catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Are libertarian parties a waste of time?

with 123 comments

CL draws to our attention in the Open Forum a recent article by Bruce Bartlett which sets out the kind of arguments which LDP activists will inevitably come against eventually from sceptical observers (putting aside the US specific considerations). I’m sure John Humphreys and others will have perfectly cutting responses to the following comments of Bartlett’s so let’s sort them out here:

    The Libertarian Party is worse than a waste of time. I believe it has done far more to hamper the advancement of libertarian ideas and policies than it has done to advance them. In my view, it is essential for the Libertarian Party to completely disappear before libertarian ideas will again have political currency …

    Furthermore, to the extent that third parties exist, they invariably hurt the party closest to them ideologically …
    Over the years, I have known a great many people who have flirted with the Libertarian Party, but were ultimately turned off by its political impotence and immaturity. C-SPAN runs Libertarian conventions, and viewers can see for themselves how unserious and childish they are. They show that the Libertarian Party is essentially a high-school-level debating club where only one question is ever debated — who is the purest libertarian, and what is the purest libertarian position?
    At times, serious people have tried to get control of the Libertarian Party and make it a viable organization. But in the end, the crazies who like the party just as it is have always run them off. In the process, however, they have also run off millions of voters who have supported libertarian candidates at one time or another. After realizing what a waste of time the Libertarian Party is, many became disengaged from politics and don’t vote at all.
    The result has been that libertarian-leaning activists have been drawn away from the Republican Party and the Democratic Party by the Libertarian Party, leaving the major parties with fewer libertarians. In other words, both major parties have fewer libertarians than they would without the Libertarian Party, meaning that the net result of the party has been to make our government less libertarian than it would otherwise be.

Bartlett’s article does also have some constructive criticism. His proposal for an alternative to a libertarian party is as follows:

In place of the party, there should arise a new libertarian interest group organized like the National Rifle Association or the various pro- and anti-abortion groups. This new group, whatever it is called, would hire lobbyists, run advertisements and make political contributions to candidates supporting libertarian ideas. It will work with both major parties. It can magnify its influence by creating temporary coalitions on particular issues and being willing to work with elected officials who may hold libertarian positions on only one or a handful of issues. They need not hold libertarian views on every single issue, as the Libertarian Party now demands of those it supports.

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Written by Admin

December 20, 2006 at 11:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

123 Responses

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  1. Sounds quite sensible to me.

    The way an issue gets prominence and widespread support these days is with lobby groups and advertising, no matter how crazy the idea (see Greenpeace, environmental groups, PETA etc).

    Its likely going to be a 2 party system well into the future, so the best efforts would be focussed on supporting the factions and individuals within those parties that support freedom. I only hope that such an organisation has a budget and influence capable of rivaling and competing against all the special interest groups and environmental organisations.

    Jono

    December 20, 2006 at 11:51 am

  2. the reason said parties don’t get many votes is that in the main the electorate like big Government but not too bigger Government which is what we have in the US and here.

    Except for the few there is no call for smaller Government particularly when the implications are known

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 20, 2006 at 11:58 am

  3. I actually think that’s a pretty sensible position, although the existence of both organizations is not mutually exclusive.

    I realized a few years ago that funding lobbying organizations was far more effective than voting (though I do both), and this is why I donate regularly to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Brock

    December 20, 2006 at 12:03 pm

  4. The stuff ups of the US libertarian party amaze me.

    Also

    i) the us two party system is entrenched by first past the post voting, single member electorates and the electoral college.

    ii) Smearing the opposition is arguably the best way to reinforce the two party system. God knows why the electorate has any faith in the Democrats or Republicans, or the ALP or Liberals as professionals – see the hand of Kroger at work in Victoria.

    iii) The LDP is small and under-resourced but does what it does well. No one really cares about “purity”. We have well thought out policy (as does the US LP, but they don’t sell it well).

    iv) The ACT and Libertianz are well respected and done quite well.

    v) In the defence of the LP, look at this great candidate and her spectacular campaign – remember she was in Taxachusetts

    http://www.carlahowell.org/

    “Except for the few there is no call for smaller Government particularly when the implications are known”

    I take this to mean people fool themselves into thinking they can get a free lunch. Because there are only benefits in reducing the size of Government at the moment.

    Mark Hill

    December 20, 2006 at 12:08 pm

  5. I don’t really have a dog in the race, by the way, but I thought the article was provocative and fairly interesting. I will say that the put-down of some libertarians who obsess over libertarian purity and not much else sounds about right.

    C.L.

    December 20, 2006 at 1:27 pm

  6. “They show that the Libertarian Party is essentially a high-school-level debating club where only one question is ever debated — who is the purest libertarian, and what is the purest libertarian position?”

    Ha Ha. Isn’t that just the case.

    I would like to know what triggers this off. The more-libertarian-then-thou posturing.

    I figure I’m more libertarian in the long run and less libertarian in the short run then most.

    But anyway Bartlett makes some good points. However in this country we stand a good chance of getting people in the Senate.

    But I think he’s right about this to some extent. Me and Mr Jefferson were talking along these lines the other night. We have to get a new focus on strategy going.

    We’d want to get all these Senate seats happening. And local council and everywhere we can make inroads.

    But apart from that we want to be more like an oldtime communist party. A satelite party that has moles in all the other parties.

    Not only all the other parties but all the other factions within the parties. Gathering intelligence and acting as agents of influence.

    At a labour left-faction meeting you want one of your guys to say something like:

    ‘What about the worker. No we want to lift the tax free threshold higher. How are we going to help the worker with your spending programs”

    We want to have a plan to exercise some level of influence in every conceivable meeting that there is.

    We have to think of it like war rather then just sholarship. We’ve had the best ideas and we’ve seen them beaten by bullshit and bullshit-momentum time after time.

    The left appear to have no understanding of actual war. Yet when it comes to political war and political ringcraft they are uncannily good.

    What is needed is a sort of unassailable base (ie the party) and the projection of force right into the other guys territory.

    So its not about standing around and getting all the theory right–although thats important too.

    We want people arguing on all the leftist blogs. Here we have to figure out just where you draw the line ethically. But thats for us to work out and leftist norms are not to be taken into consideration.

    We have to send folks forward to head-kick and occasionally shower them with bullshit-momentum-cover at the right times.

    Akin to ground forces been given air cover via relentless carpet-bombing.
    Actually the relentless invasion of leftist sites ought to be central to the strategy.

    If it means like Munn they close off their sites with a constant moderation-wall then that gives our communication-strategy the edge over all the others.

    Peoples lives are on the line here.

    Which means this is war.

    Which means we have to win.

    “Just Win Baby”

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 1:45 pm

  7. Libertarian parties have traditionally stuffed up because the ideas were so way out that they were mostly taken up by oddballs and promoted by a mix of oddballs and zealots. Take the Randoids for example, they resemble nothing as much as a cult.

    Nowadays it is possible to find apparently normal people (using a generous criterion of normality to include the likes of Jason, Helen and myself) who have picked up liberal/libertarian ideas and this process is likely to continue. So there is a role for the Libertarian party to push the envelope in the political arena while fellow travellers work wherever they think we can do the most good, whether in a conventional party or in interest groups of various kinds..

    The really good news is that the impending rise of the Even More Austrian School (aka the Australian School) of economics and social thought will boost the intellectual credibility of the movement (just in case anyone cares about that).

    Rafe Champion

    December 20, 2006 at 1:53 pm

  8. the major point here is whether smaller Government will ever be an issue people will vote on or will it be like tariffs. People support them but learn to live with smaller tariffs.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 20, 2006 at 2:02 pm

  9. I think you’re right, Homer. Ultimately it’s about what people will accept, what they’re willing to give up etc.

    C.L.

    December 20, 2006 at 2:22 pm

  10. Its all about tactics fellas.

    We will win if we have the right tactics followed assiduously.

    Your average punter cannot possibly have wanted to pay all these taxes and be so much poorer then they otherwise would be.

    This is just defeatism this attitude. Thats handing the victory to the wrong side.

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm

  11. I think the party ought to hire me as full-time internet crusader.

    What I’d do is just walk around from one internet cafe to the next pushing the parties policies on all the most leftist of websites.

    The net effect would be that the ETHER itself would be skewed in our direction and the left would be permanently wrong-footed.

    We have to fight on the offensive. And at the moment it is the leftists who invade our blogs and not the other way around.

    Or not much anyway.

    Because when we do go to where they are we get horribly mistreated and banned.

    Thats just one full-time wage and internet costs and transport amounting to about $50 per day max.

    Believe me. This one measure would change the political landscape of this country.

    No-one is more qualified for this job then I am. I say in all humility.

    And we ought to be able to pull funding from the coal industry and the Taiwanese.

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 3:02 pm

  12. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for significant numbers of leftwing people to get up to date in political economy and make a move in the appropriate direction. They have been kept in the dark and fed bullshit by their intellectual leadership and so far the ranks have held fairly firm.

    Still I like to think that there must be some smart and potentially independent thinkers among them who will eventually see the light. Part of the problem for the older ones is that they have accumulated so many personal links – marriages, long term associations on committees, drinking clubs etc that any move will render them social outcasts among people who have been near and dear to them for decades. A tough call!

    Rafe Champion

    December 20, 2006 at 3:10 pm

  13. Rafe, it has nothing to do with communism.

    people simply have an irrational desire of getting anything from the Government.
    The pension is the best example. Give people a choice of giving people the opportunity of making more money or making less money but keeping the pension they choose the latter.

    Irrational choices on the health care card are even more stark.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 20, 2006 at 3:43 pm

  14. It is about learning and having more choices.

    Why mention communism?

    Rafe Champion

    December 20, 2006 at 4:02 pm

  15. “Give people a choice of giving people the opportunity of making more money or making less money but keeping the pension they choose the latter.”

    No they won’t.

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 4:54 pm

  16. Look people its all about tactics.

    Take blogging alone.

    These bastard leftists have slim to no case at all. They dominate or used to dominate most conservative blogs.

    So they fight us on the offensive.

    But yet at the same time they make their own homelands unassailable. By using any excuse to ban, humiliate, moderate or drip-feed moderate any conservative they can’t make look stupid on their own turf.

    All these scumbags work like this. And it doesn’t matter if its that commie-in-boring-guys-clothes Mark Banisch or the most malign of all Michelin-Men Lambert.

    They all secure their home turf and fight offensively when it suits them. Whereas we have wanted to go wherever the chips fell they have never cared a toss about that.

    We have to take up some of their techniques.

    And we have to change this calculus.

    And if we do. We will get very fast results up front.

    When Reagan turned the proxy-war calculus that the left had used against America on its head the Soviets were finished and it took him only ten short years.

    I know a lot of you guys just don’t take this seriously at all.

    But we can win this thing.

    And we can make this country better.

    But we have to WANT- to-win.

    “Just Win Baby”

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  17. The ACT and Libertianz are well respected and done quite well.

    Mark, unless things have changed a lot since I was last in New Zealand, then ACT (which, if Libertarianism means anything, isn’t a Libertarian party) have just taken the biggest electoral beating in the polls, and are extremely lucky to have any representation at all in Parliament.

    However, compared to the Libertarianz, they are going gangbusters. That would have to be the pettiest juvenile party in existence. I gave up reading their literature when I came across an article debating whether NZ was a communist or fascist society (fascist, if you’re interested – they offer the facade of property rights).

    Ken Miles

    December 20, 2006 at 5:30 pm

  18. This article is completely irrelevant to Australia because we have preferential voting and proportional voting in the upper house. If the Greens, Democrats, One Nation and DLP can be relevant in Australia, then so can the LDP.

    I agree about the US Libertarian party though. The Free State Project is more promising.

    yobbo

    December 20, 2006 at 7:11 pm

  19. Nice to know we’re ‘normal’, Rafe 😉

    And Yobbo makes some pretty good points. Voting in Australia is very different from that going on in other places.

    skepticlawyer

    December 20, 2006 at 7:27 pm

  20. Steady on now Rafe. Nothing normal about skeptic.

    And being the leading Popper scholar is not exactly normal.

    And Jasons talent as the most durable and one of the best thread-starters in the country is hardly normal either.

    GMB

    December 20, 2006 at 7:44 pm

  21. PETA have been succcessful thru a number of cunning stunts (try saying that after a long session @ The Clock)

    Its a well known fact that men stop all thought when in sight of a naked woman, truth be known most men stop thinking in presence of a well dressed woman.

    Howabout LDPers stop engaging in long and complex arguments about stuff and concentrate on a few catchy slogans like “free beer”

    rog

    December 20, 2006 at 8:24 pm

  22. “see the hand of Kroger at work in Victoria.

    a total fucking disgrace. The one reason I left that party, or rather it has left me. I better whisper, he lives so close to me he may hear it.

    ABL

    I not so sure the US Lib party is that ineffective though. Harry Brown was a terrific prez candidate.

    JC.

    December 20, 2006 at 9:57 pm

  23. True, Yobbo, but very little nation-changing is going to be launched in the Victorian Upper House or the Federal Swill.

    C.L.

    December 20, 2006 at 9:58 pm

  24. Just a remark – the US has voluntary plurality voting. Australia has compulsory preferential voting.

    This is why yanks spend so much energy handwringing about splitting the vote – that voting for X is a vote for Y and so on. In our system this is less of a problem as most votes percolate down to one of the two major parties.

    This can and does influence policy. The nearest party ideologically is likely to shift a little towards the extreme, and the other party might try to outflank them by going after that 3rd party vote.

    Having a 3rd party in Australia is not so bad in terms of pure voting theory. I’m not so sure how sustainable it might be – so long as members are allowed to vote according to conscience it might work, but that might lead back to being the Democrats. Yuck.

    Jacques Chester

    December 20, 2006 at 10:08 pm

  25. CL, Are you suggesting the Greens, the Dems or One Nation are and have always been irrelevant?

    Boris

    December 20, 2006 at 10:15 pm

  26. Boris, you’re developing this rather annoying habit of asking “are you saying” [followed by something not written or suggested] questions.

    C.L.

    December 20, 2006 at 10:26 pm

  27. soimeone’s been taking the angry pills …

    Jason Soon

    December 20, 2006 at 10:30 pm

  28. Ken: Carla Howell was not a good candidate?

    The ACT are libertarian leaning. The last NZ election simply had a shift towards the small leftist parties. I find it hard to believe that the Libertarianz are any more childish about politics than anyone else and such ideas you talk about are held by many (re; Blair and Bush).

    The big left and right have a vested interest in smearing and marginalising anyone else.

    Economic rationalism has been big since Hayek won the Nobel. Fraser got a double majority. 30+ years of nothing to offer except for balanced budgets should tell you that influencing the Liberal party is a bloody pointless venture. (And in the US, the Republicans can’t even do that).

    Mark Hill

    December 20, 2006 at 10:33 pm

  29. But Mark, getting back to Homer’s pragmatic point: surely it’s about what is saleable in the political marketplace. Aren’t the big parties simply reading what the public’s reaction would be to a ‘Vote for me and I’ll make government less relevant’ platform? Or is that “market” for big government in the electorate entirely a beast of the big parties’ creation? I’m not sure I know the answers but aren’t these the important questions? Isn’t it a bit victim-ish to go on blaming Howardian big spending or GOP pork without dealing with this larger cultural/psephological conundrum?

    C.L.

    December 20, 2006 at 10:40 pm

  30. ABL

    but who is closer to libertarian economic policy in the US? Floyd Flake is not an accident of nature. There are mnay more like him in the GOP.

    In nay event this defeat will do them a lot of good.

    see today’s Wall street journal what the Dems are about and then reach for the bucket.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pdupont/?id=110009407

    And the GOP wasn’t all that bad in the prevous Congress.

    They passed a medical savings accounts, did a little on the pension front, supported the Prez on free trade fast track, tried to make the tax cuts permanent and did a little on tort reform.

    It wasn’t as bad as the MSM makes out.

    JC.

    December 20, 2006 at 10:42 pm

  31. “Isn’t it a bit victim-ish to go on blaming Howardian big spending or GOP pork without dealing with this larger cultural/psephological conundrum?”

    Yes. The US is no longer a constitutional republic and we were never one. Majoritarian democracies are the problem and the way the left works the system of spoils….. the left being any party or party faction that is primarily concerned with paying its constituency to vote for them.

    The problem as I see it is that 50% of the population will vote for parties never questioning where the free lunch is coming from.

    JC.

    December 20, 2006 at 10:47 pm

  32. “Isn’t it a bit victim-ish to go on blaming Howardian big spending or GOP pork without dealing with this larger cultural/psephological conundrum?”

    Yes. They are bastards for taking advantage of it. But we should do better.

    Mark Hill

    December 20, 2006 at 10:51 pm

  33. Homer has a point. But there is also a point that government – any government – is interested in promoting big government.

    I wonder what Libertarian government would be like in that respect? If they act according to libertarian principles, they will be shooting themselves in the foot, wouldn’t they?

    Boris

    December 20, 2006 at 11:54 pm

  34. Yeah. It does matter who the ring-bearer is but on the other hand in the end it would corrupt any one of us and particularly any group of us.

    And we wind up major wrong-doers or if we’re lucky blood-sucking Gollum-like-characters.

    This is why CHANGING THINGS must always come before electoral success.

    And its why we must get our strategy together. And our goals ought not be primarily specific policy outcomes.

    Its got to be deeper then that. Its got to be hard-wiring the system so that non-defense spending is always a short-term ephemeral things.

    And regulations dissapear of their own accord. And new spending automatically comes out of the governments budget and not the private sectors.

    The whole thing ought to be rigged that if nothing bad happened we’d be back to a libertarian setup by April.

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 12:17 am

  35. Boris: I don’t see why anyone in government has to be into promoting bigger government.

    Keeping it just big enough to keep paying their salaries is all that would interest them at the basic level.

    The problem is that expanding the size of government is the best way to get votes in a representative democracy, because giving people a cash gift usually works (even though they don’t realise it’s just churning their own taxes back to them).

    As libertarians we have a tough job because we have to convince the electorate that the best thing for them financially is to reduce taxes, rather than simply taxing them then returning some of the money as gifts.

    I think Andrew Norton and others have shown that given a choice between “increasing services” and “lowering taxes” most voters choose the first. We have to change that attitude if we want to be a major party, but with our political system we can still get people in the Upper House even if only Catallaxians vote for us (and we get good preference deals).

    yobbo

    December 21, 2006 at 8:10 am

  36. Boris got close to the answer at No. 33. A Libertarian Government is like an Apathy Club, a contradiction in terms.

    GMB is of course completely correct. It is all about tactics. Personally, I think the better bet for the Libertarians is to go back to the Liberal Party.

    For those of you who have forgotten your Australian history, let me explain the evolution of the Liberal Party. In the 19th Century the two main political groups in the British Empire were the Liberals on the left and the Conservatives on the right. However, parties representing labour emerged in the late 19th century. In Australia at Federation there were three parties of about equal size in Federal Parliament: the Protectionists (ie Liberals in the British sense, but with an attachment to tarrifs), Free Traders (Conservatives) and the Labor Party. After a period where no party could gain a majority, Deakin led a fusion between the Free Traders and the Protectionists (or what was left of them). This Fusion turned into the first Liberal Party, which in 1917 became the Nationalist Party when it merged with Billy Hughes’s group of Labor pro-conscriptionists. Then Nationalists in turn became the UAP in 1931 and the Liberal Party in 1944. The point is that the Liberal Party and its predecessors have always been a mixture of Tories and Liberals. The problem is that the liberals within the party are too pinkish economically The Tories are seen as the reverse, but the truth is that they more into leaving everybody alone, as long as they are civil and respect the Crown and the Church as the pillars of society. Methinks, Libertarians, if they were prepared to be a bit more intellectually supple, would fit nicely into the Liberal Party. And I speak as a member of that august institution.

    Rococo Liberal

    December 21, 2006 at 8:40 am

  37. What has the Liberal party done since 1975 to promote liberty?

    Mark Hill

    December 21, 2006 at 8:45 am

  38. there is very little difference between the ALP and Liberal parties.

    Hawke was more Libertarian than Howard who resembles a little Gough in many ways

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 21, 2006 at 8:58 am

  39. Personally, I think the better bet for the Libertarians is to go back to the Liberal Party.

    With preference voting people can vote LDP 1 and Liberals 2 if that is their inclination. A libertarian party would not hurt the Liberals unless the Liberals are stupid. So in terms of betting libertarians can have their cake and eat it.

    terjepetersen

    December 21, 2006 at 9:51 am

  40. I have never understood this expression.
    Why would anyone have a cake unless they wish to eat it!

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 21, 2006 at 11:43 am

  41. That’s because it wasn’t in the Keating bio , Homer. If it wasn’t in there you wouldn’t be able to get it.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 11:54 am

  42. The ACT are libertarian leaning. The last NZ election simply had a shift towards the small leftist parties. I find it hard to believe that the Libertarianz are any more childish about politics than anyone else and such ideas you talk about are held by many (re; Blair and Bush).

    Mark, while many of ACTs economic policies should appeal to Libs, they are also the tough on crime party. This includes attacking the government for not being tough enough on drugs.

    As for the Libertarianz, they are the sort of people who give Ayn Rand followers a bad name. If you want close minded fanatics, that’s the place to go.

    Ken Miles

    December 21, 2006 at 12:10 pm

  43. There is nothing un-libertarian about being tough on crime, Ken. That is the one thing which governments should do well. But I agree if they’re also pushing a tough on drugs line that’s different. We want to stop our tax dollars being wasted on clamping down on drug users and dealers so it can be spent on properly nicking the muggers, robbers and rapists.

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 12:32 pm

  44. I know, it was their drug stance which I was refering to as unLibertarian. The Libertarianz, for example, have attacked ACT for it’s drug stance, while supporting a tough on violent crime – a policy which would probably get a lot of support from Libertarians.

    Ken Miles

    December 21, 2006 at 12:46 pm

  45. I am liberal on drugs. But I don’t want dealers following kids as they leave schools and pushing drugs. Maybe a first step would be to allow people who have a licence to sell alcohol to also sell other recreational drugs.

    terjepetersen

    December 21, 2006 at 1:08 pm

  46. There’s about 2 million people jailed in the US for drug related/non-violent crime. It’s a disgrace. Lives are ruined.

    One guy received 25 to life for having more than the requisite number of pain killers in his possession.

    This is what people should hate about America and what stupid laws have down.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 1:14 pm

  47. “As for the Libertarianz, they are the sort of people who give Ayn Rand followers a bad name. If you want close minded fanatics, that’s the place to go.”

    First of all, I think you are thinking of the free radical. I think you are finding the worst you possibly can, in non-officially endorsed stuff. You don’t think it has any decent content like Reason? Come to think of it, you’re thinking of another offshoot, SOLO. But this is only second hand info an Aussie can pick up.

    Their policies may be completely different to everyone else, they poll low but they have a high profile, present their arguments well and try to engage other people.

    Quite frankly, you won’t be seeing stuff like this on the ARI site:

    http://www.freeradical.co.nz/content/reisman/bye_bye_george_reisman.php

    Perrigo also made a personal tribute to NZ’s lefty journos. Can’t see Peikoff doing that.

    That’s not to say that blind followers of Rand can be very unpleasant and act untowardly to political people of even the smallest difference.

    And unfortunately, the US LP have some loonies attached like barnacles, despite having good candidates like Howell.

    Mark Hill

    December 21, 2006 at 2:22 pm

  48. Yobbo: “The problem is that expanding the size of government is the best way to get votes in a representative democracy, because giving people a cash gift usually works (even though they don’t realise it’s just churning their own taxes back to them).”

    That’s exactly what I meant.

    Boris

    December 21, 2006 at 2:36 pm

  49. Homer says: “Aren’t the big parties simply reading what the public’s reaction would be to a ‘Vote for me and I’ll make government less relevant’ platform?”

    And he’s absolutely right. And that is why libertarians SHOULD NOT join a major party. It makes no difference. The major parties have and always will follow the polls and the political winds. Old Lib friends have told me that they just have to go along with the conservative crap for a little while and then they can sneak in the libertarian agenda. 10 years later and we’re still waiting. The conservatives now conservative the statist quo of social democracy and have no stomach for a fight.

    If you want to change the world, you need to change the political winds. And the only way to do that is to get the ideas out there and into the debate. The Liberals hide their ideas. Howard has been gloating about increasing the minimum wage.

    One good way of promoting ideas is a think-tank… another are political organisations… another is a minor political party.

    As yobbo pointed out — the original article is about the US LP & there are key differences between them and the LDP. The first (and most important) is that Australia has compulsory preferential voting (so we don’t take votes from “friendly” parties) & prop rep (so we actually have half a hope in hell). The second is that the LDP is a moderate libertarian party that does not insist on absolute purity. We want to push the boundries a bit (otherwise, what’s the point?) but we aren’t suggesting radical libertopia.

    The value of the LDP is (in decending order of importance) that (1) it provides a libertarian voice; (2) it can direct preferences to less bad candidates; (3) we could get somebody up someday.

    John Humphreys

    December 21, 2006 at 2:39 pm

  50. An apathy club. A set of proscriptions. The sort of dudes who will let you down in an emergency. A band of nutball ideologues….. thats how we’ll be looked upon if we don’t get the strategy right.

    But we need the party. We ought to take a leaf out of the American Communist parties book.

    There they were. A safe house for everyone. A conduit for foreign resources. A refuge for all types of schemers.

    And they managed to place all these people in the State Department and the administration.

    I like the war analogy I made before where the party is the unassailable homeland. And the other parties you radiate out your influence to.

    So you want your guys showing up at any faction meeting at any party in the country. Just to push solutions that reduce governmental depredation no matter what constituency people are aiming at in that facton.

    There is this cool little movie. Probably a ‘bit too clever for its own good’ as Leonard Maltin put it.

    I call it “THE LEGEND OF KAISER SOLCE” but it goes under the name “THE USUAL SUSPECTS”

    At the end when they take out that boat. And they kill everyone on it. And there are all those Hungarians there.

    There’s only maybe four of them. And they get two guys on the inside with pistols. One a sort-of go-between. And they get one guy sniping from far back.

    And on one level it was pretty ridiculous. Like how can four guys take down all these Hungarians who have the run of these boats and vans. But in the end they made it look realistic.

    You have your own party and its just strategy strategy strategy strategy. And you have your people in each faction of each party and in every good place in Blood-Sucker-Central you can place them.

    And you just work on nudging every little centre of power in the direction of party policy and philosophy.

    We have to assume that there is a way to cut this Gordian knot. And that its just a matter of finding it. And exerting enough will power to make it work.

    Lets go for getting some fast results. Or all of us will soon be seriously old.

    Onward.

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 3:18 pm

  51. We ought to take a leaf out of the American Communist parties book … And you just work on nudging every little centre of power in the direction of party policy and philosophy.

    I’m fascinated that conservative thought in this country has been completely hollowed out and occupied by old Marxists, and that “conservatism” is nothing more than the reactionary defence of boorishness. Three problems with Bird’s model for the true believers:

    1. Your hard-core libertarians, your neo-Nietzschean John Galt types will not be working for the Department of Straighteners & Punishers. Oh no. They will be storming out of Macquarie Bank because their 7-figure bonus should be well into eight figues, before the decimal place, and that’s before we start talking about tax. Having stormed out and vented, they will be surrounded by yellow-eyed, green-and-snaggly-teethed, raggedy hobbits like Bird and JC: “You’re just the kind of person we need in the Libertarian Underground!”, they’ll wheeze. The potential libertarian superman of the 21st century confronts having to work with these freaks and hightails it out of there and vows to give up the chemicals that fuel those late night deals.

    2. People who spend their whole lives in government making compromises, doing deals, cutting corners, lose sight of why they’re there. Heroic figures who’ve spent a lifetime shaving as much as 0.5% off government’s share of GDP will ebe ridiculed as Judases and failures by a generation of firebrands who haven’t lost that perspective. Government’s a thankless task, see 1. above.

    3. Moves toward smaller government are countervailed by almost all other political movements, including both of the major parties. Instead of a fitter government, all you end up with is public-sector bulimia where government bloats and purges to no longterm benefit. If John Stanhope had been a libertarian in 2003, the entire philosophy behind smaller government would be completely discredited today.

    Andrew Elder

    December 21, 2006 at 4:12 pm

  52. Very sensible comment here, Andy. That brain stem of yours seems to be firing on all pistons today.

    Do you ever think about a comment before posting it?

    I never thought it possible, but I can actually see you’re getting stupider by each post.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 4:23 pm

  53. And Andy, cop this.

    I sincerely hope the M guys walk with tens of millions in bonuses if they deserve it. Good for them for putting deals together that earn the firm a good spread.

    Why don’t you try doing it one day, Mr. investment banker?

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 4:28 pm

  54. Mark, most of my knowledge of the Libertarianz comes from listening to Lindsay Perigo’s (now dead – I think) radio show. Perigo was a founder of the Libz, the Free Radical and SOLO. He was (at least when I was in NZ) the most (by orders of magnitude) well known Lib (he used to be a quite well known TVNZ presenter). The annoying thing about Perigo is that he is smart and is capable of intelligent writing, yet a large proportion of his radio show and writings consist of simply insulting other people (like calling NZ on Air Nazi’s on Air, and making fun of politicians names). Boring.

    Another thing, the Libz hate ACT (you might try email Perigo and seeing what he thinks about LDP and its less than pure approach – I bet that he isn’t a fan).

    Ken Miles

    December 21, 2006 at 4:55 pm

  55. yeah fair call. a lot of these objectivists are atheists in search of religion. I don’t trust ’em. If I was a Kiwi I’d rather get involved in ACT and try to change their drugs policy.

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 4:59 pm

  56. how do you know elder is an investment banker JC? I wouldn’t have a clue what he does. he could just as well be the hobo in his blogger profile,

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 5:03 pm

  57. I’m just kidding, Jason.

    Elder was saging on one day about some crap- negative shit- obviously jealous that there are people out there who are smarter, more driven and good at spotting good deals.

    From then on I just started to refer to him as Mr. Investment banker.

    he has as much chance being an investment banker as a pet parrot.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 5:42 pm

  58. The guy is casting his beady, jealous eyes at the M guys for making lots of money as though doing so is as easy as pie.

    1/2 the firms employees are now overseas and all major invesmtent banking firms around the world are actually copying their model in certain business lines.

    Meanwhile dip stick throws a grenade their way without giving it even a moments thought what the fuck is happeing in the world. He is truly parthetic.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 5:45 pm

  59. It’s cute that JC has such a romantic view of merchant bankers.

    It’s sad that he has nothing better to do than rise to the baits I place for him (like this: “pathetic” does not have an R in it, but JC fits within it).

    Jason: have you considered that:

    a) as drugs that are prohibited in Australia and other societies attack the rational mind, and diminish it over time, the rationality of having free access to those drugs is questionable?

    b) as the most avid longterm consumers of certain drugs now illegal are not able to engage in productive wealth-generating activity necessary to be able to purchase drugs, that legalising those drugs would do more harm than good to a pro-capitalist society?

    Discuss without reference to alcohol, which has millenia of social conventions associated with it that are lacking with, say, crystal meth.

    Andrew Elder

    December 21, 2006 at 6:11 pm

  60. “The annoying thing about Perigo is that he is smart and is capable of intelligent writing, yet a large proportion of his radio show and writings consist of simply insulting other people (like calling NZ on Air Nazi’s on Air, and making fun of politicians names). Boring.”

    Well Ken.

    The fact is you have to respond to people insulting you. And in those days if you ever came out and went against the Prodeo-type line people would abuse you.

    They would abuse you in 24 hour swarming nazi bullshit.

    So of course 70% of what the guy is going to have to do is abuse them back and keep his head above water.

    Elder can you say something that makes sense.

    And can you try and get in touch with your inner nazi so that you might be able to figure out for your own self just what it is that is bugging you.

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 7:07 pm

  61. Andy

    Do your parents own up to the fact that you’re their kid? I wouldn’t, in a million years.

    I don’t have ramantic view of investment bankers, dickhead. What I was saying is that even the dumbest IB is a million tmes smarter than you.

    You keep making sure people use spell check doofus. Proof reading at 10 bucks an hour at a law firm would be more than capabilities.

    Outside of Blair, it’s interesting that it is brain dead lefties who think pointing out a mispelled word or typo somehow makes up for argument. At least Blair does it with humor.

    Andy, get one thing straight. You’re joke. Your intellectual pretensions are a joke. You have limited abilities other than sounding negative about the world. In short you’re a pathetic little self absorbed twit.

    rest assued I will keep pointing it out.

    What a dickhead you are.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 7:11 pm

  62. “diminish it over time”

    That is highly debatable. But your question does lightly touch on one of my constant ones about libertarianism – what about non-rational actors like children and the insane?

    And your b) question does not apply to libertarians like Jason. Capitalism is the result of freedom, not an end. If more freedom stuffs with some people’s ability to engage in capitalism, libertarians still don’t want to spend other people’s money to help them. Spend your own if you care so much.

    Apologies for speaking for you, Jase. Was I right?

    fatfingers

    December 21, 2006 at 7:12 pm

  63. “children and the insane?”

    Parents and Charity.

    And they’ll be able to do that job bette without all these extra living costs and overheads.

    But in transition we would have to keep one eyeball on such groups all the time and be prepared to be flexible.

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 7:15 pm

  64. Andy says:
    a) as drugs that are prohibited in Australia and other societies attack the rational mind, and diminish it over time, the rationality of having free access to those drugs is questionable?

    Seriously. Can anyone figure what this doofus is saying here. I couldn’t. Please help.

    Andy says:

    b) as the most avid longterm consumers of certain drugs now illegal are not able to engage in productive wealth-generating activity necessary to be able to purchase drugs, that legalising those drugs would do more harm than good to a pro-capitalist society?

    Look at you. You pretend to be sober, yet no one could for a second pretend that you could engage in any useful activity other than breathing and consuming food.

    He tries to prevent someone from using perfectly valid debating tools such as comparative analysis.

    You’re too smart for me andy. You bloody fool.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 7:19 pm

  65. No fats, you’re not right. You mischaracterize the argument by turning it into a typical leftists understanding of what libertarianism is all about.

    Sometimes, though not always I think you and Elder are co-joined twins

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 7:22 pm

  66. Fats

    Well there is well established law that protects kids and the insane.

    Kids are not full adults under the law so contract law etc. is limited unless going through their parents.

    The insane obviously require government assistance.

    And your point is what fatty, that these two ” gems” prove the government has a right to 35% of the economy…. spending $1.5 for every buck spent?

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 7:26 pm

  67. “no one could for a second pretend… ”

    Speak for yourself JC.

    Boris

    December 21, 2006 at 7:30 pm

  68. Ok Boris

    tell me what the idiot was saying in point a) above.

    Not what you think he could be saying, but what he was actually trying to artculate.

    go!

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 7:34 pm

  69. KM:
    >The annoying thing about Perigo is that he is smart and is capable of intelligent writing, yet a large proportion of his radio show and writings consist of simply insulting other people…

    I’ve met La Perigo a few times, and many years ago occasionally debated him on the radio. He can be pretty personable to his enemies actually, and in the inimitable Objectivist fashion is far more likely to drop his basket at his friends. And when Perigo unloads, he makes young Birdy look like John Quiggin. I also posted on his Solo site for about 2-3 years as the token Objecti-critic. He’s quite a good writer, often overblown on air, and has been around the political scene in NZ forever, so knows who’s having who etc. But while quite a performer, his grasp on the various intellectual issues underneath is often sketchy. F’rinstance, he once did a whole one hour national radio show on the apparent evils of something called “deconstructivism”. Which is about as good as me attacking Ayn Rand’s Objectionism, as I cheefully pointed out to him at the time. Perigo was leader of the party for a while, but stood down a few years back.

    I know a couple of Libertarianz, good chaps (crap name tho). But the organisation seems to suffer from precisely the problem Homer suggests. Plus you’re not going to win very many votes on the basis that voters are all a bunch of “sheeple” anyway. Ultimately I suspect it’s too Objecti-fied to win many friends or influence people. It’s just not what they do.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 21, 2006 at 7:35 pm

  70. GMB:
    >WE DON’T NEED TO USE EXACT DUMB-LEFTIST TERMINOLOGY YOU MORON.

    It’s not quibbling over terminology, it’s whether you’ve got at least some faint idea of what you’re talking about.

    Bird, you have all the problems of genius, but none of the advantages!

    Daniel Barnes

    December 21, 2006 at 7:56 pm

  71. Yes well I think he does.

    I think he understands it all rather better then you.

    Because evidently he’s seen through it and pronounced it bullshit and you haven’t.

    And as to that last line……

    As to that last line…….

    STOP TEASING!

    why are people so unkind?

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 8:11 pm

  72. GMB:
    >STOP TEASING!

    Oh, don’t be so sensitive GMB. You’re alright.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 21, 2006 at 8:25 pm

  73. Yeah I know that.

    I remember there used to be this very popular self-help book.

    And the title was:

    “I’m Ok You’re OK”

    How do these snake-oil salesmen sell this crap?

    I suppose its because when we are not at war we are just (culturally speaking) the laziest, sloppiest, fattest, anything-to-look-up-Paris-Hiltons-assholeIST, decadent lame, bunch of UNSCARY Westerners that a bunch of lunatic jihadist and eschatological utopians could ever dream about on their watch.

    And one of the manifestations of this spineless, something-in-the-water culture was that book.

    And when that book came out and got about it made me want to aspire to higher things.

    It made ME want to write a book or two.

    Not because the self-help-helped-self.

    But just because I hated the title.

    I wanted to write a book with the title;

    “I’m Ok….. You’re NOT ok”

    and I wanted to write another which said:

    “IIIIIIIIIIIIII’M ok??….. But face it…… Yooooooooorrrrrrrrrrr….. pretty Fucked!”

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 8:59 pm

  74. JC & fatfingers — both wrong. Fatfingers is correct that some libertarians are only worried about freedom and not as much about the consequences of freedom… but Jason is actually the opposite of that. He has repeatedly disavowed the deontelogical “natural rights” arguments and insists that he bases all of his politics on utilitarian arguments (note: rule-utilitarian). Personally, I care about means & ends.

    Elder — Before this thread diverts into a discussion of drugs policy you might want to investigage (1) what the consequences of drug use have actually been (2) what the effectiveness of drug laws is on usage rates (3) the other impacts from drug LAWS such as more deaths and more crime and (4) rational addiction theory. You criticism of the libertarian position on drugs is understandable… it’s not a popular idea… but it is also clear that you have only a very introductory knowledge of this quite complex debate.

    I’ll have an article on drug laws in the next edition of Policy (www.cis.org.au) that doesn’t mention alcohol.

    Re: ACT & libertarianz… I don’t appreciate the activities of libertarianz. NZ doesn’t have compulsory preferential so they bleed votes from ACT and the spend most of their time attacking ACT (because they know that ACT supporters are the only ones who will listen to them). ACT has done more to promote ideas because people actually listen to and respect them. They’re not pure or perfect, but I think they are valuable and I’m jealous that NZ has such a party.

    John Humphreys

    December 21, 2006 at 9:42 pm

  75. sorry guys I was away getting dinner and getting pissed on German beer. But yeah, between JC and Fatfingers you covered Elders’ points. JC, I don’t think fatty was misrepresenting anyone, he was defending us libertarians.

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 9:42 pm

  76. “He has repeatedly disavowed the deontelogical “natural rights” arguments and insists that he bases all of his politics on utilitarian arguments (note: rule-utilitarian). ”

    Huh? None of which is inconsistent with what fatfingers said, John. If people get unproductive on their own money what concern is it of the rule utilitarian if GDP is down a few %?

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 9:45 pm

  77. I’d like to see any kind of utilitarianism stand up on its own two feet and explain itself without recourse to the hypocritical use of the Hume-nuke.

    Has it ever even been attempted?

    GMB

    December 21, 2006 at 9:58 pm

  78. Utilitarianism doesn’t need Hume, Graeme. Hume is merely to neutralise natural law.

    Jason Soon

    December 21, 2006 at 10:02 pm

  79. John H

    Where is that I am wrong.

    1 Children untlimately receive protection from their parents.

    2. Insane people without family or family refusing to provide for them have to be protected by the state.

    JC.

    December 21, 2006 at 10:05 pm

  80. JC… I wasn’t talking about those issues. I was referring to when you said that fatfingers had a wrong interpretation of Jason.

    I’m not sure that we should have government welfare for anything (including the insane) because I doubt it’s needed and think it will be abused. The level of private charity now could more than cover those truly in need… and when we get rid of income tax then the amount of private charity would be even higher. But I wasn’t trying to open up that debate.

    Jason, when ff said: “Capitalism is the result of freedom” and pointed out that “freedom” was the key, I interpretted him as saying that it was the freedom that was your primary concern.

    John Humphreys

    December 21, 2006 at 10:51 pm

  81. “Utilitarianism doesn’t need Hume, Graeme. Hume is merely to neutralise natural law.”

    Well Hume fails to do this. You cannot neutralise something if the same arguments neutralise everything else as well.

    But I’ve never once seen someone make a positive case for this “philosophy”.

    All they ever DO is pull the Hume-nuke. Which is no argument in the least.

    So I’m beginning to think that its a phony. And just the flimsiest of things. Something you can collapse and throw in the back of a stolen van and beat the fuck out of there throwing a hume-nuke over your shoulder.

    Does it even HAVE a positive justification?

    That is not a redundancy or just plain nihilism?

    I don’t thinkso.

    You won’t justify except in relation to something else.

    Something that you are Hume-nuking.

    Its a fake.

    GMB

    December 22, 2006 at 12:26 am

  82. By the way can we head off a couple of non-argument arguments right off the bat.

    The one which says: Well lets see you refute Hume, you still haven’t refuted Hume.

    Thats a Hume-nuke of some design. Its a non-argument.

    I mean I HAVE refuted him insofar as he relates to this topic. But thats neither here nor there.

    The fact is that argument is worthless and you and Barnes have to stand on your own two feet.

    And then there is another argument. If possible even MORE dishonest.

    Thats the one that goes: Congratulations. You’ve just derived Popper?

    Well thats no argument either. ITS A LIE!

    But the fact that it is indeed a lie is neither here nor there. If I had done that you’d have to toss out your baseless beliefs in Utilitarianism out of loyalty to Popper one supposes.

    But you aint doing that. Because its a lie. But more important then that its just not relevant.

    No-one has ever managed to put up a positive argument for utilitarianism on any thread I’ve been on.

    Its always a Hume-nuke at natural law. Then a bit of a LOOK!!OVER!!THERE!! and then its just assumed that these various schools of thought are the bees knees for pseudo-religious reasons.

    GMB

    December 22, 2006 at 1:27 am

  83. JC: Well there is well established law that protects kids and the insane.

    Well, yes, under our current system. But you are advocating a radically different system, yes? Where such laws are abolished?

    “Kids are not full adults under the law so contract law etc. is limited unless going through their parents.”

    So you are saying that kids are not fully individuals as understood by libertarian doctrine? Ie, they should not be making their own decisions about their own lives?

    “The insane obviously require government assistance.”

    Why obviously? Because the government should take care of those whom no-one else will take care of? Congratulations, you have just implicitly validated the welfare state. How does it feel to be a paternalistic socialist? 😀

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 2:15 am

  84. “Congratulations, you have just implicitly validated the welfare state. How does it feel to be a paternalistic socialist? ”

    Fats. Stop jumping up and down. You get breathless and end up having heart failure at that rate.

    We’re talking about a small number of people who fall into this category. If you think taking care of the insane and orphans is an implicit support for the government controlling 35% of GDP, you have rocks in your head.

    Monetary state support for those problems wouldn’t even count a HP12c at the 5th decimal place. So sit down and relax, you’re breathless again.

    Children obviously are not adults and they are cared for by their parents. What’s your point?

    You need to be awake at this hour and fully functioning before you get anything over me fats. Lie down and go to sleep.

    JC.

    December 22, 2006 at 2:25 am

  85. “So you are saying that kids are not fully individuals as understood by libertarian doctrine? Ie, they should not be making their own decisions about their own lives?”

    I don’t know much about doctrines but I do not know any society where kids are allowed to make decisions about their lives. It would be bizarre if they did.

    Boris

    December 22, 2006 at 2:27 am

  86. JC: “Fats. Stop jumping up and down. You get breathless and end up having heart failure at that rate.”

    Obviously you haven’t seen the photos from the Clock grogblogging – I’m not actually fat. But what does it say about you that you have to attack me for my supposed physique?

    “If you think taking care of the insane and orphans is an implicit support for the government controlling 35% of GDP”

    Whoah. I said nothing about government share of GDP. “Welfare state” doesn’t denote any percentage in particular. You have admitted that the government should provide welfare. Therefore you support the welfare state. Live with it, you filthy socialistic statist.

    “You need to be awake at this hour and fully functioning before you get anything over me fats.”

    Isn’t it time for you to have a Bex and a good lie down? Perhaps some milk of magnesia? Possibly cod liver oil?

    Boris: “I do not know any society where kids are allowed to make decisions about their lives.”

    a) Therefore there is a limit to this ‘individual responsibility’. Therefore there is a point where paternalism has a place. Ergo, the debate should be about where that point kicks in. What 98.6% of Australian voters think is that that point is far closer than what libertarians think.

    b) So you believe parents own their children? Serious question.

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 2:47 am

  87. “Obviously you haven’t seen the photos from the Clock grogblogging – I’m not actually fat. But what does it say about you that you have to attack me for my supposed physique?”

    Nothing, seeing that only your fingers are fat. I have nothing against fat people, as some of my best friends a porkers. Stop trying to lay the guilt trip one me, porks. It doesn’t work. I know you’re not fat.

    Whoah. I said nothing about government share of GDP. “Welfare state” doesn’t denote any percentage in particular. You have admitted that the government should provide welfare. Therefore you support the welfare state. Live with it, you filthy socialistic statist.
    Not so fast, porky. There are instances like these where people are unable to care for themselves. If charity doesn’t bridge the gap this classification of people need to be taken care of, by the state. I have admitted that government many need to provide care on a very limited basis. That isn’t a welfare state. And you’re not debating within an honest framework. It argues very little against libertarianism.

    “Isn’t it time for you to have a Bex and a good lie down? Perhaps some milk of magnesia? Possibly cod liver oil?”
    No.
    “b) So you believe parents own their children? Serious question. “
    for christs sake, porks. We don’t own kids we take care of them until they reach young adult hood. Jessh, you do need spoon feeding of cod liver oil, porks.

    In any event government taking say 10% of GNP is ok with me.

    JC.

    December 22, 2006 at 2:58 am

  88. “Stop trying to lay the guilt trip one me, porks [a derogatory term for fat people]… I know you’re not fat.”

    Right. You are quite confused, aren’t you?

    “this classification of people need to be taken care of, by the state. I have admitted that government many need to provide care on a very limited basis. That isn’t a welfare state.”

    Really? Others (ie, everyone) would disagree.

    Again, “welfare state” can cover a wide range of options, including your “very limited basis”. Face it – you’re a lefty. A self-hating one to boot.

    “We don’t own kids we take care of them until they reach young adult hood.”

    Apart from the fact that no-one was asking you, your response still doesn’t grapple the hard question – when are people individuals that should not have decisions made for them? And your glib response leads to all sorts of questions – at what point has a child reached “young adulthood”? Does a child have property rights? Can a parent violate those rights? Can a minor run away from home without being forceably returned? Can an adult “taking care” of a child do whatever they want with them? Consider physical punishment, child labour, prostitution, incest, in your answer to that one.

    The basis of adults taking care of children is that the parents know better than the child, act for the long-term good of the child, can protect the child from harm. How is that different from a government in its relationship with a citizen?

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 3:15 am

  89. “There are instances like these where people are unable to care for themselves. If charity doesn’t bridge the gap this classification of people need to be taken care of, by the state.”

    The proper libertarian position is “If charity doesn’t bridge the gap, then oh well tough shit.”

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 3:17 am

  90. To get a flavour of the Libertarianz, here’s Perigo reviewing Hayek’s “Fatal Conceit”:

    http://www.freeradical.co.nz/content/34/34perigo.php

    Daniel Barnes

    December 22, 2006 at 4:50 am

  91. GMB:
    >“IIIIIIIIIIIIII’M ok??….. But face it…… Yooooooooorrrrrrrrrrr….. pretty Fucked!”

    “I Was OK, Until A Self Help Book Fucked Me Up.”

    Daniel Barnes

    December 22, 2006 at 5:02 am

  92. Yeah I can’t get with that.

    I mean the fatal conceit is a magnificent little volume. Shows a real depth of understanding of society.

    I think its the first place I ever read the concept of ‘weasel-words’.

    Its true that Hayek just goes as far as he possibly can square it to compromise with the left.

    Its as though he’s saying LOOK. EVEN BY YOUR OWN LITES HOW CAN YOU NOT ACCEPT AT LEAST THIS?

    And he compromises as far as he can square it with himself. Or at least thats how it looks.

    Like Friedman the elder.

    If people really understood economics the Friedman/Hayek level of right-wing-ness would be about the outer limit of how much you could accept from someone without inferring bad motives.

    Except in transition of course.

    But anything economically left of what I assume was a compromise peace-offering by these guys and you have to impute some ignorance of economics or people just playing silly-buggers.

    I understand why they acted this way and I suppose we needed at least a couple of people taking that approach.

    But whats annoying about the Perigo link is that Perigo actually persuaded someone NOT to read that book.

    I mean thats just embarrassing dogmatism.

    I mean he might have a valid point but you want as many people reading that little book as you can get.

    GMB

    December 22, 2006 at 8:15 am

  93. ff — there is no “proper” libertarian position. Many libertarians would agree with JC that there is some limited role for government.

    It is silly and counter-productive to try and hold libertarians to an absolute level of agreement on all issues and total purity. We disagree. We argue about which government policies are unnecessary and which are necessary (evils). But we are united in believing that freedom matters and that government is currently too big.

    Havings said that — personally I take the “tough shit” approach, though I would word it differently. If you can give me an estimate for how many disabled people with no friends & family there is I’ll give you an estimate for the total amount of voluntary charity expected in a low-tax world and we can calculate how much each poor chap gets. It won’t be zero.

    John Humphreys

    December 22, 2006 at 9:32 am

  94. Andrew brings up the subject of Crystal Meth, which is fortunate because the very existence of Crystal Meth is a failure of the war on drugs.

    Crystal Meth is a cheaper, easier to make substitute for safer drugs like Amphetamine and (particularly) Cocaine.

    Anyone who’s ever asked knows that Cocaine is really, really expensive in Australia compared to everywhere else in the world, because we are so far from the source. Meth, on the other hand, you can make in your backyard – and that’s where most of it comes from.

    Clubbers taking meth is the stimulant form of alcoholics drinking Metho when Single-Malt Scotch is banned or too expensive.

    If Cocaine was legal nobody would take Meth.

    The sad part is that Meth is more dangerous, more addictive and causes more psychotic side-effects than either of the 2 drugs it replaces.

    This is what the drug war does. It takes an existing problem, and makes it infinitely worse.

    People will always take drugs. They have done for millions of years and will continue to do so for millions more. It’s only in the last 100 years that we have been so conceited and foolish to think we could stop them. And the history of our efforts to stop it has been one miserable, tragic failure after another – from prohibition creating the modern organised crime syndicate to the huge numbers of imprisonments and executions around the world today.

    The “War On Drugs” has been an unmitigated failure everywhere, and always will be. Anyone who still supports it is simply flogging a long dead, decomposing horse.

    yobbo

    December 22, 2006 at 9:41 am

  95. “The proper libertarian position is “If charity doesn’t bridge the gap, then oh well tough shit.”

    But fatfingers. These people suffer from the most hateful series of measures reducing the voluntary accumulation and updating of capital goods.

    Hateful and vile because the measures I speak of aren’t done to help these people. They are done for the purpose of thieving. They are done as a sort of institutional imperative that swamps our elected representatives.

    They are done as the result of a sort of mindless current that flows one way perhaps 8 out of every 9 years.

    Ultimately what we want for such people is to near-maximise the voluntary accumulation of capital goods creating a permanent shortage of labour at the lower end.

    And the other thing we want is to get rid of all those hateful measures (and they are legion) that stop the cost of living from falling.

    And this not only enables the handicapped people themselves but it enables also those people who wish to help them.

    Now it matters I think the order of unravelling of all this depredation. And in our fast unravelling of all this hate, contempt and compulsion we must always keep one eyeball on those who are vulnerable and those who are struggling.

    And we must think of any measure we can that does not itself increase governmental depredation to avoid an utilitarian catastrophe, even if its within just a certain sector of society.

    And if our creativity in how to do this fails us one imagines we might take a backward step and allow for the very short term some extra depredation in this one area, so long as we were cutting it back in others, and so long as the measure taken contains within it a term-limiting aspect to it.

    Think of it in 50 years time. And think if we make great gains in the interim. But through a lack of charity the left makes a comeback.

    So we get our freedom and then we find ourselves just a little bit callous towards our mmore unfortunate neighbours and that turns out to be the inroads that the slave philosophers need to make a comeback.

    How do you think we would feel then?

    That we had it all and that through a pig-headed and smug lack of kindness we lost it all again?

    Thats not going to happen.

    But if it did how would we feel about it?

    We’d feel like shit and we’d be right to feel like shit.

    GMB

    December 22, 2006 at 9:57 am

  96. “It is silly and counter-productive to try and hold libertarians to an absolute level of agreement on all issues and total purity.”

    I was trying to get at the issue of consistency with JC, not deriding him for being impure.

    “But we are united in believing that freedom matters and that government is currently too big.”

    By that definition, even I am a libertarian. I wrote some time ago that Right and Left have almost no real meaning anymore because of semantic problems. Looks like Libertarian is heading that way too.

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 10:01 am

  97. Poor Andrew
    so naive. Thinks that taking drugs reduces productive ability. He’s obviously never been to eastern suburbs parties. Lots of highly productive people there taking all manners of illicit drugs. Maybe he only goes to CWA balls.

    And secondly as I’ve said I don’t care about loss of productivity as long as it is mostly internalised (i.e. the individual bears all the cost).

    And thirdly even if some of it isn’t, that doesn’t mean current policies are better because they involve externalisation of the costs of prohibition in terms of policing and jail space.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:09 am

  98. golly gee Jase you certainly have shown us a good correlation there.

    Hate to tell you but 1 & 2 are in contradiction.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 22, 2006 at 10:16 am

  99. Nope Homer they aren’t in contradiction.

    I am demonstrating that even under a wide variety of assumptions favourable to the interlocutor, his arguments don’t necessarily hold.

    You need to get a better grasp of logic and rhetoric.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:19 am

  100. Anything of a slow-release nature short of PCP can be released and marketed right away without ill effect.

    It will save us a ton of resources. But some of those resources will need to go into stopping our enlightened policies spilling out into the neighbourhood. With our citizens smuggling the cheap stuff into places where they wind up at the end of a rope.

    GMB

    December 22, 2006 at 10:29 am

  101. ‘But some of those resources will need to go into stopping our enlightened policies spilling out into the neighbourhood. With our citizens smuggling the cheap stuff into places where they wind up at the end of a rope.’

    Well, if they’re that foolish, that’s their problem. But if I’m not mistaken one thing that could stop us legalising drugs is United N(azis) conventions.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:32 am

  102. no worries Jase illicit drugs can give higher productivity but they might leads to lower productivity.

    I can see the logic there.

    You are also assuming people under the influence of said drugs have no effect on other people which externalises the problem.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 22, 2006 at 10:39 am

  103. “no worries Jase illicit drugs can give higher productivity but they might leads to lower productivity.”

    WTF??? No Homer that’s not what I said. Bloody hell, you can be obtuse.

    I said there is a huge underground of people who take illicit drugs and do not fit your stereotype of a drug user, and who do not get caught precisely because they do not fit your stereotype (and by implication those sad sack cases who do tend to be people who are crims or pathological cases already leading to the association between drug use and criminality/low productivity). They are everyday people who take the occasional e and coke at parties every few months, are not addicted and hold down regular jobs. They form a more representative sample of drug users than those who get caught for doing it along with other things.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:46 am

  104. ‘You are also assuming people under the influence of said drugs have no effect on other people which externalises the problem’

    What effect? partying all night and having to take the next day off work?

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:48 am

  105. Homer, for the love of God, don’t take drugs when we get around to legalising them. You labour under enough constraints as it is:-)

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 10:48 am

  106. Poor Jason, thinks that condescention can substitute for argument.

    All retailers know that you don’t make your money from large numbers of occasional users. You make your money from committed customers, and as you can see from my earlier post I was referring to them.

    The individual committed customer bears the cost until their capacity to turn their labour and assets into cash. Then they become parasitic, begging or thieving. You might argue that liberalisation would lower prices, but price is meaningless to the person whose desire for a product exceeds their productive capacity. Liberalisation would make for more of these people, not fewer.

    Besides (or from the point of view of your pretensions to cool: Worse), it would destroy the illicit thrill that currently comes from the “underground” you describe. Do you really want those fabulous creatures thrust blinking into the sunlight? Didn’t think so.

    The impetus for drug control comes from the US, not the UN, as we break UN protocols with impunity. Their ambassador goes state premiers for decriminalising cannabis use, yet the Afghan fields that yield 85% of the world’s heroin crop are protected by US forces. I don’t understand it either, and while the status quo is nobody’s idea of an ideal system, you seem to be proposing a reckless (and yes, contradictory) solution.

    Given the ageing demographic of CWA members I doubt they’d do dances any more, but developing social policy to reality is, like, so uncool.

    Andrew Elder

    December 22, 2006 at 11:19 am

  107. “price is meaningless to the person whose desire for a product exceeds their productive capacity. ”

    Are you saying that no matter what price drugs are available at, some people will always be able to consume more than they can afford?

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 11:31 am

  108. Andrew
    You don’t get addicted to cocaine, e and dope. Heroin is a tougher case. Your nightmare scenario is only relevant to heroin.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 11:32 am

  109. “Your nightmare scenario is only relevant to heroin.”

    So ours because that’s what he’s been on.

    Andy great post as always.

    JC.

    December 22, 2006 at 11:34 am

  110. “You don’t get addicted to cocaine, e and dope.”

    Actually, cocaine is addictive. Pot isn’t clear-cut, but psychological dependence rather than physical addiction is the danger. I don’t know about ecstasy.

    Legalise them all.

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 11:40 am

  111. I would classify cocaine addiction as more psychological than physiological ultimately. so the person who stops use has to tough out a period of low for a while. Not on the same league as heroin. I know people who just indulge in cocaine every few months. I don’t see cocaine leading to street junkie type of addiction like what Andrew is painting.

    Jason Soon

    December 22, 2006 at 11:44 am

  112. It’s still real for all that, more likely if prices fall (because criminal gangs will all just give up, join hands and sing a happy tune). Add crystal meth too Jason and you et a scenario that just aint pretty.

    Now let’s look at it politically. The hard-to-organise occasional-user demographic won’t thank you for stripping away the cachet from their recreation. Large numbers of voters/taxpayers/property owners will resist the prospect of drug abuse becoming more prevalent – purchasing desire outstrips capacity to pay at endemic levels as it is, without adding another legal product to the mix. Major parties would flee from those who’d advocate such a proposition.

    Sometimes you have to know when to let go of a dumb idea. Drug use is the frontier of rationalism and liberalism cannot shirk it.

    Andrew Elder

    December 22, 2006 at 12:12 pm

  113. Are you saying that no matter what price drugs are available at, some people will always be able to consume more than they can afford?

    I’m saying that people will be motivated to consume regardless of purchasing power, and will rationalise unproductive – indeed, counterproductive – measures like theft or burglary or self-harm in order to obtain the means for consumption. The more so the freer this product becomes.

    Andrew Elder

    December 22, 2006 at 12:15 pm

  114. So here we have it. The Elder Thesis.

    The reason there are 2 million jailed in the US on drug related crimes is not because the high price of drugs is due to illegality.

    Andy is saying drug related crime wouldn’t come down if we made drugs legal. In fact in Elders universe freeing up drugs would actually increase crime.

    No thought given to the fact serious drug users is a small fraction of total users and that figure wouldn’t change with or without drug laws. The one thing that would change is the price.

    Andy, you’re bozo. A first rate numb nut.

    And by the way, your earlier thesis that alcohol is more socially acceptable and therefore allows us to deal with its problems in a more effective way is a load of shit.
    It wasn’t that long ago we had 6 o’clock closing. It wasn’t that long ago the US had prohibition. Alcohol has never really had a safe journey through our society.

    No wonder the liberal party booted you.

    JC.

    December 22, 2006 at 12:50 pm

  115. I can’t tell whether Andrew is ignoring stuff he knows or he doesn’t know the facts.

    A hit of heroin costs about $0.50 to produce.

    Legalise it (all drugs actually) and even the most miserly dole bludger’s productivity will be able to pay for this. There will be a dramatic fall in burglaries etc.

    Legalisation will see the violent criminal element fall out completely. The murder rate in the US doubled after alcohol was prohibited. It halved after prohibition was abolished.

    The only association organised crime now has with legal narcotics is the smuggling and murder related to the evasion of excise. Which is a timely reminder to those who wish to legalise heroin and pot and to tax the billy-o out of it.

    Mark Hill

    December 22, 2006 at 12:54 pm

  116. “if prices fall (because criminal gangs will all just give up, join hands and sing a happy tune).”

    The point being that criminal gangs won’t be involved – it won’t be criminal any more, and therefore the profit margins that arise under prohibition won’t be there, thereby making it not worth their while.

    “The hard-to-organise occasional-user demographic won’t thank you for stripping away the cachet from their recreation”

    Clearly you are not a drug user and have no idea. Drugs are taken because they are fun, not because they are illegal. Kids may try drugs because of illicit appeal/rebelling/whatever, but if fewer kids try drugs because they are legal, that is an argument in favour of legalisation.

    “Large numbers of voters/taxpayers/property owners will resist the prospect of drug abuse becoming more prevalent”

    Will they? Will drug abuse become more prevalent anyway? Proof and/or reasoning, please.

    “purchasing desire outstrips capacity to pay at endemic levels as it is, without adding another legal product to the mix.”

    What a bizarre argument! “Let’s not have any new products please, someone might want to buy them.”

    “theft or burglary or self-harm in order to obtain the means for consumption.”

    Those problems are a result of the high price of illegal drugs. If the price drops through legalisation, then those problems are reduced.

    “The more so the freer this product becomes.”

    That line is contrary to all rationality.

    fatfingers

    December 22, 2006 at 1:01 pm

  117. “I can’t tell whether Andrew is ignoring stuff he knows or he doesn’t know the facts.”

    Wrong. Andy doesn’t understand the facts.

    JC.

    December 22, 2006 at 1:06 pm

  118. GMB:
    >But whats annoying about the Perigo link is that Perigo actually persuaded someone NOT to read that book.

    What’s annoying is the generic mindlessness of the criticism, perhaps its nadir being the Hayek/Hitler equation.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 23, 2006 at 12:57 pm

  119. No its the fact that he persuaded someone not to read the book. Get it right. The criticisms do have some currency in that Hayek is trying to bend over backwards for these socialists.

    But it takes more then one type of soldier to win a war. And Perigo ought to be able to understand that we have to have a man kicking ass in every forum.

    Its as if he is saying that the only arguments you can even make are the objectivist arguments.

    But we want the consequentialist arguments to be made as well.

    One has to be a bit careful that one doesn’t leave the impression that utilitarianism is the be all and end all.

    GMB

    December 23, 2006 at 3:10 pm

  120. GMB:
    >Its as if he is saying that the only arguments you can even make are the objectivist arguments.

    That’s right. And if you don’t make them…you’re Hitler!

    Daniel Barnes

    December 23, 2006 at 3:55 pm

  121. yobbo: “People will always take drugs. They have done for millions of years and will continue to do so for millions more.”

    Not if global warming or terrorists kill us all first. 🙂

    Andrew admits that prohibition causes price rises which will lead to more crime. And it is well known that prohibition leads to more deaths through inconsistent quality. So he wants less freedom, more crime & more deaths… all for the benefit of smugly being able to tell others how to live their lives. Sad.

    And even though yobbo explained how crystal meth is an example of the costs of prohibition… andrew somehow cites crystal meth as evidence that legalisation wouldn’t work! And then he somehow wants us to believe that he’s rational. Strange.

    And of course he ignores the fact that prohibition keeps organised criminals in work, leads to more corruption, wastes police & courts & jail resources, makes little difference to usage rates etc. But why let reality get in the way of good old-fashioned paternalism.

    My drugs article (called “freedom from choice”) is in the latest issue of “policy magazine” but it’s not online. Go and buy a copy at all good newsagents. 🙂

    And fatfingers… the word “libertarian” is not meaningless just because you associate yourself with it. When you first started debating at the ALS you called yourself a “left-libertarian” and you’re probably closer to the LDP than any other party, so I’m not suprised you have some sympathies with freedom.

    John Humphreys

    December 23, 2006 at 6:49 pm

  122. Whilst libs believe that drugtaking would be cost effective if liberalised the costs of the legal drug alcohol have been put at 1%-3% GDP which is a fair whack and whilst the costs of alcohol currently eclipse those of drugs who knows what the consequences would be if dope was legal.

    http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/economic_costs_benefits.pdf

    http://www.nida.nih.gov/economiccosts/Chapter1.html

    rog

    December 23, 2006 at 7:40 pm

  123. if the benefits of prohibition were worth the costs people would be paid to not take drugs or drink and be tested by whoever was paying them…and only receive the incentive if they stuck to it…

    theres no co-ordination problem here so no reason to make a collective decision…

    nuff said…

    c8to

    December 24, 2006 at 12:16 am


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