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The Coalmine Regulatory Committee



Taking up the good fight against illogical right-wing ranting.



Updated: 2014-10-05T13:44:24.174+13:00

 



Please, PLEASE look back in anger

2007-01-19T01:14:17.597+13:00

Good day, and apologies for the long time between blog posts. You know how it is, I’m sure.

I recently suffered the pleasure of reading this on kiwiblog.co.nz, and knew immediately what my next post would concern:

Another of those filthy rich people has declared they are given most of their millions or billions to charity. This one is Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary and former head of Goldman Sachs.

I have no doubt in my mind that a billion dollars to a private charity has a far far greater beneficial effect on society than a billion dollars more spending by the Government. Hell even the tiny NZ Government can increase health spending by a billion dollars and not show any extra results for the money.

Think what the Red Cross would do with a billion dollars extra, as opposed to the Government.

Private donations are excellent way to temporarily remedy existing societal inequalities and, in effect, pacify the natives. They can, without delay, get much-needed food, water, and various other necessities to the people who need them most. A person who gives thusly is to be admired.

However, someone who should be more admired is he (or she, it goes without saying) who uses their fortune and influence not to immediately benefit the poor, but to work towards destroying the system that keeps them in poverty. This produces a much greater effect than any temporary appeasement and gratification possibly can.

Have you heard the expression “tough love”? I would rather no donations were given at all. I would not enforce this wish of mine, because that would be authoritarian, but I wish it nonetheless. I wish every poor person was made to suffer the slings and arrows of discontentment to the fullest. I wish the differences between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, to be visibly horrendous. I want there to be no possible reconciliation between they who buy holiday houses on golden beaches, and they who wearily subsist next to motorways in urban jungles with little ambition and littler hope (both having been progressively stolen from them by a system designed to preserve a social hierarchy in which they are the denizens of the lowest rung).

Only when the gulf – not merely “gap,” for this implies some small distance, easily crossed – the gulf between those who own and those who produce is fully visible to the most vapid observer, only then can there be change. I advocate not for bloody rebellion, not for death and the guillotine, but democratic change, wanted by the people, fully understood by the people. In a proper society, in a healthy democracy, there would be no need for charity, because there would be no poverty.

If the Red Cross had a billion dollars, they would certainly spend it on clean water and medicine, food and perhaps schools and housing. If they had the unrecalcitrant support of the OECD, they would kick the World Bank and the US out of Africa, set up protected marketplaces for local goods (the sort of protected marketplaces every developed country, including New Zealand, has in the past used to grow and prosper) and initiate a strong and lasting programme of infrastructural growth and reinforcement.

In the most simplified of terms, it is the difference between giving a man a fish, and teaching him how to fish. Or at least giving him the chance to catch something in an ocean not already trawled by multinational fishing fleets.




Taxation and Choice

2007-01-09T14:16:45.436+13:00

I’ve been reading Act on Campus for some time and one post that really interested me was this one. Basically it was a rebuttal to the following leftie argument concerning taxation: “Taxation isn't taken by force, because I agree to it being taken.” In his rebuttal, the blogger goes on to comment that “we should [sic] be worried about the bastardisation of 'agreement' where it might well happen to be the case that there is agreement, but it cannot be true agreement because disagreement was never an option. If the author of this ridiculous sophism was to change his or her mind, they would find themselves under force.” At first glance, this appears a logical argument – however, upon further thought, it actually isn’t. Of course under the present system, if you don’t want to pay tax, and you choose not to pay it, you get thrown in jail. However, what if it was under a different system? – i.e. a libertarian system? People do have the freedom to vote for a system that requires them to pay no tax. If people generally did not want to pay tax, they do have a choice. Vote for a political party that supports no tax such as the Libertarianz. It’s not hard. Last election they got 0.04% of the party vote however, which would seem to demonstrate that the general population of New Zealand does support paying tax. Rather, it is how much tax people should pay which is the contested issue. So is this blogger right? I’d say no. We live in a democracy which means we can choose how we want to be governed. We do have a choice. The downside of this is that if the party that you don’t support wins, then you have to live with it for three years. However, that’s the beauty of democracy. I’ve mentioned this before to right-wingers and their excuse is normally something along the lines of “our ideology is fairly complex and difficult for the average person to understand and therefore we are seen as a fringe group. People would vote for us if they understood our message.” I like this argument, because it’s a concession that people don’t always act rationally (if we could even define what is ‘rational’). It sounds awfully like MY argument, when I support the present government’s policy of banning soft drinks at schools. Case in point, kids and sometimes adults act irrationally – they eat food in excess that is bad for them. For instance, I remember back in my school days at Intermediate where my mother would give me lunch money two times a week, thinking I would be buying something like a nice filled roll. I usually got a fatty battered hot dog and a chocolate donut. No wonder I was tubby as a kid. The crux of the issue was that I was unaware of the damage I was doing to my body, and yes – in this case – the state ‘knows best’. Had this kind of food been restricted (or dare I say it – even banned!) I would have been a lot healthier and would have had better self-esteem as a teenager. Anyway –I’ve gone off in a tangent. What I’m trying to get across is that people do have a choice, contrary to what this blogger says, and they overwhelmingly use this choice to vote for parties that support taxation. Thank the flying spaghetti monster for that.[...]



A conversation

2007-01-05T17:03:23.861+13:00

Please read with sarcasm dripping from your mouth. You might need a bucket.DARCY says: Haha, apparently climate change is the new socialism, according to [unnamed rightwing blogger] Barnabus says: oh right Barnabus says: because its part of the vast left wing conspiracy DARCY says: yes DARCY says: it's just another way for us to attack the rich Barnabus says: haha Barnabus says: of course DARCY says: by making them more environmentally friendly Barnabus says: we hate the rich Barnabus says: not to mention that we need people to be rich DARCY says: do we? Barnabus says: yes, the more we can tax silly Barnabus says: We love tax DARCY says: aaah, of course we do DARCY says: We love it lots Barnabus says: infact Barnabus says: we also hate freedom.Barnabus says:Apparently Barnabus says: and people thinking for themselves Barnabus says: Because OBVIOUSLY if people thought for themselves...they would vote for libertarian parties. DARCY says: Yes, if only they could understand the complicated principles that underpin the libertarian movement Barnabus says: But Darcy, aren't you saying that you know what's best for them? Barnabus says: That sounds like SOCIALISM DARCY says: oh no, it's totally different, let me assure you DARCY says: TOTALLY different.[...]



Why poor people should be fined less for the same crimes

2007-01-05T00:27:41.090+13:00

Stated so baldly, the statement practically BEGS condemnation, doesn’t it? It almost goes without saying – that all people are equal before the law. Charging different people different amounts for the same offence seems a gross violation of this fundamental principle. But it’s not. Part of the reason society fines people is the “deterrent factor.” It’s a way of saying “we, as a society, do not want people doing this, and so we will discourage that sort of behaviour by attaching a negative repercussion to it.” The negative repercussion should be the same, regardless of whether the person is black, white, poor, rich, or (gasp) a dirty libertarian. The problem with this approach is measuring the impact of a negative repercussion on different people, in different circumstances. When two different people commit a crime, they should be punished equally negatively, despite their different social situations. To someone who earns $30,000 a year, a $1,000 fine is certainly more economically damaging than such a fine would be to a person who earns $100,000 in a year. Therefore, the person on the higher income is being punished less severely than the person on the lower income – over three times less severely, if yearly income is the only variable we take into account. This is not equitable. These two people, by being given the exact same punishment, are being treated unequally by the law. I’m not saying the poor person’s fines should be reduced – by breaking the law, they should certainly be made to feel the consequences of their actions. It would be more fair if the richer person’s fines were increased, to make them too feel the economic pain that disobeying the law brings. I have come across several arguments against legislation seeking to artificially reduce the difference in punishments. For example, Kerre Woodham, that bastion of good sense, denies that a fine would affect different income earners to different degrees. In a recent NZ Herald articles, she says: “Sure, if the benefit was your sole income, it might be tough to pay it off but there are ways and means of supplementing a benefit, not all of them legal. And unless you're one of the few billionaires in this country, $200 is a big deal to most of us.” Is she encouraging people to break the law to pay their fines? Oh that Kerre, what a laugh. Her other point is one I’ve run across a couple of times – if you can’t afford the fine, or if it’s too expensive, just work more. Work harder. Up-skill. Get a different job. Wonderful solutions, only they too involve doing something a rich person receiving the same fine would not have to do. How can you say everyone is “equal before the law” when some people are forced to find alternative methods of getting money, while others aren’t? An unbearable fine for a poor person might be a small pinch, economically, for a richer person. This isn’t equitable. It is grating, let me tell you, to use the economic handles “rich” and “poor.” They are misinforming. In this country (perhaps not as readily as in others) it is almost more accurate to say “white” and “other” when referring to economic status. If you disbelieve me, look towards South Auckland. I was raised to believe in egalitarianism, and that social balance and harmony could not exist without a modicum of equality in the treatment of diverse peoples. I have seen nothing in my lifetime that would disprove this moral hypothesis, but many events have continued to prove it true. The current fining system employed by the New Zealand law system doesn’t achieve this egalitarian objective.[...]



Pinochet

2007-01-03T14:19:42.323+13:00

A little late to be discussing this man, but I’ve been meaning to write something on his death.

As many readers will be aware, Pinochet divides people quite sharply. Many right-wingers mourned his passing, arguing that he had done a huge service to Chile by implementing his free-market based economic reforms. Others on the left argue that he was a brutal dictator, repressing political dissent, outlawing political parties and generally sanctioning rape, torture and murder when it suited his regime. Personally, I believe the latter.

What I find terribly amusing about the whole situation is the large amount of right wingers – who claim to believe deeply in liberty and freedom – who are willing to jump up and defend him. The usual excuse is something like what John Londregan points out: “Castro and the far left are worse than Pinochet, they kill more people and deliver fewer benefits than did the military government of Chile."

Case in point – “Frankly, if the entire continent of Central and South America were overrun by a horde of Pinochet's, it would be a much better place and the world would be many times better off. Brutal and barbaric though he was, and as inexcusable as the taking of human life is, you just have to look at places like Nicaragua or Cuba and ask: Would it really have been better to have kept Allende in power? Millions of Chileans are better off as a consequence of Pinochet. Rest in Peace.”

I guess this blogger is implying that sometimes the use of force against people is necessary to implement free-market economic reforms. That’s a utilitarian argument if I’ve ever seen one – the benefits of the free market economic reforms far outweigh the killing, rape and torture of many Chilean citizens who dared to exercise their democratic right to oppose him. Not to mention the implied the insinuation – that just because other hard left regimes kill people in the name of communism or socialism, it somehow justifies Pinochet’s regime. Ah… no. Killing people, raping people and torturing people is still bad, even if another regime is doing the same thing. What’s even worse about this argument is that the blogger is conceding that sometimes the use of force is necessary for the benefit of others. Where do you stop, however? A communist could argue the same thing.

Thankfully, other right wingers are not that stupid – “His free market policies and overthrowing an authoritarian socialist pinup (Allende) do not justify suppression of free speech, murdering, torturing and imprisoning opponents. Margaret Thatcher's support for him has been her biggest mistake and the biggest black mark against her name in my book. I understand why she did it (Falklands and his free market policies), but it never excused his oppression of Chilean freedom.”

I guess Pinochet’s death raises some interesting questions about freedom and liberty.




A brief introduction

2007-01-02T00:41:40.493+13:00

Good day, internet-dwellers.

My friend Barnabus and I decided to create a pocket of cyberspace to call our own, and then name it "The Coalmine Regulatory Committee" for our own inscrutable purposes. We have various reasons for beginning a blog, chief among them a heartfelt desire to better the blogosphere (by entering it).

We both currently reside in New Zealand, and are primarily concerned with the culture, society and politics of that country, though undoubtedly world events will occasionally merit mention.

Although our industrial-era names and birthdates might seem to indicate libertarian tendencies in our worldviews, I assure you this isn't the case. We cannot be held responsible for the names our parents decided sounded marvellous, or the birthdays god gave us. Not that we believe in god, being atheists. But if we did, we couldn't be held at fault.

In any case, that will serve as enough introduction for the present moment. We shall let our postings speak for themselves.

Tea and crumpets!

Darcy