Friday, 27 May 2016

#NeverTrump: voting advice from Ayn Rand


Trump has now officially secured the delegates necessary for nomination, and even deluded New Zealanders are excited they can now vote for their favourite strongman. (They can’t. Somebody should tell them.) Ayn Rand has some advice for those however who can and would contemplate voting for someone without a priniciple in sight, and for whom they would have no practical idea of what they would even be voting for.


If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay or stop the march toward statism?


It is the basic -- and, today, the only -- issue by which a candidate must be judged: freedom v. statism.

Simple, really.

She also offers this advice who see through him:

There are many forms of protest open to us, if [Trump] gets the Republican nomination: we can vote for a write-in candidate of our own choice -- or vote a straight Republican ticket, leaving the presidential and vice-presidential spaces blank -- or vote a mixed ticket -- or vote for and Democrat who is not fully committed to statism [none] -- or not vote at all. But we cannot vote for the proposition that we, as advocates of capitalism, are lunatics -- or for the candidate who so regards us.

[Hat tip Francesca Ford & Keenan I. Nichols]


Budget [updated]



Everybody with a sober talkspace wants to yak about yesterday's Budget. 

But what is there to talk about in any depth?

Bill English is going to take even more of your money in the coming year – and if you’re a smoker the smarmy prick is going to tax the hell out of you.

And he wants to spend even more of it than he did last year.

He doesn't want to give you any more of your money back until election year.

And he sort of wants to pay back some of the ginormous $118 billion government debt he's built up over his tenure, but (like St Augustine) not really. Not yet.

And that's about it.

What more is there really to say? It’s more of the fucking same from a party doing nothing any differently than a Labour Government would have.


    • “A Budget from a government that seems to have no real sense of how strong sustained growth in productivity and living standards arises was perhaps never likely to produce anything of great interest.  The cheerleading for the, demonstrably failing, “ever bigger New Zealand” approach –  failing, that is, to generate any sign of better productivity growth, perhaps especially in Auckland –  and the questionable rhetoric about a more diversified New Zealand economy, was accompanied by yet more claims that somehow New Zealand’s economic performance is better than those of almost all our advanced country peers.  Meanwhile, oppressive taxes are raised on some of the poorest people in the country, to fund pouring more money into things like KiwiRail, regional research institutes, apprenticeships, and high-performance sport…
          ”[I]n many ways it was the Treasury economic forecasts that accompanied, and underpinned, the fiscal numbers that got me most interested.  Several other economists have noted that they seem to err on the optimistic side.  That is my fear too…
          “Treasury expects real GDP growth rates to average 2.9 per cent over the next four years.  But it isn’t really clear how or why…
          “[G]iven our starting point, [and that NZ is] so much poorer than most of these [OECD] countries, a successful economic strategy would have involved rather faster growth rates.
          “Slovakia, for example, might be an achievement to aspire to.  On these IMF numbers, between 2007 and 2021 Slovakia will have recorded almost 43 per cent growth in real per capita GDP, while we’ll have managed 15 per cent.   After decades of Communist rule, Slovakia started a long way behind New Zealand.  It has already matched our real GDP per hour worked, and looks likely to be moving past us.
          “We don’t have very much positive to write home about.”
      Scattered thoughts on the Budget documents – Michael Reddell, CROAKING CASSANDRA


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Some quotable quotes for Budget Day


Another Budget Day, another advance auction of stolen goods, another opportunity to post some classic thoughts and quotes on the nature of taxation:

"Taxation is a far greater an evil than theft. It is a form of slavery. If you cannot choose the disposition of your property, you are a slave. If you must ask permission to work, and/or pay involuntary tribute to anyone from your wages, you are a slave. If you are not allowed to dispose of your life (another way of defining money, since it represents portions of your time and effort, which is what your life is composed of) in the time, manner and amount of your choosing, you are a slave."
~ Rick Tompkins

"The man who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave."
~ Ayn Rand

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle”
~ Winston Churchill

"Taxation without representation is tyranny."
~ James Otis

"Taxation WITH representation ain't so hot either."
~ Gerald Barzan

"Our forefathers made one mistake. What they should have fought for was representation without taxation."
~ Fletcher Knebel

"When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before."
~- HL Mencken

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin."
~ Mark Twain

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it."
~ Ronald Reagan

"Death and taxes are inevitable; at least death doesn't get worse every year."
~ Unknown

"When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of free government."
~ former US President Grover Cleveland

"Rulers do not reduce taxes to be kind. Expediency and greed create high taxation, and normally it takes an impending catastrophe to bring it down."
~ Charles Adams

"The mounting burden of taxation not only undermines individual incentives to increased work and earnings, but in a score of ways discourages capital accumulation and distorts, unbalances, and shrinks production. Total real wealth and income is made smaller than it would otherwise be. On net balance there is more poverty rather than less."
~ Henry Hazlitt

"The poor of the world cannot be made rich by redistribution of wealth. Poverty can't be eliminated by punishing people who've escaped poverty, taking their money and giving it as a reward to people who have failed to escape."
~ PJ O'Rourke

"A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul."
~ George Bernard Shaw

"Freedom is the quality of being free from the control of regulators and tax collectors. If I want to be free their control, I must not impose controls on others."
~ Hans F. Sennholz

"There's only one way to kill capitalism--by taxes, taxes, and more taxes."
~ Karl Marx

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation."
~ Vladimir Lenin

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
~ PJ O'Rourke

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
~ Bertrand de Jouvenel

"The power to tax involves the power to destroy."
~ former US Supreme Court Justice John Marshall

"Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed."
~  Robert Heinlein

"Taxes are the sinews of the state."
~ Cicero

And finally, a warning …

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors, and miss."
~ Robert Heinlein


2/64 Hapua St, by Claude Megson



I’ve posted some of its beautiful Megson neighbours before (3/64, 54), and now that it’s on the market you can explore the inside of this smaller one-bedroom Megson townhouse/apartment that can still boast a mostly-original interior.


This is one of those very small places that genius makes appear large (even though the furniture arrangement shown has confused lounge and dining spaces): simple things like viewshafts front to back, borrowed scenery, full-height French doors, exposed rafters, subtle changes in level and height, cunningly-placed storage, all-day sun through the lantern over the central dining space, overlapping and nested spaces etc. All very thoughtfuly done, and very efffective indeed at turning a small jewel into what feels like a large-souled space.


Megson used to talk about a house being something you would sometimes want to wrap around yourself like a cloak, and other times just disappear. This small place fits the bill.


NB: If you’re keen to experience it properly, in the flesh,, there are Open Homes this Saturday and Sunday avo.



[Pics by Ray White Real Estate. Cross-posted at the Claude Megson Blog]

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Describing economic collapse


Some folk recently on a local Facebook group called ‘Anarkiwi’ were discussing socialism and how (and here I paraphrase a little just to make the point clear), libertarians have been very poor in describing the process of collapse of a socialist country (here, for example), and further: that the world’s more socialist countries are not even collapsing as we libertarians say they will.

I mean, NZ's a socialist country, right? And I'm not scavenging for food, in fact I just purchased and enjoyed a Moa Five Hop English ale at the local supermarket.

And who wouldn’t enjoy that?

Still, as I pointed out to the fellow who wrote that, NZ is hardly a socialist country by any real definition.

Best description is: it's a hampered market. Or maybe a mixed economy.

So let’s be careful in our labels.

And you know what? The fellow who perhaps most briefly decribed the process of collapse, Friedrich Hayek, was himself aware that (the likes of Venezuela aside) socialism as practiced and espoused “today” is different from that he warned against just after the War. And that’s partly because he warned about it.


And that’s why today’s socialists talk more today about “inequality” and “poverty” and “progressive taxation” than they do about worker’s revolution – and why no Labour Party manifesto today, with the possible exception of Jeremy Corbyn’s is going to call for nationalising everything that moves.

But it’s still untrue to say that we’ve been bad at explaining the process of socialist collapse. Following the lead of Ludwig Von Mises’s Socialism which expained how socialism could never work, Hayek’s own Road to Serfdom was perhaps the first and briefest to explain how the transition to and the collapse of a fully-blown socialist chaos would happen.

Building upon both of those and fleshing out the economic process of collapse was George Reisman’s Government Against the Economy, which first explains how a market works, then the process by which (absent any political pressure to the contrary) a market can become increasingly hampered; how a hampered market can lead inexorably to controls, to more controls and increasing economic chaos; to rationing and police action and confiscations; and then inevitably to tyranny as shortages and revolt against the leaderhip becomes necessary just for human survival.

I commend them all to everyone’s attention.

Especially the folk at Anarkiwi.

[Hat tip Jim Rose]


Some more lessons for Budget Week


Another Budget Day, another advance auction of stolen goods, another opportunity to post some classic thoughts and quotes on the nature of taxation:

"To steal from one person is theft. To steal from many is taxation."
~ Jeff Daiell

"I think coercive taxation is theft, and government has a moral duty to keep it to a minimum."
~ former Massachusetts Governor (and 2016 Libertarian Party VP candidate) William Weld

"See, when the Government spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of Taxpayers, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs."
~ Dave Barry

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”
~ Jean Baptiste Colbert

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
~ Alexis De Tocqueville, describing America’s future

'We shall tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.' ~
'New Deal' luminary Harry Hopkins, describing every government programme since

"Most of the presidential candidates' economic packages involve 'tax breaks,' which is when the government, amid great fanfare, generously decides not to take quite so much of your income. In other words, these candidates are trying to buy your votes with your own money."
~ humorist Dave Barry

“Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.”
~ Terry Pratchett

“For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It's sad to realise that most citizens do not even notice the irony of being bribed with their own money."
~ Anon.

"[There are dangers in] the disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts."
~ Winston Churchill

"When Barbary Pirates demand a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'tribute money.' When the Mafia demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called 'the protection racket.' When the state demands a fee for allowing you to do business, it's called "tax."
~ Jeff Daiell


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Crone proposes more blancmange for Auckland


Oh alright, mayoral candidate Crone’s chosen headline states “Crone proposes more transparency for Auckland.”

But what does this alleged transparency amount to? Ephemera like “opening the books,” (something that is done anyway after every election), monthly report cards, something she calls an Independent Budgetary Office (who will apparently cook up cost-benefits analyses for the mayor).

She says these things are “much needed” because there is “serious concern” around “the strength of advice” behind council’s large-scale multi-million dollar investments.

There sure are plenty of serious concern. But it’s hard to see how they might be allayed by ill-qualified council bureaucrats in suits being shuffled into different departments to affer the same old advice.

This is the sort of window-dressing promoted by a candidate without any serious programme to address ratepayers real concerns about the exposion in both the debt and their rates bill

The main thing most ratepayers want to see is not more reports and more bilge about “transparency” and “digestible analysis” but cuts, and lots of them!

My advice would be to get her head around a genuine programme of long-overdue reform – not blancmange, but blood on the floor.


Duh! Health-cost inflation a reflection of rising health spending.


In trying to demonstrate his credentials for a portfolo for whiche is wholly unqualified, Labour’s Grant Robertson argues that because health-cost inflation rises faster than all others measure of inflation, the Government should radically raise the health budget this year.

This is simply absurd.

Has this financial genius ever wondered about the main reason for health costs rising so rapidly?

Has he considered for example that government is virtually a monopsony buyer in health – that is, virtually all the multi-billion-dollar spending in healthcare in New Zealand is undertaken by government. (Spending on this Ministry being the second-biggest line item in the Budget; spending by private agencies being trivial by comparison.)

And every year in recent years, government health spending has been increased.

Last year for example it was raised by an extra $1.7 billon to a record $15.9 billion.

Yet for all the extra spending, little more has been bought. The reason for this is … the largely unsurprising fact that as the spending increases, supply in this very limited and almost completely hampered market does not. (Indeed, in many cases can not.)

So as even a child might explain to you, one is confronted with the realisation increasing spending does not necessarily increase supply—indeed, it simply increases the amount suppliers earn for their suppliers. Indeed, it is more precisely true that the more is spent by the government on health, the higher health-cost inflation will rise.

So, once understood, do you want to offer any obvious suggestions as to how health-cost inflation might be best brought down?


More Montessori, more child progress


New research confrirms that parents who send their children to a ‘Montessori school’ that attempts to have “some” of the Montessori system which they combine, somehow, with “the best” elements of other pedagogies are tryin to have their cake and eat it too – with their children being the ones to miss out.

Not only do children not experiencing the full Montessori programme miss out on the opportunity for the ”big work” that integrates in their final year all the work they would have done in a fully-integrated Montessori programme (but haven’t been able to), but because the Montessori work they are doing is increasingly out of step with their sensitive periods for learning, children at these Monte-something schools enjoy significantly less progress in their development.

This observation made repeatedly by Montessori directresses is reinforced by a recent study.

Angeline Lillard, author of Montessori - The Science Behind the Genius has published a new study in the Journal of Montessori Research.
    The study found that children advance significantly more in early reading and executive function and to some degree more in early maths, when supplementary non-Montessori materials are removed from their Montessori classrooms.
    To read the full study, please visit this link:

[Hat tip Maria Montessori Education Foundation]

Some lessons to remember on Budget Week, so listen up


Why do democracies fail?

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always vote for the candidate promising the most benefits from the treasury…”
~ Attributed to Alexander Tytler (unverified)

You’ll hear all the ‘good’ reasons on Budget Week for looting…

"There is always good and sufficient reason for more and more taxes.
    Solomon's temple, the roads of Rome, the rearing of 'infant industries,' military preparedness, the regulation of morals, the improvement of the 'general welfare'--all call for drafts on the marketplace, and the end-product of each draft is an increase in the power of the State. Some of the appropriations seep through to some members of Society, thus satisfying the something-for-nothing urge, at least temporarily, and so stimulate a disposition to tolerate the institution and to obliterate understanding of its predatory character. Until the State reaches its ultimate objective, absolutism, its answer to tax-grumbling is that the 'other fellow' pays all the levies and that seems to satisfy."

~ Frank Chodorov, from his book The Rise and Fall of Society

Clearly, John Stuart Mill was far too hasty in saying …

“The utility of a large government expenditure, for the purpose of encouraging industry, is no longer maintained. Taxes are not now esteemed to be ‘like the dews of heaven, which return in prolific showers.’ It is no longer supposed that you benefit the producer by taking his money, provided that you give it to him again in exchange for his goods. There is nothing which impresses a person of reflection with a stronger sense of the shallowness of the political reasoning of the last two centuries, than the general reception so long given to a doctrine which, if it proves anything, proves that the more you take from the pockets of the people to spend on your own pleasures, the richer they grow; that the man who steals money out of a shop, provided that he expends it all again at the same shop, is a public benefactor to the tradesman whom he robs, and that the same operation, repeated sufficiently often, would make the tradesman a fortune.”
~ John Stuart Mill, writing in 1848

But all these taxes don’t make anyone rich. Not even govt.

“Taxes which are levied on a country … for for the ordinary expenses of the State, and which are chiefly devoted to the support of unproductive labourers, are taken from the productive industry of the country; and every saving which can be made from such expenses will be generally added to the income, if not to the capital of the contributors. When … twenty millions are raised by means of a loan, it is the twenty millions which are withdrawn from the productive capital of the nation…
   “It is by the profuse expenditure of Government, and of individuals, and by loans, that the country is impoverished; every measure, therefore, which is calculated to promote public and private economy, will relieve the public distress; …”

~ David Ricardo, from chapter 17, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

And so does all that govt debt, which could have otherwise been spent productively…

“[It is said] that the debts of a nation are debts due from the right hand to the left, by which the body is not weakened. It is true that the general wealth is not diminished by the payment of the interest on arrears of the debt … but the principal of the debt—what has become of that? It exists no more. The consumption which has followed the loan has annihilated a capital which will never yield any further revenue. The society is deprived not of the amount of interest, since that passes from one hand to the other, but of the revenue from a destroyed capital. This capital, if it had been employed productively by him who lent it to the State, would equally have yielded him an income, but that income would have been derived from a real production, and would not have been furnished from the pocket of a fellow citizen.”
Jean Baptiste Say, from Book III, chapter 9, of his Treatise on Political Economy

But don’t deficits mean govt can spend without raising taxes?

“Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hikers.”
~ Ron Paul

But, but …what if we just tax the hell out of the rich? As even Warren Buffett reckons should be done?

Cypress Semiconductor’s T.J. Rodgers points out this attitude stinks for everybody, every way up you look at it.  It is bad, it’s wrong, and it’s immoral.

Like it or not, the 1% actually provides the standard of living for the 99%.

The overwhelming majority of our contemporaries, ranging from the illiterate to the highly educated, are utterly ignorant of the role of privately owned means of production—capital—in the economic system. As they see matters, wealth in the form of means of production and wealth in the form of consumers’ goods are essentially indistinguishable. For all practical purposes, they have no awareness of the existence of capital and of its importance.
    Thus, capitalists are generally depicted as fat men, whose girth allegedly signifies an excessive consumption of food and of wealth in general, while their alleged victims, the wage earners, are typically depicted as substantially underweight, allegedly signifying their inability to consume, thanks to the allegedly starvation wages paid by the capitalists.
imageThe truth is that in a capitalist economic system, the wealth of the capitalists is not only overwhelmingly in the form of means of production, such as factory buildings, machinery, farms, mines, stores, warehouses, and means of transportation and communication, but all of this wealth is employed in producing for the market, where its benefit is made available to everyone in the economic system who is able to afford to buy its products.
    Consider. Whoever can afford to buy an automobile benefits from the existence of the automobile factory and its equipment where that car was made. He also benefits from the existence of all the other automobile factories, whose existence and competition served to reduce the price he had to pay for his automobile. He benefits from the existence of the steel mill that provided the steel for his car, and from the iron mine that provided the iron ore needed for the production of that steel, and, of course, from the existence of all the other steel mills and iron mines whose existence and competition served to hold down the prices of the steel and iron ore that contributed to the production of his car….
    For the capital of the capitalists is the foundation both of the supply of products that everyone buys and of the demand for the labour that all wage earners sell. More capital—a greater amount of wealth in the possession of the capitalists—means a both a larger and better supply of products for wage earners to buy and a greater demand for the labour that wage earners sell.
George Reisman, ‘How the 1% Provides the Standard of Living of the 99%

Because in the end, whatever the politicians tell you when speaking out of both sides of their mouth, the truth is:

A good lesson to remember on Budget Week.


Quote of the Day: “Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.”


“We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child's spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself. That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendour during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.”
        ~ Maria Montessori


[Hat tip Marsha Enright]


‘The Tempest,’ by Aleah Chapin



In the tradition of and with a similar spirit to Auguste Rodin’s ‘She Who Was Once the Helmet-Maker’s Beautiful Wife,’Aleah Chapin paints strong older women. And she does it with a stunning technique.

These intimate, arrestingly realistic oil-on-canvas nudes focus on the shapes and patterns the women's bodies create as they interact and the emotions their movements convey. As a result, each gives voice to the personal histories its subjects share, from past pains and scars to moments of childlike happiness. The feelings that words so often fail to describe—better expressed by a beatific smile, a cackle, a scream, or something in between—are precisely what Chapin captures.

[Hat tip Jasmine Kamante and Jesper Sundwall]


Monday, 23 May 2016

“Get them early, said the Jesuits…”


Get them early, said the Jesuits, and you can indoctrinate them for life. The modern-day mediocricy-mongers have learned that lesson well.

A friend from North Melbourne sent me through this idiocy from their latest primary school newsletter:

You may have seen some important signs popping up around the school and playground as well as a concentrated amount in the Prep corridor. This is due to our busy sign makers who are concluding their Deeper Learning experience which focused on 'how signs and symbols communicate a message and keep us safe in our community.' We have had a busy term and a half focusing on Citizenship which included visits from Kathy, the Police, Fire Brigade and the RACV.
We have also scoped the perimeter of our school and can report that there are "tonnes" of signs keeping our school safe. So beware of passionate little Foundation members promoting their new messages such as "no climbing up the slide", "This way to sick bay/first aid" and the very important "no throwing rocks!"

I should point out that the newsletter s not written by someone for whom English is their second language, but the school’s principal. Anway, here’s just some of what these five-year-olds were encouraged to post around the school as part of their “Deeper Learning Experience” (spot the odd one out):





It all reminded me of this cartoon by Nick Kim:



Do immigrants steal jobs?


Since everyone wants to comment on American immigration, now matter how little they know about it, let’s destroy three popular myths …

  1. that immigrants are a drag on economic actvity;
  2. that imigrants steal wages;
  3. that immigrants suppress wages:

[Hat tip Jim Rose]


Voting for "the lesser of two evils" is a total waste of your vote



For some reason, many New Zealanders are desperately interested in who votes what in America this year even though NZers themselves won’t vote.

Anway, Jeffrey Singer is an American who generally votes Republican. But not this year.

He reckons that voting for "the lesser of two evils," as so many Trumpeters propose, is a total waste of your vote –the principal practical argument being that the choice of HillaRump no real choice at all  -- and the principal moral argument being that to vote against what you actually believe is the biggest waste of a vote that could be imagined.

He offers his line of reasoning as “a guide to others who might be agonising over their decision this year.”

Athough my personal political philosophy is libertarian, like most people, over the years I have surrendered to the binary choice our two-party system gives us when casting my vote in presidential elections. I almost always find myself settling for a “lesser of two evils,” but the “evil” is not so great as to prevent me from rationalising what amounts to, by my vote, an endorsement or affirmation of the candidate.
    Because at least rhetorically, the Republican party candidate promises a greater commitment to limited, constitutional government, entitlement reform, tackling the national debt, and a belief in the benefits of free trade, I have voted for the Republican candidate for president ever since Ronald Reagan. The Republicans repeatedly disappoint on matters of foreign policy, seeing the US as world policeman. But the Democrats fare little better on foreign policy—sometimes even worse. So foreign policy as a vote-determining factor between the two major parties tended to be a wash for me. I often profoundly disagree with the Republicans on many of the “culture war” and so-called social issues, but I have had confidence that our Constitution and judiciary will defend against any overreach by Republicans in that area.
    So as a matter of practicality, I have tended to base my vote on the differences between the two major party candidates on matters of economic liberty and commitment to the principles of federalism and limited government. I recognise the politicians in both political parties have differing promises but similar results: bigger government, greater debt, less individual liberty. But I use the party platforms and the candidates’ rhetoric to help in my rationalization (some would say self-delusion) that I am voting for someone who will, at best, move things in a better direction or, at worst, be a lesser of two evils that I can live with.
    Not so this year.

No, not this year. This year may be the worst choice of big-two candidates at any time in American history. But some Americans, like Mr Singer, still like to vote.

Not voting certainly provides the satisfaction of knowing that I did not sanction or legitimise the offerings of the two major parties. But that satisfaction is only personal and private. I want to more actively make my views known. Using the following chain of logic, I have found a positive way to express myself through, what I believe, is the most effective allocation of my vote in November:

1) According to Professor Ilya Somin in Democracy and Political Ignorance, my vote has, on average, a roughly 1 in 60 million chance of being the decisive vote in the Presidential election. (It might be a great as 1 in 10 million in my relatively small state of Arizona. It would have a roughly 1 in a billion chance of being decisive if I lived in California.)
2) If I vote for the lesser of evils and hold my nose, my vote is blended in with millions of others—there is no way to register my dissatisfaction with the choices the two major parties have given me. There is no way to separate those who voted for a lesser of two evils from those who voted because they actually LIKED the candidate.
3) If I vote for the Libertarian party candidate, I am directly affecting the vote total of that candidate. Because that candidate will get fewer total votes than the major party candidates, when all votes are totalled up, I will have had a greater effect on raising the total percentage of votes for the Libertarian candidate. If the Libertarian candidate garners say, 5 percent of the vote as opposed to 1 percent, then my vote made a greater impact in making a statement than it would have if it was folded in with the 40 or 50 million voters who voted for a major party candidate.
4) If the Libertarian candidate gets say, 5 percent of the vote, then that clearly means that 5 percent of the voters chose a candidate that they KNEW had absolutely no chance of winning, rather than choosing the lesser of two evils. What’s more, they chose the candidate with the most pro-freedom, pro-Constitution, pro-Bill of Rights program. That sends a clear message.


5) By casting my vote for the Libertarian presidential candidate, my vote is actually more meaningful and makes more of a statement.

My conclusion: Voting for the lesser of two evils is statistically and strategically wasting my vote. I will vote Libertarian for president this year. This rationale does not necessarily apply to how I will vote in the down ballot races, where my vote has a greater numerical impact, I have a greater ability to directly communicate my views, and I might have less marked dissatisfaction with many of the candidates.
I offer my line of reasoning as a guide to others who might be agonising over their decision this year.

And with the likely Libertarian Party candidate polling already in respectable numbers, and the likely Libertarian Party presidential ticket this election boasting more high-level political experience than the two big-party nominees combined – and that ticket being led by a Governor of a border-state with more first-hand knowledge of border issues than the noisy blowhard from New York -- the argument just grows more compelling.



  • "There’s no question that social mores have changed in a more libertarian direction over the past generation. That’s old news.
        “What’s new is the Republican Party’s potential abandonment, under Donald Trump, of free trade and free markets. And with the Cold War over, and the war on terror uncertain, neither Democrats nor Republicans have clear foreign policies.
        “What I come back to is the need for prudent governance. Who knows that better than former governors who have had to bridge the chasm of Republican free-market values with Democratic social liberalism?
        “In nine of the past 10 presidential elections, a former governor has been on a major-party presidential ballot. The former governor won in seven of those nine elections. In the election of 2016, might former Gov. Johnson be the best choice to bring prudence and reason to the presidency?"
    Will 2016 be the breakout year for the Libertarian Party? – DESERT NEWS
  • “An opportunity to pick a positive good, not just the lesser of two evils.”
    A Libertarian Ticket Sane Republicans Can Get Behind – DAILY BEAST
  • “Roger Stone may be a Trump ally, but he's giving high marks to the Libertarian ticket.”
    Top Trump Ally Offers Glowing Review of Libertarian Candidates – ABC NEWS
  • “Rachel Maddow reports on why Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, is putting together a credible case for viability in the general election with a sound vice presidential pick and potential Koch backing.”
    Gary Johnson aims to offer voters a 'plan C' – MSNBC
  • “William F. Weld, the twice-elected former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has agreed to run for vice president [on the Libertarian Party ticket] with former Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico.”
    Bill Weld, Running as a Libertarian, Likens Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan to Kristallnacht – N.Y. TIMES

A stolen boxing broadcast


A fellow unhappy with the cost and quality of the $49 pay-per-view Parker fight paid the promoters for the broadcast on his televion at home, then live-streamed the view of his television to what ended up being about 20,000 online viewers.

Not unnaturally the fight’s promoter, Dean Lonergan, is unhappy to be losing out on that $1 million.

Now, it’s true that not all of those 20,000 or so would have stumped up the $49 otherwise (they may have watched it instead at the pub, or not bothered to watch the fight at all) so Lonergan was never going to get that whole million.

And it’s true that with easy video apps on mobile phones --  and the rise of the likes of easy-streaming apps like Periscope, and other websites regularly re-streaming other broadcaster’s property – that streaming and rebroadcasting other live events, either truly live or by videoing your television or computer – of just by pinching someone else’s stream -- is just going to keep getting easier and easier.

And it’s also true that the host broadcaster, Sky, has adopted several very effective methods by which to really piss off its customers and destroy whatever loyalty they might otherwise feel to the broadcaster.

But … none of this makes the theft any more justifiable, does it? Indeed, with the inexorable rise of all this exciting new technology, it makes it even more important to get the morality of it right.

It’s not a new argument; it’s the same old argument about intellectual property we’ve had any times before, with some folf thinking that because theft of someone else’s property is becoming easier, that this somehow makes it justifiable. As if a new fashionable style of clothing were to justify pickpocketing simply because it made the pockets more vulnerable.

Not so.

Ease does not justify theft.

In all senses that you care to examine, the fight, the broadcast and the production of the broadcast are the property of the broadcaster and promoter. It’s their fight, their broadcast, their product – and they have to pay all the bills to make it happen, and earn enough to make it happen again. They are entitled to sell it on whatever terms they care to, including prohibitions against rebroadcast. (Terms to which anyone paying their fee has agreed.)

The dickhead who violated this agreement sees himself as a “Robin Hood,” robbing from the rich broadcaster to distribute their product to the sporting poor who otherwise couldn’t afford to watch.

It may have been expensive and overpriced. But it’s their fight, their broadcast, their product. So it’s their call how they choose to price it. (“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana,” says Bill Gates, that of sporting events in particular. And with only a small local audience on which to draw, the promoter needs to be able to earn enough from those few punters to pay for the purse and everything needed to make the whole product happen)

It may be that Sky sucks. (In fact, it’s true that they do.) But it’s their fight, their broadcast, their product. Don’t like it? Then don’t do business with them.

It may be too that many of those who did watch the re-streamed broadcast couldn’t have afforded to watch it otherwise. That may be true, though I doubt it. But so what? It’s neither their fight, their broadcast, nor their product. It’s not up to them to set any terms whatsoever, because it’s just not theirs. It’s the property of broadcaster and promoter.

And taking away or reducing their profit reduces the likelihood of future broadcasts and promotions. (As Ludwig Von Mises observed: “Without copyright protection, musicians, authors, and composers are in the position of having to bear all the costs of production while the benefits go to others.”)

As technology changes we do need to resurrect the public morality that publicly rejects theft. Today’s one of those days in that battle.


Friday, 20 May 2016

The Alt-Right's "Demographic Nightmare" Is... Texas 2016

The Lone Star State Is Majority Minority Already

Guest post by Scott Sumner

There is a growing strand of thought on the conservative “alt-right” that worries about demographic change, especially changes triggered by immigration.

The percentage of Americans who are non-Hispanic white is projected to fall from 62.2% in 2014 to only 43.6% in 2060.  The alt-right seems to have two worries about this:

  • A growing minority population they say, especially Hispanics, will lead to American becoming poorer, more like a third world country.
  • Non-whites are more likely to support socialist-type spending programs they say, partly because they are poorer, and partly because they lack the “Anglo-Saxon cultural tradition” of loving liberty.

I don't wish to discuss the validity of those worries, other than to say that I don't share this anxiety over demographic change.

Instead, I'd like to explore what America will look like in 2060. Below I provide the projections from the Census Bureau. Unfortunately, there was some double counting, as Hispanic non-whites were counted twice in the data, leading to the percentages adding up to a bit more than 100%. Thus, only the total Hispanic and the non-Hispanic white figures are accurate. I adjusted the other figures based on what we know today about the share of non-whites who are also Hispanic. In parentheses, I've added the unadjusted figures, which as I said add up to more than 100%. Fortunately, none of my later claims will hinge on the accuracy of these adjustments.


So that's the horror story that we are all supposed to fear.

Then I looked for a state that had some similar demographics right now, to get a sense of what it would be like to live in this sort of dystopian nightmare. And I found one — Texas! Indeed, the Lone Star state is even "worse" from a neo-reactionary perspective:


The non-Hispanic white share is almost identical to America in 2060. But the Hispanic share is actually much higher today in Texas than it will be in America in 2060. In contrast, the Asian share in Texas today is only half as large as expected in America in 2060. Why do I say this is "worse"? Because many of the people who complain about demographic change seem particularly worried about the growing Hispanic population. I even recall one popular "alt-right" type who referred to them as "rapists and drug dealers." In contrast, they often single out Asians as a "model minority" that has been quite successful in America.

Whatever you think of these demographic characterisations, one thing is clear: from a neo-reactionary perspective, the Texas of 2014 is even "worse" than the America of 2060.

I hope that by now you see the problem, or indeed a few problems:

  1. Neoreactionaries seem to think the America of 2060 will be a particularly inhospitable place for white people. And yet white folks are moving to Texas in droves. Indeed the only other state that comes close (in terms of absolute population growth) is Florida, which also has lots of blacks and Hispanics (but not very many Asians).
  2. The Texas economy is also highly successful. Even during the oil bust, people continue to move to Texas and its population continues to grow rapidly, up by nearly a half million (almost 2%) in the most recent year (mid-2014 to mid-2015). The unemployment rate is only 4.2%, close to the 4.0% considered optimal by Bernie Sanders. And this was accomplished despite the hemorrhaging of oil jobs.
  3. In electoral terms, Texas is a fairly conservative, small government state.

So there you have it. Theory falsified. The alt-right's looming demographic nightmare is best represented by Texas, a state that is economically quite successful, draws in lots of white migrants from other states, and votes conservative. (I wonder what their ideal state looks like? Maybe West Virginia, which is America's least Hispanic state.)

What about going further out than 2060? My response would be that no one knows what the distant future will look like. The Anglo-Saxon worries about Irish immigrants in the 1800s look ridiculous today. I'm not denying that demographics matter to some extent — I do believe that cultural differences can be important. I just think the worries about America are absurdly overdone. We'll be fine. And if we aren't, it won't be due to demographics.

Scott Sumner is the director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center and a professor at Bentley University. He blogs at the Money Illusion and Econlog.
This post first appeared at


  • “The alt-right originated by looking at the left’s caricature of the right as racists and pro-white tribalists and saying, in effect: sure, we’ll be that … dressing up economic protectionism, white supremacism, and tribalism as a defense of western civilisation.
        “The alt-right isn’t part of the intellectual traditions of the American right, nor is it an alternative to anything. It’s just the same old white-sheet set, repackaged with red ‘Make America Great Again’ golf caps. They’re serving as ignorant tools of the left, and they should be exposed as such.”
    “White Sheets and Red Golf Caps” – Robert Tracinski, THE FEDERALIST
  • “Most on the Alt-Right do not only reject the ‘conservative Establishment’ or some other contemporary bogeyman; they also reject the ideals of classical liberalism as such. That rejection grounds the thinking of Jared Taylor, and Richard Spencer, for instance — representative “intellectuals” of the Alt-Right, according to Bokhari and Yiannopoulos. These men — the founders of the publications American Renaissance and Radix Journal, respectively — have not simply been ‘accused of racism.’ They are racist, by definition. Taylor’s ‘race realism,’ for example, co-opts evolutionary biology in the hopes of demonstrating that the races have become sufficiently differentiated over the millennia to the point that the races are fundamentally — that is, biologically — different. Spencer, who promotes ‘White identity’ and ‘White racial consciousness,’ is beholden to similar ‘scientific’ findings.”
    The Racist Moral Rot at the Heart of the Alt-Right – Ian Tuttle, NRO
  • “’Such progressive exemplars as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross promoted an influential theory known as race suicide, Ross’s term for the notion that racially inferior immigrants, by undercutting American workers’ wages, outbred and displaced their Anglo-Saxon betters.’ Bigotry has always liked to borrow a veneer of intellectual backing, even as it dreams up forms of legal exclusion. …”
    Trump: Cashing in on a century of fetid ideas – NOT PC
  • “Australia’s refugee detention programme is supposed to save the country while saving the country money. Neither is true.”
    Australia’s refugee detention programme “uneconomic, inhumane and flat-out stupid” – NOT PC


Australia’s refugee detention programme “uneconomic, inhumane and flat-out stupid”


Australia’s refugee detention programme is supposed to save the country* while saving the country money.

Neither is true.

Minister in charge of the programme Peter Dutton is down to arguing that a flood of "illiterate and innumerate" refugees “would be taking Australian jobs, there's no question about that." It surely makes you wonder how poorly Australians must be doing their jobs if they would be taken by folk who are illiterate, innnumerate and (in Mr Dutton’s eyes) barely human.

If they weren’t in here stealing Australian’s jobs, says Dutton, they’d be out their languishing on welfare – costing Australian taxpayers money. (You wouldn’t know an election is going on, would you?) Yet the programe to keep them out is already costing Australian taxpayers several billions. (Not to mention any reputation for humanity.) Taken together, refugee detention centres cost more then putting 670,600 people on the dole. Or to put it another way, every single asylum seeker currently detained on Manus or Nauru already costs Australian taxpayers around $400,000 for each person every year.

By contrast, allowing asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs just $12,000 each person per year, one twentieth of the cost of the offshore camps, and even less if they are allowed the right to work.

And work is what they do really want, which is how refugees more than pay their way. Indeed,

the latest report from [Peter Dutton’s] own department, compliled just a couple of years ago, shows that overwhelmingly refugees, asylum-seekers, those who’ve come in under the humanitarian programme to Australia overwhelmingly contribute. They are not a burden on [taxpayers]…
    These reports by his department that have been prepared over twenty or thirty years have shown that they are the opposite of a burden or a cost to the Austrailan economy and society. They contribute on every level possible. They are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here,and they make something of themselves.
    And just as a sidebar: five of the eight billionaires on the
BRW Rich List have come from impoverished migrant backgrounds.

So not just uneconomic, but inhumane and flat-out stupid.

No wonder the ruling Liberal Party see this treatment as an Australian election winner.


* But, but, if taxpayers guardians weren’t out there on the high seas stopping the boats, says Julie Bishop, there would be “millions” of “boat people” flooding in.
Not true: “The highest ever number of asylum seekers to arrive by boat in one year, 2013, was 21,000. That was just 9% of Australia’s overall annual immigration intake that year. In the same year the USA took 88,400 claims, France took 60,100, Germany 109,600 and Italy 27,800. The Liberal government has now slashed the annual intake to 16,500.”


#FeelTheBern | Venezuela edition [updated]



I hope youthful advocates of socialism have been watching the acopalypse in slow motion that is being inflicted upon Venezuelans by their experiment with socialism. It’s working out exactly as badly for them as anyone could have predicted.

The country’s oil riches – ”more proven oil reserves than any country in the world” – have not saved them from what has been inexorable in every worker’s paradise yet devised.

First, with price signals and profits banned, there are serious shortages: food, medicine, toilet paper, electricity. Indeed, their richness in oil reserves hasn’t even made oil immune to the inevitable: unable to get it out of the ground in sufficient quantity, Venezuela is now importing oil. And with shortages of food, “Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons as Food Runs Out: Economic Crisis and Food Shortages Lead to Looting and Hunting Stray Animals.”

And with that, inevitably: inflation. Desperate to “fix” things, or at least to appear to, printing money has delivered only an abundance of printed paper bills, and an inflation rate of around 720%. (And paradoxically, Venezuela doesn’t even have enough money now to pay for the paper to print more money to keep up with its hyperinflation.)

And with threats not working, the next thing is outright thuggery (the only thing of which the socialist state is never short: President Maduro is now preparing to seize factories and jail their owners.

And: crime. With the police otherwise occupied, Venezuela now enjoys the highest crime rate in the world – one Venezuelan murdered every 28 minutes.

Forget the stories of socialised medicine too: the economic emergency has become “a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans” as doctors and staff flee and -- without medicine, electricity or even gloves or soap – hospitals collapse into something last seen in Dante’s hell.

This has all happened in just under a decade. That’s how rapidly collapse can happen.

What happens next?

What have rulers of every socialist paradise done every time to take their subjects’ mind of disaster?

Yes, you guessed it. From today’s news headlines:

The Lesson? That full-blown socialism delivers neither peace nor prosperity – just penury and perdure.

Make sure that everyone you know under forty is watching the present disaster play out.

Watching and, hopefully, learning.

[Hat tip Foundation for Economic Education, thoughtcrime, HedgedIn ]


  • “About the same time I was listening to [John Lennon] sing “Imagine,” this item came across my news feed:
          “’By morning, three newborns were already dead. The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic
          shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting
          down the respirators in the maternity ward. Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their
          ungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died. “The death of a baby is our daily bread,”
          said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s
          collapsing hospitals.’
    “Venezuela has some of the world’s largest supplies of oil, with more proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. But about 15 years ago, the late president Hugo Chavez set out to impose a socialist revolution, making a particular point about his great munificence in providing free health care for everyone. In pursuit of this revolution, Chavez crushed every industry outside the oil sector and brought the state-owned oil company under his control. The result has been a long spiral into poverty and oppression. Now we can see the results: socialism literally kills babies.
        “It began by imagining no possessions…”
    Imagine No Possessions, Imagine Venezuela – Robert Tracinski, TRACINSKI LETTER


Barr House, by Claude Megson



Megson’s Barr House, from 3d model

I posted a plan and a few pics a few months back of Claude Megson’s wonderful Barr House, saying at the time that it is so far undeservedly unpublished (soon to change, watch this space). FloorPlansWith his growing sophistication in manipulating space came a floor plan (above) that very few can follow. Until now!

A little 3d modelling of the house, and we have these model views and cutaway floor plans that make the house and its changes in level a little easier to fathom for those who haven’t been lucky enough to visit.

Ground-level floor layout

UpperStorey-FloorLayoutUpper-story floor layout

You can hopefully see much more clearly the beginning of the two-zoned house concept that bore fruit majestically in mature work like the Norris House, but used here at the Barr House much more geometrically.

Street Entrance: Motor Court


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Economics For Real People: Explaining economic growth



Here’s a note from our friends at the Auckland Uni Economics Group about tonight’s seminar. (All welcome—especially non-economists!)

Tonight’s University of Auckland Economics Group Seminar:
A survey of the approaches taken by economic historians to explaining the causes of modern economic growth
The problem of explaining the causes of modern economic growth looms large in the economic-history literature. The twelve-fold increase in the material standard of living since the industrial revolution, only enjoyed by a small fraction of the world’s population, is the central observation in the field. Since the pioneering work of Colin Clark and Simon Kuznets, empirically and theoretically informed economic historians have attempted to measure, locate, and explain the causes of modern economic growth.
    In this week’s Economics Group seminar we are excited to be joined by Dr. Geoffrey Brooke from AUT. He will outline the various methods employed by economic historians and discuss the results of such methods, which have been mixed. Geoff will explain how this literature is characterized by the failure of empirical studies grounded in neoclassical price theory to explain the mechanism by which growth occurs.
    This failure has resulted in a return to searching for the necessary conditions required for growth to occur.

        Date: Thursday, May 19
Time: 6-7pm
Location: Case Room 4, Level Zero, School of Business and Economics

See you there!

PS: Keep up to date with us on our 2016 Facebook Page.

End carpet-sprawl by removing the city limits [updated]


Ever since Labour’s housing spokesman came out yesterday in favour of removing the planners’ ring-fence around Auckland, otherwise known as the Metropolitan Urban Limit, there has been any amount of ill-informed commentary in response – most of it opposed to “sprawl.” [UPDATE: One of the ill-informed is the present housing minister who in his two-faced way says ‘It would be counter-productive to ditch [his present] work at this time with a simplistic approach of just abolishing city limits.”]

There is a great deal of ignorance over urban sprawl, much of it on display in an interview this morning with Gary Taylor of the Environmental Defence Society (the luvvies’ favourite NIMBY group).

Taylor purported to recognise the need for more housing, but reluctant to allow it on his watch. He eventually conceded he could be happy with “shifting the currrent limit” rather than removing it, but insisted he remained unhappy with “untrammelled urban sprawl.”


Is he not aware that the very best way to encourage speculative land-banking and encourage untrammelled “carpet” sprawl –two things to which Taylor is adamantly opposed -- is precisely to keep shifting the current limit bit by bit by bit, each time rewarding those who had landbanked just beyond the boundary, and filling up the newly-“opened” land with the very carpet sprawl he claims to despise.

This has been precisely the policy followed by enthusiasts for the misnamed Smart Growth school of planning, and precisely the result.

Owen McShane explained the process in a presentation delivered a few years before he died (pdf), of which this the briefest of excerpts:

Smart Growth delivers Carpet-Sprawl because even the most rigorous Smart Growth city eventually has to extend its Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) to provide more land for residential, commercial and industrial use.
In [2006]
the Mayors of both Waitakere City and Manukau City have pleaded for extensions to their MULs. Even Smart Growth planners acknowledge these “adjustments” will be necessary from time to time.
The sequence of events is as follows:
• The MUL is initially set to allow for the next period of growth to take place within the existing “urban form”.
• Eventually this enclosed area fills to the point where there is essentially no zoned land left for further growth or it has become so expensive that no one can afford to use it.
• In the meantime many activities have simply leap-frogged into territory outside the Smart Growth planners’ jurisdiction, which is why Northland Region is now growing so rapidly.
• Open space inside the MUL is sacrificed to high density carpet development to “save” open space outside the MUL.
• At some point the situation becomes intolerable and the people and their representatives demand an extension of the MUL to enclose some piece of surrounding rural land.
• Once this “bulge” is made legal then development and intensification begins again until the new “bulge” is also full of high density carpet development and some relief is allowed in some other part of the city.
Obviously, as this process is repeated the city expands into the rural area as medium or high density “carpet sprawl.” The only difference from the post-war sprawl is that there will be a greater variety of housing types because the market demand is more varied and regulations covering section sizes and housing types have been relaxed since the sixties, and the overall density will be higher.

I'd be interested in hearing from supporters of planning, zoning and so-called 'Smart Growth' how they feel about producing the very thing they say they oppose.

In the meantime, perhaps they might contemplate that the effect of removing the ring-fence altogether (as Twyford proposes) rather than just to shift it (as Taylor reluctantly allows) is not to deliver sprawl at all, but to open up the possibility of a network of small satellite “rural hamlets” or “managed parks” appearing around the outside of the present city limits in areas of most value to those who might live there, with low-impact land engineering and onsite water treatment reducing the impact and encouraging plant growth, and the reduced infrastructure needed paid for by the Municipal Infrastructure Bonds Twyford proposes, and that have worked so well overseas.

A Managed Park (Green Growth) Hamlet designed by
Owen McShane for the Mangawhai Catchment


Couldn’t that be exciting!

Much more than a combination of carpet sprawl, ten-acre blocks, and land-bankers being handed risk-free profits.


“…and a man lay dying”


What a very sad story yesterday, about the discovery of an elderly man’s decomposing body in a Dixon St flat, in Wellington, said to have been dead for at least six months. The third time in 14 months a body has been found similarly unloved, not even the neighbours aware of the passing.

A very sad situation. People will say that this is just a reflection of life in the uncaring big city, but it really doesn’t need to be that way, does it.

Here’s a song Eric Bogle wrote about a similar story in Sydney a few years ago.


  • “When government gets out of the way, though… that’s where the real progress takes place. Where communities slowly return, and where people begin banding together to help out one another again.”
    Liberty is Compassion – Chris Campbell, LAISSEZ FAIRE TODAY

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Twyford proposes ending city’s ring-fence [updated]


Very rarely do politicians deserve berating in the morning and praise in the afternoon. So take a bow Labour Party – in calling for the Goverment to abolish Auckland’s city limits, your housing spokesman Phil Twyford has kicked a major goal for your team:

Labour wants the Government to abolish Auckland's city limits to get people out of cars, caravans, garages and tents.
    Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the urban growth boundary had to go because it has fuelled the housing crisis and people would not be forced into bad circumstances if the Government acted.
    "The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council's Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis," Twyford said.
    "Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn't prevented sprawl, but it has helped drive land and housing costs through the roof. It has contributed to a housing crisis that has allowed speculators to feast off the misery of Generation Rent, and forced thousands of families to live in garages and campgrounds," Twyford said.
    "Labour's plan will free up the restrictive land use rules that stop the city growing up and out. It will stop land prices skyrocketing, and put the kibosh on landbankers and speculators."

All very true, and all of a piece with what Twyford said back in November: that the cause of this housing crisis is planning rules. (Yes, he’s been improving fast.) He has other thoughts as well, that

the Government use its upcoming National Policy Statement on housing and urban land use to … free up density rules to accelerate Auckland's ability to grow housing supply both out and up.


to use new methods of funding infrastructure so that Councils don't have to lump costs on all ratepayers and on developers, who are stuck paying high development contributions that they pass on to home buyers in a lump sum.

So, all good and thoughtful stuff!

Mind you, National’s housing spokesthings said much the same good things when they were in opposition, and we’ve seen how little they’ve done since. And Twyford’s preferred solution is still, somehow, commissioning the building of unprofitable state houses that will somehow show a profit pay for them.

And just freeing up the boundary in the new Plan isn’t going to immediately open up land anyway; not until the planners contempate the zoning for the newly “released” land.

So perhaps, in the interim, given this emergency we could resurrect the presumption that anyone with any site anywhere (both up and out) should have the automatic right to build at least one (or one more) house on any given site, provided only that rights to neighbour’s light and air and sunlight are protected.

And in the longer term, it’s to get rid altogether of the failed planning regime and the Resource Management Act that is their talisman, and repair to the common law it has long buried.

And in the meantime, at least, give thanks that one politician at least is prepared to contemplate solutions to his portfolio that might not seem to fit his ideological persuasion, but will actually help those he claims to represent.

[Hat tip Hugh Pavletich]

UPDATE: You can sign a petition here (from the Taxpayers Union) calling on the Government to adopt Labour’s policy on abolishing the Auckland Metropolitan Urban Limit. The more people who sign the petition, the more pressure on National to do the right thing and sign up to Labour’s policy: