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Ideas from the American Heartland

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New Zealand’s economic productivity has been low for decades now, in both the pre and post-Rogernomics era.

Jokes like ACT’s Productivity Commission have predictably not helped, and neither will the insanity of other government ideas like their new energy policies, especially renewable energy, which, judging from the experience of other nations, are going to result in a more unstable and expensive power system that won’t meet demand. Given that our technological and industrial world relies on having plentiful amounts of relatively cheap energy this is yet another marker of serious problems ahead.

Even a difference of 1% per annum between us and other nations productivity growth will, over years and decades, add up to large gaps in GDP, translating into us being outspent by those other nations on all manner of things – like doctors and nurses. In fact it already has, hidden by the cheap products churned out by China’s economy in the last twenty years.

With younger people fleeing the country as soon as the C-19 border controls were lifted, and possibly hundreds of thousands soon to follow, plus the current problems with staffing our healthcare system, with much talk of immigration problems with Phillippine nurses, it should be obvious that those who focus on the future are thinking that New Zealand’s is not so bright. In another twenty years we may not be able to afford those foreign nurses, for the Developing world will be able to pay more.

I’ve already covered some of the basic economic things that could be done to kick-start the NZ economy after our lockdowns and general malaise, using the lessons from Germany in 1948 (A different economic starter motor)

But in the superb web site, City Journal, is a recent article that suggests ideas aimed at something other than theories about economics, taxes and spending. A Heartland Manufacturing Renaissance looks at recent growth in businesses and jobs in the American Mid West, which had the crap kicked out of it decades ago:

Out in the rolling country just east of Columbus, Ohio, a new—and potentially brighter—American future is emerging. New factories are springing up, and, amid a severe labor shortage, companies are recruiting in the inner city and among communities of new immigrants and high schoolers to keep their plants running.

Not long ago, Ohio was a classic Rust Belt state, with high unemployment, massive outmigration, and a prevailing sense that time had passed it by. Between 1990 and 2010, Ohio lost more than 420,000 factory jobs. Then things started to turn around, as the state gained back nearly 100,000 industrial positions over the next decade, until the pandemic interrupted that growth.

It’s not just Ohio either:

Almost all the states with the fastest industrial growth are outside the coasts, led by Texas, Michigan, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona, Ohio, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

In Ohio, new plants are popping up in numbers second only to Texas. To put this in context, Ohio is booking new capital projects on a per capita basis at a rate almost 14 times that of California, 

Notably this success does not include the old industrial centres like Detroit and Chicago. There are many factors involved here, starting with governments that don’t treat business and business people as greedy, grasping assholes that need to be regulated on every aspect of their existence.

The Buckeye State, notes Rick Platt, president and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, “never skipped a beat on funding development.” More than 60 such authorities in Ohio work to attract industry with capital financing, infrastructure investment, land preparation, and speculative building development. Such efforts often tend to be largely expensive money-wasters, but in Ohio they have proved more successful.

Many companies created as a result including the world’s first organic baby food company. I thought New Zealand was into organics, and baby food? Why weren’t we the first on this?

There are other factors involved of course and at least two of them should be applicable to New Zealand:

Many Ohio firms, like TDK and Ariel, use cutting-edge technologies like 3-D printers, robots, and computer-controlled machine tools that allow them to produce better and often cheaper products. John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, a manufacturing consortium funded by the U.S. Air Force and based in Youngstown, says that these “additive manufacturing” processes open new possibilities for companies to lower costs and craft parts that, in many cases, were previously available only in China or other countries. Wilczynski believes that “digitally distributed manufacturing” is key to helping U.S. firms compete more effectively.

But no matter how clever the technology there’s also the people needed and how they’re educated and then trained.

“We really need practical skills more than anything for our business,” notes Andrew Lower of TDK Manufacturing, which makes components for Tesla as well as for semiconductor and medical-equipment firms. 

As in the USA there has been far too much emphasis in NZ on university education, with frequent reference made to the lifetime income of university graduates being much higher than those who merely finish high school. Those references too often looked at the past, ignoring the rapidly increasing cost of university, leaving young people mired in debt for years:

The up-front investment of college is extraordinarily high—tuition has increased 213 percent in the last 30 years—and returns for many students are not guaranteed.

There’s also the reduction in standards caused by universities aiming for government funded bums-on-seats, with the degradation showing most clearly in qualifications so esoteric that they could only end in low-paid work, with Welfare For Families as a never-ending, dead-end supplement to try and keep the whole creaking structure working.

The conventional wisdom among pundits and politicians is that the big labor shortages are concentrated in fields employing well-educated professionals. President Biden has talked about having factory workers and oil riggers “learn to code.” But companies are crying out most for skilled, dependable workers who can act as drivers, machine-tool operators, and welders. 

Due largely to an aging workforce, as many as 600,000 new manufacturing jobs this decade will go unfilled. The shortage of welders alone could grow to 400,000 by 2024. By May 2021, amid a mild economic recovery, an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs had no takers. Overall, manufacturing jobs pay over 20 percent more than typical service or retail jobs.

And that’s before we consider the demographic problems that we’re about to hit, as others are also being hit:

One of the main obstacles to reindustrialization is a massive labor shortage. U.S. population growth between ages 16 and 64 has dropped from 20 percent in the 1980s to less than 5 percent in the past decade. The shortage is afflicting most industrial economies worldwide. China, with a population expected to shrink by half in less than a half-century, is already seeing a decline in its under-60 population. A lack of new workers is slowing Germany’s formidable manufacturing sector.

Fewer workers means increasing wages as competition for skilled people rises. Young people need no economics knowledge to see this, only the employment advertisements in Australia and further afield, and often enough it’s for jobs that have seemingly little connection to what they studied here in school.

We need a better emphasis on training for skills and the next National-ACT government could do worse than to take a look at things like this:

The Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education boasts a 98 percent graduation rate, and the vast majority of its graduates find jobs or advance to higher education. Local efforts are important, too. C-TEC (Career and Technology Education Centers) of Licking County collaborates with local companies, high schools, and colleges to train skilled workers. Students who often struggled in high school study subjects such as medical technology and welding and learn to operate complex machinery, including 3-D printers and robotic arms.

We all knew kids like this in high school. They weren’t dumb, they just weren’t interested in academic crap. The same kids now are buried in even more of it, and right through to Year 13 (the old Form 7) which was once the world only of those likely to go on to university but which now consists of almost the entire wing that started high school in Year 9. There’s also this:

Skills-education programs like these do more for working-class families, minorities, and immigrants than any array of “diversity” initiatives. 

Terrence Hayes, who runs Ariel’s 125-person operation in Licking County, suggests that the biggest struggles tend to be not at the top—after all, foreign engineers are plentiful—but closer to the factory floor. “There’s been a period of at least twenty years where we have moved away from practical skills,” he notes. “We would have been better off if there were machine shops in schools like when I was a kid.”

Education has been treated as a backwater by successive governments, with tweaking on qualifications like NCEA and never ending fights about funding being the main topics – yet with increasing truancy rates as high as 40% and significant percentages of people leaving school with little or no qualifications, plus the free market of seemingly endless numbers of “Higher Education” places producing empty qualifications.

It can’t go on as it is and it needs the same focus and energy applied as does Healthcare – and the lessons from places like Ohio. Read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 16, 2022 at 1:04 pm

STANDING CONDEMNED

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The Maori Party and its leaders (both inside and out of Parliament) for their racist attack on the ACT party leader at their annual conference last weekend which saw co-leader Rawiri Waitai muse on poisoning David Seymour and earlier their President, Hone Tamihere, sometime Labour Party cabinet minister, calling ACT “the white settler party and if they don’t like it here they should buy a one way ticket to Australia”. Tamihere sought to justify his outburst citing ACT’s opposition to the Maori Health Authority (with veto powers over decisions of Health NZL – the one that looks after the rest of us ‘ordinary folk’).

Tamihere might well have included National in his attack as both parties stand together on this issue. What Hone conveniently forgets is that both National and ACT (to a degree) attract significant support from Maoridom, especially from Maori on the general roll. So I guess in Hone’s lexicon they’re all Uncle Toms’ and part of his problem.

The one positive to come out of this is that Te Pati Maori has completely edited itself out of any possible coalition deal with the incoming National/ACT government. For that to happen there needs to be a measure of mutual respect among the parties Te Pati Maori wouldn’t know respect if it bit them in the bum. Te Pati Maori of today ain’t the Maori Party of yesteryear.

Written by The Veteran

July 14, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Two people worth listening to.

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First up is long-time analyst of our social welfare system and one-time ACT candidate, Lindsay Mitchell with The Flaw in The PM’s Plan. That link goes to her website but it’s notable that National Party man DPF has the same article as a guest post:

Between March 2018 and March 2022 the number of children in benefit-dependent households grew by 22 percent or almost 37,000. To picture this increase, imagine about one hundred good-sized schools.

I spent a number of years as a volunteer working with dependent families and came to know the tragic circumstances of a typical child on a benefit. But my sample is small so let me construct a profile based on New Zealand statistics.

What follows is the typical profile of a five year old child on welfare in NZ. It’s grim. She follows up with specific examples that she has dealt with personally. It’s grimmer.

Who asks the hard questions about where all the extra money goes? Who asks why New Zealand has apparently record low unemployment but over 200,000 children relying on a parent on a benefit? Who asks about appalling and worsening school absenteeism? Who asks why New Zealand ranked last in child mental well-being in the most recent UNICEF report card? Who asks why only one in five Maori babies has married parents?

Who cares so long as the PM can pat herself on the back and claim to have achieved what she came to parliament for.

Then there’s Education which seems to be in almost as bad a condition as Social Welfare. Again, this is a guest post on Kiwiblog by long-time educator Alwyn Poole, Our Education System is New Zealand’s “Big Short”. I should note here that I’ve known Alwyn for over a decade, ever since we sent our eldest to his old Mt Hobson school, a decision we’ve never regretted. He is a passionate and smart teacher who has dealt with tough-to-teach kids from low-decile backgrounds. In fact he specialises in them.

Adults have little comparative concern about the NZ education system. Only 6% had high concern about education.

By strange co-incidence 6 (out of 2,600) is exactly the number of schools who bothered to submit to the Education and Workforce Select Committee into school attendance.

We have little medium-term thinking, let alone long-term thinking. Politicians think within their cycle, kids don’t vote, many families know that their children are doing okay, many others are disengaged and/or worried about food on the table and petrol in the car today. Adults worry about themselves and there is no NZ Education Vision or visionaries for adults to support. Hipkins has been the very worst and most inactive Education Minister in living memory – but he has been allowed to be and is rarely challenged by the opposition.

It’s quite incredible that voters pay so little attention to education as a political matter, considering first of all the massive weight of the Public Education sector, and secondly the degree of attention that many parents, at least those who are Middle Class and up, pay to their kids education. Whatever the reason it has allowed the teaching establishment and governments to get away with poor performance, the stats of which he lists and which are as depressing as Mitchell’s SW stuff. Here’s just a few:

  • In the “Southern Initiative” area 32.3% of Maori leavers have less than Level 1 NCEA – i.e. no qualifications at all.
  • Only 14.4% of Auckland young people are attaining degrees.
  • The current Auckland NEET rate is the highest since 2010. In the year to December 2021 more than 10,000 Auckland 15-24yos were Not in Employment, Education or Training.

Not even mentioned is the 40% truancy rate. I know that Alwyn has well thought-out ideas on how to deal with all of these problems and I hope to see them outlined in future guest posts.

Judging from Kiwiblog putting up these two guest articles by “outsiders” I can’t help wondering if DPF is trying to push some of this thinking and analysis into National’s policies in these areas, but I don’t know how much influence he has aside from his polling input.

From the POV of ideas there is at least one thing we can be grateful to the Labour Government for, which is that they’ve have proved that vast increases in spending after “nine long years of neglect” is not the panacea they thought it was and more importantly for that argument, has not even improved the outcomes (same for Health). If anything they’re quite obviously going backwards, which even I would not have believed possible.

I’m sure it scares the living shit out of the Left but with these institutions we are rapidly approaching a Rogernomics-type situation simply because the existing systems are failing so badly, just as the industrial ones were under Muldoon in the late 70’s/early 80’s. My natural Conservatism leads me to not like or trust revolutions – and that includes Rogernomics, which would not have been necessary had we begun making steady, substantive changes a decade earlier. I prefer changes that are less destructive even if they are fundamental, but if the status quo continues defending the indefensible then a revolution in Health, Education and Social Welfare is what we’re going to get.

See also this interview with an incredible headmistress from Britain:

Written by Tom Hunter

July 10, 2022 at 6:53 pm

Learning from other’s mistakes

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I’m not talking about Labour and certainly not the NZ Greens. They’re committed to a path of insanity when it comes to renewable energy, as they are most other things in our society.

No, I’m looking at National and ACT. I understand that polling shows that Jacinda still has quite a grip on the female vote in this country, and that polling and focus groups show the same cohort as being the determining factor on things like wearing face diapers to ward off the dreaded Chinese Lung Rot – and saving the planet! I also get that this is backed by a wall of almost monolithic MSM propaganda 24/7.

But we surely now have enough examples from “leaders” in renewable energy around the world who have started to run into big problems with both the unreliability of these new power sources and the increase in power costs associated with them, as well as the failure to reduce CO2 emissions, (which is what this was supposed to be all about in the first place) to be able to argue back on the basis of sheer, basic, in-your-face reality and not join the insanity.

Here’s the latest victim of that reality, South Africans left in the dark after grid collapse:

South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.

The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than 9 hours a day.

Eskom has officially said that the blackouts are not a temporary situation and they estimate that it will take “years” to stabilise the power grid. The unstated assumption is that they can manage this feat at all in the face of the path their government has followed on trying to reduce CO2 emissions by building wind farms and closing some of their old coal-fired plants and not spending money on repairs and maintenance of the others because they anticipated their eventual closure.

Does this sound familiar? It should given that we’ve seen the exact same thing happening in Australia, Europe (especially Germany), Texas, and California:

  • Power blackouts (both rolling and sudden)
  • Massive increases in electricity costs
  • Little to no impact on reducing CO2 emissions

The biggest joke here is that we may be about to commit the same suicidal actions just as the rest of the world begins to turn away from it, despite all their hot air on the subject of Global Warming, because those energy realities are starting to bite:

World leaders at the Group of 7 summit in Germany signaled they will turn back to fossil fuels despite their commitments to a green energy transition thanks to the ongoing energy crisis.

“The G7 leaders are pretending that nothing has happened to the green agenda,” Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In reality, if you look at individual member states… it’s quite obvious that the green agenda will be sunk.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, announced last week that the government was instituting a surge in the use of coal-powered plants.

Given the steady increase in German reliance on natural gas from Russia over the last few years, their €500 billion Energiewende project increasingly looked like a farce anyway, but it’s taken the Ukranian war to make that obvious.

Habeck is not the only such Green who is waking up, with other Euro Greens beginning to not only get the message that their favoured Renewables are actually better called the Unreliables, but that new – and previously forbidden – thinking is required:

Finland’s Green Party (Vihreät De Gröna) has voted by a large majority at its party conference to adopt a pro-nuclear approach. The party manifesto now states that nuclear is “sustainable energy” and demands the reform of current energy legislation to streamline the approval process for small modular reactors (SMRs). Finland’s is the first Green Party to adopt such a position.

There will be others, judging from this article by a guy who has started up or run companies dedicated to “clean energy technologies”, energy efficient homes and so forth – a True Believer in other words:

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.

He puts forward eight measures of assessment that must all be used when looking at energy sources – emissions being just one of them. The other seven are: security, reliability, affordability, versatility, scalability, and land use.

Suffice to say that he’s realised that renewables don’t do very well when measured on all these factors, as he shows in that article.

Will National and ACT realise the same thing – and more crucially will they be intellectually and politically tough enough to make those arguments?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2022 at 10:22 am

The 80/20 purity rule

with 11 comments

I was amused the other day when co-blogger The Vet, teased me a little about not being an 80/20 bloke – one who’ll take the 80% he agrees with, while accepting the 20% he does not agree with but that comes with the package – and instead being a bit of an ideological purist.

As such I decided to run back through NZ elections I’ve been able to vote in and try to recall who I voted for and why.

1981 – Social Credit
Yeah, I laugh too. But under FPP getting rid of Muldoon meant picking the party most likely to defeat National in each seat and where I was registered that year meant that SC was the party most likely to do it. Bit of a shame in that I rather liked our MP Marylin Waring.
.
2002 – National / National
Sure, every one knew English was going to be buried and deservedly so given how useless National were that year. But the prospect of Clark getting 50%+ of the vote for an absolute majority scared the crap out of me.
1984 – New Zealand Party (Bob Jones)
Amazingly I found that was I was stuck in Remmers, darlings. As before, that meant voting for the party most likely to beat National, although it helped in this case that I agreed with Jones’s notions of freedom from government rules and regulations. Once again I was saddened that the electorate National MP, Doug Graham in his first run, seemed very good, but that’s politics for you.
.
2005 – National / National
Clark simply had to be beaten. Brash? Meh!
1987 – Labour
Finally, I got the chance to vote for them, and to do so in a positive way rather than as merely a protest or negative vote. Wall Street was in the movie theatres, and the future was so bright I had to wear shades.
.
2008 – National / ACT
Given that a National win seemed likely, it was already clear that Key and company were going to be squishes so backbone would be needed. The cunning players of National were happy to go with both the Maori and ACT parties, nullifying the “extremes” of each.
1990 – Did not vote
I was just too damned busy in the USA to figure out how to vote remotely. In any case everybody knew Labour was going to be buried (though I don’t think anybody saw how badly they would be), although I still would have voted for them as I had little time for “Spud”.
.
2011 – National / National
Ok, so the ACT Party was a busted flush and MMP sucks. But who the hell would have wanted Goff and Labour in power? Still, voting National felt like a purely defensive measure.
1993 – Labour
I was still registered for Wellington Central and the Labour MP was Chris Laidlaw whom I took to be a smart chappy (Rhodes Scholar and all). Plus I really enjoyed his old rugby book, Mud In Your Eye.
.
2014 – National / National
Same again. God, Labour were awful. All the same, every day I woke up to find some new rule and regulation that made life more difficult.
1996 – Labour
Same again, and MMP didn’t mean much. It would not be until I returned to NZ that I found out what a completely wet drip Laidlaw was. I blame Frik du Preez.
.
2017 – National / National
Same again. Despaired of the idiots who voted for Winston on the basis that National needed a spine (true) but that a man with thirty years of utu would deliver it. The overall result didn’t surprise me. The only positive thing in National that I could truly say I voted for, was Steven Joyce.
.
1999 – Labour
Back from the USA just in time to vote and it was apparent to everybody that the wheels had fallen off Shipley’s government. Also Clark and Cullen did not seem likely to try and turn the clock back, especially given that the worst troglodytes had decamped to Anderton’s Alliance Party.
2020 – ACT / ACT
Again, more defensive than anything else, since there were policies I didn’t agree with and Seymour struck me as a professional politician and sap. Still, kudos to him for having taken on what may have seemed like a dispiriting challenge and bring ACT back from the dead.

So there it is. Who will I vote for in 2023? At this stage I’ve no idea. Labour perhaps, on the theory that ideas should be tested to destruction. In hindsight we had to have Muldoon if we were ever going to move beyond him and the system of which he was the last gasp.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 31, 2022 at 9:10 am

Personal Protest coverage from Lindsay Mitchell

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Obviously there’s a lot of coverage of the Wellington Anti-mandate protests on Social Media site like Facebook/Twitter, but I should have been checking out Lindsay Mitchell’s blog as she’s had quite a few posts with personal observations and links to social media.

From the parliamentary occupation site this morning, a row of caricatures. I guess to the protestors the parties are indistinguishable. Their response is uniform. ‘We want you to go away.’ By my first-hand observation and conversations with protestors, be assured. They will not.

To be amongst the protestors is both calming and exhilarating. There’s a strong sense of trust in one another which has been long denied by lockdown separations, physical distancing and masking. People are working together to overcome adversities thrown at them by nature or the state. They know here, they can talk freely. For the first time in ages they actually feel safe in a physical community beyond the internet. 

But MPs – all of them – want you believe the protestors are ‘unsafe.’ That the city streets are being made unsafe by their presence. Now the protest site is ‘unhygienic’ and ‘contamination’ lurks. Faeces has been spotted (so have many well-cared for dogs attached to the protestors.)

Those who long ago lost trust in government can recognise alarmist media reporting and political propaganda when they see it.  

I’d choose to sit with these people any day over a parliamentary select committee.

Or Protest Day 8: Answer me this:

Where is the Maori Party when so many of the protestors are their whanau?

Where is the ACT Party when so many of the protestors are pleading for our legislated freedoms?

Where are the Greens, the very party of protest?

Where is Labour with a list ranking full of so-called activists?

Any ideas?

Oh I’ve got at least a couple of ideas about all this:

Crystallization, Madness and Tyranny

It is a fascinating moment when this sort of crystallization happens in a mass culture like America’s, because seemingly overnight even the definition of legitimate speech (or thought or action) also changes. Tocqueville observed that quite abruptly a person can no longer express opinions or raise questions that only days before were acceptable, even though no facts of the matter have changed. At an individual level, people who were within the bounds can be surprised to find themselves “tormented by the slights and persecutions of daily obloquy.” Once this occurs, he wrote, “your fellow-creatures will shun you like an impure being, and those who are most persuaded of your innocence will abandon you too, lest they should be shunned in their turn.”

Freedom and other anti-government slogans

SHE’S A SLOW LEARNER

with 21 comments

But I guess that St Jacinda deserves some (small) credit for picking up on the repeated calls from both National and ACT to open up the border and consign MIQ to the dustbin of history. Her attempts to mirror Kim Jong-un’s way of dealing with Covid have been disastrous for the country. But, to be fair, socialists luv state control. It’s in their DNA and push on thru Jacinda’s smiley face and ‘kind’ persona and she is a socialist through and through right down to her fish and chip wrapping hands.

I guess you could cut the government a little slack early on in the pandemic as there was no songbook to sing from … it was decision making on the fly. But over the last little while the government has been reactive rather than proactive in chartering a way forward. Big on talk; slow on action.

You saw no better example of this than the way Robertson belatedly threw ‘Chippy’ under a bus as the Bellis scandal unfolded.

So better late than never I guess. Now I await the storm of protest from various assorted medical professionals who sang and continue to sing from Kim Jong-un’s isolation songbook.

Written by The Veteran

February 3, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Two classes of New Zealanders

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It’s been a staple of Leftist politics and language since the days of Marx at least, and of course it is a template that can be applied to events further back in history than his time, notably the French Revolution and the Glorious Revoluton of 1688.

Whatever names were given it in different time periods and situations – Feudal Lords vs Peasants, Business Owners vs Workers, Colonialists vs Colonised, Us vs The Other – it has always basically amounted to Oppressor and Oppressed.

I think two quotes are applicable here, the first being the complete one rather than the usual shortened version, since the second part is eerily close to where we are now and where we are going:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

In this situation we should also not look to George Orwell’s dark vision of Nineteen Eighty Four but a different future dystopia, one that has appealed to me more as the years have passed since the great Counter-Culture revolution of the 1960’s.

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

I have of course made sure that the tags on this post are not just for the Labour Party, but also for National, ACT and the Greens.

I was informed that these were OTT comparisons to NZ

with 8 comments

Vaccine certificate will be central to the new ‘traffic-light’ system – RNZ

It is that sort of comparison that causes the opponents of the current Lockdowns to be ridiculed. And no, you won’t be able to convince me that basically I am (and just about everyone I know) is just the same as the Nazi SS.

It’s certainly time to re-visit this goodie, even if she has resigned, because luckily you’ll still be able to laugh without a vaccine certificate.

Advice from the peanut gallery

with 2 comments

There’s an interesting post this morning from the Point of Order blog, David Seymour and Judith Collins meet Daniel Hannan.

The article talks of the fusion between Liberal and Conservative politics, using the British Conservative MP Hannan as one of the more clear-headed and articulate examples.

Basically it’s giving advice to both New Zealand political leaders, while also taking a rather subtle swipe at them:

“We classical liberals were few enough before 2020. The median voter was always to our Left on economic issues and to our Right on cultural ones. As is often pointed out, the political centre of gravity in Britain is ‘fund the NHS, hang the paedos’. The epidemic has made us even more of a minority. Around the world, people are more frightened and therefore more authoritarian.”

“Thatcher’s brand of Manchester liberalism never colonised the Conservative Party. At best, it formed a contingent alliance with mainstream Toryism – an unequal alliance, it should be added, for the free-marketeers were always the minority.

This reminded me another recent Spectator article focusing on ructions within the US Republican Party, where the Never-Trumpers appear to be fighting a rear-guard action, but which quoted Thatcher:

At the level of principle, rhetorically and in Opposition, it opposed these (left-wing Labour Party doctrines of planning, regulation, controls and subsidies) … and preached the gospel of free enterprise with very little qualification. 

Almost every post-war Tory victory had been won on slogans such as ‘Britain Strong and Free’ or ‘Set the People Free’. But in the fine print of policy, and especially in government, the Tory Party merely pitched camp in the long march to the left. It never tried seriously to reverse it. Privatization? The Carlisle State Pubs were sold off. Taxation? Regulation? Subsidies? If these were cut down at the start of a Tory government, they gradually crept up again as its life ebbed away. The welfare state? We boasted of spending more money than Labour, not of restoring people to independence and self-reliance. 

The result of this style of accommodationist politics, as my colleague Keith Joseph complained, was that post-war politics became a ‘socialist ratchet’ — Labour moved Britain towards more statism; the Tories stood pat; and the next Labour Government moved the country a little further left. The Tories loosened the corset of socialism; they never removed it.

The Conservative MP’s who allowed this to happen naturally became Thatcher’s opponents and they were known as “The Wets”, a term that Thatcher herself coined that has come to describe all such Right-Wing politicians in the Western world. Thatcher’s formidable personality, intellect and the sheer brute force of election success, kept these people on the back foot through the 1980’s. They got their revenge in forcing her to step down at the end of 1990 and appeared to have “won back” the party with the rise of the hopeless John Major, followed by an unexpected close victory in the 1992 general election. Until the rise of Brexit they once again became the face of the party, as they had been pre-Thatcher.

That article also included a quick vignette of the similar opposition that faced Ronald Reagan in the 1970’s from the old guard of the Republican Party. Reading the following is a reminder of what the status quo of mainstream Right Wing parties always amounts to:

  • Vice President Nelson Rockefeller dismissed Reagan as “a minority of a minority” who “has been taking some extreme positions.”
  • New York’s Republican Senator Jacob Javits: Reagan’s positions are “so extreme that they would alter our country’s very economic and social structure and our place in the world to such a degree as to make our country’s place at home and abroad, as we know it, a thing of the past.”
  • Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percy said Reagan’s candidacy was “foolhardy” and would lead to a “crushing defeat” for the Republican Party. “It could signal the beginning of the end of our party as an effective force in American political life.”
  • Former President Gerald Ford: “I hear more and more often that we don’t want, can’t afford to have a replay of 1964.” If the Republican Party nominates Ronald Reagan “it would be an impossible situation” because Reagan “is perceived as a most conservative Republican. A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election.” Asked if that meant Ford thought Reagan can’t win, Ford replied to the New York Times: “That’s right.” The Times story went on to observe that Ford thought “Mr. Reagan would be a sure-loser in November” and that Reagan held “extreme and too-simple views.”

I appreciated the above points being concisely summarised in this quote:

In other words, there’s nothing new here with this alarmism about “political extremism” from GOP Establishment figures about a conservative outsider and his supporters having the nerve — the nerve! — to invade what they see as their private club.

A club with the best manners and temperament too. Quiet. Civil. Good food and drink and good conversation that stimulates the mind but does not upset the stomachs of well fed and credentialed people. One can go home from the club, there to read the newspaper and chuckle about the silly things the Leftists are getting up too, while knowing that it’s really nothing important to get upset about or – god forbid – fight against.

To sum it all up? The Renew America Movement is nothing more than the umpteenth rejection of conservatives by Establishment Republicans. They stand for the socialist ratchet. They are the embodiment of what Reagan called the “pale pastel” Republicans.

Reagan and Thatcher the extremists eh? Perhaps, but to borrow a phrase from our Lefty brethren, they were on the right side of history.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 16, 2021 at 9:52 am