John McCain; The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

John McCain

With Guiliani out of the Presidential race, the choice now comes down to Obama, Hilary, Romney, Huckabee, Paul or McCain. For classical liberals, this is no easy decision. Ron Paul should be the obvious candidate but his history is too murky too ignore, his character questionable and his merry band of supporters too kooky to brush aside.

Michael Tanner at Cato has an interesting post about John McCain. Now that he is the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination, it is worth taking a closer look at the man.
Tanner makes the following points (my summary).

The Good:
1. He is a true fiscal conservative. He is well known as an opponent of earmarks and pork barrel spending and an advocate of entitlement reform. He was early an ardent support of personal accounts for Social Security, and has pushed for serious Medicare reform, including means-testing. Almost alone among Republicans, he opposed the disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit.

2. He has offered the best health care reform plan of any of the candidates.

3. During his time in the Senate, he has never voted for a tax increase. While he has taken much heat for voting against the Bush tax cuts, he now calls for making those tax cuts permanent.

4. He is a strong and unapologetic free trader.

The Bad:
1. John McCain frequently makes Dr. Strangelove look like a peacenik. He’s a true believer in the neoconservative goal of remaking the world to fit our desires and beliefs. At best on foreign policy he would be a competent Bush. At worst, he appears a recipe for perpetual conflict.

2. On domestic policy, he has shown a disturbing predilection for elevating every personal pet peeve, from steroids in baseball to airplane service quality, to a federal issue. And, he has embraced heavily regulatory environmental policies and compulsory national service.

3. He tends to support federal power over federalism, executive authority over legislative, and generally leans toward the imperial presidency.

The Ugly:
1. John McCain appears to have little more than contempt for the First Amendment and free speech generally. He is the principal author of a campaign finance bill that severely restricts political speech. Not content with those restrictions on political speech, he has continually sought to expand regulation to other groups. He has said that he “would rather have a clean government than one where “First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.”
2. Most worrisome of all appears to be McCain’s basic philosophy, which is unapologetically statist, as Matt Welch points out in his new book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. McCain once said “each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest.” McCain believes that cause to be the good of the collective, often defined as the nation or the national community.

I feel Tanner is harsh on McCain. For instance, it is inconsistent to call a man who has never voted for a tax increase, who is an avid free-trader, who believes in school vouchers and who has a dislike of government spending as statist.

The charge of his aggressive foreign policy is more accurate but many would argue that the libertarian movement’s Achilles Heel is its refusal to defend liberty. His campaign finance bill may be misguided but he is attempting to address an area of US democracy that is broke. To say that he has contempt for free speech is ridiculous.

In addition, he is doesn’t pander to the awful Christian Right. He voted in favour of amnesty towards illegals and is generally pro-immigration. I don’t like his pro-life stance but he has gone on record as saying that he would not repeal Roe vs Wade, so you have to wander about the depth of his pro-life convictions.

But more than his policies alone, I cannot but help admiring this man. His conduct and bravery during the Vietnam War and his courage in supporting the surge in Iraq last year when at the time it looked like electoral suicide, points to a man of principle, of honour and of conviction. Though he misguidedly supported the disastrous invasion of Iraq, he was the first to call for Rumsfeld’s sacking and has been an ardent opponent of torture.

American liberals have to vote for someone. I would vote McCain.

194 thoughts on “John McCain; The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

  1. American liberals, as I understand the term, seem generally quite happy with either Clinton or Obama, so it’s not clear why they would choose McCain.

    I would only vote for a Republican if they really seemed like they could thoroughly transform the party from its hateful anti-science religion-pandering agenda. Perhaps Schwarzenegger, were the constitution ever amended to allow him to run.

  2. LibSoc

    I was using the term ‘liberal’ in its true sense of ‘classical liberal’ not its modern meaning of ‘social democrat’.

  3. LibertarianSocialist – fortunately for people like yourself, McCain is quite keen on doing something about global warming. The Governator is getting set to endorse him btw.

  4. In spite of his mad pro-war tendencies if forced to choose between McCain and Clinton, I’ll take him any day over that cravenly power-hungry Lady Macbeth who stayed married to her greasy sleazebag of a husband just for a shot at the White House.

  5. What is “for people like myself” supposed to mean? Global warming is only one issue in a litany of examples where Republicans, or those linked to the Republican party, have attempted to denigrate mainstream science. Mainstream science is probably the most single important factor behind the prosperty and liberty that we enjoy today. It’s not always right, but it’s virtually always the horse to back.

  6. I admire McCain as an individual that has endured tough times and come through intact. If you had to have a large scale war I think he would be a good commander in chief and better than anybody else in the field. However if you’re really good with a hammer then lots of problems look like nails. Command and control is not the right approach in economic management. I don’t think very highly of McCain on economics but up against Hillary he would win my vote.

    At this point in the GOP race my interest is declining somewhat. Ron Paul is still doing his thing which I’m pleased about, however the choise between Romney and McCain (which it is increasingly about) isn’t that compelling. Neither represents institutional change in monetary policy, drug laws, income tax, foreign policy or any real area of interest. They mostly agree on immigration and fiscal conservatism.

    Mostly I’m just waiting for Huckabee to fall out of the race. That should be fun for a few minutes at least. Just as it was when Rudy dropped.

  7. BTW it’s interesting to read what Club for Growth has to say about Ron Paul i.e. the perfect as the enemy of the good. I couldn’t agree more

    Ron Paul’s record contains some very laudable components,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “On taxes, regulation, and political speech, his record is superb. His spending record is impressive, though Paul has recently embraced pork-barrel projects in direct contradiction to his vociferous opposition to unconstitutional appropriations by the federal government.”

    Unfortunately, his stubborn idealism often takes Ron Paul further away from achieving the limited-government, pro-growth philosophy he advocates. This is certainly the case with school choice, free trade, tort reform, and entitlement reform, in which he votes against vital free trade agreements, competitive school choice initiatives, and tort reform proposals.

    “While we give Ron Paul credit for his philosophical ideals, politicians have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul votes against making progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect,” Mr. Toomey continued. “In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation. Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited-government policies, but his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.”

  8. One aspect of McCain that i find fascinating is the Conservative Right’s visceral loathing of the guy, as pointed out by this Guardian post below. Trawl thru any Conservative blog and you’ll see what i mean.

    However, they add that being hated by this group is probably a major electoral asset.,,2249543,00.html

  9. Shem will be thrilled! 🙂

    Huh? Was that in response to Global Warming? I’m not sold on Global Warming either way.

    Here’s something one of my friends posted on the topic recently:
    Global Warming is real in terms of temperature change and various chemicals do affect rate of energy transfer, that much almost everyone seems to agree with.

    As to whether man is responsible for the increase in the levels of such chemicals then in terms of the worst of the so called greenhouse gases: the halogenated carbon compounds (CFC’s and the like) we are responsible for anything they contribute because they are not exactly naturally occurring atmospheric compounds.

    As for the weak gases such as methane and carbon dioxide then they have always had fluctuating levels so mankind’s responsibility on that is not as clear cut as some environmentalists would have people believe. For one thing they tend to complain about people concreting over woodland, fields, jungles and other such “green” spaces without mentioning that concrete absorbs a significant about of carbon dioxide, whereas old established trees actually give out more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

    Reports by climatologists are usually the most informative, especially the ones who provide evidence to counter the rhetoric of the environmentalists. Most climatologists do concede that we are in an interglacial period that seems to have continued for too long and based on previous interglacial cycles we should be a giant snowball by now.
    Even here there are arguments whether this is a natural cycle, whether mankind’s actions have delayed a glacial period, or (and these seem to always have been sponsored by an environmental group) that the Earth will for the first time ever jump from an interglacial period to a temperate one where all the polar ice melts.

    Whatever the cause then things are changing from a meteorological point of view which will affect crop rotations, flood plains and not least tourist destinations. However, humanity has controlled its living environment for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and will be able to adapt to such changes by making further amendments to the control systems.

    With the experts unable to agree on causes and consequences then everything has to be analysed to see which side is being pushed; too many people seem to take some of the information and use it to push their own agendas. On the topic of global warming, partly informed seems to be worse than completely ignorant.

    I think it weighs things up pretty well. The world will change from Global Warming, humans are resistant to change. The only points I made in countering Bird were:
    1) Global Warming (human-made or not) is real
    2) Global Warming will have an impact on Earth as we know it, some of that impact will be negative (flooding island nations, for example)
    3) There is a strong desire for politicians to do something about Global Warming, any party seen as denying Global Warming might as well be saying the Holocaust wasn’t as bad as everyone made out.

    The main reason I wanted the LDP to take a stand on Global Warming is I felt it was hurting potential support. Not because I have particularly strong feelings on the issue myself. I’m a politician more than a scientist- I base my decisions on the science as I understand it and as the public understands it 😉 It’s politically expedient to have a “Green” environmental policy rather than a policy that says “fuck the trees- they take care of themselves. Now give me some of them thar profits”.

    To take another issue- incest. I’m neutral on it myself, I’m not pro-incest or anti-incest. But it’s politically expedient to do away with references to incest in LDP preambles…

    Pommy, what’s Romney like compared to McCain? Because here I was thinking Romney would be the better of the two for a libertarian…

    I think my preferences go something like Paul>Romney=Obama>McCain>Hillarity

  10. While I certainly prefer Obama over Hillary, it’s not clear to me why she would classify as “sucking hard” relative to Obama, from a policy perspective.

    Is Root seriously likely to run?

  11. A point missed from the bad or ugly list is McCain’s tepid support for the Second Amendment.

    In his “disturbing predilection for elevating every personal pet peeve”, he has decided that gun shows represent a loophole in gun control and wants NICS background checks to apply to them. It’s comparable to his efforts with campaign finance reform – in an effort to “fix” a minor concern his proposal would create a thousand bigger ones.

    The NRA is very dubious about him, although it would undoubtedly prefer him to Obama or Clinton who are both control freaks. The only saving is that many of the new Democrats in Congress are strong supporters of the Second Amendment.

  12. Shem

    You’re right that being ‘seen to be green’ is an essential part of politics in the West (i think this caused more damage for Howard than WorkChoices). But i would argue that most of the members of the LDP that i have met care deeply for the environment but just believe that more govt regulation is part of the problem not the solution. I don’t think ‘expediency’ is the case.

  13. Mark, I don’t really care too much what Hillary “believes”, but from her policy platform, it seems she supports much the same things that Obama does.

    I would expect most Libertarians here would take issue with it, but given that I believe the U.S. has drifted below the level of optimal government facilitation of social wellbeing (whereas Australia is hovering above it), then I’m mostly OK with candidates there promising more social spending…whether it or not it will actually work to improve the lot of the most disadvantaged remains to be seen.

  14. Yes Hilary and Obama are both big government leftists. My problem with Hilary is I don’t like what’s been revealed of her personal character. I’d prefer a Republican but if forced to choose between Democrats I’d prefer the more decent one.

  15. My problem, isn’t what Hilary believes, ut that she belieives in nothing and isn’t a consequentialist utilitarian. She is utterly opportunistic.

  16. I’m not sure she’s *utterly* opportunistic – that assumes that she’s capable of following her self-interest better by being in politics in the first place – she could certainly make more money outside of it. Accepted, she does seem to be driven by desire for power as much as (if not more than) a genuine desire to improve the nation. But all leaders have this combination, it’s just a question of how well they balance the two.

    (Mark, I have to say, you do have a wonderfully black & white view of the world – I’m almost jealous that you never have to deal with the inevitable shades of grey).

  17. I have a black and white view of the world?

    Oh the irony of telling someone you barely know that.

    Hilary is a white boned devil. The Dems need a cultural revolution.

  18. Fine, I should have said, “the opinions of yours that I have come across here so far are indicative of a rather black and white view of world”.

    What on earth sort of criticism is “white boned devil”?
    Should I be preferring a black boneless god?

  19. It is a bad joke referring to the “black and white” worldview I apparently have and a slur on Hilary, referring to Madame Mao.

    You know your jokes are bad when you have to explain them.

  20. Ah, well given “white boned devil” gets a grant total of 4 google hits, I think I can assume it’s a fairly obscure reference.

  21. They’re all muppets. A pox on all their houses.

    Ron Paul has disapointed me lately in his style. Banging on about monetary policy is just plain dumb, politically speaking. And if he’s going to get grumpy about monetary policy he should simply say “I disagree with the recent decision to cut rates”. At least people would understand him. As it stands, people aren’t even really sure why he’s getting grumpy.

    And it’s time for him to stop talking about empire, re-assure people that’s he wants a strong military, and then get on to economic topics. Privatise, deregulate, spending cuts, end farm subsidies etc.

    But he’s still my choice.

  22. Hi all,

    If you consider fiscal restraint to be an important criteria when choosing a President then I wouldn’t be looking at the GOP. At least 2 of the last 3 GOP Presidents have overseen vast increases in gov’t spending. Mainly on the military IIRC. Still it’s hard to change will drilled adherents.



  23. Patrick, while I’m no GOP supporter, that’s not much of a reason for not voting GOP, if a) the Dems are worse or b) you have good reason to believe that the particular candidate you’re voting for it well placed to turn that trend around. In the case of Ron Paul, it’s pretty fair to assume were it to be elected, government spending would go down. Unfortunately you have to be offering more than that to be an effective leader.

  24. Libsoc, the site does refer to CLASSIC Liberals, not the modern nanny-state-loving variety.
    Q.How many socialists does it take to change a light bulb?

    A.You actually consort with socialists? (discreetly sidling away)….

    Q. How many libertarians would it take to change a light bulb?
    A. We’d leave the lightbulb alone, so it could change when it was good and ready!

  25. “Nanny-state-loving” is classic framing. I don’t “love the nanny state”, but I accept that the government has a role in providing working physical and regulatory infrastructure for a market economy to function within.

    I’ve never met a liberal that “loves” the government, nor one that saw it as anything other than a democractically elected tool of the people. How than can equated to a “nanny” baffles me.

  26. John,

    Ron Paul has always lacked in the way of presentation style. If you want style in the GOP race then support Romney. Romney is an eloquent speaker, has presidential looks and a good resume. I have never supported Ron Paul for his style and he frequently makes me cringe in the way he handles himself in debates and the points he dwells on. However I love his substance.

    On monetary policy I don’t think you are being terrible reasonable in your expectation. Your suggested strategy may play better to the masses but it would negate so much of the motivation that drove Ron Paul to join politics and to front up as a presidential candidate. Ending the federal reserve and returning to a gold standard has been the cause Ron Paul has championed for 30 years. He is hardly going to back away from it at this point in the game. And given the odds of him actually winning it is actually a good idea for him to use his time in the sun to promote such ideas.


  27. Patrick

    you’re right. in fact conservative govts the world over are all fighting to outspend their social democrat counterparts. hence i admire McCain’s commitment to fiscal restraint.

  28. McCain and Raul’s poor speaking style actually endears me to them more. probably means there’s more to them than the ‘smoothies’ like Romney, Obama and Clinton (Bill).

  29. I was discussing the American Liberal, the sort of creature that Mike Moore would befriend and identify with, and I think of those as nanny-state-lovers, since they never call for a reduction in the size of the state, and their solutions involve government power.
    The Classic Liberal is the type discussed by John Mills, and I have more sympathy for them.

  30. LS — nicholas was just explaining the different meanings of the word “liberal”. In Australia (like most of the world) “liberal” does not mean pro-welfare.

    Your defence of nanny-statists as not really loving the nanny state it isn’t very meaningful. This isn’t the place to debate the greater meaning of “love”, “in love”, “like”, “prefer” etc.

    Terje — Ron’s complaint about monetary policy amounts to opposition to excessively low interest rates. So my suggestion goes directly to his point, but does it in a way that will be understood by the 99% of people who don’t currently understand him. The important point is stable money (ie no inflation). Surrouning this good point with jargon does nothing more than hide the issue. Bad strategy if you’re trying to promote ideas.

  31. Mike Moore is very much a left-liberal, but that’s hardly representative of most American (thinking) liberals.

    Most liberals when presented with persuasive arguments that the size of the state (measured as spending as % of GDP) was an issue would agree that it needs tackling – usually in the area of defence spending.

    *Some* liberal solutions involve government power, where it is the sensible (or “least worst”) choice.

    If John S. Mills were alive today, and able to study the history of the last 100 years, I believe he would be fairly close the position of many modern liberals.

  32. Ah but “liberal” in the U.S. only means ‘pro-welfare’ in the sense that they recognise that the U.S. has about the lowest levels of welfare in the developed world.

    Small-l liberals elsewhere, including Australia, generally wish to see the level of welfare decreased: not by government restricting access to it, but by government ensuring that as few citizens as possible ever need to access it.

  33. John,

    It is probably a context thing. I haven’t seen the soundbite you are refering to. I have seen Ron Paul say quite plainly that the federal reserve should not be cutting interest rates right now. However it is an important point of differentiation that Ron Paul supports institutional reform and is not merely disagreeing with the feds latest decision. I think it is important that he articulate this lest he look like a johnny come lately that is merely second guessing the fed in the midst of difficult times.

    As an aside the current market circumstances and respective central bank responses do suggest that Australia is in a much better position than the USA in terms of inflation policy and financial market liberalisation. The US federal reserve is busy supplying credit inspite of it’s monetary objectives.

    For what it is worth I’ll repeat that I don’t think central banks should set interest rates. Interest rates should float.


  34. No — there is a fundamental difference in the philosophies of ‘american’ and ‘classical’ liberals. They share a name by accident.

    In Australia, we called american liberals “social democrats”.

    In America, they call classical liberals “libertarian”.

  35. That’s somewhat of a simplification. The term “classical liberal” is definitely used by some Americans who do not wish to be associated with some of the more extreme libertarian positions.

    Further, the term “small-l liberal” is used in Australia to refer to a position that has evolved somewhat from the strict classical liberal position of Mill/Bentham etc.

    I would agree that many, but certainly not all, that call themselves ‘liberals’ in American would be generally classified as social democrats here.

  36. McCain is the only realistic Republican on the immigration issue, the others tend to talk about immediately deporting all illegal Mexicans (est about 12 million), imagine the economic damage that alone would do to both countries.

    While I accept that those involved in crime should be deported many of the conservatives point to the mere act of illegal entry (a victimless crime) as a reason to deport. Most of these people are there to get a job, better themselves, and help support their families back home, and so are productive members of the community.

    The argument that they depress wages for US citizens is just an excuse as much of this work would not be done if higher wages had to be paid.

  37. LS, try changing your ideology, not the meaning of words. It’s annoying.

    In America, those of a left-wing persuasion are called liberals. That includes socialists like you and social democrats like Clinton and Obama.

    In the rest of the world liberal has different meanings, but none of them are the same as America’s.

    Libertarian has a broadly consistent meaning everywhere and it does not include socialist, Wikipedia wankers notwithstanding. Indeed, it is invariably anti-socialist.

  38. Excuse me? I should choose my ideology based on what doesn’t annoy you? Hate to say it, but sometimes it’s little wonder libertarians get such a bad wrap.

    I’ve had many discussions with American liberals, with widely ranging opinions on the government’s role in the economy, though generally agreeing that the U.S. would benefit from more government social spending. They don’t necessarily extend this to other nations where social spending is already higher, and many are adamantly against “big government”.

  39. Libertarian has a broadly consistent meaning everywhere and it does not include socialist, Wikipedia wankers notwithstanding. Indeed, it is invariably anti-socialist.

    Indeed it is also invariably anti-war.

    I heard there was actually a party supporting free markets, gun rights and excursions overseas, it’s called the US Republican Party.

    If you are going to criticise others for use of a particular term, David, look at yourself. The way you present yourself you come across almost as conservative as libertarian.

    Libertarian socialist is as much a political ideology distinct from both libertarianism and socialism (but with qualities of both) as ice-cream is a food distinct from ice and cream (with qualities of both).

    If you’re interested, see what the “wikipedia wankers” have to say on a little thing called compound words.

  40. Shem; There is nothing libertarian about being anti-war, and nothing anti-war about being libertarian. In truth we prefer to trade peacefully for our needs than give someone a flogging and take them off him, we are against imperial type wars.

    Libertarianism contains within it the idea of individual sovereignty which in logic allows us to defend that sovereignty, a right which can be legitimately passed onto the state to exercise on our behalf.

    It is legitimate to go to war to defend our rights. It is also legitimate to attack in the event of a real threat to our security as a pre-emptive measure. Smacking the bastard down because he gives you the shits, is not libertarian, or is at least getting a bit marginal.

    It is ok to love war as a libertarian, a long as its an appropriate one.

  41. You know you’d think a fella could come here HERE!!!! of all places and that it would be like one of those spontaneouws Ron Paul meet-up groups.

    But its seems about at least half of us, when they had the chance to support the great Statesman, who by our own testimony is supporting what are supposed to be our values…..

    .. Its seems when the chance is offered to you you blow it in your congenital lack of depth and loyalty.

    For shame.

    Ron Paul is the quality candidate in this line-up. And he’s an inspiration around the world.

  42. Depends what you mean by anti-war: I’m anti-war in the sense that pretty much the only wars worth fighting are those where others bring them to your shores, or the shores of countries with which you have a strong allied relationship (or you have very very strong reason to believe they are preparing to).
    I don’t think, for instance, the first Gulf War (to defend Kuwait against Saddam) was necessary, and I’m not at all convinced the world is better place because it happened.

  43. Jim- go do the Libertarian Purity test with that attitude and see how you fair 😉

    You are entitled to have your own opinions regarding war and I’m not criticising them. There is a case you can make in favour of overseas excursions. But being pro-war is about as much a part of the libertarian tradition as being anti-abortion.

    “Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by producing.” Ayn Rand

    “It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society.” Murray Rothbard

    Hayek and Friedman had less to say as they were more focused on economics than foreign policy. As far as I’m aware neither took a pro-war position.

    I don’t mind if people are moderate libertarians. But a pro-war position compromises libertarian purity as much as a belief in state-funded education does, in my opinion. This is not a criticism of a pro-war position, just a comment that very few of us are “pure” in our ideology so we shouldn’t isolate our friends just because they don’t share all our beliefs, at least not when they are really on the side of smaller government both socially and economically…

  44. Shem

    No-one here is ‘pro-war’. What Jim is saying is that there is nothing in the libertarian handbook that says you are not allowed to defend yourself when attacked.

    And i do get fed up with this libertarian obsession with ‘purity’. ‘You’re not really a libertarian’ is our equivalent of the socialist’s scream of ‘racist’ when confronted by an idea he disagrees with.
    They’re both pathetic.

  45. Mark
    The Purity Test is a light hearted quiz for libertarians written by Bryan Caplan who is most definitely not a Lew Rockwell follower. Nor is it ‘anti war’ as Shem claims – it is anti-atrocity and pro-Just War.

  46. I don’t see how you can be a libertarian in favour of McCain and against Ron Paul. I suggest that anyone in this position find a new mask to where and stop smuggling this leftism in where its not wanted.

    Next thing you’ll all be trying it on that socialist money, banning firearms, and trace-gas-hysteria are all viable libertarian planks.

    Thats a purity test right there. Anyone more comfortable with McCain than Ron Paul really has to give it away.

  47. I took your advice Shem and did the libertarian purity test over at and interestingly theirs says that I am the most pure libertarian they have found. They have a great Up Yours Ron Paul blogroll I am thinking of joining, but I digress.

    As I have never been a great fan of Ayn Rand, (she had some good ideas but I lost the end of a finger in a set of foot clamps and found it a lot more fun than reading her) so I’m not that impressed by her argument. Wars to defend your rights are legitimate.

    My first contact with pacifism in libertarianism was back in the 70s when some Swedish libertarian advocated that if the Soviets came he would run a tape on all media saying “We surrender.” So much for liberty. While pacifists can most certainly be good libertarians, there is no corollary to say that libertarians are necessarily pacifist.

    Libertarians are generally disinclined to start unjust wars, which is probably what draws pacifists to us, however this does not obligate us to any commitment to pacifism as a cause. I am inclined to libertarian belief rather than “libertarian tradition”, a term I would be inclined to file away along with “conventional logic.”

  48. Jim, why would any libertarian want to *start* any war?
    Do you have an historical example of a war that there was a good justification for starting?

  49. Fine, let me rephrase, why would any libertarian want to start a war, other than to defend against an invasion of your territory? (I would still argue the invader “started” the war, even if it technically takes your decision to defend rather than surrender to turn an invasion into a war).

  50. LS, I am not sure whether you actually have some issue here or whether you are just arguing semantic crap.

    It is legitimate to go to war to defend our rights. It is also legitimate to attack in the event of a real threat to our security as a pre-emptive measure. and Libertarians are generally disinclined to start unjust wars, which is probably what draws pacifists to us, however this does not obligate us to any commitment to pacifism as a cause. is what I said, I fail to see what you find in this about wanting to start wars.

  51. I’m arguing about the “legitimacy” of attacking “in the event of a real threat to our security”, rather the likely effectiveness of doing so.

    If someone lines up forces across the border clearly set to attack you, then firing at them is obviously reasonable enough. So if you open fire, and war results, I suppose you technically started the war. But that’s about the only case I would personally support initial attack.

  52. I just cannot abide all these leftists here who pretend to be libertarian. But check this out from Michael Reagan:

    “….McCain must think conservatives are dumb enough to allow him to get away with claiming he’s one of them.

    This is from a man who opposed drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and who twice voted against President Bush’s tax cuts and sponsored the campaign-finance reform legislation that Romney claimed “took a whack at the First Amendment.”

    In John McCain’s eyes, conservatives are the Viet Cong of this generation and he treats us as such. It’s either his way or no way.

    I despise his habit of talking down to us, like a wise father to an idiot son. He’s just at a loss to understand why everybody doesn’t grovel at his feet and accept his every word as wisdom handed down from his lofty perch atop Mt. Olympus.

    I can’t help it. I know in my heart he hates me, and every conservative. If he gets the nomination the only way he could win against Hillary or Barack Obama would be to be part of a McCain-Limbaugh ticket.”

    This guy is not only not a conservative or a libertarian. He HATES small government types.

    What the hell are you guys doing supporting him? Either piss or get off the pot. But don’t be supporting McCain over Ron Paul and be ALSO pretending to be a libertarian.

    Crikey. Next thing we’ll be putting pommeygranA te up to stand for the NSW Senate.

    We have to be aware of incursions into our party by people who have almost no authentic affinity for human liberty. You know. The no-evidence-enviros. The people in open contempt of our shooters. And I think a lot of you have to get educated and come around against socialist money also.

    But promoting McCain over Ron Paul ought to be an outrage on this part of the internet.

  53. Right. I’ve just found out why I think our trace-gas-hysterics and airborne fertiliser bed-wetters want to support McCain over Ron Paul.

    McCain sponsored a bill which would have destroyed the American economy. It was a bill that would have limited industrial-CO2-release to 2010 levels.

    Listen you superstitious, anti-science jerks. Get the situation internalised. Either find the evidence or admit you are wrong. And try and do something about your irrational bed-wetting fears.

    Its easy and cheap to cool the environment if we had an overheating problem. We have a cooling and not a warming problem. But its a cheap thing to do to cool things down if a warming problem came out of a clear blue sky.

    But any cooling will do us damage. As the Chinese are finding to their dismay right now.

    Some of you may support McCain since you cannot quite get your head around abandoning this phase of the war. Some of you might have neglected to educate yourselves on socialist money and why it must be terminated.

    But those of you who support him because of his global warming crankery have to get psychiatric help or heal yourselves through zen. And not be allowing your judgement to be polluted by this blatant science-fraud-idiocy.

    McCain would bring more federal gun control. He would stack the court against constitutionalism. He would allow Saudi Arabia, Iran and China to effectively bleed our American friends. And he would give new impetous to this global warming IDIOCY. He would naievely allow taxes to rise as his solution to the deficit.

    I support this phase of the war only if the President has the Strategic sense to win it and if the American people are now ready for the non-defense spending cuts that would make a clean win inevitable and in the context of no more increases in government debt.

    Now that is not going to happen with the remaining Presidential candidates. Maybe Alan Keyes or a more energetic Fred Thompson could have gone for such a strategy.

    But really its not realistic. So in this phase of the war its time for the Americans to come home. Ron Paul is the right man for this time. Any other of the candidates might be expected to go in for this global warming crapola.

    Ron Paul would just quote the constitution “Congress will write no law….” and that would be the end of any attempts to get him to bend to this ultimate leftist idiocy of the day.

  54. Graeme

    Stop obsessing about labels.

    Voting for a President is as much about what you think of the character of the person as much as what they say they will do. And as Jason has already pointed out on this thread, Paul has said some very un-libertarian stuff.

    He’s a wacko who attracts wackos.

  55. Jim, I wasn’t attacking you- your position sounds reasonable. I think avoiding war unless it can be helped IS essentially an anti-war position. I don’t know many pacifists that would say “let them take our land and women- war is bad”. You might call your position pro-war, but I see it as generally anti-war. I’m anti-murder but if I had to kill someone to defend myself from them I would.

    I personally DON’T support libertarian purity. But David was up on his high horse saying LS’ philosophy isn’t libertarian because it has elements of wealth distribution. LS is a libertarian, with socialist tendencies and while not a “pure” libertarian is someone that should be accepted as a supporter of small government (ie libertarian).

    Jim- you said that we need to be ready to defend ourselves- I agree with that but I think overseas excursions to remove dictators or secure oil are NOT acceptable. Iraq is a murky one, but intelligence reports indicate that Iraq was not an imminent threat to Australian security, at least. Australia, by libertarian standards should not have been involved.

    Removing dictators is a noble cause, as is universal education and welfare to reduce poverty. But none of these things are libertarian. If people want to criticise LS for not being libertarian enough they’d better take a look at themselves first- because I can count on one hand the number of pure libertarians I’ve met. (Again not that I think purity is an instrinscally good quality.)

    We should accept all libertarians, moderate or pure. We all want smaller government- we have more in common than different.

  56. Well I think I sort of explained on the “Creative Capitalism” thread on the reasons I’m less libertarian than many here – what I’m interested is a system of government that will work better today, or at least in the next few decades.

    If, by some freakish set of circumstances, the LDP got elected into power at the next federal election in Australia, and enacted all its policies immediately, I’ve little doubt the country would erupt into chaos. Maybe some here would consider that a reasonable price to pay, but I think there are far better ways of moving towards the libertarian ideal (which has been something of a gradual historical trend anyway).

  57. Don’t be foolish. There would of course be a transition period and our policies are for the time being very moderate. So there is no reason to believe this jive about things erupting into chaos. Rather the societal health of the place would improve over time.

    Who are you when you are not in drag? You Tim Lambert makinhg some invasion into our territory to help us identify these faux-libertarian posers like Shem and Pommy.

    I’m just jack of these guys. This anti-Ron Paul, pro-McCain business is the last straw.

  58. Shem, LS, I think we are basically in agreement, my main concern is that there tends to be an idea of libertarianism being equated with pacifism whereas the situation should be that if our liberty is threatened we should be a stroppy bunch.

    Logic to me says that a libertarian society would be more likely to defend itself against external threats than a statist one, given that we have more to loose.

    One of the basic tenets of our philosophy is free trade, and one of the most prominent defenses of free trade is that if other countries can obtain your products reasonably and at fair prices there is no point in invading, thus it is a force for peace. The opposite applies also, that if a vital product is denied to the world then it is possible that rather than suffering for the want of it they would be inclined to come in and take it.

    Oil is a strategic commodity, and interfering with the flow of it is asking for trouble, in the same way that shipping routes are strategic, block them off and someone will come after you. This is in itself not a justification of ‘wars for oil’ from a libertarian perspective, but when it is denied or the supply threatened most countries would react unfavorably. Thats the way the world is.

    Dictatorships don’t worry me, in fact I had more time for Sadam than the Saudi, and Kuwaiti royals, at least he was secular, not theocratic. Democracy is only really popular in the West, as our culture caused its evolution, the Middle East is different culturally, and I tend to be pessimistic as to the chances of it succeeding in Iraq.

    Probably the best solution in Iraq would have been to arrange a coup by the military, then for reasonable guarantees on human rights, WMDs, the security of neighboring countries etc, sanctions would be removed and the nation could then go back to normality, or what passes for it.

  59. Jim the CIA had a number of attempts on Saddams life during the Clinton era. Which is probably why the planning for 9-11 got started.

    The CIA was advised by Chalabi that they were penetrated and that all they would do is get people killed. But they are useless and they went ahead and got all their allies killed anyhow.

    You have to punish the regimes. The upper level Baathists. You have to assist the people to punish those who have oppressed them. Otherwise the same dysfunction in the country is still basically there.

    Rumsfeld wanted to go in with a proxy army like the way they handled things in Afghanistan. But it would have been easier and far more effective to take down Syria, the Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia all in one hit through air and proxy war.

    Retrospectively knowing how the left was going to react it looks like the Ron Paul way of doing things is right. Let the Congress force the President to go to war and make sure they have made the non-defense spending cuts to pay for it.

    Because when you do go to war you want to use all your resources and get home as soon as possible.

  60. If, by some freakish set of circumstances, the LDP got elected into power at the next federal election in Australia, and enacted all its policies immediately, I’ve little doubt the country would erupt into chaos.

    Part of the reason we have such radical policies is because the further you are on the fringes the louder your voice needs to be in order to get heard.

    The Greens have been making their policies more and more moderate every election. Their drug policy is substantially watered down from what it was.

    But even if the LDP was elected next election, our policies AREN’T the views posted on this blog. Our policies are moderate (like 30-30, gay marriage and education vouchers) and our policies usually include transitional time-frames, too.

    What exactly would cause chaos? The tax accountants rioting because tax packs would go from hundreds of pages to a single page?

  61. Because when you do go to war you want to use all your resources and get home as soon as possible.

    Graeme, I think that is one of the most intelligent things I’ve heard you say.

  62. Jim, I agree that defence is an option, but it should be a last resort. We need to be assertive, rather than aggressive to guarantee our rights. I equate pacifism with assertive defence rather than just appeasing. Your position is not “pro-war”, though.

    I also find your arguments about oil in Iraq interesting, it is more understandable when framed that way.

    Of course, say I had to choose between killing a man and living as an Amish person. I’d be tempted to kill to avoid being Amish, but I think morally the right choice is to live without technology.

    Now say that someone was threatening me that I might at some stage in the future be cut off from electricity unless I killed a man now. I think the choice becomes more clear.

    I know you weren’t justifying war for oil- I was just making the point.

  63. Shem, whatever the status quo is, there are enormous vested interests that gain huge benefits out of it. Any significant change to the status quo will hugely disadvantage those interests – whether it be criminal gangs, favoured industries, churches etc.
    So the first worry is that such groups will fight tooth and nail to maintain their advantages, by whatever means possible. But even without that, history already shows that when authority is suddenly weakened (e.g. police strikes), people don’t behave particularly sensibly. I think we underestimate the extent to which people avoid particular behaviours simply because they’re told such actions are wrong and punishable. People *are* capable, once educated sufficiently, of working out for themselves what behaviours make the most sense in the long run, but rules and regulations have been a (poor) substitute for that education for a lot of people for a long time. Throw all those rules and regulations away, and there’s going to be a very messy and long learning process.

    The pay-off of moderating policies in the case of the Greens I would suggest is more than worth it. The Greens stand a very decent chance of winning a least one lower house seat next election (Melbourne), and already have 4 upper house reps. Were the Greens to suddenly sweep into power and immediately enact their policies, there would certainly be an amount of difficult adjustment, and the economy would not react well initially (however, given time, strong economies are generally far more resistant to naive government policy than most people seem to believe), but I personally believe they provide the best starting point for moving towards a more libertarian state. The major parties have far too much vested in the status quo, and the LDP just isn’t a realistic chance electorally.

  64. This is just ridiculous.

    Ridiculous I says.

    The policies are moderate. They are not fringe.

    “Erupting into chaos” – get real, get therapy and give a friggin break.

    Changing over from the punitive, ad hoc and ineffective welfare system we have now to the 30/30 and more labour market reform would see people immediately move from being faced with a choice where they are better off not even looking for work to a status where they are free to work.

    Mass employment ends in riots?

    Or perhaps the episode should be labelled:

    “Whither APRA – The Curse of not paying a TV license in pubs to the musician’s union and the ensuing *chaos* and bloodshed”

  65. Moderate by Libertarian standards, to be sure. But a significant break from the relative historical continuity of policy evolution in Australia, and a radical departure from every other OECD trading nation. At least the Green’s policies are pretty similar to many northern European nations. Once they get some better economic advice, they can be brought round to accepting that increasing regulation or government spending is quite likely to be environmentally damaging.

  66. No you are barking up the wrong tree here. So long as libertarian policies are implemented quickly IN THE RIGHT ORDER they can only strengthen social cohesion. Since they eliminate the things which rip us apart. This is how a free society came about in the first place. The religious wars were so vicious in the 17th century, and the people who moved to the Americas so polyglot that they had to bid away all those things that divided them, that there would be conflict over.

    Where government goes society retreats. So libertarianism, properly implemented, is a societal rebuilding program. And it is a way of enhancing that “social capital” that the dumb left is always talking about on the ABC.

  67. “They don’t do it in Iceland so it’s not kosher”

    Get Brendan Nelson to say that in Parliament. I’ll get shirts made up. We’ll be rich.

    Once the greens start saying economically literate things, they would be libertarians. But I sadly doubt this will ever happen. Look at the history of the Greens.

    Yes, even in Europe.

  68. Don’t know what happened there, I hit the wrong button and it posted.

    Graeme, I tend to be a bit sceptical about Chalabi as a source; From Wikki: –

    Chalabi is a controversial figure for many reasons. In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under his guidance the INC provided a major portion of the information on which U.S. Intelligence based its condemnation of Saddam Hussein, including reports of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda. Nearly all, if not all, of this information has turned out to be false. That, combined with the fact that Chalabi subsequently boasted about the impact that their falsifications had in an interview with the British Sunday Telegraph, led to a falling out between him and the United States.

    I am inclined to think his main contribution may have been pissing in the Yanks pockets and telling them what they wanted to hear.

  69. Shem, whatever the status quo is, there are enormous vested interests that gain huge benefits out of it. Any significant change to the status quo will hugely disadvantage those interests – whether it be criminal gangs, favoured industries, churches etc.

    You keep using the Greens as an example of a party implementing moderate change, but I’d argue that the Green policies are as much a departure from the status quo as LDP policy! We just plan on going in different directions economically. We’d both cut corporate welfare, though. We’d both piss of the churches by implementing social reform. They’d pander to the criminals and probably try and rehabilitate them by reading picture books to them, we’d maintain the rule of law, basically as is.

    If Europe was able to survive the radical Green and socialist reforms that have gone on there- Australia could easily survive LDP policy. Socially we’d be around the level of say, the Netherlands; Economically we’d probably still be less liberal than Singapore. There may not be one nation we can point to as a model, but there are economic models and social models that we can point at. We just want to combine them together. I hardly think that’ll cause gay orgies in the streets, a military coup or the collapse of Australian industry. It is not a radical model unless you are a Christian conservative, but they already hate the Greens anyway!

  70. I said that the Greens were gradually *moderating* their policies, not that they were yet moderate by mainstream standards. It’s true there are many in The Greens that want to make Australia’s economy less liberal, but by no means all. As you say, they are big against corporate welfare, and the tax advantages churches get. They also support vast simplification of the tax system, and a move away from income taxes, even if they don’t support lowering the total amount collected. They back tariff removal, and moving from bilateral to multilateral trade agreements. Indeed, even if all the Greens’ current economic policies were implemented, I’m not sure you could reasonably argue that our economy would be particularly less liberal overall (unfortunately it would be more regulated). Given we’re already 4th in the world on the Heritage Freedom index, net liberalisation of the economy doesn’t strike me as a super high priority anyway, at least in the short term. For me, The Greens’ economic policies are problematic not because they’re not liberal enough, but because they’re often naive and betray modern understanding of market economics.

    Graeham, I absolutely agree that reducing the role of government is a far more effective way of building “social capital” than trying to impose it from above. My only concern is determining the least painful way of moving towards that goal.

    Ultimately, as long as the LDP stick with their current policy platform (one I largely agree with as a longer-term goal), the country is not in any danger of having those policies implemented. The Greens have a history dating back to 1972, and were their current rate of increasing electoral success to continue, might feasibly have a chance of winning lower house seats and pushing many of their policies forward within the next the decade. Given the two major parties are both socially conservative, I don’t see how the Australian electorate could move to support *two* socially progressive parties any time soon. Unless you’re happy to remain a micro-party, the LDP seems to have little choice but to form an alliance with the Greens. Yes, there are significant ideological differences, but given Australia’s parliamentary system, all successful political parties have had to deal with that reality.

    BTW, I’m not a Greens member, and only voted for them for the first time at the last election after finally being convinced that they were beginning to take economic policy seriously.

  71. One other thing – I have quite close contact with many in the Australian Democrats. I’ve no doubt that many there would be now interested in a Greens-LDP-Democrats coalition.
    There’s far less ideological differences between those three parties than the parties that joined to form many of the major parties of the world today, including in Australia and the U.S.

    As it is right now, Australia really only has room for one socially progressive party. Economical liberalism has pretty much won the day anyway (largely on its merits), so we are overdue for a fight for a socially progressive government. For those here that seem more concerned with economic growth than anything else, I’d argue many socially progressive policies, including legalising euthanasia and recreational drugs, will have significant economic advantages too.

  72. On what basis do you say Australia can only have one socially progressive party – you should go to a LDP state meeting – we’re a diverse lot.

    We appeal to a very broad range of people. We don’t have any group we want to tell how to live their lives. Capitalists, queers, gun owners, motocyclists and regular joes. They should be left alone mostly.

  73. Australia can have as many socially progressive parties as it likes obviously, but in a two-party system, if you seriously aim to become an electable party, there is realitcally only room for one of them to be socially progressive. Labor has a socially progressive wing, and if they thought it would help their electoral chances, they could have easily proposed socially progressive policies. But Rudd won’t even budge on gay civil unions, which is an easy sell. Instead they rely on Greens preferences, which is probably a smart move.

    Greens for the most part generally don’t want to tell people how to live their lives either. Most would overwhelming prefer to simply raise public awareness and have citizens and business voluntarily modify their lifestyles to be more environmentally conscious. They’re just skeptical of the likelihood of voluntary change being sufficient.

  74. No, I mean one major party.

    Of course I don’t know it for sure, but the evidence certainly suggests it.

    If the LDP aren’t interested in becoming a major party, then I’ll go away.

  75. Well I don’t know what you mean anymore.

    I for one want the LDP to be in Government.

    We are socially progressive and economically liberal. In our eyes, neither party is either, despite lip service by either side to one principle.

    I think you’re saying we need to compete with or ally with the Greens. I think you’ll find a lot of Greens and greens voters are actually libertarian (as some libertarians found out in the election campaign). They don’t support the awful economic policy the Greens have. They want to vote socially progressively but don’t know about parties like the LDP until they are told about us.

    I think you need to elaborate a little more.

  76. LS- I think that Australia has room for a Senate full of different parties with different ideologies. It’s true that the HoR is dominated by Labor and Liberal, but even the Greens aren’t going to break in there to any great degree. The Greens HAD Michael Organ elected to the House, by luck and he didn’t last past the next election.

    Where the Greens hope to be the socially progressive preference feeder of Labor. We’re more like the socially progressive Libs- not entirely of course, in some cases Labor policy is just plain better (Keating and Hawke spring to mind as economic reformers). If elected to the Senate we will work with the Greens on social matters, but we’re more likely to work with the Liberals on economic matters. The good thing about proportional representation is that everyone gets to have a say.

    You say there’s a need for a socially progressive party in the Lower House. I agree. I direct my preferences to the Democrats and Greens before either major party, myself, but it’s only people trying to “pick winners” rather than voting with ideology that makes the Lower House such a 2 party system. If you agree with the LDP more than the Greens, vote for the LDP above the Greens. The preferences still flow how you tell them to.

    The LDP are interested in becoming a major party, but as you say, the Greens have a 30 year head-start on us. The only way we have a chance of becoming a major party and pushing for civil rights and a freer economy is by getting members. If everyone has the attitude “you are too small to support” we will never grow bigger. The reason I’m on the LDP executive is not because I think it is a perfect creature, but rather so I can help it grow.

    Incidentally, during the election we approached the Greens regarding preference deals and they didn’t really want much to do with us. We extended the olive branch to them, highlighting our similarities and they happily just pointed out our differences. It is only by the LDP itself growing and having elected representation that we can even have our views listened to by the majors or other minors. Even if the LDP up and formed a coalition with the Greens (which we wouldn’t as they are authoritarian on some social issues such as smoking, junk food and guns) we’d never even get to have a say, it’d just be a takeover, at least at this stage.

  77. I’m saying competing won’t work. Allying could, and would have the extra benefit of substantially improving the Greens’ economic policies (which, as I said above, aren’t actually *that* illiberal in the scheme of things, but *are* naive and ill-informed). There’s every reason to believe the Greens will have even more representatives in power after the next election, so the quality of their economic policy is important to the nation.

    A Greens-LDP-Democrats merger could form the very real basis of Australia’s next major political power.

    You might even be able to attract socially-progressive Liberals who are fed up with the Conservative Christian’s hijacking of the party.

  78. Shem, accepted that if you can’t even get a preference deal, the Greens aren’t likely to be open to a merger.
    Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying though.

  79. 1. The elite of the Greens are anti-free enterprise, while much of their base isn’t. You want them to become Libertarians. They would resist. We are better off trying to get their members or potential members to come over.

    2. Preference deals were State by State. Terje wouldn’t have gone so well without them.

  80. BTW, I’ll be honest – gun laws are the one thing I really struggle with. If we can work out a way of ensuring that Australia becomes like Swizterland, rather than like the U.S., I’m in support of liberalising gun regulations, because I can’t work out how the critical principle of “informed consent” can be used to justify banning guns.
    Ideally, it should be part of our education – understanding that owning a gun is not a particularly sensible form of self-defence, because the bad guys can always get hold of bigger guns. Then individuals can make an informed choice as to whether it makes sense for them.

  81. Mark, re 91: I don’t believe it’s the case that the “elite” are anti-free enterprise. It’s big business they don’t trust. Especially big business that has got where it is because of government favouritism.

  82. Have you seen Bolwing For Columbine?

    Michael Moore more or less argues it is a cultural thing. I think he is onto something but mostly wrong. I blame the wasteful, counterproductive “war on drugs”.

    Canada has more guns per capita and is far better of with regards to gun deaths and crime.

    Whereas the UK has very stringent gun laws and the 2nd worst violent crime rates in the OECD.

    A solution I prefer is property rights determining gun rights. A residential area under community title may decide to contractually enforce gun control. A farming community elsewhere may have full rights to bear arms.

    The Greens are right to end Government privilege. It is almost everything else in their economics which is terrible.

  83. I like the property rights idea – an alternative might to allow all local councils to set their own gun laws.

  84. an alternative might to allow all local councils to set their own gun laws.

    Bingo, we have a winner. A federalist gun policy is the very direction John Humphreys and myself have been discussing putting to the executive..

  85. I could see that getting the police force on board with such an idea would be challenging though.

  86. Meh, we’ll decentralise them, too 😉

    At the very least each state should be able to set gun laws autonomously. That was one of Howard’s biggest mistakes in 96.

  87. What’s the point of doing it at a state-by-state level though? Those with the most legitimate need for free gun ownership are those in rural areas in every state.

    I’m generally in favour of moving far more power to local councils, a little more to states, and a lot less to the federal level. Each should have its own police force.

  88. Well decentralisation of power – at least electrical power – is Greens’ policy too 😉

    Many would happily support decentralisation of political power also.

  89. LS — if your friends in the Democrats want to chat about a merger, tell them to get in contact with me.

    I think there needs to be several minor parties to give voice to a range of views. The Greens cover “socialism lite”, CDP/One Nation covers “nationalist conservativism” and the LDP covers “socially & economically liberal”.

    But I can’t see a role for the Democrats there. Either they join with the Greens, or they join with the LDP. There is no role for a fluffy nothing-party.

    And I certainly agree with all this talk about decentralisation! First from national govt to state . Then from state govt to local. Then from local govt to the voluntary community! 🙂

  90. BTW, where’s your source for Canada gun ownership & crime rates vs Australia? The source I have has Canada’s homocide rate higher than Australia’s, and in particular it’s gun-homocide rate at twice Australia’s level:

    As I undetstand it, the correlation between gun ownership and homocide in general is pretty sound, even if it’s blown out of proportion by a) the U.S. b) not considering it relative to other causes of death. Further, there are reasons to question the degree of causality.

    Ultimately though, whatever the stats, I agree guns should be available based on informed choice.

    But…do I extend this to nuclear weapons?

  91. John, I think you’d need to offer the Dems something that they see as attractive. Lack of even professed concern for social justice and environmental protection is a big problem.

    As long as the first thing on your website is “Australians pay too much tax” they’re going to be very skeptical of your party’s true goals. I’m not even sure it makes a lot of sense from a populist POV, given the number of polls suggesting a large number of Australians were happy to forgo the tax cuts promised at the last election. Certainly for me, tax cuts are just a “side benefit” of a genuine desire for reducing government power and bureaucracy.

    “Protecting the environment without relying on the government” or “Destroying the barriers that keep people in poverty” might be some more attractive article headlines.

    But ultimately, a merger will ultimately mean compromising on certain specific policies – just not on fundamental principles.

  92. The link between guns & crime (including homocide) is very weak. There is a link between guns & gun crime (and gun homocides) but that’s entirely irrelevant.

    I like your mini-quotes and agree that we should work on our pitch… but “you pay too much tax” is likely to remain a central theme of the LDP. We do pay too much tax. Many people agree with that.

  93. A merger would mean compromising on fundamental principles. And it would mean compromising on the need for evidence, and on reason more generally. If these Democrats want to join up they can.

  94. BTW I found that URL. For a “small government” party that likes to harp on about the “nanny state” there’s a lot of proposed rules and regulations there, and I reckon “should” is about the most common word on the page!

    I’ll admit personally I find much of the language on the site offputting and a little puerile. But I guess I’m not most people. It may appeal to conservatives, but probably not to most well-educated small-l liberal types.

  95. Do I really need to list the tax rates and give an example of the marginal tax rate paid by Mr or Ms Average Australian?

    47.5% income tax. 10% GST. Fuel excise. Land taxes. Payroll taxes. Stamp duties. Land rates. Yada yada yada…

    The best way to stop the Government interfering in your personal life is to cut their funding.

  96. LS,


    No. I was comparing America to Canada.

    Sweden has even higher gun ownership and less crime and less gun deaths than virtually all others.

    Australia has, since Federation, no correlation between gun ownership and gun related crimes.

    But a cointegrated (sort of like parallel correlation) between gun crimes and the general crime rate.

    So, it is a country by country thing. Again, in the US, I blame the drug war, half of their 1 000 000 prison population is in gaol for drug related offences.

    Again, the solution is a) property rights, and b) the practicalities of self defence and other legitimate purposes – they don’t extend to some weapons, like the more bizzare absurdities put forward.

  97. You’ve gotta look at where the LDP has come from. One of the biggest strengthening influences for the LDP was David Leyonjhelm. DavidL, while Libertarian, has been staunchly anti-Green in the past coming from a background firstly in the Liberals and than in the Shooters Party. A lot of the financial members in the party are small-business owners and shooters both groups that traditionally fall on the Coalition side of politics.

    David, realises now, however, that Libertarianism appeals to Green voters and people from the left. At the election launch David was joking that he never thought there would be a former Greens (or Democrats) voter in the LDP yet with myself and a couple of others- we had a few!

    Australia has not had a libertarian option for a long time. People around my age (23) that have grown up under conservatives like Bush and Howard don’t realise that capitalism ISN’T synonymous for Christian conservatism. Ron Paul has been a great thing- he’s shown that a Republican can be anti-war, a Republican can be pro-social justice. He’s shown that there’s a whole nother side to the political compass in the bottom right quadrant. So there’s some people that thought they HAD to be aligned with the left to support gay rights, for example, realising that’s NOT the only option.

    Now that those people are starting to join the party (as I did) there’s room to change marketing strategies. We have been marketing as a conservative party trying to get gun owners, motorcyclists and country-side Canberra haters to join. They are still a demographic we need to appeal to, but there is also the educated small-l liberal types, too.

    So you’re totally right. We do need to change some things so we can appeal to ALL potential libertarian demographics. There’s 3 main groups we need to get to come to the party-
    *country-side federalists, gun owners and people strongly in favour of local community and private property rights
    *educated progressive professionals- people that like efficient government, less government spending and civil rights
    *populists. Pauline made quite a splash with this group. The LDP isn’t racist, but we can appeal to populists by supporting free speech, upholding equality under the rule of law, opposition political correctness and programs targeted to minority groups

    We need to bring all three groups to the table, because all three already have small-government mindsets in a lot of ways. That’s our on-going campaign. And there will be a lot of mistakes made and a lot of changes needed to our policies themselves to a small degree and how we sell our policies to a much larger degree. If you are interested in helping you can become a financial member and contribute towards some of our policy working groups. I agree that we’re not there yet and the more opinions we get the better the revisions will be.

  98. That sounds like a good strategy Shem.

    Absolutely – free enterprise isn’t about religious conservatism – it is about free thinking, voluntary association and merit.

  99. Mark, I know how much tax I pay. But I earn a lot of money, and I don’t want any more. Sure, I could give it to charity, but it’s all too much hassle, and I don’t have the time and resources to determine which charities are actually doing the most useful work. I don’t consider taxation to be a form of interference in my personal life, except for the absurd complexity of tax returns. There’s no excuse for 90% of the population ever needing to file a tax return.

    If you’re comparing Canada and the US, where’s your source that puts Canada’s per-capita gun ownership anywhere near the US’s? Just curious…personally I don’t think the stats are actually all that relevant in determining ideal gun ownership laws (unless there really was an overwhelming correlation, which we agree that there’s not).

  100. Shem, both major parties have factions with members that have diametrically opposed views. It’s a political reality.
    Somehow they still manage to work out an agreed policy platform.

    Though personally how anyone could be “anti-green” in the sense of literally not having any concern at all about the state of the environment is a little baffling.

  101. Too much money? Give it to me. Please. Give me your email and I will send you my BSB. Hell, give it to the LDP if you want a hardworking, well intentioned nonprofit to flourish.

    Taxes are not an efficient way to give to charity or ameliorate poverty. Look at the churn, poverty traps and administrative costs of the welfare system.

    Either that or you could work less.


    Bowling For Columbine was the source.

    And if you want an overwhelming non-correlation or cointegration – check out the AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology) website and look at Australian gun crime since Federation.

    The underwhelming non correlation – guns and gun deaths.

    The overhwleming cointegration – gun crime and the general crime rate.

  102. I already negotiated with my employer to work less.

    Actually what I want to put my money towards is decent mass transit options. I’m sick of having to drive everywhere, living in a wealthy, densely populated suburb.

  103. Do you think if you donated another $5000 a year to the State Office of Revenue, they would build your desired system?

    If they taxed everyone in your subsurb another $5k p.a, there’s no guarantee of that either.

    Can’t you:

    1. Walk,

    2. Catch any public transport?

  104. Taxation isn’t an interference in your life?

    No. But the revenue that is raised allows Governemnts to interfere with the lives of everyone else. It allows you to be shut down for not paying a license fee to APRA for having a TV in a pub, it allows you to be stopped from farming land you purchased three months ago, as farmland. It allows the continuing inequality between gays and straights. It allowed the sexual repression of gays for decades.

    Cutting Government revenue would force those in power to rationalise their choices.

    Defence procurement or the war on drugs?

  105. From

    One of the tenets of Bowling for Columbine is that Canada has about the same level of gun ownership as the US. Based on the statistics I found, this is not true. According to a Justice Canada document (taken from the 1996 International Crime Victim Survey), gun ownership in Canada by household is about half of what it is in the US:

    Nearly 22% of Canadian households possessed at least one firearm. Possession was highest in the United States (48.6%) and lowest in England and Wales, Scotland, and the Netherlands.

    Just like to set the record straight 🙂

    Like I said, I’m perfectly happy for individual local councils to have the option to loosen gun controls. I highly doubt it would happen in any urban councils anyway.

  106. Note I said anti-Green, capitalised to refer to the political party. Being green also means making use of the environment, though and some of the Greens want to lock a lot of national parks and things up so even hikers aren’t allowed in certain areas. Some oppose hunting, even of pests like rabbits and common animals like kangaroos.

    Then there was the Pulp Mill where a whole bunch of people from outside the area decided they knew what was best for the local community and tried to oppose it on environmental grounds. Most people in the local George Town/ Bell Bay community wanted the Pulp Mill- the area was highly industrialised already- it’s not like it was part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness. I’m from the Bass electorate and I used to spend time in the town that would have benefited from the Pulp Mill- I agree with the locals- it is good that it’s going ahead. If it was being built on the Freycinet Peninsula I would have opposed it, but it was a good location and being managed under strict environmental guidelines.

    Being pro-green in the true sense of the word means seeing through the rhetoric and to the science. It means weighing up the environment as an important consideration but not treating it as the only consideration.

    I’d be really happy if you put some money towards public transport! I love it myself, I was spoilt when I lived in Japan for 18 months and it’s painful being back in Melbourne.

  107. Mark, sure, a lot of my tax money is used for things I’m very unhappy about. Which is why I want a government in power that intends to use it in ways that I *am* happy about. On policies, the LDP comes closest.

    I don’t know how to solve the mass transit problem in my suburb – there has been no decent public transport here EVER, and the majority of the residents here are sick of it.
    Obviously it needs some government coordination. I don’t care how it’s funded or run so long as it operates effectively. If an enterpreneurial type wanted to start up his own service, I’d invest in it in a flash. But government regulations almost certainly prevent that.

  108. Well, I got owned. Or did I?

    I think Canda has more longarms, and very few handguns.

    The link between the US and handgun crimes is the drug laws. 1/600 Americans are in gaol because those policies.

    Switzerland has their militiamen keep firearms at home, yet has among the lowest gun and other crime rates.

    Listen to Shem about Greens. He’s right. The mill was/is going to be one of the cleanest, lowest impact in the world. It was going to built in a already built up area. The attitude of the animal liberationist movement in the Greens is appalling. I recommend you go fishing or shooting one time west of the great dividing range. There are so many problems with feral animals and fish species. (The only good thing is Carp are a decent sportfish and Redfin are good table fish). You wouldn’t believe how much shooting and fishing is done, how many ferals are destroyed but how little this dents their presence. Another problem emerges: the issue of locking up national parks makes pest managment near impossible. If hyou watched Landline a few weeks ago, QLD cane farmers couldn’t control pigs because they couldn’t hunt in the national park which bordered them. This lead to massive agricultural and environmental losses.

    Many of the greens are well intentioned, but they are misguided or led astray by the radical elements.

    Another example of Government intervention screwing the environment is what happened to Peter Andrews. He invented, with the guidance of some traditional Aboriginals he knew, “natural sequence farming”. It undoes the damage done by European farming methods. it took him decades to be allowed to manage his farm the way he wanted and teach it to others, partly because of State agricultural regulations.

    “Obviously it needs some Government coordination”

    No. Why does it? You can’t demand something that private enterprise would lose money on. it’s parsimonious to get others to pay for it and it leads to a sub optimal outcome for society. The alternative would be community owned, non profit transport.

    No need to get Government or taxes involved.

    What you might find is that Government will cause you more harm in licensing and planning provisions. What you need is to get the Government the hell out of your activities.

  109. I should remind you as well the biggest land clearance in Australia was done under Commonwealth Government edict in the early 20th century: the Governemnt at the time declared x% of Australia should be farmland, and so the order was given to destroy much forestation with European monoculture farming.

    However, you should see this: not all landclearing is not actually that bad.

    “The great land-clearing myth

    ROSS COULTHART: This man wants to assure you that he is an environmentalist. We can’t show you his face. Not because he’s breaking any law. But because he’s wary of how you mostly city folk will view his efforts to fix his degraded land. He says he has science on his side to prove that this clearing is the best way to return his land to its pristine, healthy condition. Today, you’ll see how Australian farmers believe they’re being unfairly branded as environmental vandals for clearing their land. They’re fighting back — and their Boadecia is Gabe Holmes, who, with her husband Joe, owns this farm ‘Loxley’ near Nyngan, in far western NSW:

    MRS GABE HOLMES, FARMER: Well if committing ourselves to restoring Loxley to the condition it is in now makes me a vandal then I guess I am proud to be that kind of environmental vandal.

    ROSS COULTHART: Back in the big city, Reece Turner of the Wilderness Society is also a passionate environmentalist. At this public meeting in the Sydney suburb of Manly, he’s using aerial pictures of clearing on Gabe Holmes’ farm to fire public outrage over land clearing.

    REECE TURNER, WILDERNESS SOCIETY: In this instance here we have broad-scale land clearing in order to plant crops.

    ROSS COULTHART: He’s made his battle-front a huge swathe of far western NSW, but ground-zero is the home-towns of Gabe Holmes and hundreds of other farmers.

    REECE TURNER: So the real front-line here is around here, the Cobar, Nyngan area.

    ROSS COULTHART: Those farmers say rational public debate over land clearing in this country has been hijacked by emotive Green politics. They say all they want to clear is what they call ‘Woody Weeds’ — invasive native scrub, which was never there before European settlement, but now covers nearly 15 percent of NSW alone.

    GABE HOLMES: We’re going to have to go hard because they’re not going to give an inch.

    ROSS COULTHART: They argue the Government’s actually causing environmental disaster by pandering to the Greenies with excessive restrictions on the clearing of ‘woody weeds’. And, they do have some high-powered support for their arguments. This ecologist wrote the book on the plants of western NSW.

    ROSS COULTHART: So let me be clear about this Geoff — land clearing can be good?

    GEOFF CUNNINGHAM: That’s exactly right!

    ROSS COULTHART: In fact, if we want to save the environment here we need to clear this land.

    GEOFF CUNNINGHAM: We need to clear a proportion of it.

    ROSS COULTHART: We’ve all heard the claims that land clearing rates in Australia are at crisis-point.

    REECE TURNER: We estimate that there’s about 100,000ha being cleared every year in NSW. That’s about six Sydney Cricket Grounds every hour of every day in NSW, of our bushland…most of that’s illegal.

    ROSS COULTHART: You stand by that?

    REECE TURNER: We do.

    ROSS COULTHART: But today the Government Minister who collects the figures says that’s just not true.

    IAN MACDONALD, NSW NATURAL RESOURCES MINISTER: This figure is totally untrue.

    ROSS COULTHART: As you’ll see, not only is most of the clearing going on legal, the scientific evidence suggests Australia is now in fact growing far more trees than it’s chopping down.

    MICK KEOGH, EXEC DIR AUSTRALIAN FARM INSTITUTE: The net position is that the rate of revegetation — that is replanting — and the rate of regrowth is many times higher than that — probably something like 300 football fields an hour Australia wide.

    ROSS COULTHART: Just 15 years ago this used to be an open cricket ground here at Five Ways, a farming community south of Nyngan. As you can see it’s been completely overrun even in that short time by native trees. These days the farmers are forced to play an entirely new game — jumping the hurdles put in their way by Greenies and the Government to severely restrict their clearing of native vegetation. Well what’s wrong with that you might ask? Well today, the evidence suggesting that the restriction that we’ve placed on the clearing of native trees is in fact causing serious environmental damage.

    Cobar farmer Alastair McRobert is showing me around his 15,000ha farm — 90 percent of which is covered with what he calls woody weeds. He says that before European settlement this landscape never used to look as densely forested as this because burning by aborigines and lightning strikes kept the country open — looking much like this.

    ALASTAIR McROBERT: These forests weren’t here. They’re not forests. They’re weeds. They have just grown up into the landscape and encroached on beautiful native grasslands. And taken it over, smothered them out and they’re degrading the soil.

    ROSS COULTHART: The best evidence for how that landscape now covered with native scrub used to look is buried here in the archives of the NSW Parliament. For, 105 years ago, the so-called woody weeds were becoming such a problem that a Royal Commission was called to investigate. Farmers were being forced off their land by the encroaching scrub.

    QUOTES FROM 1901 ROYAL COMMISSION: The scrub came about the year 1870. There are miles and miles of it now covered with scrub that were beautiful plains with plenty of feed on them when he first knew it.

    ROSS COULTHART: The 1901 Royal Commission found the woody weeds were a major cause of what was back then perhaps the worst depression Australia had seen. It forced hundreds of farmers off the land. These accounts, many from the original settlers, leave little doubt that, contrary to what many of us might think, much of western NSW — before settlement — was sparsely treed grasslands.

    DICK CONDON, FORMER NSW WESTERN LANDS COMMISSIONER: The original native grasses were very tall and very deep rooted and the trees were long way apart.

    ROSS COULTHART: Dick Condon’s the former NSW Western Lands Commissioner, with nearly 60 years experience as an soil scientist in this western country. So, in this area it’s not the case that we’re losing forest. We’re actually getting too much of it?

    DICK CONDON: We are definitely. It’s getting worse and worse.

    ROSS COULTHART: Now you realise to folks sitting back in the big city that’s an astonishing concept?”

    The lesson here is we cannot have a one size-fits all policy, considering the Aboriginies managed this land for tens of thousnads of years with local knowledge.

  110. I did a lot of reading about the Pulp Mill and in the end decided that a) the environmental risks weren’t particularly serious but b) the economic benefits weren’t great either. My preference is that the projects of that size, that affect a significant area, should go to a plebsicite, probably at the state level. If the people then democratically choose to forgo the potential economic benefits for real or imagined environmental benefits, that’s their choice.
    Same for the Port Philip Bay dredging project.

    For every case you point out where the “Greens” supposedly supported some poor policy, all I can say is that a) the Greens aren’t a unanaminous group, but largely independent thinkers that are open to well-argued and evidence-backed opposing views and b) I have strong reservations about some of the LDP’s policies too. As far as radicalism – so what? The LDP is far more radical than the Greens.

    The concerns about government-backed land-clearing or anti-anti-clearing policies, and forest management policies are shared by many Greens supporters. In fact, I’m not aware of any Greens policy that supports the status quo in this regard.

  111. Why put it up to a vote? Are you going to compensate the landowner for any potnential economic losses? Why not have a plebiscite for the construction of houses and shopping malls then? Why not extend that to your and everyone else’s personal lives?

    As long as you have widespread and strong private property rights, pollution will not be a signficiant problem.

    See point 10. “an end to broad-scale native vegetation clearing and, where possible, restoration of native vegetation and biodiversity”

    It is actually contradictiary given the evidence discussed on the Sunday programme. A conservation policy to restore the impact of white settlement. The idea is simply nuts.

  112. If there are people in the Greens that agree more with LDP policy on the environment than the Greens policy why don’t they join the LDP!?

    I agree that some of our policies need to be written. We need to show that we are “smart green” and understand the science of what really helps and hurts the environment.

    Right now our policies read like we don’t care about the environment, which is totally untrue. But I can understand why people might get that impression.

  113. Gunn’s can do what it likes on its own land that doesn’t affect public land, or air space above other private land.
    Clearly the pulp mill is going to affect both. Houses and shopping malls have minimal affect on public land or air space around other private land.

    The point of a vote is to allow the public who will be most affected to use their own value systems to decide what’s worth more to them. All economic activity involves some amount of environmental damage. Some people would prefer to be money-poor and live in a pristine wilderness. Some would prefer to be rich in a concrete-paved megapolis. There’s no single value system that can demonstrate one choice is “better” than the other. That’s where democracy works best.

    The key point in the Greens’ policy is “restoration of biodiversity”. Any ecologist would commend that goal. If it could be demonstrated that clearing of certain vegetation that happened to be native would help restore biodiversity because it was growing in an unnatural manner, then that would be perfectly understandble. If the Greens policy genuinely opposes this, I will write them to myself.

  114. #125 I think you answered your own question. Most people who join the Greens despite many of their economic policies do so because they believe that the policies of major parties are not helping the environment. At the moment, the LDP is not making a case that its policies will be better for the environment than those of the major parties.

  115. Here are a few paras from the LDP’s environment policy. Which bit sounds like we don’t care about the environment?

    The LDP values the natural environment within the context of a prosperous society that provides equal protection under the law and is based on respect for individual freedom, personal responsibility, small government and the defence of private property.

    We recognise that government’s record of environmental management is very poor, that most species extinctions have occurred in public ownership, that government is the single biggest polluter, and that big government schemes and agencies have seriously damaged our forests, rivers, water resources and rural lands.

    We recognise that societies in which government is smaller rather than bigger have produced better environmental quality and a better and fairer outcome for all members of society, including the poor.

    We reject compulsory confiscation and encroachment of property rights and restriction of individual freedom in the name of the environment.

    We recognise that the best protection for the environment is usually achieved through ending government control over natural resources.

  116. re 127 – read the policy as I quoted it and the Sunday transcript. Commence the angry letter writing. The key point is resistance to any land clearing, not increasing biodiversity. Stopping land claering as it was practisced for 40000 years is a patently bad idea. It destroys biodiversity.

    It doesn’t matter if something “affects” something else, but if the activity causes loss. Did the pulp mill cause loss to others? Clearly hearing your neighbours is different to hearing nothing but your neighbours. Having strong property rights would ensure any firm will alter the technology they use to decrease pollution, contain pollution and build away from impacting others.

    Democracy isn’t the solution to ensuring everyone gets their choice of lifestyle. Economic liberalism is. Democracy results in replication of the median voter preference, economic liberalism results in niche markets. We can see that in the old and current social policies. They didn’t encourage diversity of lifestyle choice, but reinforced the median opinion.

  117. Saying “you reject certain activites in the name of the environment” is hardly a way of inspiring confidence in the reader that the LDP’s policies are formulated exactly for the benefit of the environment.

    From the perspective of those who think more government is logical answer to everything, you have an uphill task of bringing them around to the point of view that, as suggested, governments have been directly to blame for some of the worst environmental offences in history. Do it with some specific examples. Give examples of where non-government organisations have done far better. Demonstrate that the LDP is promoting this policy *because* it cares about the environment, not simply because it thinks small government is always the best answer to everything.

    (Just my 2c, btw)

  118. Mark, then I take it you don’t support the name of the “Liberty and *Democracy* Party”.

    I’m looking for a party that puts more control over the environment in the hands of the people. They may not always make the “best” choice, but it’s by far the fairest way of determining to what extent we should make whole-scale modifications of the country that we all share.

    More direct democracy is not always better, but in this case, I firmly support it.

  119. Give examples of where non-government organisations have done far better.

    Well, Mr Socialist not very Libertarian, how about East Germany versus West Germany? After the fall of the Berlin wall there were thousands of examples of horrendous environmental devastation, all of it undertaken under government ownership. West Germany, by contrast, was an environmental haven; the vast bulk of it privately owned.

    In Australia the contrast between government owned national parks and privately owned wildlife reserves is stark. If it were not for Earth Sanctuaries, a privately owned organisation, several small Australian marsupial species would be extinct. National parks in NSW are best known as a haven for feral animals and weeds, and as a source of bushfires.

  120. Democracy does not mean command economies with plebiscites instead of executive decisions. Not only is it economically bad, it just reinforces median voter ideas. Only a free society (which would normally include a market) can service everyone’s desires. Explain how society catered for the preferences of gays before sexual liberation? (Although now, we have reached the point where private firms MUST admit people to their premises, e.g gay bars cannot discriminate against straights, even if it hurts their bottom line. No one really controls their own property now but everyone else wants a say in how things are done).

    The people doesn’t have to equate with majority opinion. You’ve got to get this devolution idea working better. Why make the people sovereign when you can make individuals sovereign? The environmental mismanagement of Government I showed you is reason to reject one size fits all policy and allow people to manage their own land and grant strong and widespread private property rights.

    Loss is a value judgement. ALL economic evaluations are value judegements. This is the breakthrough in economic thought which changed economics from the classical school to the neoclassical school – the puzzle why gold was worth more than “useful iron” or the watewr-diamond paradoxes were solved. However, “affects” is trivial, wheras “loss” is non-trivial. Courts deal with torts of economic loss all of the time so it is pointless to question the normalcy of the concept.

    David is right. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the most polluted part of the world was the corner between Poland, Hungary and the (Czech)slovakian republic. Compare the pristine privately owned streams of England and Scotland and comapre themto the Thames or even the Ganges.

  121. Mark, if there was a way to track down every bit of pollution to its source, and detect it at the time it happened, I would agree that property rights would be a good solution. Further, Gunns is chopping down trees on land that is owned by a co-operative non-profit entity called “the citizens of Australia”. As the owners of that land, what would do suggest we do if we some percentage of us aren’t happy about Gunns taking that action?
    Further ownership of the coastal waters around Tasmania is even more murky. Who is supposed to protest about the dioxins if they’re not happy about them?

  122. But you don’t need to account for all pollution! Up to a point it is trivial. For something like global warming, property rights solutions would lessen it as related emissions would have to be cut, but from here it is an effort to see if it is actually worth mitigating and then choosing the least damaging method of mitigation.

    How many times do I need to say “PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS”???

    That deals with forestry: putting a price on resources, and encouraging conservation and renewability.

    Coastal waters: there is no reason why rights over sea lanes and beds can not be granted. Aquaculturists would not be happy with unsafe levels of dioxins I assume?

  123. Ok, so are you accepting that the Government should not have the ability to grant Gunns permission to chop down forests in public lands? That much I certainly agree with. But even if you get past that, how do you deal with unsightly or damaging pollution that drifts onto public land – after all, it results in a “loss” of value according to the judgement of the public that owns it.

    Further, if the scientific evidence points to the fact that certain levels of some substance X increase the risk of cancer, and someone living nearby Gunn’s pulp mill and a neighbouring factory that produces substance X contracts cancer, what legal avenues do you pursue?

    IAUI, most coastal waters are public, owned by the citizens of Australia. The government certainly can’t just start handing it out to private enterprises without the owners’ consent.

  124. I feel like I am repeating myself. I will try to be very clear.

    1. Yes it is wrong to dole out resources to special interests.

    2. The transactions cost is more than confining the pollution.

    See here.

    Furthermore, minimising publicly held land would minimise the externality and tragedy of the commons problem.

    3. Tort law. If this inadequete, attack tort law and reform it, not the production system.

    4. That’s not what I propose. The property should be auctioned off and the proceeds doled out as cash individually to each citizen.

  125. Oh the Government can’t work out how private individuals can do something. It must be impossible.

    See Peter Andrews and Natural Sequence Farming on this one. They hamstrung him for decades whilst he came up with a solution.

    How did that report actually prove that property rights don’t work – when after all they merely established a tradeable permit system, not true real porperty interests?

  126. I didn’t mean to imply that document proved property rights don’t work, just that governments have been trying to make it work for a long time.

    You will have to explain point #3 above. Explain to me what a private individual who contracts a fatal cancer due to a pollutant is supposed to do, where the pollutant could come from several sources with no realistic way of determing which? And further, shouldn’t those individuals have a right to decide that won’t want to be placed at that risk in the first place?

    Ok, but the coastal waters are owned by us, the citizens. We don’t want to sell it. So why should the government have the right to do so on how behalf? Again, if we democratically elect a government that has promised to do just that, or vote in a plebsicite deciding on the sale of public lands, that’s fine, but I don’t see how else you can fairly determine the public’s wishes.

  127. 1. That is so unlikely it can be discounted as never happening, but only ever in the situation where the chemical was not known to be a poison or carcinogen. It happens, but only when facts aren’t known. If they are known, secretly, then any mitigation in laying culpabilioty at the feet of those responsible is due to excessive protection under the corporate veil.

    (Corporations will always exist, even under contract law if the act was abolished. You can’t contract away criminal and negligent behaviour that is against the interests of others, paticualrly third parties).

    2. Since this comes down to knowing or not knowing, it is easy. If they know, they have a choice in moving away.

    But actually you’ve hit upon why most environmental regulation isn’t needed, other than property rights for spillovers. A chemical plant isn’t going to locate in Newtown or Cecil Park. The alternative use (housing) would have simply bidded the prices up too high. The colloary of this is you don’t really need planning regulations because it is too expensive for plants to locate near populations (otherwise fully informed action is made by the public) and no one will try to flog a residential estate right next to say, a beef processing abbitoir. Not unless they did so fully informed and paid a signficant discount on their home.

    You don’t want to sell. I do. I never wanted to buy in. What benefit do you REALLY get out of it anyway? The Aboriginals didn’t want to “sell out” either. The definition of property includes the riight to dispose of your property – otherwise it isn’t actually yours. You can buy a piece of it with your proceeds. The market is the only way to determine people’s wishes. If you want to, form a corporation that buys out msot of the licenses and acts as the shepherd to the property. The fact is you cannot really do this now as you cannot suffer economic loss unless you own something. Aquaculturists or shore based residents are about the limit as to who can sue for littoral pollution.

    Why is a plebiscite any good is people are split 50/50? Why can’t the non-sellers just buy out the sellers? It could possibly done entirely on paper before any cash is trasnferred electronically. Why not for 49/51 ad 30/70, and 1/99 or 99/1? Otherwise you are demanding to control something which is someone else’s property (but they may not want) but cannot dispose of.

  128. Mark, if you really believe that industry should be allowed to pollute the air however it likes because those that live nearby can just “choose to move away”, then I doubt we’ll ever see eye to eye on policy – fortunately nor do I believe you will ever sell this idea to the people in a democracy.

    One other point to consider – how does a “purist” Libertarian party plan to ensure that its policies can function with a multi-party democratic framework where every 3 or 4 years the people get to decide that they don’t like the policies after all, and select a different government with a significantly different policy framework?

  129. 1. No, I NEVER siad “industry should be allowed to pollute the air however it likes”.

    You’re reading this stuff with the assumption I’m backing big bad industry and it’s out to get you. You need to be less prejudiced.

    You just don’t get it if you think that is what I mean. You haven’t even paid attention to what I wrote I my reply to you if that is what you think.

    If (IF) people ARE forced to move, then the firm would need to pay fair and just compensation. There are cases like this when incentives don’t always work and severe environmental damage is done and makes the area practically uninhibitable. Why on earth would you assume that firms can do as they please when I said firms shouldn’t get special privileges? However, without any ownership (oceans) or without strong property rights (current real property), claims for compensation are very unlikely. This is why on the punitive side of things we need strong private property rights.

    For the most part, firms would be obliged to internalise pollution given their neighbours property rights, or they can otherwise buy their neighbours out until it is internalised.

    On the other hand, most of the time they won’t buy near residential land and vice versa. In that case, if the pollution of an abbitoir was overwhelming and you bought the land with the caveat that the pollution couldn’t be stopped, all you could do would be to move away and sell back to the abbitoir or someone else.

    Now do you feel better that libertarians aren’t out to screw ordinary people out of their homes? I must say, I feel like I am being very repetitive. You should assume I have good intentions so I don’t have to point out how evil we are not.

    2. You win or lose elections. You keep trying to win or keep on winning.

  130. Interestingly enough, your idea about voting looks incredibly unfair to me – whereas property rights ensure eveyone is equal before the law (but your desire for unchecked democracy would see equality before the law and civil rights as vioable).

    If 100 people work in a dioxin producing factory and it can double it’s wages and profits by polluting the surrounding homes, and 99 live near it and don’t work there, the 100 can vote that 99 have their homes more or less taken away or they can slowly die.

    With property rights however, Coase suggests there will be a “side payment”, literally, a legal bribe from one party to the other to work out a solution, otherwise the plant will keep on producing at normal capacity.

  131. Look, Mark, I, like increasingly many voters, am becoming ever less trustful of the government’s ability to make decisions regarding large of tracts of public space (land and coastal waters) on our behalf. That is an easy political message to sell.
    But I am also opposed to allowing government the power to decide how to divide up public space and sell it off to the highest bidders – I don’t *want* to relinquish my (part) ownership of it. Now, if, as part of general election, the people of Australia elect your party on the understanding that large amounts of public space will be sold off to private owners, then I would have little choice but to accept the decision of the people. But to be honest, I think you’re living in a bit of a political cloud cuckoo land if you can realitically think you can sell such an idea in a modern, mature social democracy, and make it work.
    OTOH, telling the people that “looks, its your land, its only fair you get to decide what happens to it”, while it maybe a messy and inefficient system in many ways (as democracy always is), does appeal to the common man’s sense of fairness. Yes, you can always come up with examples where democracy produces unfair results, and that’s why we have limits on it. But your example is nothing like what I’m proposing (I suggested a *state-wide* plebsicite for projects that affect significant tracts of *public* land), and further I don’t actually think the result is that unfair: if 100 workers unanimously decide that a promise to have their wages doubled is worth more than the risk of the skies above their own backyard being polluted (after all, they are the most likely ones to be living near the factory), and 99 other nearby homeowners decide that the risk of pollution is worse than the economic benefit of a highly profitable factory operating nearby, then I would agree that the 100 workers should get their way.
    A more realistic scenario however is that another company puts up a proposal to run an equally profitable and wage-paying operation without the same pollution risk (the other big issue I had with the Gunn’s case: where were the competing paper mill businesses, trying to come up with a better solution?).

  132. 100/99? That’s just fucked mate. They’re not electing a mayor, they are talking about people’s property – their homes, their castles. This isn’t far from putting criminal behaviour up to plebiscite.

    Strong property rights forces justice out of the democratic process. Even if you accept that the majority can put people out of house and home (this is sheer bastardry, which you railed against when it was done by a monolithic entity called “business”) then strong property rights would demand a pre plant market valued compensation for the home owners. This may be too costly for the 100 to accept.

    Strong property rights impose transactions costs which force people to internalise their negative externalities.

    Strong property rights also put a market value on losses that would be very difficult to ascertain with no legal title. How do you value economic loss of a fishery without property rights?

    That’s why we need to sell off public real property – it is too difficult to gift it like homogenous shares of a Government business enterprise and the lack of rights makes losses very difficult or impossible to claim against. It would see stronger mitigation of poillution and catastrophic evinronmental damages. You might own part of the ocean, but you can’t use your right in any meaningful way, and as a common pool problem, it encourages ruin by overuse and neglect.

  133. Mark, again, how many Libertarians trust the government to do a good job of dividing up public land and selling it off to private buyers?

    How many people do you think would vote for a goverment promising to do just that?

  134. Many public assets have been offloaded. The political problem was that they were sold off (instead of gifted or made as a cash ubstitute) and the proceeds were used to wipe out debt.

    The sooner it is done the better.

  135. So you think if the LDP got into power, they would suddenly be trustworthy at selling off land, and immune to all the political bribery etc. that goes on?

  136. No. The design of the policy is therefore very important.

    This is just lame. Are you suggesting we just ignore the Government, become tax resisters and and set up Walden II?

    The ALP can’t be in power because the Government is part of the elite strucutre against the workers.

    The Liberals can’t be in Government because the State has destroyed traditional values and hinders business interests.

    The Greens can’t be in power because the Government is one of the worst polluters.

    I don’t think this line of complaint achieves anything. It is like saying the status quo is credible because it is the status quo.

  137. Not suggesting that at all. I have limited – not zero – trust in any political power.

    The power to sell off all public land is huge. I don’t trust any government with it.

    I’m not saying a constitution that works towards the goal of giving publicly owned land to a minimum is unworkable, but I would simply not vote for a party that the current political climate put forth such a policy.

    Is it really the policy of the LPD to sell off as much public land as possible?

    Further, I know I’m not alone that I don’t personally want the government to sell off most public land. Despite the risks, I see more benefit in knowing that significant tracts of land are there for all to enjoy freely, and while I’m not happy about what restrictions the government places on public land, and many of changes they wish to make to them, I’m far more concerned about what restrictions and chances private owners might be interested in.

  138. You trust the Government mismanaging a resource more than you trust them to sell it to the highest bidder and to give the cash proceeds to the citizens?

    There is a two pronged impact. I am worried about keeping the process simple as to eliminate corruption.

    But a corrupt result would merely lead to a lower cash trasnfer. The land would still be sold off.

    This is important because a result of the Coase theorem is that as long as property rights ARE allocated, there will be an efficient solution. The result would be land and the oceans would be put to their highest use and there would be stronger disincentives to pollute as economic losses could be claimed.

    Public land isn’t “free to enjoy”. Don’t be daft. Farmers bordering national parks cannot hunt feral animals which travel freely between their property and the NP. Locking up the landscape has a totally different interaction witht he land that had occured for 40 000 years. The restrictions private owners place are the type of institutional features we need to properly manage the land. Furthermore, property rights aren’t strong enough already over private land. The regulatory requirements on land clearing result in damaging growth of woody weeds which make the land unproductive and destroy biodiversity. Again, this is totally different to the natural histroy of Australia which lead to the pre white settlement ecosystem.

    We need strong property rights and to expidite them over public property. Gfiting shares in GBEs and an auction/cash trasnfer is the best, quickest, most equitable and most efficient way of doing this.

  139. 1. It isn’t LDP policy yet but it is strongly supported. We did have a formal policy of privatising GBEs in the manner I describe but it now is brief and only mentions some examples. Read the website.

    2. You’re making this an emotive issue. “Selling off PUBLIC lands!” Not really. The idea would to be let people opt in and out of ownership and management.

  140. Yes, with the addition of some more direct democracy, I trust the government more at managing public lands than I do at divying most of it up and gifting it to the relatively few private operators that would actually want it. But again, I’d be happy to put it to a plebsicite: put out the case to the people of Australia about the benefits of selling off say, a national park, and if they support it, so be it.

    Public land is mostly free to enjoy according to what >90% of the population actually want to do. But I agree that there are unreasonable restrictions on what farmers can and cannot do, especially regarding feral animals.

    Perhaps it is an emotive issue. That’s my perogative as a voter. You may be an economist, but you’re also a human being with emotions and an apprecition of beauty that goes beyond what you can measure in $ and c.

  141. BTW, I should say, *if* you can describe in detail the exact process by which public lands would be divyed up between voters, and I was convinced it was a workable and fair one, and there were checks & balances in place to assure accountability and expose corruption, I would potentially support it.

  142. Why will direct democracy stop continuing mismanagement of lands? You want people to have a say but not to be able to opt in or out of management. The privatisation option is the best for your somewhat opposing preferences.

    Land is free to enjoy – sometimes. But this is only part of the argumnet. More strongly, with the oceans, property rights need to be expidited. (With land there is a case where rights need to be more robust). If you care about the environement, you should encourage active management which strengthens disincentives on pollution – since without rights, economic losses are impossible to accurately calculate and difficult to assign liabilities to.

    The plan doesn’t need to be overly complex. There is no need to even homogenise the property for sale since real property is non fungible and the proceeds would be homogenised. All you would need is an open auction market.

  143. I think in 161 you are getting the idea of gifting shares of GBEs and gifting cash proceeds from the auction of fixed assets mixed up.

    Land wouldn’t be divyed up, this is too complex, it would be sold to the highest bidder and the cash would be divyed up between citizens.

  144. So you’re saying just put the whole Kakadu National Park up for auction to the highest bidder? So whoever happened to have benefitted the most from a history of bad government policy got it?

    BTW, talk to some indigineous Australians about that idea.
    Many dispute even the concept of “owning” your own land.

  145. And BTW, active management is not always best, nor even possible. Indeed, 90% of the planet gets along fine without us.

    Active management only matters where we are trying to extract economic value from it.

  146. (Actually, that’s ridiculous. 99.9999999999% of the planet gets along fine without us. But at least 90% of the surface gets along fine without us).

  147. Go back through the archives. The ALS thinks that giving traditional owners real, trasnferable property rights instead of this “land rights” sham is a good deal. They may not consider themselves as “owners” but they would be granted the full legal protection of ownership. We also think extending mineral rights to all title is a good idea. You took the risk, you bear the reward or loss.

    I doubt very much you could purchase the whole thing given today’s land prices. I don’t know of any business that would want it and be able to make a profit after paying the price. The land would need to be carved up into saleable units. This effect of having neighbours with strong property rights would make people internalise externalities and preserve their own property as their are incentives to do so.

    Active management implies some different things:

    1. Avoiding common pool problems

    2. Internalising externalities

    3. Encouraging best pactices

    4. A return to the more aggressive land management practiced by Aboriginies before white settlement – (which is the best for Australia in terms of agricultural productivity and biodiversity – see the Sunday programme transcript).

    5. Active management doesn’t need to necessitate in profit taking, but it does help assign economic value and therefore disincentives to pollute through making damages realiseable.

    It isn’t ridiculous at all. You are confusing the lack of human presence with human presence and no incentive to be responsible about your environmental impact. Much of the earth (far more than 10%) has environmental problems because of human presence but no rights or inept management. But you are talking about when people just don’t manage, but never go there. What happens if people are there and there is no property rights or no management regime? You get either the common pool problem or neglect.

  148. I suppose I forgot that aboriginal land rights would need to be settled first. Settling them quickly would end much uncertainty and would give back resources to their traditional owners expediently.

  149. How is “carving up” different to “divvying up”? It’s the carving up part I don’t trust the government with.

    I was calling my own figure of 90% “ridiculous”, not the idea that active management should always be encouraged.

    I agree that where ever there are humans, active management is generally needed. But most of Australia doesn’t have humans anywhere near it.

  150. It doesn’t matter too much. If the Government doesn’t do it properly, then real estate agents will subdivide it. It isn’t a big deal but it is better if it can be done more quickly. The difference is also that the carving up is done as preparation for sale, but everyone gets an equal share of the proceeds.

    I don’t see your point then.

    Aboriginies were sparsely populated, but managed the land on a massive scale. Furthermore, in remote areas, there are mining operations. I think it is desireable to limit the amount of spillover these operations create and create incentives to properly manage their waste. (Tere is nothing stopping future productive acitvity occuring in remote areas either. A lack of property rights may actually make setting up aquaculture or other industry very difficult).

  151. Alright, write me out a proposal for how Kakadu National Park would be “carved up”. Show me how you prevent those that have gained their current power and wealth through existing government policy and connections from unfairly benefitting. Show me how the public would still be assured of having large tracts of relatively untouched wilderness for the benefit of appreciating its natural beauty etc.e tc.
    Show me how it would profit the tourism trade.
    Europeans come here in droves precisely because we have large tracts of virtually untouched nature.

  152. LibSoc, NOBODY can guarantee that Kakadu will never be carved up, BUT that is as true now as it would be under an L&D Government! Governments always leave themselves exemptions, or special clauses, and all future governments would at least want the power to intervene, even if they never actually did!
    AND what right do you have to bind future generations? What if the future wanted Kakadu sold off to private individuals?
    Europeans came here so they could touch the untouched wilderness, and turn it into farms and stations- they did not come here as tourists!

  153. Huh? What on earth are you talking about? Binding future generations?

    I didn’t say anything about guaranteeing that Kakadu would not be carved up, just that I (almost certainly) wouldn’t vote for a political party promising to do so.

  154. You’re missing the point. The land should be, but doesn’t need to be packaged into the units it would be most valued as. In fact, there are some cases in which the Government cannot know this. You could simply divide it into 100ha blocks to begin with. It only needs to be very simple.

    I don’t care what the land gets used for. I don’t care about emotive arguments and unfounded economic planning. All I care about in this instance is that the right institutional framework exists to minimise externalities and resolve the common pool problem and this will lead to better outcomes.

  155. Right, well I’d like to see anyone try to sell Kakadu as a bunch of 100ha blocks, and keep any great number of people happy at the same time.

    Mark, if you don’t care what the land gets used for, then you will never understand why people won’t vote for such a proposal. Most people *do* very much care what land gets used for, especially indiginous tribes with an historical connection to such land.

  156. A lot of environmentalists would be happy. They could buy something they would like very much to protect.

    If they have a histroical connection to the land they may well have a legitimate land rights claim, and if so, it should be theirs to own, in their traditional sense and in the modern,western, legal sense too but with the additional privilege of full mineral rights as all title to land should have.

    I can’t see the Government doing very much to deal with cane toads, brumbies, pigs and buffalo. Maybe I’ve been saying something I didn’t mean because I would like these to be tackled. Private ownership makes this easier.

  157. Sure, if large environmental groups like the ACF or whatever were able to compete reasonably with for-profit firms for large chunks of undeveloped public lands, I could see an outcome that would make most people happy.
    But how do you ensure they are able to compete reasonably?

  158. You shouldn’t be trying to ensure any outcome. Unless you have perfect knowledge. Which I doubt.

    For people to be able to compete fairly, all you need is a peaceful and voluntary environment.

  159. It is not just the management of the land that matters, but how having neighbours causes operators of potentially damaging activity to limit the damage to their property only. This also kicks in another incentive, to maintain their own land and keep it habitable as to maximise the sit value on disposal – not just to band aid over it as regulation might dictate.

    With uranium mines already existing in Kakadu and they will be abondoned if mining is banned, such a expidition of property rights is necessary to ensure responsible, long term environmental policy within the firms themselves.

  160. “…able to compete reasonably” is not an “outcome”.

    Saying all you need is a “peaceful and voluntary environment” is not an answer. Give me a solution whereby the ACF could compete with BHP, for instance.

  161. It doesn’t matter if they do or they don’t…what matters more is each company has a budget constraint, the ACF and BHP will be neighbours and there are incentives through property rights to internalise pollution and maximise site value on disposal.

    BHP etc would only want very specific tracts of land, on currently known mineral deposits.

  162. How do the ACF and BHP even compete to get the land in the first place? And what do you do with the land that nobody wants?

    You don’t think BHP wouldn’t want to scour every last hectare of Australia for new mineral deposits?

  163. Why not just sell or deed Kakadu to the Aboriginal owners, and let them decide what to do with the tribal land? If they choose to keep it as a tourist attraction, or sell it piecemeal, that would be a better outcome than eminent domain being used.

  164. To clarify, let’s say the entire Pilbara region is offered up by the government. Mining companies want it, because they know there are almost certainly more mineral deposits to be found.
    If nobody that *doesn’t* want mining companies to have it(because they want it preserved in its unmined state) has the financial resources to compete against those that do want it, is it a fair outcome that the entire region ends up being owned by mining companies?
    Or are you assuming that the mining companies will realise the profit value in keep most of the land as close to its “natural” state as possible?

  165. Ok but an auction tomorrow benefits those that have historically profitted from existing government favouritism, because they have the most money.

    I would think BHP right now already pretty much can scour most of Australia for mineral deposits, with appropriate government permission.

  166. Libertarian-Socialist.

    Mark is incredibly pigheaded on this matter. But libertarian theory supports homesteading and not auctioning of unowned goods. He’s stuck on auctioning because thats the thief-economics solution.

    So now instead of the little-guy getting in on the ground floor like in California or the Klondike, we wind up making sure massive resources go to the big end of town first up and to foreigners second.

    Mark may as well be possessed by demons on this matter.

  167. Don’t listen to Graeme. He thinks homestrading is the only way. He thinks footpaths and telephone booths should be homesteaded.

    This actually is the most pig headed view on this.

    There are several classes of publicly owned assets.

    I think there needs to be some sort of prioritisation.

    1. Placing monuments etc in trusts for historical and other charitable societies (e.g RSL and Legacy).

    2. Recognising land rights and homesteaded resources. I would say that each person who is part to a land rights claim be given an ordinary, teasnferable share in a corporation that owns the land.

    3. Gifting shares of GBEs to all citizens.

    4. Auctioning off fixed assets and gifting cash proceeds equally to all citizens.

    5. Placing schools and universities, liberaries, local roads (footpaths, parks, etc) in trusts and giving shares to local landholders.

    6. Selling off corpiratised parts of infrastrucutre (e.g entire highways)in IPOs and gifting proceeds.

    7. Homesteading anything you couldn’t sell.

    8. I think granting full rights over all land, including mineral rights and making eminent domain apply to State and local Government, and to make “just terms” true to the letter of the law and make misappropriation of land for crony capitalism (see the Kelo case) subject to reversion back to the original owner or compensation at the new market value.

    Graeme has an utterly stupid argument that homesteading should be applied to all public assets, even copper cabling coming out of each Telstra building. Everything should be homesteaded. Graeme doesn’t understand what easements are and thinks we need publicly owned buffer zones everywhere.

    As for Kakadu, I think you could go through the above list and come up with an apporpiate strategy.

    As for the Pilbara, the cost of competing in such a way is simply prohibitive. Operations would be at en efficient scale and neighbourly rules and disposal values would enforce good environmental management.

    The point of the exercise would be to make Gunns, BHP etc actually pay a market value for the use of natural resources, rather than allow them lobby to access the resource for far less than the market value, and then have no responsibility in spillovers and regeneration of the site.

  168. So do you still have big problems with the idea?

    Other than subdividing the land which will be sold off in a more careful manner, I haven’t got much to add on how to make the trasnsition better.

    As for equity and benefits, you have a chocie in openly distributing use of assets, paying people the market value for their ownership and seeing better outcomes, or trying to eliminate all of the damage done by not haing a better system of resource use in the first place.

    The sooner we move to letting people opt in and out of land management we can make sure those who benefit from the use of (formerly) publicly owned land have to pay the full amrket value for it (and this creating neighbourly and disposal incentives to manage it better and internalise externalities).

  169. Taxeaters ought not gift resources since they DON’T BELONG TO THE TAXEATER.

    You can only rightly sell stuff IF IT BELONGS TO YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    So auctions and gifting are morally and economically wrong when you can use HOMESTEADING.

    Third parties. Me and Mark have talked about these things at length. But Mark is one of the most mentally constipated people that ever did live. We will see if he makes his case.

    His idea of it is hateful. Because instead of the Klondike, Ballarat, and the California Gold rush.

    Marks idea of it is both mindless and hateful since it short circuits the idea of big business coming out of small business success.

    So now Klondike in Marks view. No little guy staking a claim in his crony-capitalist setup.

    He simply has never justified this unrighteous idiocy.

    So the Klondike would be auctioned off to a JP Morgan consortium that would get into so much debt to win the auction that most of the value would quickly be in the hands of Bismark.

    Marks approach is clear idiocy. Its obviously unjust. Its the way we do things now pretty much. And it must be opposed by all non-tax-eaters and their more righteous supporters.

  170. Okay then Graeme, how would you privatise a vast swathe of publicly owned resources that cannot practically be homesteaded?

    What specifically is wrong with the precedence I mentioned above? Is it wrong just in parts or intrinsically wrong?

    The idea that you should homestead of phone booth is utterly imbecilic.

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