Friday, 24 November 2017

Quote of the Day: Why not achievement?



"We are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the made the gifts possible.  We praise an act of charity. we shrug at an act of achievement."
~ Ayn Rand

Thursday, 23 November 2017

So what does Jacinda know that Lyndon Johnson didn't?


This year commemorates the 50th anniversary on US president Lyndon Johnson's famous War on Poverty.
The stated goal of the War on Poverty, as enunciated by Lyndon Johnson on January 8, 1964, was, “…not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” Measured against this objective, the War on Poverty has not just been a failure, it has been a catastrophe. It was supposed to help America’s poor become self-sufficient, and it has made them dependent and dysfunctional.
But they spent US$21.5 trillion “fighting poverty” over the past 50 years. All that moolah must have made some difference, you say?  Well, no, not really:
Shortly after the War on Poverty got rolling (1967), about 27% of Americans lived in poverty. In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the number was about 29%.
But hasn't it just become harder to keep out of poverty over that time, you ask? Well, no, just the opposite:
Between 1967 and 2012, U.S. real GDP (RGDP) per capita (in 4Q2013 dollars) increased by 127.3%, from $23,706 to $52,809. In other words, to stay out of poverty in 1967, the two adults in a typical family of four had to capture 26.9% of their family’s proportionate share of RGDP (i.e., average RGDP per capita, times four). To accomplish the same thing in 2012, they only had to pull in 12.1% of their family’s share of RGDP. And yet, fewer people were able to manage this in 2012 than in 1967.
Sooooo, what's going on here then? The answer: incentives. Incentives matter.
What turned the War on Poverty into a social and human catastrophe was that the enhanced welfare state created a perverse system of incentives, and people adapted to their new environment...
The adaptation of the working-age poor to the War on Poverty’s expanded welfare state was immediately evident in the growth of various social pathologies, especially unwed childbearing. The adaptation of the middle class to the new system took longer to manifest, but it was no less significant. Even people with incomes far above the thresholds for welfare state programs were forced to adapt to the welfare state.
And those adaptations invariably left everyone worse off for the experience.

And all those same incentives and adaptations exist here in New Zealand.

And all for the very same reasons.

As PJ O'Rourke once put it so pithily (and I've updated his numbers so you don't have to) the War on Poverty was instead an exercise in How To Endow Privation:
That US$21.5 trillion is enough to give every poor person in America $662,000 to start his own war on poverty. And the spending of this truly vast amount of money — an amount equal to the nation's gross national product ... — has left everybody just sitting around slack jawed and dumbstruck, staring into the maw of that most extraordinary paradox: You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.
Lyndon Baines Johnson's self-proclaimed War on Poverty was not a failure. It was a catastrophe.

So what does Jacinda know -- who as Minister for Poverty is going to fix this -- what does Jacinda from Morrinsville know that Lyndon Johnson didn't?

Or are her hopes and dreams also worth very much less than a pitcher of warm spit.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Quote of the Day: On politicians' skills


"Most politicians are unqualified, skilled only at weaselling and Machiavellian scheming. So why do we give them the power to rule over us?"~ blogger Creative Deduction, from their post 'Politicians Wanted, No Relevant Experience Required'
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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Reserve Bank and the government have made renters' lives more difficult


Here's a question for you: What happens when the Reserve Bank and the government make it harder for investors to buy and own homes?

And the answer, dear reader, is in the news today (and should be no surprise to anyone, except perhaps the Reserve Bank and the government and their voters):
RNZ NEWS: Renters caught out as supply falls
Too many would-be tenants are chasing too-few rental homes...
Who would have thunk it.

As Murray Rothbard might have commented,
It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialised discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
Let us now add the Reserve Bank and the government* and their voters to those in that benighted state.

* Yes, Virginia, since successive governments have and will follow almost identical populist policies in this respect, they and their voters are both to blame.
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Reality check on renewable energy

As activists talk up the market penetration of so-called renewable energy (i.e., energy that generally consumes more resources in its production than it produces*), Bjorn Lomborg offers an update on just how much (or how little) of it is out there in the wild.
Excitement for wind and solar PV. 
But remember, in total, they provide less than 1% of total energy supply.
(In 2040, it will be less than 3%.)



* Hence the continuing need both for subsidies, and for bans on other forms of energy.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Guest Review: "...the most important political book in recent memory."




GUEST REVIEW
By Suzuki Samurai

Hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the orange twat took the throne. A year of sound and fury.

In his new book on the old forces the twat has released into the wild, Jeffrey Tucker turns down the volume, sharpens the focus, and delivers what I think is perhaps the most important political book in recent memory.

PJ O’Rourke touched upon the voter’s decisions in his book How the Hell Did This Happen?. And JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, while an enjoyably disturbing read, didn’t give us much more than what we already knew. But, if you really want the meat on the current situation then Tucker’s new book, then Right-wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty is what you really must chew, and chew thoroughly.

Tucker has taken the most important aspect of the recent and ongoing political pantomime, the emergence of the Alt-right, and shows us from which sewers this phenomenon emerged and where it may take us if we don’t grasp its danger.

Better than that, he demonstrates to the left (and to us) how they in no small way were the creators of this bastard group. And he shows the right (and us) why they have so far been unable to curtail (or even properly identify) the emergence of new thinkers of an old-school nationalism, nor prevent being smearing by them with an associative layer of filth.

For me, his most important observation is for the libertarians tempted by this primitivism … which I’ll leave for you to read for yourself. Because you must read this book about one of the very great dangers of our time.

Full of great links on which to click (on the Kindle version anyway) and with a prose of such calm that it offers a bedtime sooth, while at the same time providing an alarming spur to combat the monstrous re-emergence of very, very dangerous ideas.

Kindle version $3.99 at Amazon.
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Quote of the Day: "The trouble with political jokes..."


"The trouble with political jokes is that they often get elected to office."
~ Tony Pettito
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Friday, 17 November 2017

Zimbabwe: "classiest coup ever"


A friend posts from downtown Harare, where murdering thug Robert Mugabe appears to have been (finally) overthrown, to observe :
"You gotta give it to Zimbos! They even coup in style. People are out shopping, coffee shops and restaurants are occupied by relaxed smiling people. Even the city of Harare staff are out fixing potholes. The only absence is that of traffic police harassing road users. Even the army which is very present at shopping malls and the CBD are watchful but friendly. That is the classiest coup ever!"
And the opposition's Morgan Tsvangirai posts that Mugabe must now formally stand down, that a "roadmap" be set in place for free and fair elections, and that "SADC, the African Union, the UN and the broader international community be the underwriters and guarantors to the roadmap to free and fair elections."
This is the only assurance to an irreversible path to national freedom, happiness and economic prosperity.
   To our neighbours, you now all know the simple choice you face; either support our rights or our refugees.
Nicely put.
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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Quote of the Day: On the real reason not to require DPB recipients to name the father


"So what is the real reason for the change [to not require DPB recipients to name the father]? It's the imposition of radical feminism whereby women's [alleged] rights are elevated above children's .... with the added bonus of screwing the taxpayer."
~ Lindsay Mitchell, from her post 'The ghost of Metiria and more lies'
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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The America's Cup bill keeps racking up


And this is one reason I wasn't celebrating the Ministry of Yachting's America's Cup last win: because these gorgeous bastards will now have their hands in our pockets forever.

The latest cost to the honest taxpayer/ratepayer: upwards of $150 million (plus stuff-ups) to build them a home on the water.

Oh yes, folk will point to studies saying if "we" spend $150 million then "we" will get $300 million back.

Quite apart from the returns rarely if ever being quite as juicy as those studies ever show, the bare fact remains that the "we" in the paragraph above is for the most part not the same people. That is to say, those enjoying the most spectacular returns are rarely those making the most hard-won forced contribution.

To put it another way: is there a reason that those who do except a great return from the Cup shouldn't be the ones who pay? Because if that is their expectation, they would (or should) be quite happy to pay voluntarily, shouldn't they.

Anything else would just be corporate welfare.

And I thought a Labour Government was supposed to be against that.

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Q: Do free trade agreement promote free trade? A: No, but ...


Q: Do free trade agreement promote free trade?
A: No, but they're a long way better than trade disagreements -- or no trading with others at all.




Quote of the Day: It matters what you choose to do


"We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it."
~ Steve Jobs on what drives Apple employees

Monday, 13 November 2017

Quote of the Day: "No political system can establish universal rationality by law, but..."


"No political system can establish universal rationality by law (or by force). But capitalism is the only system that functions in a way that rewards rationality and penalises all forms of irrationality, including racism."
~ Ayn Rand, from her 1963 article 'Racism'

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Hayek asks: Has monetary policy has ever done any good?


As the ruling parties work to change the country's monetary policy, Hayek's answer to the question above couldn't be more topical.

Hayek's answer starts with the origins of money, as explained by Carl Menger:
You see, the great trouble is that money wasn’t allowed to develop further. After two or three hundred years of coins all governments put up their hands and stopped any further developments. We’re not allowed to experiment on it — and money hasn’t been improved, rather it has become worse in the course of time.
Because … with law and language and money [you have] the three paradigms of spontaneously [developed] institutions [as explained by Carl Menger and Hume and Mandeville]. Now fortunately, law and language have been allowed to develop; money has originated in original form, but as soon as it was there in its original form [however] it was frozen — government said it must nor develop any further. And what we have had since in development were matters of government invention — mostly wrong, mostly abuses of money — and I have come to the position of asking if monetary policy has ever done any good. I don’t think it has. I think it has done only harm, and that is why I am pleading now for the de-nationalisation of money

In his view, with which I concur, the problem is not what monetary policy the government adopts, but that it has any monetary policy at all.

Watch the full interview (F. A. Hayek on Monetary Policy, the Gold Standard, Deficits, Inflation, and John Maynard Keynes):



Friday, 10 November 2017

Quote of the Day: So why do we still discuss it?


"In the last century capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty, whereas socialism killed 100m people.
Yet we still discuss which is the better system."
~ tweet from Creative Deduction
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Thursday, 9 November 2017

Quote of the Day: Why to call Donald J. Trump a liar is to give him too much credit


“A liar retains some respect for the truth: he tries to conceal his lies, weave a web of deception and make it difficult for his victims to discover the facts. Trump does none of this... Trump makes no distinction between truth and falsity, between statements backed by evidence and statements unsupported by any evidence. This is why you can’t catch him in a lie. He doesn’t care ...
"Rand puts it like this: to an anti-intellectual mentality words are not instruments of knowledge but tools of manipulation...”

~ Onkhar Ghate, from his article 'The Anti-Intellectuality of Donald Trump: Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump'
[Hat tip Stuart Hayashi]
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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Bonus Quote of the Day: On the 'Paradise Papers'


"What exactly are the Paradise Papers exposing? That the very wealthy pay an ever-expanding retinue of financial experts, tax advisers and lawyers to minimise their tax liabilities, and manage their assets and capital? How exactly is something that is well known capable of being exposed? It’s like exposing the sugar content of ice cream, or the toiletry habits of bears in highly wooded areas..."
    "If we are really to pull ourselves out of the economic mire, we need more than grandstanding politicians and smug, broadsheet scandalmongering."
~ Tim Black, from the Spiked article 'The problem with the Paradise Papers'

Here are The Beatles, and an explanation for that song ...


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The Reserve Bank is already less responsible than you think


The new Labour-Green-WinstonFirst Government intends to "review and reform the Reserve Bank Act," says Hard Labour's Grant Robertson, expanding the Bank's parameters to deal with more than just its present single-issue focus of inflation. They want it also to focus on things like employment and exchange rates (to which short list others like economist Ganesh Nana would also add happiness, sustainability, and the production of rainbows and unicorns.)

"Bad move," say opponents of the move, criticising both the loss of focus and the Bank's inevitable politicisation. They cite, as Don Brash did on radio this morning, the "incredible" record the Reserve Bank (and other central banks around the world) have maintained in the last two decades in "fighting inflation." Take the hand of the one tiller, they say, and this great record with be destroyed and prices will quickly run amok!

This ignores a great deal.

It's true that a focus on using monetary policy to focus on "employment" for example is an invitation to use the Bank's interest-rate manipulation for political ends. But the claim that central banks have been great at using their control over paper currency to "fight inflation" these last few decades should be seen for the illusion it really is: one need only look at the asset-price inflation in housing (both here and worldwide) and in stock markets (both here and worldwide) to understand what the last decade of historically-low interest rates has done to destroy genuine price and capital formation.

And we should also understand the "role of the average" in measuring the success of their present inflation target -- meaning that averages are not always descriptive: two diners, two steak dinners , for example ... but if one diner eats both, our a"average"leaves us blind.

So it is today, with the more government-laden parts of economies heading for the price stratosphere ... the "average" price inflation targeted by central banks being made to look good by the incredible performance of the less-constrained sectors.


US FIGURES,  with 1996 as the base -- but expect to see the same
sort of spread in every western welfare state with a central bank


This is really the real story of the last few decades, explains Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid, who "contends that the fiat currency system 'is inherently unstable and prone to high inflation'." High price-inflation that has been effectively hidden in plain sight by the rapidly-falling prices generated

by China's rapid economic emergence in the 1970s, and [by] an explosion in the global working-age population, [which] have allowed inflation to be controlled externally.

But that period is also historically unprecedented, he points out.

And that period is now coming to an end.

Reid's basic contention is this: The dominance of the fiat currency system since Richard Nixon decoupled gold from the dollar in 1971 "is inherently unstable and prone to high inflation," and an offsetting disinflationary shock that kept it afloat since 1980 is now slowly reversing.
    If that's the case, Reid says the fiat currency system — a term which describes any currency whose value is backed by the government that issued it, rather than by a commodity like gold or silver — could be "seriously tested" over the next decade.
Disinflationary forces    The basis of Reid's argument is that China's rapid economic emergence in the 1970s, and an explosion in the global working-age population, has allowed inflation to be controlled externally, because a boost in labour supply during a period of globalisation naturally suppressed wages.
    Externally-controlled inflation means policy-makers and central banks can respond with familiar tools: More leverage, loose policy, and extensive money-printing.
"It's not usually this easy as inflation would have normally increased with such stimulus and credit creation," says Reid. In fact, "it could be argued that this external disinflation shock has perhaps 'saved' fiat currencies."
An end to the demographic super-cycle    If this theory is correct, Reid says, then "any reversals in this demographic super cycle could spell problems for the fiat currency system."
    Under that scenario, inflation would pick up externally as the working-age population stopped rising and labour pricing power returned, as demand rose and supply shortened.
    Reid continues:

"Central banks and governments which have ‘dined out’ on the 35 year secular, structural decline in inflation are not able to prevent it rising as raising interest rates to suitable levels would risk serious economic contraction given the huge debt burden economies face.
    As such they are forced to prioritise low interest rates and nominal growth over inflation control which could herald in the beginning of the end of the global fiat currency system that begun with the abandonment of Bretton Woods back in 1971."

After fiat currency
Eventually, Reid says, "it’s possible that inflation becomes more and more uncontrollable and the era of fiat currencies looks vulnerable as people lose faith in paper money."
I think Reid's basic premise is unarguable.

What then for the Reserve Bank Act's central illusion?

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Quote of the Day: On voluntary euthanasia


“You don’t have a right to life if you don’t have a right to end it.”
~ Yaron Brook, on the Yaron Brook Radio Show
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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Quote of the Day: So perhaps social spending is not really about fixing poverty?




"An alien beamed down to Earth might be forgiven for thinking that we are in the midst of some sort of a catastrophe... It makes no sense that social spending [above] has been increasing alongside rising incomes [below]."
~ Marian Tupy, in his article at the Human Progress website, 'What does it mean to be poor today?'




Monday, 6 November 2017

Quote of the Day: On Labour's "short-term" fuel tax.




"I will bet anyone $1 that the fuel tax will not be just a 'short term solution': A: Not a solution; and B: Not short term."
~ Marcus D. Cook, on Twitter
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Sunday, 5 November 2017

"The age of gods is drawing to an end"


In Egypt support for imposing sharia (Islamic law) fell from
84% in 2011 to 34% in 2016. Egyptians are praying less, too...

"The age of gods is drawing to an end," observes Muhammad Syed, president of the Ex-Muslims of North America -- "even in countries dominated by Islam. Goodbye and good riddance to Allah & friends" he enthuses!
“We’re in religious decline,” moans [Egyptian cleric] Sheikh Muhammad, whose despair is shared by clerics in many parts of the Arab world. "
The is great news of (as the chart above shows) a very recent trend. The more the clerics moan, the more reasons to rejoice.

The irony is that as the illusions diminish in countries dominated by Islam, disaffected idiots in the west have become the easiest of recruits.

So the question now is raised: with what ideas do the ex-religionists replace their stale mythologies?

The battle of religions is dying: The battle of ideas can commence.
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Thursday, 2 November 2017

Definition of the Day: 'Compliance'


Compliance. n. a ruthless, merciless process run by pitiless, uncaring bureaucrats to protect you.

[Hat tip, Keith Weiner]

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The ingenious Phil Twyford


The new minister for housing and transport has found a way to pay the unaffordable bill for Auckland's new public transport infrastructure, and that's to help make Auckland housing even more unaffordable.

What could be more ingenious!

He'd already signalled that Labour's faithful promise to voters neither to raise taxes nor to introduce a capital gains tax was going to constrain him -- he'd already announced plans to get around that simply by raising the 'bright line' period for paying National's own tax lie (the 'capital-tax-in-drag' introduced just because lying governments can) from two years out to five. Because there's no politician like a money-hungry politician, is there.

And with Auckland's council having already borrowed way beyond what it can reasonably repay (in political-speak this is known as the Council being "up against its debt limits," as the new minister is quick to acknowledge) and the new Government having no spare cash to throw around after funding all of their promises plus those of Winston and James, Twyford now has the job of filling the $6 billion black hole in Auckland's transport bill that Len Brown and Phil Goff have helped dig.

But he has "big plans" to do that, he tells faithful recorder Bernard Hickey. "Big plans" to fill the black hole. "Big plans to change the way Auckland's multi-billion dollar light rail projects will be paid for," he says. Which means: big plans about who he is going to soak to pay for all the monuments, of which "light rail" is only the most ill-defined. And the answer in four words, dear reader, is: "motorists and property developers."

Now that smokers have slunk away quietly, motorists are the new lepers. Hitting them with new fuel taxes is only the starting point. He has an endless stream of new ideas about how to soak anyone who drives a car. Lock up your wallet now, while you can.

He also plans to sock property developers, hinting he will hit them with a new super-rates bill on developments. This appears to be in addition to "targeted rates" to repay infrastructure bonds (and in addition to the almost already crippling rates rises that Mayors Len and Phil have been exacting to pay for their grandomania and Rodney Hide's super-sized stuff-up.).

At this stage these are only just hints about his big plans. But any added tax burden on the developers who build Auckland's houses will only make it even more difficult for developers to make a margin on building those houses, making it more likely rather than less that lots more affordable housing for would-be first-home buyers will ever easily be built. (Every single change from every single housing minister has made this hope less likely rather than more, so he does at least follow in a grand tradition.)

But motorists, vendors, and property developers and their erstwhile first home-customers will not be left to suffer alone. Mum and dad and several kids already happily home-owning anywhere near any part of Auckland's expensive upcoming light rail- and rapid transit-building orgy will also be hit with something special too, in the shape of extra special "targeted rates" -- Mr Twyford's favourite new phrase, it seems -- all the better for him "to capture the value uplift in property prices" mum and dad might otherwise enjoy.

What he may miss out on with his 5-year capital gains levy on mum and dad if they don't sell their house within that time frame, he'll claw back from them anyway with his "targeted rates" if they stay put.

And if they don't enjoy any value uplift at all? Fear not. They and everyone else will still receive their share of the disingenuous Mr Twyford's $6 billion bill anyway.

TANSTAAFL.

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Quote of the Day: How art is different to entertainment or pretty decoration


"This leads us to a second point and an even more remarkable assertion in neuroscience, that our brain/mind requires not satiation but a search for meaning. In his paper 'The Dance Form of the Eyes,' renowned neurophysiologist Ralph D. Ellis ... argues for the search for meaning ..., using art as his vehicle:
… "'Emotions arise from the total life process, which is a dynamical system – not as an isolated chemical event or a causal result of a simple stimulus. For this reason, emotions call not just for satiation or pleasure, but for explication; this is why art is different from entertainment or pretty decoration …  Emotions are not even triggered by simple ’stimuli,' but rather by the meaning for us of a stimulus in a total context determined by on-going and dynamical organismic purposes. Visual art affords not only a meaningful, self-directed dance of the eyes, but also a meaningful dance of this emotional explicating process....
"'In experiencing art, we want a form of symbolisation that can intensify our emotional experience … We want not only to reduce our drives, which brings pleasure in the straightforward sense meant by hedonists, but also to intensify the degree of consciousness we experience -— to fully feel the value of that which we value …'"
~ Barbara Lamprecht, from her paper 'Why Ornament Matters: A User's Guide to the 21st Century'


"Muh roads!"





A young Jeremy Clarkson interviews a few even younger Kalgoorlie, West Australia, locals about the time that, "without permission, the townsfolk built themselves a bypass."

[Video from the BBC, hat tip ABC Goldfields-Esperance and UK Libertarian Discussion Group]
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Monday, 30 October 2017

Guest Post: New Zealand’s new PM is clueless about capitalism

She must not understand that the entire world was mired in poverty before free markets took hold, says Washington-based economist Daniel Mitchell in this guest post.

Most politicians are feckless creatures driven by their insecurities to say anything and everything in hopes of getting elected. And, once in power, they will do or say anything and everything in hopes of getting reelected.

Public choice” theory explains how these conventional politicians behave.

But not all politicians fit in that box. There are also evil politicians in the world. Maduro in Venezuela would be a prime example, and you can add the dictators of North Korea, Cuba, and other hellholes to that list.

There are even a few admirable politicians, though that’s a very limited list.

But there’s also another category, at least in my mind. These are the ones who behave conventionally but say things that really blur the line between foolish and despicable. For lack of a better phrase, these are the morally blind officials.

The politicians who eulogised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro belong in this group.

Another example would be Michael Higgins, the President of Ireland, who urged a return to “collective values” and condemned the “Celtic Tiger” era for being too individualistic and selfish – even though that was the period when the people of Ireland enjoyed both rapid income growth and huge improvement in quality-of-life measures ranging from central heating to infant mortality.

Now I have another politician who belongs in this special category.

Statism in New Zealand

The new Prime Minister of New Zealand just demonstrated her profound ignorance of world history and New Zealand history by declaring that capitalism is “a blatant failure.”

New Zealand’s new prime minister called capitalism a “blatant failure”, before citing levels of homelessness and low wages as evidence that “the market has failed” her country’s poor. Jacinda Ardern, who is to become the nation’s youngest leader since 1856, said measures used to gauge economic success “have to change” to take into account “people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life”. …Ms Ardern has pledged her government will increase the minimum wage, write child poverty reduction targets into law, and build thousands of affordable homes. …The Labour leader said her government would judge economic success on more than measures such as GDP.

She sounds like a clueless college student, regurgitating some nonsense she heard in a sociology class. Is she not aware that capitalism is the only successful strategy for reducing poverty? Does she not understand that the entire world was mired in povertybefore free markets took hold?


Is she unaware that horrible material deprivation in countries such as China and India only fell after those nations opened themselves to some economic liberalisation?

I wish some journalist would ask her a version of my two-question challenge. Or, better yet, have Bono talk with her about how to genuinely help poor people. Heck, let’s sign her up for an economic history class with Deirdre McCloskey.


Clueless About Capitalism

She reminds me of Pope Francis, who has a knee-jerk view that capitalism is bad. I’ve explained why those views are wrong, though I’d first recommend reading what Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell wrote on the matter.

By the way, I don’t know enough to comment on homelessness and child poverty in New Zealand, but if their welfare state is anything like the mess in the United States, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the government is actually subsidising destitution and dependency.

But even if that’s not the case, Ms. Ardern is condemning capitalism because it doesn’t solve every problem in society. That might be a fair assertion, except the alternatives to capitalism have never solved any problem. Indeed, the various forms of statism are the cause of much misery around the world.

For what it’s worth, I would not be agitated if she simply had made a conventional left-of-centre argument about being willing to accept less growth to get additional redistribution because the benefits of capitalism aren’t “equally shared,” or something like that. That’s the standard equity-vs-efficiency debate. But she apparently doesn’t have the depth of knowledge even for that discussion.

The bottom line is that New Zealand is now governed by a politician who doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. That doesn’t mean she’ll be any worse than the standard elected official, but I’m not overflowing with optimism that New Zealand will continue to be ranked near the top by any Economic Freedom of the World index.

By the way, I appeared on New Zealand TV earlier this month while in the country for a speech. But we talked about America’s most prominent politician (and his worrisome protectionist mindset) rather than what’s happening in Kiwi-land. Though I did mention that New Zealand made great progress because of sweeping economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. Hopefully, Ms. Ardern won’t have much success in moving her country back in the wrong direction.

P.S. Obama came close to joining the morally blind club when he suggested we could learn from communism. And Bernie Sanders deserves to be in that club but may belong in an even worse category...

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Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the 'Cayman Financial Review.’ 

Dan’s work has been published in numerous outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Villanova Law Review, Public Choice, Emory Law Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Offshore Investment, Playboy, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has appeared on all the major TV networks, and has given speeches in almost 40 states and more than 30 countries. Dan earned a PhD in economics from George Mason University.
His post previously appeared at International Liberty and FEE.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Quote of the day: On this new government


"For the second time in over 20 years of MMP, the left has got, pretty much, what it wanted in a government....
This government is already opposed to capitalism ... [yet] doesn't even realise that the biggest problems it campaigned on in the election, such as housing, healthcare, education, river pollution and welfare, are almost nothing to do with capitalism, but rather government intervention...    "This government won't do much different from National (yes you'll see uneconomic railway and tram line built instead of motorways), the difference is this lot actually believe in what they are doing."~ Liberty Scott, from his post 'Don't like the government? Blame the National Party'
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