Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Succinct and spot on

This says it all.

And it was said over one hundred years ago but people still don't get it.

I'd rather that England should be free than that England should be compulsorily sober. With freedom we might in the end attain sobriety, but in the other alternative we should eventually lose both freedom and sobriety.

— W.C. Magee, Archbishop of York, Sermon to Peterborough [1868]

(HT Future of Freedom Foundation)

Cannabis, alcohol, the ALCP and ACT

I said aloud to the TV coverage of the pro-cannabis brigade celebrating marijuana on the grounds of parliament, and later in the Police headquarters foyer where they planned to 'smoke police out' with a cannabis bomb, "Sometimes they do their cause no good." When they flout the law, albeit bad law, flagrantly, it hardens the opposition. When they take the position that cannabis is great, they lose support from people who know from experience that it isn't.

I would take the position that too much cannabis is bad for a person. But so is too much alcohol yet it isn't illegal. If it was, people would still drink to excess and the illegality of their actions, whether imbibing a little or a lot, would only add harm to harm.

Their cause would be better progressed by the use of logic, by appealing to people's innate sense of justice and highlighting the more effective approaches taken towards cannabis use and cultivation in other regimes.

And while on the subject of drugs and alcohol, should we applaud ACT MPs Heather Roy, Hillary Calvert and Sir Roger Douglas for voting against the tightening of liquor laws? As the DomPost points out their opposition could open the door to worse restrictions than what are already on the table. But then this is the story of democracy and parliament. Frequently a party finds itself at a 'damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don't' impasse. These three have stood on principle; the upholding of freedom for the responsible. I would have done the same knowing there are plenty of people who wouldn't thank me for it.

If their opposition results in less freedom, less freedom is what New Zealanders voted for. ACT can't save the public from themselves. But at least they can hold their heads up and say, we didn't vote for it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Hunting, cricket and controlling the barbecue are all part of being a manly man – and so is driving slowly.

A new advertising campaign by the New Zealand Transport Agency is hoping to convince young men who like to drive fast that slowing down is part of being a man in control.

The ad, which screens for the first time tonight after a series of "teasers" that have been playing since Sunday, encourages men to exercise "mantrol" by driving to the road and weather conditions.

Were the creators of the new 'mantrol' TV ads designed to make young men slow down when driving aware that 'mantrol' is a sexual performance enhancer?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Public/private partnerships are not a silver bullet

The National government wears public/private partnerships (or at least talk of them) like a badge of honour. These are supposed to indicate that they are supporters of the free market. Supporters of the efficiencies of profit and competition.

Unfortunately public/private partnerships promote corporate welfare.

The Problem with Public/Private Partnerships summarised by the NCPA puts it concisely;

Unforeseen consequences of public-private partnerships often include:

* Log-rolling and pork-barrel politics -- I'll vote for your PPP if you vote for my PPP.
* Weakened market tests -- resources are devoted to a project not because it benefits the citizenry but rather because it benefits a powerful interest group.
* Weaker Management -- absent market tests, managers are less motivated to find that mix of services and creative array of financing tools to ensure that it proves "profitable."
* Lack of innovation.
* Corruption.
* Crowding Out -- government already seizes a disproportionate amount of our wealth and the PPP concept allows it to further distort the allocation by market forces.

In New Zealand it is the left that argues against public/ private partnerships.

Small government advocates get caught in between and generally end up supporting them as preferable to full public funding and ownership.

Classical liberals probably ought to make a bigger fuss about their downsides. Too often small government proponents are viewed and portrayed as opposed only to state social welfare. But corporate welfare is just as damaging.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Almost 1 in 4 prisoners is a gang member

Corrections have released September statistics so I thought it might be interesting to do a quick comparison over the decade. Then the computer crashed and I ran out of time to look at more aspects.

The ethnic make up is reasonably steady but the gang population incarcerated has leapt. At September 2010:

23 per cent of the total prison population are gang members

According to the 2001 Prison census:

The percentage of male sentenced inmates who were patch members or associates of gangs decreased between 1991 and 1993 from 20 percent to 16 percent, and has stayed at this lower level until 2001 when it appears to have dropped to 13 percent. The Mongrel Mob and Black Power continue to have the largest number of patch members in prison.

And rough calculations show that keeping gang members in prison costs around $183 million per annum. Gulp.

But what the hell. Just as long as we are winning that war on drugs. We are aren't we?

2.1 percent of the population have used amphetamines in the past year.

Convictions for P-related offences continue to rise and seizures of the drug at the border are slightly up.

But the number of frequent users seeking treatment has remained the same.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Time Shadbolt for Breakfast

I see Breakfast's ratings have dropped by almost a fifth. See. People do like a laugh in the morning. Or in the evening. Any time for that matter.

Favourite TV programme is this house is 7 Days. It isn't an exaggeration to describe it as the best NZ humour ever.

One of the segments involves a 'personality' being grilled to extract a forbidden yes or no answer. Friday's guest was Tim Shadbolt which made for side-splitting hilarity.

So forget that simpering soapy giggly gaggle that is now Breakfast and watch this great session with Invercargill's unusual mayor. No wonder no one can beat him... at winning the mayoralty that is.

(Starts at 9:30)