Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Obamania sweeps America

Obama won the South Carolina primary in a landslide, and he is receiving massive coverage, acclaim and media excitement for delivering a very articulate speech in front of a giant banner with the word "Change" on it.

It was about 15 minutes of trying to raise the standards of politics, end lobbying, end the bitter internal fighting, unite behind a cause, appreciate and respect your political opponents and hold debates to a civilized standard. There were some really catchy and mature ideas in there -such as "appreciate that even Republicans have ideas" or "Republicans can switch sides" or "time served in Washington is not a qualification" (a swipe at Hillary).

The theme was indeed change, and I can't dispute that his speech was certainly excellent and well delivered. He wasn't talking about some vague or non-existent problems. Politics in America, as in Australia, is massively influenced by partisanship, lobbying and media games. With government in charge of 1/3 of the economy, its no wonder businesses try to get active politically to get the go ahead, or the sweet government contract, or monopoly privileges.

And here is the big problem with Obama. His policies are hardly different to Hillary, or Mitt Romney or John McCain. Basically big government solutions to "big problems".

And I have to ask - So what if the next president is articulate, mature, youthful and open-minded? Because it is plainly obvious is currently committed to government solutions to the "high-cost of health care" and "helping people who can't pay for mortgages".

Just like Bill Clinton, George W Bush, or any other presidential aspirants. Except for Ron Paul.

Ron Paul speaks plain English, sticks to the constitution, understands what the limits of government ought to be, and respects freedom and property rights. His respectable knowledge of economic history makes him the only candidate who is certain not to build on the devastating failures of socialized medicine, health, tax-payer funded bailouts, economic stimulus packages and social security.

Ron Paul has a lot of faults as an individual. He doesn't sound half as articulate or bold as Obama, nor does he communicate as effectively with a crowd, unless they are already free market supporters who understand his message. Many of his followers are from the fringes of society, in fact some are downright nut cases who support Ron Paul because of single issues - opposing the war on terror or the Patriot Act. The wider message of small government is lost on these people, and their views should not reflect negatively on Ron Paul as a serious candidate who, even if he loses, will inject some new ideas into the mainstream.

Ron Paul is RADICALLY different from the other candidates. So what if he is a 72 year old white male ?

It is his message of freedom and limited government that makes him unique. If change were the priority, voters would be flocking to Ron Paul. I may not agree with him 100% on issues like foreign policy or immigration, but the reason I'm happy to overlook those aspects are because he has the right ideas on government bureacracy - dismantle the IRS, the department of education, get rid of the income tax, get rid of the department of energy, end the federal reserve and bring about sound money, allow competitive currencies and a free market in banking, and scale back the war on drugs so that prisons stop overflowing.

Does Obama propose to change the status quo ? Not one bit ! I can't see how. But he has the gift of the gab, running a slick campaign backed by heavyweights like Oprah, and he is the favorite for the next president.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What the !?

I snapped this driving by a construction site yesterday. A mighty piece of machinery with the funniest name ever.

I don't know what the Putzmeister does, but boy, every construction site needs one !

When you need the job done, don't mess around, choose Putzmeister.

No war for whales !

Sounds quite extreme... but perhaps not so extreme this week, after several escalations in the Antarctic involving the Japanese whaling vessels, Greenpeace thugs and the Australian government.

According to quite a few media polls, Australians seem to care quite a bit about whales, and the practice of Japanese whaling is not widely approved of. Fair enough.

But things took an ugly turn when Kevin Rudd reacted to this by authorising the Australian navy to "monitor" Japanese whaling by sending out a patrol ship (the Oceanic Viking) to the Antarctic to closely follow Japanese whaling vessels. I was strongly against this move, because you have to ask, what is the point of it ? And now, it turns out that we are even sending spy planes to "monitor the situation".

Certainly, there is a cost associated with sending a military vessel and its crew to the Antarctic. And this form of "modern" leadership is setting a new precedent for our military and what its duties are. Previously, it was limited to the old fashioned idea of defending the people and the mainland of Australia.

Whilst the military was sent over to such distant places as Afghanistan and Iraq to fight terrorists, it seems millions of Australians were deeply upset over this. Yet millions also supported the idea of fighting terrorism abroad as a preventative measure against terrorist attacks at home, and also as a way of spreading democracy and overthrowing tyranny.

But when it comes to using our military not to end human suffering, spread democracy, defeat the enemies of the west ... but instead to closely scrutinise and spy on a friendly peaceful ally like Japan, and done to uphold the welfare of whales, it seems that government is creating new and pointless (if not dangerous) roles for itself, as well as grabbing a few headlines.

What about priorities ?

The "compassionate leftists" in society, the bleeding hearts, always criticise capitalism for its coldness and for its lack of heart. They say that if "WE" care about something, "WE" (as in government) must take action "as a society". Forget if 95% of Australians really don't give much of a hoot about the whales, forget if millions really don't want us patrolling the Antarctic to provoke an incident with Japan... the elite have spoke and "WE" must act.

Unfortunately, the leftists always play the compassion card very well. They use it as justification for all kinds of wasteful, harmful and feel-good government programs. From Centrelink, to family payments, to baby bonuses, to public hospitals and subsidisation of education, the socialisation and government control of Aboriginal communities ... all of the aforementioned are done with some benign and pure thought - "to help the needy" or to "bring justice" or to "end cruelty".

But does it succeed? .. Hell no !

Does it cost us money ? Billions !

That is why people should be more open to capitalism, free markets, private property, and individuals acting in their own interest to pursue happiness.

Sure, we've seen they have a much better chance of success in solving problem, building wealth and raising standards of living. But capitalism and liberty are also moral and benign philosophies, because capitalism AND ONLY capitalism can do economic calculations and take priorities into account. Without priorities, without some calculation, we are not trying to make our actions count in improving the world, but we are acting out of emotion.

Priorities, such as growing the economy and thus employment, and in result feeding and clothing poor Australians, should take place over whales, the environment and funding the arts and sports and public broadcasters like SBS and ABC. EVEN IF you care about those things to some extent, you will waste too many resources on the small problems and not enough on the big problems if you demand government spending and government planning to address everything.

Although capitalists tend to defend their system saying that it brings greater wealth and prosperity for the masses, very few of them defend the free market from a moral position and play the sympathy card as well as the socialists do. i.e

How many sick children die waiting for hospital beds because of a lack of funding, because we wasted money on whale patrols ?

Japan is a peaceful ally, why should we risk an incident or c
onfrontation with her by sending our military to harass Japanese vessels ?

Socialism is where government decides how to spend and coordinate actions, as opposed to the individual people under it. But as Ludwig von Mises said:

Monday, January 21, 2008

The worlds biggest housing bubble

The socialists down at The Age have as usual, found some interesting information about Australian housing affordability, but totally misinterpreted the meaning of that information.

Rather than speculate as to the unsustainable housing prices, and refer to them as a speculative bubble which has been driven up by credit expansion (thank you Reserve Bank of Australia !), The Age laments our sad state of affairs as something that has come to pass and shall never be undone, with the capitalism bashing headline:

High prices end Australian dream

Australian and New Zealand homes are the least affordable in the world, according to a US-based survey of 227 cities.

The 2008 Demographia study of international housing affordability listed 18 Australian cities in its top 50 of severely unaffordable markets.

The study rates housing affordability in the English-speaking nations of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, UK and Ireland.

What a bogus headline. The media should be talking about the housing bubble, not housing affordability. Because this gives an entirely different perspective and analysis.

This is not a problem created by the free market that needs to be rectified by government meddling.

Instead of describing the situation as some looming and persistent phenomena (of course the caring and benevolent folk down at The Age are always there to identify these) that requires massive and multiple government efforts to fix, you soon realise this is a mess created by government (the Reserve Bank of Australia) and that it can be easily fixed by free markets which will correct themselves once people's perceptions align with reality.

Housing is not something that always goes up. It is not a golden egg, or a perfect investment, but it is subject to something that the masses don't want to understand - *RISK*.

Do not assume it will always go up. People are financing beyond their means, dragging themselves into substantial levels of debt, because they assume that, as in the past, house prices will continue to rise.

Caveat emptor - buyer beware !

I predict the Australian bubble will pop by the end of 2008.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thought of the day

The ALS blog rip into the idiocy of socialism being forced on indigenous Australians, in a way that the politically correct and left leaning Oz media wouldn't dare engage in.. with mockery, wit and sarcasm:

Socialism has been tried a few times before. The Soviet Union & Eastern Europe gave it a go. So did China, Vietnam, Nth Korea, Cambodia and Laos. Many African, Middle-Eastern, South Asian and South American countries have pursued some sort of socialist agenda. Unfortunately for all of these people, these experiments have all failed — and resulted in poverty and the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Opps!

Some would say that we should abandon socialism. But other people insist that we need to give it another go and just try a little harder. In that spirit, I suggest that we try out socialism in Australia. After all, we’re blessed with an army of leftists with good intentions. Surely that is enough!

However we wouldn’t want to try it out on all Australians. Instead we could just try it in a few isolated “homelands” populated by about 90,000 aboriginals. We should set up these communities as having “communal ownership” which is managed by councils. Private land & house ownership must be banned. Private business must also be discouraged so that “community” owned businesses are able to flourish. We will obviousy need to have quite a few bureaucrats to manage the land and businesses. Literacy & attendance is optional.

The additional advantage of this experiment is that we can separate aboriginal culture from western culture so that it is protected. Sorcery and customary law (including punishment by spears and arranged marriages with 12 year olds) can therefore be maintained. Non-aboriginal Australians should not enforce their ideas — like literacy, numeracy, employment, women’s rights, English etc – on these aboriginal socialist communities. Visits by foreigners should be restricted.

Thankfully, there is already strong support for such an approach. Australian politicians have supported a socialist model for aboriginal homelands for decades, and they are supported by the government-funded “Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research” and the government-funded non-government-organisation (sic) “Oxfam” — who argue that capitalism can’t work for aboriginals.

Supporters of the socialist model also influence the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Law Council of Australia, the Ausralian Law Reform Commission, the State Law Reform Commissions, the Aboriginal legal aid services and many in the Australian bureaucracy. These people care so passionately about making aboriginal socialism work that they accuse the anti-socialists (like Helen Hughes & her book “Lands of Shame”) of racism to shut down the debate.

With such strong support, and the billions of dollars donated by “capitalist Australia”, surely we can make socialism work! What do you say lefties?

Of course, if our experiment in socialism leads to welfare dependence, poverty, bad education, illiteracy, overcrowded & broken houses, violence, rape, child abuse, sickness, drug abuse and low life expectancy… then we can always just blame the capitalists. And then we can try the socialist experiment again with a new group.

Note: This proposal sounds silly, and it is. Unfortunately, it describes the current situation. Much to our shame, Australia has been pursuing a socialist experiment with aboriginal homelands for decades. Not suprisingly, the experiment has been a terrible failure, and the homeland aboriginals are suffering. Socialists should be sick with shame. But they aren’t. Instead, anybody who questions the socialist orthodoxy are branded racist and socialists congratulate themselves for being “progressive”.

Aboriginal homelands are in desperate need of reform to move closer to the Australian system of social democracy… and those who continue to support aboriginal socialism clearly don’t care about aboriginal welfare.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The ALP will wreck this country

Labor treasurer Wayne Swan is trying once again to put a positive spin on failed ideas like social engineering and central planning.

He is boldly proclaiming:

"The turbulence in the international financial markets is certainly having an impact on the sharemarket, there's no doubt about that, but the most important thing we can do here is to modernise our economy,'' he told Macquarie Radio.
Hows that for doublespeak ? I'm sure the treasurer knows very well that by "modernise", he really means destroy and control.

A market economy is the natural evolution of individual people making decisions and exchanges which they believe is in their best interest. History gives an absolutely overwhelming record of success and dynamism when economies are free. Entire industries (I.T, medicine) spring up and employ tens of millions of people within years (!!) as human knowledge and entrepreneurship move forward, whilst existing industries such as farming and agriculture can continue forward producing one hundred times as much output with one tenth the labor compared to only 50 years ago.

So although the idea of leaving the market to itself isn't very glamorous and may not earn votes, it is actually the most sensible thing to do. Less taxes, less regulations is a start.

But government should not have "industry policy" at all. It should not protect local car manufacturers by imposing tariffs on imports, nor should it do the same with textiles clothing and footwear.

Australia does not *NECESSARILY* have to operate a domestic car industry any more than it needed to operate a massive electronics industry or a massive tourism industry. These may seem like good outcomes in themselves, but they don't take any economic calculations into account, and government involvement always costs more than it delivers in terms of benefits.

Its best to let a free economy pursue activities where it can compete and develop a competitive advantage. But then, we wouldn't need a treasurer, would we ? :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The gov't giveth and the gov't taketh away

Your freedoms that is. Today brings three disturbing stories from Oz, being pushed by environmental nuts and car-hating nanny statists.

One proposal is to ban free plastic bags within 12 months, courtesy of our new environment minister Peter Garrett. Somehow, plastic bags hurt marine wildlife, although the connection here between shoppers who get plastic bags at the checkout, and how they end up killing dolphins, is quite strange and ambiguous.

Its just like Phase 2 of the underpants gnomes' plot for profit !

The idea is to make shops charge customers for plastic bags .. so .. how exactly does this end up stopping plastic bags being thrown out ? All you end up doing is kicking consumers in the head for no reason.
Another meddlesome concept is towards installing GPS devices in cars, to limit the speed you can travel, based on satellite technology and computer software to identify what the road limit for each car is. Hopefully this monstrosity won't get past the trial phase in Victoria, and it will be thrown out the window before it gains momentum.

Whats the message here ? Well its pretty simple. That a free and cooperative society, full of individuals who engage in voluntary transactions, is unacceptable to our political superiors and media snobs. Because it results in things they don't like.

We are expected to no longer consider ourselves to be individual people with a set of rights and freedoms, but instead we have been told to consider ourselves part of the collective with a set of obligations and responsibilities, so whatever freedoms and rights we have are simply there because the collective society allows it. Even when no other individual is coerced or harmed or forced to enter into an exchange they do not want, somehow, there is an invisible party with no voice (often referred to as "society" or "community" or "the environment") that, according to the media, is really worse off from the exchange and we are supposed to believe it has its own set of rights.

The latest idea in Victoria is to "change work hours" in the CBD and manage people's lives so that peak hour traffic is alleviated.

The brainchild of Premier John Brumby, "Flex in the City" is based on a program run in Houston, Texas, in 2006.

The Government is expected to announce the program and launch a website in coming weeks.

The website will include programs encouraging walking and cycling, through the use of pedometers and cycle odometers. It is specifically aimed at CBD staff who live in the inner city.
Great, it has a flashy website and a sexy catchy name ! Nothing like a bit of spin to push new restrictions on to the sheeple and indoctrinate them for conformance and obedience. Chairman Mao, also a big fan of central planning, had his Great Leap Forward. Kim Jong Il has his glorious People's Revolution. I wonder how well those ideas turned out ??

Throw this crap out the window, and remember that nobody else has a right to meddle in your trade and commerce. When you and your employer form an agreement, nobody has a right to tell either of you the conditions of employment. When you purchase a car, and it is your property, no 3rd party has a right to force you to install GPS devices. When you purchase shopping or groceries, no 3rd party has a right to tell you OR the store owner how to operate, and if plastic bags are acceptable.

Clean Up Australia has suggested that charging customers for plastic bags won't work - they think its actually not tough enough ! For some meddling bastards, nothing short of banning plastic bags altogether is acceptable

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Californian government intrudes into your home

Thanks to the Liberty Papers, I was alerted to this really disturbing, completely idiotic and alarmingly menacing intrusion into people's homes in California

Basically, ever heating and cooling system in every home needs to be remote controlled, so that the government can over-ride the home owner and take over the system "in the event of emergencies".

How much this sickens me ! Where are your property rights! Its your home, you should be able to do with it as you please. If anybody else has a right to charge you a fee, or rates, or taxes, or tell you how you must use your property, then you are losing your rights of ownership over the asset, and government is intruding and asserting control over it. This is really the same sentiment that drives Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez to take over the nations banking and oil industries, and Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe to take over farming and agriculture.

Now California plans to control your energy consumption, probably to turn off air conditioning in the event of power shortages, or to tell people not to set their thermostats too low.

Read the details below, even those not acquainted with classical liberal ideas, the concept of property rights, the appreciation of liberty as an end in itself, will find this deeply disturbing.


c) Thermostats. All unitary heating and/or cooling systems including heat pumps that are not controlled by a central energy management control system (EMCS) shall have a Programmable Communicating Thermostat (PCT) that is certified by the manufacturer to the Energy Commission to meet the requirements of Subsections 112(c)(1) and 112(c)(2) below:

1. Setback Capabilities. All PCTs shall have a clock mechanism that allows the building occupant to program the temperature set points for at least four periods within 24 hours. Thermostats for heat pumps shall meet the requirements of Section 112(b).

2. Communicating Capabilities. All PCTs shall be distributed with a non-removable Radio Data System (RDS) communications device that is compatible with the default statewide DR communications system, which can be used by utilities to send price and emergency signals. PCTs shall be capable of receiving and responding to the signals indicating price and emergency events as follows.

A. Price Events. The PCT shall be shipped with default price-event offsets of +4°F for cooling and -4°F for heating enabled; however, customers shall be able to change the offsets and thermostat settings at any time during price events. Upon receiving a price-event signal, the PCT shall adjust the thermostat setpoint by the number of degrees indicated in the offset for the duration specified in the signal of the price event. The PCT shall also be equipped with the capability to allow customers to define setpoints for heating and cooling in response to price signals as an alternative to temperature-offsetting response, as described in Reference Joint Appendix JA5.

B. Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 media frenzy - the race for the presidency is on.

The media circus is already in top gear, as soon as the Iowa caucus was over and the votes were counted, the headlines ran declaring Obama and Huckabee the winners (and Hilary the loser).

This week is the New Hampshire caucus, and it is expected to be an entirely different electorate to Iowa. And over the weekend were a couple of televised presidential debates, one by ABC which believe it or not, arranged a massive group hug between the Republican and Democrat candidates !

I've been following the news cycle for a few weeks, and most of the candidates are just repeating their past positions. The major developments seem to be that on the Democrats side, the minor candidates (Biden, Dodd) are about to drop out of the race and endorse Obama.

On the Republican side, you've had McCain, who defended the status quo of American bases that have been in South Korea, Japan, Germany for several decades, and then continue to boast that he would be happy to keep US soldiers in Iraq for another 100 years if that meant keeping Americans safe. You've had Giuliani start off with appalling results, only 4% of the vote in Iowa, and watching him speak and stutter, I wouldn't rate his chances of survival too highly.

Several conservative blogs have gone into an anti-Ron Paul hysteria lately, as they observe him making steady progress and securing some major media attention. He scored 10% in the Iowa caucus and is expected to do much better in New Hampshire. Some of these blogs have been attacking him ever since he articulated his anti-war stance, and many are unhappy to see somebody in the Republican party advocate limited and humble foreign policy - even though George W Bush ran on the same platform in 2000.

Even some of the warbloggers that I have enjoyed reading in the past, especially LGF, have tried in vain to establish Ron Paul as a fringe candidate and tried to draw weak links between him and 9-11 truthers, radical anti-war groups, anti-semitic figures, muslim activist groups, and even white nationalist groups. LGF has been posting every day trying to show that some of these fringe groups support Ron Paul and they are calling him "crazy uncle" and mocking his voice, but the problem is that Ron Paul has not endorsed the views of any of these groups, he doesn't believe in 9-11 truther nonsense, and certainly does not support these white nationalist groups, even though they support him and make donations to him.

I can understand that LGF would oppose any anti-war candidate, and no candidate on either side of politics is more anti-war than Ron Paul, who plans to bring American soldiers home immediately. But his policy does not stem from some progressive activist viewpoint, or some internationalist philosophy that believes America needs to improve its image in the world. The reason I still support his candidacy is that everything, every single policy, fits under the philosophy of a limited and sovereign constitutional republic, and to limit the role of the US government in all areas.

Besides, how is America helping its interests or its security by having bases in Germany, South Korea and Japan ? The thing I am starting to notice is that people who still support the Iraq War, and the efforts at nation-building over there, are becoming increasingly narrow minded and obsessed with their one primary issue.

Just like the Democrat candidates are obsessed with universal socialised medicine and education.

If the US economy can no longer support the expenditures and the burden of such massive expenditures, shouldn't this be acknowledged, and shouldn't the spending and control be ended ? Only Ron Paul even realises the destruction of wealth caused by the US government, the accumulation of decades of debt, the fall in living standards and the hazards created when liberty is diminished.

After so many decades of growing government, it has become the biggest problem of all. Rather than addressing global warming, terrorism, the health crisis or education, the size and power of the state needs to be addressed immediately. And the mechanisms of free markets and entrepeneurship ensure that all of the above issues will end up being addressed as soon as liberty and property rights are restored. If you don't understand this, then you cannot understand where Ron Paul is coming from, so go read up on Hayek, Rand, Mises, Rothbard a.s.a.p.

So even if some crazed fools end up supporting Ron Paul, they still totally misunderstand his message, and I say he should keep the money for the cause of liberty and capitalism. If Obama has tens of millions of supporters, surely there are more than a handful of idiots amongst them.