Cigarette plain packaging, has it worked on illicit drugs?


Today Big Prohibition is celebrating its High Court victory over ‘Big Tobacco’ on the issue of plain packaging of cigarettes.  Tobacco companies had challenged the legislation to have all cigarettes sold in drab green packs without logos or company identification on the basis of denial of intellectual and other property rights.

In retrospect, this may have been a mistake as property rights are not a widely respected concept in Australia.  Rural landholders have largely borne the brunt of the assault on private property until now with a myriad of laws restricting their rights to carry out activities, from building right through to weed control.  A quick check with them would have let Phillip Morris know, it was flogging a dead horse on the issue. Continue reading

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

The picture on the left demonstrates the importance of private property rights more than words ever could.

Taken in Zimbabwe, and put up by the Center for Global Development, this is an ariel view where the “dry communal lands on the left are sharply delineated from the green private farms dotted with lakes and ponds on the right–so sharply that soil quality and rainfall are unlikely to explain the difference.”

The center then provides a second image, taken after President Mugabe’s attack on private property, and the seizing of farms by the State. The result is sadly predictable. The dams and irrigation systems on the private farms collapsed, making them look more like communal lands, to the detriment of all.

Similar examples abound all over the world. Perhaps the most famous of these is North Korea at night: Continue reading

Do you own your house?

The SMH carries an article on Saturdays front page lamenting the power the state of NSW is giving itself in regards to bipassing property rights.

THE State Government plans to give its agencies and councils power to compulsorily acquire private land to re-sell to developers at a profit – or, if they choose, at a reduced price so the developers make even more money.

Legal authorities describe as “quite remarkable” a section of new planning laws flagged by the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to acquire land by force to onsell to private developers.

I agree with the concerns raised in the article. However I do find odd the notion that governments stealing your land and selling it is somehow worse than stealing your land and keeping it. And is there really any distinction between stealing your land so a private for profit road can be built for the public good or stealing your land so a private for profit shopping mall can be built for the public good? In one sense I think there is a distinction in so far as new road corridors are not easily or readily created through private market means, whilst shopping centres are. However the key legal constraint on governments (at all tiers) really ought to be a proper and transparent assessment process of the public benefit of such a forced acquisition which is open to legal challenge, and a system of just compensation.