Late Night Live with Don Arthur

Insomnia strikes again.

Surfing round the blogs, I finally noticed that Don Arthur has finally upgraded his computer from a dodgy Apple Mac (though I suspect he’s only upgraded to another dodgy Apple Mac), and has been hard at work.

But he keeps linking to Clive Hamilton.

Clive has a problem with people seeking to assauge their sorrows with commercial shopping sprees. It really gets on his goat, and he has produced another massive PDF about it. I was dubious, but I downloaded it, with some trepidation, because Don finished his post with:

It would be a shame if Australia’s classical liberals ignored or dismissed this latest paper from the Australia Institute.

Well, I do have to dismiss this paper. The problem is that Hamilton has a bugbear about happiness. There is, in his view, not enough of it.

But happiness is a very human, individual emotion. It is totally random, uncalculable, and hardly controllable. And it seems to me that Hamilton is arguing for an ideology to enforce happiness on to people.

This strikes me as being the political equivalent of perpetual motion. Wonderful in theory, unattainable in practice. Until and unless Hamilton starts getting realistic, I will continue to give his work a cold hard stare.

Don has plenty of other stuff though that is good, notably this post about how “National Greatness” Republicans are steering the party away from its small-government philosophies of the 1990s and into a fairly ugly brand of ‘big government conservatism’ of a kind that is pretty disconcerting to the ‘small government’ types. Jason Soon puts that sort of thinking into an Australian perspective.

As Don mentions, it also leaves libertarians with a bit of a problem. It is sad to think that, thanks to the internet and blogs, libertarian voices are being heard more then ever, and yet the political clout of liberal ideals seems to be fading.

It is good to see Don back, I just hope his computer can hold out for a bit longer this time….

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John Humphreys
2024 years ago

I’m a libertarian. Last time around I supported Howard and Bush. This time I support Latham and Kerry. The “right” are no longer fit to be seen as allies of capitalists.

2024 years ago

And Kerry is? Latham I can understand, but not Kerry.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2024 years ago

Yobbo, I’ll answer for John H. Given a choice of two candidates who both have ideologies that are distasteful to you, you should surely vote on mere competence.

On those grounds I think it’s anti-American to support Bush – another term would see further weakening of America’s economic and geopolitical position. There’s already some seriously monstrous chickens gonna come home to roost there in the next few years.

And, yes, Clive Hamilton sometimes says silly things and he’s a tad obsessive about them too. But there is underlying sense in thinking that happiness is a worthwhile goal, that GDP aint always a good proxy for it, and that there are some policies which might increase the stock of it but which won’t increase GDP. The ‘happiness research’ literature is better than you’d think from Clive’s musings – its not all touchy-feely postmodern sociology stuff. Read some Bruno Frey and Robert Frank.

2024 years ago

Derrida: The problem with Kerry as opposed to Bush is that he has all the same ideologies I disagree with, except to a much greater extent.

Bush is a tax and spender, and so is Kerry, but to an even greater extent. Bush supports affirmative action, Kerry would like to see it extended. Bush has made a lot of mistakes in fighting the war on terrorism, Kerry would be a million times worse.

The only issue I know of where Kerry is preferable to Bush is in his attitude towards stem cells for scientific research.

I’m not proclaiming Bush to be a great president. If the Democrats had put up someone reasonable as an alternative, then I’d support them, but Kerry isn’t it.

In the same way, I wouldn’t be unhappy to see Latham as PM, or even Beazley, but if they put up someone like Carmen Lawrence I’d have a lot of problems.

2024 years ago

Kerry would be worse in fighting the WoT? How?

It is hard to believe that anyone besides Bush (maybe an equally extremist-Repub (that is, not McCain)) could possibly have alienated the entire damned world with such breathtaking efficiency. And, though I understand this may be an unpopular point in some quarters, pissing off your potential allies is not, in my opinion, going to help you win the WoT.

2024 years ago

Alienated the world? What are you talking about?

This may be a big surprise to you mark, but agitated leftists protesting in the streets around the world doesn’t mean the whole world feels that way. It just means that most places in the world have bunches of students who’ve spent too much time reading about Che Guevara.

Relationships with France have become more strained, but relationships with Britain, Australia, all the other members of the coalition have been strengethened. Oh, and Bush probably alienated Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya a bit, but I think that was kind of the point.

Cameron Riley
2024 years ago

I suspect IHBT but;

The problem with Kerry as opposed to Bush is that he has all the same ideologies I disagree with, except to a much greater extent.

Bush has kicked out all the empiricists. If there are any remaining in the White House and Bush Administration then they don’t dare speak out. ie the medicare cost revision. O’Neil, Whitman, Clarke have all been outed. The only ones left are the ideologues that form a small and intimate echo chamber around the President.

No empiricist can get heard in that environment which is why we get bizarre actions like Iraq, and weird bills like the Medicare Bill, the Energy Bill, faith based initiatives and a political push to pollute the US Constitution with discriminatory clauses.

Without the republican majority in the House of Reps and the westminster style of discipline/intimidation DeLay and Hastert have brought to Congress; Bush would be nothing. His bankrupting, pork laden bills would not be getting through. Not to mention Hasterts willingness to keep votes open until they have intimidated other Republicans into voting for the White House backed bills.

If anything that alone is a good argument for Kerry. Libertarians in the US argue that there is less pork and government spending when opposite parties control the White House and Congress.

Hopefully Kerry will at the least bring back the empricists to the White House so policy can be made based on data, rather than ideology and the infantile optimism that stems from it.