Liberal = Labor = Big Government

It’s really amusing to me when I hear people passionately arguing that either Liberal or Labor is better. The truth is, both parties are almost exactly the same. And there’s a good, scientific reason for this. Both parties need to appeal to the populist centre of politics. They have no principles. If they did, they would never get elected.

Politicians who pretend to be enemies in public frequently cooperate behind the scenes in sharing the spoils of government.

26 thoughts on “Liberal = Labor = Big Government

  1. Sukrit, I agree. What is the solution? Do libertarians not try to do the political thing and attempt to achieve change by other means? I’m seriously asking.

    I’m tending toward a minor party getting something like a consistent enduring 7-10% following across the nation as the only viable political means to advance pro-freedom policy. Things like the ALS and think tanks etc help, but I’m talking about something that can directly apply some force to the legislative cogs of society.

    Next step, I think you need to give people something to believe in, or something to hold on to. I don’t think libertarianism can cut it in terms of getting that 7-10%. The Greens are a good example, they almost give people a new religion if they want it, appeal to the benign left and a bit to the disinterested but frustrated, and have their core constituency of hard lefties (maybe 1-2% of total supporters). Ron Paul is a good example of a relatively consistent philosophy not connecting to a level which would make him effective (at least anymore) – and he’s probably the best that the libertarian movement has.

  2. Hey Sukrit. Try and think a little more before you put up a post.

    Name one pro business piece of legislation the current Rudd government has offered up? One.

    It’s not just the spending, although that is important it is also the type of spending and the laws they make that is important. So yes, there is a friggen difference between the parties.

    Are you somehow going to tie this up by blaming the US as I’m sure you could find a link in there somewhere.

  3. JC… the ALP has taken steps towards greater school choice and a voucher-type scheme, has introduced means-testing to decrease welfare to the middle class, and their IR “reform” (sic) has included the right to fire people after one warning.

    Meanwhile, the Liberals have argued for more welfare.

    I’m not saying the ALP is better than the Liberals. But the constant assumption that the Liberals are better than the ALP simply isn’t supported by evidence. Howard was the highest taxing, highest spending PM in Australian history. If they want to get the support of libertarians they should have to earn it, and they haven’t done that.

  4. I support the Liberal party because I am involved in the young and student Liberals and see where the future of the party is headed. You will struggle to find the kind of big government conservatives you do in parliament. Plus with (some what) classical liberal’s potentially spear heading the party such as Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Costello I don’t see why others aren’t a little more optimistic. Howard is gone ladies and gentlemen.

  5. Jarryd, the ALSF has had libertarian influence for ages… it makes no difference to the adult party. They are more interested in polls than principles.

    And Costello was treasurer while we had the highest taxing, highest spending government in history, so that doesn’t sound promising.

    I note that one of the Liberals main issues is still increasing welfare. They argued for this earlier in the year too.

    The Liberals deserve no support from people who believe in free-markets and/or civil liberties, and the idea that a merry bunch of 18 year olds are about to “reform the party” has been around for ever and has always failed. You may as well all jump over and try to improve the ALP… at least they gave us the micro-economic reform of the 1980s.

    The definition of insanity is people who continue doing the exact same thing expecting a different result.

  6. JC, for once I disagree with you and agree with Sukrit.

    In addition to what Temujin Humphpreys mentioned, the Rudd government has abolished the wheat single desk.

    The Labor government in NSW wanted to privatise Snowy Hydro but was stopped by Howard. It wanted to privatise electricity generators in NSW but was stopped by NSW Liberals. It was the Liberals that brought in authoritarian gun laws and Labor that floated the dollar and deregulated the financial markets.

    There are differences at the margins between the two parties, and some can loom quite large if they affect you personally. But overall the distinction is more in their rhetoric than their actions. I agree they are equally bad. If the religious Right continues to gain the upper hand in the Liberals, Labor might even emerge as a better choice.

  7. Jarryd has a valid point. There is a huge difference between the younger members of the Liberals and the younger ALP members – the former are pro-freedom and the latter are old-fashioned statists.

    However, majority voting ensures that compromise has to be accepted the higher up the chain you go.

    The exceptions to this are when the circumstances are dire – e.g. when Thatcher and Reagan came to power. Then they could pursue radical agendas.

    Temujin – you do not give sufficient credit to the economic policies of Costello and Howard – they kept spending constant as a % of GDP. Contrast that to the situation in the UK and the US where spending has soared. Be thankful for small mercies.

  8. Michael Sutcliffe-
    Why not just start up The Gold Party?
    Colour and cause all in one label! It works for the Greens.
    If you stand for a return to sound money, especially in these jittery days, you should get lots of support!

  9. JC… the ALP has taken steps towards greater school choice and a voucher-type scheme, has introduced means-testing to decrease welfare to the middle class, and their IR “reform” (sic) has included the right to fire people after one warning.

    I wanna see it before I believe it. …. vouchers. They’re choice of some parts of the school curriculum such as history doesn’t exactly inspire me at the moment. I have read about it, but I want to see more of their outline before I agree and I will if it true that they introduce vouchers.

    I also want to see what exactly they mean by being allowed to fire someone after one warning. What if the offense is serious like someone turning up drunk for work and doesn’t deserve any warning except immediate dismissal. This is much chop to be honest.

    Meanwhile, the Liberals have argued for more welfare.

    Lets see what the new guy says about things.

    I’m not saying the ALP is better than the Liberals. But the constant assumption that the Liberals are better than the ALP simply isn’t supported by evidence. Howard was the highest taxing, highest spending PM in Australian history. If they want to get the support of libertarians they should have to earn it, and they haven’t done that.

    Not in terms of personal take, I don’t think. Howard was a big government conservative. Lets see what this guy comes up with as he looks promising.

    I agree with Pom. UK Labor has destroyed the country. Leftists by definition love to spend money and controls lives. One wishes the liberal party kept to it manifesto

  10. Abso-positively.
    There’s bugger all difference between Liberal and Labour.

    There are definitely perceived differences in our society. But that just shows how politically ignorant and emotionalist most people are these days.

    I think politics simply reflects the common ideologies of today, ie: Kantian style rationalism, and in terms of ethics, altruism.
    So I don’t think it’s entirely true to say it lacks principles.

    In addition, I agree with Temujin and David about the Liberal party. I see very little evidence that the Liberal party is committed to economic freedom and capitalism. They love the welfare state and government intervention.
    Although, I am hoping that Turnball will have a positive influence, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Also, the rise of the Greens and Family First parties are both very worrying and depressing.

    The sucess of the environmental movement on whole should be studied and copied. Environmentalist ideology has grown continually and is now ingrained into our culture from a very early age.

  11. I was watching question time the other day. Lindsay Tanner and Wayne Swan were both slamming the Liberals over their spending proposals (in particular, pensions). Tanner even pointed out to the Liberals that there is no “government magic pudding” and they both discussed the importance of running a balanced budget that is in surplus.

    Labor and Liberal don’t care about ideology. But they do care about their core demographics. If pensioners and businesses are doing it tough, expect Liberal to propose a raft of new spending measures. If working families are doing it tough, expect the same from Labor.

    As for the ALSF- I’m a member of MULC (arguably the most libertarian member of ALSF) and even during the recent student elections we ran on a non-political, vote-grabbing platform. The ALSF might believe in freedom, but they don’t stand up for freedom except behind closed doors.

  12. Incidentally, I believe that the best way for a libertarian party to grow in Australia is by having the best, most practical ideas. Australia is a Benthamite political society- ideology doesn’t work here the way it works in America. Libertarians won’t be elected because of their ideology, they will be elected because they give the best results.

  13. For fucksake can people just wake up. The Hawke government was a fucking outlier. I would argue the financial reforms of the Hawke government weren’t optional.

    Floating the aussie meant they had to deregulate the interest market as you couldn’t have interest controls with a floating currency. that meant they had to lay off the banks etc….

    Whitlam was a socialist disaster and the previous set of clowns from the left wanted to nationalize the banks.

    This clown hasn’t produced one single bit of economic reform that could be considered market friendly.

    To even suggest these parties are similar is laughable in the extreme.

    This is where we hit problems. I think that anyone who suggests the large parties are similar are shallow thinkers or lefties disguised as libertarians like Sukrit and fatfingers.

  14. Shem, we need attention-grabbing policies so that people will vote for us in the first place! If we start at the local County level, we’ll gain experience, and people will be able to look at our small successes, and decide we can be trusted with large things!
    That’s why I think our name should be The Gold Party. It is a colour that people like, it shows one of our central likes (metal-backed currencies), and even hints that we’re in favour of fair and free trade (the ‘golden’ rule.)
    First, get their attention. THEN, you can get their agreement.

  15. Hi Jarryd,

    Good luck for a least having a go and getting engaged – which is more than most ‘yoof’ do.

    Your blog paints you as a fairly eclectic sort of person and I liked your post on Student Activism.

    All the best.

  16. “Name one pro business piece of legislation the current Rudd government has offered up? One.”

    Are you fucking serious? You think Labour Unions aren’t just another business? $600 a year for a sausage sizzle?

  17. Nicholas, we can have attention grabbing policies that are potentially popular and have a sound libertarian foundation.

    What about: Fight for the Dole- anyone on the dole for more than 18 months is conscripted for 12 months?

  18. Go for Gold!!!
    It’s Gold to Australia!!
    Have a Gold-plated future!
    They seem even more appealing than ‘Service guarantees Citizenship!’
    Whilst your idea has some merit, maybe it should be half-and-half. Half a year of Dole-payouts means halh a year of Community service, which could include military training.

  19. This clown hasn’t produced one single bit of economic reform that could be considered market friendly.
    .
    Temujin did.
    .
    Those who say there’s a significant difference between mainstream parties put far too much stock in rhetoric and not enough into what’s going on and who makes it go on. If you examine the average campus you’ll see the ALP and the LPA competing for pretty much the same sort of student – amoral technocrats. In campus elections you’ll see the ALP-Right with the Libs versus everyone else.
    .
    Those who might think that these are the responsible people might be sobered up by various anecdotes of corruption and mismanagement. Melbourne University’s student was bankrupted a few years back by the ALP Right.
    .
    But whatever.
    .
    The political spectrum you have now is divided into careerists and idealists. Sorry guys but according to that spectrum that puts the LDP on the same side as the Greens. The careerists are interested in a job. They perform the job as an exercise in cynical electoral management (ie lies, obfuscation and shady deals) with their eye on post-parliamentary cushy positions on their corporate masters whom they’ve been serving. The political model of the 21st century is a Corporatocracy.
    .
    The ideological battles of the 20th century are over. Only the fringe fights ’em. You guys in the name of Small Government Liberalism, the Greens in the name of Democratic Socialism. To be effective you have to learn from the Greens, that is threaten the mainstream where it hurts: votes. This in the hope that they’ll try and steal your thunder.

  20. I agree with the post all the way.

    jc – kevin rudd kept the liberals tax cuts (as puny as they were)

    Now, having said that, *if* Turnbull makes a firm commitment to totally abandon all environmental regulations, and to slash + simplify taxes, then he is putting some space between himself and Rudd.

  21. *if* Turnbull makes a firm commitment to totally abandon all environmental regulations..
    .
    He’ll be going back to the private sector smartly. Jeez. Name one politician who succeeded by maintaining ideological purity ever.

  22. JC… you seem very quick to trust every new Liberal (despite having no historical reason to do so) and very slow to accept positive moves from the ALP (despite the fact that they’ve done more for freedom than the Liberals have in the past 30 years). Andrew Norton & Jason Soon was the ones talking about the good steps by ALP in education. And note DavidL’s comments about the Liberals blocking privatisation.

    I also used to have an instinctive pro-Liberal bias. It was because the Liberals say they believe in markets and the media (being as dumb as they are) keep repeating that absurd link because many in the media (being as dumb as they are) hate markets and hate Liberals so they want to link the two things together. But I’ve long since been “mugged by reality” when it comes to mainstream politics.

    And to suggest Sukrit (a radical libertarian) isn’t libertarian because he doesn’t prefer the Liberals is both childish and absurd.

    Having said that — we can only hope that Turnbull does take the party in a relatively better direction. Hope is good. But automatically selling your sould to a party that has failed 99/100 is not a smart way to allocate your political allegience. And by not being a swinging voter, you make yourself irrelevant to politics.

    Pommy — the Howard/Costello crew did not maintain the size of government as a percent of GDP. They increased it. It’s just hard to tell from budget papers because they counted the GST as a state tax, and yet it was used to replace various federal taxes (most importantly, the WST).

    What Howard/Costello did well is the macro-economics. They maintained budget surpluses and they paid down foreign debt. Kudos. And they didn’t unwind the good micro-economic reform from the Hawke years… so we were able to reap the benefits from that.

    But I doubt if more than three people in the Liberal/National parliament understand the first thing about micro-economic reform. They understand polling data. They understand giving pork to marginal seats. They understand the religious-right. But they don’t understand the concept of liberal economics or civil liberties.

    Occasionally the Liberals may be better than the ALP. Well, probably 50% of the time. But the amount of faith that some here place in the Liberals defies all rational analysis of what is going on in Australian politics.

  23. John

    as I said, we’re taking an outlier, Hawke and using him to extrapolate the rest. I really don’t thing we can do that, especially when labor for a good part of it’s history favored nationalization of the banking industry.

    It was only in the 80’s when they recognized private enterprise. I am aware of what Rudd is doing in education and eagerly await the final result.

    But as I said if people are looking for more economic freedom from these guys they’re sorely going to be disappointed. Rudd himself has said in various speeches to the CIS that he doesn’t support free markets (more or less) and he truly shows a unique understanding of Hayek.

    And to suggest Sukrit (a radical libertarian) isn’t libertarian because he doesn’t prefer the Liberals is both childish and absurd.

    Well he shows all the traits of intellectual double standards we always see from lefties. His US posts were sheer nonsense for the most part. The US makes some pretty big mistakes to to suggest it’s some sort of empire- evil empire is lunacy.

    The liberals have some unsavory religious right types supporting them, but i would take them any day to a smug, inner city leftie as a voter.

  24. JC… I’m not arguing that ALP is good. I’m arguing that the Liberals are bad.

    I think Whitlam was Australia’s worst PM (with the possible exception of Barton & Deakin, who kicked off the whole white-australia, regulated-labour, protectionism thing).

    I think Hawke was the best.

    If the best thing we have to say about the Liberals is that they are better than Whitlam, then that just re-enforces how much they are not on our side.

  25. Like others have said, Jarryd, I got my first tastes of theoretical Libertarianism in the ALSF, in the early 90s. Oddly, though, Libertarianism hasn’t managed to move through the party in the last 20 years, and I’m not expencting it in the next 20. ALSFers mostly don’t go on to run the party. Good luck inside the Libs, but if you get sick of the statists before you sacrifice your libertarian principles, remember the LDP is there, and our membership contains a large chunk of ex-libs who couldn’t stomach it any more.

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