The coming realignment?

Under John Howard, the Liberal Party embraced a form of big-spending conservative social democracy, says Andrew Norton. The most formidable opponents of limited government are conservatives. In a comment on Andrew’s blog, Winton Bates wonders whether this might lead to a realignment in Australian politics.

Andrew says that the answer is no. However bad the Liberals have been under Howard, Labor is likely to be worse. Because "the basic instinct of Labor’s constituency is to favour spending" the party is unlikely to champion the cause of small government.

But maybe Bates’ question about realignment isn’t about whether classical liberals will start voting Labor, maybe it’s about whether classical liberals will maintain their alliance with conservatives. If so, what’s at stake is the intellectual alliances that form around think tanks and political magazines rather the electoral strategies of political parties.

If classical liberals are the only ideological group interested in significant cuts in spending, they have two options. They can decide that tax and spending cuts are so central to their belief system that it’s better to face the world as a small, ideologically pure fringe group than to compromise. Or they can decide to form alliances based on other issues.

Listening to some people you’d think that liberalism was all about cutting tax, slashing welfare, abolishing minimum wages and giving consumers a greater range of choice in the marketplace. But philosophically it’s supposed to be about something more basic — individual liberty. As Friedrich Hayek put it:

Whether [a person] is free or not does not depend on the range of choice but on whether he can expect to shape his course of action in accordance with his present intentions, or whether somebody else has power so to manipulate the conditions as to make him act according to that person’s will rather than his own (p 13).

If it turns out that liberty really is more important than giving rich people back their money, tormenting welfare recipients and smashing unions, then perhaps classical liberals might consider breaking their alliance with conservatives and forming an alliance with other liberals — the kind of people Andrew sometimes calls ‘social liberals.’

In the United States the Cato Institute’s Brink Lindsey has suggested an alliance between libertarians and progressives. He argues that while these groups have their differences, they also have a lot in common:

Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right’s homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country’s draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

Australia came close to Lindsey’s vision of ‘progressive fusionism’ during the Hawke and Keating governments. The economic pressures of the 1980s forced thinkers on the left to rethink their economic views. Intellectually, they struggled to combine their commitment to social justice with ‘dry’ economics. But nothing similar has happened on the right. Even those who identify as classical liberals tend to see the market as source of discipline and an engine of meritocracy rather than a place people can exercise autonomy. Few of Australia’s classical liberals are genuinely liberal. Most are market-friendly conservatives.

As Hayek observed, conservatives tend to be elitist. In the end, "the conservative position rests on the belief that in any society there are recognizably superior persons whose inherited standards and values and position ought to be protected and who should have a greater influence on public affairs than others." The major difference between liberals and conservatives is:

… the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes.

The last few decades have seen the influence of ‘recognisably superior people’ threatened by the cultural liberalisation of the 60s, non-European immigration, multiculturalism, and increasingly free access to information via the internet. Where liberals see increasing tolerance of difference, conservatives see a crisis of authority. And with the war on terror, a whole new rationale for authoritarian policies has emerged.

What stops a realignment from happening in the short term is social networks and personal loyalties. Most of Australia’s classical liberals are woven into organisations and social groups that bind them to conservatives. And as Andrew says, the fusion of liberal and conservative can take place within the one individual — individuals internalise the alliance. As a result, realignment probably won’t happen until this generation of middle-aged classical liberals shuffles off the public stage and makes room for the next generation.

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Jc
Jc
14 years ago

I think it was the Daily Kos dudes that tried to attract libertarians to the Dems at the mid terms in an attempt to make it a more permanent alliance. That attraction lasted about 3 seconds. Libertarians quickly realized they were going to bed with cross dressers and ran out of the bedroom.

As a result, realignment probably wont happen until this generation of middle-aged classical liberals shuffles off the public stage and makes room for the next generation

.

People will continue to live in hope that one day the conservative parties will actually read their manifesto and possibly adhere to some of their beliefs.

And yes there was a Hawke government, but I would argue that grouping was a special/accidental event that is unlikely to be repeated. There was a lot of raw talent in the front ranks.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
14 years ago

Great post Don.

I reckon at a psychological level it’s all about authority. If classical liberals were true to their own professed values it is – as I think you’re suggesting, a real mystery as to why they willingly went along for the ride with Howard. After all they had Hawke and Keating. Not perfect for sure, but liberal, focused on efficiency and growth, social cohesion with a relatively strong commitment to the safety net.

OK, so they got conned by Howard. But they knew that by the early 2000s and what did they do? Noth’n, nix. Indeed the biggest internal objectors to the Howard Govt were not the classical liberals but the moderates who were probably wetter than many.

So how come no ‘classical liberals’ were amongst the objectors? A big question I think. My own answer is that they are really concerned about authority. They fancy the authority of the market, it creates a unitary system of practical value. They’re not too concerned about liberty. This is something that Paul Samuelson observed about the classical liberals of his own day. As he said ‘with a few noble exceptions’ they didn’t care that much for political liberty.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
14 years ago

Don Arthur:

I like your quote from Hayek

“….there are recognizably superior persons whose inherited standards and values and position ought to be protected and who should have a greater influence on public affairs than others.”

It sums up the reason why Australia can NEVER become a world power.

I also like

“What stops a realignment from happening in the short term is social networks and personal loyalties. Most of Australias classical liberals are woven into organisations and social groups that bind them to conservatives”.

Another name for it is the mongrel-dog pack. It sums up how this could NEVER have been remedied from within.

The one unmistakeable signal that came from the collapse the Howard shambles was that the old order in Australia is a dead as a dodo but the corpse is still laying around annoying everyone with the stink.

All this talk of liberals and conservatives – or any similar combinations – having a meeting of minds might have been appropriate and useful way back in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties. This is 2008. It’s far too late for that sort of idle chat now. The wogs, the chinks, the happy-clappers, the koons, the new nomenklatura, the uneducated and the nocturnal entrepreneurs will now tell you exactly how this country and this society will be organized and run …. so just sit down, shut up, listen and do as you are told – and learn to survive as best you can in the new circumstances.

Yobbo
14 years ago

If it turns out that liberty really is more important than giving rich people back their money, tormenting welfare recipients and smashing unions, then perhaps classical liberals might consider breaking their alliance with conservatives and forming an alliance with other liberals the kind of people Andrew sometimes calls social liberals.

The problem is that this term is a misnomer.

“Social Liberals” might be in favour of relaxing restrictions to do with illicit drugs, sexual behaviour and immigration, but they are firmly in favor of restricting liberty in many other ways.

“social liberals” support anti-discrimination legalisation, campaigns to restrict smoking (of tobacco only of course, they want to relax restrictions on Marijuana), alcohol consumption, gambling (Blow Up The Pokies?), the ability to speak freely about religion (catch the fire) etc, etc.

The only “liberals” in Australia are the LDP.

Yobbo
14 years ago

The “progressive” Greens, for example, have this as one of their policy measures.

Ban donations from the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical industries to political parties.

Presumably industries that sell things they like, such as organic foods and Che Guevara T-Shirts, will still be allowed to donate to political parties.

What is liberal about that in any way?

They also want to force employers and employees into collective bargaining

Require employers to enter into collective agreements with their workforce unless a majority are demonstrably opposed to collective bargaining, with the Industrial Relations Commission to have the power to arbitrate if no agreement can be reached.

Again, what is “liberal” about making it illegal for 2 parties to come to an agreement without interference?

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Only a big-L Libertarian could claim that anti-discrimination legalisation is about restricting liberty. You presumably believe that the liberty of say, a business owner to not provide disabled access to his building is more important than the liberty of those in wheelchairs to live a near-normal life.

And most campaigns to restrict harmful activities are primarily motivated by the intention of protecting the liberty of those who are being harmed against their will. A parent’s liberty to waste away all their money on pokies ends where the liberty of their family to live normal lives beings.

FWIW, I agree that the Greens’ platform is littered with unnecessarily illiberal policies. But they’re still more liberal in general than either of the major parties.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I admit that I often think the best chance for substantial gains in liberty lie with a Hawkean Labor. I have always thought, or perhaps only assumed, that it is mainly because it is easier to stab your own, and at the same time significantly harder for eg unions to say: ‘look, the bastard son of a union is raping the unions!’. Also the convert always carries some extra weight: ‘I thought like you too once, but I saw the light.’

Insert Howard, and the unions don’t have to make a case to a good third of the population who simply believe them, whilst in the Hawke case, they have no such leg-up and have to make an argument to something other than tribal loyalties and prejudice. Not something unions are good at, imho.

Further, you lose lots of points for timing – there is precious little evidence in either Australia or America that libertarians would have anything to gain from the present Labor/Democratic parties. Howard II is every bit as socially conservative as his political father, whilst his party is full of apparently reasonable people like Conroy who are turning out to be borderline communists, and people like Kim Il-Carr who were never appeared reasonable.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

But theyre still more liberal in general than either of the major parties.

Except most of put a premium on economic liberty, because (imho) social liberty is pretty worthless without it. And then the Greens go to the bottom of the table.

A parents liberty to waste away all their money on pokies ends where the liberty of their family to live normal lives beings.

This is fair enough, and I agree.

You presumably believe that the liberty of say, a business owner to not provide disabled access to his building is more important than the liberty of those in wheelchairs to live a near-normal life.

This is not that hard to believe. Whilst I appreciate rather well the difficulty often faced by the disabled, I also appreciate the difficulty often faced by eg the small business owner. This kind of restriction on liberty should be very sensitive to its costs.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Ah, but I agree that the business owner shouldn’t be responsible for paying for providing such access out of his own pocket. There’s an obvious case for taxpayer subsidization there.

I personally rank social liberty equally with economic liberty. But even if the Greens were to implement every one of their policies, Australia would still be one of the most economically liberal countries in the world. However it would now combine that with being one of the most socially liberal too.

swio
swio
14 years ago

Are there enough classical liberals aligned with the conservatives that all this really matters? It wasn’t just in economic issues and the size of government that Howard turned on classical liberals. The anti-terrorism legislation, the treatment of illegal immigrants and especially the apparent abuse of the judicial process that Howard supported in the case of Hicks and conducted in the case of Haneef should have been absolute anathema to a genuine classical liberal. Yet Howard was able to do all this without creating overwhelming internal stress within his party. My interpretation of this is that there are not nearly as many genuine liberals around as people might think. If alot of these “liberals” are just another variety of less “socially conservative” conservatives then they probably won’t have that much trouble remaining with the Liberal Party.

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

swio has hit the nail on the head. There actually aren’t that many classical liberals in the Liberal party. Most libertarians/classical liberals I know are non aligned swinging voters.

And classical liberal groups like the CIS published a swag of articles criticising aspects of the Howard government’s pork barreling all through his government. They focused on policy areas where they had special expertise given their limited funds. Other liberals not aligned with think tanks tend to do the same and there is not much that anyone can say about the ‘fashionable’ social causes that apparently are supposed to be a distinguishing mark of ‘sincerity’ other than ‘it is wrong’ and only so many times one can say it.

Yet here we have Nick engaging in his usual conspicuous moral consumption by smearing all classical liberals as authoritarians because they didn’t walk into Liberal party HQ with dynamite strapped to their bodies demanding the release of David Hicks.

swio
swio
14 years ago

A question that I have wondered about for a while Is there any way for genuine liberals to swing both ways? They could hook up with the Greens/Left on social issues and the, umm, well there must be at least some small government conservatives left in the Liberal party for economic ones. Is it feasible to be shoulder to shoulder with Bob Brown one day and then completely 100% against him, but respectfully so, the next? Is this totally unrealistic?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Swio

Can you understand that most classic liberals/ libertarian types would rather swallow castor oil for a week (change that, for a year) than see this happen:

They could hook up with the Greens/Left on social issues

The green left has never been socially liberal as it is understood. There are a few things they would allow simply because these things are aligned with their personal peferences. They are socailly liberal in in the context of what the state would allow.

Is it feasible to be shoulder to shoulder with Bob Brown one day and then completely 100% against him, but respectfully so, the next? Is this totally unrealistic?

Yes it is totally unrealistic as Brown is further to the left than the ALP left and almost all his policies limit freedom or would root the economy bigtime.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

How about asking the labor right to make a few changes and hold hands as they’re the ones who are more closely aligned.

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

The Greens?
I’d rather hold hands with the Eros Foundation (after they’ve washed them first)

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I think we can conclude that anyone who even wonders whether libertarians could hold hand with the Greens doesn’t understand libertarians!!!

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Well certainly not the sort of libertarians that hang around here or on the ALS blog. But there are plenty of moderate small-l libertarians who aren’t very far apart from most Greens supporters. And plenty of people have wondered before about the possibility of a “Green Libertarian” movement.

Jc – show me one Greens policy that would “root” the economy. Most of the Green’s economic policies are no different to that of some of the most successful economics in the world today. Which is not to suggest that such policies necessarily make sense in Australia, or that I think they are generally good policies, but while I generally prefer economically liberal policies, the LDP’s economic policies are far more likely to “root” our economy than the Green’s, given how fundamentally different they are to, oh, just about every other country on the planet.

Also – “The green left has never been socially liberal as it is understood”. Understood by whom exactly? It is very much a position of most Greens members/supporters that the government should stay out of the consensual private actions of adults.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

I never stop shaking my head at those who distinguish between economic liberals and “social” liberals. Hullo? What could be more “social” than markets? Show me a society with little market activity and I will show you a society that is committing social suicide. The economy is the apotheosis of the social.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
14 years ago

The hope that liberals would find a comfy seat at the table of the US Democrats is laughable. Remember Leftism emerged as a reaction AGAINST liberalism. Liberals are the Left’s bete noir. Both Stalin and Hitler fought for the same anti-liberal market. The reality of the dreaded Anglo Saxons and their liberalism winning WW2 sticks in the craw of continental Leftists till this day.

melaleuca
14 years ago

It’s hard not to notice the volume of anger and rage and on libertarian/classical liberal bogs pertaining to muted bans on plastic bags compared to fundamental social rights issues, like torture, rendition etc that have been a feature of the Bush administration. I’d say the ratio of rage is running at about 100 to 1 in favour of the plastic bags.

PS- Could someone turn the inane JG comment-bot off?

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

NPOV you have high hopes. The Greens aren’t even social liberals. They may be for dope but anti-smoking, anti-gambling and anti-‘excessive’ consumption of alcohol. And their support for causes like gay marriage strikes me as based on social egalitaranism (let’s give gays all these State ‘privileges’ the rest of us get) rather than social liberalism (i.e. leave people alone).

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

Mel, there has been no anger or rage about plastic bags – it just happens to be a topic that economics wonks can debate about given all the reports released, etc. Blogs are primarily for wonks, not social workers.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is not much more people can say about torture and rendition except ‘it is bad’.

And people with grandiose hopes that grandstanding about these things on some blog can make a difference should get a life.

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

“truth to power” – Australian blogger brings down Bush administration with searing Zola-esque indictment of torture.

HA!

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

show me one Greens policy that would root the economy.

Only one? You’re making this real hard.LOL

Their entire economic bag of tricks would kill the economy. It wouldn’t just flat line it. It would destroy it.

I particularly liked their policy to ban battery hen farming in favour of free range. They hadn’t calculated that we would the entire farm land in Victoria to maintain the same chicken population. Not sure if that policy is still up on the site as they keep removing stuff when they get too much heat.

They would turn melbourne would turn into those dusty south american towns we see in movies. You see an old bus coming into town and all these chickens go flying around the place.

melaleuca
14 years ago

Rubbish, Soon. An intellectual case for torture has been made- mainly by various conservatives- and therefore an intellectual case must be made against it. Better minds than yours have put forward eloquent and articulated cases both for and against.

You say: “And people with grandiose hopes that grandstanding about these things on some blog can make a difference should get a life.” Yet have a blog post entitled “Boycott Earth Hour!”, you old activist you. Surely you have enough of a life to realise you were never gonna roll Earth Hour?

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

OK Mel

How many goddamned posts on torture and that fat fool David Hicks does the average classical liberal have to write to satisfy the grand inquisitors Mel and Gruen of the sincerity of their beliefs? How many did you write? Really, these sorts of comments lead nowhere. it’s the equivalent of the Larva prodeo crowd demanding 15 pro-feminist posts for every 1 Ayaan Hirsi Ali post.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Jacques

You left me out. Please don’t do that again.

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

Oui, Frere Jacques

melaleuca
14 years ago

Thanks Jacques.

Can we at least agree not to torture plastic bags?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

The coming realignment?

That reminds me, where’s Homer seeing someone brought up Keating earlier. Homes adores keating.

swio
swio
14 years ago

You wouldn’t even stand with the Greens when they’re fighting against excessive anti-terrorism legislation? Don’t you understand that if the Greens accept your support it automatically implies they also accept your views on other issues are legitimate (even if they disagree with them) ? Why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to let the conservatives know that you can’t be taken for granted (which would increase your leverage over them) while working towards something worthwhile. If you’re going to let personal distaste rule your political decision making then you’ll never get anywhere. Every political co-alition in the world is full of people who hate each others guts but get past that to acheive something. Why can’t Libertarians do the same?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Swio:

Granted most political parties are basically coalitions. You’ll find that libertarians would have common ground with lots of labor right people. Graig Emmerson is one example.

There is very little common ground with the greens. Greens poltical underpinnings is basically statism. The fact they don’t like anti-terror laws is neither here or there in the whole scheme of things.

You’re asking libertarians to do a doctors wives shift. Remember these gals? They moved straight from the inner circle of the Liberal party to the greens without flinching a muscle. Please! We do have some standards even if they’re pretty low. :-)

Asking libertarians to do a doctors wives shift is taking things too far.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

“Greens poltical underpinnings is basically statism”

It is? The whole basis of the Green’s existence is that governments in general have done a crap job of protecting the environment, social/civil liberties, the disadvantaged etc. etc.

Of course, like every other political party, they somehow think that if they got into power they would be different. But a big part of their platform involves the reduction of the role government in important areas: corporate and middle-class welfare, intrusion into private lives, authoritarian decision-making (vs plebsicites/referendums on key issues). And by international standards, they are highly unlikely to move Australia from being a relatively small government state to a large one.

As for your particular objection to a ban against battery hen farming: please show me the maths that doing so would somehow make chicken farming impossible in Australia. It’s not exactly like we lack space. And of course “open pasture free range” isn’t the only alternative anyway – chickens seem to cope fine with being in quite crowded barns, as long as they move freely around. At any rate we already have quite stringent regulations on the conditions that domesticated animals can be kept under, and none have yet to kill any particular industry. In fact, every time someone brings up the old “this piece of regulation will kill the XYZ industry” line, they show remarkably little faith the enterpreneurship and problem-solving skills of industry players.

OTOH, it’s basically a line-drawing exercise. I don’t believe even the staunchest libertarian would object to regulations that prevented farmers from, say, deliberately administrating drugs that were known to cause extreme pain to their livestock because it had the side-effect of reducing growing time. But the way some battery hens are raised is not a great deal better. Unfortunately as consumers when purchasing eggs and poultry, there generally isn’t sufficient information available to determine whether a particular product comes from a farm with particularly harsh conditions. I generally stick to the “RSCPA-approved” eggs, but I’ve never seen such labelling on chicken meat.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Oh, and the EU already has in place legislation to phase out battery chicken farming by 2012. If the EU, where land is at a real premium, can do it, then any argument that Australia can’t is laughable.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

N

I don’t have any objection to people growing free range chickens and others buying such produce. It’s up to them.

I do have a problem with banning battery farming as the result would be enmormous in terms of food costs and the land required to support hippie farming.

——————-

Greens political underpinnings is basically statism
It is? The whole basis of the Greens existence is that governments in general have done a crap job of protecting the environment, social/civil liberties, the disadvantaged etc. etc.

Yea it is statist. We would be substituting milder forms of statism for the real hardcore variety. The greens solution is not to get out of people lives, its to interfere even more. They just think their brand of hardcore socialism is superior, thats all.

Of course, like every other political party, they somehow think that if they got into power they would be different. But a big part of their platform involves the reduction of the role government in important areas: corporate and middle-class welfare,

Bullshit. They would remove one set of rules and substitute them with other more draconian and sinister ones. Let’s not confuse the ALP which is interventionist with the socialist greens. There’s a huge difference.

A

nd by international standards, they are highly unlikely to move Australia from being a relatively small government state to a large one

Here are some that would:
http://www.greenswatch.com/economy.aspx

As for your particular objection to a ban against battery hen farming: please show me the maths that doing so would somehow make chicken farming impossible in Australia.

Never said that. It would simply raise the cost of producing food.

Here are more of their hippie agricultural policies:
http://www.greenswatch.com/agricultural_policy.aspx

In fact, every time someone brings up the old this piece of regulation will kill the XYZ industry line, they show remarkably little faith the enterpreneurship and problem-solving skills of industry players.

Yea, well we can keep breaking windows and replace them, but it hardly increases living stadards in doing so. And don’t be so optimistic that innovation will get us through all the time. If the UK had say banned the use of coal at the time of the industrial revolution it would have stopped the IR dead in it’s tracks as there was no other substitute around seeing wood was too expensive. it would have stopped it dead. You’re aslo interfering with the capital allocation process and causing inffeciencies and when you do that you had better be bloody careful with what you’re up to.

OTOH, its basically a line-drawing exercise. I dont believe even the staunchest libertarian would object to regulations that prevented farmers from, say, deliberately administrating drugs that were known to cause extreme pain to their livestock because it had the side-effect of reducing growing time.

The market can sort that out. There are lots of places that openly advertise organic food products and seem to be always full, so I dont have a large problem with the market supplying food the way you suggest. Silly Fair Trade coffee is another example. Thats easy.

Unfortunately as consumers when purchasing eggs and poultry, there generally isnt sufficient information available to determine whether a particular product comes from a farm with particularly harsh conditions. I generally stick to the RSCPA-approved eggs, but Ive never seen such labelling on chicken meat.

You just made the point that there is adequate information for you to buy RSCPA approved eggs. Isnt that the market doing its work by segmenting products to supply what you demand?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

N

What exactly is the EU regulating towards? Is it free range like the Greens or some other form of intense farming methods?

By the way, noticed what’s been happening to grain prices recently. A stupid decision by the US administration to subsidize ethanol production, a couple of bad crops in places due to droughts/ bad weather conditions and we’re staring at the bottom of a cliff in terms of global grain reserves with prices heading to the outer rim of space.

And please explain why the EU is your gold standard in terms of paragon of economic virtue. EU economic growth has barely moved in the past 20 years.

Niall
14 years ago

Jason Soon and ‘Sincere’. The grand contradiction in terms

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

“I do have a problem with banning battery farming as the result would be enmormous in terms of food costs and the land required to support hippie farming.”

Prove it. Switzerland has already banned battery farming, and as I said, the EU is intending to do so by 2012. The estimated cost increase is neglible.
And the alternative is not “hippie farming”. Battery farming is quite specifically the case of using cages just big enough to fit a single chicken in, that can basically never move. The Greens have not officially objected to high-density barn-farming, as far as I’m aware.

And why on earth should it be up to the market to determine what is inhumane treatment of animals? Presumably you don’t take that line when the animals in question are Homo Sapiens. And no, I don’t believe that it makes sense to treat all animals like human beings, but nor does it make sense to treat non-human animals like inanimate objects.

I never said the EU is any sort of gold standard. But it still boasts the highest standard of living of any part of the world – of course there’s a certain amount of subjectivity in a judgement like that, though there’s plenty of hard facts to back it up. Personally I can see why anyone might complain particularly about the possibility of Australia’s style of government become more like, say, Switzerland’s (which is at least 1.5 times the size government as Australia).

BTW, that GreensWatch site is truly awful. I could happily write a 10-page essay criticising various policies of the Greens. However I’d write it in such a way that its purpose was to encourage the Greens party to rethink its policies, as opposed to being an exercise in fear-mongering and derision.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

I notice there was some buzz in the blogosphere a while back about who exactly was behind greenswatch. The name Allan James (or James Allan) cropped up, as did the Exclusive Brethren, but nobody seemed to mention this: http://www.myspace.com/greenswatch which is surely the biggest clue.
Not that anyone seems interested anymore…

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Dunno who set it up, N. I heard it was some labor guys belive it or not. Don’t think it was EB as they’re not allowed to use computers or TV (funny, hey).

Prove it. Switzerland has already banned battery farming, and as I said, the EU is intending to do so by 2012. The estimated cost increase is

neglible.

Look<I agree with you on personal level, so there! J I think batter farming is brutal. But low intensity hippie farming isnt the answer as the cost of chicken would be pretty high. You havent come back and explained what the EU is going to do. I very much doubt they will be pursuing hippie-farming practices though.

The Greens have not officially objected to high-density barn-farming, as far as Im aware

They suggesting free range. You’d need all of victorian farmaland to do that.

And why on earth should it be up to the market to determine what is inhumane treatment of animals?

Why, We dont buy battery chicken for that very reason. Thats easy.

Presumably you dont take that line when the animals in question are Homo Sapiens. And no, I dont believe that it makes sense to treat all animals like human beings, but nor does it make sense to treat non-human animals like inanimate objects.

Look I agree with you . They way we treat animals is pretty deplorable. However I dont wish to impose my beliefs on others who may have other ideas. And not everyone can afford to be so careful, N.

Personally I can see why anyone might complain particularly about the possibility of Australias style of government become more like, say, Switzerlands (which is at least 1.5 times the size government as Australia).

Please do so. Most libertarians would prefer a weak central government anyways.

BTW, that GreensWatch site is truly awful. I could happily write a 10-page essay criticising various policies of the Greens. However Id write it in such a way that its purpose was to encourage the Greens party to rethink its policies, as opposed to being an exercise in fear-mongering and derision

Why treat them with kid gloves? 900,000 people voted for them. They arent babies and if they deserve a good thrashing why not point the howitzer their way as other major parties have to cop it.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Where is it official Greens policy that all chickens should be raised free range?
I still highly doubt that it would require all of Victorian farmland to do it – most farms have plenty of under-utilised space, and chickens can use any sort of area: they certainly don’t need valuable fertile pasture or grazing land.

“I dont wish to impose my beliefs on others who may have other ideas”

All political parties want to impose their beliefs on others – you could even argue that’s the purpose of government. You want minimal regulation of business activites, maximal privatisation etc. etc. Most people see significant dangers in such a prospect. The LDP’s policies would surely result in far greater social and economic change to Australia than those of the Green’s.

At any rate, the only we reason farmers get away with cruel treat of animals is because customers don’t experience it first hand. If we had to walk through chicken farms before buying the products they produced, battery farms would go out of business very quickly. That would, in some ways, be the ideal “let the market decide” solution, but it’s pretty clearly completely impracticable.

And I’m proudly one of the 900,000 people who voted [1] Greens. I would have put the LDP second, but they weren’t running a candidate in my seat.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

The EU has a good record of legislating first and thinking later. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t even consider land availability.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

Pretty much all governments have some sort of record of legislating first and thinking later. But in this particular case it’s very hard to see how banning battery chicken farming could possibily result in any sort of nasty unintended consequences. Switzerland has had the ban in place since 1992, and I’m not aware of any data indicating that chickens have since become unaffordable, or that local chicken farmers have been driven out of business by importers.

If that’s the best example someone can come up with of a Greens policy likely to “root the economy”, then I’m not particularly impressed. A far better example is the plan to phase out coal and uranium exports, which I agree would be foolish (indeed the Greens’ entrenched opposition to nuclear power is by far my biggest gripe with them). But even if they were to miraculously sweep to power in the next election, they’d have Buckley’s chance of actually getting such legislation to pass any time soon.

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

BTW, for any genuinely interested in the Battery Hen situtation in Switzerland: http://upc-online.org/battery_hens/SwissHens.pdf
It notes in particular that the subsequent price rise in eggs was nothing compared to the price rise in most food products, and, at any rate, incomes grew even faster. I’m more than willing to bet that Australia will have similar legislation in place within the next 10 years, no matter which parties are in power.

Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
Jason Soon (Bring back Homer Paxton)
14 years ago

guys can we come up with a better example than chickens please? animal rights and Green causes aren’t even necessarily correlated as Mel will tell you and can in times be in conflict.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Nonsense jase, we gotta sort out the chicken problem.

I would have put the LDP second, but they werent running a candidate in my seat.

Then you shoulda voted informal.

Tim Lambert
14 years ago

Joe Cambria says: “I particularly liked their policy to ban battery hen farming in favour of free range. They hadnt calculated that we would the entire farm land in Victoria to maintain the same chicken population.”

That’s not true. Maybe you should not believe everything you read on nutty websites?

melaleuca
14 years ago

Here’s what Prof John Quiggin, undoubtedly one of Australia’s best economic minds, had to say about Greens economic policy in 2004:

“It turns out that trepidation is unnecessary. The Greens economic policy is one of the most coherent and intellectually-defensible documents of its kind ever put forward by an Australian political party (at the opposite end of the political spectrum, the 1992 Fightback! program was similarly coherent and substantially more detailed). At the level of broad principles, it begins with the recognition that economic policy must be financially, as well as environmentally and socially, sustainable.

Far from seeking cheap popularity by arguing for both tax cuts and increased public expenditure, the Greens have insisted that new public expenditure must be financed by higher taxes. In addition, they observe that public sector debt should be matched by adequate capacity to service debt, and that dubious financial expedients like the use of privatisation to reduce measured debt should be avoided. There is even a commitment to a consistent application of accrual accounting, something that the major parties have promised, but not delivered.”
http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2004/07/29/greens-economic-policy-part-2/

When the Greens ran the Yarra City council here in Victoria, they reduced council debt at a faster rate than any other local council during the same period. The architect of this policy was Greg Barber, who now sits in the Victorian upper house.

On the other hand, staunch libertarian policies would cripple the state, impoverish and disempower much of the working class and give rise to a new red menace. Libertarianism is one of the few cards Marxists have left up their sleeves.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

Prof John Quiggin, undoubtedly one of Australias best leftest economic minds

/silly snark

NPOV
NPOV
14 years ago

I’m not sure I buy the line that “staunch libertarian policies would cripple the state, impoverish and disempower much of the working class”. The main problem I see with them is that they would put Australia at odds with the rest of the developed world. But ultimately they’re politically infeasible in a modern democracy, because the moment any problem came up, the opposing parties would promise to do something about them, while a ruling libertarian party would, were it to stick to its principles, be forced to promise to do nothing about it. Nobody votes a government promising to do nothing about what they perceive as a problem.