No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘The West

The State of a Nation

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Wait, wait and tremble, yet mad masters, this barbarism, this infamy you practice upon us , and with which you regale yourselves presently, will not go unanswered, unavenged, forever! The whirlwind gathers, before which you must fly like chaff.

I thought of that quote the other day when I saw the following Tweet from Michael Hayden, former US Air Force 4-star General, former Director of the NSA (National Security Agency), former Director of the CIA – and a man who allowed his NSA to wiretap US citizens without warrants.

In case you’re not aware, this latest insanity arises from “leaks” out of the FBI and DOJ about “nuclear” secrets being among the classified materials held at President Trump’s home in Florida – as if the National Security agencies would sit on their butts for eighteen months were that true, among other farcical aspects of this situation.

As Leftist Matt Taibbi points out in his great article, Welcome to the Third World, this is all exactly what happened before:

Most will see this as a war between Trump and the Washington D.C. bureaucracies (plus their handmaidens in the Democrat and Republican Parties). But it is actually a war between the gentry classes of the USA and everybody else, it has been escalating since the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008, it is being fought on multiple battlefields and its end is not yet in sight.

All this nonsense about Trump is not intended to be serious in terms of charges and convictions. The idea is simply to kneecap, once and for all, the dreaded Orange Hitler, from being elected President again in 2024. As just one example of the double standards that have to be applied in order to achieve this outcome, take another stroll down memory lane (warning: lofi hip hop included)

You can also enjoy the following as an example of people who never learn.

The quote given at the start of this post is from Ethel Rosenberg as she sat in prison awaiting death by electric chair. It must be noted that the National Security State prevailed in her case, simply because there were not enough communists in the USA to provide a whirlwind.

I don’t think the same can be said about 75 million Trump voters and if the Republican Party is stupid enough to gather up their votes to take Congress and then do nothing about this situation then they too will become like chaff that flies.

Liberal Democracy vs. Conservative Democracy

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Twenty years ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks President GW Bush made a speech that amounted to a sea-change in how the US viewed dictators and authoritarian and totalitarian societies.

During the Cold War Leftist critics (excluding the Far Left, which operated in bad faith as they supported communism), noted that while America did everything it could to undermine and destroy communist authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, it was quite comfortable with non-communist ones.

That was entirely true, and entirely defensible given that places like Taiwan and South Korea – after years of being directly equated to their communist neighbours for a lack of freedom and authoritarian controls – would slowly graduate to being liberal democracies even before the Cold War ended, whereas communist shit holes would either collapse (Eastern Europe and the USSR), bastardise on the economic side while remaining authoritarian (“Communist” China) or remain as miserable places (Cuba, North Korea).

Still, the accusation of hypocrisy and double standards against the West and the USA in particular would stand. And then in 2003:

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. 

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

You would think that the Leftist critics who had argued as much for decades would have celebrated an American President, especially a Republican, uttering such an admission. But no! After a decade of claiming that Saddam Hussein was a US stooge (despite 95% of his weapons coming from the USSR) that the USA had deliberately left in power to stymie the democratic voice of the Iraqi people, the Left immediately grabbed Dick Cheney’s reasons for not overthrowing Saddam in 1991 – which they had condemned at the time as apologetics and immoral realpolitik – and made them their own.

Obviously Cheney did a 180 on all those arguments in 2003, but he’s simply another politician. What is the excuse of the “principled Left” for their 180’s on the same arguments?

As we now know, the mission to install “freedom”, let alone Liberal Democracy, in the Middle East, failed. Not just in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq in 2003, but in the countries that underwent the Arab Spring in the early 2010’s with a new American President, Barack Obama, looking on, with a second burst a decade later. China and Russia stand as non-Islamic examples of the same failure.

In his article, Escaping Liberal Democracy, Yoram Hazony thinks he knows the reason. Despite that arresting title this is no paean to totalitarianism or even authoritarianism. Instead he argues that the choice between such things and Liberal Democracy is a false choice and that the latter has failed to be a universal solution, despite all the crowing of its defenders about its universal applicability (“… the advance of freedom leads to peace…”)

Hazony starts with the three axioms on which Liberal Democracy is founded:

1. Availability and Sufficiency of Reason. Human individuals are capable of exercising reason, which “teaches all mankind who will but consult it.” By reasoning, they are able to discover universal truths that hold good across all human societies and in every historical time frame.

2. The Free and Equal Individual. Human individuals are by nature in a state of “perfect freedom” and “perfect equality.”

3. Obligation Arises from Choice. Human individuals have no obligations to political institutions until “by their own consent they make themselves members of some political society.”

Which all sound great – until they start to run into societies and cultures that are grounded in more than that; specifically religion, family, tribe, ethnicity and perhaps nationality. The response of Liberals has been to say that the West was also once like that and that Liberalism – starting with the Enlightenment (the name itself a propaganda triumph) and its “rationality” – steadily and painfully wore away all that boring, traditional, conservative, primitive stuff to produce the enlightened societies of the West today.

Harzony has little time for such self-congratulatory worship, even as he accepts that it is not a closed and complete system; there are still Liberals in who believe in religion for example. However:

Both in Europe and in America, the principles of liberalism have not brought a greater honor for God and Scripture, national cohesion, and the flourishing of the family and the congregation – but the opposite. Everywhere it has gone, the liberal system has brought about the dissolution of these traditional institutions. Nor is the reason for this hard to find. For liberalism is not “only a form of government designed to permit a broad sphere of individual freedom.” In fact, liberalism is not a form of government at all. It is a system of beliefs taken to be axiomatic. In other words, it is a system of dogmas. About what? About the nature of human beings, reason, and the sources of the moral obligations that bind us.

There are no grounds for the claim that liberalism is merely a system of “neutral” rules, a “procedural” system. Liberalism is a substantive belief system that provides an alternative foundation for our views concerning the nature of human beings, reason, and the sources of the moral obligations that bind us. This alternative foundation has not coexisted with earlier political tradition, rooted in the Bible, as we were told it would. It has rather cut this earlier tradition to ribbons.

Faced with these failures, he suggests a conservative – specifically an Anglo-American conservative – approach to democracy, based on five principles, which I’ve summarised here but which he explains in detail:

  1. Historical Empiricism. The authority of government derives from constitutional traditions known, through the long historical experience of a given nation, to offer stability, well-being, and freedom. These traditions are refined through trial and error over centuries, with repairs and improvements being introduced where necessary.
  2. Nationalism. Human beings form national collectives characterized by bonds of mutual loyalty and unique inherited traditions.The diversity of national experiences means that different nations will have different constitutional and religious traditions…This includes a conception of the nation as arising out of diverse tribes, its unity anchored in a common traditional language, law, and religion.
  3. Religion. The state upholds and honors God and the Bible, the congregation and the family, and the religious practices common to the nation. These are essential to the national heritage and indispensable for justice and public morals. At the same time, the state offers toleration to religious and social views that do not endanger the integrity and well-being of the nation as a whole.
  4. Limited Executive Power. The executive powers of government are vested in a strong, unitary chief executive by the traditional laws of the nation, which the chief executive neither determines nor adjudicates.
  5. Individual Freedoms. The security of the individual’s life and property is mandated by God as the basis for a society that is both peaceful and prosperous, and is to be protected against arbitrary actions of the state. 

I think he’s pushing shit up hill on number 3, although I would note that those atheists who boast of our increasingly secular Western societies have little to say about the rise in the West of old religions like Islam and indigenous spiritual practices – such as our own Karakia, now often uttered at the start of meetings – as well as types of worship that seem very much like religion, including those intersectional problems that arise in such matters:

In this case, LGBT had to yield to Islam at the “intersection of rights.” Ms. Zreika stood firm and the league relented. She is playing again and will not be forced to endorse actions her religion doesn’t approve of. By contrast, the Manly 7 are Christians, so no such tolerance will be shown to them.

For those who quail before the word “conservative” combined with “democracy”, Harzony points to the roots of Liberal Democracy and the arrogance of thinking those roots can be discarded:

What is meant by this term is a form of government that borrows certain principles from the earlier Anglo-American conservative tradition, including those limiting executive power and guaranteeing individual freedoms (Principles 4 and 5 above). But liberalism regards these principles as stand-alone entities, detachable from the broader conservative tradition out of which they arose. Liberals thus tend to have few, if any, qualms about discarding the national and religious foundations of traditional Anglo-American government (Principles 2 and 3) as unnecessary, if not simply contrary to universal reason.

Over the years I’ve occasionally argued with Old Leftists bemoaning the end of the cozy Labour-National New Zealand world circa 1935-1984, that perhaps their beloved Leftist institutions of Public Health, Public Education, Social Welfare, and our largely crime-free, loosely policed society, only survived because they were built upon a society of small-c, conservative people, with even Labour voters being conservative in their personal lives about many social things (…the sources of the moral obligations that bind us…)

Or as America’s second President once said of his nation:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 6, 2022 at 10:26 am

Hard times

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“The last trumpet ever to be sounded shall blow even algebra to wreck.”

Heh, heh, heh….

Looking at a recent post by my co-blogger, Gravedodger about his 1940’s childhood in New Zealand, of which this is just one quote:

The house, weatherboard, corrugated iron roof over sarking, no building paper/moisture wrapping, one source of heating, a wood range in the Kitchen, a supplementary open fire in a front room rarely lit, a 12 foot stud meaning a ceiling a meter higher than a house today (space for wasted heat), sparse floor coverings mostly polished Tongue and groove matai, no electricity, sash windows, doors with a gap created by a worn step that allowed a mouse easy access, absolutely no insulation.

Oh dear. From such times was a society created.

“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”G. Michael Hopf, Those Who Remain

Written by Tom Hunter

August 3, 2022 at 10:58 pm

Super Shitty

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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

Crush Depth

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Some genius architects and urban planners have come up with a brilliant idea for future cities on Earth.

“The Line” is a proposed three-dimensional city that is 200m wide, 500m high, 170km long, and built in the Saudi Arabian desert, 500m above sea level, according to the NEOM Project’s official website. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Chairman of the NEOM Board of Directors, Mohammed bin Salman, made the announcement on The Line’s official site.

No roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature. People’s health and wellbeing will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure, unlike traditional cities…[It] will eventually accommodate 9 million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers.

Here’s their two minute video.

So, what do readers think?

I think it blows! Big time. Just one of the objections I have is that line about “preserving nature” – as if humans are not also part of nature.

It’s something out of a dystopian Science Fiction story, starting out like those bright, clean spaceships in 2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF movies of the 1950’s-60’s, but likely to degrade to a BladeRunner type locale. It should be noted that critics praised the move in SF movies away from “bright and shiny” to “gritty” as being likely a touch more realistic.

Also, humans don’t react well to being “re-engineered”. We’re organic beings and often the things we create, like cities, are organic too, even if we use machines to build and run them they develop in quirky ways. Planned cities like Brasila (“...the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector, and the Embassy Sector…“) are not regarded with any great love:

Nothing dates faster than people’s fantasies about the future. This is what you get when perfectly decent, intelligent, and talented men start thinking in terms of space rather than place; and single rather than multiple meanings. It’s what you get when you design for political aspirations rather than real human needs. You get miles of jerry-built platonic nowhere infested with Volkswagens. This, one may fervently hope, is the last experiment of its kind. The utopian buck stops here.

— Robert HughesThe Shock of the New, Episode 4: “Trouble in Utopia”, (1980)

Fervant hope dashed. I can’t recall a time in my life when Central Planners have ever given up on any of their utopian goals. At best they’ve destroyed themselves, in the sense that their plans have produced undeniably dreadful results, but mostly they’ve encountered pushback in the form of people refusing to cooperate with their grand plans and escaping to places where the plans are not being effected.

But like rust, the bastards never sleep. They never give up on their utopian schemes, witness the constant hopes in Lefty bastions like The Daily Blog and The Standard, that the government would once again own the entire power industry here.

There’s also another unspoken aspect to this, summarised well by the secondary headline in this article, The Dehumanizing Tyranny of Densification:

The prevailing vision of environmentalism today caters to a global oligarchy.

Or perhaps Kip’s Law:

“Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

In other words I very much doubt that Mohammed bin Salman or any of the other Saudi Princes will be giving up their palaces to live in this utopia. It’s probably intended for the army of Pakistani immigrant workers that their economy needs in order to operate.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 29, 2022 at 2:19 pm

The delicious bite of reality

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Let’s start with the good news before getting into the bad news.

Investment Giant BlackRock Loses $1.7 Trillion In Six Months

BlackRock lost $1.7 trillion of its clients’ money since the beginning of the year — the largest sum ever lost by a single firm over a six-month period, according to a Wednesday report from Bloomberg analyst Marc Rubenstein.

Blackrock are one of the largest fund managers in the world, controlling trillions of dollars of their clients’ funds – which is often the retirement and pension savings of typical American investors.

So why is this good news? Because BlackRock have been one of the leading proponents of the bullshit known as ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), insisting that companies it invests in use this method of measuring themselves rather than boring old crap like revenue, profits, dividends and ROI (Return on Investment):

By adopting ESG goals — or, in the case of BlackRock, pushing portfolio companies into adopting ESG goals — executives commit themselves to pursuing green energy, appointing a certain number of minorities to serve as managers, or otherwise blending profitability with progressive politics.

BlackRock have been bullying bastards on this matter since they have so much financial power. They even managed to place three environmental activists on the 12-person board of Exxon Mobil. That’s how much power they have.

Or perhaps had. You’ve all heard of luxury goods, things you can buy when you have a lot of money. Well there are also things called luxury ideas; electric cars in a world of $NZ 20/litre petrol; a world of organic farming and 100% renewable energy, But also very gauzy academic ideas like ESG or White Privilege and Critical Race Theory.

Which is to say that when times get tough, when the food, the petrol and the money start running out and that Bachelor in Environmental Gender Studies just ain’t pulling in the big bucks, luxury ideas tend to get jettisoned, and right quick. BlackRock is not at that stage yet; more pain must be inflicted on them.

However, an exclusive Daily Wire poll conducted by Echelon Insights showed earlier this year that 64% of respondents believe “individual investors whose savings are being invested” should ultimately decide whether retirement funds and pension plans are allocated according to ESG criteria. A mere 20% believe that “Wall Street asset managers” should make such decisions.

As an old varsity buddy cum investment manager in Wellington told me in the wake of the 1987 share market crash, regarding some clients who’d ignored his warnings, “People don’t react until the blowtorch is applied to the goolies”.

Goolie burning is a nasty business, as Sri Lanka has found out and which deserves its own post. But for the moment let’s note this:

“But the underlying reason for the fall of Sri Lanka is that its leaders fell under the spell of Western green elites peddling organic agriculture and ‘ESG,’ which refers to investments made following supposedly higher Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria. Sri Lanka has a near-perfect ESG score (98) which is higher than Sweden (96) or the United States (51).”

Michael Shellenberger, from his article ‘Green Dogma Behind Fall Of Sri Lanka

It’s a tempting idea to kidnap the BlackRock execs and dump them in Sri Lanka where they’ll have, shall we say, direct contact with the joys of near-perfect ESG score. Assholes.

Meanwhile in China….

Because nothing says “Your bank is safe but you can’t get your money out” than encountering a Main Battle Tank blocking the front doors.

Could be worse; in the future they’ll probably be using these instead – and this is not from the well-known firm, Boston Dynamics that pioneered these things: this is a Chinese model.

Less killing

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I recently came across a fascinating graph of war deaths across history and societies. The graph is shown below.

It’s from a book called The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) by Stephen Pinker, a celebrated atheist and cognitive psychologist at Harvard University who is a big advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind, focusing on language.

But in this book Pinker branched out to look at larger issues, largely because he feels that modern society is increasingly under attack by pre-modern beliefs that he had thought were being buried. He wanted to make another demonstration of why our modern societies are better than historic ones by looking at the simple statistic of warfare and war deaths (also murder and other violence) and how these have been reduced over time by philosophical and material progress.

Better Angels theorises that violence in human societies has generally steadily declined over time, and identifies six major trends and five historical forces of this decline, the most important being the humanitarian revolution brought by the Enlightenment and its associated cultivation of reason

Some of the data is pretty extraordinary and I’m a little surprised that the Maori “Musket Wars” are not listed there since the estimates of 20,000 – 40,000 deaths over a thirty year period, starting with a Maori population of 100,000 easily puts them onto this graph at between 670 and 1,300 deaths per 100,000 people per year.

It should be noted that many on the Left are not as happy with Pinker as they used to be when he was only bashing Christians in particular and religion in general and that this dissatisfaction started with “Angels”:

such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, Pinker’s liberal humanism, excessive focus on Europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, choice of methodologies, and its image of indigenous people.

Well of course; this is part of the Modern Left’s general move away from Western thinking on a whole variety of issues, including even the basic Western Epistemology of objective truths that can be discovered via rational thought and observation.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 22, 2022 at 11:30 am

Out in the open

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Increasingly we don’t seem to have conspiracy theories, only claims of them, which can switch between opposing blocks of people depending on the political and ideological objectives desired – usually tactical ones.

So the long-term claims by many on the Left of conspiratorial practices between “Big Pharma” and governments was dropped as soon as an event occurred that would enable the State to have more control its subjects – while at the same time many on the Right who had dismissed such claims as the usual Marxist fever dream, began to make the old claims of the Left.

But it’s also the case that it’s hard to claim something is a conspiracy when it’s out in the open and loudly proclaimed by more than just a small bunch of secretive people.

If pressed to explain what this “Liberal World Order” actually is I doubt he could do any better than when George Herbert Walker Bush talked of a New World Order in the early 90’s.

Even so, it certainly beats the rest of the brain-dead shit that’s been coming out of the Biden White House about gas prices in the USA, where the blame has been laid from Putin to the Chinese Lung Rot to the evil oil companies and even individual gas stations whose pitiful profit margins run at an average of 1.4%. As even Biden backer, Jeff Bezos, has noticed, the people in the White House, from the President on down, are morons.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 7, 2022 at 9:07 am

Retirement, 200 – Rugby, 0

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But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

That’s the Google street view from St Johns Road in Meadowbank, Auckland last year when work first began on building a massive set of retirement village apartments.

As you can guess from the small rugby goal post that was still standing at the time, it was a rugby field used by countless generations of school boys and their teams from surrounding schools. The field was the property of the St Johns group, which has quite a few acres of rather beautiful land and buildings used for obscure subjects like theology. There are actually two there – St John’s Theological College and Trinity Theological College.

In any case, as you can see, this was a large block of land that was far too valuable to remain as a school boys playground. Worth millions, likely tens of millions of dollars, the money will, I assume, be put to the task of furthering God’s call on Earth – while at the same time, beautiful apartments with great views of Rangitoto will be supplied for our ever increasing population of elderly folk.

The yells, cries and laughter of young children playing sports will be just a memory.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 16, 2022 at 11:17 am

Posted in New Zealand

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“What are you prepared to do now?”

with 5 comments

Those are the dying words of Police Officer Jimmy Malone to Eliot Ness in the movie classic, The Untouchables.

In a way this is a companion post to the one I did the other day on the Mahuta and Sussman stories, but this post is about lower level crimes involving the proles.

Recently there have been some very ugly videos emerging from New York City’s subway system including mass shootings, other random shootings, and people being pushed in front of trains.

But it’s actually recent video of a subway incident that did not end in death or serious injury, that has sparked what I think are the real questions about what is going in NYC, and likely across the USA and perhaps the entire Western world:

“Have a look at this footage from the subway in New York City where a man in the white jacket and black leggings is rampaging on a train. He targets a woman, sits next to her and begins to assault her. Looks like there are plenty of able-bodied men around watching.”
Rita Panahi, Sky News Australia

There certainly are, and it may be that many thoughts were going through their minds. Is the guy armed, (but if so what makes you think you won’t be next)? Can a non-Black man step in on a Black criminal’s actions? Should a Black man interfere with a Brother’s actions? Who ever does anything for people suffering from mental illness anyway, he’ll just be released the next morning?

Speaking of mental illness the guy who videoed this can be heard repeat, “I forgive this demon in the name of Jesus Christ”. I don’t condemn Christians who pray for others in their sorrow and misery, but I’m pretty sure that Christianity means trying to stop evil – with more than prayers if needed.

In her commentary on that video Rita Panahi called the men cowards and while that might be true it may also be that a lot of rationality is at work:

If I had to guess, they were standing in their place, checking their male privilege, toning down their toxic masculinity, and coping with how their Time’s Up.  Perhaps the men wanted a demonstration of how women are actually the stronger sex.  Perhaps the threat level just did not seem that high to them; New York has a duty to retreat, after all.  Besides, New York has been in the habit of arresting those who defend themselves.

Who wants to be the next George Zimmerman, Kyle Rittenhouse, Darren Wilson or the Covington Kids – or less famous cases:

In 2016, a 17-year-old Danish girl was arrested for defending herself with pepper spray from a would-be-rapist.  In 2020, a Virginia store clerk was arrested for defending his store from robbers.  Even an elderly U.K. pensioner was arrested for “stabbing a burglar to death.”  It is entirely possible that those men had such cases in mind.

But these are all individual cases surely? Ones that must be seen in the context of the specific situations? Why draw larger conclusions? Perhaps, but Ms Panahi does so with her next comment about the broader context of society:

“What does it say about society that not a single man stepped in to help – they allowed it to happen.”

But it’s this response from an American that sums up all of the above:

Well as I said last year about a similar story where a woman was actually raped on a Philadelphia train while another bunch of passengers just watched:

Before lifting a finger, unfree men must first decide whose permission they need to obtain, and what the judicial system is likely to do to them afterward. Free men are willing to act, knowing they are free.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 3, 2022 at 7:00 am

Posted in New Zealand

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