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. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: 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, June 24, 2013

Anti-Money Laundering & Countering Finance of Terrorism Act – Another Step in New Zealand's Surveillance.



Regarding the 'countering financing of terrorism' part of this Act, a question to start with: what was the last – and I think only - act of terrorism perpetrated in New Zealand in our modern history, and by whom?

Answer: ignoring Tame Iti’s farcical sideshow, it was the sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, one dead, by operatives of … hang on, of a Western government; the French. Meaning the money financing the French terrorists was ‘legal’ taxation. While I’m willing to call that taxing racket for what it is, legalised, albeit disorganised, crime, and if our Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, was so concerned about wiping that out, I’d be all for it, I'm afraid we should be so lucky. Unfortunately, every politician in our Fortress of Legislation is sworn only to grow the surveillance state, none of them to champion our lives back from it.

It's so hard to fight the state on this issue: the Minister's anti-laundering money legislation is in the first instance like every other act setting up surveillance on us; demonstrably ‘reasonable’ considered on its own merits: who wouldn’t want to be protected from terrorism? However, to quote Justice William Douglas (hattip @MonroeEDC on Twitter):


The privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually each step may be of little consequence, but when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen – a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a person’s life.


He’s right in the first part, wrong in the second: of course we’ve seen this, over and over:  Fascist Germany, the Soviet Union and its satellite Gulags, China, and on and on, all the state tyrannies in our recent history. The shock is that even forearmed with this knowledge our Western politicians have forged ahead, regardless, and now created the complete surveillance infrastructure of the terror state, and for the first time, the net is comprehensive through every level of society, from the taxes we pay to what we put on Facebook, and truly global. Stalin would be wetting himself at how the classical liberal West has been so broken.

To place this anti-money laundering legislation into context, think GCSB, who after being found spying beyond the authority of their governing legislation, simply had their governing legislation scoped wider to cover everyone they’d been spying on, then recall the headlines you’ve been reading since Mr Snowden blew his whistle on the NSA and its PRISM program. The modern history of the West now proves conclusively that once the surveillance state starts, there will always be the useful idiots in every Fortress of Legislation to tend to its every need, explaining to us so reasonably why we need to expand the surveillance further, for our own good. It’s not just PRISM, the UK is intruding deep into our lives as well:


Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.


The irony of the Germans now having to tell the Brits the nightmarishness of what they're doing, is almost too much, until you think and realise Germany, like no other country, has learned the hardest way of the concentration camps at the end of these policies.

And I can already forecast the next step, indeed, it has been wished for out loud by the Israelis who don’t believe the NSA’s PRISM program goes anywhere near far enough by only mining and collecting the communications metadata of every single person in the US, linked to a phone line or satellite.


The NSA’s PRISM scheme is already surveilling the entire American public to an enormous level, culling massive amounts of data from the PRISM Nine companies that have been complicit in that policy. 

So it’s no surprise that the International Cyber Security Conference in Tel Aviv this week turned its focus on PRISM. Here’s the scary part: they don’t think it goes far enough

RSA’s chairman, ironically the head of a company that used to be about protecting data from prying eyes, argued for “full visibility into all data” as the only real path to cybersecurity.

“All data” is exactly what it sounds like, literally everything, everywhere, in the world. Which would’ve been unthinkable just a couple of weeks ago, but now that we know that the NSA is already spying on a solid majority of our most important and most private data, it isn’t that surprising that they’d like to have everything else too. I mean, why not go for broke? 

See it’s no longer just enough to have access to all your emails, they also need access to the preferences file of your email client, because maybe the way you configured it is significant. Knowing everyone you called is nice, but how about what custom ringtones you used?


And so to the central theme of this blog – hoping desperately not to become a blug on the windscreen of state, myself (read my disclaimer bottom of page) - the origin of it all, the tax surveillance state, necessary for the state to plunder its own citizens and fund itself, and the heart and nervous system of every modern police state. For those who subscribe to the Left politick, and its theocracy of state, who have been nodding your heads to this point, note you are completely compromised in this issue of citizens having a right to be left alone by the state so long as they are harming no one, for the infrastructure of the global surveillance state, and a large part of the philosophic justification for it, begins in the tax surveillance state, and the shock and awe powers given Western taxing authorities, such as in New Zealand.

GCSB surveillance, SIS surveillance, NSA surveillance, MI6 surveillance, IRS surveillance, HMRC surveillance, IRD surveillance ... all linked via philosophy, and, I suspect, much more direct links. For example, our new GCSB governing legislation gives our spooks authority to snoop  in matters regarding ‘economic well-being’ – I ask the minister does that give IRD access to using the spooks for investigation of individuals and groups in furtherance of their tax mandate? More widely, the global information sharing tax surveillance state, led ironically by the USA, has become truly terrifying in its breadth and depth.  I’ve already written several times on FATCHA, and how through that the US has conscripted the entire world banking system into the world-wide surveillance web to victimise its citizens no matter where they are in the world, but even that’s minor in comparison to the true reach the police state of the US has: Switzerland, whose neutrality was not beaten by the Nazis in WW II, has been utterly broken - think about the import of this - by the war machine of the US tax surveillance state - in this next quotation, note the newspeak with which ‘freedom’ is now used:


On May 29th, 2013, the Swiss government proposed legislation that would permit banks to release certain information to the U.S. authorities. Under current Swiss banking secrecy laws, such actions would be prohibited. The legislation is to be rushed through the Swiss parliament in their June summer session. The freedom would ultimately allow individual settlements to be made with the U.S. and they are expected to require the banks to pay fines totaling billions of dollars.  The deal is to be rushed because: “the United States is unprepared to wait any longer with the arrangement for the past for Swiss banks.”


That’s not your or my freedom they’re talking about; this quotation would sit comfortably in Orwell’s 1984, and how far have the Swiss fallen that their politicians run in such unseemly manner as this to the destruction of their proud independence. And every Western nation has joined the statist tax terror network: I’ve quoted earlier the information sharing actions of the Australian Tax Office, our own IRD and its intricate network of double tax – read information sharing – agreements, and here UK’s HMRC:


HMRC’s powers to obtain information on UK taxpayers with foreign bank accounts is increasing day by day, with the recent signing of the so-called “G5 Tax Agreement” between the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The UK Government’s attack on “tax havens” has been bolstered by additional news that similar agreements have now been discussed with British Overseas territories including Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar and Turks & Caicos Islands. These agreements follow the UK’s implementation of disclosure facilities with Crown Dependencies: the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey which includes information exchange agreements.


All this considered, we are in the end game for our liberty, where the justification given for the global surveillance net, is now merely the global surveillance net itself, which has become self-perpetuating. Back to the issue at hand, this global network is now served to us as justification for the Anti-Money Laundering & Countering Finance of Terrorism Act:


"New Zealand cannot afford to be seen as a weak link in the chain of international efforts to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism," Reserve Bank anti-money laundering manager Rob Edwards told a seminar on the issue in Wellington.


Of course it’s about the global network: yet as I started with, the only act of terrorism perpetrated on us has been by the French government out of taxation. Have a look at this Act: 118 pages of small print, and note well the axis on which it turns – you can glean this from the section headings: the Act is about surveillance and reporting on the actions of individuals, and penalties for those institutions that don’t report the private money transactions of their victims - which they will ironically insist on calling customers still. And this right down to having to report on international money transfers made by New Zealand citizens down to a mere $1,000: as I tweeted to the Minister of Justice:



(Ahem, well, perhaps a fortnight to get through $1,000 of booze.) Forget the absurdity that I can get on a plane with $9,999 in cash and not have to report it, as Judith Collins explained when interviewed last week, this measure is to stop an individual, say, making separate transfers of $1,000 from six different banks; okay then, but if that’s the case, if we’ve given every bit of our privacy away, why not make it mandatory simply to have reported every international transfer? As it is, the authorities involved will be chasing down every Pacific Island family sending cash home, as well as the frightened Muslim woman I heard ring talkback to say she sends home cash, from working, to her poverty ridden family in the Middle East: she’s Arab, she’s Muslim, she’s wiring hard earned money home to her family, let’s face it, she’s going to be regular on some bureaucrat’s desk or other, her life under scrutiny in the minutiae, probably for the duration of her life, poor sod.

STOP: who of you that just read that and said, good, so it should be in the case of that Muslim woman? Well go away: you’ll never understand this piece. (At this point both the Left and  major elements of the statist Right are now dropped from this post, and I’m probably writing only for libertarians).

The Minister’s anti-money laundering Act, part of the global surveillance net, may not even stand up to sane inspection in the context of our own shores, and certainly not the National Party’s (empty) slogan as being New Zealand’s party representing the ethic of small government. Here’s a thought for the Minster.

Judith - and the new Minister of Taking, as well as for animal testing (torture), Todd McClay please take note - … why not work on the other side of the ledger for our freedom from you for once: stop creating all these laws that create the industries that require laundering money in the first place; for example, the big one, drugs. Portugal has shown that if you decriminalise drugs, even the hard ones, you can half the addiction rate, as well as releasing the taxpayer from what has been the West’s futile,  ludicrously expensive, war on drugs. In New Zealand if we even decriminalised the harmless cannabis, the primary income of the gangs is probably wiped out on the enactment of it, and from August we won’t have to be torturing animals in barbaric testing labs so high school children can get a legal high on these toxic synthetic cannabinoids. Why not just stop government growing the state, stop spending money, stop legislating reasons for having to track all of us. Regarding the supposed terrorism this is defending us from, I reckon I’d rather have taken – note the past tense - my chances with the terrorists, and even those bloody French ones, than have allowed what has been visited on us: Big Brother State, fully grown. And might I also suggest, that the best defence against terrorists, is simply not to become their target: to this end, over-reaching Western governments might have looked with prudence on the Libertarian ethic of non-initiation of force. Don't involve yourself in un-winnable battles, because you're going to put yourself in the sights on the fanatical backers of one side or other. At some crucial stage we in the West went beyond defending ourselves, to something quite other; just as we over-reached internally with our cruel welfare states, so we have externally thinking we must be the police of everything. 

Finally, this post would not be complete if I didn’t deal with that bogus nonsense peddled, seeking to  excuse the surveillance of the entire Western population by a confusing myriad of government departments: ‘but if you’ve done nothing wrong, there’s nothing to worry about’. The philosophical argument for classical liberalism in itself, refutes this, but we live in the age of the gormless, and people don’t understand these arguments anymore, so try this from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution:


 I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because it’s hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law. Doubt me? Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that came to your house but was addressed to someone else? That’s a violation of federal law punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

(Snip.)

If someone tracked you for a year are you confident that they would find no evidence of a crime? Remember, under the common law, mens rea, criminal intent, was a standard requirement for criminal prosecution but today that is typically no longer the case especially under federal criminal law .

Faced with the evidence of a non-intentional crime, most prosecutors, of course, would use their discretion and not threaten imprisonment. Evidence and discretion, however, are precisely the point. Today, no one is innocent and thus our freedom is maintained only by the high cost of evidence and the prosecutor’s discretion.

One of the responses to the revelations about the mass spying on Americans by the NSA and other agencies is “I have nothing to hide. What me worry?” I tweeted in response “If you have nothing to hide, you live a boring life.” More fundamentally, the NSA spying machine has reduced the cost of evidence so that today our freedom – or our independence – is to a large extent at the discretion of those in control of the panopticon.


Given my argument above, I can think of no better way to sign off this post, than with a quotation from the inimitable economist at Café Hayek, Donald Boudreaux:


Repeat after me: Government is power.  Government is not to be trusted.  Ever.  Even if you believe that some government is and will always be necessary, that ‘necessary’ piece of government should always be regarded as a prudent lion tamer regards the big carnivorous cats that are ‘necessary’ for him to make a living.  To imagine that seemingly subdued purring lions can be trusted to be dealt with in any ways that do not include the use of strong cages, leashes, ceaseless and deep suspicion, and escape hatches is the height of romantic absurdity – wishful thinking of the most extreme and inexcusable sort.  Government is by its very nature a dangerous, untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, slippery entity – characteristics that are by no means reduced anywhere near to insignificance by a wide franchise, regular elections, and sturdy ink-on-parchment documents called “constitutions.”

Unless you are a high-ranking government official, government - no government – is ever “Us.”  It is always “Them.”  And They are not to be trusted.  Ever.



In line with this, the government that says don’t worry about what we’re doing, trust us, is the government that must be removed, because if a government has so much power it can rely on merely this to silence our dissent, without feeling it has to provide reasons, or debate, then our liberty has already been lost.

Tailpiece:

Some libertarian/Objectivists won’t be best pleased with one aspect of above, indeed, in some integral ways I’m veering toward anarcho-capitalism; though that will never be wholly. For now, all I will say to that, is this blog is my thinking, as it develops, sometimes changes, over time. It’s the brain of Mark Hubbard, as it grows and learns how important it is that governments should learn to shrink. Despite I think it’s all gone too far now, we’re way past the need for a Western Spring, but our minds are largely stillborn in the state education system which preaches the state as our false messiah in all things. Liberty is lost; most people don’t even understand what is meant by it anymore.


Update 1.

New Zealand Law Society (rightly) Slams Spy Agency Bill.


Update 2.

United Police States find it troubling Hong Kong failed to arrest Snowden; not strange that it spies on every one of its own citizens, and most of every other country.


Update 3.

Coincidentally, I'm filling in the form for my professional indemnity insurance.  Question 11.

'What policies and processes has your organisation put in place to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act. Please provide details.'

Really! WTF

Answer: small, farming client base; practice just my wife and I; I watch her very, very closely.

Bugger off. See how things just go nuclear with bullshit surveillance state nonsense like this?

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