Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kill the poor

A libertarian government would abolish state welfare. State-sanctioned coercion would be phased out, and the provision of welfare would become the exclusive domain of voluntary charity.

This policy always meets the same objection, expressed here by Commie Mutant Traitor.
And what happens to the genuinely needy if the voluntary charity of you and your fellow selfless wealthy isn't sufficient to meet even the bare minimum of their needs for food, shelter, and healthcare? Plenty of people are happy to ignore their moral obligations, or disagree that such obligations even exist, so the burden placed on such paragons of virtue as yourself in the absence of state intervention would be quite large.
I might as well state the obvious, and answer Commie Mutant Traitor's rhetorical question. If voluntary charity isn't sufficient to meet even the bare minimum of their needs for food, shelter, and healthcare, then the genuinely needy will die - just as they do now. But the question is hypothetical. In New Zealand, the number of genuinely needy is small, and public largesse is large. In New Freeland, everyone's bare minimum needs for food, shelter, and healthcare will be met.

Still, wouldn't it be nice if those pesky poor people were someone else's problem? Here's an idea. New Zealand could secede from South Auckland. Our commitment to the welfare of South Auckland's poor and needy would then come under "foreign aid" - resulting in a 97% cost saving to the tax-payer.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What happened in 1983?

Today Bailey Junior Kurariki, the country's youngest convicted killer, makes his second appearance before the Parole Board. What are his chances of release this time? Not looking good.

It's a good month to be thinking about homicide. A few days ago, the Herald ran the headline Homicide rate soars - but is it? There have been seven homicides so far this year. A few days ago, that was "nearly one every two days". Now, of course, the homicide rate has dipped to just one every three days.

For a sensible perspective, I got the Sensible Sentencing Trust. I was surprised that they had no actual list of this year's homicide victims, but they do have a 2007 murder map. And they also have this graph, which plots homicides and violent offences in New Zealand since 1952.

What happened in 1983 to precipitate the huge increase in violent offences? It wasn't "P" or party pills. It wasn't Rogernomics and it wasn't global warming. So what was responsible for the sudden surge in violent crime? I have no idea. Do you?

Fortunately, "the rising tide of murder and mayhem" seems to be levelling off...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Unhappy tree friends

It's so frustrating reading stories like this and being left wondering about the important details.

"The men have been released with a warning," says the Herald. They were arrested for

Being drunk
Climbing a tree
Demanding to speak to the media
Demanding to speak to Liam Ashley's parents
Being a danger to themselves
Being a nuisance to others
Being out late
No reason


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson

I just learnt that Robert Anton Wilson has died.

I'm sad. Robert Anton Wilson influenced my thinking more profoundly than any other author. He literally changed my life, and I owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks, Bob.

It's been a while since I've read any Wilson, and decades since my first Wilson mindfuck. Yet, coincidentally, I was thinking about Hagbard Celine and his submarine just the other day (a recollection triggered by seeing that Sealand is for sale). Like it says on the back cover of Leviathan, "You will never forget this ultimate reading trip to the outer limits of the contemporary nightmare..."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"It was the drugs"

Graeme Burton was a gentle child who used to draw charcoal etchings of birds on his mother's birthday cards. He had a good upbringing and did not go off the rails till he left school when he was 15 to work at a menswear store where he found (drum roll, please) drugs.

"It was the drugs. Up till then he was a normal child," said Glenyss Buchanan, a family friend.

The drugs... well, perhaps. But which ones? Bad ones, obviously.

I have a better explanation. One which explains both why Burton went to jail in the first place, and why he was (tragically) let out.

He's a psychopath. Check out Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). You'll recognise Graeme Burton immediately, no trouble at all. Hare describes psychopaths as "intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs. Lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret."

Of particular interest, in light of Burton's behaviour over the past few days, are these two criteria from the DSM-IV
  • impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Burton is now in hospital where doctors have amputated his leg above the knee. He's lucky. In other jurisdictions, they would have amputated his head above the neck.