Monday, 28 November 2011

Monday quote

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Myths of privatisation

I am a fan of privatisation for several reasons, not the least being that I think that private companies tend to be less wasteful, more productive, and if they fail the taxpayer isn't called to bail them out, let alone continue to fund them indefinitely. I also do not think it is the government's mandate to run most companies.

Roger Kerr has a good article discussing what he considers are false beliefs held by many opposed to privatisation of public companies. These are the 8 myths he discusses:
  1. Privately owned businesses consistently outperform publicly owned businesses.
  2. Privatisation is ideological.
  3. Privatisation is needed to reduce debt.
  4. The government should own SOEs [State Owned Enterprises] because it has a lower cost of (debt) capital.
  5. SOEs were sold too cheaply.
  6. Privatisation leads to more foreign control over New Zealand.
  7. The government loses financially from privatisation because it forgoes dividends.
  8. Air New Zealand is a good model for the government’s partial privatisation approach.
Myth 2 is interesting as even proponents of privatisation may think this. Kerr argues it is in fact pragmatic.
Myth #2 Privatisation is ideological. To the contrary, it is pragmatic: it (generally) works. When the Thatcher government embarked on privatisation in the 1980s, some regarded it as a leap of faith. It was not a popular policy to advance but was supported when the benefits became clear.

As a British minister said, “facts overtook the debate.”

The genuinely ideological argument is the reverse: the Marxist attachment to “public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”
Of course it could be both. An ideal system can be the best system if the underlying ideology is basically correct.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monday quote

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Liberty and community

Libertarians are sometimes criticised that their position favours individualism. For those that promote individualism this is not seen as a downfall; but the complaint, if true, is a reasonable one to make to a Christian libertarian. Christianity teaches the importance of community. The early Christians shared their property, and Christendom views itself communally, as a city on a hill, we talk of the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. We are bondslaves to our master Jesus. Individuals are metaphorically stones in a temple. The goal of man is to serve God, not himself.

I agree that community is important to Christianity, how could it be other if our greatest commands are to love? One can speak to the nature of community which is important and interacts with the political component. Christian community is a community made up of very unique and distinct individuals. Community does not mean we are less ourselves, rather we are more ourselves. Like a family where each individual contributes something different. But I do not wish to address this issue in detail. Rather the question of whether libertarianism promotes individualism, and is it a negative philosophy for those who promote community?

Pragmatically it is not obvious that libertarianism is detrimental. Looking at our increasingly socialised political structures in the West, we are also becoming increasingly individualistic. That is, our politics are more socialist over the decades and our citizens are more individualistic. Certainly there appears to be some correlation, even if the reasons are a little more complex. I note with some irony the complaints about lack of community coming from socialists who argue the solution is more socialism.

It is possible that individualists can continue to thrive in a libertarian environment? Certainly a Christian should be cautious about promoting laws that are detrimental to community—community as defined by God, not by the secularists—but that is the issue, is it not? Are we not to form our own communities? And the law should be such that it does not interfere with this?

Communities are formed by individuals, by common location or common cause. They are not formed by governments. Attempts by governments to do so fail because laws fail to create community. Legal constructs cannot facilitate friendship. Further, laws frequently inhibit the desires and intents of community by placing unnecessary restrictions on them. Whereas laws that are restricted to dealing with disputes over person and property—that is they prevent and punish actions that are anti-communal: theft, murder, rape—help prevent the fracturing of society.

Laws that punish people who damage other people, damage property, or fail to keep promises that they have agreed to with others, are good in that they address issues of justice, but coincidentally punish those who are engaging in anti-community activities. When government otherwise leaves people alone then citizens can form their own community structures, or not, as they see fit. This is a libertarian position. Certainly libertarian government does not create community, but no government action can. People form communities, and I maintain a libertarian position is more favourable to forming and maintaining functional communities.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday quote

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

George Washington (1732–1799)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bible reading level

Below are listed several Bible versions and their reading age level.

Version
Age
The King James VersionKJV19
Young's Literal TranslationYLT18
The American Standard VersionASV17
Douay Rheims DR17
The New American Standard Bible, 1977NASB16
The Amplified BibleAmp16
The Revised Standard VersionRSV16
The New American Standard Bible, 1995 UpdateNASB95, NASU15
The New Revised Standard Version NRSV15
The English Standard VersionESV15
The Weymouth New Testament15
The Philips New Testament14
The New English Bible NEB13
The New Jerusalem BibleNJB13
The New King James VersionNKJV13
The New International VersionNIV13
Today's New International VersionTNIV13
The Holman Christian Standard BibleHCSB13
The Living BibleLB13
The Jewish New Testament13
The World English Bible WEB12
The New American BibleNAB12
The Common English Bible CEB12
Today's English VersionTEV12
The New English Translation NET12
The New Living TranslationNLT11
The Revised English BibleREB11
The Message10
God's WordGW10
The Contemporary English Version CEV10
The New Century VersionNCV9
The New International Reader's VersionNIrV8
International Children's BibleICB8
The Bible in Basic EnglishBBE?

This list was compiled from a range of sites: here, here, here, here, and here. I also ran Genesis 1 in a few versions thru a Flesch-Kincaid reading calculator (which assesses words and syllables per sentence but not complexity of syntax). I have given the reading age level rather than the grade/ year level as the latter differ thru-out English speaking countries. Age level is for English as first language, and I am aware that established reading levels may underestimate true average ability when children are taught well.

Because this list was compiled from several sources, and estimated reading level is somewhat subjective, various Bibles may be rated mildly incorrectly compared to others. For example the ICB became the NCV and I am not certain how much they differ (if at all) and whether they warrant different age levels.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Monday quote

‎I will put down all apparent inconsistencies in the Bible to my own ignorance.

John Newton (1725–1807).

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