Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State.

The Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Monday, October 15, 2012

New Zealand's State Run Farms: The War Against Private Property.

(I have no affiliation with any farming body, nor do I believe that farmers have a right to pollute at the expense of others, but I believe the best way to achieve the prosperous and free society, and an unpolluted environment, is by relying on the single-most important factor that has made the West the best civilisation to be a part of in man's history: private property rights, and they are being destroyed in New Zealand. Remember throughout history the most audacious polluters have been communist countries.)


I’m in the process of penning a piece regarding Tyler Cowan’s interesting Great Stagnation Thesis, as it may apply to farming in New Zealand, and much sooner than might be thought with a Labour/Green government taxing on-going innovation out of the sector from 2014, however, in the interim, there is one frightening connection between farming in New Zealand and China, that has nothing to do with the Labour/Green/NZ First xenophobia regarding Chinese investment, that may also feed into this: it’s the out-of-control, indebted state, again, and it’s destruction of private property rights as a means for its survival.

Consider the following question, which you may think absurd at this stage of the post: how far is a society that has done away with private property rights, as we have done - and which I shall prove shortly - from the below position in China?


China says it has worked hard to overhaul its judicial system in ways that better protect human rights, but one of the country's most widespread abuses is increasing and is a leading cause of unrest.

The forced eviction of residents from their homes and farmland has quickened over the past three years, human rights group Amnesty International said in a report issued Thursday.
Forced eviction "has become a routine occurrence in China and represents a gross violation of China's international human rights obligations on an enormous scale," said the Amnesty report 'Standing Their Ground,' which looked at evictions from February 2010 to January 2012.

Violent forced evictions are increasing as local authorities, often highly indebted, seize land and sell it off to developers to meet bank repayments for funds borrowed to finance projects, Amnesty said.

Income from the sale of land rights to developers represents local governments' single largest source of revenue. And officials looking for promotion also rely on developing land to deliver the high growth rates their superiors demand, the group said.


For those who think me fanciful trying to work New Zealand into this, there is no doubt about the growing indebtedness of local councils (echoing central government, which refuses to put a cap on spending ):


The country's 11 regional councils and 68 territorial authorities recorded a $127 million deficit in the March 2011 quarter, Statistics New Zealand says.

The debt is $50m more than in the December quarter.


As of August this year, local council debt has quadrupled in the last ten years from $1.8 billion to $7 billion.

And more ominous, state officials are as loose with private property rights, as they are our privacy, for they have no culture or understanding over the importance of either: there continues, in New Zealand, the on-going destruction of private property rights by that monster act of statism, the Resource Management Act, under which local councils are now regulating for their right to run the formerly private farms of their ratepayers:


Last week, Federated Farmers appealed the Environment Court's decision on Horizons Regional Council's One Plan.

As it stands, the plan threatens agriculture's ability to operate profitably in the region. Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president Andrew Hoggard says the current version would poorly serve the community.
The re-introduction of resource consent requirements for other intensive land uses, including cropping, commercial vegetable production and irrigated sheep and beef, is hugely significant to the region's primary sector.
The plan as it has now emerged has:

A nitrogen-leaching loss limit assigned to existing and new intensive land uses, based on the land-use capability of the soil

A sinking lid on nitrogen-leaching loss over 20 years

Requirements on farmers to get consent to farm where they have existing intensive land use in the priority water management zone, or if they seek new intensive land use anywhere in the region

Indigenous biodiversity managed at a regional, rather than district, level.

Although all farmers in the region are affected by the One Plan, some are more directly affected than others. For example, it is likely that, given production constraints and limitations to future land use, this plan will cause the value of all farm land in the region to drop.


Mid-Canterbury sheep farmer Chris Allen sums up the impact of this on (formerly) privately run farms, talking of Environment Canterbury’s similar Land and Water Regional Plan:


A Mid Canterbury sheep farmer fears he will need a resource consent to farm under the existing definitions of land use change in Environment Canterbury's Land and Water Regional Plan.

Chris Allen, who is also the Mid Canterbury provincial chairman for Federated Farmers said unless it was changed, sheep farmers could be among the first to require resource consents to farm.

The nutrient discharge rules outlined in the current version of the LWRP, meant there were incredibly tight tolerances for land use change, he said.

It defined a land use change as when a farmer's nitrate leaching was at 10 per cent more than the average calculated using the Overseer programme from 2011-2013.

A 10 per cent margin was "wafer thin" for sheep farmers. If a consent was required to farm, it would substantially limit land use change and better farming practices, Mr Allen said.

"Such rigid rules risk either freezing farm practice in time or spurring radical high-input indoor farming.

"It also strips away the certainty I need to invest in more environmentally desirable kit. It is based on your farm or orchard's average for the preceding two years so one poor season could seriously skew things," Mr Allen said.

The rules as they stood meant he may have to carry less stock, resulting in his farm underperforming productively and commercially and forcing him to dispose of lambs to remain compliant.

If he had a good season and planted more winter feed, he would have to factor that into Overseer to see if he could run extra lambs to take advantage of the growing conditions.
"That is not being a sheep farmer, that's farming by the numbers, and all I want to do is be a sheep farmer."

He was hugely concerned with Overseer being made central to the regulatory process.
It had severe limitations which had to be be acknowledged in the LWRP, he said
“For me to get an accurate assessment of my farm's nutrient performance will mean a big chunk of my time will be taken up as a data entry operator; data doesn't enter itself."

One farmer told him it took over six hours to create a nutrient plan using Overseer. Mr Allen was concerned at the time it would take for him to complete his own nutrient plan.

His 360ha irrigated sheep and beef farm near Ashburton Forks has four different soil types and has trading lambs on the property over summer.

When these lambs entered his property, he would have to account for that transaction within his nutrient plan as well as factoring in the soil type they were farmed on and whether the lambs were placed on irrigated land.


So we have local councils which seem to be able to make wide-ranging rules without having to demonstrate or conclusively prove the science behind them – I know a farmer in mid-Canterbury who has asked for the science, and nothing has been forthcoming – councils, further, that are running up huge amounts of debt, but which have an open ended source of revenue via the consents process, a revenue source only limited by the amount of regulation they can enact, that will restrict farm productivity, profitability, and thus farm values, leaving individual farmers less and less able to comply, or more importantly, take up the crucial ethical fight against this rampant statism at the place it can most damage the voluntary economy; the (day to day) local (government) level.

How many years do we need to goose step from Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Regional Plan, and Horizon’s One Plan, to the Soviet Five Year Plans? Back to my original question, how long until the forced evictions and land sales of China? There was only ever the one great wall that stopped that, sacrosanct private property rights, and on the philosophical and political level, the councils have already won; private property rights have long been consigned to history in New Zealand, it’s just taking us (too long) to figure this out yet. Already we have at least one farm held under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, which may not sound related, but from that ask yourself how far is it in the bureaucratic mind from ‘punishing’ a farmer for growing cannabis, to punishing him, for the good of the environment, for leaching nitrate, or not getting an appropriate consent – remember the Environment Court is a criminal court. I know another farmer who now has a criminal prosecution from that court, and simply for building a stopbank, without a consent, to protect his farm from flooding. He didn’t realise he had to get a consent, at the time he thought he was simply doing something that made sense. Nor did he understand at the start of the legal process the import of the Environment Court prosecution being a criminal one. The consequence has been, so far, a cancelled family holiday to the US, given he does not know the vagaries of trying to enter that country after having declared a criminal prosecution, as you must, and many tens of thousands on the farm mortgage to fight the case.

Over a stopbank. Think about it.

What is at stake here is everything, with a prosperous farming sector being the least of it. When individual property rights are usurped by the state, we all lose our freedom. We’re simply the generation witnessing the movement back to the Gulags of Forced Altruism in a collectivist West where political will seems determined to replay, again, the brutal surveillance states of the twentieth century when the state was man’s master, not his servant. And I thought we won the Cold War: apparently not. The pity is, there was one philosopher of the twentieth century who figured this out, but she has been as misrepresented as she has been reviled by the voter whose main concern has been the (illusory) free lunch offered by irresponsible politicians of both the Left and Right. As the philosopher, Ayn Rand, wrote:


When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.


So when you read of the first farmer villains being taken through the Environment Court for not being able to comply with this new regulation that might well force them off their farms, and mark my words, they will be put through the show trials for us all to read about and be made examples of, also remember Ayn’s further words:


There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.


It’s about time farmers understood it’s time for a revolution in their heads, and I’m not just talking about the vote in 2014, I’m talking about the coercive society which is now our social democracy, where you don’t own your farming operations anymore.

Update:

If more proof is needed of out-of-control expansionist councils, then Rob Hosking provides it over at NBR.


Update 2:

The shocking impact of Horizon's One Plan on agriculture - a must read

Quoting:

"Upwards of $15 million of ratepayers' money has been spent on a plan that will make farming here damned difficult," says Hew Dalrymple, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed vice-chairperson and an environmental award winning farmer.

"Thanks to Landcare Research's research, we now have a good handle on the One Plan as it stands following the Environment Court decision. It scarily confirms the impact upon farm profitability will be at the upper end of 22% to 43%.

"If you are a member of the public, take up to 43% off your post-tax income and you'll understand why we are angry. That grows when one of our policy staff members described even this high level of impact as potentially 'optimistic'.

"In spite of this Landcare Research report, the council is acting like someone who has been told they have a terminal disease. It is in denial. How many times and how many ways do they have to be told the current plan version is a dog before the penny drops?

"Instead of being an officer's mouthpiece, the elected council needs to 'grow some' and take charge. Councillors appear to have little understanding of which version of the One Plan they are talking about, let alone its effect upon agriculture. They appear to treat what council officers tell them as gospel.

"The council must listen to proper research that comes directly out of the work done for LawF. Given LawF got a positive reception by almost all parties, is Horizons really thumbing its nose at it now?" Mr Dalrymple asked.
.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you Mark, that is a good essay. You might also have mentioned the astonishing expropriations known as 'Significant Natural Areas' (SNA's). Sad to say, the only reason we get much done at all is because of the difficulty of monitoring the whole country-side. 'Don't apply' is the unspoken rule. As one outrage falls on another, I hear dark mutterings from my colleagues, "One day they'll push us too far," etc, but we are too few for revolutions. Perhaps that is just as well; as another 20th century philosopher (Camus) observed, "Every revolution of modern times has resulted in a strengthening of the state." Perhaps we will just "shrug."

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    1. Cheers Will. I think you might be right about modern revolutions. Oh for the heady days of 1776.

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  2. Looks like UN agenda 21 at first glance, this is going on worldwide at the moment.

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    1. Yes. And I can call the irony on it now: when food prices continue to skyrocket, the blame will be put on capitalism and 'greedy' farmers, not on nonsense like Horizon's One plan and ECAN's Land and Water Regional Plan. And two out of three people will believe it. There's little hope, especially with Gareth Morgan's Jesus Complex bullying the bullies in local government to become even bigger bullies.

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  3. Outstanding article Mark.

    I'd love to mail this to John Key, along with a napkin and knife & fork.

    "Prime Minister John Key says he doesn't want New Zealanders to become tenants in their own country as foreign companies seek to buy up farms, and the Government may look at law changes"

    I agree with the comment that is agenda 21. Especially as the UN has staked and fenced out a huge chunk of NZ land under the cloak worn by the UN world heritage mantle. And back in Jan it was reported that 357,056 hectares were sold to Hong Kong, UK, Switzerland (I suspect the UN is behind this), USA, Australia and Germany (the Krouts own our produce markets as well). This figure doesn't include how much property that China or for that matter Japan and goodness knows what other country, owns of NZ.

    On one breath Key said "As a country, we need foreign investment to grow." (grow what?) and then on the other he said "I think New Zealanders should be concerned if we sell huge tracts of our productive land.

    As the government is hell bent on regulating individual property owners off the land and replacing it will collective bodies of people (corporations), the words of karl marx ring out loud "The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence "ABOLITION of PRIVATE PROPERTY. Individual farmers are literally mowed down by corporations of people. Some New Zealander's are even helping these corporations acquire farms.

    Ngai Tupango were investigated for signing 28 sale and purchase agreements for sheep, beef, dairy and deer farms in Southland in 2009, on behalf of a Dubai group!!!! And I believe that the Crafar's were paid to acquire farms, by Chinese sponsor's.

    Finally, is the legal play around Fonterra being a co-operation and a corporation, worth consideration?

    +++

    "When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing......"

    Ayn Rand always gives me goose bumps and so did you in your last paragraph :)



    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10656731

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10781521

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    1. Hello Sandi, nice to see you here. I agree with half of what you say :)

      I have no problem with private foreign ownership, just with State ownership of me. If you think about it, you want the state out of your life, but you also want the same state to regulate who can buy NZ farmland?

      That would be a contradiction.

      Thank you for reading my blog, stick around.

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  4. Hi Mark,

    How about looking at it this way.

    When the state pushes farmers off their land through regulation and as a consequence private foreign corporations with unlimited resources in comparison to the average Kiwi who would like buy a farm, buy up this land. Then, you do see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors.

    You see corporations getting richer by back door deals with a regulatory government, than by work. And your laws protect them against you. This is initiation of force. Regulations are enforced and you are seeing corruption being rewarded.

    I detest corporations (but that is a whole different thread).

    :)

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  5. Here in this town the council has made a rule that street front fences on private property cannot be over 1.2m high. Bye bye privacy. There are also "Keeping up appearances" rules about the appearance of one's house from the street - when council makes that judgement it must do so subjectively. So state intrusion is happening in towns too.
    So pleased to find your blog.
    M

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    1. I'm glad you found my blog M :)

      That fence rule is a nonsense: are you talking about a town in NZ?

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