Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Your ticket, your business #scalping

There’s been outrage –outrage! – about folk scalping their tickets for the Super 15 final.

Some folk are proposing “solutions.”

I say –as I’ve always said – that it’s your ticket, your business.

Good on You, Alexis Tsipras (Part I) #GreeceCrisis

Guest post by David Stockman

Late Friday night a solid blow was struck for sound money, free markets and limited government by a most unlikely force.
Namely, the hard core statist and crypto-Marxist prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, set in motion a cascade of disruption that will shake the corrupt status quo to its very foundations. And just in the nick of time, too.

After 15 years of rampant money printing, falsification of financial market prices and usurpation of democratic rule, his antagonists -- the ECB, the EU superstate and the IMF -- have become a terminal threat to the very survival of the kind of liberal society of which these values are part and parcel.

Keynesian central banking and the Brussels and IMF style bailout regime -- which has become nearly universal -- eventually fosters a form of soft-core economic totalitarianism. That’s because the former destroys honest financial markets by falsifying the price of debt.

So doing, Keynesian central bankers enable governments to issue far more debt than their taxpayers and national economies can shoulder. At the same time they force investors and savers to desperately chase yield in a marketplace where the so-called risk free interest rate has been pegged at ridiculously low levels.image

That means, in turn, that banks, bond funds and fast money traders alike take on increasing levels of unacknowledged and uncompensated risk, and that the natural checks and balances of honest financial markets are stymied and disabled.

Short sellers are soon destroyed because the purpose of Keynesian central banking is to drive the price of securities to artificially high and unnatural levels. At the same time, hedge fund gamblers are able to engage in highly leveraged carry trades based on state subsidized (free) overnight money, and to purchase downside market risk insurance (“puts”) for a pittance.

Eventually bond and stock “markets” become central bank enabled casinos -- riven with mispriced securities, dangerous carry trades, massive unearned windfall profits and endemic instability.

When an unexpected shock or “black swan” event threatens to shatter confidence and trigger a sell-off of these drastically over-priced securities, the bailout state swings into action indiscriminately propping up the gamblers.

That’s what the Fed and TARP did in behalf of Morgan Stanley and Goldman back in September 2008. And it’s what the troika did in behalf of the French, German, Dutch, Italian and other European banks, which were stuffed with un-payable Greek and PIIGS debt, beginning in 2010.

Needless to say, repeated and predictable bailouts create enormous moral hazard while extirpating all remnants of financial discipline in financial markets and legislative chambers alike. Since 2010, the Greeks have done little more than pretend to restructure their state finances and private economy, and the Italians, Portuguese, Spanish and Irish have done virtually nothing at all.

The modest uptick in the reported GDP of the latter two hopeless debt serfs are just unsustainable rounding errors. The numbers are flattered by the phony speculative boom in their debt securities that was temporarily fuelled by Mario Draghi’s money-printing ukase that is presently in drastic retreat.

This Monday morning push has come to shove; Angela Merkel and her posse of politicians and policy apparatchiks were not able to kick the can one more time after all.image

Instead, the troika’s authoritarian bailout regime has stimulated political revolt throughout the continent. Tsipras’ defiance is only the leading indicator and initial actualization -- the match that is lighting the fire of revolt.

But what it means is that there is now doubt, confusion and fear in the gambling halls. The punters who have grown rich on the one-way trades enabled by the money printing central banks and their fiscal bailout adjutants are being suddenly struck by the realisation that the game might not be permanently rigged after all.

So let the price discovery begin. In the days ahead, we will catalogue the desperate efforts of the regime to reassert its authority and control and to stabilise the suddenly turbulent casino.

In riding the central bank bubbles to unconscionable riches, the big axes in the casino have falsely claimed to be doing “God's work.”

As they are now being forced to liquidate these inflated assets, they actually are.

Last autumn one of the most detestable members of the regime, Jean-Claude Juncker, arrogantly issued the following boast:

I say to all those who bet against Greece and against Europe: You lost and Greece won. You lost and Europe won.”

This morning that smug proclamation is in complete tatters. Good on you, Alexis Tsipras.


David Stockman

David Stockman was director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, serving from 1981 until August 1985. He was the youngest cabinet member in the 20th century.
This article first appeared at the Daily Reckoning.

Reminder: Economics for Real People tonight … [updated]

I’m afraid students are still away on their mid-year break (insert obvious jokes here about the work ethic of modern students) so no regular Thursday event for another couple of weeks, but the Auckland Uni Econ group is still gathering tonight to co-host this event. Why not get along?

RECENT WRITING BY OR ABOUT CHRIS BERG:

  • The prospect of ministerial discretion to strip citizenship without judicial review is just a tiny window into a much deeper problem.
        “For instance, Australian governments have vested more and more decision-making power outside Parliament and into “independent” bureaucratic agencies. These undemocratic, unelected officials have enough discretionary power to effectively make government policy. …
        “Gillian Triggs was right to say our democratic freedoms are under threat. Still, did she see any irony in the fact that the democratically elected Abbott government obviously wants to fire her but – since she commands an independent statutory agency – it cannot?”
    Unelected officials are stifling our democratic freedoms – THE AGE
  • “We often imagine that our modern concerns are distinct from those of the past.  But how much legislative power the executive could exercise without parliamentary approval was one of the great contests in the lead-up to the English Civil War.  The seventeenth century English historian Roger Twysden declared that “the basis or ground of all the liberty and franchise of the subject” was “this maxim, that the king cannot alone alter the law”.  Yet through executive pronouncements and delegation governments have vested vast legislative power in what scholars call “non-majoritarian” regulatory and bureaucratic agencies.””
    The Undone Tasks of Deregulation
  • So I read Chris Berg’s new book Liberty, Equality and Democracy. Very highly recommended. I loved it. In the book he makes the radical argument that people should be treated equally as individuals. He makes very clear that this is a radical argument.
        “The only time I disagreed with any point he was making was, I think, a typo. Indeed that is my only criticism of the book – there were several obvious typos and I expect the revised edition (or even second edition) should fix those.
        “Overall I was so impressed with the book that I imagine that one day some fine classical liberal will thump down the book and say, “This is what we believe”.”
    Book Review: Liberty, Equality & Democracy – Sinclair Davidson, CATALLAXY FILES

  • Classical liberalism, the tradition of free markets and individual liberty, has an outsider status in the Australian economics profession. This paper surveys the origin of Australian classical liberal economics in the nineteenth century, its sharp decline in the first half of the twentieth century, and its revival and growth in recent decades. Despite a period of successful market-oriented economic reform in the 1980s and 1990s, surveys suggest that classical liberalism is a minority viewpoint among Australian economists.
        “Currently the only critical mass of classical liberal academic economists in Australia is at RMIT University in Melbourne. …”

    Classical liberalism around the world – Rafe Champion, CATALLAXY FILES

UPDATE: Chris Berg appeared on TV3 this morning. (Warning, video contains traces of Paul Henry.)

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[Click the pic for the vid, or click here.]

Have I “harmed” you? Tough shit.

Do you feel like you’ve been “harmed” by something I’ve said?

Think I’ve “criticised” or condemned” you?

You know what? Tough shit. Suck it up. Write me and talk it over. That’s what adults do.

That’s not the way your Government sees it, however. That’s not the way Injustice Minister Amy Adams and her boss John Key see it. That’s not the way it will be once their knee-jerk nannying new law comes into force. Below are the new ten commandments of blogland, courtesy of these ninnying net nannies.

Now, thanks to those two and all those voting with them, if I or someone else online causes you something called “serious emotional distress” – yes, Virginia, as of last Thursday that is now a recognised legal term – then you can legally hang me out to dry: doing me in to the government’s “approved agency,” and thence onward to the courts.

The penalty, if the courts find I’ve been critical or condemnatory are harsh. If MPs feel sad because of a blog post or media story, they can have the publisher jailed.

Frankly, if a political blog is not criticising or condemning, then it just isn’t doing its job. If it doesn’t make the Beehive bludgers feel uncomfortable, it should shut up shop -- and if Amy Adams doesn’t like that, she can get fucked.

If she feels “distressed” by that, she can write me a letter. And then fold it until it’s all sharp corners and post it where it’s most urgently needed.

NB: The “Harmful Digital Communications” third-reading debate resumes this week

PS: And if you’re wondering who gets to decide if she’s been harmed by what she’s read, who gets to start the gears and legal meat grinders going to protect her “emotional distress,” who gets to call you out by calling out the “approved agency’s” dogs, it’s this girl:

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[Pic borrowed from the very offensive Nicholas Ross Smith]

“The self-esteem equation”

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Michael Hurd writes:

Most people assume self-esteem is a good thing. However, most people do not know what “self-esteem” actually is.
    Most probably assume that self-esteem refers to feeling good about yourself. That’s not wrong. But exactly how does one arrive at feeling good about oneself?
    No answer is ever given. Teachers, counsellors, and many parents of young children often assume, “If you just tell the child good things about him- or herself, the child will feel good.”
    But such an approach is wrong. It’s indiscriminate. It teaches young children that they’re good — actually, great — no matter what.
    It’s basically a lie. Or at least a half-truth. Parents and teachers won’t criticize, not even constructively. This is just as bad as always putting down a child, never building the child up or telling him what he does well.
    The child comes into young adulthood with a sense that everyone should be telling him or her how great he or she is. After all, that’s what all those teachers did. That’s what parents often did. “So why isn’t the rest of the world greeting me that way?”

Read on here: The Self-Esteem Equation

Frédéric Bastiat’s ‘Economic Sophisms’ is Now More Important Than Ever

Frédéric Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms was the first book on economics I ever found worth the reading. So I’m delighted to say that:

Frédéric Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms is Now More Important Than Ever
Guest post by Julian Adorney and Matt Palumbo

The great economist Frédéric Bastiat would have turned 214 today. His contributions to liberty have been many, but while so many advocates of free markets focus on The Law there is another book that represents his legacy even better: Economic Sophisms. This short work of essays epitomises perhaps his most important contribution: using taut logic and compelling prose to bring the dry field of economics to hundreds of thousands of laymen.

Bastiat did not, generally, clear new ground in the field of economics.1 He read Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say and found little to add to these giants of economic thought. [Ahem - Ed.] But like Richard Cobden, his English hero, Bastiat was active in promoting their free trade doctrines – and was possessed with the keen wit and clear, pithy writing style that gave them wings. His writings have become immensely popular. One-hundred-and-fifty years after his death, essays like “A Petition” are still circulated as an effective counter to progressive economics.

Bastiat makes three central contributions in Economic Sophisms.

First, he reminds us that we should care about the consumer, not just the producer.

Second, he dismantles the argument that there are no economic laws.

Third, and more generally, he is one of the few politicians and writers who thought with his head, not with his heart. Bastiat used logic to clearly lay out the consequences of political actions instead of hiding behind good intentions.

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Surplus, Not Scarcity

Economic Sophisms expresses a common theme over and over again: we should craft policies that focus on consumers, not on producers.

When Bastiat uses these phrases, it can be easy to misinterpret him. Writing 100 years after Bastiat, Keynes hijacked the terms without the integration. Bastiat was no Keynesian. When Bastiat discusses how consumption is the end goal of the economy, what he means is: having goods (which benefits consumers) is more important than making goods (which benefits producers). Put another way, producers prefer scarcity, because it drives up prices. Consumers prefer surplus for the opposite reason.

Producers advocate all sorts of methods for reducing the total quantity of goods (theirs excepted, of course). Producers seek to tax goods from other countries that compete with their own. They outlaw machines that would replace them. Producers even favour policies like burning food to drive up food prices, a policy that caused much starvation when it was enacted in the United States during the Great Depression. Consumers, by contrast, prefer abundance. They are happiest when they have a plethora of goods to choose from at a low price.

Bastiat points out that we are all consumers, including the producers. The man who produces railroads also uses his wages to buy goods. One might imagine a world with no producers, a paradise in which man’s every need is fulfilled by nature or a benevolent God. But one cannot imagine a world with no consumption. In such a world, man would not eat or drink, have clothing or buy luxuries. Consumption, and quality of life, is the essential yardstick to measure a society’s economic prosperity.

When we enact producer-backed measures like tariffs, Bastiat argues, we favour producers’ interests over consumers’. We show that we’d rather have scarcity than surplus. Taken to its logical extreme, such a policy is absurd. Would anyone truly argue that total scarcity is preferable to having plenty?

The Principle of No Principles

In Bastiat’s day, it was fashionable to claim that no real principles exist. X may cause Y, but a smaller X needn’t cause a smaller Y; it could cause Z instead, or A. Today, we see the same logic: people who claim, for instance, that a minimum wage hike to $100 would kill jobs but that a hike to $10.10 would somehow create them.

In essay after essay, Bastiat destroys this myth. Economics is not a foggy morass where up is sometimes down, left can be right, and there are no absolute truths. Economics is not like nutrition, where a glass of wine can heal while two gallons can kill.

In economics, a cause will produce a correlational effect, regardless of how large the cause is. If small X causes small Y, large X causes large Y. A minimum wage hike to $100 will kill many jobs; a minimum wage hike to $10.10 will still kill some. The effect does not vary, only the size of it.

Indeed, one of Bastiat’s most common argumentative tools is reductio ad absurdum, or carrying a concept to its logical conclusion. Opponents of mechanisation want to force railroads to stop at one city and unload goods, thereby generating work for the porters? Very well, says Bastiat. Why not have them stop at three cities instead? Surely that would generate even more work for the porters. Why not stop at twenty cities? Why not have a railroad composed of nothing but stops that will make work for the porters – a sort of “negative railroad”?

By carrying concepts to their logical conclusion, Bastiat provides a firm antidote to the fuzzy thinking of protectionist advocates.

Think with Your Head

In Bastiat’s time, just as today, it was popular to think with one’s heart. “We must do something!” went the rallying cry; “this is something, then we must do it!” And never mind the consequences. Good intentions were enough.

Make-work, for instance, has always been a favourite policy of those who think with their hearts. They see men and women unemployed and demand government take action. Often, this action takes the form of impeding human progress: using porters instead of railroads, for instance. The initial consequence, for the porters, is positive: more end up employed. But Bastiat recognises that such policies, while they may protect the porters, harm the economy as a whole. They raise prices and create scarcity.

Bastiat looked at more than just the direct consequence of an action. He examined all the outcomes, using taut chains of logic to demonstrate how each policy would impact those whom he was most focused on — the consumer.

Bastiat’s Legacy

Bastiat did not invent any new economic tools or schools of thought1. But the clear logic with which he thought through economic ideas, and the clear and witty prose with which he lambasted those who did not do so, have made him one of the most popular economic figures of all time.

Bastiat’s ideas in this text have been borrowed, rehashed, and republished for over 150 years. His insights have been appropriated by dozens of prominent thinkers. Most famously, Henry Hazlitt based Economics in One Lesson largely on the essays in Economic Sophisms.

As we make note of his 214th birthday, perhaps we should raise a toast to the man whose ideas — in all their adopted formats — have done so much for the cause of liberty.

 


Julian Adorney is an economic historian, entrepreneur, and fiction writer.
Matt Palumbo is the author of The Conscience of a Young Conservative and In Defence of Classical Liberalism.
This post first appeared at the Mises Daily.

NOTES:

1. “…did not, generally, clear new ground in the field of economics”? Bastiat was perhaps the first to concisely explain that economics necessitated long-chain thinking, without which we are all dead. Those who grasp his point would surely disagree, as would students of his Economic Harmonies, of his anatomy of plunder, and of his ricochet theory, among other contributions.- Ed.

Modern Critics of Keynes

Steven Kates is compiling a new book called Modern Critics of Keynes, a combined updated of and tribute to Henry Hazlitt’s much earlier and similar compilation Critics of Keynesian Economics, a confirmed classic. Problem is, says Kates, that there are hardly any critics today.

“These are economists who have each already written extensive critiques of Keynesian economics. If you can think of more than two, please add their names to the comments.”

Well, in no particular order, I can think of these folk... 

Montessori School, by Organon Architecture

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So some of you have been suggesting I start posting more regular art and architecture posts again. And others have suggested I post more of what I’m designing myself.

So at the risk of boring my other reader, and the troll, here’s something that’s on the board at the moment: a new Montessori school, with 3 classrooms, quiet decks, parents space, shared kitchen, internal garden ...

DraftLayout

Monday, 29 June 2015

Greece: “It’s always nice to have your cake, and eat it too, AND send the bill to somebody else.”

Part of a documentary Johan Norberg made in 2012 in Greece – “the canary in the coal mine.”

“Tomorrow all hell breaks loose,” he says. "I am extremely worried."

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[Can’t embed, sorry: Click on pic to head to video, or click here.]

Dumping the Euro Isn’t a Cure-All: Easy Money Lets Governments Avoid Free-Market Reforms

Guest post by Frank Hollenbeck

CrisisThe Greek drama continues to unfold with the risk of “Grexit” becoming increasingly likely. Yet, a large majority of the Greek people want to keep the euro. This, however, would require the Greek government to live within its means — something it has not been able to do for decades. With anti-austerity parties gaining strength continent wide, Greece may be the first, but not the last, to leave.

For many years, it has been fashionable among some economists to blame the euro for all of Europe’s problems. Yet, the problem in Europe is not that it has a common currency, but that it has excessive government regulations, spending, and taxation. Economists who suggest that breaking up the euro will solve the region’s economic problems are like people selling gimmicks promising massive weight loss without either exercise or dieting. They want the gains without the pain.

What they really want is just more flexibility to inflate fiat monies. For them, it’s much better to reduce government debt by simply inflating it away — thus sticking it to creditors — than having to take on the painful adjustment of limiting government size to what can be justified only with direct taxation.

Money Manipulation Allows for More Government Intervention

Suppose you have two regions under a single monetary system — Auckland and Invercargill — with an inflationary economic boom in Auckland and increasing unemployment in Invercargill. Salaries would slump in Invercargill and surge in Auckland. Under such conditions, labour would normally move from Invercargill to Auckland to find jobs, and capital would move from Auckland to Invercargill to find cheaper labour.

If capital will not or cannot move from Auckland to Invercargill, and if labour cannot or will not move from Invercargill to Auckland, then Invercargill will just be stuck with falling wages, while Auckland capitalists will be stuck with expensive labour.

A free market solution to this problem is to allow free movement of labour and capital to where labour and capital are demanded, and to allow for greater freedom in the use of labour and capital.

However, governments can avoid having to allow such freedom in markets if they each have a central bank. If Invercargill and Auckland are under two different monetary systems, monetary policy could be tailored to deal with each region’s economic problems. Invercargill could turn to its own inflationary policy to match Auckland’s existing inflationary boom. This would improve Invercargill’s export situation — by depreciating the currency — and prop up employment in the short term. Thus we find that governments will tend to turn to easy money instead of deregulation.

On the other hand, if Invercargill and Auckland are under a single monetary policy (and Invercargill can’t simply inflate its currency at will), then Invercargill can only address the ills in its economy by making its economy more attractive through rate cuts and deregulation.

We find this sort of thinking prevalent in Europe today. The Europeans know that control over monetary policy can be used to cover up the shortcomings of irresponsible fiscal and regulatory policy. So, it’s no surprise that many of the most fiscally disastrous governments in Europe are now talking about getting rid of the euro. Each government wants its own money supply so it can kick the austerity can down the road, and inflate instead.

In our example, we find that the governments of Invercargill and Auckland are actually restricted in what they can do by a common currency, and naturally, Austrian economists would view such constraints as a very good thing — under a regime of sound money.

A Sound Common Currency Is a Good Thing

The benefits of a common currency can be massive. Transparency is improved and uncertainty and risks are reduced.

Anyone who has travelled overseas knows the hassles of dealing with a foreign currency. You first have to pay a fee to convert your cash, and then you have to make sure you spend it all before you leave the country, otherwise you will be left with useless coins and bills at the bottom of your sock drawer.

But not all currencies are equal, of course. The problem with the euro is not that it is a common currency but that it is a fiat currency which ultimately returns to its intrinsic value of zero.

Indeed, the European Central Bank is now purchasing sixty billion euros per month of government bonds inducing governments to borrow even more.

Why the Southern Bloc of Europe Wants Out of the EU

Advocates of breaking up the euro never talk about the southern bloc’s labour costs relative to those in China or India. They focus instead on German labour, which is more cost-effective. The Italians don’t like that they have to compete with Germany — in the making of automobiles, for example — under a single monetary system. If the Italians had their own monetary system, they could manipulate the money supply to favour their own automobile industry.

With their own central bank, the Italians can put off having to ask themselves why their auto industry is so uncompetitive in the first place (hint: it has to do with Italian regulations and subsidies). Advocates of a breakup expect to gain competitiveness through devaluation, but a devaluation will only create a temporary gain, if at all, by benefiting exporters at the expense of the rest of society.

A Solution for Germany

A stable unit of account and exchange is a great idea, but it needs governments willing to accept the discipline it imposes (or a population that demands it).

Indeed, if anyone should dump the euro it should be Germany. Its current strategy to protect the euro is to use debt to solve a debt problem: to send good money chasing after bad. Germany would be wise to join like-minded countries on monetary policy and create a northern euro backed by gold. Meanwhile, southern eurozone countries are looking increasingly like a lost cause. People are not in the streets rioting for less government, but for more government. Let them have what they want: a worthless currency!


Frank HollenbeckFrank Hollenbeck teaches finance and economics at the International University of Geneva. He has previously held positions as a Senior Economist at the State Department, Chief Economist at Caterpillar Overseas, and as an Associate Director of a Swiss private bank.
This post first appeared at the Mises Daily. Place names have been changed for effect, as much as anything.

Greece is the word. Again.

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How was your weekend, people? This is how Greeks ‘spent’ theirs (ho ho): Queuing for currency:

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Why?

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And all that excrement is finally hitting the fan.

And even a paper Euro looks like hard currency compared to the softness of paper drachmas. Not to mention the feel of real hard assets – even if you have to queue to get your hands on them.

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Take note: This is not just a run on a single bank. This is a run on all of them. This is a run on a whole future currency.

And the time-honoured response to a run on a currency based only on debt? A “bank holiday.”  Right on cue, after a week of denail, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that he was closing all banks “as a way to stemming the tide.”

“In real life, a holiday means to have time off work and have fun. In the world of banking, a holiday means to rob the customer as a way of keeping a bankrupt system afloat.”

No coincidence it’s happening on the weekend before the Greek gov is suppose to pay back $1.7B to the IMF, possible only by another bailout to pay back those extended previously, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced a surprise referendum on terms for future bailouts.

Advice to Tourists: If You Go To Greece, Bring Plenty Of Cash.

Advice to Greeks: Stop borrowing just to repay previous borrowing. Stop borrowing for consumption. Start producing value.

***The story with most economic crises is similar: everything looks fine until it isn’t.***

RELATED, AROUND THE TRAPS …

    • “Our lens suggests that the very low interest rates that have prevailed for so long may not be “equilibrium” ones, which would be conducive to sustainable and balanced global expansion. Rather than just reflecting the current weakness, low rates may in part have contributed to it … “
      Bank For International Settlements (BIS) Slams Keynesian Money Printers…….Again!
    • “Angela Merkel … drives the rickety machinery of the misbegotten eurozone superstate toward “a solution before the markets open on Monday.” Those eight words are the heart of the statist catastrophe which is now engulfing the world economy.”
      Message To Merkel: Shut-Up Und Setzen Sie Sich!
    • “Because if indeed the ECB were to pull the carpet from under Greece as it hinted it would do on Tuesday when the Greek program runs out, when it froze the Greek ELA despite the ongoing Greek bank run, it would promptly set off a chain of events that would not only crush the Greek banking system but destroy any credibility Greek sovereign collateral had as a state, impairing all Greek national and corporate collateral, including bonds and loans currently held by the ECB, to zero.”
      The ECB Suddenly Has A Huge Headache On Its Hands
    • “So why worry about a little turmoil at the foot of Olympus?”
      The Test Of Central Bank Omnipotence May Be Upon Us
    • “While seen by some observers as end-point to a failed crisis resolution, I will argue that it should be the beginning of a new dialogue, building on the difficult lessons of the past years and using the new institutions and possibilities in place within the Eurozone. Whether Greece stays in the Eurozone or leaves it, is only one of several important decisions to be taken in Athens … “
      Greece – the day after: Time for a fresh start?
    • “The goings on in Greece should be the last of any Aussie investor’s worries. Because at home, things look set to get a whole lot worse…”
      The Aussie Crisis That’s Bigger Than Greece…
    • “These stories are related in a number of ways, the most important being that they’re examples of governments messing with markets that they don’t understand and therefore have no business trying to manipulate.”
      On Monday, It’s China Versus Greece
    • “While Greece has understandably been the focal news event over the weekend - after all it has been 5 years in the making -  let's not forget that in another massive move, one geared squarely to prevent a market collapse and to avoid even further panic, the Chinese central bank cut both its policy rate and the reserve rate in a dramatic push to calm down markets after a 10% crash in just two trading days.
          “Which, incidentally, shows that after the Fed, the BOE, the SNB, the BOJ and the ECB, the PBOC is the latest bank to have cornered itself in a world where it must inflate the bubble at all costs or face the dire consequences. What consequences? Nomura explains … “
      A Helpless China Tips Its Hand: A Market Crash "Poses Great Danger To Social Stability"
    • “1. GDP growth of 7% w/profit growth of 0.6%=really bad managers or 2. GDP growth not really 7%. Choose 1 or 2 #China … Let’s not forget that the Greece story may end up as relatively small by comparison.”
      China comparison of the day

Rainbow weekend

The US Supreme Court gave the whole world quite a weekend. Cato reports:

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled [5 votes to 4] that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to both recognise and license same sex marriage. Cato scholar Ilya Shapiro comments, “Just because today’s opinion was expected by all doesn’t make it any less momentous. It was in 2003 that the Court had to invalidate the criminalization of gay sex and a mere 12 years later it commands state officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. …Good for the Court – and I echo Justice Kennedy’s hope that both sides now respect each other’s liberties and the rule of law.”

Did the dissenting justices have a case?

Regardless of what you think about gay marriage, both [dissenting justices] Roberts and Scalia are completely wrong…. in any decision arising before the Supreme Court, the ultimate issue to consider is: Are individual rights being upheld, or undermined? …
   
The onus is on Scalia and Roberts to prove that the right of consenting, adult same-sex couples to legally marry is not an individual right. I have not yet heard an argument to prove or even support their claim that no such right exists.
    What I have heard, over and over, is an assertion that, “marriage is between a man and a woman.” This is certainly what a lot of people believe, and it’s entirely their political right to believe it, and to act on that belief. For example, they should not be required, under the law, to provide wedding cakes or other products or services to gay persons, or to anybody else, of whom they do not approve. At the same time, this does not give them a right to prevent gay people from engaging in a legally binding contract.
    The morality, or lack thereof, in the concept of gay marital unions should not be an issue for the law.

And, well, is there anything we can do to help make this happen:

No One’s Having A Worse Day Than The Pastor Who Promised
To Light Himself On Fire If Same-Sex Marriage Is Legalised

The Pope’s (New) Prayer

In keeping with the Pope’s new theme, a new prayer …

The Popes (New) Prayer
Our Gaia, Who art in danger,
Sustainable be thy name,
Thy renewable energy resources come,
Thy Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s will be done
On Earth as it is in the upper atmosphere
Give us this day our daily organic ciabatta
Forgive us our carbon emissions
Though we can’t forgive those multinationals who emit against us
Lead us not into excessive plane travel
Deliver us from genetically modified crops
For thine is the moral high ground
The onshore wind farms and the subsidies
For as long as the taxes can be raised. Amen.

[“Transcribed” by Dominic Lawson]

Friday, 26 June 2015

Friday morning ramble

So Wellington Council introduced a “living wage” hourly rate for workers. So workers worked fewer hours. So Wellington Council extends the “living wage” to contractors.
So ratepayers stump up the difference.
Welfare state today - the good and the bad – LINDSAY MITCHELL

“If the Minister isn't signing off on an $11 million dollar transaction, there's something wrong with his management. If he did sign off this $11 million dollar transaction, then there's something wrong with his judgement.” – Taxpayer’s Union.
'Outrageous' new pad for UN man – STUFF

Note to Greenpeace:
770,000 tons of solar panels to end up in garbage in 2040 – JAPAN TIMES

Economic inequality in NZ: Commentariat points one way. Evidence points the other.
Inequality falling despite rising headlines – Jason Krupp, NZ INITIATIVE

Phew!
Umaga has unfinished business with Counties – STUFF

“New Zealand MPs are so keen to be seen to be "doing something" about cyber-bullying that they are about to pass a poor piece of law that will do something terrible.” “If Harmful Digital Communications Bill passes, MPs who feel sad because of a media story can have the publisher jailed.” - NRT
Je ne suis pas Charlie say NZ MPs: eroding free speech – Tim Watkin, PUNDIT

Russ Roberts very politely rips Paul Krugman a new one on Keynesian fiscal policy, economic prosperity & evidence.
Krugman is human, just like me – Russ Roberts, CAFE HAYEK

“He sees "systemic risk in the system" and is concerned that global debt, particularly mortgage debt, has been inflated to record levels by extraordinarily low interest rates that will soon come to an end.”
Leading British Bond Fund Manager: "Time to Hold Physical Cash" – Jo Salerno, MISES WIRE

New Video Shows Bailouts Are a Recipe for Moral Hazard and Cronyism:

The Myth that ‘Buying Local’ Is Good for the Local Economy:

Postmodern protesting:

Opening paragraph of Orwell’s manuscript of 1984:

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“People-smuggling” is a creation of prohibition.
“People-smugglers’ business-model” – Watch for concern-trolls – XBORDER OPERATIONAL MATTERS

“Detention and the war on refugees.”
Why are we locking up migrants? – NEW INTERNATIONALIST

“German concentration camps had rigid secrecy and censorship. To hide the atrocities committed. So do Australia's.”
Detention centres and State censorship – Kelly Tranter, WINSTON CLOSE

“The Marxist zero-sum view that "they" are coming in to take "our" jobs just flies against reality and reason.”
Immigrants create tons of jobs for local workers – BUSINESS INSIDER

“We shouldn't be afraid of opening up our borders to immigration.”
No, Immigrants Won't Destroy Your Freedom – David Bier, THE FREEMAN

“The government has no more right to lock people out than to lock them in. The same principle damning the Berlin Wall damns walls erected to keep people out.”
Amnesty for Illegal aliens is not enough, they deserve an apology – Harry Binswanger, VALUE FOR VALUE

“The reason Pope Francis can call today's healthier, cleaner human environment a "pile of filth": He's bought into the dogma that anything man creates is evil.”
The moral case for fossil fuels (that the pope needs to hear) – Alex Epstein, REBEL MEDIA

“The pope’s handwringing over climate change is just window dressing. His real target, in solidarity with previous popes, is prosperity. Again: Why? Poverty and misery are the foundation of modern Catholicism.”
Pope Francis: Prosperity, Liberty, and Climate Change are the Common Enemy – Michael LaFerrara, PRINCIPLED PERSPECTIVES

“Often wrong but never in doubt.”
The Pope's Climate Confusion – Ross Kaminsky, AMERICAN SPECTATOR

“More valuable than a tool to preserve objects, of course, air conditioning is a tool to preserve lives. Two years ago, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study concluding that air conditioning reduced heat-related deaths in the United States by 80 percent and could save even more lives in hotter, often poorer countries.”
Pope Francis Is Wrong about Air Conditioning – NATIONAL REVIEW

“Wasting several hours of our day to save a bit of electricity, water, or some other resource is to ignore the value of human life and to waste what Julian Simon called “the ultimate resource.””
Unsustainable: Little Ways Environmentalists Waste the Ultimate Resource – THE FREEMAN

“South Pacific Islands are not sinking. Claims they are due to global warming driven sea level rise are opportunistic.”
Pacific Islands Not Sinking – CLIMATISM

“Industrial turbines that only last ten years and that are predominately made in China using Australian coal! Talk about shifting ’emissions’.”
Wind Turbines: lucky to last 10 Years – STOP THESE THINGS

“Climate models can be good tools for predicting future sea ice levels — unless, of course, they are completely wrong.”
Climate FAIL: Antarctic Sea Ice Did The Exact Opposite Of What Models Predicted – WATTS UP WITH THAT

Well, that’s awkward …
Study Predicts Decades Of Global Cooling Ahead – DAILY CALLER

Just thought you’d like to know:

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The Good: “For the first time ever, “atheist” isn’t the worst trait in a Presidential candidate.”
New Gallup Poll Shows That Atheists Are No Longer the Least Electable... – RICHARD DAWKINS.NET

The Bad: Oh god. The Theocrats are back.
Jeb Bush Says Catholic Dogma Trumps US Government – PATHEOS.COM

“Faith – believing claims without sufficient evidence, or claiming to know things that you don’t or can’t know – is an increasingly shaky endeavor. And in order for religious faith to survive, it requires a lot of social support: the more people who share it, the easier it is to maintain and reproduce. Thus, anyone who rejects the tenets of your faith, or calls them in to question, is a threat.”
Why [Religious] Americans Hate Atheists – Phil Zuckerman, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

Faith is properly used to describe a belief commitment made beyond the evidence. It is meant to be the gap-closer. Faith almost always is an emotion-driven process in which one wills oneself to believe that which one wants to be true… So in more abstract language, the question is of the relationship between reason and emotion ...”
Are Reason and Faith Compatible? – STEPHEN HICKS

Spot the common theme.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's magazine has an issue called "Cartoonists Under Fire." Guess which cartoonist actually under fire for cartooning was excluded, and why.
Two outspoken free speakers edit a flagship liberal magazine with the them ‘Saying the Unsayable.’ And their cover was pulled because their artist drew the undrawable.
What’s the common theme here?
CBLDF Writes About "Cartoonists Under Fire" while ignoring This Cartoonist who was Literally Under Fire – BOSCH FAWSTIN
Drawing the Undrawable – AMANDA PALMER.NET

“"If Westerners want to win the cultural war against Islam, we must be willing to recognize—and to openly acknowledge—the fundamental and relevant truths of the matter. Those truths include the fact that Islam *is* a religion, and the fact that faith is *not* a means of knowledge. Conservatives are uncomfortable with these facts because they are religious themselves, and they want religion and faith to be good things. But discomfort with facts doesn’t alter them. And wanting things to be good doesn’t make them so.”
Yes, Conservatives, Islam Is a Religion – Craig Biddle, THE OBJECTIVE STANDARD

I'm not convinced that faith can move mountains,
but I've seen what it can do to skyscrapers.

- William H. Gascoyne

"After three Uber rides in the last two weeks, not only am I more convinced about the value that the so-called 'sharing economy' is providing, but I have been struck by the way technology helps to solve the fundamental problem of the marketplace."
Uber Solves the Fundamental Problem of the Marketplace – Steven Horwitz, THE FREEMAN

“As new, more efficient firms like Uber enter the market, old taxi companies are getting forced out of business by creative destruction — but they aren't going down without a fight.”
Sabotaging Uber: The Umpire Strikes Back – THE FREEMAN

“If competition were celebrated rather then reviled, and freedom in everything decriminalised, what do you think the results would be?”
Paris Taxi Drivers Burn Cars in Violent Anti-Uber Riot – GIZMODO

'Hate speech' is what 'progressives'
call free speech they don't like.

- Pat Condell

“How is it that ideas that used to be pieties in the liberal catechism now get you labelled as a howling reactionary?”
Seven Liberal Pieties That Only the Right Still BelievesRobert Tracinski, THE FEDERALIST

“A deep rot has set into Political Correctness. Hell is freezing over and pigs can now fly… So let my contribution be an indication of how philosophy has laid the groundwork for this phenomenon and how only philosophy can get us out.”
Understanding Triggers and Microaggression as Strategy – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE

“The great bulk of the studies show that gun control laws do not in fact control guns. On net balance, they do not save lives but cost lives.”
Gun Control Laws Protect Criminals By Disarming Their Law Abiding Victims – Thomas Sowell, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

“Homeschooling produces better students at lower prices than government schools, with less time spent on indoctrination — so naturally, the government sees it as a threat.”
Homeschooling: The Public Schools’ Invasive Species – Wendy McElroy, THE FREEMAN

“The trade-off between liberty and safety is an illusion. The real trade-off is between my liberty and someone else’s power over me.”
Visualizing the Trade-Offs between Liberty and Safety – THE FREEMAN

So maybe the west isn’t the most racist of places after all. Well, apart from France.

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You might be surprised.
The most expensive and cheapest cities for expat living – TELEGRAPH

Before and after pics of Pompeii's restored frescoes.
Open House – ARCHAEOLOGY

Try to name them without looking.
15 great buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright – MSN.COM

“I must ask myself if we want to design buildings for people to fit some preconceived idea of a glass world. Is this really the future of cities?" – Minoru Yamasaki.
First WTC architect's posthumous critique of the new World Trade Center - ARCHINECT

“Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! I'm sick of having my plate snatched while others at my table are still partaking of their meals.” #FirstWorldProblems
 The most annoying restaurant trend happening today– WASHINGTON POST
Why do waiters clear your plates away so quickly? – Tyler Cowen, MARGINAL REVOLUTION

But should you move the bucket?

Remember yesterday when I said 1967 was a golden year for television? A golden year for the television partnership of Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee too, who died yesterday. Vale Paddy Nee. This, from that golden year:

And this from a charming reunion a few years later on an otherwise substandard American sitcom. But they did finally get to kiss …

And finally, the finale of a long piece, with a decent build-up, but if you were never to hear another piece of music again …

Job losses predicted at Auckland Council

Guest post by Stephen Berry

After Auckland Council’s narrow passing of the Auckland Long Term Plan, I predict several job losses to occur at Auckland Council. That’s eleven jobs to be precise, right about October 2016.”

That’s the Mayor and the ten councillors who supported for the huge rates hike that underpins the Long Term Plan. They will suffer the wrath of voters in next year’s election, with a large swing toward toward fiscal responsibility and few of the councillors supported Len Brown surviving.

Affordable Auckland will be helping voters find replacements for those councillors by putting up candidates in several of the wards occupied by councillors supporting the rates increases.

Candidates from Affordable Auckland have been announced for the Mayoralty, Albany, Waitakere and Albany will several more to be revealed.

We will be presenting a plan for future rates increases to be capped at the level of inflation, for council spending to be restricted to the core functions specified by the Local Government Act, and for housing made affordable by streamlining the Council consents process.


Stephen Berry is 2016 Affordable Auckland candidate for Mayor and Albany ward

PS: The "Terrible Ten" are:

  • Len Brown
  • Arthur Anae
  • Bill Cashmore
  • Linda Cooper
  • Chris Darby
  • Alf Filipaina
  • Mike Lee
  • Calum Penrose
  • Wayne Walker
  • Penny Webster

Thursday, 25 June 2015

So there’s a personal Twitter milestone approaching

So there’s a personal Twitter milestone approaching with which you can help. Can you see it:

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That’s right, I need just eleven more Twitter followers to break 1000!

Who’s with me? All you have to do is to click here and press “Follow.”

I can promise you all unending joy and a continuing stream of golden commentary. (Of course.)

And the 1000th Twitter follower will get … something we can talk about. (Or nothing at all, whatever your preference. Or mine.)

What to watch on the box now that winter’s really here

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I know you’ve all recently been playing games with thrones, going mad about men, confusing houses for cards, and breaking not so well – and you’ve all seemed pretty excited. For me, not so much.

None of that lot grabbed.

Fact is, outside the sport (of course), few TV shows have grabbed me since, oh, about 1967.1 Until now.

Care to hear about a drama series that’s dramatic, where the conflicts are in the plots not the car chases, where it’s the villains who do the killing while the heroes pursue their values?

What if I told you it has scenes as dramatic as Victor Hugo’s. Characters you might find in Don Quixote? Visuals (almost) as beautiful as great art.

And how about I then tell you it’s in Korean, with English subtitles2. Really? Yes, really.

Fact is, me and Mrs Not PC have been riveted to the 2003 Korean television series Dae Jang Geum (pron. TAY ZHANG GOO-MA) since we discovered it a few months ago. Written by screenwriter Kim Young-Hyun, and called in English Jewel in the Palace, “the story is driven from start to finish by the various characters’ choices and values”--for good, and for bad.

The hero, Jang Geum (pron. ZHANG GOO-MA) is the only character on television to think in principles. Not just think in principles, she is driven to follow her principles, whatever the consequences. She is the true independent woman. Set against her, brilliantly, are the rule-bound Confucians of the court, against whom most of her life-and-death struggles are waged. Waged by them, since their aim is power over others; hers, power over nature.

Unlike other reviews, I won’t give you any spoilers. Just my unreserved recommendation.

Dae Jang Geum is brilliant. 54 episodes altogther, and I might even start watching it all over again …

1. True story. Technically.
2. Some episodes, sadly, very poorly done.

EVENT: So why are we still allowed to vote?

If you’re in Wellington or Auckland next week, this could be interesting:

In Wellington, you’re at Level 12 of the Bayleys Building, 36 Brandon St.

In Auckland, you’re at the Uni Business School on Grafton Rd.

Registration is essential. But don’t let me tell you what to do.

Greenpeace: so outraged they’re climbing the walls.

Greenpeace abseilers surfed parliament walls this morning to deliver this message to your tweetphone:

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Which means, I guess, whatever they want it to mean.

They think that climbing walls changes climate?

That they want government action to stop private action?

That waving banners made of fossil fuels is a way to argue against fossil fuels?

Anyway, whatevers. (With postmodern protesting it’s all about the outrage, never the point.) So they then dropped a big picture of John Key and installed eight solar panels – just enough to charge their phones and make a point. That point being … no, I’m not clear on that one either.

That you need eight solar panels to charge four phones? 

That without government subsidies solar is uneconomic?

The message is unclear, really. (But that last one is certainly true. As it is also true that the burden of climate change regulation falls heaviest on the poor, who Greens like to think they speak for.) While hanging around out there one spokes-abseiler did pipe up to explain, “We have come to offer the Government a gift of solar panels, which are working - we are just about to start hooking up now, to charge our phones and stuff like that.” Which explains everything and nothing. He wants the government to charge their phones by solar? Eight panels for four phones, so to charge all of government would take … no, my cheap calculator can’t do that many numbers either.

“We also want to show that this is what real climate action looks like,” repeated the spokes-hanger, “and we hope that the Government takes action like us."

What, like climbing the walls?

I”m not sure they’ve really thought this one through.

Greenpeace: so outraged they’re climbing the walls. But at least they’ve started to wear red so we can see what their true colours are.

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