Saturday, January 21, 2006

Who said it?


"However, the question that has to be asked is whether the productive potential of the economy can be unlocked if the principal prescription is to reduce taxes and compliance costs."

"This year's Newsweek 2006 special edition on Innovation has significant contributions from prime ministers, CEOs of the world's largest companies and leading creative thinkers. They provide a compelling message about the role of government in achieving growth and innovation."

"In successful economies, governments do more than get out of the way. They are the primary funders of education, and actively work to attract international business."

Was it;

a/ Jim Anderton
b/ Rod Oram
c/ Steve Maharey
d/ Brian Easton?

Sorry. It was a trick question. It was National MP, Wayne Mapp, in the Mapp Report of Friday Jan 20.

Compulsion for Corporates

From today's Feminist Daily News;

New Law in Norway Requires Women to be 40 Percent of Corporate Boards
Publicly traded private companies in Norway are now obliged to have 40 percent of corporate boards to be comprised of women and have been given two years to meet the requirement. Karita Bekkemellem, Minister of Children and Equality, has threatened to dissolve any company that does not do so, reports the New York Times.

This is a truly appalling misuse of state power.

That aside, it beats me why women want a situation where they can never be sure if they progress on their own merits.

Nats' policies scared women, says DomPost

Nats' policies scared women. They scared me. Probably not for the same reason as they scared most women though.

When the last election became the biggest lolly scramble we had seen in a long time I became very apprehensive (understatement). When I realised Don Brash's outspoken opposition to lifestyle welfare was going to be watered down into "tried- and-failed-before" policy I was disappointed (understatement). And when John Key insisted that National would increase government spending, just not at the rate Labour was proposing, I was disgusted.

After years of racial policies we now have people voting on racial lines. We have a party based on race.

After years of feminism it is only natural that people are voting on gender-based lines. The majority of women perceive, quite rightly, that a Labour government will do more for them. But what amounts to privilege for one group means pain for another.

Governments should protect the rights of the individual without favour or discrimination. If that means one race or one sex isn't going to vote for you, so be it. Hold to the principle and put your energy into explaining it better.

Another whale tale

Telstra Clear News reports a whale has brought London to a halt.

Over our summer whales have provided us with much of the interesting news and even provoked some vigorous exchanges of op-eds. Now one from this species, Northern Bottlenose, has made a bid for media stardom by swimming up the Thames as far as the Chelsea Bridge. I hope for his sake the Thames is a bit cleaner than it used to be.

Friday, January 20, 2006

As pure as the driven snow

Reason.Com have awarded their daily brickbat to NY police;

Jessica Scherer, her boyfriend, and another friend decided to celebrate the arrival of winter by building a giant snow penis. She says people walking by laughed at it, and people driving by honked their horns. But the New Windsor, New York, police say they got complaints about it. So they beat it down with shovel while no one was at home, even though apparently there are no laws prohibiting giant snow penises. "We probably weren't 100 percent correct in going on the property and knocking it down. But our intentions were pure. Some people were offended," said New Windsor Town Supervisor George Meyers.

Washington Post suspends blog comments

This is unfortunate.

"(But) Brady went on to say that readers refused to follow the site's simple guidelines prohibiting personal attacks, the use of profanity, and hate speech.

"It's a shame that it's come to this," Brady wrote. "Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it's a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.

"We're not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it."

Who said it?

"However, the question that has to be asked is whether the productive potential of the economy can be unlocked if the principal prescription is to reduce taxes and compliance costs."

"This year's Newsweek 2006 special edition on Innovation has significant contributions from prime ministers, CEOs of the world's largest companies and leading creative thinkers. They provide a compelling message about the role of government in achieving growth and innovation."

"In successful economies, governments do more than get out of the way. They are the primary funders of education, and actively work to attract international business."

Was it;
a/ Jim Anderton
b/ Rod Oram
c/ Steve Maharey
d/ Brian Easton?

Lakes Lunacy

This is madness.

A Wanaka couple can't sub-divide and build because the houses could be seen from THEIR PRIVATE footway. The problem wouldn't have existed if the public-spirited couple hadn't allowed the public use of their footway.

Solution. Close the walkway. Who loses out?

Don Brash

Listening to Mike Hosking interview Don Brash this morning on NewstalkZB.

Don says, "Don Brash is Don Brash, what you see is what you get."

I believe him. He is the most atypical politician. He is also the best thing National has going for them.

Asked if he was expecting a challenge to his leadership before the next election he said, "No". I hope he is right.

Kids say "no" to chicken nuggets least mine do. No amount of advertising will change that. But this food nanny doesn't think they are capable of making their own choices. Rob Quigley complained to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. They found that the Tegel chicken ads that use child "pester power" have not "been prepared with the high sense of social responsibility required under the (advertising) code."

And get this." Children should not be urged in advertisements to ask their parents to buy products for them."

No kidding. They should go out and get a job so they can buy the stuff themselves?

What is always overlooked is, if you don't like the ad, if you don't like the messages your kids are getting, you can turn the TV off.

Moral of the story; the less responsibility we are accorded the less we will exercise.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not a shaggy dog story

From the files of fact is stranger than fiction comes this story. Apparently dogs do as well as state-of-the-art screening tests at sniffing out people with lung or breast cancer. Wow.
Bow wow.


I've posted before about the creeping expansion of local government.

Here is a good example from New Plymouth. The District Council wants to build a large cafe in the heart of the CBD. The Taranaki Daily News, which often produces good sense editorials, tells them to resist the temptation;

"In leaving it to private enterprise, the council cannot be accused of competing with ratepayers that it taxes heavily for the privilege of being in a prime location.

This was the motivation that ended its downtown retailing role nearly 20 years ago and is no less valid today and certainly not when there are other willing players prepared to gamble with their own dreams, skills and money."

Well said. And anybody who remembers the state of New Plymouth's CBD twenty years ago would agree.

One man's PC antidote is another man's poison

"In contemporary New Zealand, Maori culture is part of our nationhood. But in a modern democracy, equality is the most fundamental value, ensuring that all citizens have equal treatment. Public occasions and public institutions should reflect this. If that requires the adjustment of protocol to enable the values of equality and hospitality to be expressed that should happen."
National MP Wayne Mapp

Maori MPs say the Corrections Department's move away from conducting powhiri so as not to offend women is political correctness gone mad. National MP Tau Henare says a whakatau is designed to settle visitors down and is part of the ceremony but he says using it instead of a powhiri is a watering down of the culture. He believes people need to accept that when they are in Rome, they should do as the Romans do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A voice of reason?

NewstalkZB reports;

"A member of the Otago District Health Board has criticised the news media for hyping-up the threat of bird flu. Central Otago mayor (Dr) Malcolm Macpherson says; the news media is pumping up the shock-horror story; public health experts are relishing their hour in the spotlight; and the drug industry is peddling its products."

Unpublicised cost of the "war on drugs"

Despite falling crime rates, US "clearance rates" have risen substantially. That is, in recorded cases, fewer arrests or identification of suspects are made. So today a murderer has a forty percent of getting away with it compared to a ten percent chance in the 50's. Why? One reason suggested by Scott Christianson, a former New York state criminal justice official, is;

"Instead of arresting suspects for burglaries and other serious reported crimes, cops today spend much of their energy going after illegal drugs. Their arrest rate for drug possession (especially marijuana) has shot up more than 500 times from what it was in 1965."

It is the job of the state to protect people from each other - not themselves.

What are police for?

The Herald reports that around 80 candidates (that's about 14 percent) have failed to file election expenses and may be referred to the police.

So where were the police during the election campaign when signs were constantly vandalised, trashed or stolen? It was a daily battle keeping the signs intact and upright. Mine were spray painted, knocked down and ran over; in one case sanitary pads were taped to them. In another, local workers striking in Petone "borrowed" them to write their messages on the back and hoisted them up lamposts.(They were very polite when I went and asked for them back. One even promised to vote for "Rodney's party" after I explained that a tax cut would put more in their pockets than a wage increase.) Overall we lost half of our stock worth hundreds of dollars.

Now, I confess that while I reported the thefts to the Electoral Officer I didn't report them to the Police. Hell, we couldn't get a cop when our car was broken into and the CD player stolen.

If there is one thing the police should be doing it is protecting people's lives and property. The idea that they would have the time or inclination to chase sloppy candidates while so many crimes go uninvestigated and unsolved is enraging.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A brief diversion from politics etc

In the process of beginning my entry for the bienniel National Portrait competition.

This one was my first entry back in 2000. It was rejected in favour of a second piece (you were allowed two submissions.) I was surprised and this remains one of my favourite paintings.

So far I've coated two pieces of canvas with burnt sienna so not much to show. But you can see from the following how the subject emerges from either an ochre or sienna backwash.

This is the same guy a few years on.

Almost identical

By a strange synchronism, having just posted about very subtle differences, I just recieved this from a friend in South America. Thanks Judy. You always brighten my day;

Subject: Almost Identical

Students were assigned to read 2 books, "Titanic" & "My Life" by Bill Clinton. One smart ass student turned in the following book report, with the proposition that they were nearly identical stories ! His cool professor gave him an A+ for this report:

Titanic: $29.99
Clinton: $29.99

Titanic: Over 3 hours to read
Clinton: Over 3 hours to read

Titanic: The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Clinton: The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Titanic: Jack is a starving artist.
Clinton: Bill is a bullshit artist.

Titanic: In one scene, Jack enjoys a good cigar.
Clinton: Ditto for Bill.

Titanic: During ordeal, Rose's dress gets ruined.
Clinton: Ditto for Monica.

Titanic: Jack teaches Rose to spit.
Clinton: Let's not go there.

Titanic: Rose gets to keep her jewelry.
Clinton: Monica's forced to return her gifts.

Titanic: Rose remembers Jack for the rest of her life.
Clinton: Clinton doesn't remember Jack.

Titanic: Rose goes down on a vessel full of seamen.
Clinton: Monica...ooh, let's not go there, either.

Titanic: Jack surrenders to an icy death.
Clinton: Bill goes home to Hilary...basically the same thing.

Spot the difference

Peter Cresswell has the right-hand John Singer Sargent painting of Madame X posted at his blog. This is apprently the infamous portrait that scandalised Paris.

In fact, it was the one on the left (photogragh of the 1884 original). Sargent had dared to paint Madame X with her right shoulder strap dangling down which Deborah Davis writes, in Strapless, John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X, suggested to "outraged Parisian viewers, either the prelude to or aftermath of sex."

This left the artist "stunned" and his subject "bathed in tears".

"After the Salon ended Sargent repainted Madame X, placing the fallen shoulder strap in its proper position. He kept the portrait in his studio for the next three decades, then sold it to the Metropolitan soon after Amelie's Death." (Amelie being the model.)

How times have changed. What would those Parisians have inferred from the way women dress today? That's one heck of a lot of sex going on!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Why people didn't vote

The Chief Electoral Office has just released results from a post election survey they commissioned. The section I found interesting is below;


The majority of non-voters had considered voting in the election at some point during the campaign, with most waiting until Election Day before deciding not to vote. Nearly two-thirds of non-voters (66%) had considered voting in the 2005 election, with this percentage being higher for both Māori non-voters (72%), and youth non-voters (77%).

The majority of voters (53%) waited until election day before deciding not to vote; this is an increase from 44 percent in 2002. Around two-fifths of non-voters (41%) put a lot of thought into deciding whether or not to vote.

Non-voters gave a variety of reasons as to why they did not vote. One-quarter of non-voters (25%) said that their main reason was that they ‘couldn’t be bothered with politics or politicians’.

When presented with a list of reasons for not voting, the three factors rated as having the greatest influence (the combined results of those that rated the factor as having ‘a lot’ and ‘a little’ amount of influence) for non-voters overall were:

It makes no different to my life who wins the election (35%)
I don’t trust politicians (34%)
I’m just not interested in politics (33%)

The three factors rated as having the least influence (‘not at all’ and ‘not really’ combined) for non-voters overall were:

I haven’t voted in the past so why start now (70%)
It was obvious who would win so why bother (63%)
I couldn’t see a difference between the parties’ policies (54%).

Ironically 47 percent of non-voters still followed the results on election night. I wonder how many of them have been moaning about the outcome ever since?

The Roads to Serfdom

An article by Theodore Dalrymple traces the effects of collectivism on post-war Britain. Was Hayek right? What about the thinking of Orwell and Belloc and Beveridge?

"The British are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either, and now feel no shame or even unease, as not long ago they would have felt, at accepting government handouts. Indeed, 40 percent of them now receive such handouts: for example, the parents of every child are entitled not merely to a tax reduction but to an actual payment in cash, no matter the state of their finances. As for those who, though able-bodied and perfectly able to work, are completely dependent on the state for their income, they unashamedly call the day when their welfare checks arrive “payday.” Between work and parasitism they see no difference. “I’m getting paid today,” they say, having not only accepted but thoroughly internalized the doctrine propounded in the Beveridge Report, that it is the duty of the state to assure everyone of a decent minimum standard of life regardless of his conduct. The fact of having drawn 16 breaths a minute, 24 hours a day, is sufficient to entitle each of them to his minimum; and oddly enough, Hayek saw no danger in this and even endorsed the idea. He did not see that to guarantee a decent minimum standard of life would demoralize not only those who accepted it, but those who worked in the more menial occupations, and whose wages would almost inevitably give them a standard of living scarcely higher than that of the decent minimum provided merely for drawing breath.

Dalrymple believes that it was Hilaire Belloc, in his book, The Servile State, who most closely predicted today's society;

In (Belloc's) view, “The future of industrial society, and in particular of English society . . . is a future in which subsistence and security shall be guaranteed for the Proletariat, but shall be guaranteed . . . by the establishment of that Proletariat in a status really, though not nominally, servile.” The people lose “that tradition of . . . freedom, and are most powerfully inclined to [the] acceptance of [their servile status] by the positive benefits it confers.”

Sugary spanner in the works

Sue Kedgeley, and fellow zealots from FOE (Fight the Obesity Epidemic), the Public Health Association and MOH aren't going to be thrilled with this bit of research. A team of Scottish scientists have discovered that drinks high in sugar content aid memory."In an age of low-sugar or artificially sweetened drinks, they suggest that too many low-calorie beverages could hamper mental performance."

Just months ago FOE issued advice that, "Sugary drinks are best avoided by most people, most of the time."

Why? What a bunch of naggers.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

And the good news is....

One way of concocting good news about New Zealand is to compare it a country where things are worse. The Scotsman quotes Murdo Fraser (isn't that a great name) Deputy Leader of the Conservatives saying today;

"The biggest growth industry in Scotland is in government.

No-one minds more policemen, teachers and nurses, but too many of these [other] jobs are non-productive. How is it that we have had a 12 per cent increase in Scottish government staff since 1999 and a 40 per cent rise in the number of full-time staff employed by quangos? The reason is that the Labour/Lib Dem Executive wants to centralise, regulate and control every aspect of our lives."

And he added: "Over 50 per cent of GDP is now spent by the state. The Executive keeps on telling us that economic growth is its top priority, but what it fails to understand is that the staggering growth in the public sector over which it has presided is stifling the ability of private business to generate wealth."

So we should count our blessings. Our government spends only 39 percent of GDP.

On the other hand, the trend is an upward one and doesn't Scotland sound depressingly familiar?

A legislative double-take

In 2004 Parliament passed the Clean Slate Bill. Quoting the Ministry of Justice, "This legislation is designed to allow individuals with less serious convictions who have been conviction-free for at least seven years to put their past behind them."

Tomorrow a new law comes into effect that will re-punish some men for decades-old low-level sex offences; such as having sex as a teenager with a girlfriend before the girl's 16th birthday by banning them from jobs they have held for years.

So much for putting their pasts behind them.

Whatever you think about this sort of legislative "contrast" it is understandable that the general public are suspicious and cynical and mistrusting of our lawmakers.