Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spending Taxpayer Dollars on America's Cup is Immoral [UPDATE]

I have followed the fortunes of Emirates Team New Zealand in their bid for America's Cup with mild interest.  At the time of writing, the match score is 8-8, so I don't know whether we have won or lost it.  Oracle Team USA has staged a remarkable comeback from being 6-1 down after the first week of racing and whoever wins the next race will take the trophy.

I don't care very much who wins but I do care that $36 million of New Zealand taxpayers' money has gone to fund this sporting equivalent of tilting at windmills.  The argument that it will benefit New Zealand greatly in terms of tourism and other economic activity is dubious at best and, in any event, does not justify the government using money it has extorted from hardworking New Zealanders on such a frivolous cause.  It is hard enough to accept one's taxes going as involuntary contributions to "worthy" causes such as health and welfare, but seeing them go to a bloody yacht race is outrageous.  Who the hell do the Prime Minister and Finance Minister think they are taking money off low income earners who might be struggling to pay their winter heating bills at this time to spend it on what is a billionaires folly?

Even if we win the Cup (perhaps especially if we win it), this disgraceful abuse of taxpayers' goodwill should end.

UPDATE: Having lost the Cup in this morning's final race, Team NZ head Grant Dalton casts doubt on whether New Zealand will mount another campaign.  However, that hasn't stopped our Prime Minister, John Key saying it is likely he will continue to spend taxpayers' money on this folly.  He goes on to say "New Zealanders work hard to pay their taxes and they expect the Government to be serious and careful about the way they spend their money." If only.

UPDATE2: One final comment - I have lambasted the New Zealand media in the past and in particular the worst offender - the Fairfax Group newspapers such as The Dominion Post and its website Stuff. This morning Fairfax Group plumbed the depths with their "Choke on This Team New Zealand" headline.  I would urge anyone reading this who subscribes to Fairfax Group publications to cancel their subscription immediately. They do not deserve your business.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inside Every Socialist is Napoleon the Pig

I see the New Zealand Labour Party has elected a new leader, David Cunliffe, its third in two years. The reason for the instability at the top of New Zealand's major centre-left party is the traditional animosity between the hard-left and more moderate factions of the party.  Helen Clark, who was leader from 1993 to 2008 (and NZ prime minister from 1999 and 2008) managed to keep the two sides from each other's throats, undoubtedly because those on both sides feared her than they feared each other.

One of the candidates in the recent tussle for the leadership turned up last week to my daughter's school to talk to the senior girls.  This is the second time the school has invited a Labour MP in the last twelve months and it has not extended the invitation to anyone from any other party, so it is pretty obvious where the political inclinations of the teachers lie. The majority of them are raving left-wingers who take every opportunity to ram their facile political beliefs into the impressionable minds of their students and I have blogged about this before.  However, I am grateful for this propagandising visit because it gave me the opportunity to discuss the MP's Socialist philosophy with my daughter and to use it as the theme of this blog.

The MP, according to my daughter's account of his speech, made three main points to the students:
  1. You should live your life for the benefit of others
  2. Government needs to be bigger to deliver more benefits to those in need
  3. He will support you if you have good ideas just so long as they are consistent with his philosophy.
Let us deal with each of these in turn.

In saying that you should live your life for the benefit of others, Socialists not only believe that people should be charitable, but that everyone should be forced to be altruistic. They believe the state should use its legal monopoly on violence to force you to live a proportion of your working life for the benefit of others by taking the product of your work through taxation.  You are forced to pay your taxes under the threat of imprisonment or worse.

Once the Socialist has decided that you should work some of your life in slavery for others, there is no logical or moral limit to how much of your life he should take - thirty percent, fifty percent or ninety-eighty percent - the only limit is a pragmatic one, i.e. how much can he take without undermining your will to work at all?  There is no limit to the demands on behalf of "those in need" and Socialists differ from Communists only in where they draw the line.

Whenever Socialists advocate enforced sacrifice in favour of those in need there is an unspoken question that always has an obvious answer.  The question is, who gets to decide? Who determines who is needy, and who defines what needy really means?  The answer, of course, is the Socialist proposing the sacrifice.  

The Labour MP's last point is telling.  He is making it clear it should be he that determines what is a "good idea" and who deserves to receive the product of work confiscated by the state.  His philosophy is not so much "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", as "- to each according to what I determine."  It is no surprise that Socialist parties have brutal leadership contests - the lure of being the one who decides is too great for well-mannered successions.

In his novel, Animal Farm, George Orwell showed that enforced equality requires an enforcer.  This is the fatal flaw with all collectivist philosophy, whether it is modern, milk-toast democratic Socialism or hard-line Marxist-Leninism.  You cannot have an Animal Farm without a Napoleon the Pig.  Scratch the surface of any Socialist and you will find a Napoleon trying to get out. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

US Intervention in Syria Will Fail

You would think the US Government would learn. Just when they are finally managing to extract themselves from Iraq and Afghanistan, they are doing their best to involve themselves in another insoluble conflict in the Middle East. You would think that they would have learned from the events in Libya and Egypt, where the best hopes of the Obama regime for peaceful transitions to democratically elected governments have become completely unstuck, resulting in a great deal of bloodshed and misery for the people of those countries.

America's ill-judged foreign policy produces the most deliciously ironic unintended consequences.

It was recently revealed, for example, that the Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the 1953 military coup that overthrew the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.  Of course, that really worked out well for the Americans when, a quarter-century later, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the US puppet regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and ensured Iran became America's arch enemy for the next three decades.

One could also look to the earlier example of US support for Ibn Saud's conquest of the Arabian peninsular that resulted in the establishment in 1932 of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are the proponents of the particularly extremist Wahhabi form of Islam that inspired the brutal Taliban government in Afghanistan, which gave sanctuary to the Al Qaeda leadership that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  Long before 9/11, America funded, armed and trained the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and it was these rebels that eventually seized control and became the Taliban government.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that America's good intentions to promote its founding principles of individual freedom and human rights around the world has led to the abrogation of those principles at home. Anyone who has been to America in recent years will have seen the deterioration of personal freedom in that country. America has become a surveillance state that in many ways would be the envy of Soviet bloc governments, all in the name of protecting its people from attack by the very people it has armed.

Which brings us to Syria. The Obama administration is planning to bomb Syrian government targets in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. I say "alleged" because at the time of writing the Americans cannot say with absolute certainty that Assad was responsible. Some commentators have speculated that the Islamist rebels could have used the weapons to provoke exactly the response against Assad that Obama is contemplating. One should not forget that these rebels have admitted committing appalling outrages of their own.  Another scenario, perhaps more likely, is that Assad has lost control of his own military leaders, one of whom chose to use the chemical weapons.

What is clear is that the situation in Syria not clear. If Obama orders cruise missiles launched at Syria, he will be throwing gasoline onto an already incendiary situation. He has admitted that he doesn't have an objective in mind for such a strike against the Assad regime. That being the case, he should not be surprised if the outcome turns out to be very much to the detriment of America's interests in the region and at home. America has done some dumb things around the world but this will surely be one of the dumbest.