Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year !

I'd just like to wish my readers a very Happy New Years, and hope that you all live long and prosper.

The news cycle has been a bit slow lately, and I will speed up my blogging activities in the new year. As long as we have arrogant leftists trying to impose their will on the rest of us proles, I will have plenty of material.

And once I finish reading Rothbard's Mystery of Banking, I will post a review. It looks like the coming years are going to be a painful illustration of how the absence of sound banking creates bubbles. The one we are witnessing is much more than a sub-prime bubble bursting, but the entire property market collapsing and creating a credit crunch, with an economic downturn inevitable.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is this part of a free society ??

I saw this poster above a urinal in the bathrooms at Telstra Dome. Somebody ought to vandalise it and show them that we the people will not lie down like sheep to be slaughtered, and that every human has the right to defend themselves.

A disarmed populace are easy prey. These kind of laws where you aren't even allowed to own weapons for the strict purpose of self defence are outrageous and belittling. We are all children now, told never to defend ourselves and take measures to look after our families and our property.

This is not such a free country after all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bad history repeating itself

Samizdata has the following news item posted:

"Party boss Ed "bulging eyes" Balls told a respectful yet cheerful gathering of tractor workers in Omsk that the 10-year plan to increase tractor production by 1000% between now and 2018 was achievable. "Men," he said, his voice quavering slightly as the chill Siberian wind blasted through, "we can and will produce more tractors, of higher quality, over the next 10 years. Britain needs tractors. Tractors need Britain. It is true that despite our heroic efforts, and the massive, Soviet resources spent by Comrade Gordon, that tractor production continues to lag. But let us not be downhearted. We know that tractor production in the past has been held up by the capitalist sympathisers, wreckers and revisionists working for the late traitor, A. Blair. We can and will do better over the next 10 years."

Well not quite. The story above is not quite a parody, unfortunately every detail in it is spot on correct, except for one - it refers to Soviet education, not the tractor industry.

Economics, history and politics is actually quite simple to understand in 3 steps:

1/ Early 20th century: The Russian Revolution, the communist manifesto by Karl Marx came about calling for the end of private property, the establishment of big government and no more free trade.

2/ Ludwig von Mises and other free market economists had the wisest and the most accurate forecasts when predicting not only the failure of communism and socialised industries, BUT precisely how and why they would fail the societies they were foisted upon.

3/ Throughout the 20th century, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro and Kim Jong Il kept trying. They socialised every industry and killed tens of millions. Socialised education and medicine is a common feature of even Western "capitalist" economies such as the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

We keep on repeating our mistakes, with no chance to build upon our successes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Environmental double-think

Here's a quick-recap of environmental news stories:

* Al Gore and his wife Tipper arrive in Oslo Airport and do the right thing by catching a train to their hotel, making sure the press is all too aware of their eco-friendly choice.

Their luggage however, travelled by Mercedes van, leaving a nasty carbon footprint behind.

* Tim Blair analyses Gaza's performance towards meeting its Kyoto obligations. But in a hypocritical statement, a U.N spokesperson is actually denouncing these brave efforts to reducing their carbon emissions:

"Israel reduced the supply of diesel by 49 per cent on October 28, and petrol by 40 per cent and industrial diesel for the power plant by 14 per cent,” said Mahmoud Daher, the Gaza head of the United Nations-affiliated World Health Organisation.

"This is in a situation where electricity is already in short supply and there are frequent power cuts. We know that some health facilities have zero stocks of fuel and that in several hospitals the situation is critical. The main pediatric hospital is critically low in fuel for its generators. All transport vehicles and most ambulance travel have also come to a halt."

Gaza is leading the world by example, and the international community is all too eager for Australia, Europe and America to follow in their footsteps. But is the U.N for or against more C02 emissions ? Make up your mind folks !

* A climate scientist lashes out at the U.N's IPCC, and notes that "For example, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum coverage in 2007, and the globally averaged lower atmosphere has not warmed in the last nine years":
EcoWorld: What is your criticism of the IPCC?

Pielke: Mainly the fact that the same individuals who are doing primary research into humans' impact on the climate system are being permitted to lead the assessment of that research. Suppose a group of scientists introduced a drug they claimed could save many lives: There were side effects, of course, but the scientists claimed the drug's benefits far outweighed its risks. If the government then asked these same scientists to form an assessment committee to evaluate their claim (and the committee consisted of colleagues of the scientists who made the original claim as well as the drug's developers), an uproar would occur, and there would be protests. It would represent a clear conflict of interest. Yet this is what has happened with the IPCC process. To date, either few people recognize this conflict, or those that do choose to ignore it because the recommendations of the IPCC fit their policy and political agenda. In either case, scientific rigor has been sacrificed, and poor policy and political decisions will inevitably follow.
* Greenie Watch looks back at the UK Met Office's catastrophically gloomy predictions for 2007 being a hot and dry year, with a very poor score-card.

The flip side of big government

"Big government" is sometimes referred to as social engineering, involves telling the masses what they should do.

In the end, it involves creating hundreds of news laws and regulations, which in turn turns many possible human actions and decisions into crimes and offences.

Driving without a seat belt, smoking, riding a bike without a helmet are now crimes. Driving over 40 km/hr near schools is a crime, no matter how cautious or skilled the driver.

But also the way we conduct business and commerce is now extremely tricky. Even if you and a customer agree on the terms of contract (which includes the price), you may be breaking the law - even more so now that there are newer tougher price fixing laws:

JAIL sentences of up to five years and hefty financial penalties could be imposed on anyone found guilty of price fixing and collusion under planned federal laws.

The draft laws, which will amend the Trade Practices Act, will cover petrol, food, clothing and a range of other consumer goods.

Price fixing is a "crime" that is very badly defined. It generally means "charging a customer more than you ought to, or normally would". Even if it were possible to perfectly identify cases where price fixing has occurred, why should it be a crime anyway if both seller and buyer have agreed on the price and want to carry out the transaction ?

Now .. the flip side of making everything into a crime in our society is that existing crimes.. the real ones that actually involve the use of violence and coercion..are not treated as seriously. Case in point:

NINE males who pleaded guilty last month to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York have escaped a prison term, with the sentencing judge saying the child victim "probably agreed" to have sex with them.

Cairns-based District Court judge Sarah Bradley ordered that the six teenage juveniles not even have a conviction recorded for the 2005 offence, and that they be placed on a 12-month probation order.

I know I sometimes sound like a naive fool when I say the bleeding obvious - that we should have a small government that can be focussed on law and order, police and defence, and fighting serious crime like murder, rape, violence, assault and theft.

People here assume that our current big government does a great job already, because those things have been crimes for a long time.

But we live in an age of post-modernism and moral relativism as they say. We have a lot of activist judges and academics and regulators who seek to instill multi-culturalism on us by treating different groups in different ways. Our native Australians are treated as victims who cannot be blamed for their actions and should not be held to the same standards as the rest of us. And where social engineering is all the rage, we shouldn't seek to punish the victims, the poor and the downtrodden in society.

But those who smoke or engage in trade or seek to medicate themselves with drugs or sell concert tickets for a higher price, where there are no victims and no rights violations, are treated as criminals.

Our priorities are screwed.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Subprime rates frozen for 5 years

President Bush has enacted one of the stupidest, yet most popular, pieces of legislation ever. In recent months, foreclosures and defaults on home loans have skyrocketed as the subprime credit problems continue to emerge.

Rather than allow the free market to correct these mistakes and interest rates to rise, the US government is hampering the market in 2 ways. Firstly the Federal Reserve continue to push the interest rates down to "help out" borrowers and prevent massive foreclosures. And now the President is forcing lenders themselves to lock in these rates for 5 years, even though billions of dollars of loans were meant to be reset in the coming months.

This isn't a social welfare issue of helping out the poor and overstretched borrowers. This is a massive economic blow that doesn't allow the bad debts to be liquidated and written off, and drags the problem on for years rather than allowing the free market to solve it quickly and sharply. It also punishes responsible people who managed to save and not push themselves into massive levels of unmaintainable debt.

Darren McKinney, 48, a renter in the District, said he has been waiting for housing prices to fall so he can buy a condo without resorting to a dubious loan. He turned down an opportunity to buy his 600-square-foot apartment for $310,000 in late 2004 because he thought it was “absurdly overpriced.”

Now the government is rewarding people who made irresponsible decisions and bought homes beyond their means, he said.

“There are those of us who purposely sat on the sidelines during the course of the last three years while the senseless frenzy was going on, and we presumed the free market would be allowed to correct itself,” McKinney said. “The government is now meddling in the market and looking to prop up lenders and borrowers alike, and those of us who wisely bided our time get screwed.

(hat tip: The Liberty Papers)

War on drugs claims another scalp

The media are applauding the Australian government's identifying a "drug dealer to the stars" who was apprehended in Amsterdam airport and is going to be extradited back home.

The 40-year-old man cannot be identified because his name has been suppressed by court order.

Victoria Police Drug Taskforce Detective Inspector Steve Smith said the arrest was the result of a joint effort between the AFP and Victoria Police, with help from Interpol.

He said the man had absconded while on bail in 2003.

I'm going to come straight out and say that the war on drugs is a massive waste of effort and police resources. This guy didn't do anything wrong, other than trade voluntarily with people who were willing to buy his goods.

Whether you support or oppose people taking drugs, and despite the fact that they can be harmful, you have to ask yourself about why the police should be spending half their resources chasing drug dealers when there are serious crimes that actually do infringe on the rights of individuals - theft, assault, rape, murder and vandalism.

Put it this way.. if your neighbours are smoking marijuana or taking ecstacy pills, do you agree with the idea of using your taxes to make their behaviour a punishable crime ?

I don't.. its their own problem, its their own lives. Whether it be medicinal marijuana or hard drugs, I really don't see why the police have to get involved and meddle in their lives. In the US, millions of individuals are clogging up the prison system because of drug related crimes. Prisons are not cheap, and can cost more than some 5 star hotels apparently. So I don't feel the need to pay taxes to criminalise drugs, nor do I feel the need to pay more taxes to pay for prison facilities.

This is not about good behaviour and bad behaviour, or morals. It is about priorities and decisions, like everything else in life. I don't want people taking drugs and getting out of control.
But would you spend your own hard earned money on such a grand project to enforce your preferences on society, or would you live your own life ?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gun massacre in Nebraska shopping mall

Terrible ! Horrific ! What can government do about it ?

Why is it that human beings always think of the 3rd question in response to something dangerous, shocking or frightening ?

Sometimes its the victims of road accidents and gun crimes (or their families) who are the most vocal and prominent campaigners when it comes to asking for new laws to be passed to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy.

And in such a climate, who would dare debate someone who lost a family member ? A victim has the moral high ground, even if the arguments he puts forward are stupid, thuggish, pointless and meddle in the lives of thousands of others.

Back to the story at hand - there was a horrific gun massacre in a shopping mall in Nebraska that killed 8 people. What should government do about this? My answer is short and simple. Make sure there are laws in place to protect the rights of individuals only as far as treating violence, murder and theft as the most serious of crimes.

Not only are these laws in place, but Nebraska already has strict gun laws banning people from carrying concealed handguns. And therein lies a clue - how did one person manage to wound at least 5 and kill 8 people before he could be stopped ? Its the same answer to the question "How did 19 males without guns manage to hijack 4 large aircraft on 9-11?".

Relying on police to get to the scene and do something is going to take some time. When you put security in the hands of the state, and don't take steps to protect yourself, this is what you get. If there were armed civilians and security guards, he may have been stopped sooner, as has been the case on a US college campus where an alert young trainee police officer with a firearm in his glove-box managed to stop and handcuff a crazed student about to begin a gun rampage.

So one direction could be "government should do less to stop people from protecting themselves and taking care of their own security". Then .. theres the other direction. The one that is so popular these days. The "WHAT ELSE can government do?" direction. Well, let's look at the details of this massacre:

A 20-YEAR-old high school dropout who walked into a suburban shopping mall in Nebraska and gunned down eight people before killing himself had just been fired from his job at McDonald's and broken up with his girlfriend, his landlord says.
Let me say in my most leftist voice - What else could we have done as a society to stop this ? Easy answer - ban girlfriends from breaking up with boyfriends.. and then ban employers from firing employees. Or at least introduce new laws that require anybody who suffers the termination of employment or a relationship to go to counselling. [/sarcasm]

Why don't we just accept that this is a tragedy, and that they do happen, and no system can stop tragedies thus we should not try to regulate everybodys life in some small effort to prevent the unexpected, but instead leave it up to individuals and give them as much freedom as possible to look after their own health and safety.

In Victoria, the government is about to pass new "safer booze laws" that give police new powers to patrol party-spots, and shut down nightclubs for 24 hours if there are fights or disorderly behaviour, and also to ban the offenders from entering these night spots again. And the key campaigners for these laws are relatives of victims of violent crime that happened near night spots:

Families of young men injured and killed in street attacks lashed out last night at the delay sparked by what they described as Liberal Party nuisance tactics.

Bill McCormack, whose son Shannon died after being struck outside a Melbourne nightclub, attacked MPs for sitting on their hands.

"Politicians are paralysed by their indecisions," Mr McCormack said.

The mother of a second victim said she was gobsmacked that politicians could quibble over such important laws.

Of course, the lobbying power of these relatives is extremely powerful, the lazy Herald Sun journalist simply reprints their quotes with no countering viewpoint:

Mr McCormack -- whose son Shannon, 22, died in June a week after being assaulted in Southbank -- said he was appalled at the delays.

"They don't have the courage and the guts to stand up for Victorians," he said.

"No one should have to stand by their son's hospital bed for 24 hours a day, seven days a week and watch him slowly die.

"I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I wouldn't even wish that upon the kid who hit my son, it's that awful."

Susan Hucker, whose son John was in a coma for weeks after an incident outside a Lorne hotel during schoolies week last year, was angry about the delay.

"The safety of people far outweighs the political rewards of stopping these laws from being introduced," she said.

"It's totally out of hand and it's very disappointing that other families may now have to go through something like we've been through before the laws are changed."
It looks like a fight or drunken behaviour at a club can ruin the night for everyone.. the police can waltz on in and declare the party over, no matter how much everybody else is enjoying themselves or how well behaved they are.

This is the opposite of liberty and destroys our freedom of association and freedom of movement. It doesn't make people more sober, less violent, and more responsible citizens. It doesn't even relate to the issue of drunk and violent mobs using violence and killing people.

We have courts and police to deal with homicide and assault, and the perpetrators are going to end up in prison for a long time to come. We don't need surveillance cameras and more police powers, and it hasn't worked in Britain. Less regulation, leave it up to the clubs to decide. After all, nightclubs do not want violence and drunken behaviour because over the long run, they lose females and other patrons, and their business loses revenue.

But whilst the relatives of the victims speak for more laws, common sense will get no microphone and no public hearing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mainstream economics in a nutshell

Today, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to leave interest rates unchanged. This has bought about the usual wave of economic commentary from the media. Your average pundit keeps seeing the same themes repeat themselves, with the same underlying assumptions, and assumes the following is all you need to know about economics:

1/ The Reserve Bank does its best to keep inflation in the 2%-3% bracket. Inflation is a "key risk" that needs to be contained above all else. The RBA sets the cash rate , which in turn affects the rate that banks lend money at.

2/ Tax cuts are only as interesting as the impact they have on inflation. In fact they can be bad because they are believed to be inflationary. The head of the RBA even calls these tax cuts "fiscal spending".

Nobody in the media discusses where inflation comes from, or what the correct definition is. The media uniformly accepts CPI as the best index for inflation, and then every effort is made to agonise, analyse and forecast what the next CPI estimate will be and what action the Reserve Bank will take in setting the cash rate.

I'm not sure which one of these assumptions is more aggravating and misguided to come across.

Assumption #2 is infuriating as hell, because it typically comes from left-wing pundits who look for any excuse to justify more taxes and more government control of our money. We are already being taxed to hell and beyond, we are paying more taxes per person than ever before, and every year we pay more in taxes because of economic growth, inflation and bracket creep. As I've mentioned before, the Federal Government could have abolished the income tax entirely, and it would still have as much money to play with as in 1996 !

But assumption #1 is extremely infuriating because it is based on a whole heap of assumptions itself:

  • That we need a central bank to begin with
  • That inflation should be targeted
  • That CPI is the perfect and only way to measure inflation.
Our economic commentary is all fine and dandy until you start to question any one of the above assumptions. I am currently reading Murray Rothbard's "The Mystery of Banking" and I don't accept these assumptions any more.

In fact, I strongly believe the presence and actions of a central bank are causing the inflation. And that inflation can be measured by monetary aggregates, not CPI. CPI is used as a method to understate and camouflage the devastating and rampant inflation that we are experiencing.

UPDATE: The Daily Reckoning has an article which covers this exact topic nicely:

Economists of the Austrian School of economics define inflation differently than much of the mainstream of the economics profession. The typical mainstream intermediate macroeconomics textbook defines inflation as “[a]n increase in the overall level of prices” (Mankiw, Macroeconomics 5th Edition, 530). The eminent Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, suggested otherwise:

What people today call inflation is not inflation, i.e., the increase in the quantity of money and money substitutes, but the general rise in commodity prices and wage rates which is the inevitable consequence of inflation. (Mises, Planning for Freedom, 79)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Greenies now against CF light bulbs

I'm shocked I tell you. First we are forced to buy these light bulbs by the Australian Government. Now it turns out they can be quite deadly because of the presence of mercury. Perhaps its time somebody sued the government ?

Al Gore says switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents can help save the planet from global warming. California, Canada and the European Union are so persuaded he's right, the three governments are in the process of banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs, following the trailblazing paths of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on board, urging American citizens to do their part for the environment and switch to the twisty little CFL bulbs that last longer and use less electricity.

But opposition is building among other environmentalists who say the threat of mercury contamination as a result of hundreds of millions of broken CFLS, each containing about 5 milligrams of the highly toxic substance, outweighs any benefits from a switch from Thomas Edison's trusty old invention. One new voice weighing in against the tide is Andrew Michrowski of the Canadian-based Planetary Association for Clean Energy: "I feel it's very important to warn people these 'green' bulbs contain mercury, which will end up in landfills throughout the country if we make the switch to them. In addition to filling our landfills with mercury, if the bulbs break you will be exposed to the mercury they contain." He says consumers shouldn't buy them - even though they are now showing up in stores all over America.

Even the EPA, which is cheerleading the mania for the switch to CFLs, offers bone-chilling warnings about the dangers of mercury - if you search for them. "Exposure to mercury, a toxic metal, can affect our brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver," says the agency.

When a CFL breaks, the EPA cautions consumers to open a window and leave the room immediately for at least 15 minutes because of the mercury threat. The agency suggests removing all materials by scooping fragments and powder using cardboard or stiff paper. Sticky tape is suggested as a way to get smaller particles. The EPA says vacuum cleaners and bare hands should never be used in such cleanups. After final cleanup with a damp paper towel, the agency warns consumers to place all materials in a plastic bag. "Seal and dispose of properly," says the EPA. "Wash hands."

But disposing of properly might be a tough thing to do, because CFLs never should be thrown in the trash like their old-fashioned incandescent predecessors. They need to be turned into recycling centers, which are few and far between. When laws banning incandescent bulbs take effect, so do the mandatory fines on consumers and businesses that dispose of the new CFLs improperly.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The "European Model" of Public Transport stinks

The socialistas at The Age website were having a furious debate about our train and tram network, sparked by the upcoming price rise in tickets.

They correctly point out the obvious problem - prices rise, but standards and services are still very deficient and lacking.

But then as expected, dozens of Age commenters claimed we needed to adopt the European approach and cited London and Paris as good examples where the trains are supposed to be reliable, efficient and popular.

The ideas being suggested were that Melbourne should invest more, operate more services, create more stations, hire more staff and even build new stations and lines. These were often put forward with another strategy - to stop building roads and make it more unpleasant or expensive for car owners. Force more people onto public transport and voila - London !

This is the most idiotic argument from inner city dwellers and it needs to be stopped. Firstly, London is a city of over 10 million people living in very dense dwellings. As is Paris. The government in the UK has legislated the whole "green belt" nonsense where no new land is released for development around the outskirts, pushing up property prices and forcing people to live in more confined dwellings.

I recently returned from Paris, having seen firsthand what their Metro system is like during the strikes, and it is no utopia. Many of the stations are dark, outdated and smell of urine. And quite a few of the trains were severely overcrowded - and I mean overcrowded to a degree I've never seen in Australia and are more likely to see in Bombay or New Delhi. Perhaps this is due to the strikes, but that in itself is a strong argument against public servants operating the trains, and a good argument for private operators who do not need to hire unionised thugs and lazy workers who love to strike simply because their retirement age is being changed from 55 to 60, to be in line with the rest of the French population.

Another thing to note is that the Metro system in Paris is actually quite small geographically. It covers an area that geographically, isn't even as big as Melbourne, but is far more densely populated and has a higher number of stations and lines. So if we were to emulate Paris, we would be removing all lines and stations outside of the inner city (i.e Zone 1 ).

Another issue to consider is the trams we are burdened with in Melbourne. Not only are they slow and expensive compared to buses, but they require expensive infrastructure (tracks and power lines) and they cause massive traffic congestion because they cannot be overtaken easily and they occupy the middle of the road.

Buses would be much more preferable than trams, except perhaps in the crowded Melbourne CBD. We've seen the proliferation of expensive new tram "super-stops" that cost over $100,000 each, as councils struggle to spend their booming annual budgets of $200 million.

But there are some spend-happy bureaucrats who will claim that trams are part of our heritage (so are horse + carriages!) and thats reason enough to let them clog our roads !

Here are some unavoidable facts about transport. People strongly prefer cars and roads. Mass transit is usually only popular in dense and heavy traffic areas for commuting to work or to big events.

We already tax the heck out of petrol, cars, insurance, stamp duty and then ration out parking spaces as well as imposing lots of fines and penalties for speeding and driving whilst talking on a phone.

You can easily make life even more miserable for motorists, but why would you want to ?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Digging up the figures on government

Its time for some perspective people. We just got over an election full of hysteria, promises, vague rhetoric and fear tactics.

Not once during the election debates was there a balanced discussion on the wider issues;

  • what services should government provide?
  • what about the current level of taxation and the way it is raised ?
  • what about the current level of spending ?
  • what about the current number of government employees ?
  • what about the welfare system ?
I've done some digging around, and here are some figures that speak for themselves and will make these questions seem all the more pressing.
From the ATO 2006 annual report:
  • "We make $7.5 billion in transfers and payments to the community "
  • "At 30 June 2006, we employed 21,511 full time equivalent employees in offices all around Australia"
  • Our operating budget expenditure for 2005-06 was $2,533.2 million
  • Net tax collections increased to $232.6 billion which was $17.8 billion (8.3%) more than last year
From the Centrelink website:
  • Its recurrent budget is $2.3 billion
  • has 6.5 million customers, or approximately one-third of the Australian population ( !!! )
  • employs more than 25 000 staff
  • has more than 1 000 service delivery points ranging from large Customer Service Centres to small visiting services
  • has reduced the number of letters sent to our customers from more than 87 million (in 2004-2005) to 86.4 million per year (in 2005-2006)
  • receives more than 30.77 million telephone calls each year
  • grants more than 2.8 million new claims each year.
Department of Education, Science and Training annual report.
  • Expenses administered on behalof the government increased by three per cent from $18.755 billion in 2005-06 to $19.261 billion in 2006-07.
  • Total price of departmental expenses: $507.8 million
  • Average staffing level:
Department of Health and Ageing annual report:
  • Total Departmental Appropriations: $799.528 million
  • Total Administered: $45.7 billion

Senator Nick Minchin pointed out the following bit of information, which the media aren't the slightest bit interested in:
“At last count, Mr Rudd had announced 96 reviews and inquiries and 67 new government Departments, committees and task forces.
Have I made the situation perfectly clear ?

The real goals of the welfare state

John Edwards is one of the leading presidential candidates running for the Democrats in America. He is considered your typical progressive, or left-wing social democrat, and he clearly articulates EXACTLY what is intended by expanding the government provision of public health services.

“I’m mandating healthcare for every man woman and child in America and that’s the only way to have real universal healthcare.”

“Evertime you go into contact with the healthcare system or the govenment you will be signed up.”

During a press avail following the event Edwards reiterated his mandate:

“Basically every time they come into contact with either the healthcare system or the government, whether it’s payment of taxes, school, going to the library, whatever it is they will be signed up.”

When asked by a reporter if an individual decided they didn’t want healthcare Edwards quickly responded, “You don’t get that choice.”

There you have it people. PLEASE STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT. Socialised medicine isn't about helping the poor, as much as it is about creating a one-size-fits-all system where the individual has no say or no vote in what kind of services they can receive.

Capitalism is nice and simple ... it doesn't have a feel-good vibe to it, and it sound somewhat selfish, but here it is nonetheless ... you vote with your dollars, and the competitive providers will crawl over each other to provide you what you need in exchange for them.

Having a socialised system means that your dollars will have no say, and you cannot vote or communicate with them. It means that health and education become massive bureaucracies that ration out limited amounts of services, and allow people to die whilst on waiting lists and children to receive a sub-standard education (and to add insult to injury, poor parents MUST send their children to a school, no matter how bad).

I've always said that I would love nothing more than to wave my magic wand and have an army of skilled teachers, nurses, policemen appear and provide minimum health and education services, especially to look after the poor and disadvantaged.

But nobody, no economy on the planet, no leader or super-computer, can allocate these resources at zero cost, with no trade-off.

That is economics in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Liberals become even less liberal

In today's Australian, the candidates for the new leadership position in the Liberal Party are planning a future course which shows the Liberal Party entirely abandoning its manifesto and policy platform, and steering towards a vague, social welfare and interventionist set of policies. With each day, the LDP becomes the only remotely *liberal* party functioning in the Australian political landscape.

Mr Turnbull, who failed in a bid to convince federal cabinet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, said yesterday that Kevin Rudd had a mandate to do so.

"I don't think anybody can reasonably oppose that. He has clearly got a mandate to do that - that's fine, that's done, it's an important symbolic act," Mr Turnbull said.

Now the Liberal Party is no different to the Greens when it comes to supporting free market solutions. The Liberal Party clearly believe more rules and regulations, and a crippling intervention into the energy industry is needed and that a government department should be established to implement these draconian measures.

Dr Nelson said yesterday he was the right man to take the party forward and foreshadowed a rise in the importance of social welfare, "relative to economic rationalism".

"(It will be a balance) not only of economic but also human and social objectives for our country," Dr Nelson said.

"What I will be offering ... is an alternative which is the right balance of experience and stability but also care, commitment, conviction and vision, not only for economic but also human and social objectives for our country."

Social objectives are whatever our elites tell us they are.. like more welfare, or baby bonuses, or free injecting rooms or who knows whats next. This idea allows government to redefine its role, its scope and its size whenever they sniff an opportunity for good PR. Who knows what will be regulated next - fast food ? Sports ? Alcohol ?
Some Coalition MPs are even pushing for the party to concede the Work Choices reforms went too far.
Yet none will contend that it doesn't go far enough. Nobody even proposes that government has no business interfering with workplaces in a free and prosperous society.

Sigh ........

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie reviews

Thanks to Qantas and Air France, I can post a heap of movie reviews:

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer - predictable action flick, at least it has Jessica Alba - 5/10

License to Wed - not very funny for a comedy - 4/10

Transformers - would be great with surround sound a big screen - 6/10

Knocked Up - some funny characters, but has a disturbing and gross birth scene - 6/10

Evan Almighty - Steve Carrell is the least funny he has ever been. This is kiddy Disney comedy - 4/10

Hot Rod - What a crack up ! A stupid stunt-man acting like an ass - 8/10

1408 - Scary horror/thriller type, John Cusack is pretty cool in this - 7/10

Back from holidays

I'm back from Europe, where I discovered that the French love to go on strike for extended periods that inconvenience millions of travellers.

Anyway, blogging will resume now. I'm disappointed in the election result, my dreams of the LDP scoring a few victories and bigger publicity have been dashed, and the nightmare scenario of the ALP regulating our workplaces and introducing thousands of pages of environmental regulations is soon to come about.

Whats the silver lining in all of this ? Perhaps the Liberal party can actually rebuild themselves as a *LIBERAL* party for the next election. Maybe Kevin Rudd can really shake up the ALP and try to maintain a centrist position, infuriating the unionists amongst their ranks. And of course, just like Germany and New Zealand, by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is about to learn how it just doesn't work out. It will not be many years before those who voted ALP at this election will see some broken promises and dashed hopes, no matter how skilled or adept Rudd is.

He's been campaigning for months on catchy slogans like "fresh thinking", "new leadership" and "governing for all Australians". Now its time for a dose of reality.

Friday, November 23, 2007

If you are not a thug, vote for LDP

The media is still running with the general theme of "whose face do you prefer more ? Johnny or Kevin" which makes my skin crawl. It really re-emphasises the cynical notion that elections are where you vote for the person you hate the least.

But in 2007, tomorrow is your first chance to vote for freedom. In every single state in Australia, the LDP are listed on the senate ballot papers.

The major parties, Labor, Liberal, Greens, Family First and Democrats, are all authoritarian thugs who make promises on how they will spend your taxes.

They also make promises about new laws, regulations, quotas, police powers, surveillance, environment regulations and yet more legislation. These in themselves can often be seen for what they are - nanny state bullying and telling other people what to do.

But the concept of spending the current level (or more) of taxes is nothing less than a brutal and thuggish mentality because taxes are *not* voluntary.

If you like the benign, positive and egalitarian sound of some policies, like "greater health spending" or "more school teachers" or "free dental care for teenagers", then you can simply vote for the major parties who campaign on it. Whether more government spending will actually deliver better results in these areas is very doubtful (please look at the last decade as government spending has skyrocketed). But more importantly ...

You didn't ask your neighbour if they want to spend more money on teenage dental care, or baby bonuses, or family tax credits. You never asked another person for permission on how to spend their money.

Instead, you will be voting for a party that uses force to extract taxes and freedoms from people. There is no way to avoid this cruel fact.

I'd love to see a magic wand waved and more teachers for schools appear instantly. But do you have the guts, the aggression or the violent mindset to force other taxpayers to pay for your preferences ?

Put this aside, and vote LDP in the senate !

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm off on holiday till end of November

I'll be back in time for the election. Till then, blogging will be suspended.

Good luck to the LDP ! Don't let the other parties try to bid for your vote. Spread the message and the ideas of liberty to everyone you know. Keep insisting that you'd rather have government do less for you, and let you manage your own affairs. We need less meddling, not more promises and commitments to meddle further.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Age says you have no property rights

The socialists down in Spencer St have unveiled their latest election stunt - the pork-o-meter:

Supposedly, it charts and lists all the "pork" and spending promises made by both parties in the election campaign.

Have a look and see how it breaks the pork down into categories such as health, education, farmers, security, environment and even tax.

What the ?! Tax !??!

How on earth is giving tax cuts considered a form of pork ?

Its quite one thing to use tax revenues to buy votes in the health sector, or in the environment sector. That could be considered a form of pork barreling. But giving tax back to the people who earned it is considered a form of bribery or vote buying by the socialists at The Age.

How sickening the socialist mindset is. When the government gives you some of your property back, it is considered a favor, instead of a restoration of justice and property rights.

Heck, why stop at listing the $34 billion tax cut as a form of pork ? Why not just say the government, by letting us keep 60% or 70% of our incomes in the first place, is giving us hundreds of billions in pork ?

Those nasty capitalists with their property rights.. they let us own our homes and cars !! Thats a form of pork and vote buying !

You see under social democracy, and its ultimate end, socialism, you do not have the right to own property. Your body, your house, your speech, your income and your wealth all belong to the state, and whatever benefits and freedoms you get to do with those things is only because the state and society grants you that privilege.

Government planning ! Its all you need for failure !

China should know better than most countries about how planning often causes problems. The very concept of planning is one that is based on a whole lot of risks, unknowns and assumptions. But it seems the Chinese communist regime has just announced this:

CHINA'S President Hu Jintao yesterday announced the leaders to see the country through the next 15 years.

The five-yearly party congress that ended on Sunday consolidated Mr Hu's own control of key policies and people until 2012.

Then comes the turn of the "two quite young comrades" whom Mr Hu yesterday asked to step forward from the traditional beauty parade-style line-up of the new Politburo standing committee: Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.

Aged 54 and 52 respectively, the party secretaries of Shanghai and of Liaoning, they are both reform-minded, English-speaking administrators liked by foreign business leaders.

Ahh yes, forget elections, forget letting the people or the circumstances decide on who should lead the country. Just write down a plan in paper and sit back, and watch the mayhem unfold ! Planning should be considered a dirty word when uttered by public servants. They don't mean planning in the intelligent sense. They mean writing down their job conditions for the next few years with no need to respond, adapt or change no matter what else changes around them.

China had 5 year plans for food which resulted in famine. Soviet Russia also had agricultural plans which resulted in shortages and famine. Perhaps they should have listened more carefully to some free market wisdom, like von Mises, Ricardo, de Tocqueville or Schumpeter, instead of following Marx to the letter of the law.

You can't plan what you will wear in 2 weeks time without knowing the weather, the conditions, and in fact, what activity you will be doing.

So when a massive institutional government bureaucracy suggests it needs to formulate a plan, beware !

Now this doesn't mean I believe that people should ignore the future because it is entirely random and unpredictable. Quite to the contrary. People can in fact prepare for the future. They can plan for certain contingencies and risks. They can think of strategies and tactics that help them. The difference being that people do not have to write their 5 year plans on paper and follow them through to the letter of the law.

Individuals are excellent decision making units. We are flexible, adaptive and respond to new information. We change our plans that we carry in our head, the minute we hear a weather forecast, or a financial outlook, or other relevant bits of data.

Every day we decide what to wear, what to eat, what to purchase, what to do with our leisure time and hundreds more countless decisions. We decide how much education or medical services we need as well.

No bureaucrat or public servant is needed to tell us what to do or what we need. They will try to put a positive spin 5 year plans for the hospitals or for public transport, telling us they will use lots of feedback, KPIs, metrics, review procesdures and a transparent process to make the whole thing smooth and accountable.

When you hear them talk about central planning, tell them its destined to fail.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On 2nd thoughts, the Liberal's tax cuts are moderate

On closer inspection, I'm a bit disappointed to read the fine print on yesterday's news story about the Liberal's proposed tax cuts.

To begin with, the LDP have correctly pointed out that the tax free threshold isn't actually being raised one cent. Instead, the Low Income Tax Offset is being raised so that people who will earn $14,000 will get a tax rebate to cover any tax debt, so they owe nothing.

And this is a form of churning, one of the biggest problems with the status quo, something which CIS researcher Peter Saunders has identified in several pieces. Churn is as simple as it sounds. .. .governments take more taxes than they should in the first place, churn it around, throw it in the air, and hand bits of it back to the people who paid it in the first place via welfare payments, baby bonuses, tax credits, co-contributions etc etc.

As the LDP describe it:

Churning exists when money is recycled from taxpayer to bureaucracy and then back to the same taxpayer. Not only does it waste significant amounts of money on administration and compliance costs but it contributes to high effective marginal tax rates and undermines the incentive to work.

"The Liberals have no plan to reform the welfare system. As a result, people on low incomes receiving welfare payments will continue to lose a substantial part of any money they earn. It is a terrible disincentive to join the workforce.

Still.. its better than anything Labor will offer.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A vote for Labor is a vote for..

Kevin Rudd seems like a top bloke. A real nice guy. But lets see what a vote for him means. The kind folks at A Western Heart have compiled the following future ALP cabinet, and its not very reassuring:

Prime Minister: Kevin Rudd
Deputy prime Minister and Minister for Industrial relations: Julia Gillard, former student radical and AUS president
Treasurer: Wayne Swan, former ALP state secretary
Attorney general: Joe Ludwig, former AWU official
Minister for Homeland security: Arch Bevis, former organiser Queensland teachers’ Union
Minister for Trade: Simon Crean, former president, ACTU
Minister for Transport and Tourism: Martin Ferguson, former president, ACTU
Minister for Finance: Lindsay Tanner, former state secretary, Federated Clerk’s Union
Minister for Environment and the Arts: Peter Garrett, lifelong anti-American activist
Minister for Infrastructure and Water: Anthony Albanese. former assistant general secretary, NSW ALP
Minister for Human Services: Tanya Plibersek, former student union official, UTS
Minister for Immigration: Tony Burke, former official Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union
Minister for Resources: Chris Evans, former official Miscellaneous Workers’ Union
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs: Alan Griffin, former official federated Clerks Union
Minister for Primary Industry: Kerry O’Brien, former official Miscellaneous Workers’ Union
Minister for Superannuation: Nick Sherry, former state secretary, Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Union
Minister for Sport: Kate Lundy, former official CFMEU.
Further to that, there are these guys, all ready to step up to the plate:
Greg Combet, candidate for Charlton and former ACTU president
Doug Cameron, NSW Senate candidate and secretary of Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
Bill Shorten: candidate for Maribyrnong and national secretary, Australian Workers’ Union
Richard Marles: candidate for Corio and former assistant secretary, Transport Workers Union.

The 2007 election is on. .The Liberals finally offer tax cuts !

The Liberals have finally come about their senses and planned for some decent tax cutting ! Its about bloody time they put this issue on the radar. Forget their past mistakes, we all know Liberals have failed to deliver much in terms of tax cuts, and tax revenues have continued to climb to record highs under Howard's leadership.

But now that tax is a major election issue, it will force Rudd to deal with it and either offer his own set of substantial tax cuts or admit that he is a thieving, tax hungry socialist.

Past tax cuts have ranged from negligible to decent, but this is some solid change coming up, and worthy of celebration. I'd call it a big deal. Of course, it doesn't go as far as I'd like, but reducing the 2 top tax rates is a good start. Lets hope they no longer exist and everybody fits into the 30c rate, or lower.

For the kind of basic functions I think government should perform (police, courts, defence and some infrastructure/roads), we could afford all these things without an income tax at all !

But enough of my ranting for now, here are the details:

Mr Costello said in 2010 a coalition government would increase the effective tax free threshold again to $16,000.

The 15 per cent threshold would be taken up to $37,000, he said, and the top and second top tax rates would each be cut by one cent in the dollar.

"This plan is all to work towards the goal of tax reform which we now set ourselves," the treasurer said.

"Within five years - by 2012/13 - (we'll have) four tax rates - 15, 30, 35 and 40 (cents in the dollar).

"That's why we keep reducing those top two tax rates."

Mr Costello said the tax restructure would help grow Australia's economy by encouraging more people into work.

"The reason we are doing this is to encourage more people to join the workforce and to boost the capacity of the Australian economy," he said.

"This is part of our 'go for growth' strategy."

Treasury modelling showed federal government tax reforms since 2000 had boosted the number of people in the workforce by 300,000.

"The changes which we announce today will boost the estimated workforce by around 65,000 people," Mr Costello said.

"Encouraging more people into the workforce, particularly by reducing their effective tax-free threshold and particularly by lifting the threshold up until which you pay 15 cents in the dollar, is boosting the number of people joining Australia's workforce."

Mr Costello said in percentage terms, low income earners had experienced the highest tax cuts over the past five years.

"For people on $15,000 we will cut it out entirely," Mr Costello said.

"For people on $50,000 they will have a net tax cut that will reduce their tax paid from around $11,380 to $7,850.

"These tax cuts which began with the new tax system in 2000 have continued through our last five budgets."

Mr Costello said if re-elected, the coalition would next financial year lift the tax-free threshold for low income earners from $11,000 to $14,000.

The 15 per cent tax rate would kick in at $34,000, instead of $30,000.

Mr Costello said taxpayers would pay 30 cents in the dollar once they earn $80,000 a year and 40 cents at $180,000.

Lower those rates, Mr Treasurer !!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The LDP needs candidates for the Australian election

I won't be standing as a candidate for the LDP at the next election, but if any readers out there feel inclined to do so, please lend a hand, join the LDP, and if you have already joined, then stand as a candidate. It is rare to see an organised pro-liberty movement in this country, and it deserves as much support as possible.

Lets get government out of our lives, and out of our pockets, and then sit back and enjoy our liberty !

(I personally have no interest in being involved in politics, and I will probably be overseas at the upcoming election, seeing as we haven't set the date yet)

The war on drugs in 30 seconds

Watch this Penn and Teller clip to get the true meaning of the war on drugs:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Some interesting links

Thoughts on Freedom has a couple of new posts. One is a fascinating transcript showing a debate with a communist on Usenet.

Fran: To do that seriously, you must devise ways of working out how to reconcile your own needs and wants with the needs and wants of others.

Tex: Simple. I want to buy something, someone else wants to sell it to me, we agree on a price (or not).

Fran: You must distinguish out who is likely to collaborate with you (and for how long and on what basis) from those likely to compete with you.

Also up is a post about how minimum wage laws specifically harm the poor.

And here is a short article by the CTO of a technology startup, about how the Ron Paul revolution being the first truly digital movement.
The organization of the Ron Paul campaign is demonstrating that the corporate and government monopoly on, well, corporatism and governance, is weakening. The general population has just now been armed with digital weapons that allow them to challenge anointed power structures and the Ron Paul campaign is evidence that they aren't wasting any time getting to work.

$5 million in fund raising for the last quarter is quite an accomplishment. The seeds of liberty are planted and spreading.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Australian constitution is useless

Really, what is so useful about a document that tells us how many members of parliament, the levels of government, the numbers of senators, the election terms and the role of the queen and governor general ?

Its all just formality and ceremony. Is there much in there to limit the powers of government ? Unfortunately not.

....the Australian Constitution, was to list the powers given to the Commonwealth and otherwise leave the powers of the States unspecified and unrestricted.

Some powers are given exclusively to the Commonwealth, but with others overlap is allowed, with a provision (Section 109) to decide which legislation prevails if there is conflict. There is also provision to give new powers to the Commonwealth, either by the consent of State Governments
There are no clauses that seem to limit the power of the government, and no bill of rights. No guarantee on the right to bear arms, no clauses about freedom of speech, or about government having no power to tax commerce, and no mention of life, liberty and property.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Won't somebody think of the trees !

Oh the humanity. Oh the cruelty of it all !! Somebody think of the trees and animals !
Finally, and thankfully, Gunn's Pulp Mill has the go ahead from the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Heres the upside:

The project in Tasmania's north-east will be the island state's largest-ever private sector investment. Gunns, the company behind the mill, says it will provide up to 2,000 long-term jobs and add $6.7 billion to Tasmania's economic output over the next 25 years.

Well, lets see. Gunns bought the land, planned how to operate their business, raised capital, did their research, checked what other competitors they are up against, researched the technology of production and distribution, and expect to hire 2000 staff full-time. Running a simple business, let alone a full scale industrial plant, is pretty complex to manage. But I bet there was one risk that has cost Gunn's, one factor beyond their control, but one that can spell doom for their plans before they even get started.

The risk of political interference and meddling. Which has come about through:
  • A massive media scare campaign.
  • Dozens of angry environmental protestors outraged at Gunn's and deciding government should stop them.
  • Self righteous celebrities like Cate Blanchett with her eco-mansion, joining the cause to ban the pulp mill.
  • Political lobby groups and opposition parties getting massive headlines in newspapers, TV and radio playing partisan games and attacking the idea of letting Gunn's do what they want with the land that they purchased and hold the title too.
  • The issue becoming a political football in the run-up to a federal election

Malcolm Turnbull deserves credit for doing something unusual for a politician - nothing ! He didn't meddle, interfere, regulate or even threaten to monitor the project. And the only other political party that deserves credit is the LDP, who also have a candidate running for the seat of Wentworth and agreed to direct their preferences to Turnbull if he gave the go-ahead for the pulp-mill. The LDP said the following:
"We consider the Gunns pulp mill to be a test of whether Australia is open for business", said LDP Secretary David Leyonhjelm.

"The mill will be built on land zoned heavy industrial, next to an existing woodchip mill and just down the road from an aluminium smelter. It will use existing transport infrastructure and wood supplies.

"It was designed by a world-leading Finnish company and will utilise the world's best technology. It could not be built to a higher standard, and will be far superior to Australia's other pulp mill at Maryvale in Victoria.

"If the mill is prevented from proceeding despite all that, it means Australia is off-limits to paper production. We will be permanently dependant on imported paper, possibly made from our own wood chips.

"We expect extreme environmental groups such as the Greens to oppose the pulp mill, as they always oppose industrial development except when it requires taxpayers funds. What we didn't expect was that Malcolm Turnbull would be personally targeted by wealthy anti-business elements that have lost touch with reality.

"Government policy should not be determined by city-based romantics.

"Our candidate for Wentworth will be arguing for the pulp mill to proceed on the basis that the government has set the rules and the pulp mill meets them. Australia needs private sector investment of this kind if it is to maintain its economic progress.

"We believe we will appeal to voters who support our position on low taxes, small government and individual responsibility, but who are not inclined to vote Liberal because of its record of big government or intrusion into our personal lives", Mr Leyonhjelm said.

The LDP expects to announce its candidate for Wentworth within the next week.

So there are actual reasons to support the Gunn's Pulp Mill on environmental grounds. Its cleaner than the plant in Maryvale !

Lets take a look at how the tree-huggers down at the Spencer Street Soviet reacted to this:

It would appear that Mr Lennon has won the battle. He can now retire knowing that he has absolutely stuffed Tasmania as a clean green isle. I wonder where his children will go in the world to find somewhere like tassy is at this time.

  • Posted by: Peter Dodson on October 4, 2007 11:52 AM

What, was a nuclear bomb just dropped on tasmania ? The idea that our children won't recognise Tasmania is such hyperbole and exaggeration. But thats something that tree huggers use all the time.

I agree with Lainey - what a sad day. The impact may not be seen immediately, but I have no doubt that the consequences will make us regret the action.

  • Posted by: siobhan on October 4, 2007 11:55 AM

They can all see into the future ! No doubts, just have faith. That should be the mantra of the environmental movement.

This decision was based on Economics and bad economics alone!

again the Howard government has proved they are not interested in sustainability, only enhancing close relationships with big buyssiness that is over exploiting our natural resources, to the detriment of your children. we can only hope that mr Rudd and Labour would have any more foresight.

god bless Tasmania

  • Posted by: Jai Allison on October 4, 2007 11:57 AM

Ahh sustainability.. that magic word that suits the left's agenda so well. It can't be defined exactly, but whenever the left don't like some kind of change or development, they are quick to announce its not "sustainable". And when they propose all kinds of ridiculous, inefficient, unreliable ideas like wind power or alternative fuels, they are the wise overseers who can apply the "sustainable" label to it. In the free market, something is referred to as profitable if both parties gain from the exchange.

But in the crazed environmentalists world, there is always this magical 3rd party in every exchange called "the environment" who decides if it is sustainable or not. Of course, the planet doesn't have a voice, but somehow, these greenies and socialists can channel the planet's thoughts and speak on her behalf !!!

A sad day. How can the concern for the environment STILL be so low on the list of priorities? There are no jobs on a dead planet.

  • Posted by: meg streiff on October 4, 2007 12:03 PM

Because the whole point of a free economy is to kill the planet, and doom the rest of us !of course !!

A company like Gunns comes to dominate the entire social, political and economic framework of a state. Why?

I have never seen the sense in ripping up our forests in order to have jobs for morons whose only lifeskill is the ability to use a chainsaw. If these lazy dumb clowns were simply left on welfare we'd all be better off.

  • Posted by: Adrian on October 4, 2007 12:04 PM

Wow.. Gunn's collects taxes, runs the councils, courts, police, parliament.. they pay for roads, infrastructure. They operate hospitals and clinics, and schools, and universities. Damn those big companies and their power !! And the 2nd part of his rant is equally amusing. Look at his scorn and derision for the proleteriat. The moron who only knows how to use a chainsaw doesn't deserve a job !

When will humankind learn to just leave. Stuff. Alone?

  • Posted by: James Wall on October 4, 2007 12:20 PM

James. When will humankind learn to leave each other alone ? Gunn's bought the land, leave them alone ! The whole proposal and plan is based on thousands of voluntary trahsactions and exchanges. The labour hired, the land purchased, the skills and training and equipment. Nobody was coerced by Gunn's ! You should be happy James.

How can they get away with it?
How can they get away with any of the
rape and pillage of the environment
in Tas and elsewhere?


  • Posted by: Paul on October 4, 2007 12:36 PM

Thanks Paul. I'm weeping for you.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A letter of complaint - to Port Phillip Council

I am absolutely sick of the parking restrictions in that hell-hole, its well beyond oppressive, and totally inefficient. I wrote the following letter of complaint.

I am writing to express my frustration and anger at the current state of parking signs and restrictions in St Kilda, especially around the commercial areas of Fitzroy Street and Acland Street.

The status quo is absolutely unbearable for motorists. The amount of stress it causes myself, and at least a dozen others who live in the area, is significant. And the benefits of having such draconian and severe parking restrictions are simply non-existent. There is indeed a benefit to the council in terms of revenue, but it is not the role of the local council to impose blanket parking fees across the vast majority of the road system at all hours of the day.

There is no justification for the current levelof parking restrictions in terms of traffic management. The restrictions apply all year round, all days of the week and all times of the day. They even apply to areas well beyond the busy commercial strips.

The costs with parking tickets is astronomical, and I go to great lengths to avoid paying close to $3 per hour to park my car in a busy street. If it means walking half an hour, so be it. This Sunday evening, the St Kilda foreshore was almost completely devoid of cars. At least 90% of parking spaces were available, so there should be no need to operate ticket machines and charge people for a service that is abundant in supply at a time when demand is so low.

But even more dissapointing is the time restrictions placed in Fitzroy Street. What kind of justification is there for having 15 minute, or 30 minute parking spaces ? The current signs do a terrible job at allocating parking spaces to people.

What you seem to be forgetting is that people do not have a valid reason to over-stay and park. They go about their business, eat out, go out to nightspots or shops, and then they go home. Why should they be forced to stress over whether their car has been in a spot for 31 minutes ?

I hope you will see reason and stop oppressing motorists. After all, they are the ones who live and visit your area, and support the businesses and live in the homes that pay so much through council rates. In terms of emissions and fuel consumption, a great deal of driving time is wasted by motorists looking for spots. This trend is significant, I often spend 5 or 10 minutes driving to St Kilda and then 15 minutes trying to park, whilst competing with many other drivers.

Port Phillip council has a reputation as the most over-regulated and socialised council in Melbourne. They are becoming too authoritarian, deciding on how every inch of land should be used and even how people's private property must be used. There is not an inch of freedom or breathing space for people, and it seems a whole range of actions is either forbidden or heavily taxed.

All parking restrictions should be removed. But it would be a good start to remove them outside of working hours, reduce the fees, and increase the time limits.

Please take this seriously, I visit the area several times each week, and it would be a good sign that you are concerned with giving freedom to individuals and businesses, and not to filling your own coffers.


Central banks screwing things up

The Mises blog has a great post that summarises how central bankers interfere and meddle with the supply of money, which causes distortions and economic imbalances that manifest themselves in bubbles and busts.

Read below, and decide for yourself if fractional reserve banking sounds like it is good accounting and sound practices, or if it is just creating money out of thin air ?

Fractional reserve banking is the system in America, Australia, Canada, Britain, Japan and dozens of other economies. Of course it could be worse - refer to Cuba, Venezuela or Zimbabwe for examples.

Very briefly: the Fed can control the quantity of reserves held by banks, and thus indirectly can control the price the banks charge each other for lending out reserves. If the Fed thinks banks are charging each other too much for reserves — in other words, if the actual fed funds rate is higher than the target — then the Fed will engage in an "open market operation," buying assets such as US Treasury bonds from banks. The Fed pays for these purchases by adding numbers to the accounts the selling banks have with the Fed.

This is the precise point of entry for the new money that the Fed creates out of thin air. To repeat: When the Fed buys (say) $1 million in bonds from Bank XYZ, Bank XYZ surrenders ownership of the bonds but sees that its deposits of reserves at the Fed go up by $1 million. But the Fed didn't transfer this money from some other account. No, it simply increased the electronic entry representing Bank XYZ's total reserves on deposit. There is no offsetting debit anywhere in the banking system. Bank XYZ now has $1 million more in reserves, while no other bank has less. Bank XYZ is now free to go out and loan more reserves to other banks, or to make loans to its own customers. (In fact, due to the fractional-reserve system, the bank could make up to $10 million in new loans to customers.) The money supply has increased, putting upward pressure on prices measured in dollars.

But back to our original theme, the injection of reserves obviously increases their supply and thus (other things equal) pushes down the rate Bank XYZ will charge other banks who might want to borrow reserves from it. The open market operation has thus achieved the Fed's goal of pushing the actual fed funds rate down to the desired target. Of course, going the opposite way, if the actual fed funds rate were too low, the Fed would sell assets to the banks, thereby destroying some of the total reserves in the system.

Read the full article to see the Austrian analysis of this phenomenon, and if the empirical evidence shows this mechanism in action over the past decades.

Hero of Denmark

This man has courage. He was willing to exercise his freedom of speech, even if it would offend millions and make him the target of assassination. He offended millions of Presbyterians Muslims when he put published those dreaded cartoons of blasphemy, that actually depicted Mohammed, would ya believe it ?!

Reason Magazine
has a fascinating interview with Flemming Rose.

reason: Did your time in Russia and as Berlingske Tidende correspondent in the Soviet Union inform your ideas of free speech and political freedom?

Flemming Rose:
Yes. I am going to write a book about the cartoon crisis and I am going to compare the experience of the dissidents in the Soviet Union to what has happened to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji... I am very much informed by my contact with [Soviet dissidents] and I'm close to the Sakharov camp—people like Natan Sharansky and Sergei Kovalev... The dissidents were split between what I would I would call the nationalist camp and the human rights movement. And I would say that I identified more with the human rights movement, although I am a big admirer of Solzhenitsyn, of course, because of what he accomplished. But today he is, in fact, supporting Putin and he believes that he's conducting a very wise foreign policy program. I don't think Sakharov would have subscribed to this view.

Were you surprised by the reaction of those who argued not for unfettered free speech, but "responsible speech?"

Well, no. I think many people betrayed their own ideals. The history of the left, for instance, is a history of confronting authority—be it religious or political authority—and always challenging religious symbols and figures. In this case, they failed miserably. I think the left is in a deep crisis in Europe because of their lack of willingness to confront the racist ideology of Islamism. They somehow view the Koran as a new version of Das Kapital and are willing to ignore everything else, as long of they continue to see the Muslims of Europe as a new proletariat.

Like during the Cold War, there is a willingness to establish a false equivalence between democracy and oppression—between a totalitarian ideology and a liberal ideology. When I look back at my own behavior during the "cartoon crisis," it was very much informed by my experience with Soviet Union because I saw the same kind of behavior both inside the Soviet Union and those dealing with the Soviet Union in the West.

At the height of the "cartoon crisis," were you surprised to turn the television on to images of people in Lahore burning Danish flags, mobs attacking Scandinavian embassies? Did anyone at the paper anticipate such a response?

Not at all. No one expected this kind of reaction. Last year, I visited Bernard Lewis at Princeton and he told me: "Your case in unique in a historical sense. Never before in modern times, on such a scale, have Muslims insisted upon applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non-Muslim country. It has never happened before. And you can't really compare the Rushdie affair, because he was perceived to be an apostate." And as he told me, there is a long tradition of offending the Prophet in history. In the St. Petronio church in Bologna there is, on the ceiling, a painting of Mohammad in hell, based Dürer's paintings of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Kevin Rudd - old fashioned authoritarian

I am not a partisan person when it comes to politics. I owe no party any loyalty, and would just as soon vote for the ALP if they understood economics and showed an appreciation of free markets as the only reason prosperity and wealth have grown.

Kevin Rudd is campaigning on the slogan "Fresh Thinking". If he is actually thinking of ideas, then they certainly aren't fresh. Lets get one thing straight. Kevin Rudd may win based on his fresh "face" and being different to Howard. But the ideas and policies he supports are old fashioned central planning that see a greater role of government meddling in the free market.

He has pledged to establish, literally, dozens of new bureacracies and departments, to spend $4.7billion of public funds on broadband, to continue with tariffs on clothing imports, to regulate and investigate prices on groceries and petrol, to increase the regulation on workplaces, and last but not least, regulate every single household and business to reduce their C02 output and levy taxes on emissions.

These ideas are not fresh. They have been tried countless times in recent history, by people far more charismatic, powerful, intelligent and articulate than Kevin Rudd. From Stalin, Mao, Castro and other rulers in the communist block, to today's socialist world leaders such as Tony Blair followed by Gordon Brown in the UK, Sarkozy in France, Zapatero in Spain and other European leaders, but even conservative world leaders such as George Bush, Stephen Harper and John Howard all dabble in central planning and heavy regulation of the economy, and an increasing amount of tax and property collected by the state.

These policies cause havoc. They have nothing to do with the man behind the wheel. Kevin Rudd may be a nice guy, but his ideas are doomed to fail, hurt people and destroy wealth.

The Daily Reckoning summarizes it succinctly:

Last week, China signaled that it wanted to control inflation in the worst way possible. Then, it announced: Henceforth essential prices will be set by party officials, rather than the marketplace. In effect, China is bailing out its economy in the worst possible way. Price controls are used by desperate governments from time to time. From Emperor Diocletian to Richard Nixon to Robert Mugabe, politicians have succumbed to temptation; rather than listen to the market, they decided to do the talking. In every instance, the results were the same – the economy was twisted in a painful and grotesque way. Typically, prices were held down to artificially low levels, in order to appease political groups. Supplies disappeared – blackmarkets, hoarding, market disruptions… one absurdity followed another.

Price controls don’t work – as the Soviet Union discovered – because they mislead people. Producers over-produce… or produce too much of the wrong thing and too little of the right thing. Consumers over-consume; investors put their money into the wrong places… at the wrong time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Man versus The State

Another book that is on my must read list is Herbert Spencer's The Man versus The State. The Mises institute has a great commentary on this work, written back in 1884 but still full of relevant wisdom and accurate insight. Many of the gloomy predictions made by Spencer have come true due to his understanding of the role of government and its expansionary instincts. An interesting aspect to this classical liberal text was that it was written in 1884, and describes how British society was already heavily regulated, with many supporters of socialised rail, health, medicine and infrastructure.

A common misconception is that the 20th century saw the emergence (and fail) of socialism, but it seems that socialism is a slowly creeping phenomena and the 19th century had its share of supporters who insisted on an ever greater role for the state in providing welfare. The 20th century gave us more than a handful of examples of the blanket poverty that emerged from a socialist command economy. But once again, the classical liberal writers are spot on with their predictions.

Mises foresaw the inevitable doom and failure of communism, and Spencer clearly saw the endless expansion of the state at the expense of individual freedom and liberty.

But any open-minded person who takes the trouble today to read or reread The Man Versus The State will probably be startled by two things. The first is the uncanny clairvoyance with which Spencer foresaw what the future encroachments of the State were likely to be on individual liberty, above all in the economic realm. The second is the extent to which these encroachments had already occurred in 1884, the year in which he was writing.

The present generation has been brought up to believe that government concern for "social justice" and for the plight of the needy was something that did not even exist until the New Deal came along in 1933. The ages prior to that have been pictured as periods when no one "cared," when laissez faire was rampant, when everybody who did not succeed in the cutthroat competition that was euphemistically called free enterprise — but was simply a system of dog-eat-dog and the-devil-take-the-hindmost — was allowed to starve. And if the present generation thinks this is true even of the 1920s, it is absolutely convinced that this was so in the 1880s, which it would probably regard as the very peak of the prevalence of laissez faire.

Yet the new reader's initial astonishment when he starts Spencer's book may begin to wear off before he is halfway through, because one cause for surprise explains the other. All that Spencer was doing was to project or extrapolate the legislative tendencies existing in the 1880s into the future. It was because he was so clearsightedly appalled by these tendencies that he recognized them so much more sharply than his contemporaries, and saw so much more clearly where they would lead if left unchecked.

Spencer has some words that are astonishingly relevant to modern society, with western governments claiming credit for our advances and developments when they deserve no credit at all:
It is not to the State that we owe the multitudinous useful inventions from the spade to the telephone; it is not the State which made possible extended navigation by a developed astronomy; it was not the State which made the discoveries in physics, chemistry, and the rest, which guide modern manufacturers; it was not the State which devised the machinery for producing fabrics of every kind, for transferring men and things from place to place, and for ministering in a thousand ways to our comforts. The worldwide transactions conducted in merchants' offices, the rush of traffic filling our streets, the retail distributing system which brings everything within easy reach and delivers the necessaries of life daily at our doors, are not of governmental origin. All these are results of the spontaneous activities of citizens, separate or grouped.

And Spencer viewed income tax as nothing more than slavery:
No man has any claim to his property, not even to that which he has earned by the sweat of his brow, save by the permission of the community; and that the community may cancel the claim to any extent it thinks fit. No defense can be made for this appropriation of A's possessions for the benefit of B, save one which sets out with the postulate that society as a whole has an absolute right over the possessions of each member.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Government flushes more cash down the toilet

Why control your spending habits ? Why prioritise ? Why cut back ? Why even look at what you get for your money ?

Why indeed, when its not your money ! The mantra of government is spend, and spend so you get noticed in the media. And the Liberal Party are following that philosophy, with the name "Liberal" simply being a recognised business name or corporate logo, rather than a set of ideas and principles which are followed.

The mantra of the ALP, our opposition party, is "if you can't spend, then promise to spend" so that you get more favorable attention in the run-up to the next election. The ALP have all sorts of zany expensive ideas, like wind energy, solar power, $4.7billion to broadband and billions more into failing hospitals.

The Liberals are keeping pace, with their promises to "help out the farmers". Well, not directly you see. Peter Costello isn't heading down to the farm to grab a shovel or drive a tractor. No sir. He's got a much better idea. Mail out cheques to farmers. Cheques paid for by every Australian taxpayer. This announcement comes after the government has put together a $714m assistance package for farmers.

THE Federal Government today announced a $714 million package to help farmers hit by the worst drought in living memory.

The package comes on top of $430 million in exceptional circumstances funding announced by Prime Minister John Howard on September 17.

Assistant Water Minister John Cobb told a drought summit in Parkes in central western NSW the package would include direct grants to irrigators and more exceptional circumstances funding.

And the treasurer gives his own wisdom on the subject:

GOVERNMENTS may need to consider "exit packages" for farmers seeking to leave the land, Peter Costello says.

Going into a Cabinet meeting to discuss the increase of drought relief, the Treasurer said there was a danger the bush was heading back towards the worst drought in 100 years, with winter rains failing to bring an end to the dry spell.

Cabinet is discussing more generous income and assets tests, reducing the red tape for providing drought relief for those farmers in the horticulture industry who are in danger of losing their permanent plantings.

Mr Costello said the first priority had to be income support to keep food on the table. But he also acknowledged that long term decisions may need to be made.

“Some of course may be thinking about moving on from the farm and you have to look at exit packages for those that want to do that voluntarily,” Mr Costello said this morning.

Exit grants of up to $150,000 will be available to farmers to leave their properties and there will be an increase in the number of mental health counsellors from the package.

Here's a novel idea Mr Costello. Bugger off and let the farmers decide for themselves. If they can't survive as farmers, then let them be plumbers, accountants, doctors, cleaners or wherever else their labour earns the highest return. Its called the free market. And you help speed up the adjustment and allocation process by *NOT* subsidising or interfering with bail-out packages.

Aussie Police Commissioner is on the lookout for global warmenising

Thanks Mick Keelty for being the biggest moron ever appointed to be our top cop:

And as Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty warned that climate change - not terrorism - would be the security issue of the century because of its potential to cause death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged the UN to use the climate change outcomes of the Sydney APEC summit as the template for a proposed new international agreement on combating greenhouse gas emissions.

Well there you go, you can just imagine a whole range of new and "modern" roles for the police to fulfil. Shutting down plants. Stopping carbon polluters. Arresting people for watching TV. Issuing fines if people turn on their air conditioners.

Wow.. there are so many things police can keep themselves busy with, who needs to bother with pesky murder, rape and theft crimes ?!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Youtube for the election

The LDP are finally starting to produce some videos. This one is about taxes. The truth is pretty devastating, and if more ads like this could get out there, people would pause before sticking to the 2 major parties at election time.