Political Activism Anyone?

The purpose of this post is to get people’s ideas on the most effective way to change our society towards being more and more capitalist.

A theory that I’ve come across over the last few years (I think Nicholas Gray was fond of this one – but feel free to correct me) was that people around the world needed to see first hand the negative effects of increasingly socialistic economic policies as precursor to them rejecting these gradual increases in socialism.

In basic terms the idea can I think be summarized as follows: The shit has to hit the fan before we would do anything about it. The idea is that a generation or two has past since the disastrous communist regimes implemented full blown state ownership of business, and that people have forgotten just how bad socialist central planning is to human prosperity at all levels.

Before I go on, it is indeed true that around the world, the trend is that governments are again growing as a % of GDP. This has been true for most western countries since about the year 2000 or so. (My source is Hamish McRae’s recent presentation, “What is happening to the world economy and what this means for global business” but if you have another source please share).

I tentatively agree with the shit needs to hit the fan hypothesis. I definitely agree that empirical observation of the catastrophic failures of central planning are valuable and necessary for showing people that government intervention into their lives is harmful.

But when our politics are as mixed as they are today (capitalist/socialist/I’d even say facist to a degree), simply sitting back and watching the shit hit the fan is not enough. People need the relevant information to make sense of the confusion. Defenders of capitalism need to be out there to educate and explain.

George Carlin once said “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that”. Add to that the fact that most people were brought up to despise “greedy”, “exploitative” capitalism, the fact that many people have little interest in politics and economics, the under-achieving standards of modern education, especially public education and the fact that many people place trust in their authorities and experts (as they should be able to do in an ideal world).

The task towards achieving a free capitalist society is not an easy one and will require work one way or another.

However, the latest economic crises has arrived with most of the world in recession. Now is the time to increase your pro-capitalism efforts. The fight is on for those willing to do their bit to make the world a better place.

We have probably all come across many media commentators attempting to blame the current crises on capitalist greed. This is the line our own Prime Minister takes in his condemnation of “extreme capitalism” in his 7700 word essay published in the Monthly.

Personally my view is that of the Objectivists: that a moral defense of capitalism is required and that capitalism cannot be logically defended on altruistic based ethical theory, but that does not mean I don’t see the value in some political activism.
I believe a good responsible person has no option but to fight for what they believe to be important and right. I believe the alternative is to let yourself whither and slowly die.

Also, campaigning on political issues has value apart from the specific issue itself. Getting debate started, challenging people’s erroneous assumptions, offering different ideas and perspectives to those commonly appearing in the mainstream media.

So the purpose of this post was to hopefully get ideas on what people think the best strategies are to advance capitalism?
Perhaps, artistic avenues such as books, movies? Perhaps business groups speaking out? What should they ideally say? Internet comments? Letters to editors? What political activism are you involved in? What type of political activism do you think is the most effective? Do you think a political party such as the LDP is the key to change? Do you think group action is more effective than individual action?

56 thoughts on “Political Activism Anyone?

  1. All of that. And I would add one other. Crush the originators of bad ideas. Ridicule them and mock their stupid rancid ideas that work against economic freedom. Never let up and never treat them with any intgentioanl kindness or respect, as they don’t deserve any

    I would have thought that after years free market groupings would have learned that by now. Niceness doesn’t pay.

    Rudd’s essay deserved to be mocked and treated with scorn. Defenders of Rudd’s terminally stupid essay deserve the same treatment.

    Those who worked against free labor markets deserve to be show that they’re either dishonest or have the IQ of a rotten orange.

    Show no mercy or respect as our side ought to be playing for keeps.

    Take the essay by John on Harry Clarke which is just below this one. Harry deserves absolutely no leniency for what he’s been saying.

    There people who went to Senate hearings discussing free labor markets, who says he went , ” not as an economist”. There people deserve utter contempt.

  2. Claim, obtain & defend the moral and ethical high ground. Attacking both the “left” and “right” wings for Libertarians are neither. Utilitarianism is a waste of time & no movement based on Liberty is ever going to grow with it. Justice and a passion for what is morally right is what will.

    Strive to show the gun in the room. Hint: It is in the socialists & statist hands, aimed at your face.

    Justice and Property Rights by Murray N. Rothbard

    Why be Libertarian? by Murray N. Rothbard

    Toward a Theory of Strategy for Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

    On Resisting Evil by Murray N. Rothbard

    Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

    Isaiah’s Job by Albert Jay Nock

    Ending Tyranny Without Violence by Murray N. Rothbard

    United We Fall by Frank Chodorov

    Sell Out and Die by Murray N. Rothbard

    The Case for Radical Idealism by Murray N. Rothbard

    What is to be Done? by Murray N. Rothbard

    How to Advance Liberty by Leonard E. Reed

    Do You Hate the State? by Murray N. Rothbard

    The Dangers of Compromise by Gene Callahan

    National Liberation by Murray N. Rothbard

    Murray Rothbard: Go and Do Thou Likewise by Gary North

    Stuff We Can Do

  3. Charles this article’s about capitalism, not anarchy.
    Capitalism means property rights, contract law, rights protections etc.

  4. Hi John, Don’t know what you mean.
    I put in a “more” tab thing.
    Feel free to edit the post to your liking.

    [ADMIN: You had random line breaks. Fixed now.]

  5. Just protest the way hundreds of thousands of people have been quietly doing for decades: Emigrate.

    That is the only thing that will actually force a change – when enough of Australia’s wealth generators go missing.

    And the other bonus is that you get to enjoy a more libertarian government in somewhere like Hong Kong in the meantime, while Australia gets their shit together.

  6. Be loud, unconventional, name names, attack and ridicule (film, articles, blogs, spamming, youtube, news reporting, cartoons, music etc). This is not a debating game but a war with real consequences so a lot of etiquette, conventions and political correctness should be flouted.

    Draw them into fighting back with their pathetic characterizations/slander and then use their response against them. I guess the more unconventional and politically incorrect the line of attack, the easier it is to bait them in for a response because they will feel confident public opinion is on their side and be more tempted to make an example of you.

    Either way being invisible is definitely worse then being mislabeled and attacked and once the word libertarian is put in front of peoples noses a few times, especially in a heated controversial context, the more likely they will at least Wiki or Google what it actually means.

  7. In response to Damien and JC. I don’t think receiving abuse has ever changed my opinion on anything. Although if the abuse isn’t easily avoided then it does sometimes sharpen the focus. It often makes people walk away from a debate which may seem like a victory but isn’t necessarily a real one. Abuse isn’t my preferred tactical style but we are all different I suppose. Could you perhaps articulate how and where you think this approach works best and what you think the limits are.

  8. I think that we should add Free Enterprize to the equation. Capitalism is not quite the same thing. Two people who choose to barter to avoid taxes are engaged in Free enterprize, not Capitalism. the expression ‘Free enterprize’ covers more philosophical territory. And thanks for the credit, Tim R., though I don’t recall saying such smart things.

  9. “Ridicule them”, “Niceness doesn’t pay.”
    Sound familiar, JC?
    If you don’t think of that as verbal abuse, what do you call it?

  10. Nicolas:

    Ridicule their ideas and comments. Deservedly so.

    Where has being nice to idiots got you so far? Have you changed Clarke’s opinions towards things he doesn’t like and abusing economics by mangling the use of the the word “externality” to thr extent that it basically means anything?

  11. tit: No you STFU.
    tat: No you STFU.
    tit: No you STFU.

    Just killing time here.

  12. Yea right Terje.

    Like Quiggin demonstrates A REAL HEAP of respect for your views an opinions. Seriously, I’m embarrassed for you.

  13. “In response to Damien and JC. I don’t think receiving abuse has ever changed my opinion on anything.”

    You won’t ever change THEIR minds, but they rule conventional media channels and thought so the cheapest form of marketing is to get them to attack you and hopefully mention the word Libertarian. I’m talking about attacking the political agenda pushing intelligentsia crowd from both left and right, not the majority of the population whom just passively, unconsciously absorb their ideology/morality through media and culture.

  14. Sure, Quiggin might be a nice guy (never met him) but he went to the Senate “not as an economist” with regards to Work Choices (albeit a very bad attempt at labour makret deregulation).

    So why should I treat his opinions with respect if he’s got no self respect?

  15. charles,

    You are still an idiot.

    Germany was a democracy. They elected Hitler.

    The US is a republic. They are no longer Governed as a republic (going way, way back perhaps to LBJ or even Linclon).

    Iceland, as a counterexample was an anarchic country and political entity for 300 years. It only ended when a massively much more powerful foreign invader took over and destroyed their political strucutre.

    Name every political entity that has survived for over 300 years.

    Kingdom of England
    Kingdom of Scotland
    Kingdom of Frnace
    Byzantine Empire
    Republic of Rome
    Anarchic Iceland.

    Your pathetic attempts to attack freedom (not just us, but freedom itself) show you up to be a proto fascist. We know you don’t like freedom charles. What is really poor is you use a poorly written tidbit from an illiterate, ingorant, hysterical *journalist* like Huffington.

  16. This is what passes for thoughtful analysis from Mr. Externality, Harry Clarke.

    It is one way I can indicate my total disgust with both major political parties in Australia because of their lack of principle on the climate change issue.

    The Greens at least lack the hypocrisy of the Labor cheer squad who insist that the feeble conditional 25% increased cut more than compensates for the policy negatives. They are hypocrites who see climate change not as an urgent policy priority but as politics. Very unimpressed.

    He’s voting Greens

    1.Because the government has delayed the introduction of an ETS and the opposition has essentially agreed.

    (I actually comment the government for delaying it as the policy as a shambles).

    2. He finds the Greens consistent.

    Well there are plenty of ideologies that are consistent. Stalin was actually quite consistent, so is AQ.

    This is a pathetic reason to be voting for a party especially if you disagree with a lot of their policies. This is emotive nonsense being passed as deep thinking.

    Why should anyone be kind to this garbage?

  17. Damien,

    Thanks for the qualification. I agree that attacking ideas in the media from a libertarian perspective or having libertarian ideas attacked in the media are good publicity ploys. As part of the LDP I’ve tried different tactics. The main problem is media indifference or a view that libertarian positions are not serious.

    How do we best handle one on one personal advocacy and blog discussion? Does the same strategy apply?

  18. “The main problem is media indifference or a view that libertarian positions are not serious”


    That’s why a lot of effort should go into baiting personal ego’s along with the core message, the more established they are in the media the better.

    Hopefully some more open minded young people will eventually notice these little battles with the L word and pick up on the scrambled logic being pushed on them and then research the damage and evil being done in it’s implementation.

    Libertarian has to at least exist as a word in everyday lexicon without the advantage of the marketing budget of Coca-Cola.

    “How do we best handle one on one personal advocacy and blog discussion? Does the same strategy apply?”

    There’s absolutely no point being deliberately provocative here. Only talking about prominent opinion molders, gatekeepers etc.

  19. Hi All –

    This is long overdue – political activism is really dominated by left wing socialists (with the odd far-right/fascist group thrown in), and currently I’m sorry to say but they run rings around us at it.

    I see successful Political activism as just a specialised form of marketing, selling a product or a message to a target audience and seeking to persuade them to your point of view, raise awareness or call to action. Herein lies the ultimate irony – marketing is considered a capitalist tool, and is often actively opposed by socialists and other anti-capitalist groups. However these groups often use marketing brilliantly well to further their own causes and sell their messages – just look at the Greens and GetUp!

    We, on the other hand, are the ultimate supporters of capitalism but are lousy self marketers – we need to lift our game urgently, and even take a leaf out of some of the left-wing activist groups books.

    Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order:

    – As I said above, we need to learn some tactics from the socialists. I am of course vehemently opposed to socialism, but I acknowledge the job that left wing activists have done to promote it and even make it cool. Given it’s been an utter disaster every time it’s implemented, these guys have done some amazing PR and marketing to keep it going

    – One of the things socialists have done successfully is rebrand – socialism has too many communist connotations, so they’ve rebranded it as ‘social democracy’ and ‘social justice’, which sound much nicer and positively benevolent. We need to do the same. Like it or not, the term Capitalism conjures up images of rich top-hatted people exploiting the earth and the poor, and most people have never even heard of Libertarianism – I’m not convinced it’s a marketable term. Individualism sounds too selfish, and even ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’ have been misused by too many other groups. I don’t know what the right word is, but we need to think of something catchy.

    – Another marketing term – differentiation. We need to differentiate ourselves from socialists and greenies, as well as from social conservatives and religious activists. We do this be emphaising our consistent stance on individual freedoms and pointing out how all those other groups only support some individual freedoms when it suits them, and are quickly pro-big government when it comes to enforcing their worldview

    – Most libertarian arguments I read on this blog are economic ones, quoting Friedman, Hayek etc. They are valid, but booooring. We need to make liberty fashionable, not the domain of crusty economists and business leaders. Currently socialism is the new black (the Che factor)

    – Pick your timing. Right now might not be the best occasion to launch a full-scale defence of capitalism; it’s becoming the generally accepted wisdom that capitalism is the root of this GFC (I don’t think even Rudd believes this; he’s just jumped on the populist bandwagon). It might be worth waiting until the effects of all this new nanny statism and reckless government spending are felt then launch a full scale anti nanny state offensive.

    – “Utilitarianism and compromise is a waste of time” – sorry Michael C I disagree. Hardcore communists probably think that way too, but we need to operate in the real world, and have a pragmatic libertarianism. Your average punter does not care much for pure theory and deontological ethics. Remember, communism sounds good in theory, but is a utilitarian disaster.

    – We need to own some issues and share in others. We missed a golden opportunity with the opposition to Internet censorship, we let the Greens and GetUp take the lead on that one. Taking a stance on specific issues and framing our arguments in terms of individual liberty is the best way by far to spread the message.

    – Without compromising our principles, we need to pick ‘sexy’ issues to champion. Free speech and anti-censorship should be a high priority, likewise tax reform, even a few boutique ones like voluntary euthanasia and drug law reform (the last two will convince people we’re not just right wing conservatives). Less sexy would be gun ownership and sticking up for the rights of smokers.

    – There’s been some talk above about ridiculing bad ideas or even abusing them – I don’t think too much negativity is a good idea, however opposing one or two fundamentally bad ideas can be a good platform. In our case it should be opposing the Nanny State.

    – I like the way GetUp! operate as a (supposedly) grass-roots, issues based online activist organisation, trouble is, apart from internet censorship, most of their issues are pro big government. I’d love to see a similar type of organisation with an underlying anti nanny state, libertarian theme – we could call it something like HandsOff!

    Sorry, a rather long post but I hope it helps. Of course I’ve never been involved in political activism myself, so I’m no expert, these are just my rambling observations. But if you guys do organise something I’d be glad to assist.

  20. Thanks for taking the time to comment Papchango.

    I definitely think champions of capitalism can learn from the socialist movements and also the environmental movement.

    I’d also agree, that economics alone cannot change a society. (Although I do of course think economic science is very important and in addition, that politically/economically minded people would have to work out the details on how best to change a political system to achieving more freedom).

  21. Proper quote: “Utilitarianism is a waste of time & no movement based on Liberty is ever going to grow with it.” Within context, we’re talking about activism and creating a movement. I am not against utilitarianism totally, I just think it is FAR less effective in converting others.

    “Let’s go to barricades for a 2% reduction in spending over several years! Yewww, give me marginal tax cuts that are within an acceptably adjusted rate or give me death!” lol :p

    Hardcore communists think like that? Probably, but so? They also think the State protects private property, which is insane – for it must violate property rights to exist. Point being – they want to get rid of the State for the wrong reason, but consistent Libertarians also want to get rid of the State. (For the right reasons). Rothbard wasn’t a communist. lol

    In addition to reading the extensive bibliography of a ‘Strategy for Liberty’ above. I would recommend “Dedication and Leadership” by Douglas Hyde. Former communist of 20 years, who has written about their secrets of ‘success’, their methods, techniques and tactics etc. All very useful & equally applicable. Also, “The True Believer: Thoughts on the nature of mass movements” by Eric Hoffer.

    No. It is terrible in theory. That is exactly the point I am making.

    “Let us proceed, then, to a critique of the egalitarian ideal itself—should equality be granted its current status as an unquestioned ethical ideal? In the first place, we must challenge the very idea of a radical separation between something that is “true in theory” but “not valid in practice.”

    If a theory is correct, then it does work in practice; if it does not work in practice, then it is a bad theory. The common separation between theory and practice is an artificial and fallacious one. But this is true in ethics as well as anything else. If an ethical ideal is inherently “impractical,” that is, if it cannot work in practice, then it is a poor ideal and should be discarded forthwith.

    To put it more precisely, if an ethical goal violates the nature of man and/or the universe and, therefore, cannot work in practice, then it is a bad ideal and should be dismissed as a goal. If the goal itself violates the nature of man, then it is also a poor idea to work in the direction of that goal.” – Egalitarianism a Revolt Against Nature by Murray N. Rothbard

    For eg! The internet censorship debate. Conroy on ABC Q&A: “we’re doing a trial run. The critics don’t even know if it will work or not.” Basically EVERY argument put against him was utilitarian, and it is EASILY brushed aside. “It might work” “we don’t know” “we’re doing a review” etc all BS.

    The fact is it would NOT MATTER if it worked or not. It is immoral and unethical. The government becomes sole holder of what it’s citizens see on the internet. Are you kidding me? You get fined $11k a day for linking to a banned page? The State has a gun to your head – “your money or your life”.

    Which is going to be the more effective argument? It is blatantly obvious. Why give up the most powerful, true rhetoric? Conroy was able to spin the whole affair into those who don’t want it are for child porn etc, despicable. Every utilitarian argument failed. Now, the left uses radical rhetoric and so should be. Primarily, every point you made has been addressed above within the articles at length. Please take the time to check them out.

    Other than that, good post & great suggestions. 🙂

    Here I guess is a possible equivalent, but it hasn’t launched yet. http://www.la.org.au

    Kind Regards,

  22. Sorry papa,

    I think being able to eat etc is fashionable.

    Your demographics are perhaps a bit screwy:

    “If a man is not a socialist at 20, he has no heart, if he is not a capitalist by 30, he has no brain”.

  23. I recently viewed the following video and the ending struck me as relevant to this thread.

    “The advocate of the free society is bound to rub a lot of people the wrong way. I’ve often thought that here I am trying to advance the idea of a free society, but I have to in all honesty tell the people I am trying to sell on the idea that once we have it they won’t like it. They won’t like a lot of what happens when people are free. Because when people are free, a lot of them are going to act in ways you don’t like.

    If we say we believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious liberty, and freedom of economic enterprise, we know by embracing these freedoms that some people will say and put into print things we think are harmful, or silly, or stupid. In religion, when people are free they will believe things that we think ought to be called more properly magic or superstition. In the economic realm when people are free, consumers will demand and producers obediently supply goods that we think are shoddy or in poor taste.

    But this is what freedom is all about. Putting up with things we don’t like and living with people we can barely stand. In short, a free society means standing by the processes of freedom, even though we can never endorse all the products of freedom.

    In order for a society to be free, a great many more people than hitherto must exhibit a much higher tolerance for individual differences and even individual eccentricities than has ever prevailed hitherto…

    It all boils down to saying that freedom does not come cheap. Freedom costs. And a people who do not know what freedom costs or who are unwilling to pay the costs of freedom will never achieve a free society nor retain such freedoms as they presently possess.”

    Edmund A. Opitz, The Dubious Appeal of Socialism, 1978, 52:35

    On this view, its not the sales pitch that is the problem, it is the product itself!

    I wonder if it makes sense, then, to view demand for freedom in the same way as demand for commodities, i.e. a downward-slopping curve?

  24. Charles, mark is right, you really are an idiot. i would also add that you’re really freaking stupid if you equate a lawless society like Somalia as somehow libertarian.

    Do you even understand why there would be a difference. As for bringing up the Huffingtonpost. Com. Please, the stupid bint is a complete airhead which of course would be someone you’d relate to.

  25. Michael C,

    http://www.la.org.au looks good, I hope it get’s rolling. It would be great if we could muster the manpower to provide daily news and current affairs Liberty style.
    I share your personal views on ethics and economics. Contemporary utilitarianism to me always has that creepy collectivist planned society vibe hovering in the background.
    Like it’s up to you to provide telephone books full of mathematical proofs ‘proving’in their own twisted and contrived ad hoc conceptual framework that you are better of free because you scientifically calculated the benefits outweigh the costs.
    That game doesn’t interest me because it’s just participating in mental illness plain and simple.

  26. Like it’s up to you to provide telephone books full of mathematical proofs ‘proving’in their own twisted and contrived ad hoc conceptual framework that you are better of free because you scientifically calculated the benefits outweigh the costs.

    I don’t think it would be that hard to do this. I actually give it a quite high probability that in another generation or two pro-freedom people will be arguing with these types of arguments. We’ve got to the point where socialism is no longer just looking after the poor, it’s an ideology based in ‘fairness’ and a desire not to have to confront difficult parts of the human condition. Human beings are very good at ignoring the truth, but the truth is very good at not going away no matter how hard human beings wish it would.

  27. Damien,

    Based on comment #26 it would seem that perhaps I misunderstood your earlier point. In broad brush terms I think we pretty much agree on tactics.

  28. Damian,

    Some people are attracted to rights based arguments, some people utilitarian.

    You don’t shit on half of your potential customers/market.

  29. Mark –

    being able to eat is fashionable – sorry you’ve lost me, what do you mean by that? Do we have to wait for socialism to starve us so that people give liberty a chance again? That would not be good.

    I beleive the correct quote is “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart.
    If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”
    – often mis-attributed to Churchill. Note the word conservative, not libertarian.

    Nothing wrong with my demographics – I’m aware that you tend to be more lefty when younger, especially if you go to uni. I don’t see why we have to accept it, though. Everyone talks about Gen Y being the cynical generation who can see through marketing fluff – that should include the type of socialist slogans that suck them in at uni.

    Alternatively you can target the Gen X like me who have some life experience and now realise (or are starting to realise) that socialism is a crock. The trick would be to turn them into Libertarians rather than conservatives.

  30. Michael C – fair points. I’m not against principle either, and the libertarian principle is a strong one. Particularly in the internet debate – you’re right. However I thought the utilitarian arguments against it were powerful too.

    I should clarify my comment about communism sounding good in theory. Superficially it sounds good in theory (the catchy slogans about ‘to each according to his needs’ etc), but if you think deeply about it, yes the theory is terrible. But honestly, how many people spend ages thinking deeply aboput political systems? It’s far easier to convince people that communism is a crock by pointing out Cambodia, North korea, USSR Cuba and China, than by dissecting Marx’s works.

    Thanks for the links, but to be honest, I can’t see myself reading Rothbard, Friedman or any other Aautrian school economist. I’m sure it’s good stuff, but it’s just too dense and theoretical for me. I don’t need to be conviced of the virtues of libertarianism, I’ve kind of stumbled across it and worked it out for myself. The closest I got to studying the theory was a couple of Ayn Rand fiction books and some Voltaire.

    That’s kind of my point. Political theory is a good thing, but if you focus on that you’ll lose people. To be honest some of these threads sound a bit nerdy banging on about the Austrian school and theory-practice dichotomy. Yes the classical liberal theory is sound, but you need to make it catchy – ‘give me freedom or give me death’ is a start.

    Again look at socialism – we have demonstrated that both the theory and the practice of it are terrible, but it has good slogans so it keeps sucking people in.

  31. Do we have to wait for socialism to starve us so that people give liberty a chance again?

    Possibly. Once the West has lost the cause there could well be another ‘dark age’. I don’t see China or even India (yet) stepping into the breech and leading the world to the moral high ground.

  32. Given how long the best of western civilisation was submerged during the last dark ages lets delay the arrival of the next dark ages for as long as is humanly possible.

  33. Libertarianism is a political philosophy for optimists, so it’s good a to see a few genuine libertarians in this thread. Papachango made some great points. Libertarianism should be marketed, although it has the truth on its side people still need to be informed about what it is that it is out there. Waiting till the shit hits the fan is stupid; we have to keep putting the ideas out there, keep disagreeing with those who dismiss or ignore libertarianism, we have to remain consistent, support newcomers, and gradually build momentum.

    To other suggestions in this thread I would add that it could be great to target one particular issue and create and outline a libertarian solution for that issue and to advertise a solution aggressively and build support for it. For instance, a lot of people are currently being negatively affected by socialist systems of public transport. If first low-capital transport services, like taxis and buses, could be deregulated, to the point where any person could get into their car and start taking fares, or any person could lease or buy a bus and start running routes, then clearly a lot of inefficiencies in the current socialist system would be eliminated, it would soon be possible for a train operator to fail and not have to be bailed out by government because there would be sufficient efficiency in the low-capital transport services to pick-up the slack. That is one example of an issue where there is an obvious libertarian solution, there are many, many others, in fact every public issue has a libertarian solution and seldom are they ever prosecuted. If the few Australian libertarians could rally behind a solution for one issue, I believe we could achieve a lot of good, maybe even see our solution adopted, and in the very least put libertarianism into the spotlight.

  34. papachango

    great post. it’s good to see some pragmatism mixed in there.

    i think the fundamental difficulties we face are that the politics of freedom are not intuitive, take some effort to understand and tend to be learnt from experience. this lends us to a small, rational and older demographic.

    The enthusiastic youth of the GetUp! movement could only be replicated by a pro-liberty group following 30 years of socialism.

    i agree that now is not the time – the free market has been tried and found guilty. in five years time, we should start the appeal process.

  35. “the politics of freedom are not intuitive, take some effort to understand and tend to be learnt from experience. this lends us to a small, rational and older demographic.”

    I think this is very true but I also do believe there is hope in getting young people on board, particularly uni students while they are still open to new ideas. Ron Paul has a huge amount of young supporters and I notice he seems to speak at Universities a lot too (this might be something a lot of pollies do over there. I wouldn’t know). It’s not as if he’s young, charismatic, fresh and hip or anything either. I think this does show to some extent that the message can be attractive to a younger crowd.

  36. “Sure, Quiggin might be a nice guy (never met him) but he went to the Senate “not as an economist” with regards to Work Choices”

    Umm, I don’t think so. Since you regard this as being so important, perhaps you could remind me of where and when I made this statement. In Senate appearances, I have of course, made the routine disclaimer that my views are my own and not those of the School of Economics I work for.

  37. I’m with Terje on the value of being rude. It obviously doesn’t convince the person you’re talking to… and also it makes you look like a bastard to the 3rd party observers who then instinctively want to give the other guy (assuming s/he’s being nice) the benefit of the doubt.

    And I think being nice to people is just generally a better way to live life. 🙂

    Anyway, there are other forums for swapping abuse. I would prefer if comments on the ALS blog could remain a bit friendly so that everybody felt welcome. Thanks.

  38. This is what I believe you signed, under your formal title and University name etc.

    Was that perhaps some else?

    We share grave concerns about the historic and far-reaching changes now proposed for Australia’s workplace relations and their potential effects upon Australian workplaces, workers, and our larger society and economy.

    Our ten general concerns are:

    1. Failure to allow adequate time to debate very significant change.

    2. Unnecessary confusion will flow from increasing complexity of regulation

    3. Government prescriptions on bargaining rules generate further inequality between parties, to the advantage of employers over workers and their unions

    4. The individualisation of bargaining, even where the majority of employees are members of unions, and restrictions on effective rights to unionise

    5. The discouragement of genuine agreement-making and encouragement of the unilateral exercise of managerial power

    6. Lower minimum standards and the abolition of the no disadvantage test

    7. Deeper economic and social inequality

    8. Unfairness and the removal of effective arbitral powers

    9. Adverse effects on work and family

    10. Lack of supportive evidence

    co- signer;

    John Quiggin
    Federation Fellow, Professor
    University of Queensland
    School of Economics
    (Address deleted)

  39. And this document contains the phrase “not as an economist” where, exactly? It states, in fact

    This submission is made by 91 Australian academics with expertise in the field of industrial relations and labour market analysis. We represent a large, broad group of Australian industrial relations research experts, including many of the senior and most experienced leaders in our field. Our experience spans several decades. We include in our number Professors and Associate Professors with expertise in the field of workplace issues, including the disciplines of economics, management, law and industrial relations.

    (emphasis added)

    I’m not surprised that this pathetic attempt at slander comes from you, Cambria and obviously don’t expect any retraction or apology. But Mark Hill might note that he has been misled by you, and the managers of this site might want to consider whether your participation adds to its credibility.

  40. John Quiggin,

    What did you say exactly at the Senate enquiry on Work Choices, re your position vs the Departments?

    Sorry if I got confused, if I am wrong I will apologise in full.

    It was my impression that one of your very first remarks was that “I come here today not as an economist”. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I myself would never make such a self depricating comment. It is important people with diverse views discuss the differences rather than sweep them aside with tribalism.

  41. I don’t think this discussion is going anywhere useful or relevant.

    Saying “I come here not as an economist” seems perfectly reasonable to me if you’re giving a comment on your personal politics or preferences. Indeed — it would be admirable honesty. I don’t think it is self deprecating or even interesting.

    Once again, please play nice. A good rule is that you should just type what you would say over a normal dinner debate. By all means, disagree. But do it with a smile and good humour. If you really can’t stand the other person, then avoid discussion with them. Not only does this avoid pointless flame wars… it will also make you a happier person. 🙂

  42. Mark, I didn’t say anything, since I didn’t appear at all. You can see the list of witnesses here:


    My participation in the process was limited to signing the statement linked above. Everything else is a fabrication by Cambria.

    In general, when I appear before Parliamentary inquiries, I give the standard disclaimer about the department, but I’ve never disclaimed being an economist. In public statements, like the one above, I don’t bother with a disclaimer since this is normally taken for granted.

  43. I’ve removed some posts by jc & hc and closed commentary on this thread.

    FFS people, please act like adults. I can’t go around checking every bloody comment every day to ensure that you’re being nice to each other. Take some responsibility and live up to the standard of behaviour that I have asked.

    To make that easier, those standards now include the specific rule “jc may not say anything about jq on the ALS blog”. Not only is it ugly to watch the bickering, but it is also quite dull for all the other readers.

    UPDATE: The situation is clarified by Andrew Norton & JC offers a retraction. 🙂

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