Thursday, 19 October 2017

A word on inequality from F.A. Hayek

“There is all the difference in the world being treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.”
~ Friedrich Hayek

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Quote of the Day: "If you read that central banks are seeking to engineer a cooling down of asset prices..."

"If you read that central banks are seeking to engineer a cooling down of asset prices, ask who heated them up in the first place."
~ Vinay Kolhatkar

The Cathedral of Sport

An early concept sketch here by Daryl Jackson for the Great Southern Stand at the MCG — the Cathedral of Sport.
"There should,” he says, "be a sense of arrival at the outside ticket box, a celebratory progression to one's designated seat, and the anticipation of spectacle."

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Quote of the Day: On politicians' pusillinamity

"There has been too much shrugging of the shoulders [by too many politicians such as he]. He justifies his shrug ... [partly] because politicians are not only pusillanimous, but rightly so, their pusillanimity being merely a realisation of their actual impotence; ... the doctrine that statesmen must always act contrary to their convictions, when to do otherwise would lose them office, implies [however] that they are less easily replaceable than is really the case."
~ John Maynard Keynes, from his 'Essays in Biography'

Lykes House, by Frank Lloyd Wright

Officially the last house that Frank Lloyd Wright ever designed, this 280sqm house for the Sonoma Desert in pre-airconditioned Arizona was completed after his death by apprentice John Rattenbury, working from the master’s sketches — and adding both a pool, and an upstairs office.

The lounge, this great space, looks over the desert to what is now the city of Phoenix, its lights twinkling in the distance of an evening.

And it’s all yours (well, it could have been) for just $3.6 million.

[Hat tip The Wright Attitude. Pics from Aguilera + Guerrero and Marc Leslie Kagan]


Monday, 16 October 2017

Quote of the Day: On being a YIMBY

“'The 100 or so higher-income people, who are not going to live in this project if it isn’t built, are going to live somewhere,' she said. 'They will just displace someone somewhere else, because demand doesn’t disappear.'”
~ Sonja Trauss, a San Francisco YIMBY activist (Yes, In My Back Yard), arguing on behalf of a proposed 75-unit development, saying that any new housing built is better than none at all

On dreams...

[Cartoon from the xkcd comic site. Hat tip Dinesh Pillay]

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Question of the Day: What is organic architecture?

"Organic architecture is an architecture from within outwards — in which entity is the ideal. … Organic means, in a philosophic sense, entity. Where the whole is to the part and the part is to the whole. Where the nature of the materials, the nature of the purpose, the nature of the entire performance becomes a necessity and out of that comes what significance you can give the building as a creative artist."

~ Frank Lloyd Wright, from his interview (above) with Hugh Downs

Friday, 13 October 2017

Dear Stephen Franks: It was not ACT’s principles that killed the party, it was its people [updated]

Dear Stephen

You write at your blog about the ACT Party’s future, if it has one, about which your headline makes the promise to explain why no libertarian party rules (or thrives) anywhere.

Your headline is incorrect, and in relation to the ACT Party, irrelevant. But it seems to me that answering you helps explain what it is about ACT's approach that hasn't worked.

I will always respect you as being the only person in Parliament who argued against the Architects Institute maintaining their legal monopoly over a word. But as you yourself made clear on many occasions then and since, you yourself were not a libertarian, and neither, it’s clear were many other ACT MPs.

It’s not even clear that that party itself is libertarian — as David Seymour reminded me sharply a week before the election, instead it's something called “centre-right,” whatever that ill-defined term might mean.

You say, Stephen, that libertarians are "zealots [who] ignore and deplore what drives normal humans”; and that voters “will never trust a party, and people, who do not understand and reflect our collective impulses.” This, you imply, is to answer the promise of your headline.

Where to begin?

Perhaps, to start at the very beginning, you need to be reminded, Stephen, that the United States of America, one of the greatest nations on this earth, was founded on those very values you say are so ignored and abhorred. Yet, in the estimation of many of us, it was those very values that made America great, and their abandonment that has condemned it to the slow death we have all observed. If America is ever become great again, it will need to rediscover those values, and to embrace them.

Frankly, Mr Franks, it was not the ideas that disgraced the party’s people; it was the people who disgraced the ideas they purported to represent — a succession of both major and minor disgraces with which the honesty and integrity of everyone associated with the party are now tainted.

It was the party’s people who made the party toxic, not the principles they claimed to represent.

The abandonment of those principles began at the party’s very founding, the man who composed those fine words — that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities; that the proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities — running from the party he helped form when he saw there was very little interest from party bearers in upholding them.

Today those words are nowhere to be found on the party website, replaced instead with heaping helpings of blancmange.

If the party’s own people frequently appear too embarrassed to uphold the principles they claim to follow, why indeed should the voting public take them seriously?

And just look at those who purported to uphold them.

Rodney Hide, allegedly a proponent of small government, dropped whatever principles he may have had when a Ministerial limousine beckoned, and promptly ran amok in Auckland — a city in which he can still no longer even show his face.

John Banks, presented to the party by Don Brash as a gift that just kept not giving, a man who never knew a principle even when he fell over one, was instead taken by the public to represent them, and as he fell so too did the party’s reputation.

It has never recovered.

A small party may may have survived one of these oafs. It could never survive them both. A short story is representative of many: One of the few announcements made by the party in recent years squarely based on its principles, Don Brash’s clarion call to legalise marijuana, was scuttled very public when Banks himself opposed it. The party quickly dropped the policy. It should have dropped the politician. The public, those who had already begun to embrace the policy, saw where things were going and dropped the party.

It was the people that let the principles down, not the principles themselves.

And it was not just the luminaries, and not just in recent years. The behaviour of the party’s minor figures over many years has also seemed to suggest that integrity is the very least of things to expect from this party’s people — or at least have allowed the media to present that notion this way.

Owen Jennings, for example, let his office be used for a madcap Get Rich Quick pyramid scam, after which he disappeared from public life.

Donna Aware-Huata distinguished herself before selection for nothing more than selling Maori stick games to government departments, and once near power for little more than putting her fingers into her charity’s till.

David Garrett: best known not as he might suppose for the three strikes legislation he introduced, but instead for acquiring a passport derived from a viewing of a dead baby’s grave. (“Can't say I blame David Garrett for creating a false identity,” responded one wag. "His real one is hardly something to be proud of.”)

And Deborah Coddington who, in her first year, made such a splash she was awarded accolades for being the most effective debutante in the Parliament, went —after achieving such wide public notice — off to Oxford for a year to pursue a programme of private study while still taking the taxpayer's dime. (And she was not the first ACT Party MP to so openly enjoy the parliamentary perks to which the party is supposed to be opposed, was she.)

These are only some of the minor constellation of party luminaries who have appeared in the public eye and given continual ammunition to the growing view that to be a classical liberal in these times must also to be a cocksmack. A succession of these ghastly people have made the party grate.

Even the founders - Quigley, Prebble and Douglas — are known in the public mind at least as turncoats. The whiff of Muldoonism never left Derek Quigley, nor the memory of how many years he purported to believe things to which his behaviour in government said otherwise. And Prebble and Douglas ... whatever you may think of the policies they carried out as Labour ministers, it’s fair to say that in their first round at least the public was entitled to wonder why they were never properly presented to them at election time. It seemed to suggest that to promote what its opponents call “neoliberalism” is somehow to necessitate duplicity in the policies’ promotion. (That the then-Labour MPs’ policy salesman himself, David Lange, resiled from the selling only seemed to reinforce this impression, particularly since neither Douglas nor Prebble themselves ever seemed to fully acquire this very necessary political skill.)

This miasma of betrayal also sadly infects Ruth Richardson who, in the estimation of many of us, did great things as Finance Minister — but did them without the previous imprimatur of having first presented them to public vote, the public instead feeling they had voted for something else and rebelling when they were offered ‘Ruthenasia’ (the public description) instead. (Her boss, Bolger, being far less gifted at selling the policies, and with even less interest in the principles represented, rarely even bothered to make a case.)

No, Stephen, it’s not the ideas the ACT party claims to hold to which the public appear implacably opposed*. It’s very possible the public don’t even know or understand what the party stands for at all. It was not even clear this election that all the party’s candidates did.

What the voting public do despise however is that the party seems associated not with principles and powerful persuasion but with duplicity and deception.

Is it any wonder the general public now associates the ideas with which the party sometimes dabbles, what their opponents call "neoliberal,” with these self-same toxins? With so powerful a toxicity that it drags down even the good principled people the party did and does still contain. No wonder Jamie and David could never build a real fire under the party.

Even the one principled thing at which the party did once achieve serious traction, its very public perk busting, was disgraced by Douglas and Hide themselves in loudly and proudly embracing the concept of sucking up expensive travel perks for themselves and their whanau for the period of their natural existence. “I’m entitled,” they both whined when found out.

What a disgraceful pair.

No wonder the voting public despises them.

They have, all of these entities, disgraced the ideas with which the voters associate the party. And very clearly, Stephen, it is that way around — there is no need for yet another party to reflect what you allege to be "most people’s need and respect for altruism, nationalism and other expressions of the social and collectivist part of our nature."

What there is a desperate need for however is a party of principle that can sell individualism to the public — sell those principles written for the party’s founding — and sell them untainted by these toxic monstrosities from the past.

It needs a top-to-toe transformation if it is to survive as a real force instead of as a limp and occasionally useful appendage to the Blue Team.

If it is ever to be able to slay dragons, it needs to kill the ghosts first.

* * * * *

* Indeed, the public in their ill-informed wooly way seem to the think the Blue Team which has already won three terms is some kind of soft representative of those free-marketish ideas. Strange, but true.

UPDATE: As part of his excellent post-election analysis, Liberty Scott writes:

ACT lost badly in part due to the Nats successfully scaring voters on the right to voting National, but also because David Seymour moved too far away from having a coherent position on issues.  He was seen as backing National, but whether it was too hard for him to get traction on multiple issues or he lacked ground support to campaign, the only policy that got a lot of publicity was in increasing teacher pay.  ACT once had a coherent less government, lower tax position that promoted more competition in public services, was tough on law and order and rejected identity politics.  Yet Seymour couldn't break through with such a message.  The brand is mixed, he made statements about abortion which would alienate some, but he tried hard.  ACT needs to work out who it is targeting and what message it is giving.   There is a gap on the right, one that will open up large when a certain Maori ex. National MP finally retires.  ACT can't fill much of that gap, but it sure can grab some of it...
And what now?
ACT needs to refocus

For those who think government does too much, who think individuals alone or with others should have more power and responsibility to find solutions to the problems of today, there is little to offer.   The best hope might be for ACT to be in Opposition, regardless.  To campaign more clearly on principles, which should be around private property rights, everyone being equal under the law (including the abolition of Maori-only political representation), opening up education to choice and diversity, tackling the culture of welfare dependency, opposing state subsidies for business, more taxation and more state ownership.  ACT should firmly come down on limiting the scope and powers   of local government, on ridding central government of wasteful politically-correct bureaucracies and taking on identity politics.   Yes it should support other parties when it comes to victimless crimes, but there should not be a unified view on abortion.  It should be tough on real crime, tough on parental responsibility, but also take on measures that governments have done that increase the cost of living.  This includes the constraining of housing supply, and immigration policies that mean new migrants utilise the capital of taxpayer funded infrastructure, without actually paying for it.

What Winston does as his possible swan song is of minor interest, what matters is there being a party that stands up for something different.  For now, only ACT can do that.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

"It kept pouring..." On one of the worst days in NZ military history, 100 years ago today...

“It kept pouring. [Australian commander] Monash found himself the odd one out in the attitude to attacking in the bog…[Commander-in-Chief Douglas Haig’s] push to Passchendaele had to go on. It was now an obsession. Even a close aide remarked that it would take the impact of a travelling planet to shift him … Monash spoke bluntly about the futility of attacking in a bog. [General] Godley said it didn't matter. The C-in-C was set upon the 9th as attack day, and taht was that.
    “The rain became torrential on 8 October, making a cavalry division redundant. But it was still held in reserve. [Supreme Commander Douglas] Haig and some of the other British commanders wanted the horses there as a symbol of successes in the previous century. In the swampy conditions, they were useless…
    “The intense bombardments in the area over the last two years had ripped the land to shreds, breaking up the drainage system of the flat land. The effect was accentuated by the first British artillery barrage... The rain of the last few days had transformed the battlefield into a horrible slush, getting worse all the time. The troops went over the top and straight into a quagmire...
    “On 11 October the rain had not abated. Every dip in the land, crater or shell-hole was flooded... The British High Command was now a bunch of the deaf and blind. They couldn't see what would happen, and they refused to listen to anyone with a contrary view to that set in train by Haig...
    “At 6am the [troops] went over the top... The conditions were the worst they had encountered. The ground was a mud pond. Guns and ammunitions were sinking in the slush. The artillery shells didn’t explode, making it impossible for the diggers to follow a barrage, even if they could make it through the shell craters. They couldn’t link up. Supplies couldn’t get through. The soldiers who managed to get somewhere were soon knee or waist deep in mud. In much of the battlefield the only way across the bog, which was now akin to quicksand, was by duckboards (slatted footways). Soldiers falling or being blown off the duckboards needed aid to climb back on. Wounded soldiers, who under dry conditions could have been saved, had little hope. They would sink and drown. There was no hope of even a vaguely uniform or quick straight-line attack. Even those who managed to stay on the duckboards or find their way through the mud were slow-motion targets. Entire platoons, waist high in slime, were wiped out by machine-gun fire. Those who struggled on encountered the enemy in bayonet fighting.
    “The New Zealanders had encountered trouble crossing the wide, flooding Ravebeek River. It had been wired on the northern (enemy) bank. The New Zealand Division therefore could not get a foothold on the Bellevue Spur, which led to Crest Farm… But at 1.15 p.m. Godley called off the New Zealand attack. Monash was forced to do the same. The mass withdrawal of the two divisions was nearly as tough as the attack... By 3 p.m. the 3rd Division, depleted in numbers and morale, had mostly withdrawn to within a hundred metres of the start line. Passchendaele – the mission that should never have been started in such atrocious conditions – was over…. 
    “The [Australian] 3rd Division suffered 3200 casualties out of 5000 soldiers who went over the top. Among those to lose his life was Lewis McGee, attempting another smash-through act. He would never know he had been awarded the VC for his courage at Broodseinde. The New Zealanders had 3500 casualties…
    “In the end the New Zealand and the 3rd Divisions had to take on the failed objectives of the two British divisions. ‘It amounted to this,’ Monash wrote, ‘Russell [New Zealand] and I were asked to make a total advance of 1.75 miles [nearly three kilometres] – in a day.’13 So much for the limited objective. Three kilometres in the mud would have been twelve kilometres in the dry. It was an impossible task. But once the battle began on 9 October, [Generals] Godley, Plumer, Harington and [Supreme Commander] Haig would not quit until 12 October – after four days of fighting in which several thousand British and Anzac soldiers were killed or injured advancing less than a net 100 metres….
    “[Australian 3rd Division commander] Monash was not amused. He was now fully aware of the British regular leadership’s attitude to the soldiers at the front. They were machine-gun fodder that was expendable… ‘I had formed the theory that the true role of the infantry was not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, nor to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, nor to impale itself on hostile bayonets, nor to tear itself to pieces in hostile entanglements,’ Monash wrote. Instead, he wanted his force ‘to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, mortars, aeroplanes (also tanks); to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as is possible of the obligation to fight their way forward’…
   “Monash’s [own battle] plans were … structured for a minimum of casualties. That was a novelty in July 1918.”  But it was what eventually turned the war.
~ from the highly-recommended book Monash: The Outsider Who Won A War by Roland Perry

Quote of the Day: On test cricket

"Cricket, especially in Test form, is a conceptual sport... it is the great game of the mind."
~ from the Guardian Sportsblog post 'How to make cricket commentary more compelling: through good storytelling' 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Quote of the Day: On controlling corporations

"When government is allowed to favour one group over another, the rich will always win, since they can 'buy' more favours than the poor." ~ Dr. Mary Ruwart

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Quote of the Day: "The concept of white privilege is a giant scam…"

“The concept of white privilege is a giant scam… The very concept of privilege implies injustice and calls for the abolition of whatever privileges are in question. But since white privilege is used as a different name for what in fact is respect for the individual rights possessed by whites that have not been properly respected in blacks, the actual effect would be the loss of respect for those individual rights of whites. By the logic of the situation, whites could be enslaved, lynched, and otherwise wrongly treated all in the belief that it was merely a matter of stripping away white privilege. The concept of white privilege is an invitation to the violation of the rights of whites to the same extent that the rights of blacks have been violated.
    “The concept of white privilege is a formula for massive injustice. It obliterates the concept of individual rights and thus destroys the possibility of respect for anyone’s rights, white or black. It aims at a society in which everyone is a slave — not to a plantation owner perhaps, but to the state.”

~ George Reisman, from his blog post 'The White Privilege Scam'

Monday, 9 October 2017

Bonus Quote of the Day: On political power

"An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Quote of the Day: ‘Addiction ... is not what you think’

“Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage. …the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”~ Johann Hari, from his article ‘The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Quote of the Day: "I finally got why architects spend as long as doctors getting an education"

Burridge-Read Residence designed by architect David Boyle
“People say ‘location, location, location.’ They never say ‘design, design, design.’ I finally got why architects spend as long as doctors getting an education. They do something really magical. They don’t save lives but they enhance them.” ~ Tim Read, owner of the Burridge-Read Residence (above), quoted in the article 'Selling architect-designed homes: real estate agency that markets on architectural merit not location'

Friday, 6 October 2017

Question of the Day: 'What share of its legal monopoly on the use of force should the government share with its citizens?'

"Remember, the proper question is not, 'Why can the government restrict my access to guns?' The proper question is, 'What share of its legal monopoly on the use of force should the government share with its citizens?' The proper answer is, 'Whatever is needed for those citizens to protect themselves when the government cannot.' Unfortunately, this principle is not articulated in the [US] Constitution and we are stuck twisting the Second Amendment into service. Things would be better if we didn't have to." ~ John McCaskey, 'Natural Rights, Civil Rights, and Guns'

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A word from Tom Petty

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. It's pure and it's real. It moves, it heals.”
~ Tom Petty

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Both the left and right are destroying free speech

"If you think President Trump is really opposing the Left on political correctness and free speech, you are MISTAKEN," argues Gregory Salmieri.

I think you’re totally misoriented if you see him as a response in the opposite direction of political correctness; it’s the same direction, it’s just on behalf of a certain group — of marginalised white people who are offended by certain things as opposed to other people who are offended by certain things.
But both sides are seeing certain views as beyond the pale and therefore not to be discussed, and [both sides] are thinking of ways to use the apparatus of the state to prevent that...

Monday, 2 October 2017

Quote of the Day: On central planning

"What is politically defined as economic planning is the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by government officials."
~ Thomas Sowell

Friday, 29 September 2017

Quote of the Day: “ Politics is overwhelmingly the domain of megalomaniacal frauds, liars, and con artists”

"Politics is unalloyed idiocy treated even by – indeed, especially by – the intelligentsia as if it is a solemn and serious undertaking.  But it’s not.  Politics is overwhelmingly the domain of megalomaniacal frauds, liars, and con artists.”~ Don Boudreaux, from his post ‘Politics’ at Cafe Hayek

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Quote of the Day: On the new postmodern colonialism

"The new colonialism: Third World Quarterly’s retraction shows academics have been colonised — by dead French and German intellectuals.”~ philosopher Stephen Hicks, on the Quarterly's very public retraction after publishing controversial article ‘The Case for Colonialism'

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

ACT needs its own “Clause Four Moment”

With the ACT Party’s vote numbers now almost down to Libertarianz levels, the obvious questions are being asked about whether the party any longer has a purpose, other than simple being a reliable coalition appendage for what the party’s luminaries call “the centre-right.” (In other places, they would probably call it the “conservative” side of the tent.)

Digging out old files over the weekend, I came across the very first copy of Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Newsletter from 1962, which throws some light on the woes of the ACT Party 2017.

Politics, she explains, is not a primary. Political goals cannot be achieved “without a wider ideological context."

Politics is based on three other philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics — on a theory of man’s nature and man’s relationship to existence. It is only on such a base thart one can formulate a consistent political theory and achieve it in practice. When, however, men attempt to rush into politics without such a base, the result is that embarrassing conglomeration of impotence, futility, inconsistency and superficiality which is loosely designated today as ‘conservatism’ [aka the ‘centre-right’].

Does that describe what folk here have seen of the ACT Party people this year? I fear so. Nice people, most of them, but having rushed into politics with little more than a naive and muddled utilitarianism they now see their party backed into the ghetto, every election, of explaining MMP to voters (three MPs for the price of one!) instead of being able to proudly and articulately promote their principles.

They might be reminded that, as Rand continued:

A half battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat — it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies.

Is that not what we’ve seen?

A full battle might begin with tightening up those principles, and a programme of education so their candidates can articulate them.

They also desperately need troops on the ground. But both candidates and troops — and voters — may be more forthcoming if the other long overdue prescription for the party’s woes be undertaken. By which I mean dragging out the toxic carcasses of the former leaders still stinking up the political room, and very publicly euthanasing them.

How they do that is up to them, but if they wanted a model for how such a fumigation is done they could do worse than look at how and why Tony Blair dragged out the carcass of the Militant Tendency and undertook the battle over Clause 4 to make New Labour.

In short, they need their own “Clause Four Moment."

Without that they will just be rearranging deckchairs while the ship goes down. Neither voters nor spear carriers will be attracted unless those earlier sins be explunged. Whatever else may or may not be done, without that the party will guarantee its doom as a vital political force.

Quote of the Day: A reminder about socialism

“Socialism has been tried on every continent of the globe. In the light of its results, it is time to question the motives of socialism’s advocates... The alleged goals of socialism were: the abolition of poverty, the achievement of general prosperity, progress, peace and human brotherhood...  Instead of prosperity, socialism has brought economic paralysis and/or collapse to every country that tried it. The degree of socialisation has been the degree of disaster.”~ Ayn Rand, from her article ‘The Monument Builders'

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

10 Good Things about Winston Peters [updated]

Since everyone anywhere near political power this month is falling over themselves to say nice things about Winston, the fellow they each hope will become their closest friend for the next three years (hope is so often in vain), I thought I’d pull an old post out of the archives to remind you that the old fellow isn’t all bad. There are at least Ten Good Things about him to cheer.

Sure, his immigration grandstanding gives him headlines, hatred and polling increases, showing you can never underestimate the market for bare-faced, scaremongering xenophobia. And it’s somwhat ludicrous seeing policy wonks scouring through their respective parties’ policy manifestoes to demonstrate just how close their particular party is to those of Winston First — laughable because the leader of the black and white party couldn’t give a fig for policies. He simply wants a job that gives him a limousine and a high-powered office near Bellamy’s.

So with that in mind then, here are the the top ten Good Things about The Great Dissembler:

10. Winston likes a drink. Rare enough in these days of wall-to-wall wowserism, so a good thing in and of itself in my book. Just as long as he’s buying.

9. Winston helps with unemployment. Winston has over the years offered benevolent assistance with unemployment for a vast number of the otherwise unemployable. Who else for example would offer employment to the dozens of tailors dummies that have occupied all the other mercifully non-speaking seats around the NZ First caucus table?

8. Winston is a perfect litmus test.
Winston is the perfect litmus test because you know immediately that when you meet a Winston First supporter, unless you want an evening spent hearing about the assorted iniquities of India dairy owners and Chinese home-owners, then you won't want them as a dinner companion. So this immediately rules out around 7% of the voting population, making the organisation of dinner engagements so much easier.

7. Winston raises standards.
Two words: Sartorial elegance. As David Lange famously observed when Winston was late for a meeting, “I expect he’s been detained by a full-length mirror.” And his time there is not wasted. His focus on sartorial elegance over political substance at once raises the dress-sense of parliament, and ensures little of substance is discussed there. (And given the direction that substance would otherwise take, this is A Good Thing.)

6. Winston is the Perfect Politician.

As Winston showed when he was Treasurer, he doesn't want to work like a cabinet minister; he just wants to look like one. A cabinet minister with a big office with his And when the state of politics is all bad, trending as it does today mostly towards statism, the last thing you would want is a hard-working politician — it would come with the serious danger that they might get something done.
With Winston however, this is never a problem. Being incurably lazy, possibly the laziest man in Parliament, makes him the Perfect Politician for these statist times. A Good Thing – a very, very Good Thing — the lazier the politician, the less trouble they pose to us.
Winston should be a model to many others within the parliamentary precinct. As Mark Twain observed, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” With more politicians in the legislature with Winston's work ethic, parliamentary activity would soon slow to a satisfactorily safe stupor.

5. Winston is shameless.

Winston offers willing students a master-class in grandstanding, something Gareth Morgan still needs help with. Winston doesn't care whether the mud he's throwing is based on fact (as it sometimes is with the so-called Treaty principles) or on fiction (who remembers the non-grounding of the Cook Strait ferry?), all he cares about is that the mud-throwing is reported — preferably accompanied by a full-length archive photograph of himself. And just by pure chance some of the mud that needs to be thrown and wouldn't otherwise be chucked gets an airing that it wouldn't otherwise get. When he can be bothered.

4. Winston is not a professional Maori.

Unlike countless others of rich beige hue who make a career out of that one solitary attribute (a fellow high up the Labour ranks for no other reason springs immediately to mind) Winston has eschewed that easy road to sucking off the state tit … and found another.

3. Entertainment value.

In a sea of grey, bland parliamentary conformity Winston stands out – and that’s just in the NZ First caucus room. When Winston wakes up every three years, whatever else you might think he does at least makes the news worth watching again. Just like you’re glued to it now.

2. Winston keeps the country safer.

This is perhaps the most important job that Winston does for the country. He is like a fusebox for dangerous idiocy.
There are other places in which the moonbat xenophobe constituency on which Winston has a stranglehold has produced the likes of the alt-right, the “race realists,” the “new nationalists,’ the various National Fronts and other varieties of destructive poison led by bigots who believe in the hatred themselves; captured in other countries by thugs that are serious about the hatred they’re whipping up. They take the xenophobic bigotry seriously and do serious damage with it.
Not Winston. Winston can spout it so the bigots believe it, but cares about it only enough to deliver him a nice office and a sea of new Italian suits.
So where other places have right-wing nationalism delivering dangerous political probems, in New Zealand instead it delivers the levers and baubles of office to one Winston Peters. Who enjoys the baubles and does as little as he possibly can with the levers. This, you must agree, is a Very Very Good Thing indeed.

And now, the topmost Good Thing about Winston Peters is ...

1. No government!

Having man as lazy as Winston as a cabinet minister is certainly like having no government, given how little he gets done, but there’s even more about Winston to excite a libertarian!

Any idea how many weeks this post-election period before we have a government? Remember the extended negotiations of 1996 when for several exciting weeks the country didn’t have a government (and as people noticed the sky wasn’t falling the leadung business daily politfelt compelled to write the headline: "The Libertarianz were right all along”).
We have Winston to thank for those few brief periods of respite. And as long as Winston First and his bunch of tailor’s dummies are in with a shout, we have the exciting prospect every three years of an extended period in which we actually no government at all. If only that happy state of affairs could be replicated more often.

UPDATE: Don Brash this morning suggests an eleventh Good Thing:

It looks as if whether to have a referendum on the Maori electorates will becoming a defining issue in the post-election negotiations.
"Mr Peters has said having such a referendum is one of his 'bottom-lines.' Jacinda Ardern said this morning that under no circumstances will she agree to such a referendum, and Duncan Garner (on Three’s AM Show) said that agreeing to such a referendum would be 'cutting [Labour’s] own throat.'

"So if Mr Peters remains adamant that a referendum is one of his bottom-lines, and if Jacinda Ardern remains firm, then we will have a National-NZ First Government.

"Of course, Mr Peters can’t afford to admit that a referendum is an absolutely firm bottom-line: if he does admit that, then his bargaining power with National is gone.

"But what are the merits of the case? … "

Read on for the answer ...

Monday, 25 September 2017

Salvation through politics? [updated]

SOME PEOPLE PUT THEIR faith in lotteries to change their lives and transform their dull daily existence. An equal number seek salvation through politics, and for similar reasons.

At least the Lotto buyers mostly keep their delusions to themselves.

The seekers of political salvation however are everywhere, and the last few weeks they’ve been insufferable, desperate to change their lives, and ours.

They've been on the streets for weeks, focussed laser-like upon redemption last Saturday night. And on Saturday night, after the votes were counted, they were out on social media in their multitudes, bitching and boasting and gnashing their teeth about what those votes had delivered.

But mostly bitching.

For those hoping this election would deliver the political transformation “Jacindamania" were after, and had been reliably told would be delivered, their lot on Saturday night, (as it was for most of the buyers of Lotto tickets), was a very sorrowful one indeed. The results came to them like a kick in the teeth. Where was the “missing million” who were supposed to front up, hungry for “change"? Where was the “youthquake” the media had promised? What had happened to all the “Jacindamania” over which they’d salivated? Turns out, it seems, that a majority of New Zealand voters simply didn’t buy the “narrative” about change, and didn’t believe the fairytale of political salvation she was peddling.

Sorrowful? These salvation-seekers were apoplectic. It was "a victory for lies, media thuggery and lazy prejudice” ranted one. In rejecting the illusory salvation she had offered, NZers had voted for “greed,” many were saying. Or, to mash together some of the outrage, “greedy selfish, uncaring rich c***s who think of no one but themselves had voted to shaft us all.” Voters who "didn’t give a stuff" about “the planet.” Or the rivers. Or the homeless. Or the beneficiaries who had to commit fraud to stay alive. Or the “300,000” children they alleged to be in poverty. So they were angry. One offered voters he disagreed with (most of you) the delights of intercourse with barbed wire dildoes. Others just a straightforward punch in the face (it being okay to punch fascists -- as you must be if you voted, or non-voted, in ways not endorsed by this mini-commissariat of bickerers and salvation-seekers).

How dare the blue team, agreed all these bitchers, take a victory that every one knew was supposed to be theirs. You know, like What The Actual F**k! Gosh, these people were angry. How dare the plurality of voters reject the dream and vote instead for "selfishness" and "greed." (Why, I wondered, is it greed to want to keep your own money, but not greed to demand others hand it over for your chosen causes?) "This is not my New Zealand," they bitched (and in so bitching they were, let's observe, uneeringly though unwittingly accurate).

YET IN TRUTH THERE was very little to choose between either of the alleged sides of the political fence: one sought to give marginally more power to bureacrats and unions, and the other to continue with the welfare state as we currently know it.

One side sought to meddle with taxes and political handouts to deliver salvation. The other had already meddled with taxes, and and talked about something called "social investment" --which looks like little more than using megadata to decide whose meaningless lives they were going to transform with more politic handouts.

And they both talked about child poverty. One side talked about giving away more money. And so did the other. Salvation for the children will, they both agreed, be achieved through more politics and more handouts.

Yet what they and the salvation-seekers seem blind to is that almost every one of us gets up every morning and, as part of the nationwide (and worldwide!) division of labour --- all organised almost entirely without the benefit of politicians or those who dream big political dreams — goes out and does the only thing that has ever, anywhere ended poverty: we go out there and we produce and we trade and we deliver the things that have transformed the world. In 1981, for example, 43.9% of the world’s people lived on less than $1.90 a day. Today it is less than 9.6%. The only political transformation needed to help that happen was to get out of the way and let it happen.

In our own lives, we transform existence every day.

And most of those days, the political classes and salvation-seekers are simply in our way.

What a blessing then that for a few weeks at least we will have dowm here in NZ a politically inert central government.

If only we could enjoy that same freedom every day.


MICHAEL HURD: Why Politics Has Ruined Everything 

"Why is everything so political? Hollywood, the Emmys, the movies, the NFL – everywhere you turn these days, it’s politics. What happened?… Put simply, politics matters more when government grows. "


"Architect goes to jail; world shrugs"

"Paul Newman will have some time in jail to read up about architecture. Maybe he can even study for his exam and, no doubt, pass it. He could even emerge as a good contributor to the discipline and the profession. But what worries me more than the presence of a few shady and crafty operators such as Newman is bad architects who, under the cloak of licensure (and without the [architects institute] or anybody else able to do anything about it), commit crimes against our landscapes and lives on a daily basis. Those are the ones that should really go to jail."
~ Aaron Betsky, dean at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin and Taliesin West, on the jailing for seven years of a man for practising architecture without the state's license

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017

Quote of the Day: Election thoughts

“Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.” 
~ P.J. O’Rourke, from his book Parliament of Whores