No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Communists

The Revolution is Postponed – Chile episode

with 2 comments

“Whoever doesn’t jump is a communist!”

And thank fuck for that, for when Socialist revolutions succeed you can guarantee a butt load of misery for the people, toiling masses and all, sooner or later.

What I’m referring to was something that happened a couple of weeks ago in Chile and was overshadowed by the Ukraine war and global energy and economic problems – and also by the fact that the MSM didn’t want to talk about it very much:

On Sunday, voters in Chile rejected a new constitution that would have represented a major turn to the left in the South American country. The vote was almost a landslide, with 62% of Chileans voting against the proposed constitution and not one of the country’s 16 regions approving the measure.

The voters themselves responded in an overwhelming fashion. Turnout was a whopping 85%

That’s an amazing result given that just last year a very Left-Wing, almost communist politician, 35-year-old former student activist named Gabriel Boric was elected President. This naturally led to the Left-MSM having a giant global orgasm, including locally with Chris Trotter and a somewhat more sober view Paul Buchanan (aka Pablo) at Kiwipolitico (Paul having grown up in Latin America).

However, Boric and his comrades suffered the almost inevitable overreach of Lefties who win big. While not forgetting (I assume) that Boric’s win had not changed the finely balanced Congress they did seem to forget that it was achieved with a low turnout in which only 56 percent of eligible voters went to the polls as fears of Covid-19 pushed most older Chileans to stay home. As a result the proposed Constitution was a shocker:

The proposed constitution was 170 pages long and included 388 articles. It was a leftist’s dream, with over 100 new rights enshrined into it, many of them containing left-wing buzzwords.

Additionally, the constitution would have created autonomous governing zones for Chile’s indigenous populations, compelled the government to adopt a radical environmental stance, weakened property rights, and required elected assemblies to include at least 50% female representation.

It made the EU Constitution look positively Jeffersonian. Even Left-wing supporters were not impressed:

“How the hell do you vote on a constitution with 388 articles?” said Chilean political scientist Gabriel Negretto to the New York Times. “You are overwhelming voters.”

Heh. Not to mention all those buzzwords and buzzterms: “neurodiversity, culturally relevant food, safe and violence-free environments, free time”, plus the right for Chileans to develop their “personality, identity and life projects.”

Alrighty then.

Judging from these scenes of joyous dancing that 62% vote against it may be understated: “Whoever doesn’t jump is a communist!”

I wouldn’t celebrate that much if I were them. The Left, like rust, never sleep. They’ll be back with some watered-down bullshit for the constitution at some stage. If it was me I’d put in just a few, bland articles that won’t get anybody’s back up but which can form a framework inside which huge pieces of legislation can be implemented that achieve all their goals. Hell, just look at what the Commerce Clause has enabled for the Federal government in the USA, not to mention the 16th amendment (income tax).

Still, together with Brexit, Trump, the rapidly increasing costs of the Left’s energy, environmental and immigration policies, the resulting rise of populist Right-wing parties in Europe, including the recent political shock in Sweden, it does make you wonder if the Leftist ground beneath our feet is not just shifting in small ways but in terms of a process of societal Continental Drift that started after the GFC.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 20, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Takin’ It To The Streets

with one comment

I’m sure the Department of “Justice” and the FBI will get right on it, right Joe?

Episode 1,896,567 of the Democrat Party’s basic rule:

“Rules for thee, but not for me”.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 16, 2022 at 10:05 am

Aliens

with 3 comments

The Left and Right to each other that is.

I was struck by this thought in crafting a comment for Lucia’s latest post – Never-ending Emergency Powers – and it seemed to deserve a post rather than a comment.

And then there are people like those at The Standard, The right is weirdly gleeful about the end of the mask mandate. The writer of that post – the infamous “MickySavage” (named after Saint Micky Savage), who is almost as much of ban-hammerer (even according to other Lefties) as his mate iPrent – did what I’m doing here and referenced Kiwiblog’s post on the topic, Freedom, along with the usual cautionary warning:

I did something that I do not recommend.  I went to Kiwiblog and read David Farrar’s take on the issue, as well as that of the commentators.

The right have celebrated it happening which is quite weird.  Was it an existential attack on New Zealanders fundamental rights or was it something that was quite a good thing to do in the midst of a global pandemic and something that was strongly recommended by medical experts

Seriously? Only the Right? You mean people loved wearing those fucking things for two years? Well, yes, judging by some of their comments:

Masks are a reminder of the ideological nightmare of big government working, and working well, on behalf of the people. They want to see a return of the dominance and celebration of the hyper-individualised selfish arsehole,

Bearing in mind that mask wearing is/was for one’s own good and the good of society I have always had a great deal of difficulty understanding, let alone accepting as a valid view, the anti mask wearing brigade. I am sure that the same people would mostly always fasten their seat belts or drive on the correct side of the road, send their children to school etc. Such a simple, safe move.

Right Wingers fighting to the end for their rights to endanger other peoples lives.


Considering that mask-wearing to prevent the community spread of disease is a long-established practice in East Asia, one that, in Western society, was consistently derided as an illogical and unproven cleanliness fetishism until someone actually bothered to test it, I’m inclined to believe that many people’s resistance to it is rooted in the NIH sentiments of the unreconstructed, reflexively racist shithead.

But of course.

This is hardly new of course. Here’s the hideous NKVD agent, No Right Turn, bitching about being abandoned by Labour when the lockdown restrictions were lifted in late 2021

So, having saved us from Covid for 18 months, our government has just surrendered to the virus, announcing a “transition plan” to loosen restrictions while Covid is still spreading in the community. This is exactly the sort of insanity which has led to outbreaks and mass death in the UK and NSW, and there’s no reason to think it will end any differently here.

Meanwhile, I guess Aotearoa’s days of being a “model Covid response” are over. The government has just decided to surrender to the virus, because they were sick of the whining from the Auckland business class. They’ve basicly become quislings for the virus, just like Boris Johnson and Gladys Berejiklian. And we’ll be paying the price for their cowardice in deaths and long Covid.

This unbending, fanatical desire for limitless control over people until “the problem” is reduced to zero, highlights something that looks like thinking but is not and was perhaps best described by an American writer in Minnesota while battling against the same bullshit (What’s Normal Again):

What really strikes me is how wedded many people are to having the epidemic and its restrictions last forever. What kind of mental illness is this? But I have made the point many times before that I have no intention of trying to change these people’s minds.

This is belief and religion on their part, not data or science or logical analysis. I don’t even want to engage with these people. And they are a serious impediment to trying to get our society back to some kind of rational policy on the epidemic.

I’m tempted to say the mirror-image of the implication of these claims – which is that we Righties are basically Aliens to the Left, and vice versa. We don’t actually “get” each other’s basic frame of reference (Right = individual, Left=collective):

The push by the political right to frame mask wearing as a signalling of leftie political persuasion (rather than protecting yourself and those around you) is both pathetic and dangerous.

Well, I think it more signals frightened, ignorant people who cannot or will not ask any questions or do any research themselves but just do whatever the “authorities” and “experts” tell them to do, but sure, there does seem to be an element of mask-wearing as self-identifying Lefties – especially when you read those comments.

What these people are gagging for – what they’re always gagging for – is an “emergency” so vast that only the Great Collective can deal with it and that Great Collective is not a Team Of Five Million or Seven Billion all cooperating together. No, it’s The State, that almighty and all powerful organism which, if it fails, only does so because it’s not powerful enough.

Such people scare the shit out of me far more than any unmasked, unvaccinated person who’s standing close to me – and to be fair, there were and are all too many on the Right who think the same way when push comes to shove, their definition of individual freedom seeming not exist beyond the boundaries of whatever you can trade and be taxed for.

Just define something as an “Emergency” or a “War” and the State can seemingly do anything it wants, and you can take your Constitutions (written and unwritten) and your Bill of Rights and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

And let’s watch some evil, selfish, Righties being weirdly gleeful about being freed from masks.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 15, 2022 at 1:33 pm

Communist gets to live under Real Communism

with 8 comments

I’d posted this when I realised that almost nobody had talked about the attempted coup that almost put an end to Gorbachev’s reforms – and perhaps him – and which was attempted in August 1991. It was overshadowed by what happened next, but was important in many ways, aside from contributing to the collapse of the USSR that happened just a few months later.

The communist in this case being the last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died a few days ago at the age of 91.

I actually liked the guy for his basic decency and smarts, although that decency did not stop him sending in KGB agents to Eastern block countries to do their usual job of killing “agitators”, until he realised it would also take tanks and troops, as in East Germany in ’53, Hungary in ’56, and Czechoslovakia in ’68, and decided he couldn’t follow in the footsteps of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. So yes, I’ll give him credit for not doing the worst he could have – but that’s pretty weak sauce even if it does testify to some basic human decency.

That decency was also attested to here by John Hinderaker at Powerline, based on dealing with him at a US event in 2000:

I wound up spending a portion of the day with Gorbachev, and found him to be a genuinely nice guy… When he was finished he got a round of applause and returned to his seat. He sat down, leaned over to me, and asked, “Did I talk too long?”

In the end, he was not willing to order the violence that would have been needed to keep the Soviet regime in power. All I can say about the incidental time I spent with Gorbachev was that, in my opinion, the human face was real.

The Powerline guys have another example of that same humanity, and even warmth, showing through in transcripts of the conversations between Reagan and Gorbachev during the famous negotiations in Reykjavik in 1986. Ironically enough they’re the Soviet transcripts, translated and declassified in the 1990s, which apparently are much more complete than the US State Department stuff. As Steven Hayward says, it’s hard to imagine similar conversations between Eisenhower and Khrushchev, Nixon and Brezhnev, or Carter and Brezhnev.

They’re all gone now.

Still, here’s what the kindler and gentler Soviet tyranny actually looked like under Gorbachev. That’s a New York Times article, but from one A.M. Rosenthal in 1988, a different era when they still had liberal journalists willing to challenge leftist totalitarianism:

For all his time in power, Mikhail Gorbachev denied that the Soviet Union held political prisoners. But in the city of Perm, in a tiny hotel room with a large TV set, we watched Mr. Gorbachev as he told the United Nations that ”no longer are people kept in prison for their religious and political views.”

We knew that was not quite so. But it was a fine moment of history – Mr. Gorbachev acknowledging publicly the reality of the Gulag, and so of the existence of Perm 35.

We knew that before Mr. Gorbachev visited New York all the prisoners were freed from Perm 35 and other prisons who had been incarcerated solely under the infamous Article 70 of the Criminal Code. That sets the price for almost any kind of expression distasteful to the Soviet Government: 10 years of prison, plus five years of exile, usually in Siberia.

Gorbachev will be praised for his courage, but it those men and women in Perm 35 also courageous. He also tried using the old Soviet playbook when Chernobyl exploded, lying and covering it up for days until Western exposure left him no choice but to go public. Funnily enough Gorbachev himself would pinpoint that disaster as the real beginning of the end:

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl this month 20 years ago, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.

Yes, he agreed to nuclear weapon reductions – but only after being placed in a box by Reagan’s much derided “Star Wars” program. And of course the MSM gloried for a few years in contrasting the “young” (he was in his mid-50’s), “telegenic” figure to the “aged”, “senile” Reagan (the same people currently in full denial about Biden’s dementia). As I wrote for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, “Das Volk Siegt”:

There’s a push-pull aspect to this; without a Reagan a Gorbachev might never have become General Secretary, with his arguments to the Politburo that they had to change in order to survive against an increasingly powerful USA.

An unstated argument was that after decades of doddering old fools the Politburo also needed someone who could take on Reagan with a charm offensive.

The last certainly worked for a while. The Western MSM went gaga over this new Soviet leader: young, energetic, articulate, smart – and his glamorous wife Raisa, who was pulled into the media glare as a direct contrast to the Soviet past where leader’s wives were hidden Babushkas. All this was contrasted endlessly by the MSM with Reagan’s age and “stupidity”. The scoffing comparisons were long and loud.

Comparisons that included sneering about Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech. Many of Reagan’s advisors – especially the wallahs in the State Department, the “experts” – fought tooth and nail against including that phrase, fearing it would just “heighten tensions”, and for no good reason since it was such obvious nonsense. But Reagan himself insisted it be included. Once spoken, outside critics were harsher still, with more scoffing: typical political theatre they sniffed.

The same was said of Reagan’s objective re the USSR when that was finally revealed years after he had said it to an advisor in 1981:

“I’d like to tell you of my theory of the Cold War. Some people think that I am simplistic, but there is a fundamental difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. So here’s my strategy on the Cold War:

We win, they lose.

More simplistic, dangerous nonsense sneered the critics once more. As a result it is not surprising that Gorbachev’s death would have produced these sorts of headlines: they’re still at it.

No. The Cold War ended because of the collapse of the USSR, which was definitely not by any design, let alone that of Gorbachev. He was a Communist who believed in the system to such an extent that he thought a bit of “opening” would save it. He was a Marxist who could not see all the lies on which the system was built and that opening up would reveal those lies and begin the process of destruction, Chernobyl being front and centre as an example of the whole, rotten system, and with the coup against Gorbachev earlier in 1991 as the fitting capstone to the USSR:

It was a Keystone coup. Right after the organizing meeting of the plotters’ Emergency Committee, Zubok explains, “some members went home and succumbed to various illnesses. Boldin was already suffering from high blood pressure; he went to a hospital. Pavlov . . . tried to control his emotions and stress with a disastrous mixture of sedatives and alcohol. At daybreak, his bodyguard summoned medical help, as Pavlov was incapable of functioning.” Pavlov later took some more medicine to control his nerves and “had a second breakdown that incapacitated him for days.”

So incompetent were they that they did not bother to turn off Yeltsin’s phone or prevent him from organizing opposition. One of Yeltsin’s supporters was able to fly to Paris, denounce the coup, and prepare, if necessary, to set up a government in exile. Opposition news sources, who knew what was happening better than the coup leaders themselves, continued their broadcasts to the West. “The situation was unbelievable,” one KGB general recalled. KGB analysts were learning about a crisis “in the capital of our Motherland from American sources.” When Margaret Thatcher accepted advice to telephone Yeltsin, she recalled, “to my astonishment I was put through.”

There are also takes like this:

His fate was not dissimilar to that of his contemporary Margaret Thatcher – widely reviled at home, but highly respected internationally, each of them for saving their country from going down the gurgler.

Gorbachev has been long reviled in his homeland precisely because so many Russians think that he did let their nation go down the gurgler. They don’t think he saved it at all but destroyed it. It’s why he got just 1% in the 1996 Russian Presidential race. But there certainly was and is that international acclaim, and it exists to this day, with those sick-making headlines above about how he “ended the Cold War peacefully”.

He ended the Cold War about the same way Robert E Lee ended the American Civil War, and this was his legacy.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Posted in History, Ideologues, Russia

Tagged with , ,

Never Mind: reprogramming the puppet

with one comment

Well that was fun – while it lasted.

It looks like slightly saner minds in the Biden Administration have decided that it wasn’t just the optics of Biden’s Reichstag speech at the Hall of Independence that were bad but the basic thrust of the speech…

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.
– Joe Biden, 2 September 2022

…. so now they’re trying to walk things back.

“C’mon, look guys, I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country.”
– Joe Biden, 3 September 2022

To be fair, Biden likely does not even remember what he said in that speech. It was written for him and everything else was set up by his handlers.

In his dementia Biden really is like those video game characters known as NPC’s (Non Playing Characters), that can be re-programmed to repeat different stuff for different scenarios.

But they’ll be back with the same stuff. They always are.

Do you need an NKVD for this?

with 5 comments

Based on history I would have said yes. Certainly the collectivisation of Russian farms in the USSR and Mao’s Great Leap Forward could not have been achieved without having a State police force pointing their firearms at unarmed civilians.

On the other hand, the last two years of General Tso’s Sickness has persuaded me that there are rather large chunks of our society who will willingly bend to the wishes of the State if they are both terrified enough and sense that opposition to the State’s plans is small and weak, plus another chunk that think they’ll be the ones in charge of all of this.

But what will happen to the land? Mr Kotsko already has that planned out too:

Because that has worked so well in the past. But aside from Communist failures the fact is that this ties in well with environmental groups, from the Very Far Left Sea Shepard, to the hideously wealthy capitalist sociopaths of the World Economic Forum – if the intention is to greatly reduce the size of the planet’s human population, which would solve all manner of problems.

I had no idea who this clown was, but he’s more than just another Toxic Twitter Leftist: he has his own Wikipedia page:

Adam Kotsko (born 1980) is an American theologian, religious scholar, culture critic, and translator, working in the field of political theology.

“Political Theology”? Ewwwwww. Sounds scary, even if it is a good description of what passes for politics nowadays. He’s also written a number of books, including Why We Love Sociopaths (2012): no word on whether he meant it as a warning or an instruction manual, possibly for the WEF. He certainly has not applied its analytics to himself.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!?– 2 Corinthians 13:5

Written by Tom Hunter

August 23, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Super Shitty

with 11 comments

Kip’s Law:  “Every advocate of central planning
always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

The other day I posted about a strange new utopian vision of a city, The Line, that is super dense with 9 million people packed into just 34 square kilometres. It’s one answer to the sprawl of modern cities, of which NZ has its own great example, Auckland.

One of the most powerful arguments against the massive expenditure on trains in Auckland has been that the city is simply too sprawling for them to work as they do in older, foreign, cities like London, NYC, Chicago, Berlin, Moscow, Paris and Madrid.

More modern cities of Auckland’s vintage like Australia’s major metropolises, and American cities like San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Houston, and Miami, don’t have significant commuter rail systems and attempts to extend them in those places have not gone well, either in terms of cost or usage and especially not in their primary aim of shifting people away from using private cars on roads. At best in these cities trains are supplements to the main public transport of buses.

One of the joking, dismissive responses to Auckland trains has been to point out that for them to work the city itself would have to be re-engineered into a denser form like London or NYC, if not the extremes of The Line.

However, some years ago it became apparent that lobbying outfits like Greater Auckland, Public Transport Users Association, and Auckland government itself are treating that idea entirely seriously. They have implicitly accepted the power of the argument against rail – but instead of giving up, they’ve basically said “Ok, we’ll change the city to fit the trains”: the most common phrase is that the Auckland trains will run through “high density corridors”.

Typical Central Planning thinking; the Big Plan doesn’t work? Make it bigger! The real problem is that, as with myriad bicycle path failures, it’s less that these people love trains, buses and bikes than that they hate cars.

The private automobile is the primary technical reason why suburbs were created – especially in the USA after WWII, but across the Western world. But the driving force was that people wanted more space for themselves; detached houses they owned rather than apartments they rented, with some gardens around them.

There was also the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Created by FDR to develop urban public housing, it ended up doing not that great a job but in the hands of Harry Truman it started a mortgage insurance program that took the risk out of home lending and made the long-term (25–30 years), low-interest home mortgage the national US standard, which multiplied the effects of cars and industrialised house building. See the superb article, Suburbanization in the United States after 1945.

It’s ironic then that many on the Democrat-voting Left hated suburbs right from the start:

On the other side were the critics, who believed suburbia was inflicting profound damage on the American character. Academics, novelists, filmmakers, and designer-planners, among others, blamed mass suburbia for some of the most disturbing social trends of the era. Homogeneous suburban landscapes, they believed, spawned homogenous people, who followed the dictates of blind conformity. 

Even suburban family life was lambasted, portrayed as the polar opposite of the carefree innocence depicted on popular television sitcoms. Novelists and filmmakers in particular depicted all manner of suburban domestic dysfunction: alcoholism, adultery, inept parenting, wounding anxieties, deeply troubled marriages, and fraught sexuality, all concealed beneath a smiling public face.

No better single example of this criticism exists than the song popularised in the early 1960’s by the old American Stalinist musician, Pete Seeger: Little Boxes (“They’re all made out of ticky tacky, And they all look just the same.”). What he thought of Soviet apartment blocks is not known. What a POS he was.

You should also note that this is all long before environmental or energy arguments arose to be used against suburbs and “sprawl”. New arguments for the same ideologues with the same goals.

However, there were a few on the Left who embraced the new suburbs:

After 1918 there began to appear something that had never existed in England before: people of indeterminate social class. In 1910 every human being in these islands could be “placed” in an instant by his clothes, manners and accent. This is no longer the case… In those vast new wildernesses of glass and brick the sharp distinctions of the older kind of town, with its slums and mansions, or of the country, with its manor-houses and squalid cottages, no longer exist.

It is a rather restless, culture-less life, centering round tinned food, Picture Post, the radio and the internal combustion engine… To that civilisation belong the people who are most at home in and most definitely of the modern world, the technicians and the higher-paid skilled workers, the airmen and their mechanics, the radio experts, film producers, popular journalists and industrial chemists. They are the indeterminate stratum at which the older class distinctions are beginning to break down.

Orwell, of course, accepted the Marxist analysis of society, with its emphasis on economic class divisions and that, plus his own English experience, meant that he welcomed almost anything that would dissolve them. As he observed, soon as they could, people started escaping the old, dense cities, which had been built around different housing and transport technologies. This outward flow has continued into the 21st century:

Between 1982 and 2012, metropolitan regions ballooned in area, with real-estate development consuming 43 million acres of rural land, an area larger than Washington State…Even in comparatively slow-growing metro areas such as Pittsburgh and Detroit, rates of suburban sprawl outpaced population growth. By the early 21st century, Americans were driving more miles, spending more time in the car, and using more energy than ever before.

With the result that nearly three-quarters of metropolitan Americans now live in suburbs and roughly four in five home buyers prefer a single-family home. There’s a reason why so many people are fleeing major cities for bigger parcels of land. Even in cities we seek the outdoors and fresh air and try as the planner might, that’s just not what a high density apartment block provides.

You can also forget the the claims about a swing back to urbanisation:

Progressive theory today holds [that] the key groups that will shape the metropolitan future—millennials and minorities—will embrace ever-denser, more urbanized environments. Yet in the last decennial accounting, inner cores gained 206,000 people, while communities 10 miles and more from the core gained approximately 15 million people… after a brief period of slightly more rapid urban growth immediately following the recession, U.S. suburban growth rates began to again surpass those of urban cores. An analysis by Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia, reports that between 2011 and 2012 less-dense-than-average Zip codes grew at double the rate of more-dense-than-average Zip codes in the 50 largest metropolitan areas. Americans, he wrote, “still love the suburbs.”

Moreover, notes Kolko, millennials are not moving to the denser inner ring suburban areas. They are moving to the “suburbiest” communities, largely on the periphery, where homes are cheaper, and often schools are better. When asked where their “ideal place to live,” according to a survey by Frank Magid and Associates, more millennials identified suburbs than previous generations. Another survey in the same year, this one by the Demand Institute, showed similar proclivities.

As I noted at the beginning, such facts do not deter the Urban Planners.

Density is their new holy grail, for both the world and the U.S. Across the country efforts are now being mounted—through HUD, the EPA, and scores of local agencies—to impede suburban home-building, or to raise its cost….The obstacles being erected include incentives for density, urban growth boundaries, and mounting environmental efforts to reduce sprawl…Notably in coastal California, but other places, too, suburban housing is increasingly relegated to the affluent...

Sound familiar? Actually it’s much of the political class, not just “Progressives” who increasingly want people to live differently. In fact it’s a whole bunch of people:

Banks, institutional investors, mega housing developers, international corporations, tech heavyweights, public utilities, and public agencies all prefer high density. Environmentalism provides cover.

The prevailing vision of environmentalism today, unfortunately, caters to a global oligarchy. They have decided it is in their interests, along with the interests of the planet—most definitely in that order—to preach imminent doom. Stack and pack, do it for the earth, and laugh all the way to the bank.

The architect Peter Cresswell pointed this out for Auckland, way back in 2005:

The same high-density planning imposition that Mother Hucker wants to impose in places like Glenn Innes and Panmure to make building slums compulsory are the same impositions planned for 51 ‘nodal developments’ from Pukekohe to Warkworth that are zoned for minimum densities greater than Central London, and these impositions come from the same planning mindset that is already making it virtually impossible to build at all outside the Metropopitan Urban Limit (MUL).

What’s new now is that the Auckland Regional Council’s planners have upped the stakes. With the so-called Smart Growth of ‘Plan Change 6‘ they’ve decided ‘Countryside Living’ — that’s the stuff you do outside the ‘growth boundary’ — is “unsustainable” because, get this, it “undermines public transport.” They mean it. This ‘plan change’ is in essence a plan to end countryside living and to make rural New Zealand a National Park.

Which you will be allowed to visit occasionally – assuming that your Social Credit score is high enough and that the trains are actually running.

Seventeen years later those densifying developments are proceeding apace, even as Auckland housing prices continue to rise and the Greater Auckland group blithely talks of turning us into Hong Kong. What’s also rising is crime in those areas, as I pointed out here:

Of course the idea where I live is that building lots of houses will obviously cure homelessness and thus reduce poverty and crime. So far the evidence is exactly the opposite. But it’s early days yet. As I said, the new houses look nice. My Chicago-born wife mutters “ghettos” as she drives through the areas.

As Joel Kotkin points out in his article, such plans are beginning to cause pushback in the USA, even – or perhaps especially – in Democrat Party areas:

Forced densification–the ultimate goal of the “smart growth” movement—also has inspired opposition in Los Angeles, where densification is being opposed in many neighborhoods, as well as traditionally more conservative Orange Country. Similar opposition has arisen in Northern Virginia suburbs, another key Democratic stronghold.

Or perhaps they just get the hell out of it all together and head for places like Pokeno, a once sleepy little SH1 town nestled into the Southern Bombay Hills. Seemingly abandoned when the Waikato Expressway bypassed it in the 2000’s it has exploded with new housing, with people commuting from there to both Hamilton and Auckland.

So after all this expenditure of human resources and money, the results, as usual for Urban Planning, have delivered almost none of their claimed goals, not even the environmental benefits of trains, for which all this city re-engineering is being done to Auckland:

Their mantra, a never-ending refrain, is more rail, fewer roads—and if in doubt, get motorists to pay more. “Rail, rail, rail, rail, rail.”

You’d think by their constant worship at the altar of rail that the environmental case for public transport was overwhelming!  That city’s could develop no other way. That rail really is the “highly energy-efficient means of commuter transport” the Greens website says it is.

But it’s not. Rail is far from the most efficient means of commuter transport, as figures from the U.S. government bureau of transportation statistics figures and the U.S.Dept. of Energy Transportation Energy Data Book demonstrate.  Brad Templeton looked at the figures from these sources and produced this handy graph, below, which shows that the average passenger uses less energy to travel a mile in the average car (with an average load of 1.57 passengers) than if he travelled in a diesel bus, a trolley bus, a heavy rail train, or a light rail train—and only marginally more energy than if he travelled by jet plane.

These people won’t stop unless they just plain run out of money or are overruled by Central Government. In the meantime the rest of us cope with their grandiose, “visionary” bullshit by:

refusing to cooperate with their grand plans and escaping to places where the plans are not being effected.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 30, 2022 at 11:22 am

It sounds better in the original German

with 8 comments

Hot on the heels of the Democrat Party amping up the pressure on Supreme Court Justices over the anticipated overthrow of the current abortion SCOTUS rulings – with illegal protests (no arrests so far) outside the homes of selected Justices by “Ruth Sent Us” and multiple arson attacks on pregnancy centres across the country by “Jane’s Revenge” – comes this lovely little indicator of how the Democrats think when democracy doesn’t go their way:

“This is, in my opinion, a diseased Republican Party. And it needs to be cured and cleansed,” Houlahan said. “So the stakes of having a Republican, as an example, in my seat are more than just policy differences. They are democracy, in my opinion.”

Mmmmmm…. cleansing! Tasty, tasty cleansing.

Ms Houlahan won her competitive Pennsylvania seat in 2020 but is now facing strong headwinds for re-election thanks to Biden being underwater in her state, with 35% approval and 54% disapproval, according to Civiqs. Like Biden and many other Democrats this means she’s had to change her message about her opponents (and their voters) from what she said at the time:

She credited her political success to her message of “civility,” “decency,” “unity,” and “empathy.” “People ask me constantly how I flipped a seat in a competitive district. One of the reasons is that I made civility and decency a core of my campaign,” Houlahan said at the time. “Pennsylvanians want unity. They want leaders who rise above the fray and lead with kindness and empathy towards all Americans.”

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

If you think about it long enough you’ll realise that “cleansing” your political opponents is what civil, decent people do when they’re aiming for unity – and they’ll be empathetic about the process.

Okay, so it’s politics almost as usual, but you’d think she wouldn’t be so blatant, although I appreciate the honesty. Based on a reading of Democrat activists and many ordinary Democrat voters she’s merely being a ventriloquist here.

However, judging by a recent poll it would seem that voters have looked at the words of Ms Houlahan and other Democrats like Nancy “Domestic terrorists” Pelosi and Joe “Ultra-MAGA” Biden and feel that they know who the real threat to Democracy is and who is best to protect it: the Twitter response from this headline says it all.

Awwwww…. another moron who thought the Jan6 “commission” would work brilliantly as anti-GOP propaganda. I’m sure his is not the only Democrat head exploding about this result.

This feels like a teaching moment, the appropriate time to remind people of some good old Democrat/Left propaganda that has embedded itself as a myth=fact. Take it away Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University.

BTW, as an example of how far that propaganda has fallen in effectiveness – it’s peak was probably 2008 in the wake of Obama’s victory when the common wisdom was that the GOP was The Party Of Old White Southern Men and they better get with Obama’s policies just to survive – comes news from Texas….

That district voted for Clinton in 2016 by 33 points, Biden in 2020 by 13 points and had been Democrat since 1870. The district is being re-made and Ms Flores will face a tough fight against a pro-life (snigger) Democrat with a 15% + theoretical Democrat lead.

Mayra Flores

But islands are no match for tsunamis, and the Red Tsunami (GOP) is building momentum.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 18, 2022 at 10:22 am

Failing to Scale

with 5 comments

It took only a few years for me to learn that in corporate environments a lot of things just don’t scale up, despite the fact that such corporations were scaled up versions of the small businesses they had once started out as, even if a hundred years ago prior to endless takeovers, buyouts and so forth.

Centralised accounting certainly scales, as does marketing, IT and a handful of other core functions. But even then there are limits, what test pilots refer to as “the envelope”, outside of which things start breaking down. Even those centralised things are built upon smaller clones of themselves in the corporation. And corporations often stagnate precisely because the small, inventive, creative parts of themselves get stifled or outright killed off.

In fact, one of the secrets to the creation of Silicon Valley and its fantastic wealth, lay in the fact that people inside existing corporations who had ideas that got flattened or ignored, were actually encouraged internally to leave and set up their own companies to develop their ideas, and where they weren’t encouraged they did so anyway as venture capitalism also grew to supply such start-ups with seed money. This “culture” took off, with one company after another spawning new companies:

With the backing of Fairchild Camera and Instrument in Long Island, NY, eight engineers from Shockley’s lab resigned, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, to form Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957. Led by Noyce, Fairchild would eventually grow into the most important company in the history of the Santa Clara Valley after Noyce independently invented the Integrated Circuit along with Texas Instrument’s Jack Kilby in 1958.

And when I say I “learned” that’s only in terms of learning what specific things did not scale in corporations: even by my early 20’s I’d seen enough of life, let alone business case-studies and history, to understand the principle that big is usually not better, and often worse.

To that end, with Three Waters specifically in mind here in NZ, but also with the gigantic beast in the US known as the Federal government, I appreciated this brief “rant” in Ace of Spades, which I’ll re-produce here in full:

An oft-heard theme from preschool classrooms to corporate meeting rooms is that one should not be afraid of failure. Failure sucks and is a miserable experience – failure hurts – but it’s also the mechanism through which one learns. Failure is a great teacher, and makes you less likely to fail next time because you’ve learned from the experience. This is true, but there are limits to the concept. Sometimes failure is catastrophic.

The higher you are, the riskier failure becomes. If you’re running a small team in a corner of a large company to try to make something new and you fail, the results are unlikely to be disastrous. You might get fired and your staff might get fired, too, but the scale of the potential damage is fairly small. If you’re a senior executive who bets the business on something and that something doesn’t pan out, the entire enterprise can fail and everyone ends up fired with the owners holding worthless paper that used to be shares.

So it is with government and its failures and boy do we have a lot of government failures to consider. Fiscal policy has failed. Monetary policy has failed. Energy policy has failed. Medical policy has failed. War policy has failed. Border policy has failed. Drug policy has failed. Environmental policy has failed. Law enforcement has failed. Intelligence has failed (in every possible interpretation). Both domestic and foreign policy, writ large and in totality, has failed. Its failure across the board and at all levels.

Sure, some of it was probably not failure but rather was deliberate destruction, but that distinction is more important in the final reckoning than it is in the day-to-day reality. Malice or incompetence (or malicious incompetence, which I think is closer to the mark) is less important than the results. The results are similar regardless of the motivator. Poor is poor, sick is sick, dead is dead.

And those failures are increasingly catastrophic as more decision-making occurs in Washington D.C.. This isn’t just because of corruption, dishonesty, malevolence and incompetence, but because of scale. We have forgotten the valuable lesson of subsidiarity. Decisions should be made at the smallest workable scale, not the largest possible scale. A town imposing some insane and destructive policy destroys only the town. When Washington imposes some insane and destructive policy, it can destroy the entire country. Subsidiarity isn’t maximally efficient, but it is highly reliable. It’s expensive but robust. Its opposite – what we have today and will have more of tomorrow – is tremendously fragile. It isn’t even efficient because the government is populated with thieves, liars and fools (and often in combination).

Totalitarianism doesn’t and can’t work for this reason. Even assuming the starry-eyed sincerity of the totalitarians (a situation we most decidedly do not have), mistakes have perfect coverage and no one is immune from the totalitarians’ decisions. Failure not only stops being a good thing from which you learn, it becomes a constant threat and source of terror. This is compounded and made infinitely worse when the totalitarians are dishonest, lying, stupid psychopaths.

Centralization and incompetence, centralization and malice, and centralization and malicious incompetence are poisonous combinations.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 9, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Changing messages on China

with 40 comments

A couple of years ago on this blog one commentator complained about my “tiresome China bashing”, the implication being that, as with so many other things, I was not in the middle of the crowd on this issue and needed to get with the program.

Part of this was the argument that Trump’s approach to China had been an aberration and that things would return to the Clinton-Bush-Obama normality of ever-increasing trade between the USA and China, together with ever more involvement of China in the USA across many spheres.

It turns out that it wasn’t just Trump: he was merely one of the first to raise the issue. Since Biden’s election it’s become apparent that the anti-China brigade is bi-partisan between Democrats and the GOP and although not well organised, exists in greater numbers than previously believed.

And it would appear that the feeling is spreading fast in, of all places, Hollywood, with the release of the movie Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise’s sequel to the massive and iconic 80’s hit movie.

In a 2021 post, Hollywood’s ugly cost of catering to China, I noted a story that had been running since a 2019 trailer for Top Gun: Maverick had shown the Japanese and Taiwanese flags being pulled from Cruise’s 1986 fight jacket so as not to offend the valuable Chinese market. The movie was then held up for two years because of the ongoing pandemic, with Cruise in particular insisting to the production company Paramount, that it not be released to streaming as some other big movies had been.

My, but things have changed in just two years. Apparently the Taiwanese audiences were cheering when they saw this.

That also means this was edited late in post-production, which is not a cheap process even in the era of CGI, and certainly not something you do on a whim. The producers, Paramount, are sending a message:

To the joy of Taiwanese audiences hitting the theaters this week, Top Gun: Maverick features a prominent shot of the Japanese and Taiwanese flags—national symbols that were scrubbed from a 2019 trailer.

The flags were initially replaced by random symbols, drawing sharp criticism as an example of Hollywood caving in to China’s political demands. But in a rare U-turn, which has yet to be explained, they have reappeared in the film’s worldwide release.

“It is unprecedented,” Ho Siu Bun, a film critic in Hong Kong, told VICE World News. “Major film studios have never been shy about pandering to the Chinese market. And even if it is a simple scene, editing is very costly. So no one knows why they changed it back.”

The message was received according to the Wall Street Journal, with no less a reaction than the huge Chinese tech and gaming company Tencent, whose involvement had been an agreement that Paramount had boasted about during production in 2018.

The reason: Tencent executives backed out of the $170 million Paramount Pictures production after they grew concerned that Communist Party officials in Beijing would be angry about the company’s affiliation with a movie celebrating the American military, according to people familiar with the matter.

Association with a pro-American story grew radioactive as relations between the U.S. and China devolved, the people added. The about-face turned “Top Gun: Maverick” from a movie that once symbolized deepening ties between China and Hollywood into a fresh example of the broader tensions forming between the U.S. and China.

Excellent news. Aside from anything else, recent Hollywood blockbusters have bombed in China despite all the groveling and Tencent has lost out on a movie that has already grossed $US 150 million domestically on Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer and the blockbuster movie season. It promises to do huge business in the coming weeks and is already Cruise’s biggest opening weekend in his career.

Sure, you can say that it’s just a movie, but given the way Hollywood so relentlessly followed other American businesses in kowtowing to China, and given the cultural impact and money involved this is perhaps the biggest public signpost to date of changing Western approaches to The Heavenly Kingdom.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 30, 2022 at 6:08 pm