A stagger round the blogs

A blog roundup is a type of post traditionally undertaken when you’re bored and need a short break  from the tedium of the working day,  but are  too lazy or lacking in inspiration  to post anything original.

Attention-seeking legal academic James McConvill appears to have done  the blogging equivalent of Captain Oates and taken a rather long walk out into the blizzard.   I wonder why?   However, his erstwhile colleague Mirko Bagaric continues to blog away at Observation Deck, despite apparently no longer being Dean of Deakin Law School (although their website still shows him as such).    Bagaric seems now to have moved on from advocating torture to espousing the benefits of mandatory sentencing. Capital punishment next?

Jason Soon at Catallaxy has a post encouraging readers to tackle a particularly silly quiz designed to test how “libertarian” you are.   I scored a fairly low 23, even though I’d lay a large wager that I’m a much stronger proponent of civil liberties (speech, religion, conscience, association etc) than most of the self-professed libertarians who posted their scores at Jason’s place.   People who self-identify as libertarians by and large seem to have little or no interest in traditional civil liberties (or even oppressive governments as long as they’re right wing ones), and instead  define their imagined “libertarian” status almost solely by their opposition to taxes and enthusiasm for privatisation of all government functions and services.   They’d be more honest if they labelled themselves “I’m-alright-jack-and-everyone-else-can-go-and get-stuffed-ians”.

Tony the Teacher insists that soccer be called soccer and not “football”, apparently on the theory that aerial ping-pong is the only game truly entitled to call itself football.   Of course, all sensible people  acknowledge that rugby is the only real football  (union not that bastardised NRL thingie – but I’ll still be watching  State of Origin tonight).    Nevertheless I’m prepared to concede that the soccer mob have a pretty strong claim to the “football” label.   They do actually kick the ball a lot more than any other code (mostly because you’re not allowed to touch it with your hand unless you’re the goalie or Maradona).   The trouble with it is that most games, even in the World Cup,  are about as exciting to watch  as  a slow game of chess.     As for aussie rules, it might have some legitimate claim to call itself “football”  if anyone else in the world actually played it.

I feel much better now.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

actually Ken you’ll find there’s no contradiction. With the exception of maybe Joe Cambria, anyone else who scored higher than you on the test (me, ABL and c8to) for starters probably have as great if not greater commitment to civil liberties, than you, you centrist fence sitter.

Tony.T
15 years ago

Balls!

JC
JC
15 years ago

Jason

would you mind explaining to me why I would be your exception in your non- contradiction post. The only question that brought down my scores were over the issue of immigration and a strong defense, otherwise i would have scored higher. Is there anything, any point in comments you have ever read that would contradict my position?

I don’t ptretend to be for strong property rights i am for strong ones (even at my expense one time). I am not against gay civil union marriage and I have sat out federal and state elctions preferring to pay the fine becasue the conservatives have not been to my taste, which is not to say I see both parties equally bad.

So I really don’t think you can possibly say what you have if you took a look at my “voting record”.

Do i give lefties a hard time, sure I do, but that hardly qualifies me for being some deranged bible basher expecting others to follow my views or else. I couldn’t give a hoot what other people do in their bedrooms and after some consideration i couldn’t care less if gays were given civil union rights. How is this a cntrdiction?

What i am a slave to is an unshakable belief in free markets and anyone putting up differnet points views are simply wrong.

Want to qualify.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Well Joe, I have never found you to be very critical of anti-terrorism laws. That’s for starters

JC
JC
15 years ago

Jase

i was also an open borders type until 911, which got me thinking that not everyone shares the same values we do- there are those who actually want to ram planes full of people into buildings.

I am also for anti-terror laws against those who want to commit vile acts of terror.

How would you go about flushing out those who would actually want to bringdown the Harbor bridge because Allah instructed him to?
This ain’t a trick question I would like to hear if there is a better solution as I haven’t heard one yet.

Anything else.

JC
JC
15 years ago

Jason
A senior fellow of the Ayn Rand institute was proclaiming the US ought to respond against Afghan and Iraq with multiple nukes after 911. I hardly think libertarian values are open borders and lax laws with potential enemies on the home front.

The death Penalty is not anti-libertarian either.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

The average Randian is a moron, they don’t count.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Ken
I wasn’t calling you a centrist fence sitter on account of your quiz score. Or rather, that wasn’t my point. My point is that it is likely that in practice your civil liberties stance is going to be subject to centrist fence sitting too. Whereas people like ABL (to take one example) who score harder core than me do not deserve the silly description you’ve given them since their hard core libertarianism flows over into civil liberties. I think it would be virtually impossible to score over 100 on that quiz and not be a civil libertarian who would put most left leaning and centrist civil libertarians to shame.

Rafe
15 years ago

Ken I don’t think I deserve to be called names either and I would score higher than 56 on the basis of where I would like to end up. My score is reduced by aiming for reasonable objectives at the moment.

Just to take a single issue, what is the evidence or argument that voucher schemes would disadvantage the poor? Especially if rich people who claim to care about these things help out by donation or by personal assistance?

JC
JC
15 years ago

So I guess Jase, there is no other issue you can put forward???

JC
JC
15 years ago

“They’d be more honest if they labelled themselves “I’m-alright-jack-and-everyone-else-can-go-and get-stuffed-ians”

JC
JC
15 years ago

Ken
Do you think unemployment “insurance” is free? That medical insurance is a free port of call for us, or education is too. These are all costly services that could also be purchased on the private market with a good bet that they would better satisfy the consumer.

I for one believe in the dole for example because there are approx. 500,000 people is Australia looking to fill about 120,000 jobs ( it doesn’t go anywhere near enough to compensating people). Nearly all, serious job seekers are, I believe, shut out of the job market because it is a rigged system by those who have a job. I believe these 500,000 aren’t being paid enough for a system that’s rigged against them and they ought to be getting the wages they would be entitled to on the private market if there was not rigging- fully compensated for their losses. That money should come out of the hides of those who work because they maintain a system which is inherently unfair to those to don’t. Does that make me a career? Conversely if I assume you to be someone not supporting labor market dereg., does that make you less of one. There is a good case to argue as to who is or isn’t the carer here, Ken.

Vouchers are also not a fully private system anyway because it requires intervention at the government level. The public system isn’t too bad, but why settle for something, which isn’t too bad. Why not settle for the best money can buy. No one’s suggesting a voucher system is or should be cheaper, what most of us are arguing is that it would be superior to the current public/private system we have now. Ask yourself why parents take their kids out of public schools the minute they can afford more money spent on education?

The difficultly you have is that you need to explain why you are impugning false motives or lack of because they don’t agree with your set of beliefs. We all suffer from the “I am ok jack”

JC
JC
15 years ago

Donations

I worked on wall street for many years. Every year at bonus time we’d get our letter telling us what our bonus was for that year along with a slip of paper asking us to submit where 5% of a bonus gross wasn’t going to be donated that year. There were no ifs no buts about that slip, you didn’t fill it in they would make the donation on your behalf. I don’t know what would have happened if anyone ever argued against such altruism. i worked for two firms and both had that “voluntary system”

Link
15 years ago

It was a stupid quiz. I got 43. I have’nt had to say ‘no’ so much as when I had a puppy. Agree with you Ken about the voucher thing.

JC
JC
15 years ago

WASN’T SHOULD BE “WAS”

sorry, error.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

I would have expected libertarians to be suspicious of most human rights conventions because they have to be enforced by the state. I personally find it hard to get exciting about most rights: the right to education, or the right to health, or the right to privacy, or the right to gay marriage. I think these things are mostly desirable or permissible, but call them a right and you end up with activist courts turning them into an industry. I am sounding like Andrew Bolt I know, but he is right about some things.

The only rights that really deserve the name are speech (with limits against incitement), suffrage and movement. The first is core to human nature, the second is a pre-requisite of the social contract and the third allows me to piss off if I don’t like what all you other jokers decide. Everything else is up for negotiation and compromise. Jesus, that bottle of wine over dinner must have been stronger than I thought. If this were a pub I would be standing on the table lecturing you all. Sorry…

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

I’m a much stronger proponent of civil liberties (speech, religion, conscience, association etc) than most of the self-professed libertarians

I consider any constitution incomplete without a bill of rights that restricts government’s ability to infringe and intrude in those areas of liberty.

If anything SSR has been placing activist positions, whether elected or sortition, between executive and judicial so there is a stronger check on executive power. Nearly all the recent constitutions in the CFC had some aspect of that thinking.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Rafe, Jason,

Here’s a challenge – which you may well rise to for all I know. Show me a post of yours in the last six months the major point of which is the decline of civil liberties and particularly the eggregious treatment of those locked up in detention camps and the extraordinary position of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the apparently widespread practice of ‘extra-ordinary rendition’.

JC
JC
15 years ago

Nicholas
Since when have enemy combatants ever, ever accrued the rights of the domestic host (in this case the US) and not Geneva convention rules.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

“Show me a post of yours in the last six months the major point of which is the decline of civil liberties and particularly the eggregious treatment of those locked up in detention camps and the extraordinary position of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay”

Nick, what am I, some sort of human jukebox? In the words of Bill Hicks, shove a dime up my arse and i belt out a song? I post on things that interest me sufficiently subject to my substantial time constraints and if I feel competent enough to speak about it or have been following it in detail or have read a good summary of it somewhere else. So no, I haven’t been following Gitmo bay in detail. What do you expect me to say except IT’S A VERY, VERY BAD THING> I occasionally do those kinds of posts but don’t get as much intellectual satisfaction out of them. And that is the main reason I blog. The problem with a lot of these issues is what else can you say except THIS IS A VERY, VERY BAD THING? Note that I seldom do posts saying HIGH TAXES ARE A VERY, VERY BAD THING either. I just do posts when my brain gets in a buzz like after reading Nietzsche or a very clever law and economics piece.

But anyway, having sad that, I have done a few of those , so shove a dime up my arse

http://badanalysis.com/catallaxy/?p=1254

http://badanalysis.com/catallaxy/?p=1150

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

Since when have enemy combatants ever, ever accrued the rights of the domestic host

Judicial rights for any individual under the jurisdiction of a government are universal, and without infringement.

To be otherwise is tyranny.

As the alternative places an individual under the arbitrary will of the executive.

Obviously, anyone who believes firmly in liberty also believes in universal judicial rights.

JC
JC
15 years ago

Cameron

German pows were offered the same judicial rights as Americans? Were North Korean and so on?

US laws don’t apply in an extraterritorial setting to non- Americans never have and thankfully never should.

These people are governed under Geneva convention rules of engagement and can be held for as long as the war on war lasts.

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

These people are governed under Geneva convention rules of engagement

Which is bogus. The Bush Adminstration deliberately usedand constructed Gauntanamo as it was an area outside of any judicial oversight and intrusion. Despite cases going on, it has still not been determined if the US judicial system can accept the inmates from Guantanamo sueing for habeous corpus.

As a result any discussion for or against Guantanamo in terms of the Geneva convention is a furphy.

It is a camp in the modern sense of the word as it has no legal reach over it. Guantanamo exists solely under executive decree.

Universal judicial rights are an area where progressives and libertarians see eye to eye. Both (broad stereotypes) of those belief systems see the individual as the dominant discrete political entity.

As a result, it naturally follows that judicial rights are universal. Progressives tend to use the language human rights, while libertarians use the language of individual rights. Both are forms of political rights where the individual takes dominance over the state.

Nationalists and Conservatives see the state as the dominant political entity. Though often it is just a front for authoritarian statism and other forms of centralised arbitrary authority.

Since the state (or the dominant culture which is reflected, actively or passively by the state) is the dominant political entity it can move against individuals in a tyrannous way to eradicate them as a negative influence on the state’s or culture’s dominance or authority.

The national security state, or the permanent state of emergency, is part of this thinking.

I have painted with some overly broad brushes there, but if you believe the individual is the dominant discrete political entity then you must logically believe that an individuals political rights take precedence over a government’s ability to act in a tyrannous and arbitrary manner toward them.

JC
JC
15 years ago

They’re pows.

Let them challenge their status in court as they are doing and we’ll see where it ends up.

Merely arguing this is a new status as your link says is meaningless as there hasn’t been a situation before in modern times. People fought for states while these people are fighting for a cause. Let’s see where the courts go with this.

JC
JC
15 years ago

Yea right Ken.. that it’s not worse than in the 1970’s. So I guess the 100 Australians killed in Bali is regular terrorist event leaving aside 911, Madrid and London

They have redress and the case is going to the Supreme court for clarificatrion. So how’s that a breach of their rights?

JC
JC
15 years ago

Ken

To be honest I don’t know how anyone can use Wiki as a source other than technical details of a specfic nature. There are flame wars on that setting making most contributions suspect depending on who has a hold of the edits for the day.

The point isn’t whether I am right or Nicholas has a point. The real magic in the pudiing is if these combatants get a right to be heard in terms of clarifying their position in a high level US court and they are.

Whether the DOJ’s definition is correct or not their position will be soon clarified. So how is that a breach of their rights?

I think most reasonable people will at least admit that the status of these men is a relatively new one in the sense that unlike the 70’s we have a buuch of stateless mean fighing for causes in another country.

What is your fall back position then. Do you think they ought tobe tried in a domestic court, mililary trib. or set free?

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Ken, I don’t think “equality of opportunity” means what you think it means.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
15 years ago

Cameron Riley: ‘Universal judicial rights are an area where progressives and libertarians see eye to eye.

By which you actually mean ‘progressives and progressive left-libertarians‘, since last time I checked the overwhelming foreign policy preference of libertarians was basically free-trade ‘isolationism’. I’m a libertarian in the sense that before any two given policy alternatives I am biased towards the one that gives greater scope for individual freedom.

But I base that bias primarily on my belief in the fundamentally moral and social value of individual responsibility and secondarily on a moral imperative to treat others as such responsible individuals, with efficiency a third factor and quasi-religious belief in human rights or equality a remote and distant fourth.

I also find it hard to understand your definition of tyranny – from my scanty knowledge of history it seems unlikely that the absence of universal judicial rights is tyranny. I do agree that it is very important, but tyranny seems to put the bar a little high – I for one don’t have that much problem with discriminating against foreigners, although once they want to become citizens I think the situation is a little different.

I find it almost impossible to care about Guatanamo Bay. I actually do think that judicial oversight would be appropriate, and I think that in the end the courts will hold they do have such oversight. But I don’t think it is as much a threat to my humanity as any of about 20000 other daily events, starting with Zimbabwe, passing by pretty much all the ME through Central Asia to the South Pacific via South America and finishing with crime and even ‘social exclusion’ in Australia.

Also, I agree with Chris Lloyd! In vino veritas, apparently.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Cameron Riley: ‘Universal judicial rights are an area where progressives and libertarians see eye to eye.

By which you actually mean ‘progressives and progressive left-libertarians‘, since last time I checked the overwhelming foreign policy preference of libertarians was basically free-trade ‘isolationism’. I’m a libertarian in the sense that before any two given policy alternatives I am biased towards the one that gives greater scope for individual freedom.

But I base that bias primarily on my belief in the fundamentally moral and social value of individual responsibility and secondarily on a moral imperative to treat others as such responsible individuals, with efficiency a third factor and quasi-religious belief in human rights or equality a remote and distant fourth.

I also find it hard to understand your definition of tyranny – from my scanty knowledge of history it seems unlikely that the absence of universal judicial rights is tyranny. I do agree that it is very important, but tyranny seems to put the bar a little high – I for one don’t have that much problem with discriminating against foreigners, although once they want to become citizens I think the situation is a little different.

I find it almost impossible to care about Guatanamo Bay. I actually do think that judicial oversight would be appropriate, and I think that in the end the courts will hold they do have such oversight. But I don’t think it is as much a threat to my humanity as any of about 20000 other daily events, starting with Zimbabwe, passing by pretty much all the ME through Central Asia to the South Pacific via South America and finishing with crime and even ‘social exclusion’ in Australia.

Also, I agree with Chris Lloyd! In vino veritas, perhaps.

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

since last time I checked the overwhelming foreign policy preference of libertarians was basically free-trade ‘isolationism’.

Under liberterianism the words ‘refugee’ and ‘citizen’ are meaningless. An individual under a government has the maximum liberty and rights; whether a citizen, a refugee or a visitor.

I also find it hard to understand your definition of tyranny

James Madison;

The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

I doubt that anyone would appreciate us getting into a silly discussion about whose libertarianism is the real one, etc, here, but suffice to say that I think you are looking for buddhism or secular humanism or something else that I never took much interest in. I learned my libertarian aspirations from Nozick, mainly, and Hayek and the Bible(!).

Madison’s point is fine, and he was a notable opponent of the Alien and Sedition Acts, to take a good example. But they dealt with foreigners and citizens on American soil – I agree with most of his criticisms. I think that a foreigner should have the same rights as anyone in a court, but the exclusion by the executive and legislature of foreigners from our soil and hence courts is not an usurpation of the judicial power.

Our situation in Australia, largely set out in the refugees cases, is basically that and basically right I think, except that imho the majority got it wrong on indefinite detention.

Although I do appreciate that there are people who worry about the inmates of Guatanamo Bay, and I value that as part of a healthy democracy, I think the attention paid to them is incomprehensibly disproportionate (hence the coining of the phrase ‘Bush derangement syndrome’, I guess!). I’d much rather people worry about the subject of Ken’s next post, which I think deals with a much graver threat to our society.

Or if you really want to be internationalist, try Zimbabwe, Timor, anywhere around Timor, the South Pacific, Northern, Central and Southern Africa generally, the Middle East, South America, the sex trade, etc.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

JC

I am also for anti-terror laws against those who want to commit vile acts of terror. How would you go about flushing out those who would actually want to bringdown the Harbor bridge because Allah instructed him to? This ain’t a trick question I would like to hear if there is a better solution as I haven’t heard one yet.

Here’s the non-trick answer. Apart from putting an armed guard in every cockpit, just continue with the present security arrangements and accept that every year or so the terrorists will get lucky and kill 100 or so people in some western country. I am personlly prepared to take the risk rather than give the jack-booted boffer boys the right to come into my bedroom one night and hold me for a week without charge, and prevent me or anyone from saying that I have been detained under the act. If you are in favour of this then I have news for you my friend – you AIN’T a libertarian if that word has any meaning.

If terrorists actually had the power to kill tens of thousands, then I might reconsider. I would be prepared to give up my liberties to avoid a sufficient threat. As a matter of fact, it would take a small nuke to bring down the coathanger. This is not an off-the-cuff judgement. I personally know a former US marine who, for 5 years, was in charge of destroying the major bridges in Europe in the event of a Russian invasion. The only feasible method on big or modern bridges is a backpack nukes which he has personally worn on his back. If such weapons become available to terrorists then I will change my tune pretty quickly, but they are incredibly difficult to build.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

I basically agree with Chris Lloyd again! Except that I think the first step for airplanes would be to stop (as most countries have happily done) trying to bloodymindedly disarm every passenger. I’m not sure armed guards are necessary, but I have nothing against them either.

Also I don’t mind so much the being arrested and held without charge bit, since a week is not so long, although I would insist on warrants. But I don’t agree with not being able to talk about it afterwards – indeed I would think there is a reasonable constitutional argument against that, if it is indeed part of the law.

I would reserve judgement on the technicalities of bridge-destruction, too :)

Paul Norton
Paul Norton
15 years ago

I’m currently about two-thirds of the way through David Stevenson’s history of World War I, titled 1914-1918. Its relevance to this thread is that it underscores very strongly that the surest way to expand willy-nilly the state sector of the economy and the coercive powers of the state (and disrupt free trade and promote national economic protectionism) is through hawkish policies on national security and foreign relations.

This is obviously a problem for self-identified economic libertarians who support and have supported the Bush/Howard line (not to mention the Rumsfeld/Cheney line) on the GWOT, Iraq, Iran, etc.

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

I doubt that anyone would appreciate us getting into a silly discussion about whose libertarianism is the real one

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that places the individual in a maximal state. If the individual isn’t in a maximal state, then it isn’t libertarianism.

Paul Norton
Paul Norton
15 years ago

Chris, thanks for the good risk-benefit analysis.

In actuarial terms, environmental “bads” of various kinds constitute a much greater risk to our lives and health than terrorism (6000 deaths per year in the US related to pollution, compared to a one-off toll of 3000 on 9-11) yet regulatory measures to redress these always seem to evoke cries of “coercion” from people who are quite sanguine about the loss of liberty from GWOT measures.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

The 3000 people who died on 11/9 (personal protest against the Americanisation of our date system) is almost exactly equal to the monthly murder rate by guns in the US. On this basis, GWB should have a “War on the NRA.” On their success record so far, terrorist appear to be a minor threat. Those who talk up the threat have, I think, pretty obvious ulterior motives.

Patrick is partly correct that “they could stop trying to bloodymindedly disarm every passenger”. But the purpose of this is more puiblic perception. I still reckon an armed guard on the cockpit with a sign on the door saying anyone who walks through will be shot dead would remove the motivation for aircraft terrorism. Sure they could shoot all the pasengers but it is much easier in a shopping mall.

The scientific fact remains that people are more scared by threats that are (a) outside their control and (b) motivated by malice. Why else would people spend thousands on home security but forget to put on their seat belts? To this extent the terrorists have been incredibly successful in malipulating our perceptions. Bin Laden’s video rants are a masterly piece of marketing.

Seems that this thread has moved away from the orignal issue of who qualifies as a real libertarian. I find that people surprise you in their apparently contradictory beliefs but they usually have a deeply held standpoint that unifies them. It is certainly useful and often enlightening to ask someone why they get so upset about taxes but not about detention. And it generates a great discussion as Ken has found out with the large number of comments.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

I think the motivation for aircraft terrorism is already gone, since 9/11 (my only concession to American dates) changed the game. Now, if you hijack a plane, the passengers will kill you or die trying – I certainly would – because the old bargain where if the passengers put up and shut up they were eventually released has been broken.

You are mainly correct about the threats – but greater fear of threats that are ‘out of their control’ is quite rational, I think. Notwithstanding which, I don’t forget to put on my seat belt.

I disagree about the guns point. Firstly I don’t think there is a sensible analogy, and secondly I am simply glad to live in Australia where we can get away with serious gun restrictions. If you live somewhere where there is a fair chance of the criminals being armed (everywhere else, basically) I think there is a good prima facie case for having one yourself, and a good case for that being legal.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Well, I did write the word ‘sorry’. Then I thought, hey, what topic is he talking about?
Firstly, arguably a post like that is basically an open thread anyway, and secondly, gun laws are only, oh, directly related to ‘People who self-identify as libertarians by and large [and]seem to have little or no interest in traditional civil liberties (or even oppressive governments as long as they’re right wing ones), and instead define their imagined “libertarian”

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

“This is obviously a problem for self-identified economic libertarians who support and have supported the Bush/Howard line (not to mention the Rumsfeld/Cheney line) on the GWOT, Iraq, Iran, etc.”

Only if you look at support for the US war as a foreign policy decision. I see Australia’s (and Howard’s) support for Bush’s war as a cost/benefit decision.

Whether you have an isolationist or interventionist foreign policy, you still need a defense force. Australia could either provide our own or ride on the coattails of the US.

We choose to ride on the coattails of the US and their Pacific carrier fleets for our national defense. The payback for this is we send a small amount of troops in support of their interventionist wars.

The result is we save a great deal of money on national defence because our great and powerful ally provides it for us. And since another part of Libertarianism is reducing the size of government taxation and spending, I don’t see this as inconsistent at all.