Friday, May 31, 2013

They doth protest too much, methinks

The reaction to the cartoons from Al Nisbet (shown on this blog), about the government's newly-announced policy to provide children with breakfast at lower decile schools, is more interesting than the cartoons themselves.  The cartoons have really brought the political correctness brigade out of the woodwork including that old Marxist, John Minto, who laid a complaint with the Race Relations Conciliator, Susan Devoy.

The cartoonist is not saying much more than I said myself in a comment on Not PC's blog.  I pointed out that the policy would give parents the moral mandate not to feed their children breakfast (in fact, Al Nisbet's words in his cartoon were so similar to mine I wondered whether he had read mine).  I didn't identify the issue as being specific to Maori or Pacific Island families and, actually, neither explicitly did Al Nisbet. Some of the characters in his cartoons have Polynesian features and that was enough for the professional offence takers to do what they always do - that is, take offence irrespective of whether offence was intended.

Green Party leader Metiria Turei asks about the cartoons, "Does our country really hate us?"  My response to that, on another blog, is when you treat the rest of us like slaves who exist merely to serve you, are you really surprised?  The productive minority in this country, who pay all the taxes (17% of New Zealand households pay 97% of income taxes), are getting tired of being the milch cows for those who are not prepared to take responsibility for providing for the children that they bring into the world.  We have a right to be resentful and Al Nisbet was insightful and absolutely correct to express that sentiment.

The reaction to the cartoons, just like the satirical Danish Islamic cartoons, is indicative of how their author found his mark.  As Shakespeare's Queen Gertrude said, the likes of Minto and Turei "doth protest too much".  They are shouting that tired cliche "racist!" because they would rather not address the sharp truth in Al Nisbet's satire.  The real question, as I said on Not PC's blog, is how can anyone justify paying these parents welfare benefits (including supplements targeted at the care of the child) while at the same time relieving them of the responsibility of feeding their children?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The R Word

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned this week that failure to address Europe's soaring youth unemployment rates and dropping the continent's welfare model could lead to revolution. This is the first time we have heard a Western political leader use the "R" word in association with the current global economic crisis but my guess is it won't be the last.

The fact that a sober-minded German finance minister should make a claim that until recently (if you believe the mainstream media) has been the preserve of the gun-toting, Bible-swearing, bolt-hole-building survivalists who are ridiculed for their predictions of a forthcoming economic and societal collapse, is pretty incredible.

I don't regard myself as one of those right-wing nut jobs (believe it or not) but I have been predicting for some time that the current global economic situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets better and that it will lead to widespread violence in some of the worst-affected countries. I think the course of events is obvious and if you want a road map, you only need to look at the 1930s.  The Wall Street Crash in 1929 was followed by a deep and prolonged economic downturn that became the Great Depression.  It took 4 - 5 years for the impact of the initial stock market collapse in October 1929 to be felt in economies all around the world.  The parallels to the banking crisis of 2008 followed by the Global Financial Crisis, which continues until today in much of Europe, is obvious.  Governments tried to spend their way out of recession in the 1930s but that only made things worse, particularly in the United States where FDR's huge spending programme ("The New Deal") led to the longest and deepest economic downturn of all.  We all know how it turned out for the world at the end of the 1930s.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, in the same article referenced above, calls for more state aid and liberal lending policies towards small businesses - in other words, more of the excessive state spending and central bank pump-priming that led to the recession in the first place.  It didn't work in 1935 so why does anyone think it will work in 2013?

There is a myth that Europe is pursuing austerity policies.  If austerity means cutting government spending, Europe is doing anything but (as this article shows).  Almost all European governments have been spending more than ever before.  If that was going to work, it would already be doing so.

I agree with Herr Schaeuble that Europe risks revolution if the dire economic situation there is not addressed but I do not agree that more state spending on welfare and more money-printing to fund it are solutions. It is precisely the entitlement culture of the welfare state and the head-in-the-sand faith that more and more government spending will generate economic growth that is the problem.  It is the cause of societal collapse, not the solution.  We have seen evidence of this already in the riots in Greece and Spain - disaffected youths who understandably can't fathom why jobs don't magically appear and welfare payments won't keep flowing.

The West has forgotten what made it so successful economically in the first place - a combination of individual self-reliance, largely free markets and respect for private property, plus another important factor - a monetary system with integrity.  All of these things have been abandoned by Western governments and all of them must be restored if the West is to prosper again. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Terrorist Acts by Islamic Radicals

The beheading of British Army drummer, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, a suburb of London, has horrified people all round the world. It is perhaps the blatant nature of the attack in broad daylight on a busy English street, and the swaggering defiance of the perpetrators, that has made this incident all the more horrifying. The two men involved made it clear that they regarded the butchering of this soldier who had served in Afghanistan and Cyprus as just Islamic retribution for the killing of Muslims by Western governments.

We should not be surprised that young Muslim men commit such acts of violence. Despite the attempts of Western Islamic apologists to deny it, Islam is a religion of violence. The Prophet Mohammed exhorted his followers to slay those who refuse to follow his teachings. The reason beheading is popular as a method of following the Prophet's murderous precepts is that he specifically instructed his adherents  to use it: "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" (Sura 8 verse 12).  I'm not sure whether the beheadings are usually accompanied by digitectomies, but perhaps the Prophet would have excused that minor lapse in protocol by his followers.

There is another reason why we should not be surprised at such acts of terror by Islamic extremists and that is because Western governments have ceded to the terrorists any moral high ground we once might have had.  It is appropriate that on the day of the killing of Lee Rigby, President Obama should make a speech justifying his use of unmanned drones against people he suspects of being terrorists, irrespective of their nationality and the likelihood of killing innocents.  The president claims the means justify the ends and that the drone strikes are carefully targeted, but of course this is the same argument that the Islamist terrorists make to justify their carefully planned and targeted acts of violence.  I can understand the need to resort to desperate measures in desperate times but there is nothing so desperate about the current state of America that justifies the abandonment of the fine principles on which it was founded.  The use of drones is contrary to the US Constitution, natural justice, the rule of law and international treaties such as the Geneva Convention.

I am not saying the killing of Lee Rigby was in any way justified – it was a despicable act of violence by two cowardly thugs - but we will never put an end to such acts by descending to the morality of the perpetrators.

The killers of Lee Rigby lost their humanity.  We shouldn't lose ours.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dumbest Quote on New Zealand Budget

I like to post a Quote of the Day on my Twitter account ( and have decided I will post the best or worst here.

Today's QOTD is in the "so dumb it should be illegal" category and comes from Canterbury University political scientist Bronwyn Hayward on Minister of Finance Bill English's budget due out today:

"I think what is most disappointing about this tenure is the emphasis English gives to economic growth as 'the only way we can lift incomes, create permanent jobs'."

So, how else are we going to lift incomes and create permanent jobs? Wave a Socialist wand?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taking Offence When None is Due

In my last post I wrote about the misappropriation of language by political activists, particularly those in the left-wing.  A related manifestation of the left’s cultural hegemony is their unparalleled willingness to take offence on behalf of any convenient victim.

Niall Ferguson, the Scottish born Professor of History at Harvard, recently was forced to apologise for his comments about economist John Maynard Keynes. What was this dreadful comment that Ferguson made about the famous economist? Ferguson said that Keynes did not care about future generations because he was gay.

Neither of the two principle facts in Ferguson's statement are in doubt. Keynes himself said, in response to concerns about the affordability of his economic policies by future generations, “in the long run we are all dead.”  And there is no doubt that he was gay because he kept diaries detailing the many affairs he had with men. All that Ferguson did was to link the two.

Judging by the response of the media to Ferguson's comments, you would think the historian had gravely insulted a living person.  If you did not know your economic history, you might think that Keynes was a contemporary colleague of Ferguson's whom the latter had called a Nazi or something equally horrid.  But Keynes died in 1946, so it would be pretty difficult for him to take offence at Ferguson's recent comments, although perhaps his ghost is seething in some dark hallway of Cambridge University even as I write this.

Of course, it wasn’t the dead Keynes who took offence, but the hypersensitive serried ranks of professional offence takers in the political left-wing and their mouthpieces in the liberal media.  It does not matter to these professional offence takers whether anyone who might be considered the victim of the offending comment actually takes offence. It doesn’t even matter, as we can see with the John Maynard Keynes example, whether those who have apparently been offended are actually alive.  There is no shortage of causes for professional offence-taking and a great deal of competition to be the cause du jour.  Muslims, gays, disabled people and various racial minorities are the objects of offence whether or not they are really offended.

I believe that words are not offensive unless they are intended to be offensive.  Ferguson was attempting to make sense of Keynes’s incredibly destructive philosophy that future generations do not matter. Keynesian economics is the dominant philosophy driving Western economic policy today and is singularly responsible for the current economic failure in countries like Cyprus and Greece.  Frankly, I'm offended that such a misguided and irresponsible economic philosophy has caused such human misery all over the world and I think it was not unreasonable for Ferguson to seek a personal explanation for Keynes’s philosophy, in the same way that historians look for personal motivation in the destructive philosophies of political leaders.  Ferguson has said that he did not mean to imply that all gay people have a disregard for future generations and based on this I do not think he needed to apologise.

In the past, when no offence was intended, none was usually taken. Today, in the age of professional offence takers, there is always someone who is prepared to take offence for their own ends. Just as we should resist the misappropriation of language by the left-wing, we must resist the misappropriation of offence.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Liberal Means Anything But

One of the common characteristics of dictatorial regimes is that they recognise early on the need to control the language. This is because language is a proxy for thought. People may dissent in their minds but that is of little effect if they are incapable of expressing their dissent. George Orwell recognised this in his novel, 1984, with Newspeak, the approved language of his fictional dictatorship.   Newspeak was designed to ensure people could not communicate opposition to the regime and one of the means of doing this was to confuse synonyms and antonyms, thus eliminating words like 'bad' and replacing them with euphemistic alternatives such as 'ungood'.

Orwell's novel was prescience of the Western world today.  The political left-wing in our so-called liberal democracies has achieved what Hitler and Stalin could only have dreamed of - an almost complete stranglehold on the language. 

Take the terms 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' - what do they really mean?  Left-wing originally referred to those on the left side of the French revolutionary legislative assembly.  Those who sat on the left opposed the monarchy and supported the establishment of a republic.  Those on the right side of the chamber supported the institutions of the Old Regime, although not the monarchy itself.  In other words, the left-wing supported change, i.e. they were radicals, the right-wing didn't, i.e. they were conservatives.  In the Western world of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries these terms have lost their original meaning and distinction.  Left-wingers are often the most conservative in that they want to preserve the established order of a strong, central government and comprehensive welfare state.  Right-wingers are often the ones advocating change, seeking to reduce the role of government in the economy and to roll-back the welfare state.  Thus we had Maggie Thatcher, a Conservative who was more radical in her policies than any modern British prime minister.

Left-wingers have co-opted the term 'extreme right-wing' to imply Fascist or National Socialist beliefs.  This is ironic to say the least because, as the names suggest, both Fascism (deriving from the Italian word for 'group') and National Socialism (literally Socialism to achieve nationalistic goals) have more in common, at least in desired outcomes, with the democratic Socialism that most liberals espouse than with anything their modern opponents believe.

The word 'liberal' has similarly lost almost all of its original meaning.  Today it is interchangeable with the term left-wing.  Classical liberalism, as typified by the writings of 17th Century English philosopher John Locke, was all about individual freedom and rights and had little in common with the political beliefs of latter-day liberals who advocate for an all-powerful (albeit, they would say, benevolent) state.  In the Newspeak of today's Western democracies, 'liberal' means the exact opposite and those who think of themselves as classical liberals prefer to use the term 'libertarian' to distinguish themselves from the faux-liberals of the left-wing.

There are many examples of this topsy-turvy use of plain words for political ends.  Those who advocate equal treatment of different races before the law are labelled 'racist', those who would prefer to judge individuals on their merits rather than on their sex are 'sexist', and those who dare to question the political orthodoxy on climate change are 'deniers'.

The motivation for this misuse and misappropriate of language is always the same as that of Big Brother - to prohibit debate and control thinking.  This is reason enough to resist such hegemony at every turn.  Language defines the terms of any debate.  Concede the language and you concede the argument.