Friday, March 30, 2007

Photo of the day

Check out the sign the guy in the front row is holding. Looks like David Hicks, the Taliban's Tali-Tubby, has put on some weight during his stay at Club Guantanamo.

Al Gore's movie is totally misleading

Last night I continued to watch even more of Al Gore's blockbuster doom and gloom film, An Inconvenient Truth (see here for my first post on it).

I started to investigate some of his core beliefs, his main theories and predictions, and found this list of 25 problems with the science and statistics he uses.

Well, I'm utterly convinced that Al Gore has little or no credibility now. He certainly cannot claim a monopoly on the truth, or say that he represents a "scientific consensus". This list of 25 problems are not minor technical glitches, or slight errors in any sense. They are a total refutation of the key themes and predictions made in the film:

  • He spent 10 minutes talking about C02 levels correlating with temperature
  • He spent 5 minutes talking about record temperatures, record heat waves, record tornado and hurricane activity.
  • He spent 3 or 4 minutes talking about polar bears becoming endangered
  • He spent 5 minutes talking about shrinking lakes
  • He spent 15 minutes talking about receding ice
  • He talks about species extinction and species invasion for 5 minutes
  • He also mentions the bleaching of coral reefs, the spread of malaria and Antarctica shrinking.
If you look at the overall content of the film, as it transitions from one theme to another, with Al Gore occasionally providing some narrative, political jokes, photos of landscapes and wildernes, it seems that every time he performs scientific analysis and makes predictions, it is utterly irresponsible and misleading claptrap. Not one student in the audience challenged him on these issues, but then again that wouldn't make for such a compelling blockbuster film.

If Al Gore had to present his slide-show before an audience of climatologists, he would be interrupted and questioned and challenged repeatedly.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

There's good news, and ...

Kevin Rudd, earlier this week, announced that the Labor Party will now support economic growth and free trade.

The Labor Left factions thought to themselves, "How dare you Mr Rudd ! Whats all this nonsense about freedom, liberty, growth and enterprise ! We want less freedom, more taxes ! Crush the peasantry or else we will throw you out of the party!

So what have the Labor premiers suggested in a report ? What are their plans if Rudd wins the federal election. Raise the GST !!

After all, the GST revenue goes to the state's coffers. All those fat Labor premiers are rubbing their hands with glee, salivating and hissing "my preciousss.... " at the thought of more money to line their pockets, increase the scope of government and hire more public servants.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Victoria - the "prison" to be

Certainly not the "place to be", as there is a distinct drop in freedom and liberty. After the horrors of the Burnley Tunnel incident last Friday, talkback radio and political figures are buzzing with plans and "ideas" to increasingly regulate the use of roads by cars and trucks alike. Reduced speed limits, rules on which lanes trucks may use, tailgating laws are being proposed.

And on a personal level, I have just suffered at the hands of power-mad regulators. You see, my family has a couple of spare tickets to the swimming finals this Sunday at Rod Laver arena. They are no longer needed as we are unable to go. My first instinct was to advertise them on eBay, and let people who DO want to go purchase them. I would rather have cash in hand then the tickets themselves at the moment.

All I need is to find a willing buyer - I am glad to transact with any party who would rather have tickets in hand than cash.

Well.. within an hour of listing the tickets, eBay cancelled the auction and sent me the following notice:

The resale of tickets to events (including sporting contests, music concerts and plays) and airline tickets can often be regulated by the ticket issuer. As a ticket seller, you are responsible for ensuring that your particular transaction does not violate any applicable law or the terms of the ticket itself. Therefore, prior to buying or selling these types of items members should contact the ticket issuer and ensure the resale is permitted.

The Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation has declared the event you are selling ticket(s) to as a ?declared event? under the Sports Event Ticketing (Fair Access) Act 2002 (Vic). This legislation deems the conditions on tickets to this event to be valid and enforceable. Those conditions include the requirement that these tickets must not be re-sold above their face value.
There you have it.. government stamp their foot on free trade and enterprise. This serves as a reminder that government has never created wealth, opportunity or innovation. They can only distort it and destroy it.

If anybody is interested in going to the FINA swimming finals this Sunday 7pm, please email me. I have 2 tickets, Door 6, Row PP, seats 195 and 196. B-Reserve tickets cost $98 each so I would be glad to sell them for $196.
Email me at : clueblog - at - yahoo - dot - com -dot - au

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The UN human rights council in a nutshell

This video, delivered by the head of UN watch, is outstanding. Despite the UN's banning of the speech, it is thankfully still available on YouTube, with over 90,000 hits so far.

UPDATE (29/3): Right on cue, the UN human rights council sinks to new lows, deciding to end its investigation into human rights abuses by Uzbekistan and Iran.

(some) sanity prevails

Its encouraging to read today's article describing how Labor leader Kevin Rudd has endorsed free trade and economic growth as core principles, much to the disappointment of the Labor Left factions.

The Opposition Leader's proposals, obtained by The Australian, would denounce passive welfare, embrace the casualisation of the workforce, boost business grants and formally bury Mark Latham's disastrous Tasmanian forests policy with support for logging.

The draft platform, which also embraces public-private partnerships to fund roads andother infrastructure, ensures a showdown between Mr Rudd and powerful Left unions at next month's ALP national conference.


"Labor is committed to building a modern economy that competes successfully in global markets for agriculture, resources, manufactures and services," the draft platform says.

"With the economic fundamentals in place, Labor's key priority is to raise the incomes and living standards of the Australian people by building an economic climate of enterprise and innovation."

The policy blueprint - which will be voted on by 400 delegates at the showcase ALP event - rejects the heavy hand of government intervention, or a withdrawal from free trade deals. Instead, the Labor leadership argues that long-term prosperity ensures Australia is "able to sustain high-quality public services and a generous safety net for those in need".

There still remain a few concerns about the Labor party's economic credentials in my mind, but this is a massive improvement and there is very little left to distinguish them from the Liberals at the moment.

Some of the remaining problems with Labor are their opposition to Work Choices, their plan to splurge $4.7bil on broadband and their plan to establish a new bureaucracy to manage national roads, rail and ports. Also Labor has unfortunately thrown their weight behind environmental regulations and might even ratify the Kyoto protocol.

But there is hope that Labor may improve in some areas where the Liberals have been dismal, especially the Howard/Costello support for middle class welfare. Labor are definately more likely than the Liberals to undo the harmful baby bonus and other parenting payments. The Liberals have also made the mistake of endorsing costly environmental policy, such as the moronic light bulb restrictions and pouring billions into inefficient "alternative energy" sources and pursuing clean coal.

The Liberals have a party platform that is purely in favor of free trade. Since they no longer adhere to it, its hard to really differentiate between the two parties. Neither has the strongest economic credentials.

So if you have the chance, vote LDP at the next election.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Al Gore's big whacky powerpoint slideshow

I started watching the first half hour of "An Inconvenient Truth" yesterday, and was not terribly impressed. It consisted of Al Gore preaching (lecturing) university students with whiz-bang slides and graphs. He talked about his entire career and history in the environmental movement in very self-righteous and certain terms.

He really is divisive on the issue, praising the work of certain scientists as gospel. He introduces himself thus "I used to be the next US president", to which the adoring students laugh approvingly.

Early on, he tries to display a pretence of balance by mentioning the following to the students (cant remember the exact quote)

"Some critics say that the earth is so massive, that man cannot possibly affect it. But this is no longer the case..."

Al Gore uses all the multimedia and editing tricks in the book. There is black and white footage of a scientist with hard hitting ominous background music, as Al Gore explains how he was inspired by the work of this scientist who researched CO2 emissions in the Pacific ocean in the 1970s, and found rising annual C02 levels. Al Gore then puts on his best Michael Moore impersonation as he tells in a soft spoken and innocent voice, that he tried to warn Congress in the late 1970s, and never gave up, but they refused to listen. This reminds me of how fatso propagandist Michael Moore would tell viewers how he tried oh so hard to get the boss of Nike or Walmart to talk to him but they wouldn't listen.

All in all, both Al Gore and Michael Moore use a very childish and condescending tone, pretending that people won't pay attention to evidence of suffering and disaster, and told in a way which deliberately omits the possibility that the other parties actually may have paid attention to their arguments and then considered them to be incorrect or misguided.

Al Gore then goes through a photo slideshow of different icy locations where the ice coverage is shown to be receding, from Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa to South America to Canada. Not one student applies critical thought and interjects to ask a question. So what if there are photographs, how do we know they were taken in the same season, and that they genuinely indicate a global trend of warming ? How do we know they were not cherry picked to show a 1970s photo of lots of ice and a modern photo with less ice ? Perhaps there are (actually we know there are) locations where ice cover has increased ?

The other evidence Al Gore uses is core samples of ice which can be used to produce historical data on C02 levels, which is the same data used in the IPCC analysis. He creates a historical graph which shows temperature correlating very closely with the measured C02 levels, and not once mentions the possibility that global temperatures are linked to other factors. From then on, its simply a discussion of C02 and temperature, a very one dimensional realm of exploration. And C02 is treated as simply a man made pollutant from then on.

But other scientists have a very different set of data to the IPCC data, which shows a very different picture of recent C02 levels.

During the late 20th century, the hypothesis that the ongoing rise of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is a result of fossil fuel burning became the dominant paradigm. To establish this paradigm, and increasingly since then, historical measurements indicating fluctuating CO2 levels between 300 and more than 400 ppmv have been neglected. A re-evaluation has been undertaken of the historical literature on atmospheric CO2 levels since the introduction of reliable chemical measuring techniques in the early to middle 19th century. More than 90,000 individual determinations of CO2 levels are reported between 1812 and 1961. The great majority of these determinations were made by skilled investigators using well established laboratory analytical techniques. Data from 138 sources and locations have been combined to produce a yearly average atmospheric CO2 curve for the northern hemisphere.
Modern greenhouse hypothesis is based on the work of G.S. Callendar and C.D. Keeling, following S. Arrhenius, as latterly popularized by the IPCC. Review of available literature raise the question if these authors have systematically discarded a large number of valid technical papers and older atmospheric CO2 determinations because they did not fit their hypothesis? Obviously they use only a few carefully selected values from the older literature, invariably choosing results that are consistent with the hypothesis of an induced rise of CO2 in air caused by the burning of fossil fuel. Evidence for lacking evaluation of methods results from the finding that as accurate selected results show systematic errors in the order of at least 20 ppm. Most authors and sources have summarised the historical CO2 determinations by chemical methods incorrectly and promulgated the unjustifiable view that historical methods of analysis were unreliable and produced poor quality results

I will post more as I watch the rest of the film.

Here is a list of 25 problems with Al Gore's film. Points 2 and 3 explain why receding ice is a natural phenomenon and not linked to human C02 emissions.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Australia's higher education - an example of regulatory failure

Over at the CIS, Andrew Norton has yet another great paper on higher education, and how the current regulatory framework is training far too many students in unneeded disciplines, whilst massive shortages exist for other disciplines.

If you have the patience, read the entire paper. It will certainly cast many doubts over the current scheme and for those student unionists and strident activists who protest and demand for greater government control and funding of the universities, it should serve as a bit of a reality shock.

Central planning of any industry is a failure. I do not see any merit in the "education is a public good" argument which is the justification of heavy regulation and government funding of the industry.

Technical institutions and private operators would allocate courses on a much more efficient basis. In fact, so long as a student was both capable and willing to pay, there is no reason why an established and mature private tertiary education industry wouldn't be willing to offer a position to them.

Many people over-react at the mere mention of students actually paying for the years of tuition they receive, and they demand that deferred HECS debts and government subsidies remain. Well, perhaps a voucher scheme for tertiary education is an option. Its better than the status quo. But the main point is that students should be faced with pricing information for a course.

It provides all the good incentives under the rainbow.

* Students will actually have to sacrifice something (besides time) to study, and therefore will be more cautious in doing so.
* Students will be forced to make rational decisions (gasp !) and actually decide if the cost of study is worth the expected benefits.
* Faced with the costs, students have no incentive to over-educate themselves and spend too many years studying pursuits with little or no economic value in the marketplace.
* Tertiary institutes, just like supermarkets, will compete for students. You see more choice, higher standards and price competition between different institutions.

Ultimately, the number of courses in each field will be driven by the marketplace demand for graduates with those skills. You won't have an oversupply of arts students, nor a shortage of doctors.

Currently, we have bureaucrats and ministers trying (in vain) to guess and plan how many courses in every single faculty should be offered, and writing these second-rate estimates into inflexible long term plans for the industry.

We've had a decade of the Liberal Party doing nothing to carry out Liberal principles. It has left the tertiary sector in a regulatory mess, when privatisation was long overdue.

Scrap the system, privatise all institutions, and the only role of government should be to assist in funding, loans, scholarships and support payments for students.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Local news roundup

* Rosie O'Donnell comes out of the closet ... as a 9-11 "truther". Unhappy to accept the standard explanation for the twin towers collapsing, she joins other paranoid conspiracy theorist celebrities like David Lynch, James Brolin, Richard Linklater, Jesse Ventura, Matthew Bellemy, Ed Asner and Charlie Sheen.

* Kevin Rudd promises to throw $4.7bil into high speed broadband. Treasurer Costello labelled it economically irresponsible. The latte-sipping socialists at The Age are running a poll, where 78% support the plan. The welfare state grows ever larger ...

* Fresh from re-election, the Victorian ALP have suddenly decided to introduce tougher water restrictions in just 4 days. Households can only water gardens in the mornings on 2 days per week, between 6am and 8pm. The nanny state grows ever larger ....

* I've stumbled across a new libertarian Australian blog, called The Daily Reckoning. There is great commentary on economics, and the damage of socialist regulation to the stock market. This one is going straight to my links in the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

mass transit = mass planning = massive failure

Reason magazine have a great article about how mass transit in Minneapolis is a complete failure, and the symptoms seem common to public transport systems across other states and continents.

There is no inherent problem with mass transit per se. Airplanes are a form of mass transit. But due to their private ownership and freedom from state control (except for some heavy regulation), aviation is one of the biggest industries in the world.

The problem with mass transit systems involving buses, trains and light rail is government ownership and hence central planning.

The U.S. Department of Transportation puts the yearly cost of congestion at $168 billion. But the planning gurus who are supposed to solve our transportation problems are in the grip of transitphilia and autophobia; their beliefs about how cities and transportation work are grounded more in nostalgia than in a realistic view of the world we live in now. The public policies they design and try to enforce make it harder for us to get to work, pick up our kids from school, or go shopping. They are deliberately fostering congestion. In the words of David Solow, head of the Metrolink commuter rail in Southern California, congestion is "actually good" because "it drives people out of their cars."
Enough talk ... Read the article in full.

Power corrupts

Centralised power and government are inherently corrupt. Regardless of how benign a political person is, the only benign thing they can do with power is to relinquish it and grant other people more liberty and more freedom.

You often see politicians from all parties call for more powers, more regulation, more taxes and more control. They use an excuse to justify their policy prescriptions - we need to finance health, education or pensions .. or we need to finance the war effort, or we need to fight poverty etc etc.

They are often granted new powers to tax and regulate and confiscate and imprison....but once the excuse disappears, they always seem to retain their new powers.

With that in mind ...

Read the following history of income tax in the US.. The US constitution is the greatest written document in history, and if only they would uphold it, America would be much wealthier and more prosperous today. Tax is unconstitutional, because it is theft of private property. It seems like such a simple concept, and it is a key principle of the consitution, but that didn't stop US presidents from totally disregarding it.

The last century has been a total friggin mess. Have a look at how every time the US went to war (including both world wars), it introduced new taxes to finance the effort. But it never ever suggested relinquishing its power once the war was over.

The other form of tax is social security.. You force people to put money away to finance superannuation, pensions, health and education systems. The whole welfare system is much more costly than war efforts.

Libertarians call the combined effect, what we have today, as the "warfare-welfare state". I have highlighted below, the only examples of government reducing its powers and actually reducing tax, in red.

The only two solid examples of governments upholding the constitution were in 1872 and 1895. Under Reagan and Bush, some tax relief and simplification has been provided, but government spending is now totally out of control.

Good news - Red
Bad news - Black.

1643: The colony of New Plymouth, Massachusetts levies the first recorded income tax in America.

1861: Congress passed the first income tax law as an emergency measure to fund the Civil War.

1872: Congress repeals the income tax law.

1894: As a response to complaints that excessive reliance on tariffs as a source of revenue resulted in an increase in the cost of imported goods, Congress again passed an income tax law.

1895: The US Supreme Court ruled that the income tax law was unconstitutional.

1913: In February the 16th Amendment, which states "Congress shall have the power to lay and collect tax on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration", was ratified by the necessary 3/4 of the states. On October 3rd Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1913, which created the first permanent US income tax.

Under this act, the first $3000 of income for single persons and $4000 for married couples was exempt from taxation. A "normal" tax of 1% was applied to income above $3000 or $4000, and a "super" tax of from 1-6% was applied to income in excess of $20,000. Deductions were allowed for business expenses (including depreciation), interest paid on "personal indebtedness", all national, state, county, school and municipal taxes paid, casualty losses, and worthless debt. In the first year only 1 out of every 271 American citizens were taxed and $28 Million in revenue was raised.

1916: The Federal Estate Tax was enacted to help generate additional revenue to fund America's anticipated entry into the first World War.

1917: Congress raised tax rates in response to the increasing cost of the war and approved credit for dependents and deductions for charitable contributions.

1918: The maximum combined basic and super income tax rate reached 77%.

1922: For the first time preferential tax treatment was provided for capital gains.

1932: The tax law was amended to provide that US presidents were liable for federal income tax on their salaries. Franklin Roosevelt was the first president since Abraham Lincoln to pay federal income tax on his presidential salary.

1935: The Social Security tax, 1% on the first $3000 of wages, was enacted.

1941: Tax tables for low-income taxpayers were introduced, simplifying the calculation of tax liability.

1942-1945: New tax laws, in response to the cost of World War 2, created withholding on wages, more tax brackets for lower income taxpayers, the standard deduction, a personal exemption for dependents, a deduction for medical expenses, and increased tax rates. By the end of the war the maximum tax rate was 94%.

1954: Congress completely revised the Tax Code, changing rates, redefining Adjusted Gross Income, and adding credits for retirement income and dividends and new itemized deductions.

1961: Taxpayers were required to provide their Social Security or other taxpayer identification number to banks and other financial institutions so they could report interest and dividend payments to the IRS.

1964: Tax rates were reduced from a range of from 20% to 94% to from 16% to 77%. The Income Averaging method of tax computation was introduced.

1970: Congress created a Minimum Tax so high-income individuals could not completely avoid paying taxes through the use of preferential tax shelters, loopholes and deductions.

1974: Congress created the deductible Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for taxpayers not covered by employer pension plans.

1975: Low-income taxpayers were allowed to claim a refundable Earned Income Credit (EIC).

1979: Unemployment compensation was made partially taxable.

1981: Tax legislation reduced tax rates by 25% over 3 years, indexed tax brackets for inflation, and applied the same tax rates to earned and unearned income.

1984: For the first time recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits were subject to tax on up to 50% of the benefits received, depending on the recipient's income.

1986: The largest revision of the Tax Code since 1954, the Tax Reform Act of 1986, was enacted. The law reduced the number of tax brackets from 14 to 2, decreased the maximim tax rate from 50% to 28%, repealed the dividend exclusion, Income Averaging, the itemized deduction for sales tax paid and the preferential treatment of long-term capital gains, introduced the passive activity rules, the Kiddie Tax, the deduction from gross income for health insurance premiums paid by self-employed individuals, and the 2% of AGI limitation on most miscellaneous itemized deductions, phased out the itemized deduction for personal (credit card, auto loan, etc.) interest, limited the deduction for business meals and entertainment to 80%, and replaced the additional personal exemption s for age 65 and blind with an increased standard deduction.

1987: For the first time taxpayers were required to list the Social Security number of dependent children, age 5 and over.

1990: The Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990 added a third tax bracket (31%) and instituted the reduction of itemized deductions and phase-out of personal exemptions for high-income taxpayers.

1993: The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act added the 36% and 39.6% tax brackets, increased the maximum tax on Social Security benefits from 50% to 85%, and reduced the deduction for business meals and entertaining from 80% to 50%.

1998: In response to abusive treatment of taxpayers by the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 was enacted.

2001: Congress passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the largest tax cut in over 20 years, with 85 major provisions. All provisions of this act will expire in 2011.

2003: To stimulate the economy, Congress passed the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the third major tax bill in as many years, and the third largest tax cut in history.
UPDATE: I found this little gem of information, that shows how power-hungry Australian bureaucrats were inspired by the American government trampling on its own constitution:

1913 16th Amendment in US gives federal government greater taxing powers

1915 first national income tax in Australia

1944 Pay As You Earn (PAYE) introduced in Australia and UK

This paper gives an account of why income tax was introduced in 1915. At the introduction of the new powers, the Attorney General Hughes said:

"That additional revenue is necessary to meet the great and growing liabilities of the War is amply apparent... I have always regarded this form of direct taxation as peculiarly appropriate to a modern community, and if the incidence of tax be based upon sound principles, not only as an effective means of raising money for the conduct of the government, but serving as an instrument of social reform"

Attorney-General Hughes: We have you to think for nearly a century of theft and violation of property rights.


Hybrid cars wreck the planet and hurt the environment

Well, if Al Gore drives a Toyota Pious .. I mean Prius, they must be bad for the environment. Look at his jet-setting lifestyle, with his energy sucking mega-mansions, and his mass-media empire, and its clear that just like Greenpeace and the Greens, he talks the talk but he doesn't walk the walk.

Most of these groups pursue courses of action that harm human welfare and harm the environment. Al Gore is a proud owners of the Toyota Prius, and mentions it everywhere he goes. But it turns out that they are less environmentally-friendly than a friggin Hummer !

Heres a simple clue which should reveal why. How much do people spend on purchasing a car? Compare that with how much people spend on refueling a car. Its pretty clear that the cost of the car is several orders of magnitude larger than the cost of fuel. This price signal is not invented by the evil big bad car manufacturers. It is a result of the inputs that go into manufacturing a car. Much steel, energy, metals, labor, testing and transport go into a car. Petrol on the other hand, is pretty cheap and easy to extract. But the Toyota Prius is not a cheap car to manufacture, and this should reveal to consumers that it takes far too many resources to produce one:

The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care. Unfortunately for them, their ultimate ‘green car’ is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer.

Before we delve into the seedy underworld of hybrids, you must first understand how a hybrid works. For this, we will use the most popular hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius.

The Prius is powered by not one, but two engines: a standard 76 horsepower, 1.5-liter gas engine found in most cars today and a battery- powered engine that deals out 67 horsepower and a whooping 295ft/lbs of torque, below 2000 revolutions per minute. Essentially, the Toyota Synergy Drive system, as it is so called, propels the car from a dead stop to up to 30mph. This is where the largest percent of gas is consumed. As any physics major can tell you, it takes more energy to get an object moving than to keep it moving. The battery is recharged through the braking system, as well as when the gasoline engine takes over anywhere north of 30mph. It seems like a great energy efficient and environmentally sound car, right?

You would be right if you went by the old government EPA estimates, which netted the Prius an incredible 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway. Unfortunately for Toyota, the government realized how unrealistic their EPA tests were, which consisted of highway speeds limited to 55mph and acceleration of only 3.3 mph per second. The new tests which affect all 2008 models give a much more realistic rating with highway speeds of 80mph and acceleration of 8mph per second. This has dropped the Prius’s EPA down by 25 percent to an average of 45mpg. This now puts the Toyota within spitting distance of cars like the Chevy Aveo, which costs less then half what the Prius costs.

However, if that was the only issue with the Prius, I wouldn’t be writing this article. It gets much worse.

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Wait, I haven’t even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Greedy thieving bureaucrats in Brackistan

Federal treasurer Peter Costello told the state premiers that they should offer people some tax relief, perhaps by cutting stamp duty on conveyancing of property.

As expected, the greedy socialistas in the Victorian ALP would never give up an inch of power or a dollar or revenue without a fight.

Mr Costello says the states are in a position to slash the tax and has called on them to do so.

But Victorian Treasurer John Brumby blames the Federal Government for a lack of housing affordability, saying it has failed to keep interest rates down.

He said Victoria had already made some cuts to stamp duty.

Yeah miniscule cuts. Why not abolish the whole thing altogether, what is the damn point of stamp duty and taxing a property every time it changes hands !?

Brumby the thieving liar continues:

"We've got the most generous first home bonus of any state in Australia, $7000."

Mr Brumby said Melbourne was the most affordable city on the eastern seaboard.

What part of "tax cut" don't you understand ? We're not asking you to give some taxes back through subsidies, such as the first home bonus. We would like to keep what is rightfully ours in the first place, and abolish both the taxes and the subsidies in one blow. Get government out of the property market, they have no business intervening and regulating it.
Is it any consolation that Melbourne is supposedly more affordable that Sydney and Brisbane ??

These thieving bureaucrats have a standard response to any suggestion that they actually give back some of the taxes and stop thieving. They usually pick one of the following to try and distract us from the issue:
  • Other state governments thieve even more than us and tax people more heavily so there is no point in us reducing our taxes.
  • But we are giving some of the taxes back( i.e look at these subsidies we are giving to first home owners)
  • Tax cuts won't really help people, because you see, the current interest rates are costing them a lot and that is why they are suffering.
  • We already gave a small tax cut last year.
And right on cue, John Brumby delivers some typical meaningless doublespeak:
"All of this means that what the Victorian Government is doing is exactly in the right direction, is the right plan," he said.
Yes.Doublespeak is alive and well.

Failure is a sign of success! Tax cuts don't help people! War is peace! Arbeit macht frei!

Onwards with the super-state !

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Socialist America

In any honest debate, you've got to call a spade a spade. This morning, I heard talkback radio idiots complain about the Victorian train network, saying that the problems are a result of it being privatised.

Except it never was. The state government allowed a private operator Connex to bid for the contracts and operate the rail. So there is some kind of private ownership. Except that the state government still owns the equipment, trains, rail lines and stations ! And that there is a pile of regulations as thick as a phone book that the private operator must comply with. It is the tiniest shade of difference from a totally state-run and owned bureaucracy.

So when people complain about problems with public transport, they ought to think that it is due to the socialisation of that industry, seeing as the status quo of the industry is miles from pure private ownership and free markets and only an inch away from the opposite end of the spectrum, pure socialism.

The same mistake is often made when bashing America.. the problems in America (poverty, expensive health care) are due to its "capitalist" nature. Often people say that in America, the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes - which is completely wrong:

For tax year 2004, taxpayers filed 132.2 million returns, of which 89.1 million (or 67.4 percent) were classified as taxable returns.


Taxpayers with an AGI of at least $328,049, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, accounted for 19 percent of total AGI, representing an increase in income share of 2.2 percentage points from the previous year. These taxpayers accounted for 36.9 percent of the total income tax reported, an increase from 34.3 percent in 2003.

The facts paint a very different picture though, showing that the rich are persecuted and taxed far more than anybody else - the top 1% pay over 1/3 of the taxes. If this isn't socialism, then I don't know what is.
(hat tip: The Liberty Papers)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Meaningless words, empty rhetoric

It seems to me that there has been a steady resurgence of poor grammar and politicised language used by a range of groups who have political ambitions. The main offenders against the English language include politicians, journalists, unions, farmers, environmentalists and lobbyists.

Way below is a list of terms used in political circles that have a very vague meaning, and really are intended to mean whatever the person wants it to mean and add a positive spin to their suggestions. The reason that I find this so alarming is that not only are these phrases being used increasingly, but because they are empty and deliberately employed to mislead and confuse the audience.

George Orwell has famously and powerfully described how language can be politicised, and by reading Animal Farm or 1984, its plainly obvious that this is not a new or original phenomenon, but something that Orwell identified many decades ago, within communist regimes across the world.

In Animal Farm, the ruling elites (the pigs) invented slogans and party ideology, such as their supreme slogan"4 legs good, 2 legs bad" .... which was shortly replaced as the Dear Leader became the supreme ruler who walked on 2 legs and imitated humans, and then became "4 legs good, 2 legs better!".

The most devastating piece of literature condemning the misuse of language was 1984, where the dictatorship was completely intrusive and all powerful, outlawed certain phrases, invented its own new phrases (such as doublethink) manipulated language and wrote its own dictionary, and then invented the concept of thought-crimes, all to stifle opposition and debate.

Back to the present .... If you keep the following phrases in mind over the coming months, no doubt you will notice them being used by a whole array of idiots and power hungry lobbyists, especially those on the left side of politics.

"National interest"
This one really boils my blood. Kim Beazley of the ALP loved using it to suit his own agenda.. i.e "My opponents policy is not in the national interest" followed by "whatever I say IS in the national interest". Recently, the media and politicians have used it to describe the much hyped sale of Qantas to a foreign consortium. Peter Costello proclaimed that selling Qantas "passed the national interest test", whilst chief opponents of the sale of Qantas, ranging from the unions and ALP right through to the Greens, who hate free trade and commerce, proclaim that it is not "in the national interest".

So .. what precisely is the "national interest" ? Its intended to mean "its good for Australia" - I'm pretty sure about that. Kind of like, "a good amount of rainfall over dams and catchments is in the national interest" is fairly uncontroversial and obvious.

But then .. what really boils my blood is the fact that it is never used in such a context. Its only ever used to describe a proposed or existing government regulation. There are currently government regulations covering vast industries such as media, farming and airlines regarding foreign ownership rules, so there is a governmental review process before the sale of a private enterprise can be approved. In a free society, a private enterprise should be free to form voluntary agreements and contracts with other parties, which could involve the sale and transfer of ownership. There should be no role for government to intervene, but it has given itself the power to stick its nose in every transaction and see if it passes "the national interest test".

What is the nation ? Does this piece of land have an opinion on all contemporary issues ? Do rivers and canyons and beaches have a certain say on whether it is in their interest ? Clearly not. So the national interest is a phrase used by collectivists. Collectivism is essentially socialism.

Instead of using a thought process which places as its highest priority, the welfare and rights of individuals, focusing on people and families who interact and form relationships and carry out trade, instead socialism (ALP, Greens) and often patriotic nationalism (Liberals, National party) creates a "we" or a "society" who has the highest priority and the most important say. Because the piece of land called Australia does not have the ability of speech, and because the population is diverse and don't agree on all issues, many politicians are self-proclaimed defenders of the national interest, who can speak on behalf of society and judge what is good for the nation. Even if every individual is worse off, even if an individuals rights are violated, even if massive sections of the population are harmed by a policy, it can still be said that the regulation or laws are in the national interest.

We see this occurring in water and utilities. We've been told by Greens and the ALP that it is not in the national interest to allow nuclear power plants, or that it is in the national interest for government bureaus to own, operate and regulate energy and water industries.

"Workers rights"
Heres a euphemism if I ever saw one. This is an expression that has been invented by unions and socialists. You see "rights" have a very positive connotation to them, they add a wonderful spin on a proposed idea. But rights have a traditional definition, they are usually restricted to a person's life and property and liberty and freedom of speech. I have the right to my life, and ownership of my body (hence murder and assault and rape are crimes). I have the right to be free from violence and theft.

You can't just invent rights and extrapolate to all areas of life. Whilst its pure common sense to define my right to freedom from violence, so nobody else can assault me, its quite a silly idea to invent a new right and say that I have the right to use violence on others or take what I want from anyone. That would violate somebody else's rights and create mayhem and unimaginable human suffering.

So the original classic set of rights, which relate to being free "from" certain harmful things (violence, theft, assault) and being free "to" do certain things which don't harm others and take away their rights (speech, movement, trade, associate with whom you please). Now what if I tried to apply rights to regular everyday transactions ?

Like going to the supermarket or shops. What if I defined a set of "customers rights" that ruled that all retailers must comply with a set of regulations that benefit customers and restrict the conditions that retailers can operate within. e.g

  • Retailers must be open till 10pm
  • Retailers must always accept returned products for a full cash refund, regardless of whether they were used
  • Retailers must offer the customer a minimum 3 year warranty
  • Retailers must not mark-up their products more than 12%
  • Retailers must offer an interest free period
Well, these kind of rules might look like they benefit customers, and probably restrict retailers, but hopefully most of my readers might think that the label "customers rights" is not quite accurate for such harsh regulation. This is besides the fact that the regulation is harmful and will hurt a lot of retailers badly. Thankfully, these rules do not exist, although we already do have some harsh regulation of where retailers may operate a store, opening hours, staffing etc. But generally, the current situation is one where a retailer makes an offer (advertised price, included whatever warranty they wish, with a defined return policy) and a customer can accept. In this interaction, the only traditional right that exists is the right for 2 consenting parties to create transactions and exchange things (goods for money).

So why not the same with the workforce. Why not simply allow employers to make an offer, interview candidates and let the candidates decide if they accept or reject the exchange (labor and time in exchange for a salary) ? Doing this acheives the highest order of liberty, and upholds individual's rights. But instead of doing so, the socialists who loathe free exchanges often think they know better, and they wish to ban or control what kind of exchanges are allowed. Hence we have a whole raft of workers "rights" such as:
  • The right to receive minimum 4 weeks annual leave
  • The right to receive paid public holidays
  • The right to receive award rates/penalty rates
  • The right to receive sick leave
  • The right to receive maternity leave
  • The right to receive 9% superannuation
  • The right to be protected by unfair dismissal laws
  • The right to receive 1 months notice before termination
So no employer can offer any kind of employment that does not meet these laws. Well.. if they classify an employee as "casual", they can get around a few of these regulations, so hundreds of thousands of positions are now casual instead of permanent. But the question must be asked seriously - would the employer have offered the position at all if they could only offer permanent positions ? In thousands of cases, clearly not.

These set of workers "rights" are instead a set of rules which hurt the freedom of employers, and the same policy can be reworded as a set of draconian laws, from the perspective of an employer:
  • You cannot offer a job without including 4 weeks annual leave
  • You cannot offer a job without including paid public holidays
  • You cannot offer a job that does not pay the defined award rates/penalty rates
  • You cannot offer a job without offering sick leave
  • You cannot offer a job without offering maternity leave
  • You cannot offer a job without offering 9% superannuation
  • You cannot offer a job without complying with unfair dismissal laws. (i.e once you have offered the job, you are gonna be stuck with the employee for a long time !)
  • You cannot terminate a job without 1 months notice before termination
The above set of rules is in no way a set of workers "rights". In any terms, you cannot define a set of workers "rights" any more than you could define a set of customers "rights", nor a set of rights that protect any 1 party in a transaction between 2 parties (by restricting the freedom of the other party). So when the Liberal party attempts to deregulate the labor markets and remove some of these draconian regulations, unions and socialists march in thousands with banners proclaiming that the government is taking away workers rights, creating images of panic and alarm in the minds of millions of viewers. When really it should be greeted with a sigh of relief.

Following on from above.. exploitation is also a word that has been hijacked and moulded by the lefties to refer to any voluntary transaction between 2 consenting parties that they do not approve of. It generally refers to when a rich and a poor person perform a trade. They assume that the rich person is exploiting the poor person, and that government must intervene to put an end to the transaction.

A good example is when a multinational coffee trader (Nestle) buys cheap coffee beans off Kenyan farmers which end up being packaged, transported, processed and sold to westerners for a higher price. Socialists and leftists announce that it is a form of exploitation because one party is poor and the other is rich and somehow has a stronger amount of bargaining power. The reason behind this assault on the English language is to justify government intervention, forcing the richer party to pay more for his goods, or else not be allowed to trade at all. This entirely overlooks the fact that both parties were willing to engage in the trade, which means that both parties expected to benefit from it.

I have a simple litmus test. If one party isn't using force or violence (i.e slavery) to get the other party to agree to their terms, then no exploitation can be said to exist by any meddling 3rd party. Since slavery is illegal, there is no exploitation in the proper sense of the word.

"Fair Trade"
See above. Also refers to any trade that socialists, welfarists and leftists do not approve of.

"Level playing field"
Also relates to labor markets, and implies that even in voluntary and free exchange, one party has some kind of magic ray gun to control and pressure the other party to agree. If a big corporation wants to employ a cleaner, and offer him to work overnight but will only agree to offer him regular pay and not overtime, they say it is not a level playing field because the candidate really really needs the job, and is under pressure to accept whatever offer, so socialists think we should regulate society so only "good" offers are made. Once again, this totally disregards the inconvenient truth that if a candidate ends up accepting the offer, they do so voluntarily because they think they will profit from the exchange.

I also have a simple analogy to discard the usefulness of this phrase. Lets say I am really hungry late at night, and there is only one pizza parlor open but it wants $20 for a small pizza. You could just as easily say that the pizza parlor is in an unfair and strong bargaining position, and there is too much pressure and exploitation on me because I am hungry. Socialists would want to write laws so that the pizza parlor to only charge a maximum of $13 for a small pizza. Once again, this overlooks 2 key facts.
  • I am free to reject the offer, despite my hunger. I might be able to find another kind of food or substitute elsewhere. If I am willing to pay as much as $20 for the pizza, why should anybody block the exchange between 2 willing parties ?
  • From the pizza parlor owner's perspective, if you banned his freedom to set whatever price he wishes, then he may lose his incentive to remain open late at night. Perhaps the very reason he was open late at night in the first place, was because he correctly assessed that there was a demand in the market for pizza in his area, at unusual times. He thought he/she could satisfy the demand of many hungry customers who are out late at night in the area, and although he/she doesn't love the idea of working late at night, they would be willing to do so if they could set their prices higher to compensate them.
"The environment"
Ahh.. the term that means nothing and everything all at once. So many socialists and environmentalists have used this term that is now in everyday use. It has precisely the same intention as "society". It is an invented word, to create a new kind of entity that deserves its own set of legal regulations and protections which will probably impact negatively on human individual's freedoms and rights.

Nobody stops to define "the environment" in a precise way, but it is used by millions of people to loosely refer to nature, the eco-system and all the wondrous things that weren't created by humans. The oceans, the fish, the skies, the forests, the waterways and oceans and deserts are all part of "the environment". But so are natural disasters. If a flood or earthquake wipes out thousands of humans, that was also "the environment". In fact, lots of aspects of nature are deadly to human survival, and so humans have develop their own environments to boost their chances of survival.

Farming, building up urban areas, water catchments, resources and utilities, logging and mining, they all take advantage of useful resources that help improve happiness and utility.
But since there are now billions of humans on the planet, and so many of them are starting to live at high standards previously unheard of, in terms of access to food, sanitation, water, medicine and education, and they have created massive cities (which are still tiny dots on the globe), this is somewhat distressing for many environmentalists.
Basically.. you can do whatever you want to human freedom so long as its good for "the environment". You can dictate to all retailers that they must not provide me with a plastic bag because they are harmful to "the environment'. Meanwhile, I am fuming because I find plastic bags extremely useful and I don't see how me using them is harmful in any way to some badly defined 3rd party called "the environment".

"(un)Sustainable growth"
Similar to above, it is used to describe the aspects of free human behaviour on a large scale, resulting in economic growth, that alarms and concerns environmentalists. As if free markets haven't proven themselves enough, they try to create hysterical scenarious where free economies that continue to grow and not be heavily regulated by a socialist regime, will eventually and quite suddenly, run into disaster where our living standards will plummet. These alarmist scenarios each create a disastrous scenario in any essential industry that can be thought of, including cattle, minerals, energy, oil, timber, clean air, global temperatures and water quality.

Thus they imply that unhampered and free economic growth is unsustainable, and government needs to regulate human behaviour and protect "the environment" so that it is directed in sustainable ways. But once again, this concept is based on a huge lie - that free markets cannot adjust to changing circumstances. In fact, free markets are characteristically dynamic and responsive. If oil resources become more scarce, the price rises and people become more willing to pay for other energy sources. If beef becomes scarce, the price rises which signals a lot of information to people. They consume less beef and more of other meats. It also signals to producers that they now have a bigger incentive (higher prices) to somehow find new ways to produce more beef.

All economic growth is sustainable, and there is no need or justification for harmful government regulation to prevent future doomsday scenarios.

Ahh.. perhaps the most vague word of all. Entire subjects are dedicated to this phenomenon at university, and several textbooks have been written on it, but nobody can specify a single definition of it.

In reality, as many of the words above are used, it is intended to describe one thing only -all phenomenon or aspects of free trade and global markets that socialists and leftists do not understand and do not approve of. It can refer to the fact that wages and living standards are different across different countries. The irony is that free trade is a force that serves to equalise prices, as western nations continue to hire more and more cheap labor from undeveloped economies.

All of the above words are dodgy and have been hijacked by the left and by the global socialist movement. This isn't a simple mistake or a form of laziness. It is a form of intentional deceit and trickery. Especially when having viewed the deadly results of socialism in the past century, and how socialist policies often produce results that harm and pollute "the environment" much more than free trade and property rights which result in less pollution (noise, air, water).

I will put together a single paragraph to destroy the socialist monopoly of these words and show my readers that they can have a different meaning to what is usually intended.


It is in the national interest to have unregulated free markets and for government to uphold individual rights, which will end all forms of exploitation, and result in only fair trade where 2 parties may form voluntary agreements on a level playing field.

Human suffering and poverty will diminish as globalisation spreads, and the environment will be in better shape, humans will become increasingly efficient at using resources in previously unthought of ways, as the process of
sustainable growth continues onwards.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Pardon the pun, but it will be a cold day in hell before SBS or ABC ever screen a film like this one:

In a polemical and thought-provoking documentary, film-maker Martin Durkin argues that the theory of man-made global warming has become such a powerful political force that other explanations for climate change are not being properly aired.

The film brings together the arguments of leading scientists who disagree with the prevailing consensus that a 'greenhouse effect' of carbon dioxide released by human activity is the cause of rising global temperatures.

Instead the documentary highlights recent research that the effect of the sun's radiation on the atmosphere may be a better explanation for the regular swings of climate from ice ages to warm interglacial periods and back again.

Meanwhile Al Gore's film is being distributed and viewed by an ever growing audience, and enviro- fanatics attempt to push his film into the curriculum of primary school students throughout the world. Any evidence or debate against the global warming hysteria is usually ignored and pushed into the dustbin.

Movie reviews: a roundup

This summer, I've seen quite a few films, most of them were outstanding or at least above average. Here is a roundup of films I've seen lately, from favorite to least favorite.

  1. Pursuit of Happyness - 9.5 /10 - great drama, great story. A real standout.
  2. Babel - 8.5/10 - fantastic cinematography, great parallel storylines.
  3. The Illusionist - 8.5/10 - brilliant and compelling, intrigue with a twist
  4. Volver - 8/10 - very amusing, colourful family drama
  5. Blood Diamond - 7.5/10 - brutal and harsh, with a little bit of political moralising.
  6. Man of the Year - 7/10 - two genres in one. Half great comedy(good), half paranoid thriller(bad).
  7. Smokin Aces - 5/10 - trash, a poor imitation of Lock Stock