Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Future: Green Sprawl

Andrew D Atkin:



























If you want people to become environmentalist's, then the best thing you can do is have them grow up within and amongst the natural world. Then they won't be able to help themselves.

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You believe that sprawl is bad. You believe that cars are bad. You believe that public transport is good, or better. You believe that urban rail is efficient. You believe that compact cities are good, or better. You believe there's not enough land. You believe it's natural for house prices to just keep going up, and UP. And you believe that people who wear the environmental badge are, surely, always the good guys?

Well reader, it is and long has been all bullshit. Please read on.


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The only images we ever seem to get presented to the general public of the dreaded SPRAAAAAWL are the ones designed to make sprawl look like an environmental apocalypse, whereby sprawl is supposed to seem like something engineered by the devil himself. But what we are never told by the modern planning saints (who are here to do God's work and force us all into high-density apartments - er, excluding themselves) is that urbanisation in New Zealand is a mere 1 part in 150 of the land area. And globally, maybe less than 1 part in 100.

But the truth is sprawl is not only environmentally benign, it can be environmentally beneficial. The following image gives a simple way of demonstrating my point. We can call it "Green Sprawl". It's drawn (barbarically) to make the point of how green-sprawl property development could work. There is of course no end to the different possible styles of development, but the image gives you the core theme anyway.




























Imagine housing development that sprawls out more like a spider-web than a concentrated cluster; covering huge areas, if you like. Everyone's back yard extends out to a forest (well it would certainly look and feel that way), with all kinds of plants and trees all around you. Yet strategically planted so residence can still have the sun on their porches. Imagine all you can hear is the wind and natural sounds, because the transport system supporting your development is near-silent and electric. And your privacy, as you might want it, is almost total.

Efficiency:


The transport system can be exceptionally efficient because there's no stop-and-go operation from using largely one-way flow-off/on infrastructure, and it can use fully automated cars. Most of the cars can be for single occupancy only (if it's network-based - it would be). Also, it can be mostly run on solar to keep people happy who believe in problematic AGW.

If power-supply for houses is a little more costly because the development's are so spread out, then all you have to do is fairly step-up the price. In response to this, people can (and will) do things like install good insulation, use pressure-cookers for food, employ ground-based heat-pumps, LED lighting, and a bit of clever technology with showering systems etc. All these things can more than eliminate this concern.

Worried about pipelines? People can turn their human waste into fertiliser if need be (use a compost toilet), and catch their water off the roof. Especially in water-rich countries like New Zealand.

So no problem. Rational price pressures will naturally drive housing and lifestyle design, and with good environmental effect. Great, super ecologically-sound resort-style living.

Distance efficiency:

Imagine I got a typical city, say Christchurch, New Zealand, and stretched it out like a piece of chewing gum to cover 4x the area (and filled in the difference with plants)...

The effect of this would be that you double the distances between the stops, because area increases by the square of the distance. So how would that affect the fuel bill and travel time? Maybe an increase of just ~20% because cruising a little longer between the stops means little in a typical urban environment, in terms of transport costs. Most of the time and energy revolves around having to constantly re-accelerate your vehicle - stop-and-go is the curse of transport inefficiency in an urban environment. This is part of the reason why low-density cities are typically just as -and if not more- efficient in terms of transport costs than typical high-density cities.

Another factor comes from the fact that when cities sprawl out, key services follow them. So new transport demand becomes largely localised to the fringes, likewise resisting the development of severe congestion in a growing city so typical of high-density cities.

The "tyranny of distance" is further numbed with the potentials of telecommuting, and full-automation transport technology (as previously commented on). In particular, with full-automation there is the opportunity for unmanned 'micro-cars' than can conveniently post any given item to your door, from the moment you make your order. This is coming (example). 
So how much of a problem will travel be when you don't have to travel at all?

As you can see, reader, we can well afford to spread out - even dramatically.


What if?

Now imagine if the entire world embraced Green Sprawl, similar to how I have described it, and eventually covered not 1% but more like 10% of the entire earths surface with spider-web style property development*. Would this be the end of the world?...you know, the hideous blight of the evil homo sapien who, unlike all other animals, has no business living with nature and should just damn well get back in his zoo? Nope. The opposite. In fact from an environmental outlook I would say that the more we spread out the better.

The environment enjoyed and loved by people, directly, is the environment that will surely be most well defended. And especially with respect to the people who are lucky enough to grow up in it. Indeed, look at how people so consistently say "Not in my back yard!" when someone tries to build a home in their leafy view.

Conclusion:

So why not? I mean how on earth can we justify forcing people out of nature and into a "human zoo" against their will? Is it not so wrong that only the rich should be able to do what humans have done since the beginning of time, and live amongst the greenery? And to say - did you know that astronauts in space stations begin to suffer from serious depression when they don't get to work on the plant experiments? The need for greenery is in our genes!

One rationalisation I have come across, to justify killing the sprawl option, is the [erroneous] claim that humans are more productive when forced to live like battery chickens. Shall I decode the reasoning for you? "We planners hereby declare that we have the right to relate to the people's of our city as though they are our personal resource, and we therefore choose to force-create the conditions that will drive OUR people to work harder and likewise produce more".

This kind of reasoning literally moves in the direction of slavery. This is the sort of thing that happens when people get lost in their political positions, and begin to interpret their power as entitlement rather than responsibility.

To take a more detailed look at the twisted reasoning behind forcing people out of the greenery, and into the concrete, see here.

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*Massive green cities, from green sprawl, would actually be the among the most biodiverse and life-dense places on earth, second only to the coral reefs and rain forests. True environmentalists (not people-hating communists dressed in green drag) should love it.


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Addition: 3-4-13

Green Sprawl: A model design:

I had a think about how green sprawl would form in practice, and the following diagram gives you my best guess and design suggestion. 

I doubt houses, generally, will be built in scattered or grid form. Scattered ultra-low density housing (which mimics a true rural atmosphere) creates an excessively isolated feeling, and grid-style housing creates an institutional pea-in-the-pod feeling. In both scenarios the houses are left without a feeling of "place", which I believe is important to make a home feel good. A home needs to be part of a family of houses. To preserve a neighborhood feel, you need to build them in clusters, mimicking the private cul-de-sac.

The model presented is a very low-density version of my ideal, originally presented in my club economies article.



















The green represents rugged plant life, the orange the houses, the blue the one-way road network, and the orange fine-lined areas represent the walkways. And the white represents private garden and lawn.

The houses, in my ideal, would tend to be 2-story though maybe quite narrow (like a town house). This would provide an elevated deck that looks out onto the housing clusters, from a "safe perch", while saving space in a practical way. I can't explain why exactly, but I think this would have a really good feel to it. It gives you the friendly, sociable atmosphere of a (well designed) town-house setting in the front, and the truly private and essentially rural (lifestyle) atmosphere out the back. Note that people's houses can provide an important three-dimensional* contrast, for an interesting view. It can feel rather barren to look out at nothing but green nature. 

Note: However, one thing to be careful with, with 2-story houses, is designing them so that people do not have immediate neighbours looking down on them in their backyards. Privacy is so important for a relaxed feeling. This might require rules in developments that ensure that people who build 2-story structures only use textured windows (that don't open) or skylights for certain upstairs rooms. I would imagine this would be fine for rooms such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

The road-network would support an electric transport system that is fully automated, and the roads would only need to be about 2-meters wide - virtually just a footpath. Though it would require a system such as ULTra to begin with, it would be designed so that later on a go-anywhere full-automation transport system can replace the ULTra-type system (which would be inevitable).

The walkways would be little more than a dirt track, and in some areas literally a dirt track. This is all they need to be as the electric transport system can be used by anyone, as required. Street lighting would be reduced to actively lit LED's embedded in the ground, which are cheap and provide for a much more pleasant atmosphere at night, as compared to powerful overhead lighting.

Developments built on purely flat land are notoriously boring and sterile. Hence, it could be a good idea to artificially break up the land with gentle hills, wherever required. This sounds expensive but it wouldn't be; the distance between the peaks and troughs only needs to be about 3-5 meters to kill that flat-land sterility. The roading would not be significantly more expensive because it is single-lane and narrow, making it economical to integrate with shallow slopes. Also, with excavation for slopes you can also look at building artificial ponds. 

The roads would be curved (for interest) with super-elevating, making it comfortable and efficient. Typically, the transport speed would be about 30km/h max, with no stop and go, making energy costs a moot concern. Note: When you halve the transport speed, energy consumption drops to a quarter (in electric systems).

These developments, when built at scale, would probably support collectively-owned private facilities. In some ways it would feel more like a holiday park than traditional suburbia...but why not? If it feels better and works better, and saves you from having to buy your own gym, tennis court and pool, etc, then it makes sense. Full-automation transport connects you to standard facilities so efficiently that it makes sense.

Also, as a suggestion, I think it could be a good idea to have an exclusive small vegetable farm, maybe permaculture, and an orchid, collectively owned as part of the master facility. This secures an excellent base for fresh food protected from the variant status of the wider market, and gives you food that you have control over. (You don't have to negotiate with corporate's to not put frog genes in it, etc).

*You need objects in both the foreground and background for a really pleasant view. Otherwise your far-looking view starts to become a "distant postcard", which has a somewhat redundant effect. 


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Now that's what I call a backyard. Lawn surrounded my rugged plants - my favorite effect. Everyone in New Zealand should be able to afford a backyard like this, not just the rich. And imagine how immersive it would be if you can't hear any traffic, due to the virtues of small-scale electric transport. 


This is the future because this is what most people want, and we now have the practical tools to give it to them.

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Legislating for Green Sprawl:

If 0.8% of New Zealand is really too much for urbanisation, then we can legislate for Green Sprawl and achieve the exact same effect as densification in terms of not paving over anything.

You simply create some rules along the lines of the following:

Maximum:

10% land area for roading.
10% land area for housing.
20% land area for lawns.

Minimum:

60% land area for garden and forest.
1 bedroom per 200 square meters.

Give that rule to developers so that they'll be forced to build within those parameters. The result will be either high-density development concentrated over a small areas, or low-density development but with houses that tend to be 2-story and have either no road going directly to the houses (for the last 20 meters or so from the road) or housing developed with new transport systems, etc. 

Either way, you avoid what some may consider excessive paving-over of the earth, and you do it without taking away the option of detached housing, and without artificially creating crazy high land prices.

The rules would be a bit more complex than that of course, but if these so-called environmentalists are for real, then this is the sort of thing they can and should do to achieve the ends they claim to want to achieve.

But of course they are not for real. They have been indoctrinated into a given planning ideology which is long discredited and morally disgraceful, and they can longer second-guess their group-reinforced beliefs. They are pathetic.

....Following on

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time to consider Breeding Licenses?


Andrew D Atkin:

Most people's reaction to the idea of the state defining who can and cannot breed is one of knee-jerk rejection, because of course it seems like a violation of citizens rights. I understand, but the fact remains that if you don't believe in breeding licensing then you believe in the alternative; and the alternative is to let thousands of children be born to monsters. That is, people who perpetuate abuses and neglect on levels that you may not even wish on your worst enemy. So choose your greater evil?























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How can we be so confident in proposing social policy for the now, when we blatantly ignore the demographic impact of our policies running into the future? How can we make claim to the 'rightness' of our propositions, when we do not even dare have the real conversations?

Current public policy in the western world works to ensure that anyone, not matter their physical or psychological status, can have as many children as they want. Whatever their failings the state will pick up the slack. We do this primarily because we have no tolerance for the idea of leaving children for dead. However, our policy is also reckless - we operate this policy in the vacuum of long-term thinking, and already we are paying dearly for it with the rapid expansion of the underclass.

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I have written periodically in my blog that I believe in breeding licenses, but I want to make a dedicated statement on it. We live in a country, and world, where serious child abuse is so common that it is a norm. But we don't take serious action. Why?

The problem is, I believe, that we have far less political pressure than there should be to address this problem. Here are some thoughts as to why:

1. The biggest problem is the out-of-sight/out-of-mind effect. Yes we know child abuse is an ugly and pervasive problem, but it's still only abstractions to our minds because we can't see it and feel it personally.

2. Another problem is that, ironically, not even the people who are subject to child abuse can see it and feel it (fully) because they repress it.

-This relates to the permanence of the damage: See my Understanding Mental Sickness.

3. Once abuse has distorted the mind (and yes, it literally distorts the functioning and even structure of the brain), you get an individual who no longer even knows what normal is.

-Imagine a father beating the death out of his son while saying: "My dad beat me up when I did something wrong and I turned out ok". You get my point.

4. Too many people with personal demons to hide. What child-abuser wants their children to be tested for signs of abuse? This is probably why the topic is often taboo.

So here we have this individually and socially devastating problem that just won't go away. In fact it's getting worse because we have a welfare system that supports highly damaged people in having as many children as they want, and regardless of their personal status. I know it's a bit crass to say so, but in part at least you could interpret the DPB (domestic purposes benefit) as a breeding programme for the criminal class, because functionally that's what it has been for so many cases.

However, removing financial support for woman with children is not a realistic option. Once children have come into this world they should be supported as well as they reasonably can be. They cannot be blamed for a mother's incompetence and, as the reader will probably agree, they should not be left for dead.

But if we are to retain our welfare system and continue to support children, and regardless of who they are born to, then we need to seriously consider actively imposing ourselves so as to regulate who can and cannot have children in the first place. Because the alternative is the status quo - that is, thousands of children being born into hell, leaving us with a profound current and inter-generational problem that will spread and endure indefinitely.

I am not speaking theory I am speaking fact. We are already dealing with the consequences of this today.

Education:

Some people believe that education can provide the answer to the cycle of child abuse. They are no doubt well intentioned, but wrong. They do not understand the impact that child abuse has on the individual.

Yes education is important, and it can help to some degree, but it is limited. You can never truly 'enlighten' someone who has been robbed of their childhood. The repression, developmental deficiencies, and distorted emotional programming run far too deep.

Think about it. If education could solve the problem then our species wouldn't need a childhood in the first place. It takes about 20 years in a proper environment for the human animal to develop into a capable parent themselves. You're dreaming if you think a short-term remedial "cook book" programme can substitute it.


The included video gives an excellent overview in the impact of child abuse. It clarifies for the reader what we are really dealing with (link here).

How could it work?

My ideal model is to make it so that mothers cannot breed until they are first awarded a license. However, you cannot regulate to avoid an accidental pregnancy, and a forced-abortion is politically impossible and in my view morally unacceptable. So, there would be many cases where a woman will get pregnant, want to keep her baby (even though she's a mess), and in turn will have her baby without a license. So how do you deal with this?

I believe the punishment would have to be forced surgical contraception once the woman's baby is born. Accept the one baby, do your best for them, but then no more.

Yes I know that is brutal. But the incentive to get a license before pregnancy must be strong otherwise the law will be useless and dysfunctional. I wish there were a nicer way but I can't see it. And remember, a woman can always choose not to "walk off the cliff" by taking proper precautions before sex. The state would only have to be brutal for if she insists on being impulsive and stupid. At the least, the message would be clear: Pregnancy is a serious business.

Who would be awarded a license?

If I had it my way it wouldn't be the bottom 20% of society because I know how damaged 'normal' is. But the points of reference are subjective - no-one is non damaged. Basically, the larger the fractional cut-off number, the faster you can eradicate the impact of severe inter-generational damage within your society.

However 20% would almost certainly be politically impossible. My personal guess is that only the bottom 5% would be restricted from reproduction. Regardless, stopping the worst of the worst from breeding would be a major step forward and put us on the right track.

How do you measure fitness?

It's only recently that we have had the tools to make a reasonable decision.

Believe it or not, the least of the concerning attributes for winning a breeding license would be things like gainful employment, good manners and attitudes, and social conformity etc. These things are skin deep. People can do all the "right" things but still for all the wrong reasons, and vise versa. What you want to look for is signs of substantial psychological damage. This can be detected with background reports, and more importantly physical and mental analysis using brain scans. Genetic physical/mental fitness is a concern to look at as well, which I speak about later.

It's a given that you will never have a perfect screening system. There will always be the borderlines who in principle should or should not have been awarded a license. But that would be a small price to pay for the advantage of stopping the bulk of societies most damaged people from breeding.

Population control:

Another great advantage of breeding licenses is that you establish the infrastructure for direct population control. No one can argue that this may not one day be a necessity, if it is not already.

I know that people argue that the Malthusians have got it wrong, and that populations stabilise with wealth. But these people are looking at our industrialised societies only from the surface. I can't say for sure, but I retain a strong suspicion that the conditions have long been introduced to (deliberately) keep population growth suppressed in the industrialised world. (See here for my comprehensive statement on this). And if so, then I for one would like to see the exchange of our current form of 'tyranny' for direct controls on population, via breeding licenses.

Better to limit the number of children people can have directly, than to psychologically condition and economically starve them out of the option?

The eugenics question:

The eugenics question relates to the other great advantage of breeding licenses. We can include in the list of prerequisites that parents-to-be have no serious risk of passing on chronic disorders to their children.

In our society we do not let nature "have its way" and let people with chronic genetic problems die of their own shortcomings. Though on a humane level this is obviously great, it's bad practice for the long-term. By facilitating the "survival of the weak" we threaten the future health of our species. So maybe we need to think about doing surgically what nature will otherwise do catastrophically? Again, I speak about this in detail here.

Conclusion:

So you think I'm a Nazi? Nope. I'm a realist. And sometimes the nice things to believe are not the real things to believe. And can I say that I'm not the one who promotes the idea that thousands of children should continue to be born to parents who will exchange what should be love with sexual and aggressive release. I won't labour the point, but again, if you're not for effective change then you choose the status quo and whatever it is that the status quo will evolve into. It's not pretty.

I believe that the time for breeding licenses has come. At the least can we start talking about it? If there are better (realistic) solutions to the problems that I'm talking about then great, I'm all ears. But so far I can't see them.


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Addition: 17-6-13:

Charles Murray's essay is of interest. He notes that America has dealt with the underclass problem not by stopping it from breeding or rehabilitating it, but by segregating it through prisons and gated communities, etc. This is not a solution to the underclass itself course, it is only a solution for those who don't want to be subject to it directly.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Was 9-11 an inside job?

Andrew D Atkin:

Remember that tyranny is the historic norm, our species is just as insane as it ever was, and horrors on the scale of 9-11 (intelligently organised, or not) are no freak show.

So may we dare to ask the question? Was 9-11 an inside job?

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The idea of 9-11 being an inside job is not something that any sane person would want to believe. The implications of such a thing--if it were in fact to be true--are difficult to say the least. You would have to re-consider/develop much of your entire world view, and it would be to a view that is far from the happy "western sunshine" model that we all want to embrace.

If you're an American in particular, then an inside job would mean not that you have a luke-warm democracy, but that you have no democracy at all; and it wouldn't just mean that your country suffers from an infestation of psychopaths, but that those psychopaths are in the drivers seat. And it would mean things like the fact that every day you send your kid away to get their schooling, you can know they'll be conforming to programmes specified by an elite that value your children about as much as you or I value livestock. Etc.

Very uncomfortable. But let's look at some 9-11 facts anyway.

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There are many facts about 9-11 that justify some rational suspicion. Such as, the fact that the evidence from the collapsed towers was rapidly cleared and melted down (rather than explicitly examined), or the fact that traces of thermite (a military-only type advanced explosive) was found in the debris...and much more 'funny stuff' that I can't recall.

But these things, to me, are no smoking gun. They do not induce my serious suspicion. However, the following clip does...

The official story is that Tower-7 collapsed from a fire and also a boiler explosion in the bottom-center of the building. First respect that no steel-frame building has ever before collapsed from a fire, and Tower-7 collapsed in a manner identical to a perfect controlled demolition:


Now what are the chances of this? What are the chances of the building collapsing like a perfect controlled demolition as a result of a fire? This is like winning first-division lotto three times over, and in consecutive weeks on a single ticket. The chances are not small - they're incredible.

The idea that the exploding boiler can induce a demolition-style implosion sounds hard to believe as well. Does hot water really contain enough thermal energy to pull that off? And what are the chances of the nature (trajectory) of the explosion just so happening to facilitate the right impacts on the major support columns, for a demolition-style implosion to occur? Again the chances are just so small, if not impossible.

Even if a building of this type could collapse from a fire, then you would expect it to crumble away gradually--over hours or even days--as each of the major supporting columns (24 in this case, I think?) finally gives way.

I am not the only one who sees it this way. There is a petition somewhere out there that literally thousands of architects and engineers have signed in support of a second investigation into 9-11. I understand that they are primarily responding to the same things that I am responding to.

Even if you do not believe that 9-11 was an inside job, the Tower-7 collapse is in itself extraordinarily suspicious. I believe it's fair to say that that much is not open to interpretation.

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Have you ever seen the movie, Trading Places? (I recommend it - it's entertaining). The producer of that movie is Aaron Russo. Aaron developed a close relationship with Nick Rockefeller, who is the son of David Rockefeller. According to Aaron, Nick Rockefeller gave him substantial insider information about the 9-11 event (and other), and he did so several months in advance of 9-11 actually happening.

Aaron is very interesting, and he certainly doesn't come off as psychopathic or delusional. Aaron had nothing to gain in making his assertions. He was already very successful. He was also knowingly dying of cancer at the time of this interview (now dead).

His interview as follows:


But how would it be possible to pull off?

Compartmentalisation. For example, the military makes top secret planes with only a few people understanding the final project, by compartmentalising their operations. You have one team making the wings (only) and another team making the drive-units (only), etc. Only the guys at the top 'put it all together'. Everybody else only knows what they need to know.

In the 9-11 scenario, if it is in fact an inside job, the people who made the explosives would almost certainly have had no idea what those explosives would be used for; and the people who installed them into the buildings would have been told it was just some form of high-tech fire-retardant, etc.

In a compartmentalised world, and especially one with official secrecy, nearly everyone operates on faith with respect to the ultimate objectives they're attending to. You can appreciate the latent danger of misplaced power in this context, as maybe too few people do (or can) hold the "big boys" to account.

Who believes in an inside job?

If I was earning big money in a government job, or big money on some level of the corporate private sector, I would never write a post like this one. I'm asking for trouble if for no other reason than because of the way it makes me look to my colleages, and clients. This especially applies for if I was in a government job. You get it? Inside-job is not something you're allowed to believe.

So how then do you know that only kooks ask the question and have serious suspicions? Well, all I can say is that you might be very surprised at what many highly reputable and well-educated people [privately] believe about this 9-11 thing.

As I have said before on my blog: Being embarrassed to be associated with a conspiracy is not, in itself, the right reason to dismiss it.

Conclusion:

I know full well that government corruption goes way further than what most people assume of it, and what we call democracy is a bit of a human-management exercise joke. The 9-11 event may indicate that it goes even further and that we have the blackest of people running the show.

Maybe there is not enough evidence to be absolute with the conclusion, but there is most certainly enough evidence to be seriously suspicious. A truly honest government would accept and respect that much at least - rather than demonising the critics.

As for the engineers and architects who want a second investigation, we can know that it couldn't realistically prove anything in itself. If 9-11 were in fact an inside job, then asking for a second investigation would be like asking a corrupt judge to find himself guilty and prosecute himself. Obviously at this level of the game it's about power, not justice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is a Recession?


John Banks, sole-surviving Act party parliamentarian.

Andrew D Atkin:

Recessions are painful but they are the medicine - not the disease.

Let's say I bought myself a little restaurant. I employed, say, 20 people. But because I refused to put enormous amounts of sugar and dairy into my food my business failed, because New Zealander's generally don't like food that doesn't come with the diabetes and heart disease. I then go bankrupt, close my business, and lay off all my staff.

What next? The premises that my business was on are open for new lease, the equipment that I owned is up for sale, and relating to the job market my staff are up for sale too of course. However, there's a time-lag on the sale because the (ex) staff and (ex) landlord asked for too much money for their premises and labour. But naturally, they eventually drop their prices because some income is better than none. They drop their price to the point where entrepreneurs get excited about the opportunity to start a new business, using the [then] redundant premises and labour. The new business has a good (or appropriate) idea and they want to start it up at a good price, which is now being offered.

The new business does well because it sells McDonald's instead of Kebabs. The people are re-employed, the landlord gets some rent, and the customers get their service. So we have our recovery.**

So what happened exactly from a macro-economic outlook? What happened was basically a micro-scale recession and then correction. The original business was selling a product out of sinc with the demand and the possible asking price - that is, the asking price that can cover costs and achieve a tangible profit. The original business was effectively a "distortion" and likewise it naturally failed.

At the point that that business failed it was creating a recession. A recession is basically just the point where parts of an economy dissolve back into the resource base, and in turn this functions as a precursor that allows other more appropriate businesses to reabsorb the resources and take over.

A surplus of resources created by a recession drives new business development, as the glut lowers the price of base resources. So the recession facilitates the price signal for the following correction.

A 'real' recession is when the entire economy goes through a retraction as mass businesses fail or recede, for whatever reason.

Delaying the recession:

Now let's imagine another scenario. Rather than letting our micro-economy get rid of its "errors" and re-adjust to the corrected demand, I instead lobby the government to provide me with a subsidy to keep my kebab business alive. My staff and I all promise to vote for the National party if they rip off the tax payer so as to keep me afloat. The National party then plays ball and invents ambiguous economic or moralistic reasons to not let my business fail, along with lots of scaremongering.

And so the National party borrows more money to subsidise my business and in the name of "protecting jobs" and "driving the recovery" etc.

Good idea? No. In fact it's a very bad idea. First because the economic distortion just goes on, and as the economy is imbalanced it can only be supported with debt-financing. An imbalanced economy does not pay its own way. So instead of getting your correction you just drive the economy into debt - for supposedly economic (but really political) reasons.

Alas, sooner or later the debt used to fund my non-viable business will have to be paid back. When this finally happens the recession will be more painful than needed had been, because not only must your economy adjust to what it should have adjusted to in the beginning, it must also now adjust to paying off its debt - the pendulum swings the other way. This means maybe not a recession but a depression (which is just an extreme recession) with the final result being a much reduced living standard. And riots if you can't afford to pay people their dole.

-And for the record, this is exactly what has happened to the USA and many other countries around the world today. They are now fighting bankruptcy.

You cannot cure an economy of the need for a recession once you have an imbalance*. You can only delay it. Delaying a recession requires debt-financing and a callous disregard for the long-term social cost of fueling, rather than purging, the economy of its original distortion.

Our current situation in New Zealand:

The National government is borrowing $300m per-week to avoid a (needed) recession. That is serious money. Remember that with their debt-fuelling they are only delaying the recession (that is, the full intensity of it) and likewise making the problem worse. If the government carries on its merry way we might be a Greece in 3 years time, and the country officially bankrupt. We will then be in the hands of the IMF (like we nearly were in the 1980's until 'rogernomics' saved us from third-world status). The IMF is basically the global pawn shop. They will bail out NZ but with operational dictations and asset sales included.

This is what happens when politicians say "I don't want a recession during my tenure" and so delay it, and therefore worsen the problem with debt-fuelling for until the next political term.

It was originally the Labour government that created New Zealand's problem by facilitating a distortion in demand, by artificially inflating property prices. I explain this in detail here, but in short they induced people to borrow on the backs of their houses which created a 'rouge' debt-input into the economy. This in turn led to an "economic growth" which could only be as temporary as an individuals ability to live off their credit card. It was faulty economic growth because it was based on a distortion in demand leading to a structural distortion of the supply base. And the supply-response was not an increase in internal manufacturing or other real production (which is the Keynesian economists wishful-thinking ideal), but an increase in the importation of other people's goods (BAD!).

But then the current National government, rather than letting our economy go into a proper recession (and employing appropriate reforms) preserved the problem with chronic debt-fuelling from the governmental end of the game. New Zealand's [massive] public sector needs to retract.

We celebrated Labour for making us artificially rich because all the voter's could see at the time was the money. Fools gold! And now, just as foolish, we celebrate National for keeping us away from the recession of which would have been the necessary pay-back from Labour's mismanagement. But in time, when we really have to pay the piper, we will probably be despising both of these governments. Some of us already do. The others don't get what a recession is and why we have to go through with it.
Where is public education when you need it?

So who should you vote for?

There is only one political party that seems to be prepared to seriously confront New Zealand's two great immediate problems (housing unaffordability and massive national debt) today - ACT. And no they didn't pay me to say that. It's just the way it is and this is why I endorse them. I don't agree with everything they want to do but they are the best political option in terms of critical policy today.

Our other major parties seem to be willing to bankrupt the country. They talk about the problem of debt but offer no realistic solution except the image of solution. Like suggesting we put out our house fire with a garden hose when really we need a fire truck.

And sadly the media has allowed our main parties to operate presidential-style soundbite debates and in the process the minor parties have been sidelined, so no one is there to truly hold our government to account. And also of course, the distractions have been helped with childish (and probably deliberately engineered) sideshows such as the 'tea cup' saga.

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*Unless by chance you discover a way of achieving a major boost in productive capacity with your given resource base, or there is a major increase in international market prices for the goods that your economy sells. But that's hoping and gambling. You should always spend within your known means.

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**I will include that once you have your basic recovery so that your resources are back in production, the developmental phase from there is that the tighter job market drives up the cost of labour (good!). In turn, businesses are forced to substitute labour with capital and operational improvements, which in turn increases productivity per-capita/hour worked, over time. This is how real economic development works.

However, it can be (and historically has been) undermined by saturating the New Zealand job market with too much immigrant labour too soon, which takes away the pressure on business to invest in capital and technique (ahead of labour) for a qualitive improvement in economic development.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting rid of poverty in New Zealand: Impossible?

Andrew D Atkin

It's all about supply!

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Our likable Prime Minister, John Key, does not need to concern himself with the cost of living.
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The issue of greed and poverty seems to be becoming a topic of interest in New Zealand, and certainly the rest of the industrialised world. It's being pushed by working class heroes like Gareth Morgan, and others. But they all seem to promote the same simple (and questionable) solution: Tax the rich and give to the poor - the "Robin Hood" solution.

In my Explaining New Zealands Property Disaster I made the point that one of the most sure-fire ways to create a poverty class is to facilitate an under-supply of what is essential. Our core essentials are of course housing and food. My point is that you can also achieve the opposite (anti-poverty) by facilitating an over-supply of what is essential.

By definition people do not compromise on what is essential. This is why prices for essentials are so vulnerable to severe hikes resulting from under-supplies. An under-supply of houses or food tends to bid up the price to whatever the market can afford, as buyers must aggressively compete amongst each other to avoid being the guy who misses out. But when you facilitate a mild glut then the opposite can occur, as sellers must compete amongst themselves to avoid being the guy who can't sell (or rent out) their property. And so, with an over-supply, the price is essentially driven down to what the bottom of the market can afford. A form of egalitarianism? Sure!

Likewise, if the bottom of the market can only afford to pay, say, $100pw rent for their home, then generally that is what the rent for simple houses will fall to; because, again, in the context of a glut it's the seller who is struggling to not miss out, and they will always prefer to rent their property out for something rather than nothing.

Now look at the New Zealand Green party. Their leader, Metiria Turei, recently stated that the most important issue for New Zealand right now is housing affordability. Wonderful! I could not agree more with her on that. But their party currently promotes the idea of increasing the minimum wage, while at the same time they promote the idea of forced urban intensification (commonly termed: Smart Growth); that latter of which is, bluntly, housing under-supply policy.
So what would the effect be of these combined policies?

The increased minimum wage will simply translate to higher rents - 'Robin Hood' style wage hikes will bounce back to where they don't belong. In New Zealand we have a serious under-supply of houses so rents are set to whatever the market can afford. If renters come to afford more via a minimum wage hike, then it will be the landlord's who finally get the booty.

So what is the best policy for getting rid of poverty in New Zealand? Well, policy that works to ensure an adequate supply of the essentials is not just a method, it is a PREREQUISITE. Until these working class heroes start talking about abundant housing and food supply they are wasting their time. The supply issue must come before anything else.

There are many things you can do to ensure an abundance of good food and housing to drive the base cost of living down. And doing this is intrinsically easy in a country like New Zealand because it is industrialised and very well endowed with basic resources. However, I don't want to focus on those details here. I want to ask the question of why it's not actually happening.

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Resistance to change: What would happen if good food and housing were cheap?

This is an interesting question, and here we can see some of the incentives to not let it happen. That is, the incentives to deliberately keep people struggling to make ends meet. My focus on this issue will be for housing because this is the 'killer' living cost for New Zealand right now.

Firstly, we need to model what would happen if houses fell back to their "real" non-inflated value of about $200k a unit, rather than $450k+ per unit.

The Banks:

These guys would have a heart attack. All those mortgages held by people who will not be in the black for many years. How many of those mortgage holders would just declare bankruptcy and hand their toxic liability back to the banks? Maybe thousands?

And then if a given bank ultimately fails then maybe they would somehow infiltrate government and force a bailout by getting everyone to believe that an isolated bank failure will lead to the implosion of the entire financial system (as in the USA show)? Regardless, insofar as bank power translates to political power (and I'm not sure if or how much they can/do), we can see that there would be no "political" incentive for a correction in the property market, and instead staunch resistance to it.

What's more the banks of course want to sell the largest mortgages they can, so naturally they want people in debt up to their eyeballs - that's their business. And that requires costly homes and therefore artificially inflated land prices.

Government:

These guys would freak out too, insofar as they care about winning another political term.

Remember that before people can pay down their mortgage they have to earn money that they get taxed on, and when the cost of living is high so must your income be high. If houses and food were cheap then people wouldn't have to work so many hours, and that means (potentially) a major reduction in the tax base.

The only solution to this "problem" is a reduction in services and government bureaucracy. Government must shrink. And when you already have a huge public sector in a finely balanced democracy (New Zealand's current situation) your mass public-sector job cuts will almost certainly ruin your chances of winning the next election.

Also, New Zealand has a rapidly growing national debt. This debt needs to be serviced, so that is another concern relating to a shrinking tax base.

Business status quo:

Though start-ups that are not dependant on local markets (exporters) are generally repelling by costly industrial/commercial land and a high cost of living, business status quo will generally like it.

Business with land assets will want their land value to maintain its inflated status. Extra costs, in all forms, will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. So these guys would understandably lobby government to keep land inflated. This especially applies to landlords. Indeed, I would imagine that the Auckland council, which is currently pushing a high-density (land-restricting) "vision" onto Aucklanders, will probably get most of their submissions in support of their plans from landlords.

Another fundamental is that as people don't have to work so hard there will be a net reduction of economic activity alround, as people trade work/consumption for more spare time as they can redefine their work-life balance. This dynamic alone can lead to effective oversupplies which can ruin the profitability of business status quo, up until they and/or their competitors recede to the adjusted demand. This adjustment scenario is great for consumers, but not business status quo.

Note: I should also point out that if you had a major reduction in economic activity then you will of course have many job losses. This can be devastating for people who are mortgaged up to the limit. Hence, we get more political pressure to keep the property market inflated. With this property disaster we have created for ourselves things have become difficult and precarious.

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Conclusion:

It's quite simple. By making the base cost of living low you take the New Zealand economy, and New Zealand in general, back to the 1950's - a time when we had small government, only Dad had to work, minimal personal and nearly no national debt, as many kids as you would sanely want, and no need for a massive welfare system; and also less people getting [materially worthless] degrees only because they're desperate for an income that might buy them a home. Only it would be a better and more efficient New Zealand due to the virtues of modern systems and technologies.

As you can see Reader, you are a tax slave and a debt slave. You function to serve the interests of the status quo, and no doubt you will continue to do so because you're just too busy trying to survive to learn about who's pulling one over on you and why. Your ability to 'escape' has been reduced by the assault on the base cost of living that has been going on for decades now. This especially applies to generation-Y and onwards. Alas, it's just so easy to screw-over the naive.

....But then if you are young, you're not thinking of having too many of those expensive kids, are you? I mean you can barely even afford the rent! (The ultimate objective behind it all may be population control, as I have periodically suggested on this blog). And if you do have kids then the government will be bringing them up; because they're off to a daycare centre because your wife has to go out to work. I wonder what your little Johnny will achieve there... No doubt they will grow up to work even harder than you have to - full of "aspiration" and work "ethic". They will sure as hell need to be!

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Addition: 19-11-11:

I wish to include David Willmott's excellent statement relating to housing affordability in Auckland, also included in my Explaining New Zealand's property disaster.



It's sad, but New Zealander's are so drunk on misinformation and trite from the mainstream media that the majority of Aucklander's will never come to understand what is killing their city. And so they will keep voting for well supported but hapless fools like Len Brown instead.

*****Are you a New Zealander? If so then I urge to you to forward David's talk to your friends and contacts - Hey it's just a couple of clicks! He says it so well and it's just so important.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do schools bribe people out of their minds?

Andrew D Atkin:



Here is a clear example. Take someone who has developed great drawing skill. They can take whatever picture they have in their mind and almost perfectly reproduce it on paper. For an artist this skill must of course exist to a given degree, but it's only one half of the story. There is also the ability to conceive of an image that has aesthetic interest in the first place.

My point is that the ability to draw accurately, though an essential skill in itself, is ultimately secondary. It's like a developed limb to the mind, but not the mind itself. The more "primary" mind is the mind that conceives of what image to produce in the first place. That's the mind that designs - not just reproduces.

So crudely speaking, you can see the artist as having three layers to function: the physical control over their hand, the secondary mental skill of being able to articulate their imagined image, and the primary mental skill of being able to design the image in the first place.

My ultimate point from this model is that we can see these three 'layers' operating everywhere, with everything we do.

Schools:

So what is it that schools teach, relating to my model? Well, from my observation they are incredibly secondary-level thinking heavy. They basically exist to create people who can articulate an image (as my example), yet they do not facilitate the ability to conceive of an image in the first place*.

But schools don't get us to look at it this way. This is because they are overwhelmingly designed to create technicians - not "minds". Schools teach what can be taught and you cannot teach the "designing" (or primary, as I put it) mind.

The development of the designing mind has nothing to do with educational programmes as we know them, because primary thinking simply can't be taught. It always develops from its own intrinsic curiosity/nature - from just mucking around, if you like. It's a development that is (and must be) too autonomous for prescriptive educational programmes to reach.

Note: Can I stress that design-type thinking is not just 'talent' that we are born with. No mental faculty appears out of nothing. It must always developmentally evolve.

The bribe:

All kids love to develop their primary mind, and I would say that they do so because it's the most important level of the intellect (historically!). So, schools have to contradict natural law and buck around 4 billion years of evolution so as to force young people to near-exclusively concentrate on secondary-level thinking; and they do. They do it with bribery and threats.

Schools create programmes which dictate that the child removes themselves from their intrinsic thought processes. If they don't do it they will be humiliated with a label like ADHD or be directly punished; and if they don't do it well enough they will be socially degraded as neither they nor their peers understand that their performance (or lack of it) is not an intelligence test. (Though maybe an IQ test?).

Most parents reinforce the pressure too. They weep with joy when they see their little Johnny create an image which looks more like a photograph than a scribble. They too have been "brainwashed" by a culture of schooling designed to hyper-concentrate the development of secondary-level thinking skills.

As the child gets older the direct emotional bribes/threats retract as they realise (or believe) that their future prosperity will be governed by their academic (secondary) skills, as opposed to the development of their mind. And in this institutionalised world we have created for ourselves their investment might now be rational. Corptopia, as I call it, demands intellectual servitude.

Conclusion:

You can never forget that a child (and adult) is operating a 'mental economy'. The kid that does so well at school has given their mind to what will make them do well, and whether or not this is the best place for them to be is subjective, because there will always be a cost. Where ever your mind is also indicates where it isn't -- forcing a child into one zone also means forcing them out of another. And if you think your kid is going to become some kind of a genius for getting straight A's then think again. The so-called greatest minds throughout history have tended to come from people who never took their schoolwork so seriously.

John Taylor Gatto, probably the most famous educational historian today, believes that genius is as common as dirt...if you simply get the programmes out of young children's minds. Maybe he's right? But I would say that the most important aspect of allowing your 'primary' mind to develop is that you can more directly take control of your life. Enslaving your mind to technician-only status is surely not a good place to be if you want to write your own script.

One of my favourite sayings: The most important skill is not the ability to think, but the ability to recognise what you should be thinking about in the first place. The latter comes from the "mind behind the mind", as I put it, which is the primary mind telling the secondary mind what to do. And as I believe, when the primary mind doesn't develop properly empty faith and assumptions come in to take its place. Like intellectual servants operating on faith that their masters know best.

*Schools focus on secondary thinking skills at best. More so they are about psycho-behavioral adjustment to an institutional work environment.

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Addition: 23-10-11:

The following video is the first part of 3-part series joined into one clip. The first part in the series I liked in particular. They made some very good insights, and I certainly agree with their [essential] assertion that allowing a child to develop effectively means letting them run with their intrinsic interest. Whether they realise it or not, they are promoting what is described as the "unschooling" method of educational development.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Agenda politics: How real is it?

Andrew D Atkin:


In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.

Franklin D. Roosevelt.


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The non-politicised academic world knows exactly what policies do and don't work, and they know exactly how market economies work and where their problems are, and how to deal with them. They know how to achieve real economic development and with egalitarian effect (no poverty). We've done it all before and the dynamics of recent histories are not ambiguous. So what's really going on? Why do we willfully insist on destructive policies? Are we being played for fools?

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If we were cool-headed people wanting to develop public policy, then our starting point for any given policy would simply be the objective. As scientifically minded people we would have (or should have) made no religion out of any given ideological method. We would have been trained into looking at all public policy from a boringly matter of fact position, whereby our conclusions are derived from best research and reason, and not empty impressionistic opinions.

So, if our objective was, say, affordable housing, then we would study relevant histories to see what policy works best for that given objective, while also developing a critical understanding of why those given policies had worked well so we can then know how to apply them, or not, or modify them for our specific context. You know...boring, sensible, reasonable policy development. No bull**t. Just reason and realism. No childish debates. Just intelligent discussions.

Now shouldn't it be obvious to everyone that this is how policy development should work? Making love to ideologies without a willingness to test or reconsider them is for nit-wits. Right? Of course.

Even still, we seem to have created this political culture where everyone is conditioned into having a "team-A versus Team-B" relationship with public policy, and entire political parties for that matter. We link our ideas to our ego's and expect others to do likewise, when really we should be demanding intelligence. We also have the media feeding this relationship with an Oprah Winfrey style presentation of issues, where they could otherwise have provided a format for real understanding.

None of this is conducive to a culture of scientifically derived public policy.

What the conspiracy theorists and some analysts say:

Agenda politics is supported by what I would describe as scientific policy development. That is, the agenda (or objective) is the focus - not an ideological belief in any given policy method for its own sake. When the agenda is the strict focus policies would be predictably developed from an intelligent and matter of fact position, like I argued they should be in the beginning of this post.

Now the conspiracy theorists (and I don't know if that's a fair or exclusive definition for the club I'm referring to) have been saying that the entire world is run by agenda politics, and the 'agenda people' do indeed develop their policies scientifically, and with the same kind of direct objectivity that you would expect from the military. And they will tell you that the ideology show presented to the public is nothing more than a massive perception-management exercise with the purpose of providing to the public ideological rationalisations for policy that is, in truth, scientifically derived. The idea is that those false rationalisations are necessary so as to ensure people do not come to understand how and why they are being manipulated/managed, as that would naturally contradict top-down control. Especially of course if people don't agree with where they're being led.

Crazy idea? But why should it be. How many people in the political world cannot understand the obvious importance and desirability of developing policy from a scientific position? And why on earth would the UN (and the UN is a powerful driver for public policy, world over) recommend policies to nations that have not first been exhaustively long-term modelled? Don't tell me they can't afford it and it can't be done. Nobody just guesses about policy when they don't need to. (That's the point!).

Behind our politicians must be a force that represents agenda politics. This is the most reasonable assumption I believe we can make. If money rules the world (yes it does) then I cannot see how money would tolerate the petty world of opinionated politics. The money people will have an agenda, be what it may, and that agenda would surely employ people to find the right policies that have the right effects to reach the specific objectives in service of the people who have the most power (money).

So again, the idea that the real world of politics is driven by mindless ideology ahead of science is to me a bit far-fetched. Not enough people are that stupid. Demanding objective research is the most obvious and simple thing we can do, so surely it would be done?*

The curious Alan Watt has asserted that someone somewhere high in the United Nations (I can't remember the quoted name) once openly stated that there was both an official and real reason for every given policy that the UN pushes. He has also claimed that the people who really control national governments are the politicians advisor's, not the politicians themselves, and it is the advisor's who know what's really going on and what the real objectives behind the implemented policies are.

This could make sense, because if politicians are the frontline of a (supposed) propaganda machine then they would obviously be most effective (and reliable) in their role if they were to believe in their own nonsense. But regardless, with the effective compartmentalisation of power (like in the military) only a minimal level of propaganda would be required to achieve a political world of penetrating and scientifically directed top-down control. If people inside the system simply don't know enough to challenge a given policy position, then generally they won't. They will just take it on faith that the ordered changes are the right thing to do, as they do.

Maybe the best question the public can ask politicians, or whoever is advising or controlling them, is simply: "How did you derive this policy position? Where is the research and long-term modelling behind it of which I expect you to have done?"

But then, finally, if we are operating on Agenda politics, then that means we are being directed. And if so then where, exactly, are we being taken to?

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*Note: Real research is not to be confused with political research. What I mean by political research is the scenario where vested interests pay a research body to "prove" a pre-desired conclusion, as opposed to just seeking the truth. That is, where researchers operate like lawyers trying to prove their case, rather than judges trying to objectively determine the truth. I believe that the IPCC is clear example of political (propaganda) research.

-Relating to my affordable housing scenario, Phil McDermott provides an excellent example of real research.

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Addition: 27-4-2012: Ancient Agenda?

There is the argument that the world is being run by an "ancient" agenda, where we have locked-in foundations driving the world to an essentially predetermined script, utilising vast resources to that end, and backed by old institutional/monetary powers - be what they may. I have no idea if this is actually true (that is, a static agenda), but to me it is the scariest of thoughts.

Personally I can accept and respect the idea/need for some agenda politics ruling the world, but what I cannot accept is the idea that the central agenda is not living. If we are to be run by agenda politics then that agenda, be what it may, should be open to philosophical challenge and development.

Easy stability via dogmatic adherence to an in-stone agenda should not be tolerated by anyone, because a "stoneified" global agenda is madness. It reduces every human being to the status of a goon, no matter how high up the power-hierarchy they might be. We become worshipers of what is basically a machine. The human mind, obviously, should always be at the top.

I write in relation to this concern here.

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Some other posts relating to this insight:

Time to put away your faith: The government is not your friend.

Agenda22: A personal wishlist for human-social evolution.

Operation population control?

Confessions of a political dominatrix wannabe.

A kind of WW3: Human management Versus individual liberty.