Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tradable Citizenship

Citizens should own the state and its assets, rather than the state own the humans like chattels. As with any legal property, the owners should be able to sell their property for what the market will bear.

2000 years ago, the Roman state crucified somebody who thought it an excellent idea to enjoy life on an individual, self-deterministic, free-will basis of voluntary consent among freely interacting people around the world. The state in the form of the Roman Empire did not take kindly to that sort of idea. The empire saw people as chattel property to be disposed of by the state as the powers that be saw fit, be it as slaves, lion fodder, serfs, artisans, minor functionaries, major functionaries, up to the emperor, with the power flowing from the top.

Many Jews were captured and taken as slaves to Rome. Christians, another form of Jew at the time, did not fare well either.

The harsh biological reality of the red in tooth and claw competitive, territorial, genocidal, tribal, alpha male, hunter-gatherer, found-wealth, biological world of mammalian social hierarchy, with the biggest, most powerful tribes winning more territory and females, was just how things were.

As many aspects of life have changed, the whole basis of such life has been reduced to near-irrelevance though gangs and criminals continue such atavistic impulses among modern citizenry and even some states continue to operate in the old way with places like Rwanda being hideous examples of raw tribal power.

But we still foolishly persist with the idea of citizens as state chattels.

We can own shares in huge collectively owned companies, we can own land and buildings in fee simple, selling them as we like and moving on. But we can't own the most valuable asset which is our share in the state and its properties.

If we move to another country, we lose all of our property despite generations of ancestors having worked lifetimes to produce an inheritance for their descendants. A fresh off the boat refugee from a Hell-hole inherits the lot on stepping ashore, being given a vote equal to those who produced the wealth over generations.

The current incentives are all wrong. The current system means people struggle to get near the levers of power to self-deal in tax revenue and property, and to reward people who reward them with votes. While the democratic system does avoid the worst of the megalomaniac Saddam style of government, it still leaves the political system subject to the self-dealing abuse of power.

For example the now-convicted previous immigration manager was ensuring her family and friends went to the front of the crowd trying to get into the free-loading society where the wealth of generations is being carved up. She was not ensuring the best for New Zealand. Taito Phillip Field conducted similar operations.

The incentives are now for the productive to flee to Australia and further afield, while the indigent, grasping, dishonest, and bludging crowd in to get while the getting is good. Those who flee can take only their personal assets.

With tradable citizenship, people would vote for the politicians who would enhance their personal value. Citizenships would be going up in value and price, not down as we have seen for a generation since NZ was 2nd or 3rd in the world in wealth and quality of life. Now NZ is down with Hong Kong, Singapore and many countries having soared enormously by comparison. NZ now rates like eastern European ex-communist places which were previously horribly poor.

Instead of having immigrants win a lottery, or having to, or pretending to, "invest" in NZ, we would have outright sales of citizenships to the highest bidders. NZ Inc. would sell Tradable Citizenships at the rate of perhaps 10,000 per year. They would be worth about $2 million each. That would provide revenue of $20 billion per year.

The buyers would make big profits if they decided to sell a few years later because the country would go from the back of the pack to the front as the whole economic foundation made a paradigm shift from a kleptocratic state to one run for the people by the people with individual people getting the reward for success rather than people in government circles taking the profits of control for their own purposes, ideology, and enjoyment.

With only 10,000 per year, it would take 100 years for another million citizens to be added to the population. That might not be enough to replace the existing population if the birth rate was to fall as it has done in Japan and Italy and other countries. New Zealand could take 50,000 such people a year and not have a crowding problem.

10,000 would mean a vast economic boom. It would be a simply spectacular shift, likely to be copied by other countries when their citizens see the advantage of people being owners of their countries rather than mere chattels to be disposed of at the will of their governments, unless they leave, abandoning their share of national assets.

Suppose somebody from Japan, China, USA, Brazil, or Hong Kong would like to live in New Zealand, at least for a good part of the time. They would not have to go through all the competitive bureaucratic nonsense of the current system. They could simply buy a new citizenship from the government, or an existing one, on the open market, and move in, staying as long as they like. If they decide after a few years that they no longer want to own a NZ citizenship, they could simply sell it on the open market and leave. They would keep any profit.

You can be sure they would be voting in the meantime for politicians who make good decisions which enhance citizenship value rather than cause waste, dissolution, social carnage, and New Zealanders to leave.

If a New Zealander decides to leave NZ to live in Australia, India or some other country, they could sell their New Zealand citizenship, rather than simply abandon all their and their ancestors' wealth-creating efforts. Suppose somebody marries an American and they go to live in the USA. At present, they simply leave and bad luck for them. With a tradable citizenship, they would have $2 million to buy another citizenship if required and to fund setting up their new life.

There could be a brisk trade in marriages, new citizenships, and changes in "allegiance" while people figure out how to best manage their lives.

New Zealand would go from has-been, sliding down the economic ladder with social carnage gathering pace, to top of the charts, most desired location on Earth, far better than Switzerland of the South Pacific, within a decade.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Newmarket Train Station

It's coming along well. It's nearing completion. Checking it out today, there are dozens of empty shops waiting for tenants/owners. Given the recession, it's hardly a good time for property owners to be trying to get tenants or new owners in retail premises. Especially there where the number of passengers will remain small to trivial for a decade or three.

It would have been better to spend the money on trains rather than another monstrosity train station which is really only a place for people to get on the train and off it. The platform which was there was more than sufficient. It's not as though Newmarket is going to be Waterloo Station at 8.30am on a Monday.

It's just a glorified bus stop. A bus stop needs a place for the wheels to stop rotating, which is easy on train tracks. Apply brakes. Then a place for people to stand while the doors open, which is called a platform. It's also nice to have a roof or even an enclosed building to keep rain off while waiting for the train to arrive.

The thing they have built seems to be a bit of a wind tunnel. Hopefully they have thought through the prevailing westerlies which will drive rain and wind around the buildings into the tunnels as happens in lower Queen Street due to the big buildings there squashing the wind into the canyons between them.

The reasons people don't travel by train are; inconvenience, lack of reliability, slow travel, discomfort, cost, strikes. Train services in Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Europe make NZ's trains look like ramshackle Zimbabwe services. The problem is the trains and tracks, not the stations which people get in and out of as fast as they can. Bigger bus stops don't improve bus services.

Hopefully, the train people have figured out that the should have Zenbu wifi available to provide low cost mobile cyberspace to people waiting for trains. The chance of that is near zero. They aren't noted for being innovative and thinking of customers.

Britomart is another folly. The trains should go in at street level, with traffic lights for the couple of roads which would be crossed, just like cars get traffic lights - with the trains automatically getting a green light as they arrive.

Passengers would then be treated to a pleasant street level experience instead of having to waste time going underground. A couple of train tracks into the same location, or preferably along Quay Street, would have cost almost nothing and been much more convenient. Get the trains in, and straight out again, just like a bus stop. Perhaps the trains could be redirected to Quay Street and Britomart converted to a mall, monastery, gaol or something.

At least they canned the ridiculous idea of putting buses underground too, spiraling down into the depths to collect passengers. They finally figured out that bus stops at street level are much more pleasant, cheaper, quicker. Bigger and better signs and maps would help in bus location and timings.

But it's better to spend money on Newmarket Station being grandiose than Hone Harawira and other bludgers going on taxpayer funded jaunts to Paris or Copenhagen's CO2 jamboree.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sam Giffney and Zenbu Directory, Search and Mapping

Here's an article by about Sam Giffney and his development of which is New Zealand's premier [and Cook Islands] free, on-line, GPS based, directory, search and mapping of places of interest.

It's a way to find things such as businesses, parks, hospitals, schools, public toilets, and anything else which you might see a sign outside when walking down a street.

It's a top iPhone app in New Zealand. It can be downloaded to iPhones so that even without an internet connection, people can check the Zenbu app to see where things are that they want to find. With the "find nearest" function, the places closest to any particular place or a Zenbu listing are easily located. is part of the creative commons realm.

Anyone can register and enter points of interest and edit other entries. Zenbu depends on people doing so because that's the way it's built - swarms of people adding and editing things of interest to them.

The database can be downloaded, with attribution, and used in anyone's websites such as has been done by the Mangere Bridge community. Simply enter "ASB" or "Naomi and Bill Kirk Park" or "cemetery" or "cafe" or "petrol" or "pizza" or "pharmacy" or "school" or whatever is of interest and locations, names, phone numbers and some information are shown on the map with links to the places if available.

Zenbu is also the name of Zenbu wifi wireless internet hotspots in Auckland and around New Zealand so they are easily confused. Zenbu directory, search, mapping and wifi work together in an integrated system.

If a wifi user is located at a Zenbu wireless internet hotspot, then the Zenbu system knows where they are even if they don't [tourists are easily lost] and can show them where they are on a map and the Zenbu points of interest closest to them.

Check out Google latitude too. You can get your location and that of your friends and contacts right there on your mobile device. Zenbu wifi hotspots have been uploaded to Skyhook to form part of the global location mesh to feed into Google Latitude.

Newmarket Viaduct Replacement

An excellent construction underway to replace the old viaduct which was structurally inadequate when it was built. See the details and pictures here: Newmarket Viaduct

The old viaduct had to be strengthened after construction with post-tensioning cables installed. During my civil engineering training at Auckland University in the early 1970s, our structures professor explained how it was found to be inadequate and was strengthened.

Being the main southern artery out of Auckland city, the structural risk is too great. It would be an economic disaster if a minor earthquake rendered it unusable.

Some people mistakenly think the replacement is purely a capacity increase project. While one more lane is being added, that's not going to be of much use to improving motorway capacity because going both north and south, there's no capacity issue on the viaduct. The bottlenecks are on either side because of joining traffic at Saint Marks Road and Gillies Avenue as well as bottlenecks entering Auckland city and over the harbour bridge at peak times.

The precast cantilevered construction is easy compared with the construction of the old viaduct which involved huge amounts of concrete poured in situ with scaffolding galore.

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