Monday, July 8, 2013

More Interviews needed

Dear people who have been interested in my interview adventure,

Thank you for your interest in what I am doing.

You may be wondering why I have not posted in a while and the reason is not that I have lost interest but rather that there are few people wanting to be interviewed.

I have three ministers in Auckland who are willing to be interviewed but unfortunately I am currently in Christchurch so they will have to wait.

I am uncertain of doing any interviews in Christchurch as there is not much time for me to organise everything but if someone gets me directly in touch with a minister who would be keen then please let me know.

Also if anyone knows any ministers who would be keen to be interviewed then please put me in touch with them regardless of whether they are in Auckland or in Christchurch.

Thank you


Sunday, October 11, 2009

A recommended article by David Farrar

As I do not yet know how to do as some place recommended links down the side of my blog I am forced to write a new post.

I stumbled across quite by accident a very thought-provoking and interesting article written by David Farrar for the National business review concerning John Key's actions on the infamous issue of 'smacking'. I find myself heartily agreeing with him as he mirrors my own opinion on the subject.

So what are you doing still on here? Go read it. And then come back. ;-)

Review: A government for the People: The value of representative democracy by Richard Ekins

The other day I went and printed of the 14 page essay written as a guest paper for the Maxim Institute (you can get it here). The author is Richard Ekins of the Auckland Law School, a highly intelligent guy who has recently defended his philosophy doctorate thesis in Oxford on 'The nature of legislative intent'. Certainly one of my heroes.

His paper "A government for the People: The value of representative democracy" draws upon his thesis a lot but nevertheless is quite complete in itself. Remaining awake until late at night, I decided to read his paper then, instead of my plan of reading it on the next day, and was immediately drawn by his logical argument.

Although I will never be able to accurately summarize his views this is 'what I got' from his paper.

His paper has two main points:

1. Contrary to popular opinion legitimate government should be a representative democracy and not direct democracy.

2. Citizens initiated referendum (CIR) should not be legally binding.

Ok now I must define some terms.

Representative democracy: is what we actually have in New Zealand, that is when we elect representatives to represent us in the acts of governance.

Direct democracy: This is what many people think democracy is, when everyone votes and discusses the issues and legislate accordingly.

Many people believe direct democracy is what democracy should be, Richard Ekins however disagrees.

Richard Ekins says;

The apparent superiority of direct democracy over representative democracy trades on the assumption that the legitimacy of the state requires that it enjoy popular consent or that it be responsive to, that is that it act in accord with, popular preferences. This is a widely held assumption, but it is false.... The state exists for the good of the members of the community, specifically for their common good.

His premise is that a legitimate government is not necessarily one that always does what people want but instead legislates to promote the common good of all. However this should not be taken to mean that he is an extreme statist (one who believes that the government is the answer to all problems):

There is of course a standing risk that representatives will act unreasonably. This makes competitive electoral politics and ongoing public scrutiny very important.

His second point was that Citizens initiated referendum (the 'smacking' referendum was a CIR) should not be legally binding. And I agree! Richard Ekins argues that, voters are not well enough informed, voters are not accountable for laws that they do make, voters are not generally practiced or qualified in the area of writing and voting on laws and voters may vote for inconsistent, contradictory or incompatible legislation. An example cited is the American state of California where a CIR is legally binding.

California's "Proposition 13" in 1978 froze property taxes and made it difficult to enact new taxes. Yet in a series of subsequent propositions, voters approved various new spending commitments (most notably in education), limiting legislative control over the budget.... California is now locked in an extreme budgetary crisis, in part for this reason.

Richard Ekins also puts new light upon the 'smacking referendum' with many people criticizing the fact that our CIRs are not legally binding. Earlier I too must confess that I lamented this however now I have a fresh perspective on CIRs. It is a more than shame but a tragedy that our government is not listening to the will of the people on the smacking issue. However I certainly feel that the answer does not lie through making citizens initiated referendum binding.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quite! Logical Fallacy 2

A particularly frustrating fallacy comes up in debates everywhere. People who should know better, politicians, statespeople and authors again and again use a fallacy called the straw man argument.

Here is a good example:

"Anti-abortionists are against women's rights"

This is a clear straw man argument since anti-abortionists are certainly not against women's rights at all. Of course if they were against women's rights then definitely it would make the anti-abortion standpoint far less credible. Just for the record many of the early feminists, the ones who marched for the right to vote, were also strongly anti-abortion (e.g. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman and so many more).

Here is a slightly harder one:

If evolution were true then why don't we see half monkey, half human animals running around?

This is a straw man argument and unfortunately I see this used waaaay too often. According to evolution both humans and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor not the former from the latter.

And this is a difficult one:

Evolution is 'just' a theory.

What is wrong with this? Well it is on the surface absolutely correct, evolution is a theory. However it is a mistake to use its status as a theory as an argument against it. A theory holds more weight in the academic community than everyday use of the word. Also merely because it is 'just' a theory (not a scientific law) does not disprove it.

A strawman argument is misrepresenting an opposing viewpoint and then proceeding to attack the misrepresentation.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quite! Logical Fallacy 1

Every so often I will write and explain a logical fallacy. This is my "Quite!" series.

As a Christian and an internet debater I come along a certain argument once in a while.

I challenge God to a checkers game, if he doesn't show up I win by default. He didn't show up so I win and God doesn't exist.
This usually is a time for some facepalming because I know that this person is making a simple logical fallacy.

But how?

The above argument is a 'Formal fallacy' and can be hard to spot due to its similarity with the correct logic of Modus tollens (the method of denying).

If we simplify the 'God loses checkers game' argument it becomes this.

1. If God versus me in checkers, he exists.

2. He didn't versus me in checkers.

3. Therefore he doesn't exist.

Compared with a correct argument of Modus tollens.

1. If I am sick, I am tired

2. I am not tired.

3. Therefore I am not sick.

See the difference? The problem is that God doesn't have to versus me in checkers to prove he exists.

If A, B. Does not mean that; If A is false, then B is false. That is a formal fallacy.
If A, B. Does mean that; If B is false, then A is false. That is Modus tollens.

That is not the only from of Formal fallacies. Consider this example.

The existence of many rock layers around the earth proves that the earth is millions of years old so evolution is true.

1. If evolution is true, there would be many rock layers.

2. There are many rock layers.

3. Therefore evolution is true.

*Note how this is the exact opposite of the 'God loses checkers game' example earlier.

This fallacy is similar to Modus Ponsen (method of affirming) which is valid.

1. If it is raining, I will not go outside.

2. It is raining.

3. Therefore I will not go outside.

Remember that many layers of rock IS actually evidence for the earth being millions of years old, the problem is that there could be other reasons for there being many rock layers (a global flood for instance). At best the argument is inconclusive.

If A, B. Does not mean that; If B is true, then A is true. That is a formal fallacy.
If A, B. Does mean that; If A is true, then B is true. That is Modus ponsen.



Why I am against Governmental foreign aid and our 0.7% GDP pledge.

I am inspired in particular by the no more excuses campaign and more generally by certain left wing groups.

The plot of the story goes like this.

Over thirty years ago the UN held a council which stated, among other things, that developed countries should contribute at least 0.7% of their national GDP (Gross National Product, quite a sizable sum) for foreign aid. Today out of those developed countries only a handful of them have met the requirement of 0.7%. New Zealand is one of the 'other' countries, one which not only hasn't yet met the quota but not even set a schedule to spike up our overseas contributions.

In New Zealand where political activism is the national hobby, there are certainly enough people to 'get in behind the cause' and pressure our government to be less miserly with the national purse strings. For young people like those working for No More Excuses and campaigns like it, it is their chance to 'make a difference'.

However I have certain problems with the whole national emotion of philanthropy.

One is that the purpose of government is violated, and you don't necessarily have to be very far right of Jeannette Fitzsimons to agree with me. Government has one single purpose; to serve its own people. No one should pay for their government to shower money into third world countries. If I took your money to give to the homeless man down the street I couldn't justify my action by saying "he needs it".

The second is that it naively forgets the origin of the funds of government; from taxes taken from you and me. Never ever forget that the government does not have any money on its own, it is an organization which must return what it takes from the taxpayer. If even one person disagrees with sending tax dollars overseas then it is robbery.

I have read arguments concerning corruption, freeing up corrupt governments money to spend on military expenses and giving the UN too much power. While these are good arguments and very real problems, they are just the symptoms of the increasing number of words in the standard dictionary's entry 'government'.

In essence foreign aid is the philosophy of social welfare on a global scale which sounds not only nice but noble except that the government is not some wealthy philanthropist it must return what it takes to its own people.

The government is an institution charged with the governance of its citizens, nothing more.

Charity is a voluntary act and the UN should leave it as that. Robbing Peter to help Paul is a wrong and hopeless way to cure world poverty.

The Heartless Capitalist?

All this must make me seem quite cruel and heartless but please allow me to redeem myself.

While the government as an institution and not a person does not have any moral obligation to any people except its own taxpayers, private citizens do.

Organizations such as Tear fund and others have done heaps more help to the poor and destitute than government aid ever can.  Each one of us has a responsibility within their own conscience to make a difference in this world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is the USA an Imperialist country?

Definition of Imperialism:
1. Imperial government, authority, or system
2. The policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas; broadly : the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence.



Don't forget the acquisition of the Philippines in the 1800s (of course now has independence). Also the conquest of certain Carribean Islands. Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California all conquered from Mexico ;-).

Look at a map of the Pacific you will notice many islands in the north-east pacific are US-owned. Have a look how far the Midway islands or Guam is from California.

Also the USA has a large number of bases in foreign countries and has its warships all around the world. There are aircraft carriers in the Persian gulf, Battleships in the Atlantic, Cruisers in the Indian and destroyers in the Mediterranean. Many countries owe the USA a large amount of money (read the Economic Assassin).

The Korean and Vietnam wars were motivated on Imperialism (building a larger democratic 'sphere of influence' than the Soviets communist one).

Now I am not against the brave men and women who gave their lives for freedom, but for it or against it the USA is an imperialist country although certainly unique from its predecessors.

This is also why the US president is regarded as the most powerful man in the world.


Want to comment? Please do

What this blog is about

Well I have created my social issues blog.
This is where I comment and write stuff on history, politics, geography, social studies, current events, conspiracy theories, philosophy, economics, people, religion, science, and so much more. As you can see I consider myself quite the Renaissance man (taking an interest in many varying topics) ;P. I am welcome to criticisms and I am open-minded on my views. If you present a good argument, I am not so proud as to not admit I am wrong(it has been done before ;p). However any sign of ad hominen attacks and you will turn me away from your arguments ;-).


First of all there are two methods that I have in viewing all these issues.

1. Defining the definitions. Also avoiding labels as much as possible.

2. Never assume at all.

This is a biggie for me. I can not count the number of times when I have been frustrated by unclear and vague terms and in this blog I will always define the terms as clear as possible. A couple of examples: The term 'imperialism' does this mean controlling an empire, settling colonies, having a 'shpere of influence' or having a widespread military presence? What is an 'empire'? Another example; the term 'evolution'. The gradual process by which single celled organisms changed a little in each successive generation to be the variety of life we see today? The breeding of dogs? Or simply 'change'? It is vital to define all terms in order to make a coherent argument. Otherwise what makes a convincing argument for one is utter baloney to the next person.

2. Ok ok also a biggie. Never assume at all. To assume is to be arrogant because your are assuming(;-P) that you are an authority on the subject.

Well hopefully that sets the tone for this blog.