Tuesday, 6 December 2016

American Politics and the rise of Trump - Liberty on the Rocks: Happy Hour

 

LoTR

Well, technically, I guess, given the election and the candidates on offer it should be called an unhappy hour. But since it’s at a handy Mt Eden location filled with liberty lovers and Belgian beer, the last Liberty on the Rocks event for 2016 can’t fail to be a happy affair.

And this time we’re joined by someone who was once a delegate in the US Presidential Election political process to answer all your burning questions. Like:

How does the American political system work?

Is it a Republic? A Democracy?

How in the world did Donald Trump just come to power?

Come get all your burning questions answered by someone who was a delegate in the US Presidential Election political process.

Liberty on the Rocks is a happy hour for liberty-minded folks looking to meet others, build their knowledge and friendships over beers, food and great conversation.

Join us anytime between 6-9 PM at De Post in Mount Eden. Anyone is welcome! This is a very informal happy hour although we do bring in speakers for about 30-minutes each night and sometimes host activities/games. We are always welcoming to newcomers and anyone interested in the ideas of liberty, peace and voluntary interaction.

When: Tomorrow, 7 December
What time: From 6-9pm
Where: Upstairs, De Post Belgian Bar, 466 Mt Eden Rd (
map)

See you there!

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A can-kicking PM

 

John_Key_Cartoon-McGrail

In years to come, I suspect, John Key’s long-term legacy will be seen as being the PM who kicked the can down the road.

He was a man who understood many of the issues a new government urgently needed to address, and even clearly articulated what that government needed to do to address them. Yet he didn’t do any of them. Not one.

Instead he smiled and waved, and he kicked the can down the road.

John Key said in 2008 that "Nanny State is storming through your front door.” She still is. He did nothing to stop her.

He said (correctly) that in hoovering up well over a third of working New Zealanders and turning them into welfare beneficiaries Labour’s Working for Families programme was “creeping communism.” Yet he never touched it when in office, and the unsustainable welfare programme is now cemented in and generations of children will grow up knowing nothing but mooching as a way of life.

He said that Labour’s election bribe of interest-free loans for student was “unsustainable.” He did nothing about it in office, and the tertiary and student-debt bubble he subsequently oversaw continues to inflate.

He supported Don Brash in his call for One Law for All, and ran on a platform that promised to abolish the Maori seats. Eight years later separatism now, if anything, is worse – partly because his government has been propped up for three terms by MPs holding the very seats he had pledged to abolish.

In his first election, at at time when the global economy had already melted down, his signal policy was a programme of very substantial tax cuts –“a tax cut programme [fully costed and funded] that will not require any additional borrowing” – a “pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age” – and a promise not to raise GST. He broke both promises. And taxes remain too high, even as government debt and spending increases.

On present numbers and demographics, superannuation is a ticking time bomb. He knows that. He knew it when he promised not to touch it. And even with explosion coming on, he didn’t. It still ticks – and the sound is getting louder.

He oversaw a disaster-recovery programme in what was the country’s second-largest city that took power away from property owners and vested it in instead in several layers of bureaucracy and grand plans from which the central city is still struggling to recover – if it ever will. It could have been different. But it wasn’t.

Aware back in 2007 that housing was already severely unaffordable, he articulated then an unbelievable solution to fix it. Which might have. Yet he never did any of it it, not one jot. Instead he left the the bubble to inflate, creating serious imbalances, rampant consumption of capital, and leaving a generation locked out of home ownership.

Taking office in 2008 government debt was just over $10 billion. In eight years he has taken it six times higher – with no plans in place for it to retreat.

When he took office the wage gap with Australia made us the poorest ‘Australasian state,’ with the average NZ wage around one-third less than the average Ocker. He made that one of his main tasks. His top job. Eight years later, after refusing to do anything to lift NZ productivity (and refusing to even listen to proposals that might), that wage gap remains the same, and the average Tasmanian still earns more than we do.

This is a man who resolutely refused to make hard decisions. Who elected to promise much, and deliver little.

To smile and wave, while refusing to spend his considerable political capital on what former National leader Don Brash calls “the crunchy issues.”

He's jovial, he's friendly, he's cordial ... he's very much seen as one of us and in that sense he's done a good job. But has he tackled the big issues facing New Zealand? Unfortunately not.

It’s said that Key is respected in Australia for keeping the electorate close while still making significant reform. Yet with respect, what reform?!

If Helen Clark’s inadvertent legacy was to cement in virtually all of the reforms enacted by Roger Douglas, then John Key’s will be to have cemented in hers – while offering none of his own, not one, as any kind of counterweight.

It’s said that NZ is better now than it would have been if any of Key’s opponents had been in power – and, certainly, you have to shudder if you imagine where the likes of a Cunliffe-Norman team would have driven us.

But John Key has done precisely nothing to arrest the slide towards big government that makes the policies of a Clark or Cunliffe possible and the statism they promote still palatable – and when one of their ilk does take over again (and with MMP still in place, against which he refused to campaign, then that is more likely than not sometime soon), they will have a state more swollen after his eight years to play with, and the Clark platform he so carefully maintained to give them a flying start.  As Peter McCaffrey observes from Canada,

for many 'conservatives' who seek to maintain the status quo, that [preservation] can be considered an achievement in and of itself.
But for those of us who are reformers, who think government is too big, who think bureaucracy is out of control, who firmly believe in new ideas and policies, then leaving Helen Clark's status quo largely intact (if not worse in some places), is no success.

New Zealand under John Key was always “on the cusp of something special,” which now with his end is revealed as being only the campaign spin that it was.

He is well liked, and by very many. And that is perhaps the very worst thing one could say about a Prime Minister after eight years in office …

Thatcher1

[Hat tips Peter McCaffrey, @caffeine_addict. Key Cartoon by Richard McGrail, Thatcher pic and slogan FNK Creative Workshop.]

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Monday, 5 December 2016

PM to be ex-PM sooner rather than later

 

image

PM Key has announced that by this time next week he will be ex-PM Key, resigning to spend more time with his family.

In this case, that much-overused political alibi is probably true.

For a PM who’s been there nearly three terms, you would think he would leave a legacy. But in his own estimation, the “achievements” he highlighted were “the overhaul of justice agencies,” “trade liberalisation,” “advanced race relations” and “and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.”:

This is not great work. He calls these “reforms” and says they are “far reaching.” In any other language you would call it all “a wasted opportunity.” That’s at best; at worst, they are all destructive of the liberty that remains..

Yes, he remained extraordinarily popular with NZers – which, in many ways was a good thing (NZers taking for what he seemed to be but wasn’t: as what they think of as representing capitalism). But instead of using that political capital to roll back the state, nothing was achieved at all in that direction and much instead the other way.

After eight years of John Key, the country’s policy settings looks little different than they would have under Labour. That is his real legacy as leader.

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper said attention will now be turned to who will take over.
    "Like Helen Clark, there's no natural successor in line, so this is indeed a big announcement from the Prime Minister, and totally unexpected."

Unexpected?  Easy to say in hindsight (yeah, isn’t hindsight great), but if you were to map out the ideal time for a PM to retire if they didn’t plan on a complete fourth term (as he’d previously signalled), then a year out from an election would be a good time to give a successor time to bed in for the campaign, with a holiday period upcoming to give them some space free of media pressure. So in hindsight, early-December 2016 looks ideal.

No natural successor in line? There rarely is, is there.

Joyce and English will fancy themselves, undoubtedly, but the former has less charisma than a telephone pole, and no caucus would surely want a repeat performance from Mr 22%.

Collins too would rate her chances, but I doubt any electorate would agree.

Perhaps Paula Bennett would be the one with most credentials and the least likely to scare the horses. If I were placing a bet, that’s where my money would go. But not any sentiment. 

But the choices aren’t really thick on the ground, if the last eight years look uninspiring for liberty-lovers then, none of those four are likely to correct things.

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Global earthquake animation

 

Required viewing after NZ’s recent experience:

Check out this new SOS dataset of all the earthquakes from 2001 through 2015 from the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center! You can read about it here: http://sos.noaa.gov/Datasets/dataset.php?id=643

 

 

One thing that strikes me very clearly: New Zealand is on very shaky ground that it shares with many other places, yet we take so much our architectural inspiration from places with ground that is much more stable.

Something to rethink, perhaps …

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Not PC’s blog stats for November

 

The Christmas songs have started and there are trees on sale in the streets. Must be December, time to review last month’s blog stats. Here’s the broad overview:

image

I started posted my blog stats here again a few months ago because a few donors were asking. Q: How do you become a donor? A question that deserves an answer: So here’s your PayPal link:


Now, that graph above is what Google says my stats are for last month, whose stats system seems to capture many of the readers using RSS feeds and the like. (And I’ll happily take a figure suggesting over 100,000 page views per month!)

Statcounter has the more sober and maybe more serious figures here:

Stats-Nov2

So if you’re wondering about the reach of NotPC, you have two ways above by which to measure it. (And if you’re thinking that’s pretty good and want to encourage it, then why not click on that handy PayPal link above and say so.)

Now, here are Statcounter’s figures for the months just finished:

Visitors [from Statcounter]: 47,321 (down from 54, 200 last month)
Page views [from Statcounter]: 67,541 (down from 70,930 last month)
Returning visits [from Statcounter]: 19,231 (up from 17,164 last month)

Down a bit on last month overall, but an increase in regular readers – so not too much to complain about.

Any questions? 

Here’s one. Where would that place me among NZ’s political blogosphere?

Well, neither Whale Oil, nor Public Address make their own figures public – for reasons, they say, due to the advertising they smear across their sites. But based on my Statcounter figures NOT PC would comfortably be the fifth-most read blog in the only place that records NZ blog rankings, and the fourth-most read behind Kiwiblog, the Daily Blog and the Double Standard– and with way fewer ads than all those other scum buckets. (Although the blog-ranking system uses SiteMeter, which I don’t.)

So: fourth- (or sixth) -most popular political blog. Not a bad rating I reckons.

And here’s what Google says were the Top Ten Most-Read Posts in the month of November:

  1. 'Zabriskie Point' house - Paolo Soleri
  2. LEAKY HOMES, Part 2: What’s going on inside your walls?
  3. About last night …
  4. Earthquake engineering is harder than you think
  5. Who is Steve Bannon?
  6. While your attention was elsewhere, separatism becomes a feature of the RMA
  7. Bullshit News
  8. John Key has learned nothing from the Christchurch disaster
  9. Who is Milo Yiannopolous?
  10. Safety, stupidity, and why common sense isn’t very common anymore

And these seem to be the Top-Ten Sites and people that sent people here, in order:

No Minister, Facebook, Kiwiblog, Lindsay Mitchell, NZ Conservative, Gus Van Horn, pulse.me/, Pinterest, Life Behind the IRon Drape, Real Good Name, Twitter, and Samizdata. (Thank you all. And thank you too Leighton Smith.)

So in summary, things are still going moderately well, and the blog is still a force in the thinking world. (A unique force in NZ’s thinking world, I humbly suggest.) So if you want to donate to help keep that going, please do be my guest at that Pay Pal link above!)

Either way: Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading, linking to and talking about NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

PS: Now, for the geeks…

Mini-Ramble

 

My Friday ramble is a kind of market research for me. It gives me some inkling what you, dear readers, like reading.

These are the links you liked reading most from last Friday’s reading feast:

  1. Why is the Left Reviving Apartheid? – Matt Ridley, RATIONAL OPTIMIST
  2. A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words – WASHINGTON POST
  3. The Ninth First Climate Refugees – Willis Eschenbach, WATTS UP WITH THAT
  4. As the Great Lao-Tzu once said ...
  5. Why Policing Drug Crime in London Simply Isn’t Working – Alex Stewart, VOLTEFACE
  6. Letter to Phil Goff – RATEPAYER’S ALLIANCE
  7. Debris to be dumped in ocean to fast-track Kaikoura road repairs – STUFF
  8. Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, evacuated to NZ from Antarctica – NEWSTALK ZB
  9. Contradictions of Christianity and the Bible - Some Striking Examples and Cases – WAKELET
  10. The Quotes of Steven Wright – THIS BLEW MY MIND

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The by-election that didn't matter

 

One of the least consequential elections in this country's history has just concluded.

Astonishingly, a safe Labour seat returned a safe Labour candidate.

One more trade unionist is added to the caucus.

Not even front-page news, is it.

So little about which to be surprised, or interested – unless your name is Little. Which is perhaps why no-one was apart from Mr Little and his new apprentice—certainly not the good people of Mt Roskill, who stayed away in droves.

The only folk feigning excitement were those huddled around the beleaguered Labour Leader who, from the closing of the polls, were using words like “triumph” “landslide,” “stunning victory,” and “humiliation” and “a bloody nose for National.” It shows, they say, that “the Key “brand” is well stuffed now.”

This is bullshit. “The result exceed[ed] all expectations," said Labour leader Little. Really? Did he truly expect his candidate to lose a safe seat in a by-election nobody cared about enough to show up?

Get real.

In a by-election that mattered not a jot his trade unionist pulled 11,170 votes out of a possible 46,000 who were enrolled. In the 2014 election Labour’s Mt Roskill candidate, the uninspiring Phil Goof, pulled 18,637 votes. 7500 more.

So hardly a triumph.

The real winner, if winner there was one, was the ‘No’ vote: the vote of all those who stayed home. Around 35,000 votes of no confidence from the electorate, who chose to do something far better with their lives on Saturday than support the charade. Which is just what one candidate, Richard Goode, had predicted:

“Once the votes are tallied, the largest group of voters in this by-election will be the group that voted for nobody at all,” [predicted Goode]. “If we truly live in a democracy, shouldn’t we respect the wishes of the majority and leave the seat of Mt. Roskill vacant?”

It’s a fair point.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday Morning Ramble, 2 December

 

“Business creates wealth;
government divides it.”

~ Will Spencer

The good news story of the day…
Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, evacuated to NZ from Antarctica – NEWSTALK ZB

National is now just Labour without the identity politics.
Nick Leggett’s “defection” surprisingly revealing – NOT PC

Trump's potential incoming Commerce guy, Wilbur Ross, has a bizarre take on sales taxes. And it might mean that the New Zealand government should rethink how it treats imports and exports in GST.
Tax and trade barriers – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

I haven’t fully followed the story, but on the face of it there is much here that needs answering.
Tolley needs to apologise – THE STANDARD
Tolley rules out apology for child abuse in state care – RADIO NZ

When the law gets in the government’s way, the government changes the law. If only it were that easy for the rest of us.
Debris to be dumped in ocean to fast-track Kaikoura road repairs – STUFF

“Of those children born in 2010 who'd been abused or neglected by age two, 76 percent were born into a single-parent setting. This startling fact comes from government research which received little or no publicity. Why?”
Child abuse and family structure – LINDSAY MITCHELL

“It is illegal to pay organ donors for their gift. Economists can easily explain the consequences: at a price of zero, you have a big shortage… Most of the time, economists would just take this as example of the stupid that happens when people can't think clearly about prices and exchange.
    Al Roth instead saw it as a constraint to work around, and came up with matching donors as a way of making things suck less given the constraint that money can't be involved.
    And Chris Bishop, in an excellent bit of policy entrepreneurialism, saw the opportunity to save lives by repackaging things.”
Compensating organ donors – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

“Dear Mr Goff,
Only a politician would think that introducing new targeted rates is the best scheme to ‘keep rates down’ … “
Letter to Phil – RATEPAYER’S ALLIANCE

 

LaoTzu

 

“Identity politics is taking us backwards to division and prejudice.”
Why is the left reviving apartheid? – Matt Ridley, RATIONAL OPTIMIST

“In your lifetime, how many times can you remember when everyone agreed about the significance of a major cultural phenomenon? It is happening now, as libertarians, conservatives, left-liberals and far-leftists all agree that a deep rot has set into Political Correctness.”
Understanding Triggers and Microaggression as *Strategy* (Part 1) – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE
Understanding Triggers and Microaggression as *Strategy* (Part 2) – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE

“He feels he has a moral responsibility to raise it, as it is what he believes.”
Boris Johnson calls for illegal immigrants to be granted amnesty after Brexit – TELEGRAPH

“Over the course of the last twelve months, there has been increased focus on the role of policing drugs in the UK. TV presenter and writer Alex Stewart spent six years working on the front line combating drug related crime in London as a Metropolitan Police Officer. Here he provides a genuinely eye-opening insight into the capricious nature of policing the illicit drug market in the capital.”
Why Policing Drug Crime in London Simply Isn’t Working – Alex Stewart, VOLTEFACE

“About 3% of all medals awarded in Beijing 2008 & London 2012 have been stripped due to doping retests (= 52/~1800).”
A Summary of Olympic Drug Re-Testing So Far – Roger Pielke Jr.,  THE LEAST THING

“Well, the claims of the “first climate refugees” are coming up again. I think we’re up to the ninth first climate refugees, it’s hard to keep track. In any case, I came across this..”
The Ninth First Climate Refugees – Willis Eschenbach, WATTS UP WITH THAT

“Modi govt sold elimination of banknotes as 'surgical strike' against criminality. Result more like carpet bombing.”
Foreign capital outflow from India since demonetisation (below).
India: Demonetisation & its Discontents – INSTITUTE FOR NEW ECONOMIC THINKING
Angry Mobs Lock Up Indian Bankers As Cash Chaos Soars: "We Are Fearing The Worst" – ZERO HEDGE
India’s currency chaos – NOT PC
First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold – NOT PC

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“Long-term, generalised conflicts are always about abstract principles in collision. … Defeating an enemy such as politicised Islam is a multi-front battle — requiring police, military, plus diplomatic, cultural, and philosophical engagement.”
The Fight with Religious Terrorism is a Philosophical, Multi-Generation, Winnable Battle – STEPHEN HICKS

“’I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” the future killer stated in a school profile of him.
So your way of coping is to brutally attack innocent people, Mr. A**** R*** A** A****? Poor baby!”
Islam and P.C.: No Evidence Need Apply – Michael Hurd, LIVING RESOURCES CENTER

“This is the pure evil Mitchell and his colleagues confronted each day at CIA ‘black sites.’ ‘I have looked into the eyes of the worst people on the planet,’ Mitchell writes. ‘I have sat with them and felt their passion as they described what they see as their holy duty to destroy our way of life.’ …
”But perhaps the most riveting part of the book is what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Mitchell about what inspired Al-Qaeda to attack the United States – and the U.S. response he expected.””
A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words – WASHINGTON POST

“Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticise white theocracy, they’ll criticise Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us. . . . The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of 'Islamophobia,' where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people. . . . We have to be able to criticise bad ideas, and Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.” ~ Sam Harris
Sam Harris States the Obvious about Islam, Enrages Ben Affleck – OBJECTIVE STANDARD

Q: “Why would the pope need bullet-proof glass in his car?”
Contradictions of Christianity and the Bible - Some Striking Examples and Cases – WAKELET

“Conflict across the Middle East has many causes. But the combination of an interconnected world in which young people can see and hear how others around the world are living, combined with a system of political and economic governance that makes it extremely difficult for many of them to attain even a modestly secure middle-class economic future, is a recipe for social turmoil.”
Youth and the Economic Future of Arab States – Timothy Taylor, CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST

Surprising, but true: “Venezuela’s infant mortality rate has actually been above Syria’s since 2008.”
Socialism Kills More Babies than War – Chelsea Follett, FEE

 

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Looks promising: “Australia and New Zealand Students For Liberty is compiling a selection of student and academic works on freedom in society, and is releasing a new, semesterly magazine, with its first edition out on December 21st, and print copies to be distributed in O-Week 2017!” Keep your eyes peeled for their first edition – or contribute!
Coming Soon: ‘The Gold Standard’ – STUDENTS FOR LIBERTY

“The son of a domestic worker raised by his sisters in a black township near Pretoria under apartheid, Herman Mashaba became a self-made millionaire in a country that systematically excluded blacks from economic opportunities. Sworn into office on August 22, he must wrangle a coalition that includes the revolutionary socialist Economic Freedom Fighters as he tries to implement an anti-regulation, pro-market agenda.”
Meet Johannesburg's New Libertarian Mayor – Leon Louw, FEE

“If leftist critics want to decry the focus of modern economics on consumption, they should turn their sights on the Keynesian interventionists.”
Consumerism Is Keynesianism  - Steve Horwitz, FEE

“Economists are too detached from the real world and have failed to learn from the financial crisis, insisting on using mathematical models which do not reflect reality, according to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane.”
Economists need to get into the real world, says Bank of England chief economist – TELEGRAPH

Deirdre McCloskey on the origins of the minimum wage…

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“Contrary to the dominant political narrative from members of both parties, which is parroted uncritically by most of the press, there is little evidence that these public works projects promote long-run economic growth.”
The Great Infrastructure Myth – Marc Scribner, FEE

“The Fed's policies continue to cripple the middle class while favouring those few who benefit from the Fed's inflationary policies.”
End the Fed To Really ‘Make America Great Again’ – MISES INSTITUTE

“When it comes to grand, ambitious government programs imposed to make the world more wonderful, nothing ever goes according to plan.”
If All Had Gone According To Plan – Jeffrey Tucker, FEE
The Pretence of Omniscience – Don Boudreuax, FEE

“One of the leading delusions of social engineers, central planners and government regulators is that they know enough to redesign, direct and command the development and evolution of human society and its social and economic institutions…
“It was Adam Ferguson who coined the phase so often used by Austrian Economist F. A. Hayek, that “nations stumble upon establishments [institutions], which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.”
Economic Ideas: Adam Ferguson and Society as a Spontaneous Order – Richard Ebeling, FFF

“How have economic ideas transformed over the past hundred years?” Lawrence H. White, author of The Clash of Economic Ideas, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economists and their ideas of the past one hundred years. They discuss Keynes and Hayek, monetary policy and the Great Depression, Germany after the Second World War, the economy of India, and the future of monetary policy.”
Lawrence White Podcast on EconTalk: The Clash of Economic Ideas – MERCATUS CENTER/ECON TALK

 

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?"
But Tu Quoque asks the question, did Hillary do it first?

~ Keith Weiner, with apologies to Martin Luther King

 

“For us non-Americans it is sometimes hard to understand Donald Trump because he speaks and writes in what the British philosopher Bertrand Russell called “little patches of color”—micro-facts that must be pieced together to form a meaningful picture…
”As I’ve pieced together Mr. Trump’s little patches of color, I’ve come to realize that his real enemy is not globalism but mercantilism…”
The Real Enemy for Trump Is Mercantilism, Not Globalism – Hernando de Soto, WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Donald Trump won the presidency with a promise to ‘drain the swamp’ of crony insider deals in Washington, DC.” Yet “there’s always an excuse for why your gang’s favour-trading is in the public interest, while the other guy’s favour-trading is cronyism. So before Trump even takes office, he’s letting us know that he definitely won’t drain the swamp. You didn’t really think he would, did you?”
Change the swamp – Robert Tracinski, TRACINSKI LETTER
Trump meeting with Goldman Sachs president – THE HILL

“How Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary, made millions buying failed IndyMac.”
Steven Mnuchin’s Defining Moment: Seizing Opportunity From the Financial Crisis – WALL STREET JOURNAL

“The economic illiteracy of protectionism.”
Threats & cronyism–and he’s still only President-elect! – NOT PC

“Six months of fake news stories about Hillary Clinton didn't doom her election chances; two decades of real news stories did. But the fake-news meme provides Democrats with an excuse to avoid self-reflection; it clears Clinton (and them) of any responsibility for the loss."
The Liberal Postmortem on 2016 Is Not Going Well – Barton Hinkle, REASON

“Which might make you wonder: Why were we donating to them in the first place?”
Australia ceases multimillion-dollar donations to controversial Clinton family charities – NEWS.COM.AU

“The alt-right didn’t invent post truth. But it’s certainly learned how to take advantage of the left’s abuse & overuse of it.”
Who gave us post truth, conspiracy culture and the alt-right? – Mehrdad Amanpour, HARRY’S PLACE

“Instead of keeping them in place, we must finally understand that such policies are seen as acts of war and that they do not hurt the ones they are intended to. Instead, only the poor  in nations targeted by these embargoes suffer the consequences.”
Castro Was Monstrous, and So Is the Embargo – Alice Salles, FEE

"A president on his way out of town, like a dinner guest who frets the next morning that he talked too much and stayed too long, is obsessed with how he’ll be remembered" -- from this Washington Times editorial. My view: Obama should be remembered as the vapid ideologue who fanned the fires of racial tension; imposed a ludicrously expensive and unworkable health care scheme that broke virtually every promise he made on the subject; ballooned the national debt more than all previous presidents combined; shamelessly politicized the Justice Department, IRS and FBI; supervised a foreign policy of one flop after another; vilified the productive and successful of the country; delivered the weakest economic recovery of the last hundred years; and projected an endless aura of arrogance amid massive incompetence. If there's one program of his eight years that serves as the best metaphor for his presidency, it would be "cash for clunkers." We paid a monumental sum of our hard-earned cash for one sorry clunker of an eminently forgettable administration. If this had been a private sector operation over the past eight years, it would be fiscally and morally bankrupt; most of us would be suing on grounds of breach of contract, negligence, malfeasance, extortion and fraud--and we'd win easily.”
Obama’s legacy rhetoric belies scandal-scarred presidency – WASHINGTON TIMES

“Obama may be leaving the White House, but he still has big plans to destroy America. Please be aware of the following from my LYING monograph…”
LYING AS A WAY OF LIFE: Corruption and Collectivism Come of Age in America – Alexandra York, AMAZON

Bugger the pollsters:

 

Let’s hope this is true news.
First paralysed human treated with stem cells has now regained his upper body movement – THE HEARTY SOUL

File under “Virtue of Productivity.”
Napping can Dramatically Increase Learning, Memory, Awareness, and More – REFLECTION OF MIND

“Q: You talk about capitalism and that the politics would just be the police and the law courts and the military. So, what is going to be done for like the sick people that are needed of healthcare and they can't pursue their own happiness if the government is just restricted to that. What's going to happen to them?
”A: …”
From the Q&A following Leonard Peikoff's talk Introduction to Objectivism – FACEBOOK

“The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
3 - Half the people you know are below average.
4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.”
More here: The Quotes of Steven Wright – THIS BLEW MY MIND

 

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This looks great, coming up at the Auckland Art Gallery: 'The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate' to open at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki from 18 March 2017. Journeying through time, from the classical, biblical and literary subjects of the 1800s to the body politics of contemporary art, 'The Body Laid Bare' brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including JMW Turner, Auguste Rodin (pictured above), Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas and many more …
International masterpieces to reveal the naked truth at Auckland Art Gallery in 2017 – AUCKLAND ART GALLERY

And the Auckland keeps getting better …
Pop-Up Globe
Shakespeare's Henry V tempts star back to theatre – NZ HERALD

Told as a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities offers descriptions of imaginary cities Polo hopes will delight his host as much as they delight the reader. Every lover of architecture should have a copy – and in imagining each city for themselves, will delight in these beautiful illuminated illustrations by Lima-based architect Karina Puente of how her mind’s eye sees them …
Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Illustrated – ARCH DAILY
55 (In)visible Cities Project – KARINA FUENTE

“…shows the state of Hollywood, only 3 films from the last 16 years on this list.”
The 100 greatest American films – BBC

Not for everyone … but for those who loved him this is definitely something they will love.
Hear a 9-Hour Tribute to John Peel: A Collection of His Best “Peel Sessions” – OPEN CULTURE

It’s called parallax.
This GIF shows the camera really does add 10 pounds — here’s why – BUSINESS INSIDER

“Craft brewing’s growth is supply-driven. Production is growing fast, not because breweries are growing bigger, but because new brewers are entering the industry. The industry as a whole is showing excellent (and very tempting) growth, but breweries are not growing nearly as much."
Yee Ha! The Great Craft Beer Gold Rush! – BEER TOWN

Answering the important questions.
What’s the best Gin and Vermouth for a Negroni? – DRINKS & DRINKING

[Hat tips quips etc … F.A. Hayek PPE, Shishir BajpaiPaul Rooney, Alison Ballance , Libertyscott UK, Hernando de Soto, Old Whig, Jim Rose, Josh Perry, Screwed by State, Damien Grant, Steve Simpson, Timothy Sandefur , Kevin D. Williamson, Alex Stewart, Yaron Brook, hockey schtick, Drinks Info, New Thinking, Peter R. Neumann, Keith Weiner, Christian Wernstedt, Mark V. Kormes, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official), Riko Stevens, D.K. Williams, Scott DeSalvo, Anthony John Loder, The Cato Institute, Michael Hurd, For The New Intellectuals, Michael Yon, Dale Charteris]

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Experimental method’s most famous experiment finally proven experimentally

 

If science built the modern world – specifically, if the scientific attitude towards knowledge built the modern world – and there is much evidence to say that it did -- then it really did all begin with Galileo. Because it was with him that the experimental method really began.

For millennia armchair philosophers had just sat around and debated whether objects of different mass would fall at different rates – whether, when dropped from a height, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers would land first. For centuries, the armchair theorists had sat back and argued and had concluded, in their wisdom, that the lead would fall fastest. And then they sat back and fell again into their dogmatic slumbers.

Bugger that, said Galileo (but he said it in Italian) I’m going out to find out for myself.

And he did.

Dropping cannonballs of different weight from the Tower of Pisa (which fortunately for him was built on a lean) he could prove that no matter their weight, they would all land at the very same time.

Thus were the theorists disproven. And so was born the experimental method.

Except that the feather and the cannonball would still fall at different rates. Air resistance, you see. So despite the clear experimental evidence filled in and confirmed again over several subsequent centuries that mass played no part in the rate at which objects fall to earth, there was still a frustrating lacuna when it came to the feathers …

Until now*:

 

* Well, 2014 actually. But what’s 2 years between historians of the scientific method.

[Hat tip Azizi Hashim]

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Nick Leggett’s “defection” surprisingly revealing

 

In that Labour’s Nick Leggett’s decision to become ex-Labour – and worse, to join the Blue Team! – is so unimportant, it’s important.

It’s not so much a defection as a jump aboard one train as his former one was leaving him.

He said he grew up "with Labour burned deep into my DNA" and both sides of his family were supporters.
    But the party's activists, staffers and MPs had become distant from the party's voting base.
    "They take their heartland for granted and sadly fail to understand the ambitions and challenges of working New Zealanders,' Leggett said.

Leggett is hardly the Waitakere Man that Trotter reckons the party needs. He’s the type of handwringing centrist apparatchik that’s virtually interchangeable with every other of the type. But where those types now might have been happy to wring their hands on Labour’s benches, they’re now discovering that Labour is not their home. National is.

NationalNational is that home because under John Boy Key the former party of free enterprise has made itself so “centrist” that it’s now virtually Labour without the identity politics – and without the Green tail on the red dog. So for those to whom identity politics is a bust and the Greens are too much watermelon to handle – those working Waitakere Men and Women who were once happy to call themselves “True Labour” people – it’s a train to jump aboard for the journey. Soo too the apparatchiks, who no longer see anything in the Blue Team to scare them (which should scare us).

It’s not so much that the apparatchik has changed; it’s the parties that are changing under him.

No wonder that Labour’s Andrew Little was seething. He’s “not True Labour,” spewed Little. When there’s nothing but identity politics separating the two biggest parties, then party tribalism like that is all you have left to draw on.

Several elections ago True Labourites were casting around wondering what their party stand for in a modern world in which the Blue Team is happy to pinch all their policies. If they thought embracing identity politics and the Greens were recipes for success, the gentle attrition seen since tells them the answer is probably “no.”

That’s why Angry Andy was so angry about something so apparently not-so important. And this is why it probably was.

UPDATE: From this distance it now looks like John Tamihere’s rant against the “front bums,” Shane Jones against the xxx, and Damian O’Connor’s against the . Bookend those and many other less celebrated moments with Leggett’s departure and the like of today’s TVNZ report, and you begin to sense the trend:

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson. It includes one supporter who held membership for 30 years and the campaign's coordinator is also understood to have walked away.

To lose one hardcore Labourite may be put down to misfortune. To carry on losing them looks much worse than just carelessness …

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First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold

 

Following up on yesterday’s blog about Indian Prime Minister’s confiscation of “large” rupee bills (the largest being similar to a $20 note): any confiscation of banknotes has to be just a first step, argues Reason magazine’s Shikha Dalmia, because everyone is being hurt, and everyone is trying to rescue themselves. “Yes, the rich have indeed gotten poorer. But the poor have been decimated. Call it trickle-down poverty.”

Modi’s scheme will only encourage more movement out of the rupee from all classes.  There is a massive influx of interest into bitcoin from India’s rich and young professionals.; a move into things like tangible assets (such as gold and real estate), foreign currency and offshore bank accounts, corporate shares, and so on. And the poor are already buying jars of laundry powder for barter, “giving new meaning to the term money laundering,” quips Dalmia, “This means,” she goes on, “that this crackdown will set the stage for future crackdowns.”
    Dalmia argues this war on the private economy is far from over: “… you can be sure that Modi, who has already warned of further action before the end of the year, will go after gold and other assets next. He's already raised excise duties on gold and requires jewellers to check the tax identification card of anyone purchasing gold worth over $3,000, echoing India's notorious
1968 Gold Control Act that criminalised gold holdings by private citizens.”

America too has experienced a gold confiscation in the past century (see Franklin Roosevelt’s notorious Executive Order 6102) – and “only the naive would believe it couldn’t possibly happen again.”

You’d be wise to pay attention, argues Jim Rickards in this guest post, because India’s simply pulling from the global elite’s playbook. What’s happening in India could happen anywhere …


First the War on Cash, then the War on Gold
by Jim Rickards

The global elites are using negative interest rates and inflation to make your money disappear. The whole idea of the war on cash is to force savers into digital bank accounts so their money can be taken from them in the form of negative interest rates.

One way to avoid negative interest rates is to go to physical cash...

They can’t impose negative interest rates on cash.

In order to prevent people from using that option, the elites have launched a war on cash, as recent events have borne out. The war on cash is old news, but it is escalating rapidly…

India’s decision to make 1,000- and 500-rupee notes worthless is having devastating ripple effects in the Indian economy and the market for gold.

The consequences of the decision are both appalling and encouraging — appalling because they show governments’ ability to destroy wealth, and encouraging because they show the ingenuity of individuals operating under the thumb of an oppressive government.

One immediate consequence of the cash ban was that paper money began trading at a discount to face value. The entire banking system in India has been running out of cash and alternative forms of payment such as gold and barter have been emerging.

In plain English, you might be able to sell your illegal 1,000-rupee note to a middleman for 750 rupees in smaller denominations. You would get legal tender for your worthless 1,000-rupee note. The middleman presumably has some connection with the banks that allows him to deposit the funds without being harassed by the tax authorities.

It’s not unusual for bonds to trade at a discount due to changes in interest rates or credit quality, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen cash trading at a discount (although I did predict this development in Chapter 1 of my new book, The Road to Ruin.)

The second distortion is that gold is selling in India for over $2,000 per ounce at a time when the world market price is under $1,200 per ounce. This is because Indian citizens are rushing to buy gold for cash.

The gold dealers can then deposit the cash for full value. This is just another form of discount on the face value of the cash. It’s not that gold is more valuable; it’s just that your $2,000 is worth less than $1,200 (in rupee equivalents) when it comes time to buy the gold.

I’ve said for a while that the war on cash would be followed quickly by a war on gold. India may prove the point.

Don’t think of this as something that happens only in poor countries. Similar scenes will play out in the U.S. and Europe as elites become more desperate to take your money.

It should be clear that the war on cash has two main thrusts. The first is to make it difficult to obtain cash in the first place. At home, U.S. banks will report anyone taking more than $3,000 in cash as engaging in a “suspicious activity” using Treasury Form SAR (Suspicious Activity Report).

The second thrust is to eliminate large-denomination banknotes. A 1,000-rupee note may sound like a lot, but it’s only equivalent to about $15 U.S. dollars. The U.S. got rid of its $500 note in 1969, and the $100 note has lost 85% of its purchasing power since then. With a little more inflation, the $100 bill will be reduced to chump change.

Of course the European Central Bank announced that they were discontinuing the production of new 500 euro notes (worth about $575 at current exchange rates). Existing 500 euro notes will still be legal tender, but new ones will not be produced.

This means that over time, the notes will be in short supply and individuals in need of large denominations may actually bid up the price above face value paying, say, 502 euros in smaller bills for a 500 euro note. The 2 euro premium in this example is like a negative interest rate on cash.

Ken Rogoff is a leading voice of the elites in the war on cash. He recently wrote an article detailing the ways elites can steal your money. The first is negative interest rates. The second is the elimination of cash (governments can do this by declaring the $100 bill worthless, just as India did with the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes).

The third way is to set higher inflation targets. Rogoff wants to raise the Fed’s inflation target from 2% to 4% per year. At a 4% rate, the value of a dollar is cut 75% between the time you’re 30 years old until a normal retirement age of 65. The money you save in your younger years is nearly worthless by the time you need it.

Why should you care what Ken Rogoff thinks? Because Rogoff is not just another big brain. He’s a professor of economics at Harvard University and the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. More importantly, his name is frequently mentioned as a possible nominee for a seat on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. If Rogoff were on the Fed board, he’d be in a position to turn his confiscatory ideas into policy.

But even if Rogoff remains at Harvard, his views are highly influential on economic policy in general. Rogoff is not alone in his views.

One solution to negative interest rates is to buy physical gold. But if the government has a war on cash, can the war on gold be far behind?

Probably not.

Governments always use money laundering, drug dealing and terrorism as an excuse to keep tabs on honest citizens and deprive them of the ability to use money alternatives such as physical cash and gold.

When you start to see news articles about criminals using gold instead of cash, that’s a stalking horse for government regulation of gold.

Guess what? An article on the topic of criminals using gold just appeared this spring, in Bloomberg….


Jim Rickards is the editor of Jim Rickards' Strategic Intelligence. He's an American lawyer, economist, and investment banker with 35 years of experience working in capital markets on Wall Street. Rickards advised clients of the impending 2008 financial collapse, of a decline in the dollar and a sharp rise in the price of gold, all years in advance. Rickards is the author of The New York Times bestseller Currency Wars, published in 2011 and The Death of Money, published in 2014.
This post and its introduction first appeared at Laissez Faire Today.

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Threats & cronyism–and he’s still only President-elect!

 

If put into practice, “Trump’s disastrous pledge to keep jobs in the US would raise the trade deficit, politicise the economy, and bring on a corny-capitalist nightmare.” (But apart from that, Mr Trump, how was the play?)

The President-elect’s overnight “deal” with Carrier to keep part of the air-conditioning company in Indiana comes on the back of his threats during the campaign to slap tariffs on Carrier imports from Mexico, and since the campaign to end their lucrative defence contracts. This is just a small sign of how his policy will work. Tyler Cowen explains some of the consequences:

Economists might regard this [policy] as a misguided form of protectionism, but in fact, it’s worse than that: If instituted, it could prove a major step toward imposing capital controls on the American economy and politicizing many business decisions…
   Using the law to forbid factory closures would have serious negative consequences. For one thing, those factories may be losing money and end up going bankrupt. For another, stopping the closure of old plants would lock the U.S. into earlier technologies and modes of production, limiting progress and economic advancement.
    An alternative policy would prohibit companies from cutting American production and expanding in Mexico within, say, a two-year window. But would that be effective? If a law is needed, it presumably means that Mexican production is more profitable, at the margin, than U.S. production. So if American companies couldn’t shift production to Mexico, Mexican companies could expand production on their own. Or perhaps Mexico would look to non-American multinationals. The end result would be that Asian, European and Mexican investors would gain at the expense of U.S. companies.

So the policy would do the very opposite of what Trump claims to want, while raising prices for all those Americans he claims to help.

But it gets worse.

Perhaps most importantly, a policy limiting the ability of American companies to move funds outside of the U.S. would create a dangerous new set of government powers. Imagine giving an administration the potential to rule whether a given transfer of funds would endanger job creation or job maintenance in the United States. That’s not exactly an objective standard, and so every capital transfer decision would be subject to the arbitrary diktats of politicians and bureaucrats. It’s not hard to imagine a Trump administration using such regulations to reward supportive businesses and to punish opponents. Even in the absence of explicit favouritism, companies wouldn’t know the rules of the game in advance, and they would be reluctant to speak out in ways that anger the powers that be.
    In other words, the Trump program for protectionism could go far beyond interference in international trade. It also could bring the kind of crony capitalist nightmare scenarios described by Ayn Rand in her novel “Atlas Shrugged,” a book many Republican legislators[and voters] would be well advised to now read or reread.

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

India’s currency chaos

 

India-Currency

So what’s going on with the Indian government’s crackdown on cash?

Their sudden decision to demonetise 87% of the country’s currency (notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 all in people’s personal possession) is as historic a decision as it is destructive --- messing up the country’s financial system; denying wages to the millions of day labourers paid in cash; destroying the perishable stocks of farmers and vendors suddenly unable to sell fresh produce – not to mention that close to 50 deaths have been attributed to the sudden demonetisation. This has affected the life of every single person in the country, for whom their wealth in the form of the government’s paper is now under threat of simply disappearing.

Not to mention their confidence in the very medium of exchange that makes their economic system’s division of labour possible (in India, over 90% of all transactions are (or were) conducted in paper currency). In a paper-based system with no commodity backing, then as Milton Friedman once noted

private persons accept these pieces of paper because they are confident that others will. The pieces of green paper have value because everybody thinks they have value. Everybody thinks they have value because in everybody's experience they have had value.

This is not trivial. When that confidence in that value has gone, well, that’s when paper money goes away and dies.

So something this patently destructive must have a reason, particularly when (as even the wreckage’s supporters readily concede) the note cancellation will do little to remedy tax evasion, corruption, or illicit commerce. And there is a very plain reason, as economists Larry White and Shruti Rajagopalan make clear: The demonetisation represents “a massive one-shot transfer of wealth from the private to the public sector."

If there is anything that explains Prime Minister Modi’s sudden and hitherto unconcealed enthusiasm for currency cancellation, then this unprecedented one-off wealth transfer to his government is surely it.

Since every government in the world is desperate to keep their ships of (welfare) state afloat, yet all are evidently running out of the readies, these raids on people’s wealth by the likes of the Indian and Greek government (who simply did an overnight raid on savers’ bank accounts) should be understood as precursors of the destruction to come further afield – so their effects should be fully grasped. White and Rajagopalan list three, all hidden:

1. Effects of transition away from old notes
2. Fiscal impact of transition into new notes
3. Impact of the non-uniform injection of the new notes into the economy

Of the first they point out that Modi’s surprise announcement imposes “a one-time wealth loss on currency holders who are unable or unwilling to convert their entire holdings of old notes.” In that the stated aim is to eliminate “untaxed wealth,” this effect is intentional.

Modi seems to have underappreciated, however, that in so doing his policy creates a serious shortage of currency. This shortage blocks ordinary currency transactions, blocking honest ordinary people from making a living, thus reducing national income. The biggest impact is on the poor, who have few substitutes for cash transactions…
    [So] a policy ostensibly intended to inflict losses on tax evaders and criminals is imposing, at least in the transition, much greater losses on honest users of currency.

Of the second, they note the hidden gain to the government in the imminent issue of new notes.

The most striking implication is that the Indian government enjoys a one-time revenue gain. Suppose that, as the government purports to believe, a large share of the old currency is “black money” held by tax-evaders and professional criminals who will be penalised by the cancellation because they do not want to face the scrutiny that will accompany the exchange of too many old notes for new. They will simply eat their losses.

This on its own could represent nearly half of the value all the invalidated currency notes issued: i.e., Rs. 7.2 trillion, or US$106 billion. So without any new increase in the money stock, the government can now spend into existence US$106 billion on any pet project without any inflationary consequence whatsoever.

It’s easy to imagine any finance minister or adviser hopping with delight when they figured that one out. Little would they have worried that this effectively represents a giant capital levy, “a massive one-shot transfer of wealth from the private to the public sector.”

In blunter words: outright theft.

But this injection of new notes will not be even: as with the injection of all new money, especially in a corrupt commonwealth, the new money is spread unevenly through the economic system. Importantly, it is the cronies who get the new money first.

Those who receive the new currency notes first can buy goods and resources at depressed prices. The terms of trade turn against the unbanked sector, and the relatively wealthy banked population receives a transfer from the relatively poor unbanked population. The skewing of relative prices and incomes will persist until the access to new currency notes flows throughout the economy.

Very nice if you’re a crony.

But that’s not all.

There is also a geographic skewness. Tea vendors in the city of Mumbai, for example, where new currency is appearing relatively promptly, are less hard-hit than tea vendors in the rural villages of Maharashtra.

And,

The currency shortage may also cause structural imbalances in the economy for longer production processes.

Crops need to be paid for and sown (“Close to half of Indian families are engaged in agriculture, and it accounts for 16% of the GDP.”) Commodities need to be bought as inputs. And in construction, (“almost entirely a cash-based industry”)  current projects “are already being postponed until new currency notes become sufficiently available. This postponement will have effects on housing supply and prices for several years ahead.”

So not just an immediate one-off destructive effect, but destruction for some years to come.

What makes it the ideal government project however is that the cause of these long-term destructive effects will be hidden, the gain them in scads of ill-gotten lucre is immediate. For a politician, what could possibly be more motivating.

That the government no doubt understood much of the destruction the project would cause, yet went ahead with it anyway, attests to the desperation that all governments will have when they face their own financial emergencies.

Be warned.

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Castro’s Dead: Here’s What His Tombstone Should Say…

 

Fidel Castro, as you certainly know by now, is dead. And, says Chris Campbell in this guest post, there are some things that really must be inscribed on his tombstone.


Although we’re not ones to engage in schadenfreude or death celebration, we certainly won’t act like Fidel Castro was some kind of hero.

But that’s just us.

The US Green Party’s Jill Stein, who just won the lottery (what is it? $7 million now?) by tricking people into funding her “recount” (and, surprise, missing the Pennsylvania filing date), tweeted this about Castro: “Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!”

Actor Jack Nicholson said Castro was a “humanist like President Clinton.” And Chevy Chase said Cuba is “proof socialism sometimes works.”

Erik Loomis, a history professor at the University of Rhode Island, called Castro, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, “an inspiration for billions of people around the world seeking freedom from colonial overlords.”

[And read: ‘Fidel Castro died as he lived: to the sound of useful idiots making allowances for his crimes.’]

And there’s the rub. In a perfect world, or in a void, Castro certainly wouldn’t have been great in any non-sociopath's eyes. Certainly not if any of these people lived under his regime. Why, being the intellectuals and personalities that they are, most of these limelight-hunters praising Castro probably would’ve been killed, or at least persecuted, by him.

But relative to the mightiest colonial overlords, they say, Castro wasn’t so bad. Principles be damned. Carlos Eire, a Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale explains this unrequited love for Castro in, of all places, a Washington Post Op-Ed:

Because deceit was one of Fidel Castro’s greatest talents, and gullibility is one of the world’s greatest frailties. A genius at myth-making, Castro relied on the human thirst for myths and heroes. His lies were beautiful, and so appealing.
   
According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind. This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro’s incessant boasting about free schools and medical care, which made his myth of the benevolent utopian revolution irresistible to many of the world’s poor.

Fortunately, there’s been plenty of opposition to this “Castro is a hero” narrative. Take, for example, the backlash on which Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has found himself on the receiving end.

Castro was “a controversial figure,” Trudeau said during his eulogy. But he was also “A legendary revolutionary and orator” who “made significant improvements to the education and health care of his island nation.”

The Twitter trolls instantly jumped into action. The backlash was no less than epic. Under the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies, (albeit dark) hilarity ensued:

“Today we mourn painter and animal rights activist, Adolf Hitler. His death also highlights the need for suicide awareness.”

“Mr. Stalin’s greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in the Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms.”

“Jim Jones provided shelter and hydration to hundreds of Americans and, for that, we will remember him fondly.”

“While a controversial figure, Mr. Gacy entertained many children at birthday parties.”

Today we mourn the death of Jeffrey Dahmer, who opened his home to the LGBTQ community and pushed culinary boundaries.”

Justin Trudeau Meme

In a just world, rather than those in power praising a tyrant, the truth about Castro would be left to no ambiguity.

In a just world, says Eire, “these 13 facts below would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points -- a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.

  • He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.
  • He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.
  • He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.
  • He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.
  • He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.
  • He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.
  • He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.
  • He outlawed private enterprise and labour unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.
  • He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.
  • He censored all means of expression and communication.
  • He established a fraudulent school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tier health-care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly “free” social welfare projects.
  • He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established an apartheid society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.
  • He never apologised for any of his crimes and never stood trial for them.

Yes, Castro did great evil. [And read: ‘Why The Left Loves Totalitarians Like Fidel Castro.’]

And, as Bryan Caplan writes on FEE.org, he continues to do evil by “charismatically inspiring sympathy for this psychopathic path to a glorious future.

“We need to get rid of all sympathy for Castro,” says Caplan.

But, he says, that’s just the first step: “Our ultimate goal should be to get rid of the errors that Castro has come to represent. Castro was a villain straight out of 1984. And in a just world, Orwell's words would adorn his tombstone:

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”


Chris Campbell is editor of the Laissez Faire Today newsletter, where this post first appeared.

FURTHER READING:

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