The Mighty Pol-iss

•24/12/2009 • Leave a Comment

Apparently the police are higher beings than the rest of us. Or at least that’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that shooting a police officer is going to be regarded as a worse crime than shooting anyone else, thus attracting higher penalties:

Umm, why exactly? Oh, here we go:

“Police officers help us sleep better in our beds at night. I think the public should respect that, and the people that challenge that safety should be subject to greater penalties.”

I have some temazepan that helps me sleep far better at night than the police ever have. The police do not keep me safe. They do not protect me. In all the times of my life that I have needed their ‘protection’ they have not been there when the crime is commited, nor were they much interested in doing anything much about it once the crime had happened. The police simply respond to the results of crime, usually unsatisfactorily.

“They are not simply the individuals, they represent something much bigger than that, and I think it’s absolutely important that we, in upholding the rule of law, acknowledge that and give them their due respect.”

Anyone who has looked at my discussion on this issue will know why I disagree with this. The police are individuals, whatever mythical greater good they or other people think they represent, and as such are ethically identical to every other human. There is absolutely no justification for elevating the value of their lives above anyone elses.

Perhaps it’s the “I am a demi-god” blue shirt. I suppose that once said demi-god is off duty and becomes a mortal member of the human race again by putting on a shirt without badges, his life now becomes worth less?

I’ve got a blue t-shirt. I wonder if that has the same life-enhancing properties.


Welfare reform?

•23/12/2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a typical piece of NZ hand-wringing over welfare. Despite the recent years of supposed economic boom the welfare roles are still up there and are only set to increase with the recession. So it’s a little disingenuous of Campbell to be talking as though we have just plunged into some abyss and that to abandon people at their time of need would be immoral. Welfare can be a viable and attractive lifestyle choice in NZ, despite the fact that many refuse to see that reality. To even suggest as much risks attracting the title of ‘beneficiary basher’, a member of that nasty underbelly of NZ society who don’t care about children and the poor blah blah.

Let’s take a look at his language

At a time of the year when family care and social generosity should be on everyone’s mind

Here’s some nice use of language – ‘social generosity’. ‘Generosity’ only makes any sense in a context of voluntary giving. If I was the meanest person in the world who would never dream of donating to charity, could I be called ‘generous’ if the money was taken from me against my will and the ‘donated’ on my behalf? I think that would be stretching the definition to absurdity. And so it is with Campbell’s ‘generosity’. Regardless of whether I would voluntarily contribute or not, his use of the word generous in the context of having money taken from me and donated without my consent is simply attempting to legitimise the current nationalisation of charity.

the language of ‘allowing community agencies to become more involved in the delivery of welfare’ has been a synonym for the wholesale privatization of welfare services.

The most ethical outcome would not only be private provision of those services but also the private funding of them. But even if we take the utilitarian approach and accept the truth of his statement, so what? What is the problem with private provision of welfare services? Assuming here that the state still pays for the provision, he presents no evidence that the state can execute the provision of services any better than the private sector, it is simply accepted as an ideological axiom.

The potential for abuse in this situation of dependency ( not to mention in the competition between agencies for the access rights to service delivery) is obvious. What kind of monitoring and safeguards against abuse does the government have in mind

So abuse of the system can only happen with private providers? Abuse cannot happen by the Ministry who have a vested interest in keeping as many people on benefits as possible? Abuse cannot happen by the beneficiaries themselves? Perhaps that is the core of the problem, that the state now has a problem. Reducing the welfare roles is obviously a political issue that can be played to their advantage by ‘taking action’, yet the last thing they really want to do is to take action when they need people to be on benefits. By removing people from benefits they remove a captive audience of voters, reducing their power and ultimately their own raison d’etre.

The potential for dehumanizing (sic), intrusive action by private sector agencies in the lives of vulnerable families is quite high.

The system is already dehumanising, from the source of the funds, taken under coercion and thus removing the element of choice and the ability to make an ethical decision for myself, through the cushioned layers of bureaucrats who don’t seem to realise or care that such forced extraction is unethical, to the recipients who don’t know or care that they are the benefactors of money taken by force from others. The system locks people into dependency and a sense of entitlement and contempt rather than gratitude and respect.

By nationalising charity and forcing out private donation and provision, everyone is dehumanised. The captive ‘donators’ don’t care where the money goes, it’s not their problem any more. They are freed from the burden of having to think about the poor and needy, and freed from having to make decisions that would actually demonstrate to others their true willingness to make a moral choice to help. The whole process is sanitised, the money laundered through the big front-loader of the ‘state’ so that having made their ‘donation’ they can forget about it all. They can step over the guy in the street because he’s someone else’s problem now. Hardly what one would characterise as altruism. And from the other side, the freshly laundered money flows out, whence it came is of no interest. There is no human face attached to the money, no strings that might require the dreaded and outdated concept of gratiutude or hurt the ‘diginity’ of the recipients. It’s a simply a depersonalised entitlement coming from the great money machine, a free gift for recipients who have every incentive to maximise their share from the money spigot, indulging in the great game of rorting the system if it takes their fancy. And in the middle, like a monstrous beatific budda, sits the great leveller, the great assuager of ‘rich’ guilt, the great protector of ‘poor’ dignity, the ‘state’. It is an automaton, caring about neither side as long as it remains the middleman and can continue to take it’s cut, with every incentive to increase it’s ‘customer’ base and ‘income’. So it’s a little rich for Campbell to talk about the private sector as making a ‘profit’.

It is hard to imagine a more efficient system for dehumanising us all, for removing the need to care about your choices and the outcomes you desire. It is an easy cop-out. Actually caring or doing something is hard. Rather than generous I’d say the welfare system is the very epitome of ‘I’m alright Jack’.

Thanks Emirates

•19/12/2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, after the longest ever flight from hell, I’m not impressed with you Emirates.

I do not appreciate my flight being 10% overbooked so that I was bumped off. Neither do I appreciate being shoved around three different check-ins and queueing for as many hours in completely chaotic conditions amongst lots of other understandably angry and confused people. It also doesn’t help to be told in a condescending manner by the smiling but largely disinterested check-in girl that actually it’s ok because it’s perfectly normal and is standard procedure among all airlines. Surely a 10% overbook at holiday time is insanity. Whatever level of no-shows you might normally get, the amount would go down over the holiday periods. You really thought 10% of passengers simply wouldn’t show up just a few days before Christmas?

For future reference Emirates, I don’t care what your internal profit maximisation ‘optimisations’ are. I don’t care who else does it. And I certainly don’t care that you think it’s ok. From my point of view, you know, your customer, it was most definitely not ok. I had a ticket booked on a particular flight with a pre-booked seat. I turned up in good time only to be told that the flight was full and that I wasn’t going to get on even though I would miss connections.

So here is my take on the situation for your customer feedback. You let me down, whatever self-serving justification you place on that. I don’t want a free flight as compensation, as the last thing I want to do is spend any more flying time with you than I actually have to. I just wanted the flight I’d booked and had confirmed.

It was my first experience of your service and I fully intend to make it the last.

The crypto-econ geeks out there will immediately recognise the parallels to fractional reserve banking here, with Emirates running a 90% reserve ratio. Sell more receipts than you have gold, in the hope that not everyone with a receipt wants their gold at the same time. If they do, you’re rumbled and someone with a valid receipt for gold walks away empty handed. Yesterday that was me.

How the mighty have fallen

•17/12/2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s hard to believe I used to admire Arnie so much, his determination to achieve what he wanted for himself and no-nonsense approach. Somehow it makes his decline into populist irrationality seem all the more depressing.

From pumping iron to pumping bullshit.

Perhaps it’s the result of too many steroids. Small penis and small brain.

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller

•02/12/2009 • Leave a Comment

OK here’s a question.

Are there any other anarcho-capitalists / Hoppeians / Rothbardians / voluntaryists in NZ? As a generally left-leaning country it’s hard enough to get people to accept traditional right-wing concepts of economic activity let alone what must appear to them to be the fantastical world of the ultimate individualism.

If there are any fellow travellers out there in Arty-Rower who want to organise to share views and thoughts then please let me know.

I guess I’m just feeling lonely and need a hug <sniffle>

test post

•29/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

Me want 😀

What business schools really teach

•02/05/2006 • Leave a Comment

A great skit by Columbia Business School (the CBS mentioned in the vid).

MTV for economists?