A justification for greed

George Monbiot bells the “libertarian” cat:

Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. Throughout the rightwing press and blogosphere, among thinktanks and governments, the word excuses every assault on the lives of the poor, every form of inequality and intrusion to which the 1% subject us. How did libertarianism, once a noble impulse, become synonymous with injustice?

In the name of freedom – freedom from regulation – the banks were permitted to wreck the economy. In the name of freedom, taxes for the super-rich are cut. In the name of freedom, companies lobby to drop the minimum wage and raise working hours. In the same cause, US insurers lobby Congress to thwart effective public healthcare; the government rips up our planning laws; big business trashes the biosphere. This is the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor.

Rightwing libertarianism recognises few legitimate constraints on the power to act, regardless of the impact on the lives of others. In the UK it is forcefully promoted by groups like the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the Adam Smith Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Policy Exchange. Their concept of freedom looks to me like nothing but a justification for greed.

Quite.

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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Nicholas Gruen
Admin
9 years ago

This is nothing more than envy politics Ken. I know you really envy the super-rich, like Smith and Mill and Keynes and Marshall and Pigou and Samuelson who thought that a dollar in the hands of a poor man and spent on necessities was better than a dollar spent on luxuries in the hands of the rich man. It’s time to come clean and admit that this is just driven by envy. I propose that Christmas 2001 be the time that Club Troppo came out and just admitted it. We’ve been chasing the false God of envy.

Peter Mariani
Peter Mariani
9 years ago

There was a Jewish person who was born at this time of year who apparently managed to feed a whole hoard of people with 5 fishes and as many loaves of bread. Sadly once many of those people felt nourished the moved their attention to the more liberal concepts of “pursuing freedom and happiness” and as a result realised that as bakers and fishers they could sell their fish and bread to others for even more freedom and happiness. They of course no longer wanted for nourishment and so decided to get rid of the Jewish person and his bounty so as to remove any competition for their ambitions of growing their own future freedom and happiness.

Of course one man’s freedom is created at the expense of another persons.
Were it ever so! Give up a little freedom and share the greed is my advice.

Paul Montgomery
9 years ago

The main thrust of the Monbiot article, Nicholas, seems to be less about envy of the 1% and more about environmentalism and the tragedy of the commons. Not so much the little green man as the big green movement.

I don’t see much that is controversial or wrong about the piece. It’s not as if Monbiot is constructing a straw man, he’s on the money with libertarians’ wilful ignorance of the implications of competing freedoms. Their philosophy just doesn’t work if they have to take into account the impact their positive freedoms have on negative freedoms of others. That’s why it’s unpopular with the public.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
9 years ago

Btw, I was enjoying myself on a pet topic of mine – envy politics – above – it’s a great diversion from the issues, but while I’m a strong supporter of progressive taxation, I actually disagree with Monbiot quite strongly.

The 1% should be taxed more. But I don’t really see it in the kind of moralistic terms Monbiot urges on us. The super-rich get away with what they can. Like everyone else! They adopt political positions that favour their personal and financial interests – like everyone else. They trash the planet – like everyone else. They have among them great benefactors, like everyone else.

So for me the idea of progressive taxation is much less morally charged. But it is still politically charged, because we can see how politically powerful the super-wealthy can be – at least given the US constitution and political traditions. So I’m glad it’s not nearly as bad here.

Meanwhile the ALP continues to support flat taxes on super and was the political driver behind the recent relatively modest reductions in taxation for those on incomes over $175,000 – nice work guys!

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
9 years ago

Nicholas

I disagree with your disagreement. I certainly agree that the heavy lifting on equal opportunity and fairness in general should come from governments, but unless we call the bullshit of the right wing libertarians for what it is the will of governments to do so is inevitably undermined. The 99% are easily gulled by the shills for the 1% into believing that mining super profits taxes, plain tobacco labelling etc really are outrageous infringements of their own freedoms.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
9 years ago

Ken, I think we’re in broad agreement really, except on terminology. I’m afraid I don’t like talking about ‘exploiting’ people when they get a vote and then decide to side with the lies of the 1%, when the hoi polloi fall for the lies of the 1%’s shills on marginal tax rates, resource rent and all the rest of it. Why should that be described as “exploitation”, rather than a stupid self-harming choice?

I actually think that that way madness lies, because the political rhetoric is all about how people are somehow not responsible for their own choices – in markets both economic and political.

I’m too committed to democracy to go for that kind of language as a matter of course. And I think one of the things that is happening is that democracy is hollowed out by this kind of rhetoric – people’s own sense of responsible choice is undermined. They don’t blame themselves, they blame Gina Rinehart for jumping on the back of a truck and shouting “help help, I’m being oppressed“.

desipis
9 years ago

Libertarians argue for negative rights (“freedoms from”) and against positive rights (“right to have”) because the latter are, ultimately, incompatible with the former.

Libertarians are for negative rights (“freedoms from”) only in terms of the government. Monboit’s point is that the libertarian freedom from government interference interferes with other people’s freedom from libertarians’ interference.

JC
JC
9 years ago

…..but unless we call the bullshit of the right wing libertarians for what it is the will of governments to do so is inevitably undermined.

I presume most reasonable people would see the folly of moving money from the investment to the consumption account as you end up eating away future prosperity. As a percentage of income Warren Buffet or the late Steve Jobs consumed a miniscule amount (of their incomes and net worth). The rest of the money is/was invested. Investment creates jobs and future prosperity. This happens even though individuals have control of the funds. So the problem it seems to me, is that the real issue with “the rich”, is that they actually control their money and this in itself is considered to be bad.

No one buys mining stocks for dividends as they are miserable. BHP and Rio’s divs are around 2.5% on the stocks market value. You buy these stocks on expected future income streams hoping they come in fast and furious (and therefore divs move up quickly). The rest of the profits BHP or RIO make is ploughed back into the business upgrading mines or create new ones so that the income stream keeps coming in. If you buy mining stocks for dividends rather capital growth, you’d be in the poor house.

Take BHP who is undergoing around $80 billion of capital expenditure over the next 5 to 10 years. That creates a hell of those $200,000 jobs we keep hearing about. So why tax future capital spending streams that are potentially highly profitable? Why take the money from WA for instance which needs lots of money to be ploughed back into infrastructure to support those sorts of projects and redistribute it to Tasmania, which has been turned into an economic basket case with 60% of its population on some sort of welfare from Canberra? (Nice job Greens) How does that sort of redistribution create wealth rather than more dependency.

There is also the constitutionality of such a tax that will have to be cleared through the court, as mining royalties etc were never meant to be for central government. The offshore oil tax is a great example where such a tax basically dissuades exploration and investment to only potential gushers. We have relatively little offshore exploration mainly due to this heavy duty tax compared to the rest of the world. But this sort of thing gets hidden in the numbers over the years. Finally we do have a super profits tax. It’s 30% of all assessable profits, so the more a firm makes the more it pays.

plain tobacco labelling etc really are outrageous infringements of their own freedoms.

A US federal judge clearly found it to be the case. If people want to take someone’s property rights they ought to be compensated, as anything else is really just stealing.

Here’s more from Scott Sumner on the effect of high tax rates.

Let’s consider the biotech industry, which many believe will be the most important industry of the 21st century. Investments in biotech tend to be all or nothing. So your decision to invest in a biotech company will be very sensitive to the after-tax expected gain in the state-of-the-world where your company invents a cure for cancer. Obviously a very high tax rate on the rich will tend to reduce that gain much more sharply than say the return from investing in MBSs (on which you’d pay a lower tax rate.) So very high taxes on the super rich will tend to shift capital away from companies trying to find cures for cancer, and toward home construction. That could easily delay a cure for cancer by 5 or 10 years. (Just imagine where the world would be today without US high tech firms.) Now maybe that’s a trade-off that S-D are comfortable making. After all, we don’t know for sure whether the biotech industry will be able to cure cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, nor do we know the degree to which the speed and likelihood of a cure is sensitive to different rates of investment in biotech. But at a minimum, I’d think we’d want to think long and hard before taking that gamble.

PS. I can assure you that people in biotech are highly motivated by possible capital gains. My wife works in a small biotech firm that is working on a vaccine that would prevent all types of flu. How nice would that be next time there’s a pandemic like 1919?

But here’s my basic question. If you’re going to lower the incomes of the current 1%. Where are the next 1% going to come from and why would it be a better situation? By definition we can all assume there is always going to be “the 1%”.

JC
JC
9 years ago

Oh and for every Sweden, I give you Switzerland or Lichtenstein.

Sweden per cap income 14th ($38,900)

Lichtenstein 2nd (134,000)!

Luxembourg 3rd ($81,500)

Singapore 4th (56,700)

Switzerland 8th ($42,600)

Richard Tsukamasa Green

The abuse of the cause of “freedom” isn’t particularly new, since we can go back to Johnson’s quip about the loudest yelps for liberty coming from the drivers of negroes, or more recently the rhetoric of the leaders of Rhodesian independence and the cries against tyranny made in defence of the Jim Crow laws. And the Mont Pelerin Society was originally to be named in part for Baron Acton who lamented the Confederate loss in the US Civil War, as he deemed slavery far less an affront to liberty than federal government.

And it is true as Jacques often contends that a purely negative conception of liberty is is consistent. It’s probably the only way to be rigourously consistent with appeals to liberty. It’s also absurdly narrow and pointless virtue which can only be debated in terms of an assertion of its primacy over other values. This probably accounts in a large part for its lack of appeal outside a dedicated vanguard of absolutists.

Yobbo
9 years ago

In the name of freedom – freedom from regulation – the banks were permitted to wreck the economy.

Actually banks have never been more regulated in history than they were at the time of the GFC.

Standard tantrum from Monbiot, Ken has beclowned himself by posting it without comment.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Monboit’s point is that the libertarian freedom from government interference interferes with other people’s freedom from libertarians’ interference.

… and you evidence is … ?

… examples ?

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Re freedom:

… absurdly narrow and pointless virtue …

By strange coincidence, Sinan Unur just happens to explain why there are those who see freedom as a virtue.

http://blog.qtau.com/2011/12/would-you-consider-smuggling-bubble-gum.html

It was during this period that I had my first personal encounter with communism and learned that some people had it even worse than the Turks.

Lest we forget.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

And to be fair, R. J. Rummel has been explaining it to people for yonks, people who care to listen that is:

* Freedom is a basic human right recognized by the United Nations and international treaties, and is the heart of social justice.

* Freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.

* Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.

* Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines, and by theory, should not. Freedom is therefore a solution to hunger and famine.

* Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.

* Free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder, and for good theoretical reasons. Freedom is therefore a solution to genocide and mass murder; the only practical means of making sure that “Never again”

* Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them.

* Freedom is a method of nonviolence — the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.

He has the stats to back it up, especially the little bit about genocide.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/

gilmae
gilmae
9 years ago

They may have been regulated, but under an administration that felt they should be free from regulation, the regulation was scarcely enforced. They seem to have escaped any sort of opprobrium afterwards as well. Freedom from Shame!

JC
JC
9 years ago

The abuse of the cause of “freedom” isn’t particularly new, since we can go back to Johnson’s quip about the loudest yelps for liberty coming from the drivers of negroes, or more recently the rhetoric of the leaders of Rhodesian independence and the cries against tyranny made in defence of the Jim Crow laws.

Richard , you think the above makes your case, as I think it makes the opposite of what you think it does. Taking a chunk of someone’s fruit of their labor is similar as what was happening with slavery. People were being glommed of their productive value and someone else was taking it. That is a fundamental element under both slavery as well as high taxing regimes.

And the Mont Pelerin Society was originally to be named in part for Baron Acton who lamented the Confederate loss in the US Civil War, as he deemed slavery far less an affront to liberty than federal government.

Okay, so what exactly is the point? Are you honestly suggesting the Mt. P Society is a front for supporters of slavery? If so here’s one for you to consider. Up until he died recently the Democrats most senior senator was a king pin in the KKK. Does that mean the Democrat party are silent supports slavery?

PSC
PSC
9 years ago

Actually banks have never been more regulated in history than they were at the time of the GFC.

The implication of this is bollocks. There might be more regulation, but the question is, what is the nature of the regulation?

Prior to the mid-late nineties, banks could not set their own lending and deposit rates. They couldn’t simultaneously run an investment banking business and savings banking business.

Yes, you do need a PhD just to understand Basel II – there’s a lot of regulation. But it’s nonsense to suggest that Basel II is more onerous than the easily understood “your deposit rates are 1%, and you can only write residential mortgages” – which was Australia in the 1950s.

PSC
PSC
9 years ago

nineties -> eighties sorry.

JC
JC
9 years ago

You can’t really say that PSC.

One lot of regulations- 1950’s- were assets and liability prices-driven. Basel is very much a capital driven form of regulation set. Even though banks can own I-banking units it didn’t mean they lack supervision from the regulatory bodies that regulated them before a banking holding company was allowed to own one.

Furthermore I don’t understand the concerns you have shown (I think) before over this issue. If an I-bank or whatever is owned and operated at the holding company level there’s no great reason to be fearful of the banking side if run at arms length, which they have to be for the most part. In fact can you explain what your fear is with a holding company structure?

Yes, you do need a PhD just to understand Basel II – there’s a lot of regulation. But it’s nonsense to suggest that Basel II is more onerous than the easily understood “your deposit rates are 1%, and you can only write residential mortgages” – which was Australia in the 1950s.

Different things. Hard to quantify.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
9 years ago

We have relatively little offshore exploration mainly due to this heavy duty tax compared to the rest of the world.

Gorgon? Never heard of it.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
9 years ago

the problem of sub-prime loans did not originate ( pun intended)with regulated banks but with lightly unregulated shadow banks.

some countries like Canada and Asutralia played a more heavy regulated hand than the USA as Ian McFarlane has pointed out.

Greenspan neither believed a housing bubble could occur nor believed regulation was needed despite pleas from other Regional governors.

Our Regulators knew better.

Ken is not certainly not beclowned but the commenter certainly is.

desipis
9 years ago

… examples?

You really need examples of how private individuals can affect the lives of other private individuals?

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
9 years ago

JC asked: “Why take the money from WA for instance which needs lots of money to be ploughed back into infrastructure to support those sorts of projects and redistribute it to Tasmania, which has been turned into an economic basket case with 60% of its population on some sort of welfare from Canberra?”

Silly poolemic apart from the first 4 words. We are taking it from the mining companies. And we can argue about what government spend their money on another time. So focusing on the sensibel part of the quote “Why take the money?” the asnwer is because we* own the resources and we* can charge what we like. Rents go up all the time, so long as the market can bear it.

* By “we” I mean the nation, not the state, regardless of what the founding fathers may have intended.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Well I do notice your slidestepping away from your original assertion there desipis. You started out with, “other people’s freedom from libertarians’ interference” and now you have moved along to “private individuals can affect the lives of other private individuals”… but that’s a different connotation there.

Of course, “affect” can be anything from a quick chat to a long term business deal, but “interference” clearly implies something unwanted and meddling. So not trickery huh? Back up your original assertion (#9 above), or back down and honestly admit it was guff.

desipis
9 years ago

Ok, an example relevant to a current topic – water regulation:

Farmer A takes more water out of the river for irrigation and thus there’s not enough water for Farmer B (downstream) to continue irrigating his crops. Therefore, Farmer A is interfering with Farmer B’s ability to farm his own land.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

OK, you want to talk about property rights. I presume you accept the most basic property rights — a person should be entitled to own his/her own body and also at least they should own the majority of the output of their own labour (but of course there’s a lot of details in determining exactly whose labour went into something where multiple specialists have come together, anyhow that’s not particularly important for an example like the farmers).

So in the case of the farmers, the most fundamental Libertarian position is that if a farmer puts effort into growing a crop and caring for that crop, they they are entitled to harvest what they sow. You haven’t put forward any particular disagreement with that so I’ll continue from that position.

Now we get to which resources are required in order to achieve a productive crop… this might include land, water, fertilizer, seeds, possibly fuel, machinery, etc. These go beyond the Libertarian basics and you will find some range of opinions as to the correct approach, but it would always involve some sort of property rights, so the disagreement is about the details of how those rights are implemented.

The general principle of property rights is that they be granted if and only if there is justification to overcome a “Tragedy of the Commons” situation. In the case of land, I happen to think there’s a pretty clear justification. Someone who paid a lot of money to buy a chunk of land is going to make a serious effort to keep that land in good shape for resale. Farmers have a very well tuned idea for what makes agricultural land valuable, that’s not to say that some farmers have not been caught out with rising sale, etc, but misfortune can happen to anyone. The point is that a strong incentive exists for every farmer to maintain long term productivity. This is not true for the mining industry where land is leased rather than owned.

Getting around to talking about water, there’s a second side to property rights — they need to be understandable and enforceable. I would have thought that there was a natural boundary to say that everyone who owns land automatically owns the rain that falls on said land. However, we now have the unbelievably bolloxed situation where a family can own a house, but not be allowed to collect the water running off their own roof (and even weirder, it changes from place to place). We also have the dingbat water allocations that are a fixed volume every year, resulting in over allocation during dry years (and thus contention) and under allocation during wet years. In my mind this is an example of property rights gone wrong, but it’s not an example that the principle of property rights is intrinsically wrong, just that a good quality implementation of the principle makes a very big difference (true of all principles).

I’ll leave it to Barnaby Joyce to explain why handing property rights over to a government committee doesn’t do anything to improve freedom (it makes things worse) and does nothing to improve efficiency (because invariably the primary purpose of any government committee is to maintain it’s own self importance):

Every farmer has their watering plan. If a farmer didn’t have a watering plan, they wouldn’t be much of a farmer. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder currently has 1,075 GL – 1,075 billion litres – of water. Quite a bit; in fact more than what would fill Sydney Harbour twice and they are buying much more. This is to water 2,442 environmental assets, 2,442 environmental crops so to speak.

But when the very valid question is asked, “where is your watering plan?” the predictable answer comes back – they don’t have one. It’s obviously in the draw with the cost benefit analysis of the NBN, the global modelling of the carbon tax, the plan to control our debt, and a myriad of other incredible statements that come without a clue of how to deliver them.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3717720.html

… and there is the thing that keeps attracting people back to the free market.

conrad
conrad
9 years ago

“a person should be entitled to own his/her own body”

I think this one is actually more complicated than it appears — there are a whole host of rules preventing self-harm both directly (e.g., suicide) and indirectly (e.g., substance abuse) even for people that are sane of mind, law abiding, and even when there are no obvious externalities (indeed, some things like suicide might well save many people money). One might interpret this as the government assuming that it has some level of ownership of people’s bodies, even if no democratic government wants to admit it.

Tom N.
Tom N.
9 years ago

“a person should be entitled to own his/her own body”

Oh dear, more simplistic libertarian gumpf finding its way onto Troppo. Isn’t that what the colostomy bag known as Catallaxy is for.

This sort of word game nonsense reminds me of a debate on Thoughts On Freedom (the original Oz Libertarian site) all those years ago, in which “24601” argued that “Tax Is Theft”. Resort to a dictionary was enough to knock over this little Libertarian talking point, but the fact that it got airtime in the first place, and attracted many sincere advocates/defenders, is telling.

Paul Montgomery
9 years ago

Erm… why should a farmer own the rain? Tell me, does the farmer own clouds that wander over the land, or air that flows over it? I do not see any similar rights for precedence. A lot of old toot gets trotted out by libertarians to attempt to pad out their silly post-justifications.

JC
JC
9 years ago

Yes Tommy, that’s a pretty simplistic and amusing, however it’s better than being owned or being told we couldn’t survive without the public sector you you’ve of reminded us at times. Not 1/2 self serving.

As for The Cat being a colostomy bag… lol I notice you’re passing through frequently.

Chris Lloyd.

No, we don’t own the resources. The states own the right to allocate exploration rights and then receive royalties. So, I can’ quite see you want to put on your bib and join the diners at that dining table.

Look , if you think it’s easy finding the stuff in commercial quantities, extracting it, taking it to market efficiently and making a turn along the way, go ahead and show us how you do it.

As for “super profits” in the mining sector.. what a laughable claim when the average long term return in that sector is below the S&P average for the past 100 years.

If your looking to tax super profits, you’re better off taxing Proctor&Gamble which has produced far higher profits (return of equity) than the best miners consistently over the decades…. ummm they’re soap makers. Lol

JC
JC
9 years ago

And Tommy

What’s stupider and more simplistic…

We own our bodies.. or we own da resources? Lol

Let me tell you which one I reckon is

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
9 years ago

no we own our resources that is why we can tax them. That is why only the Federal Government can tax super profits.

you haven’t showed they are not earning super profits by the way.

It is company specific and at a certain time.Not what the long term return is.
That is a complete furphy.

You might look at commodity prices and how they relate to profits.

by the way you do realise even under the original mining tax proposal they would have been paying less as a % of their profits then they paid in the 80s.

Tom N.
Tom N.
9 years ago

It is instructive, JC, that you seek to defend your inane Libertarian talking point by comparing it to another statement that you think is “stupider and more simplistic”, as if that would somehow excuse your own.

Alphonse
Alphonse
9 years ago

With particular reference to modern US libertarianism, Noah Smith agrees with George Monbiot.

Has anyone ever met a three year old who wasn’t a libertarian?

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Alphonse: I can’t help wondering why Noah Smith accidentally (on purpose) forgets to mention this sort of bullying.

http://biggovernment.com/libertychick/2010/05/20/seiu-storms-private-residence-terrorizes-teenage-son-of-bank-of-america-exec/

Do you think the Progressive movement really feel deeply concerned about the problems of bullying, or just feel they should be the ones doing it rather than anybody else?

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Or perhaps this sort of bullying?

http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/obama_admin_scrambled_to_find_excuse_for_firing_gov_inspector_who_unveiled_/

Bash the whistleblower, keep things quiet — always a reliable formula.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

And the old standby, the union thuggery sort of bullying:

http://sfcmac.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/whistleblowers-beaten-intimidated-after-revealing-union-bosses-looting/

Probably should mention our local brand of the same with dirty shovels being left of people’s front doorsteps (clearly a threat of violence) just because one union official amongst many wants to clean out the filth and do the right thing.

Never gets a mention by Noah Smith while wringing hands about the Libertarians… why would that be do you think?

Alphonse
Alphonse
9 years ago

Tel, we need to organise to prevent bullying by any marvel of Hayekian self-organisation, be it union, cartel, bikie gang, public service clique, corporation, or Murdoch media outlet.

We call elements of our organisation parliaments, courts and governments (collectively, if you’ll pardon my French, the state). Churchill said some disparaging things about the democratic state with which we can all agree, albeit with varying degree of vehemence.

rog
rog
9 years ago

JCs argument is convincing and compelling – for a tax on resource profits and against the self styled libertarian crowd that he sought-of-represents.

Do they have a leader, these neoanarchists?

Rafe
9 years ago

Ken I know it was the silly season last week but do you really think that Monbiot’s rant is anything more than an exercise in venting leftwing spleen? Try reading it again with your bullshit detector switched on.

Do you think he laid a glove on the classical liberal agenda?

Senexx
9 years ago

On the politics of the economics of libertarians they are conservatives. Both libertarian and conservatives believe malinvestments should fail (which sounds fair enough) but they also believe those indirectly hurt by the malinvestments should be hurt as well thus those with the surpluses remain on top and in power thus libertarians are conservatives – which is why we have a nation state that is supportive of stimuluses under certain conditions (hint: the US stimulus hit the wrong target).

Having said that I believe today’s libertarians are ideal libertarians and that we all ready live in a libertarian society, they just don’t like what most of us agreed to voluntary give up en masse to have today’s society. (And yes I’ve aggregated today’s “ideal libertarians” – I recognise other variations)

I understand today’s libertarians wish to live in what is basically an anarcho-capitalist society and it will work until the first conflict comes along which will see it become a feudal society and then a nation state, right back where we started.

The current market/state mix in Australia at least is fine. It could do with a few tweaks but not an overhaul. So by RJ Rummel – we in Australia must be free.

As for those that say the banking problem didn’t happen because of lack of regulation needs to read some William K. Black, the Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Also they need to recognise that the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act basically repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which in turn basically said banking self-regulation.

Self-Regulation always ultimately fails as the person doing the self-regulating ultimately always runs a con job on you, the customer,it mightn’t start out that way but in the end they always look for a way to screw you over, we need to look no further than the Liars Loans and other frauds that brought about the GFC.

Ideal freedom or ideal libertarianism is sound in theory and in theory only.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Alphonse, law and order, the state will protect us… you seem to be thinking along the lines of this sort of bullying:

http://news.injuryboard.com/pepper-sprayed-man-dies-in-jail-what-happened-to-nick-christie-.aspx?googleid=277120

Don’t get me wrong, I think most Libertarians do have some notion that the rule of law is an important part of any society. It’s just that somehow my concept of the rule of law just can’t seem to reach out and mesh with the idea of a man being tied to a chair and tortured to death. That’s why what we really need is limitations of the powers of the state. Strict limitations. Stuff that gets deeply embedded in the brain of every single citizen, certain behaviour is just not acceptable.

But the courts right? I mean Nick Christie has been dead for more than two years, this did not happen in secret. These things get investigated. Oh yeah, get this:

A homicide does not necessarily mean that the death was a criminal act only that it was caused by a person or persons.

How about that? No one to blame. No one charged. Although I perfectly understand that it is in the nature of lawyers to argue endlessly, I just can’t quite comprehend how they can put so much effort into arguing about exactly how long you have to hold someone’s head underwater for it to count as real torture. Like, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, a minute… why would it occur to someone that they need to test this boundary?

But you want to say it can’t happen in this country… we are special over here right? So go search — “My name is Qu’ach Nhung. I was a Vietnamese Boat Person. HealthQuest ruined my life here in Australia.” and here’s a link to finish up with:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/teachers-pest-top-health-official-sacked/2008/06/16/1213468331474.html

When you do a bit of reading, there’s a lot of ugly stories around that particular issue. I have no idea how many of the details are correct, but it’s hard to believe they are all crazy and all making this stuff up. A bit too much of a pattern involved, if you know what I mean.

Now in my vision of the rule of law I would expect that if you have some high flying CEO of a big finance operation who goes around saying, “I take big risks, I have a lot of responsibility so I deserve big rewards.” and then this guy screws up and runs the company insolvent; I would expect in such a situation that the guy who messed up would suffer some penalty, or make a loss, or be thrown out of a job. That’s what it means, “risk and responsibility”. Yet strangely enough, we are out there rewarding such people for their failure. Big screw up = big bonus.

I kind of wonder how did we get to this? We have governments all over being proud champions always ready to support the little guy against those nasty bullies (OK, lip service to that end)… but when it comes down to it, the protection you get is pretty damn thin. There’s a simple explanation of course: power corrupts. But there’s a longer explanation too, every time someone like George Monbiot gets out and devalues the meaning of freedom, it gets that bit easier for the bullies to take our freedom away. Sure, Monbiot didn’t actually tie that man to a chair, but sure as eggs you will never see Monbiot raising a stink over the misuse of such authority either.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Senexx, you think General Motors, Solyndra, SolarReserve, Tonopah Solar, Solexel, Tesla Motors, and the rest of the Democrat/DOE clique were the wrong target for stimulus? Gosh, I certainly agree with you on that one. I’d be interested if you can link me a few of those Libertarian websites outlining their support for stimulus, out of curiosity who the right targets would have been.

The current market/state mix in Australia at least is fine. It could do with a few tweaks but not an overhaul. So by RJ Rummel – we in Australia must be free.

If you could offer me a guarantee that the current mix would be preserved then that would be excellent. However, I’m highly pessimistic that we will be able to achieve this. Authoritarianism is on the rise, people shrug and look the other way, and Monbiot is quite frankly an apologist.

Because of technology transitions we will probably lose a lot more of our freedoms (perhaps that’s inevitable) but at least if the hope of freedom remains alive, and people are willing to talk openly about what is happening (rather than hiding behind hypocritical self deception) then a best we won’t lose as much, and at worst we can say we tried.

I don’t see any reason why it is incompatible to have idealistic goals but a practical methodology. You aim your arrow high because by the time it gets to the other end it will have dropped a bit (we expect as much). Ron Paul is running for president (yet again) and chances are he won’t win… but even if he doesn’t win, he is asking the right questions, and if it wasn’t for Ron Paul then those questions would not even get asked. The media have gone to such great length to ignore him that they have basically played their hand, and can’t ignore him any longer.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
9 years ago

JC said: “No, we don’t own the resources. The states own the right to allocate exploration rights and then receive royalties.” I am quite aware of that. Which is why I added the footnote to my comment. Regardless of the constitutional intention, I say the nation owns these resources. The history of constitutional law in this country is one of taking rights away from the states. It has been done legally, and the mining tax is certainly legal.

Nothing in your comment argues against charging whatever we can get away with. You say: “Look , if you think it’s easy finding the stuff in commercial quantities, extracting it, taking it to market efficiently and making a turn along the way, go ahead and show us how you do it.” What sort of onus is this? If I put the rent up on my Box Hill rental property, am I first required to explain how the tenant is to make their living? Just silly. You argue against the mining tax because you are just against tax. Think of it as rent. Then it won’t seem so bad. Or are you a supporter of NY style rent control?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
9 years ago

The MRRT taxes profits on coal and iron ore above a designated threshold. It doesn’t tax the minerals themselves, thus questions about who owns the minerals are both logically and legally irrelevant. That’s why the MRRT is, as Chris notes, certainly legal. The Commonwealth has (and has always had) the power to tax profits made by miners or any other industry sector, as long as it doesn’t single out a particular State or part of a State as such.

JC
JC
9 years ago

“Regardless of the constitutional intention, I say the nation owns these resources. The history of constitutional law in this country is one of taking rights away from the states. It has been done legally, and the mining tax is certainly legal.”

Chris, the nation does not own these resources, the states do and that is clear as far as the constitution goes. I’m using the term “own” loosely of course because the resources only have value if they can be extracted efficiently.

The Federal government also has the right to tax these resources at will through the mining tax, but it does not have the right to dictate to the states that they must adjust their royalties. So WA is perfectly in the right to raise royalties as it sees fit having the effect of making the mining tax insignificant. The threats coming out of Canberra to bludgeon states into submission seems to have been taken out of Page 45 of the Hugo Chavez playbook.

“The history of constitutional law in this country is one of taking rights away from the states. It has been done legally, and the mining tax is certainly legal.”

Well, we’ll see what the High Court has to say about Canberra using a club to dictate to the the states what they can do with royalties. All it takes is for WA or another state to raise royalties to the same level as the mining tax and the game is up for Canberra. If Swan chooses to reduce WA’s GST receipts to fund the failing state of Tasmania… let him run to an election with that policy. It will be a complete wipeout. It will also b interesting to see what the High Court would have to say about this too.

“Nothing in your comment argues against charging whatever we can get away with.”

No, I didn’t. The government can of course raise the mining tax to 100% of profits if it so chooses, so instead of partial defacto nationalization it could go the whole hog and aim for 100%. The problem for the government is of course the reaction by the states if Canberra carries out its threat of tampering with the GST agreement.

“You say: “Look , if you think it’s easy finding the stuff in commercial quantities, extracting it, taking it to market efficiently and making a turn along the way, go ahead and show us how you do it.” What sort of onus is this? If I put the rent up on my Box Hill rental property, am I first required to explain how the tenant is to make their living?”

Oh please. You’re now equating the normal process of what goes on in the market place (price discovery) with raising a tax? These two things are so different that it would be impossible to untangle. It’s like saying cheese is similar Water mellon.

” You argue against the mining tax because you are just against tax.”

No I’m not. I’m arguing against the tax because its distortive, punishes one of our most efficient industries, it’s based on fault economics (the theory of land rent was destroyed in economic debates 200 years ago after Ricardo published the theory) and is another land grab by Canberra.

” Think of it as rent. Then it won’t seem so bad. Or are you a supporter of NY style rent control?”

Why would I think of a tax as rent when a tax nothing like rent and as I said this economic theory was debased many moons ago.

And how on earth would you equate this tax to NY rent control?

The miners pay royalties and corporate tax already. Where is the rent control element imbedded in the current system?

As I said, the large miners are already paying a super profits tax. It’s the 30% corporate tax rate.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
9 years ago

‘As I said, the large miners are already paying a super profits tax. It’s the 30% corporate tax rate.’

JC gets the silliest comment on the last day of the year.

Every company that earns taxable income pays company tax. On the other hand you have to earn above a certain level of income before you pay the mining tax as Ken has said.

We haven’t had taxes bringing as little revenue as a % of GDP since 1978-79!

rog
rog
9 years ago

..and the first for this year.

the nation does not own these resources, the states do

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