and operate their own businesses, using their time, effort and money to sustain themselves and their families, and then have between 20 and 40%+ of what they produce taken by the state for the Unproductive are no BETTER than those who receive money for nothing more than the fact they can breed and don’t have a job.

Beneficiaries are owed NOTHING by the rest of us. Many New Zealanders spend 1-2 days a week working entirely for the state, a lot of that money going to fund beneficiaries – while so many jobs go unfilled. You know the sickness beneficiaries who commit crimes? Yes them too. I know this will be seen as beneficiary bashing, but how many times do you hear beneficiaries being grateful that the rest of us pay for them to live? Sometimes yes, those who are on it short term, but long term parasites (that IS what they are) are not grateful.

I have an answer for CPAG as to why child poverty happens, so they can end their mindless research:

1. People breed without thinking about it. They fuck (I’m not being crude, this is the language most use) without contraception and don’t care what happens. They are unwilling to take on the responsibility of raising another human being, so force the rest of us to do so. This is not anyone else’s fault, it is THEIR fault. The mother and father should sustain the family or not have unprotected sex – and if that doesn’t work, adopt out the child. In this case the poverty exists because the parents were IRRESPONSIBLE.

2. Some people lose their jobs. This is a fact of free capitalist society, because jobs are created by entrepreneurs – these are rather special people who instead of waiting for other people to pay them, use their own minds, efforts and money to risk to create wealth. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our civilisation, without them we’d all be poor (see North Korea, Burma et al). Entrepreneurs hire employees to performs tasks for them, and pay them in kind. Sometimes the business doesn’t need those employees, and they get given redundancy. Sometimes the employees don’t perform well, and they are terminated. If they have a family, then it is bad luck – and unfortunately in our society, few take out income insurance, because they believe the state will support them (i.e. productive taxpayers). If the economy is flourishing and the barriers to employing people are low, then anyone losing their job will find another.

3. Some people are stupid. They can’t hold down a job, wont work, are lazy, throw their money away on gambling, alcohol, drugs or whatever. These people will always exist and are typically irresponsible, and thoughtless. In the past these people used to be killed or left to die because of their stupidity, now they get welfare. They produce kids who are often as stupid as they are – people without books at home, who can barely function as independent human beings aren’t good parents.

4. Some people have bad luck. Whether it is accident, crime, natural disaster or other events, it leaves them destitute. This is life.

Poverty is not the fault of entrepreneurs, other employees or people able to look after their lives – it is, more often than not, either the result of a series of events or the fault of the person who is poor. The person best equipped to fix this is the person who is poor, and with charities, many do. CPAG isn’t a charity, it does nothing for the poor and I wish the government well in this ridiculous court case designed to boost welfare. Shame on the Greens and the Maori Party for supporting this pointless action.
and this is yet another reason to abolish another organisation of well paid unproductive parasites - the Human Rights Commission - a bunch of bureaucratic politically-correct busybodies, who pontificate about how others aren't being "fair" while they live off the back of everyone else. It is nice to see a Labour Government reaping the results of its support of that useless body.

28 November 2005

Education in a dictatorship courtesy of Te Wananga!

Trevor Loudon has pointed out that this week Te Wananga o Aotearoa is hosting the 7th World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education. The opening address on Sunday was from the Education Minister of Cuba – Luis Gomez Gutierrez as listed on this pdf file.

Te Wananga is a private organisation and people in a free country can organise whatever they like- unlike people in Cuba. However, the lack of any journalists in New Zealand will see the presence of one of Castro’s cronies, a representative of a government that uses education a blatantly a tool of state indoctrination, go almost unnoticed.

I don’t doubt that Mana media and most of the other Maori media will report on Luis Gomez Gutierrez as if he is just another Education Minister – like one from Australia, Canada or Sweden. Well he is NOT.

Cuba uses education not to train and teach children how to be their best, but as a tool of indoctrination and state worship. It teaches one view of history, and there is not the slightest hint of alternative points of view able to be disseminated – after all this is a one-party state which imprisons and executes those it believes to be opposed to the regime. Luis Gomez Gutierrez is in power, not because he was elected, but because he was selected. If you produced a leaflet calling for his resignation, or undertook a conference in Havana inviting the Australian Education Minister, you would be thrown in prison at best, at worst tortured and executed for treason. Cuba calls free broadcasting directed towards it with views it doesn’t like as “aggression” – see its own propaganda organ here if you can stomach it.

Here is one sample of what you can get a sentence from 26 months to 28 years for in Cuba, according to Amnesty International:

- publishing articles or giving interviews, in US-funded or other media, said to be critical of economic, social or human rights matters in Cuba;
- communicating with international human rights organisations;
- having contact with entities or individuals viewed as hostile to Cuba's interests, including US officials in Cuba, or members of the Cuban exile community in the United States or Europe;
- being involved in groups which are not officially recognised by the Cuban authorities or which are accused of conducting counterrevolutionary activity, including among others: unofficial trade unions; professional associations such as doctors' and teachers’ associations; academic institutions; press associations or independent libraries.

Don't you dare be involved in a group setting up an independent library -Mr Gutierrez's goons wont be amused.

Human Rights Watch reported on the crackdown against independent journalists and writers in 2003 when dozens were rounded up, arrested and imprisoned - this was described as an "attack on civil society".

In fact, pointing out any of this in Cuba would see me imprisoned - but hey it's ok they aren't part of the evil American/Western/Colonial/Genocidal elite (nobody ever tell Te Wananga that the history of Spanish colonisation of the Americas was not about respecting the indigenous people - but that's all forgotten since it was 300-400 years ago).

However, to the organiser of this conference, this is ok – Cuba being a one-party state which allows little dissent, no free speech is ok – it is, after all, an “alternative world view” and the moral equivalance of the scum who believe in this is clear.

Before I see it, yes I know China is just as bad, and the government sucks up to it for economic reasons, and the same with Iran. There would be similar criticism about the Education Minister of the People's Republic of China.

Setting that to one side, people can promote indigenous education of any kind if they wish. I believe that people should be able to set up whatever schools they like, and children can be taught there – but it should be by choice, and not taxpayer funded. Private schools should be free from the state system where they can rise or fall – and if people have their tax money back they can choose whatever school they like. Maori schools can flourish, as long as there is competition between schools and ideas.

However, using the Cuban Education Minister to open a conference sends a signal that indigenous education is about indoctrination, compulsion and authoritarianism – and if there was anything that the right and left of Parliament should be opposing, it is the presence of a Minister from such a regime.

So, I look forward to hearing the Greens, Labour, Act, Maori Party, National, NZ First, United Future and Jim Anderton condemning it – I wont be holding my breath! And I wonder if your taxes are helping pay for it? They are almost certainly helping some people attend it.

Pro-market TVNZ?

Cathy Odgers gives a tremendous example of how Alan Gibbs would be a better owner of TVNZ than Nanny State. Lefty free TVNZ would provide enormous balance against TV3’s favourite leftist – John “I voted Alliance” Campbell.

Back in the halcyon days of free market broadcasting, World Service New Zealand and the late lamented Radio Liberty were shining lights in the wilderness of NZ broadcasting. Perigo’s breakfast show, Coddington’s 9 till noon show and a series of pro-business shows in the afternoons, with umpteen promos, were supportive of enterprise, wealth creation and anti-government.

For those leftists who felt oppressed (despite having a taxpayer funded compulsory pay radio station called National Radio espousing their views), every Sunday saw every political party getting a slot to broadcast. The Labour Party invariably chose Chris Carter to spend an hour on air playing songs, talking politics and taking talkback calls – unfortunately too many political parties took up the offer and it became very boring radio – most politicians are not that entertaining for that long.

Unfortunately most TV reporters (NOT journalists – journalists apply their minds to an event and have skill, reporters say what is on the screen) are died in the wool lefties who think that the left is caring – largely because they spend their lives telling people the achievements of others. Their egoes are based on being on TV, not on actually producing or achieving anything beyond that – the vapid bitch who does BBC London news said that stock and currency traders do basically nothing useful compared to bureaucrats – given that a machine could do her job and she is funded from compulsory pay TV tax - I hope her pension manager gives up in protest and tells her to manage her investments.

Anyway, TVNZ should be sold, then we wont be pretending it is objective, or caring if it is not – then the owner will determine the bias. The big UK papers do this wonderfully – you know what you are getting with the Telegraph, Times, Guardian and the Independent, two papers on the right and two on the left. With the Sun you know you’re getting something, as long as it has tits!

26 November 2005

Not just a plane

Boeing recently announced it was launching a completely revised and extended version of the Boeing 747 – called the Boeing 747-8 (pictured). Now to some it is just a response to the enormous Airbus A380. It has a longer fuselage, more fuel efficient and quieter engines, greater range and new interior (larger staircase and scope to put bunks on a level above the main cabin).
However, none of that is too important – I think it is time to celebrate what the Boeing 747 is – it is not just a plane, it was a revolution in travel and changed society far greater than any recycling scheme or whingeing anti-globalisation activist ever did.

In January 1970 Pan Am started flying the first commercial Boeing 747 service -London-New York. The 747 was originally developed to meet the call for a large military transport, a contract Boeing failed to get, so it was adapted to be a passenger airliner – which was almost three times the capacity of the Boeing 707 – then the most successful long haul airliner.

The revolution the 747 introduced was to make long distance air travel affordable and easy for millions of people. Only fifteen years before the 747, aviation was the preserve of the very wealthy – ships were the means for most to get between countries, and trains within them. The Boeing 707 made some difference, as it halved the travel time for international flights – but the 747, by providing enormous capacity truly made economy class the dominant means of air travel. It was more comfortable as well – the wider body being more spacious than single aisle aircraft, and in flight movies became the norm (now superseded by individual screens at all seats).
It was the 747 that finally killed off the scheduled ocean liner business – few wanted to spend days or weeks to cover distances that could now take hours. When you next cross the Pacific or the Atlantic by air, look down at the vast void of the ocean and imagine that for every hour you are travelling it would take a day by sea (24 hours) – the Wright Brothers would have been astounded.

Airlines now had an airliner, which was more fuel efficient than the 707, with 2-3x the capacity, to fill. It was no faster, but in order to fill those seats airlines had to be innovative with fares, offering discounts for early purchase – and it was in the 1970s that easy, affordable international air travel became accessible for the average person in developed countries. To take one example, the price for a return economy class flight from New Zealand to London in 1983 was around $2200 – a price that is largely unchanged, while incomes and other prices have risen dramatically. That is testament to the improved fuel efficiency of aircraft and competition in aviation.

The 747 of today uses 25% less fuel than the first 747s, and produces half the noise – that from a profit motivated American company (aren't they meant to destroy the environment?).

That travel has seen the rise of the “OE” (overseas experience) whereby young people can now afford to fly halfway around the world to live and work, and experience a foreign culture and way of life. Families that were long divided through migration could visit each other regularly – people could have friends in other countries that they could actually meet up with from time to time. The world became smaller thanks to the Boeing 747.

It also has changed business. The appearance in the late 1970s of business class, to fill the price and service gap between first and economy demonstrates that – businesspeople could now go from one side of the world to the other, economically, within 30 hours – reduced to 24 hours as the range of the 747 reduced the need for refuelling stops. The enormous growth in business travel has complemented tourist travel – as the price of business and first class tickets helps keep economy class tickets cheap. On top of that, the 747 revolutionised air cargo – not just for mail, but perishable commodities and small high value products. The first orders for the new 747-8 are for cargo versions. The Boeing 747 has encouraged growth in wealth, jobs and trade.

This big bird isn’t exactly the most attractive creature of the sky to most, but I think it is magnificent. On 5 October 1905, Wilbur Wright flew a record 39 minutes in the air for a distance of 39km, largely circling – today at any one time there are hundreds of machines of around 400 tonnes, carrying around 300 or so people, flying 11km high, at 900km/h, watching movies, eating meals, drinking wine, sleeping, reading – as they go non-stop between locations such as London and Los Angeles, Tokyo and Sydney, Singapore and Frankfurt.

Yes there are many other planes that have followed on, the Airbuses (thanks to European subsidies) and all the other, smaller Boeings, and others. However, in almost all cases, they followed in the footsteps of the 747.

However, Boeing risked bankruptcy in proceeding with the 747 – had it failed, shareholders, employees and the world would have been worse off – and most of those who don’t even think twice about the 747 would not have helped them out. Boeing even thought the 747 was an interim model, until supersonic flight had become widespread and economic – which was to prove wrong.

So salute Boeing – the 747 – and all that succeed it. It is one of the great inventions of capitalism that has changed your world for the better, and just imagine where the minds of the 21st century will take commercial aviation.

25 November 2005

Thanksgiving Day and Buy Nothing Day

Oh dear, the Greens have gotten far too overexcited about this – using their electricity and no doubt fossil fuels getting to work, or to surf the internet.

For people in dozens of countries it is always buy nothing day - because there is nothing to buy! But in one country it is a far more important day – Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time for Americans to celebrate what they are grateful for – their country. I am grateful for it too.
Today I salute the United States – the world is full of those who hate it, but use the devices, techniques, science, entertainment made by its citizens. I salute the United States because it is the birth of an idea – implemented by the Declaration of Independence – that government does not exist for its own purpose, but as a servant of citizens. That government exists to protect fundamental rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – not to take away those rights for some other purpose. It separated church from state, and so was a fundamental break away from the European monarchy, church based governments of the time. Despite the best efforts of some on the religious right, that separation is entrenched.

Since then, of course, there have been amendments, some good, some bad. The USA has slipped closer towards statism over the last century, with property rights and personal rights increasingly being limited – but with that constitution still protecting some rather remarkable freedoms – such as speech. For some steps forward (recognising that all adults, men and women of all races have the same legal status), there have been steps backward (income tax, eminent domain) – and the US is now more bureaucratic, taxed and regulated than it has ever been.

Nevertheless, it is still a country of dreams – where, by and large, you are free to set up business, to be yourself, to own property and pursue your happiness. Contrast that to its most formidable opponents – the USSR, an evil empire of soulless, lifeless destruction, bulldozing its ideology of sacrifice over the minds, hearts and limbs of all under it, - Nazi Germany/Japan, violence worshipping sacrificers of life and destroyers of beauty, - Islamic fundamentalism, a cave-dwelling slave owning (called wives) mongerers of anti-life. In none of those countries could you say you owned your life -the state or a mullah did for you, these were countries of abject slavery - and the Islamic fundamentalists would make the world this way if they are not eliminated.

The United States, with allies saved most of the world from the tyranny of Japanese militarism, Nazism and Marxism-Leninism from the 1930s to the 1990s – for that I am eternally grateful and consider Thanksgiving a day when I am myself thankful for the USA.

As the US is now waging war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism – for that, most of the world hates it, to those who hate it, may you all go live in a country that espouses the anti-Americanism you espouse. Reject the goods produced in the USA, the inventions made in the USA and the ideas – treat the world as if the USA does not exist – there are countries that do that, and they don’t let their people leave freely. The terrorism propagated by the haters of America is not to be negotiated with - there are not reasons for attacking innocent civilians time and time again - unless you too hate life. Nobody tries to excuse or understand a rapist, so why try to understand a terrorist?

That is why today – on Thanksgiving Day – I am going to shop, and buy something I want – and have a drink tonight to the USA, and to capitalism. The USA was the birth of an ideal and a project for government to exist only to protect freedom.
P.S. Those who bought nothing can feel some sense of accomplishment in having saved money, but little else. If you want to help the poor, then buy something from them that you want – give to a charity that genuinely helps them help themselves.

Women’s Refuge

I was struck by a comment on David Farrar’s blog on his post about today being the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and his suggestion that it is an appropriate day to donate to Women’s Refuge. A comment was that “I'll donate to them when they drop their anti-male feminazi stance.”

Now it should be without question that anyone who initiates any violence against women, men and children, is an uncivilised barbarian. Violence is only ever legitimate in defence against violence – and the real issue in New Zealand are cases of domestic violence. Yes, men are victims of violence too, mostly from other men, occasionally by women. Children are also victims of violence from women, more often than is acknowledged given that women are still the primary caregivers of children (and women typically get lower sentences for any violent offences against children than men do).

Women's Refuge undoubtedly does a great deal of good – it provides a place for women in crisis to go if they fear violence, and take their children. It is somewhere where they can feel safe, and for that alone, Women's Refuge gets my support. I am unsure where men who fear violence should go, but Women's Refuge has no obligation to do anything about that – nor should it.

However, I thought I would take it upon myself to check out the claim that Women's Refuge has an “anti-male feminazi stance” by simply looking around the website. If this is true, then Women's Refuge deserves criticism for that – if not, then good people may be withholding support for what is just a rumour.

Feminist philosophy flows through the pages, but I found nothing that was blatantly “anti-male”. Certainly I’d question whether there are “systems in our society that blame the victim”, but much of what is said is arguably true. The “wheel of equality” (yes I know, this sort of thing isn’t my way of doing things either) certainly mentioned a lot about listening to “her” and respecting “her” opinions, when a good relationship has all of thing listed running both ways, but that is a minor error. The Lesbian Power and Control Wheel was interesting, particularly in a section called “using heterosexual privilege”, but there are issues of inter-lesbian violence and whatever they want to do to deal with it, is their concern. There is a sense of the world being a big patriarchal power structure, where men control everything and think in a “man like” way, and sustain structures that oppress women.

I don’t think Women's Refuge would agree with most of my politics or philosophy, but then again – that doesn’t really matter to me. Women's Refuge does not exist because a bunch of women hate men, but because some rather cowardly men beat up women – instead of being alone or treating people they profess to love with some respect, they use women and their kids as punchbags – and that in my mind is a far greater sin than being ideologically different from me.

Nowhere on the website did I see the hate filled venom of the true feminazis – Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin – who have written about how heterosexual sex is like an invasion of a woman’s body, and that all penetrative sex is a form of colonisation. That sort of nonsense, written by the Hitlers of feminism – should be consigned to the dustbin, but nowhere on the Women's Refuge website is there any support for initiating violence against men. All men are potential rapists just as much as all women are potential child beaters – whoop de do – just because the occasional bitter twisted woman carries hatred towards men, the sort akin to the racism of the National Front, shouldn’t taint what good this service does.

Women's Refuge does a good service – and if you want it to disappear then ostracise everyone who initiates violence. In the meantime, donate and men, tell them what a good service they do. Remember, most of the women in these places largely deal with men who are abusive, they could do with seeing that in most cases, most men are peaceful and intolerant of violence.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that almost everyone on the free market "right" and those who are libertarian, despise domestic violence or indeed any form of violent or sexual abuse. It is a construct of some on the fringes of the left who think that those on the "right" are conservative, United Future type family values supporters who want women chained to the kitchen sink and obeying their husbands - this is, with few exceptions, utter nonsense - but that belief helps keep them angry.

Stan Newens – Ceausescuphile

Following the discussions about Keith Locke’s Marxist-Leninist past, I thought I’d add one of the more loathsome former British MPs to a list of shame.

Stan Newens. He was a British Labour MP in the 60s through to 1983. Then became a MEP (European parliament) from 1984-1999. None of this would be important if he hadn’t written a tome on Nicolae Ceausescu that was glowing called “Ceausescu- The Man, His Ideas, His Socialist Achievements” in 1972.

Remember Ceausescu, the megalomaniac dictator who levelled suburbs so a grand palace could be built, who used torture and political executions as a matter of course, and did virtually nothing useful his entire life, along with his wife who called the Romanian people “rats”. This is the country where HIV was spread by using infected blood donations to feed abandoned children – abandoned because contraception and abortion were banned to increase the birth rate, which had declined because the standard of living had declined. Ceausescu was a murderer, his eldest son was a rapist – and the family was reviled throughout Romania for good reason. His hated Securitate would kill political opponents, and were known to work in New Zealand – as some who fled the regime travelled that far.

Of course the 1970s British Labour government feted Ceausescu, effectively requiring the Queen to give him a knighthood and hold a reception for him. There was even one of those cool leftwing trade deals, where British intelligence and expertise were gifted to Romania - Romania started making British airliners, which nobody wanted (nobody wanted BAC 1-11s back then anyway). Margaret Thatcher, a chemistry graduate and then Leader of the Opposition amusingly started a conversation with Elena Ceausescu about science (Elena claimed several "degrees" in chemistry and other sciences ) which turned ugly because Elena knew absolutely nothing about it, and couldn't hold an intelligent conversation about her "degrees".

Unfortunately Ceausescu fooled a few Western governments by not allowing Soviet troops to be based in Romania - they thought he was independent and gave him intelligence, which was passed onto Moscow with little effort.

Stan Newens was a guest of Ceausescu’s Romania and contributed to its propaganda and aggrandisement. One of his books sits in the Victoria University Library. He would also write against human rights abuses and the lack of freedom in Bahrain – he isn’t wrong there, but one is staggered by his utter hypocrisy. I don't know if Stan Newens ever rethought about his book on Ceausescu, but there is no apparent evidence he ever apologised for it.

The wilful blindness of some of the left to the horrors of Marxism-Leninism is unconscionable – as would be similar blindness of those on the right to anti-Marxist dictators like Suharto, Pinochet and Somoza.

Wellington: Median Barrier on Centennial Highway

Given my penchance for going on about Transmission Gully, it is great news that Land Transport New Zealand has agreed to fund the construction of a median barrier along Wellington’s Centennial Highway between the Fisherman’s Table restaurant and below Pukerua Bay. See your petrol tax can be used on something useful!
Transit hopes to use this funding to start construction in March 2006, although if it needs resource consents and some useless entity opposes it, it will hold it up for far longer. I don't expect environmentalists should, as it shouldn't mean building out over the coast (but probably means some widening), only some trenchant Transmission Gully supporters may oppose it, because they think letting more people die along this road will increase pressure for their pet project.
Admittedly, following on from the congestion relief from the recently opened Mana upgrade, this project, for only $15.2 million does reduces pressure for accelerating Transmission Gully at its $1.1 billion cost (or even the 4-laning along the coast). This will make the road much safer (hopefully nobody will cross the line between the barrier and Pukerua Bay – it isn’t being installed on that hilly section) and because of that, it will be closed far less often (it is almost always only closed due to accidents) - meaning far less pressure for an alternative route. Whether Transmission Gully is built or not, the existing highway should be safer and this will make a big difference!

24 November 2005

Buy something tomorrow

Tomorrow is apparently International Buy Nothing Day. This is a ill-conceived attempt to make people in wealthier countries feel guilty about their consumption, based largely on the theory that everything that exists on earth is part of a zero-sum game, whereby what you consume is a loss to someone else, rather than a traded value for value. It is on the premise that the way forward is to consume less and trade less, which is completely wrong.

Now if it was a way to encourage people to save and invest for themselves, rather than use credit, there might be some value in that - but it isn't.

The Green Party is unsurprisingly promoting this. Unfortunately there are plenty of places in the world where the idea of buying nothing is just a daily fact of life, and it is not because of too much capitalism, in fact, quite the opposite. Chad, Burma, North Korea and Cuba come to mind.

You are far more likely to make the world a better place by buying something (with your own money mind you) that you really want -regardless of where it comes from - because you are doing something very simple, trading value for value. Buying isn't a one way process - you only buy because the money in your hand is worth less to you (as it is, or for other goods or services) in your hand than the good or service you are purchasing. After buying you (should) have more value than before you bought - similarly the merchant regards your money as having a higher value than holding onto the good or performing the service. Both of you receive "profit" from this. This is capitalism - and it is moral.

You see money is the root of much that is good - it is a means of exchange that enables people to translate what their minds and their labour create into something they want. Trading has been responsible for the enormous increase in wealth and standards of living worldwide in the last couple of centuries, and the ones who have missed out have been those who haven't traded. North and South Korea, West and East Germany are stark contrasts that should be obvious. One traded and has property rights, the other didn't - and one is poorer, less safe and more polluted than the other. Taiwan and China before it opened up, are the same. How many failed countries need to exist before people learn?

With a higher standard of living people demand cleaner air and water, and better standards of safety - because they can afford to. Higher standards of living come with property rights and with property rights people protect their property from destruction through pollution. People can also afford to own and protect land as parks, reserves and other places of natural beauty because they are not subsisting for food and shelter.

This article from the New Individualist argues that the sustainable development agenda is a major attack on individual liberty and is an excuse for destroying property rights.

Buying nothing means you have some money in your pocket - and someone else doesn't. Free trade is beneficial to all. Take this example:

Lets say that Vietnamese companies can produce shoes for $1 a pair whereas NZ companies can only produce them for $20 a pair. Under free trade, New Zealanders will buy their shoes from Vietnam. This benefits people in both countries. Vietnamese will have more money to buy food, clothing and shelter. New Zealanders will spend less on shoes and have more money to buy CDs, books and furniture, and the investment capital formerly spent on shoeswill be put to more productive uses, such as new technology or creative industries or pharmaceuticals. Multiply this by millions of products and hundreds of countries and over time the benefits run into the trillions of dollars.

These benefits already have - imagine the wealth of humanity had the whole world been consumed by the anti-capitalism of Nazi Germany or the USSR.

So go out and buy something -celebrate capitalism.

The website promoting this buy nothing doggerall is full of nonsense:

1. “at a global level its been said that to satisfy consumption demands of everyone, if they were to consume like the affluent West, we'd need 3 more planets worth of resources.” Well “it has been said” is a good way of saying something without knowing a damned thing about it. “It has been said” that environmentalists routinely engage in coprophagia – see, just as valid a quote! Regardless of the source, this is absolute nonsense, as when a resource becomes scarce, the price goes up and either more can be extracted economically, or alternatives are found (including recycling).

2. “A 1998 UNDP report points out that one child in a developed country will consume, waste and pollute the equivalent of more than 50 children in a developing country.” Well one UN employee probably consumes more than 3x the average person in a developed country, as hypocrisy runs deep in one of the most inept and morally bankrupt organisations on earth. However the real point here is that the child in the developed country enjoys a good standard of living – is the solution to halve the standard of living of the developed country child to boost the others? Should the state funded welfare system be extended to be global (if not, why not on the basis of this philosophy) and are you all prepared to pay enormous taxes for that?

3. “So from the prospect of being fair - acknowledging that less developed countries have the right to the same standards of living as the West - our consumption is unsustainable.” This is a non-sequitur. Why is our consumption unsustainable? Saying it doesn’t make it so. Besides, nobody has a right to a certain standard of living, how is this right to be delivered? How do you force people to give others a standard of living. People have standards of living and have the right to pursue improved standards of living, but there is no right to a particular result regardless of your circumstances.

4. How do you lead a fulfilling life? Only you can answer that, finally.” WOW, something libertarian in it. The choice is ours – so it wont be forced on us, an enormous relief (and some hope)!

5. “Buy Nothing Day is also concerned with other issues related to consumption and consumerism - the use of sweatshops and prison labour to produce more and more of the goods we buy (what does that mean for our own jobs, and the lives of those who now have those jobs, but often at unlivable wages?);.”

Hold on. People queue up to get sweatshop jobs because earning a living wage in countries with such sweatshops is more liberating than working in subsistence agriculture when a bad season can mean you starve. They are not unlivable wages in the countries these people live in, quite the opposite. There is no evidence given that sweatshops and prison labour produce “more and more of the good we buy”, as it is just as likely that production is increasingly automated. However, what does “the inability of our current political system to measure social progress and relate that to economic progress; support of locally made and ethically based products and investments” mean? Presumably it means paying well above the market value for goods and services. Which is fine if you get value from that, but if you’d rather spend the money on buying your kids another pair of shoes, then it probably is better than you do that.

6. “The effects of over-consumption on the environment (such as toxic pollution and climate change) are widely known. These mean we need to reduce consumption, especially in many Western countries like New Zealand that are consuming much more than their fair share of resources.” Toxic pollution exists as a tragedy of the commons, and should be controlled by introducing private property rights to those commons. Besides, in the quest for efficiency many processes are becoming cleaner and less polluting – the almost non-existent growth in petrol tax revenue (except for increases in the tax) despite growth in traffic is due to the improved fuel efficiency of new cars.

What are a “fair share of resources”? Who decides this? The resources you are entitled to are those you own or legally acquire through purchase, gift or inheritance – your greatest resource is your brain. Are you to be forced to give up some of this for someone you don’t know? Who will enforce this? Funnily enough it would appear the countries with the greatest “share of resources” (the advocates of this like the word share, as if there was some higher power who dished out the shares rather than the wealth being created) actually created it.

The USA is the wealthiest country on earth because the people who live there used their minds to apply to the natural and human resources they acquired. It is capitalism – people traded value for value, whether it be labour, goods or services, and they discovered how they could apply their minds to the world around them. Bauxite was not a resource a few centuries ago, because nobody knew how to smelt it into aluminium, now it is valued because aluminium can be used for all sorts of construction (and is often recycled – the aircraft industry recycles virtually all plane fuselages).

7. “Every product we buy has an effect on the environment - extraction and processing of raw materials, manufacture of products and dumping products at the end of their lives causes pollution, creates toxic waste, wastes energy and destroys precious wildlife habitats..”

Well yes it does have an effect, but most of the time the effect is virtually nil. Many products decompose, and most pollution dilutes until it is unnoticeable. Paper products are almost always made from plantation pine forests that are constantly renewed, glass is virtually infinite (think the planet will run out of sand do you?) You think not? Well every day you urinate ammonia and urea – and breathe out carbon dioxide and produce methane, so feel guilty. Don’t have children, that will do more to reduce consumption than anything you try to do.

The more concerning notion is that “Transporting products internationally is often extremely wasteful of fuels, if the product can also be produced nationally”

What nonsense! What is so important about national boundaries that it is ok to ship something from Invercargill to Auckland, but not from Sydney? Are people in Luxembourg not to buy chocolate from Belgium? More importantly, why should anyone put up with goods made locally that are poorer quality and more expensive? The Trabant car was east Germany’s great experiment at that- expensive, poor quality and environmentally disastrous. Argentina went for import substitution in the 1940s and by the 1970s had gone from being up with the rich countries to being with the third world – import substitution makes people poorer.

That is not to mean that competitive import substitution is bad, it isn’t – just that the state shouldn’t tax people for importing or regulate it.

So all in all, international buy nothing day is based on a large number of unsubstantiated assertions. Besides, I bet nobody who adheres to it will switch off their electricity, gas, water, phone or not catch the bus or drive anywhere. If you are that concerned about your consumption, then stop the lot – don’t look at blogs, because you are helping empty a dam or burn fossil fuels. Buying nothing for the sake of it does not make you think – it means you are buying into a simplistic jingoism that does nothing to make a real difference to toxic pollution or poverty.

Maori TV reports a successful first year?

One of our compulsory pay TV channels – Maori TV reports a successful first year.

Well, if someone gave me oodles of other people’s money to set up a business and there was little threat the supply would be cut off, I’d be “successful” too.

Its surplus of $3.2 million is much like the “profits” that the Railways Corporation made in the early 80s, because they were after enormous subsidies had been pumped in.

Of course the measure of success is that it showed vast amounts of NZ content and had a cumulative audience of 426,300 in April 2005. Note that it doesn’t mean that that many people watch it at any one time, just that many have watched it ONCE during a MONTH. Cumulative audiences are used by broadcasters to demonstrate big figures for audiences, but they show very little. It is a bit like saying 400,000 shopped at a supermarket during one month, but most of them could have only bought a bar of chocolate. Cumulative daily audiences and share of audiences at key times are better measures. I doubt Maori TV gets 1% of all viewing.

Gerry Brownlee is calling for the audience share figures to be released, but then it isn’t clear whether National would scrap funding for Maori TV – it almost certainly wouldn’t scrap NZ On Air funding for TVNZ/TV3 and Prime – and what is good for Maori TV is also good for commercial TV.

Anyway, none of this would matter a jot to me at all if it wasn’t getting taxpayer funding. There is nothing wrong with anyone setting up a Maori TV channel and broadcasting whatever they wish – just it shouldn’t be compulsory pay TV. I remember some years ago Saturn Communications (now part of Telstra Clear) offered cable TV capacity for a Maori channel, but it wasn’t taken up (it would only have covered Kapiti and Wellington then, but better than nothing).

Taxpayer funding for Maori TV should end, along with NZ On Air and Te Mangai Paho. There should be no taxpayer funding for any television on any channel.

The cost of producing television is lower now than it has ever been, with digital technology – so those who want it should pay for it and enjoy it. I am sure that with the will, there would be a commercially sustainable Maori TV channel – it might not broadcast long hours, and it might not have expensively made shows, but neither do Maori magazines or newspapers.

23 November 2005

Greens and violence

Given the belief by many Greens supporters that their party is one of peace and non-violence, I thought I would post every time the Green’s put out a press release advocating the use of state violence against people who are not initiating force against others or their property. Remember that initiating force means everything from incarceration, to fines, taxes, assault, theft and trespass. It does not mean upsetting or offending you, or terminating a contract. Every time I find a clear example of the Greens supporting the state initiating violence, I will list it – other times I may list the odd occasion the Greens aren’t clear about what they would do.

Today I will start with Nandor Tanczos concern about the imminent closure of the Anchor milk factory at Hornby and the Meadow Fresh yoghurt factory in Christchurch. He asks Graeme Hart to reconsider this – which is fine, in itself. You can ask anyone to do anything. However, would the Greens stand back and let the closures happen if they were in government? Either they would force the owner of a business to operate parts of the business which were not worth operating (after all it IS his business) and pay for that himself, or force others to pay for it? Both involve fascism.

See Mr Hart wants to continue the viability of his whole business, which delivers wealth to him and other shareholders, people who have risked their own property in a competitive business. It also employs other people not in those factories and it provides products for willing consumers – out of choice. Tanczos says running a successful business is about more than profits. Is it? Is being an employee about more than making a wage? Is trading about more than receiving more value than you give? Mr Hart could run his businesses as a social service, meaning than he and other shareholders get less money for their investment, and spend less on other investments, or other goods and services – all of which also involve employing people – but isn’t that waste and aren’t the Greens against waste?

Would the Greens in government leave Mr Hart alone, or would they use the power of the state to force him to do their bidding? It isn’t clear – but if I were him I wouldn’t want to find out.

Infratil and Stagecoach

Stagecoach UK has sold its New Zealand bus operations to Infratil – the local utilities investment company. Nothing exciting there, except that Stagecoach was an exceptional owner of companies that local authorities had let run down over many years. There is little doubt that both Auckland and Wellington now have far more modern bus fleets, and better bus systems than they had when the ARC and Wellington City Council ran services as ratepayer funded monopolies.
Stagecoach NZ never paid a dividend to Stagecoach UK (despite what the NZ Herald report says Ross Martin claimed), although it did go for a good premium over the original purchase price – and rightfully so – Stagecoach poured a lot of money into new buses, albeit with some help from local and central government subsidies - around half of the services in Auckland were commercial - getting no subsidies at all. Certainly Stagecoach Auckland and Wellington are a far cry from the union run, antiquated Yellow Bus and Big Red bus fleets they took over from local authorities in both cities.

The government is reviewing the regulatory regime for public transport – this is in response to calls by some in local government to get rid of the right of bus companies to run commercial services. Some want bus companies to be regulated, and subsidised so that local authorities can control them. I suspect Stagecoach was fleeing a regulatory regime it saw as having potentially a limited life – which is a shame.
Infratil is a good owner though, and no doubt will do its best - but lest we forget what Stagecoach did for urban buses in Auckland and Wellington - it actually wanted to run them as businesses for customers.

Treasury to review Transmission Gully vs. the coastal highway costs

The Dominion Post reports that Treasury will undertaken an independent study into the relative costs of the two routes. This is unprecedented open interference into the affairs of Transit and Greater Wellington Regional Council – but it is about spending Crown money. I don’t doubt Treasury will have a good go at this.

Hopefully that should sort it out – since the proponents of the Gully think Transit would rather not build a big 27km motorway instead of a handful of smaller projects (unlikely) and that the Greater Wellington Regional Council – which previously strongly supported the Gully route – is biased against it!

Poor Treasury. If it comes out in favour of the Gully, it will be in favour of a half built option that needs to be completed at some point to be really worthwhile. If it supports the coastal route, it will get the mountains of abuse from the pro-Gully lobbyists – including Porirua City which keeps coming out with some nutty ideas.

However, Treasury can hardly be seen as having a vested interest, and is not as hated as Transit is on this issue – yet!

Have the Gully proponents noticed that the congestion at Paremata is gone?

Hey Jim - Matt's gone!

Jim Anderton’s personal – I mean Progressive – Party website still lists Matt Robson as an MP.

Given, like most small parties, the Jim Anderton party lost votes and is down to one seat, Jim needs to wake up - it's just you Jim - ask Peter Dunne what it felt like.

However, NZ First's link on its website to the confidence and supply agreement with Labour wasn't working when I checked it either. To its credit, United Future has its whole agreement posted.

22 November 2005

Fundamentalist religion – the ugliest cancer on the planet?

I hate religion, I really do – people can get whatever comfort or whatever they want from whatever ghosts they believe in, build churches and change their lives for their ghosts, and even try to convince people to believe in their ghosts, but that is where it should end. Believe in whatever you want, but don't infringe on the rights of others justifying it through your faith.

I am sick of hearing how humane and loving Islam is – frankly about as sick as I am hearing about how Christianity is the same. Those who say this confuse the religion with those claiming to follow it. Now I couldn’t give a flying fuck about whether the true Islam is Osama Bin Laden’s or not, much like whether Christiantiy is led by the bigoted Pope, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, Brian Tamaki or Benny Hinn (now THAT’s an evil little fucker!) – but I do care about the evil pricks who use religion to justify slavery, torture and rape.

The Daily Telegraph today in this story that a village council in Pakistan has decreed that five women ranging from 15 to 22 should be abducted, raped or killed because they refused to honour marriages forced on them when they were.. wait for it … aged 6 through 13. To their credit, the girls’ fathers are supporting them, and as a result have the death penalty imposed upon them.

See it all started when a father of one of the girls shot dead a member of another family, following some dispute where there were shots from both sides. The village council said appropriate compensation for the family was to make the girls of the family (both the man who killed the other, and his brother) marry male members of the other family – in other words, children were chattels to be given over. Of course it was a mullah in the village council who imposed this sentence.

Evil barbaric scum. The same scum who supported the Taliban banning girls from school - treating women as illiterate little slaves.

The Pakistani government recently prohibited this practice, but its fair and unbiased police seem to be doing little to enforce this law.

Oh, but all cultures are the same, don’t judge other cultures say the postmodernist cultural relativist vermin.

Duncan Bayne gives a good summary of why he regards all religion as fundamentally irrational here.

On top of this, The Times in London reports how a film in the Netherlands made by a Somali refugee (and now Dutch MP) about Muslim oppression of homosexuals carries no credits, to avoid murderous Islamic nutters making those who helped produce the film into targets for their peaceful religion. The report shows how some Muslims, who chose to move to the Netherlands, a highly liberal country, are basically out to shut down criticism and dissent. The semi-libertarian gay MP Pym Fortyn was shot by an ecoterrorist – a Green nutter who did it for the Muslims and hated Fortyn railing against environmentalists forcing railway lines to be built under cow pasture, because they hated any disruption to nature.

The true murderous life hating philosophy of these lowlives is obvious – they have no place in a liberal tolerant society which would allow their views to be expressed, but would not allow their violence to be.

Islam, at the very least, needs to go through a period called the Enlightenment. It happened to Christianity, and the worst excesses were buffed off, mainly by separating church and state – then it needs to go through a steady level of secular decline, as it has in western Europe.

Religion does nothing for me, at best it is historically quaint and gives some people quiet comfort and support – but I would rather it fade away.

That means all of the evangelical nutters as well - the proponents of "intelligent design" (such rot!) and the life hating, sex hating, freedom hating mullahs of Christianity. They would turn the world into a fundamentalist state little different in effect from the Taliban.

May they all rot.

Mark Blumsky's maiden speech

Mark Blumsky, former extravagant Mayor of Wellington and new Wellington National list MP has made his maiden speech, and besides some good stuff about less government and tax, he made 3 statements that show he can’t keep his hands off of things:

1. “We need to see progress on Transmission Gully. We need to see it now; it is necessary” I need say little more on this as I have blogged extensively about. Mark, lower tax and building a billion dollar road with a negative benefit/cost ratio don’t add up. Stop trying to waste our money.

2. “Out at the airport, it is vital that the new generation Boeing 787 jets are able to land in Wellington” Why Mark? What do you know about aviation? I believe they can land, but there is no indication Air NZ wants them to, because there is not enough demand for long haul flights from Wellington beyond Australia and the Pacific. Wellington-Singapore isn't going to happen, when they don't do Christchurch-Singapore anymore. Besides the 787s don't come for 5 more years. Shannon in Ireland played this cargo cult mentality – built a big airport and nobody came. Leave business to business Mark, you know shoes, you don’t know transport.

3. “We need to look seriously at some level of local government amalgamation.” As a libertarian you might think I believe in less local government, and I do. However, Owen McShane some time ago wrote that the optimum size of local authorities was not necessarily bigger. Yes some councils are too small – Banks Peninsula clearly is and is merging with Christchurch. Excessively small councils find it hard to attract talented staff and face high overheads due to poor economies of scale. However there is a more insidious face in big councils – big councils can waste money more easily because a tiny rates increase means a decent windfall in revenue – so big councils think they can undertake any lunatic scheme individual councillors dream up, because the cost of each scheme is relatively low. So you get art, business subsidies, video libraries, youth cafes and all sorts of utter nonsense that councils shouldn’t be doing – Mark should know, he led a council that embarked on continuous increases in local government spending.

The answer to local government is NOT to amalgamate, although if councils want to, it shouldn’t be stopped – but to eliminate unnecessary functions, which ultimately are all of them. Councils should be forced to get out of all activities that they can charge users for, and get out of social activities like housing and community centres. If you like something council does, pay for it yourself! Big councils want to do more, they want to interfere and tax more - bigger councils are not better!

Mark doesn't really believe in the free market, he believes in being popular - and frankly has not been impressive as much beyond a businessman and a cheerleader for Wellington.

Mark, do you want councils doing less, rating less and if so, what would YOU cut, or is the National policy on local government to do nothing?

Welcome New Zeal

Trevor Loudon has researched the left extensively, and has a new blog here. While I don’t get too heated up about Keith Locke’s indiscrepancies from the past – after all he deserves credit for defending Ahmed Zaoui in my book, and his support for the Khmer Rouge was thirty years ago – it is important to note these, and after all any National MP who once warmed to the Ian Smith regime of Rhodesia would get a LOT of shit from the left. Trevor’s outing of the idiot Rodolfo Stavenhagen who thinks he can judge New Zealand race relations for the UN (and of course National Radio cowtows to anyone from the UN, because the UN MUST be good) is well worth a read.

Welcome Trevor, as others have said, you will be a great contributor to the blogosphere.

School of depravity!!

Ferguson Intermediate School in Upper Hutt is facing a new depravity, that is completely inappropriate for 10-12 year olds. It appears it is a same sex activity between girls that is causing grave concern among staff, something even Queen Victoria would not believe existed. No, not drugs, no they are not pulling knives on each others, not beating each other up, not even masturbating each other, they are…. hugging. Yes I kid you not, it is reported here that the school is taking action - with an image of the brazen hussies performing such a lewd and lascivious act.

You know what comes of inappropriate hugging – just like washing nude, it encourages other behaviour – some of the girls might become not just friends, but CLOSE friends. They might enjoy the warmth, comfort and affection of another – the hugging isn’t forced, thank Clark, and it isn’t from teachers, after all teachers who want to give children any physical contact must be perverted!

Hopefully they will create cubicles for all pupils to change in when they do PE, and that ankles will be covered soon, and of course there is no holding hands, you know how intimate THAT is.

We ought to ban images and videos of them hugging too, I bet they see older teenagers and adults doing it – that’s where it all went wrong.

If not stamped out, hugging will lead to kissing, which will lead to French kissing and then touching legs and arms and bellies, and you know what comes from that AIDS and pregnancy! After all, girls should be told to save themselves for their husbands and wear burkhas so that they don’t get any bright ideas, and so boys and, eventually, men don’t. Thank Blair I’m in the UK where the main problem is that 70% of schoolkids report having been bullied – as least they are not behaving like perverts with each other!

21 November 2005

Sprawl, transport and choice

PC has a wonderful series on why sprawl is good and the abolition of town planning even better. Most of the links are on his latest post on the topic, here.

The crux of so much of this is that planners get concerned about traffic congestion (which is a result of roads not being managed or charged like private property), insufficient use of public transport, energy use in homes and the disorder of capitalist societies. Most of this is out and out nanny statism.

To those who espouse this, they look at figures for energy use, public transport use and for them the less energy and more public transport the better- in short, Pyongyang in North Korea is the ideal city.

Frankly, who cares if people use more or less energy in their homes, or whose homes are energy efficient or otherwise? It doesn’t matter any more than whether those people buy a new pair of shoes every week or every year, or have a huge collection of CDs. The key is- as long as they PAY for it, a person should be able to consume whatever they wish. Pay meaning, the cost to purchase it and dispose of it, and that means no subsidies for production or distribution and no subsidies for rubbish collection or disposal or recycling. Remember how in so many countries energy and rubbish are run by central or local government, and are directly or indirectly subsidised.

Also who cares if public transport is well used or not, as long as those using it pay for it. Much public transport in the world is not subsidised – think of long distances buses and trains in New Zealand, and most airlines.

Planners are busybodies, they want to nanny us all, because we don’t know what is good for us. They want to protect us from using cars unnecessarily, from wasting energy and eating the wrong foods. They are do-gooders, and many have their hearts in the right place, but they need to be told to “fuck off, leave me alone, it’s my life and my money and I will do what I want with it”. Many of their messages are not bad in themselves – I don’t want to waste power or petrol, but sometimes I want a hot wash in my washing machine, sometimes I want to drive with the accelerator to the floor, sometimes I want to eat fast food. Sue Kedgley is the ultimate nanny – a hypocritical bitch who gets driven around, while calling on people to use public transport. John Prescott was the UK Transport Secretary, and did the same.

I want to live in a house, in the suburbs, with as many rooms as I can afford, as big a car as I can afford, and travel whenever I want in the class I can afford, and buy whatever I want – and live my life the way I want to. I don’t want anyone else’s money to do it. You can suggest ways I could do things better, but if you dare tell me where I should live, in what sort of house, how I must go to work or tax or subsidise things I don’t want to do because you don’t like my choices, then fuck off!

Jewish Council is wrong

Now I understand why the Jewish Council is calling for a banning of the sale of Nazi memorabilia.

There are a handful of freaks out there who get off draping their bedrooms with swastikas and feeling proud that they can follow someone who tells them what to do and how to run their lives and everyone elses. Fortunately almost all of the those with these views are almost completely incompetent – remember there was a National Front in New Zealand that couldn’t register as a political party and the British equivalents, the National Front and BNP are almost entirely a rabble of semi-insane losers who can barely organise themselves. A club of mostly useless men (and their vile female companions).

David Harcourt, a Wellington antiques dealer is rightfully defending his right to sell Nazi material. Banning it would of course raise the price for such stuff, and the claim that making money from it glorifies it is nonsense – the same claim can be made for selling t-shirts with Che Guevara on it, or Castro, or the mountains of communist era junk that gets sold in eastern European markets. I bought a few bits and pieces in Bratislava when I was there a year ago, out of curiosity and because, one day, I want to show my children and grandchildren the sort of crap that evil regimes gave to people – to show appreciation, while they oppressed them and denied their individuality.

I shouldn’t have to even state the obvious, the Holocaust was an absolute abomination, particularly as it was so carefully calculated, ordered and ran in what had been considered a civilised, modern Western society. Nazi Germany was one of the most evil regimes to have existed in modern times – but so was the Soviet Union, Ceaucescu’s Romania, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, Saddam’s Iraq, Hoxha’s Albania, Mengistu’s Ethiopia, Bokassa’s CAR, Amin’s Uganda. Banning anything from any of the above is no better than what those regime’s did – they banned what they didn’t like. The USA does not ban Nazis, in fact they are easy to find, but there are very very few of them, and there is no chance whatsoever that they will gain the means to do evil.

The Jewish Council’s sensitivity towards anything from the Nazi era is understandable – but the answer is not to ban it, but to ignore it. We are not ever served by banning that we find most offensive, but by exposing it for what it is. Banning it and focusing on the misfits who get excited by swastikas gives those misfits, and Nazism more excitement, attention and allure to the few who may also find some thrill in the forbidden. That is the least thing the Jewish Council should be encouraging.

What the Police want - more speeding tickets

David Farrar has already demonstrated that the Police are back on about speeding again. The Police briefing for incoming minister has asked for them to get a lot more money and people, surprise surprise. This is something the public tend to LIKE, but is also fraught with danger.

Now, as everyone says, the Police have a hard job, but politicians have a harder job making them accountable. The Police are not easy for accountability, partially because:

1. Most people love them, they perform duties few of us would want to do ourselves, and they are essential to a peaceful and free society – and they know it and they know how to pull on public heartstrings. Much of the time they do their job very well;

2. It is a highly unionised profession, meaning they stick together to protect each other. This is a mentality that suits the job they do, but means when anyone is out of line, there is some willingness to cover each other’s trails. This is not a place to be too independently minded.

3. Management of the Police is in house. In other words, military like, every level of the Police hierarchy is managed by cops – not managers. Companies run by the core staff are often far from successful – airlines used to be run by airline people until it was realised that professional managers were needed – people who are not sentimentally attached to parts of the operation and who can ask the hard questions. Hospitals are the same by the way, they shouldn’t be run by GPs.

4. There is no competition or threat of competition.

Having said that the NZ Police are light years ahead of many of their overseas counterparts, although in some cases that hasn’t been hard.

The main risks that the Police present are:

1. Poor performance: Not responding to what the public – taxpayers- demand of them. This is responding to incidents that threaten themselves, their families or their property. This does not mean sending for a taxi for a distressed woman or not responding to 111 calls. The flak over this is a systematic lack of performance incentives – and the union and organisation will say this is too hard.

2. Lack of budget control: What the Police want, the Police get. The INCIS project is the classic example, no proper management and money just going down the plughole to IBM for a system that ultimately was not delivered. Anytime a politician considers making the Police more efficient, the Police stick together and say “that means removing a community constable from Manurewa” or whatever. The Police always say budget cuts affect the frontline, so the administrative overheads continue to blowout.

3. Police threat to individual liberty: As the frontline of the monopoly of legitimised state violence, the Police have powers to initiate force against New Zealanders. They should, of course, do this very sparingly, with priority on cases when there are victims or potential victims – and not at all in other cases. The Police always claim they enforce the law, but for many many years they have done this selectively. They are tough on drugs, but I don’t see them following around teenage girls to check if their boyfriends are 16 and over and breaking the Crimes Act with them. They ceased routinely enforcing the law against homosexual acts a few years before it was repealed. The Police can change their law enforcement emphasis – but all in all, they always advocate more power and discretion. If the Police had their way we would all have ID cards, electronic tracking devices attached to us at all times that they could check up on, and CCTV cameras on every street corner. The Police would also change the burden of proof so you are guilty till proven innocent. Don’t have any doubts about it, the term Police state isn’t something many of them think is a bad thing, and if you spent half your day dealing with lowlifes, you might have some sympathy for that.

So what have the cops asked for?

A need to increase frontline response and investigator numbers.

Attrition is 350-400 a year, so the Police propose double that recruitment rate per annum. Of course the actual numbers needed are not suggested, so that the numbers could presumably grow ad infinitum, along with the budget. Of course, they could stop enforcing victimless crimes, though Libertarianz is not in government.

A need to reduce staff safety risks, bolster field supervision and improve investigation file quality for Court with more sworn positions at Sergeant and Senior Sergeant level.

These are several different things, but this means more money to promote experienced cops.

Considering next steps in areas of road policing enforcement alongside education and engineering options

Here the cops take the easy out – lowering speed limits, blood alcohol limits and more use of speed enforcement and tougher sanctions. Now given Transit and the Police recently admitted that in one location (Tokoroa-Taupo) speed wasn’t the key factor, it seems that as speed enforcement is really easy, they want to slow everyone down.

My view is that the biggest road safety problem comes down to punishment – people who kill others on the road due to stupidity should be banned from driving, for life. If you can’t stay on your side of the road, or obey a red light – then tough – and if you are caught driving again, you get imprisoned, for trespass. In a world of private roads, an unauthorised driver would be trespassing – but in New Zealand, it is a far bigger offence to be smoking cannabis than it is to be an idiot driving a car and killing someone. Speeding is an issue, on some roads in some conditions, but it is an attitude in New Zealand that you can’t punish bad driving – but you can punishing breaking rules. I don’t care if this means underprivileged stupid people are in prison for reckless driving causing death – better that than them being in prison for having the odd joint!

and the Police? Abolish victimless crimes, to give the Police more chance to follow real crimes -and make them locally accountable. Split the Police into several dozen precincts, each individually accountable to an electable sheriff - maybe not as many precincts as there are local authorities, but somewhere around 40. Then bulk fund according to the local population, let the Police pursue the local priorities, and anything that goes across precincts can remain the purview of a centralised investigation unit. Now that would be a change!