Posted by: graemebird | June 20, 2008

Raiding The Sick, Blind, Lame, Old, The Solo Mums, And The Aboriginals, For Manhours.

A cold wind blew across the continent the day the ponzi-money died. People are doing it tough. We who are having to work for a living are beginning to focus the evil eye upon those who depend on welfare. Oddly enough the more costly taxeaters in the public service have escaped any such scrutiny. As if the sum total of interventionism ….. As if the major cost of government………. were the unemployed.

Our mindset diverts us from the true enemy and we find ourselves uptight about some of the poorest people in the community. Our burdens are legion, but dimly understood, so we blame the simple welfare recipients ahead of the more costly bludgers, whose scheming leads these more unfortunate OTHERS into idleness and sloth. We blame the welfare dependents. We don’t blame the latte-drinking leftists who fill up our government departments. We don’t blame these more expensive miscreants, who spend their time and our money, perpetrating any number of schemes to impose costs on everyone else.

Nevertheless it is surely a problem for us and/or for the out-of-work, that  those who have become dependent on welfare are not making a greater contribution to the production of wealth in this country.

 

It is a problem for THEM!!!….. As some of them really are quite sick and poor.  The rebuilding of their health and happiness would require for most of these people to earn more money.  We ought to see if we can do something about their distress. For it diminishes us not to try and help them through better policy.

“A RECORD number of Australians are claiming disability pensions. New figures show 723,424 receive support payments each week.”

If we could pull 16 hours a week on average out of these people that gives us about 580 million man hours. And what with many other categories of people who are unable to find work we could easily bring that up above 1 billion. Still if we went and raided the public service as well and got an average of 35 or so hours OF AUTHENTIC WORK out of at least half of THOSE bludgers than we’d really be able to deal with all this energy-stress and just go from strength to strength.

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DIGRESSION: EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.

Intuitively it might seem that bringing more people into the economy is diluting the capital/goods per person ratio. And that it would lead to lower real wages for the incumbents. In the theoretical world this need not be the case. We have some pre-requisites where the insertion of many migrants into the scene would be to the benefit of pretty much all incumbents in the economy. Even quite apart from filling specific skill needs that are in short supply. The theoretical situation is where nominal average wages are lowered by the migrants but consumer goods and services prices are lowered even faster. What pre-requisites might be required for such a good outcome?

1. Downward flexibility in nominal salaries and wages. If this is not possible the new migrants may dislodge incumbents from their jobs.

2. The economy used to a glacial increase in GDR. Since if this is not the case the injection of the new migrants would lead to increasing asset prices rather than falling goods prices. Which would be fine for some. But the benefits would not be distributed widely. It is often supposed that the increase in the workforce requires new money creation to accommodate the new participants. This may be the case if salaries and wages are not downwardly mobile in nominal terms. But this combination will likely exacerbate the distribution of wealth and income in favour of greater inequality.

3. We assume no welfare overhead. In the real world in 2008 the extra migrants would likely mean greater welfare overhead.

4. The real estate market would have to be more functional. Greater demand for living and working space would have to spill over into more high-rise development as opposed to spilling over into higher land prices and rents.

5. The problems to do with the private production of infrastructure would have to be solved. So that the greater demand on infrastructure would simply lead to the improvement and expansion of these goods. That is to say infrastructure would have to function in as calibrated and productive a way as private consumer goods typically do.

6. We assume no cultural/political overhead with the migrants. Problems with young male gangs, spillovers into legal aid and imprisonment costs. Spillovers into the political realm with new migrants being stooged on leftist policies. This sort of thing.

7. The extreme position where even fairly low-skilled immigration is benefiting everyone EVERYONE via the mechanism of price reductions requires a high ratio of  Productive Expenditure/Gross Domestic Revenue. That is to say that a very high degree of spending in the economy is being funneled back into private business. Less proportionately into consumer and government spending.

8. Further to the above in the case of new investment the migrants can reduce the cost of such projects. Reducing the cost and increasing the rate of capital update. Which brings with it a greater degree of technological ability since technological progress is imbedded in new capital update.

9. BUT THINGS CAN GO THE OTHER WAY. Supposing the ratio of Productive Expenditure/GDR was not high enough. Supposing that the migrants were chattel slaves. Supposing the tax rules for depreciation of capital investment were not favourable enough of the corporate tax rate were too high. Or that there was all this welfare state overhead. Well then the introduction of a great deal of new migrants could dull the incentive for rapid capital goods update. The business firms would benefit from the cheap labour and procrastinate on new capital updates and new technology. This would be the nightmare of the “race to the bottom” that people talk about. Sometimes with some validity. Often with far less validity.

Now I don’t want to imply by the above that new migration can never be a good thing. These are not absolutist points. This thread is not of a scope wherein I will be dealing with all the many gains that can be made via migration and we are not going to figure out in this thread how to take a balanced approach to migration. I’m only pointing these matters out to clarify just how we might raid the unused potential of the disadvantaged and the unemployed in such a way as to be a benefit to them and to us. 

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We see here that in theory any amount of immigration could be of benefit to just about everyone if certain conditions could be met…. or NEARLY met. If the conditions were for-the-most-part fulfilled the rest of us would not need to feel threatened by rapid immigration and we would benefit via the mechanism of a reducing cost of living. In the real world these conditions will not be met sufficiently. And we would be advised to be picky with our immigration. Generous but picky. Not even generous if leftists are too much influencing the process.

Well thats the situation when it comes to recruiting foreigners for extra manhours. But how do things go when we are recruiting the unemployed and underemployed who are already within our society?

WE SEE THAT THE PRE-REQUISITES THAT WON’T TYPICALLY BE MET BY EXCESSIVE MIGRATION IN THIS WELFARE STATE IN 2008 ARE NOT AT ISSUE WHEN IT COMES TO RAIDING THE POOR SICK ET AL FOR MANHOURS.

Instead of more welfare overhead we find that we can swing it that we have less. Instead of more leftist political overhead we can have less. But we have to get them employed in such a way as to increase the ratio of productive expenditure/GDR. We need productive expenditure to increase in nominal terms and as a proportion of GDR if we try and do this. We need to be mindful of various pitfalls. And we need to be mindful that many of these people ought not really be working a full week. 

Not long ago on a talkback show a fellow called Brian rang up and talked about the sort of abuse, assaults on his dignity, and generally how hard a time he is having as a sickness beneficiary. I think his problems with the hated Centrelink probably came when he dobbed some other beneficiaries in for abusing the system. This is a transgression which Centrelink folks may not be willing to abide by people within the orbit of their power. These people started putting him through the griller. Even at one stage asking him about the way he wiped his bottom. A satisfying outcome would be to have Centrelink burnt to the ground and salt put about the place so that nothing could ever grow there again and in fact have any mention of this hateful institution removed from the historical record of the Australian scene. But things are seldom so perfect in this world.

The hatefulness of powerless Australians being hassled by these creeps is why I cannot abide any notions of “mutual obligation” that Saunders is putting about. Or of “work-for-the-dole.” The horror. The horror. If we feel we need to hassle these people in such a demeaning fashion try dropping the benefit by $50 a fortnight and then see if this sick impulse to abuse these people is still evident.

Brian has severe diabetes. He had to get his teeth removed. He went to the hospital to get his teeth removed and perversely they took out all but ten of his teeth. So he was unable to eat normal stuff for a year because he couldn’t put together any dentures. So what he had to do then is borrow off his flatmates, get the rest of his teeth removed and get his dentures off his own back as for some reason this all didn’t fit in with the plans of bureaucrats. All your luck runs out when you no longer have independent means and things that start bad don’t get any better and people treat you like shit. But apparently Brian has very kind and helpful flatmates and he is able to pay off the $1000 dollars one fortnight at a time.

Brian has severe problems and I for one don’t want to be forcing this guy to work a full week. I just want to make it easier for him to work two days a week or three days a week to give him the extra income to help him look after his health. But the thing about the welfare its always enough to keep you alive. Its never enough for you to launch a job-hunting campaign. From Brians position every interview or phone call is a grave cost and a hateful humiliation.  We can do better.

Some media attention came to a 27 year old who had been on the sickness benefit these last 11 years. Apparently he only ever worked for about 7 months when he was 16. His dad is on the sickness benefit. Some sheila that he has 4 kids to is on the Solo Mums benefit. Its likely that they are not a couple for welfare purposes which is a common rort. His disadvantage is that he has ADHD. Hardly a sickness. But with the labour market and work scene being the way it is why would anybody want to employ him?

Normal improvements apply. We want to get rid of the minimum wage, reduce the company tax, increase the income tax threshold, deregulate more and all that. But this fellow isn’t going to haul his white trash ass around to one employer after another only to be rejected. And we don’t want Brian having to go through all that. We want the employers to come to them. If the 27 year old gets work in a small business we want things to be such that the employer might even give the lazy bastard a wake-up-call. And then send someone round to his place and give him a lift to work.

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Rio Tinto cannot get enough workers for its various mining activities during this current extraction industries boom. So they’ve developed a program where they go around to these isolated aboriginal settlements. They find the most likely prospects, train them up to use various capital goods (the boss reckons women make the best truck drivers) and then set them to work in the mining towns. Astonishingly the minimum starting earnings are $90 000 a year. I don’t know about you but I don’t make $90 000 a year and am unlikely to anytime soon. Well what can you say about Rio Tinto but BRAVO!!!

What we want though is a situation where many firms greedily descend on these settlements and get all these guys employed. And its probably the case where a lot of these people really aren’t up to working a full week or leastways not right away. But we ought to have almost everyone working at least two 8 hour days a week and preferably three. Or 2 12 hour shifts a week or every 8 days.

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The solution I propose is prosaic and dull and boring but the reasoning why this solution ought to work needed going over. If the explanation is old than perhaps it is old “wine” rather than old hat as one Misean explained. 

We want to allow the double-expensing, for tax purposes, of labour costs, for some of these people. This need not be considered to be a forever thing. We need not see this as a general and eternal solution. In the wider scope of economic theory there are negatives to this. I don’t deny these theoretical negatives. But assert that there are many real world considerations that mean that this measure will be a fantastic medium-term patch-up in what afterall are very hard times.

A sort of psychic lower bar has been set in our labour markets. A sort of minimum hurdle has been set.It has been set by every imaginable bad policy in the economy. By every measure that subtly predjudices in favour of big business. By every measure that forces people to have a qualification to do certain jobs (whether or not such restrictions have validity) by every measure that tries to push earnings up. We might judge economic policy on the basis of the theoretical capitalist economy. But we need to take account of how things are on the ground.

Imagine Brian having to traipse around to one employer after another. There he is with no teeth and bad clobber. Under the capitalist economy theory comparative advantage would come into play and he would be employed on some appropriate level. Under our real world he would be wasting his precious income and only humiliating himself. We cannot hope politically to get all the changes together needed to fix this scenario in some theoretically perfect way. We can however patch the situation with the double expensing for tax purposes of labour costs for these people.

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VARIOUS THEORIES OF THE FIRM.

Theories of the way companies behave are a prism which we can use to judge the situation. But they can hide as much as they reveal. For my part I suspect the firm in 2008 is most characterized by inertia. There are only so many hours in the day and already overworked executives, when taken together, may not produce the outcomes that are expected in theoretical economics where the firm is treated as if it were a single rational being.

I have my own theory of the firm which deals with the man and his intray. The man and his intray. And if you want to get anything done in a hurry you must make sure that the problem you want him to deal with winds up at the top of his intray and stays there. And when the other things cover it the word from the top is you keep on flipping the most important thing to the top of the intray.

We want to move quickly on something like this. We want this on the top of everyones intray all the time until people are likely to say “Hey you know this work we are doing here? Some of this could easily be done by a blind person.”. When such a discovery happens that a blind person could rightly do some sort of work we want that to be the top of everyones intray and we want the company to actually go out hunting down blind people to offer this work to them.

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THE PROBLEM OF THE EXPANDING WELFARE PROGRAM.

A reduction to absurdity may be offered here. If there is so much advantage to be had by doing this why not double expense all income? Why not maintain the hated company tax for the purpose of arm-twisting businessmen to set more people to work on the basis of double expensing all employee income. The person making such a critique would likely say that if the policy were not merely neutral, and therefore useless, it would be harmful as it would predjudice in favour of labour costs and against new capital investment.

But I make no claims for this policy insofar as long-term theoretical considerations in a capitalist economy are concerned. I only make claims for it as an expedient patch in our own interventionist economy. We need not let this squalor, indolence and humiliation continue. We would want our employers to solve these problems for us.

But what about the danger that the extra cheap labour will work against investment in increases in productivity? Well we need to follow up with measures that increase productive expenditure as a proportion of GDR and increase new capital investment generally. But we need to do that anyway. And when we have maxed out on such measures only then might we need to look at winding back this employment scheme.

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SPECIFICS OF THE SCHEME.

Supposing the a person works for $16 per hour for 24 hours a week. If anyone could earn more than that we would have to assume that he was not within the orbit of the disadvantaged.  So we might set the double-expensing, for the sake of argument, at $384 per week at the upper limit.

Such an upper limit does not preclude some otherwise disadvantaged person working for 38 hours a week at ten dollars an hour and the employer double expensing that amount. The tendency then is for the program to expand, and for more people to slime their way onto it. For this reason we must analyze what might happen if almost everyone could take advantage of this program.

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PARTIAL REDUCTION TO ABSURDITY.

Well for one thing, as stated before I don’t propose this strategy as a forever thing. Its just to help our mates out in hard times. But supposing the program expanded and it was felt that there ought be no means test. That the pretense of people being sick only sickened people into pretense and that we ought open the program to all comers.

So we then have a situation where the first $384 (or lets say $400) of labour or salary cost for any one employee can be double expensed by the employer. IS THAT SUCH A BAD THING? No way.  Its fine. Not nearly enough of us are working and a lot more of us could be working part-time. Older people, students, housewives or housewife wannabes, entrepreneurs in “pre-production”, struggling artists and under future harsh conditions, even child labour might advantage such tax incentives. All sorts of people could be better off even if this measure were expanded to its greatest degree. Just so long as we studiously worked to cut government spending and any other interventions and taxes that predjudiced against investment and capital formation.

If the program expanded so that it no longer proved a strong enough incentive to business to employ the harder cases than you might have the first $100 dollars every week triple-expensed and the next $200 double expensed and perhaps that would be enough to get the harder cases through the door.

WHAT IF THE DISTORTIONS GREW TOO LARGE?

We could go two ways on this. We could sunset any such scheme. Or we could say we are not going to sunset this business but we are going to work hard to reduce the company tax rate to zero over time. Hopefully by the time the company tax is reduced to zero good habits will be instilled in our companies and the fact of no company tax will in itself make capital so plentiful that we will have a sellers market for labour of all categories.

COUPLING WITH THE NEGATIVE INCOME TAX.

I’m no believer in the negative income tax except as an expedient to dissolve most welfare without hurting people. If the negative income tax is granted it will tend to expand. Supposing we couple the negative income tax with this double-expensing business? We want to do this in such a way as almost no-one is actually taking a subsidy. We want to make it that they COULD take the subsidy IN THEORY if they were starving but almost no-one is taking the subsidy in practice. Really we want all such measures to come with their own built-in phase-out.

MITIGATING AN ALREADY EXISTING DISTORTION.

The company tax is already a distortion. Matters tax deductible are not subsidies. But they can act like subsidies as far as decision-making is concerned. Companies under the influence of the company tax will have less attention to cost-cutting than otherwise. Agency effects will be stronger. The company will borrow more since the interest is a tax deduction.  All aspects involved with the determination to run a higher rather than a lower profit will be blunted. The general competitiveness of business is lessened. And reinvestment being less capital accumulation and the rate of capital update is less.

The double-expensing of these costs may be a distortion in itself. But it will lead to the grave distortion due to company tax being eliminated. Since most companies will run a loss for tax purposes and a profit in reality. Hence the company tax as a consideration is eliminated just so long as profitable companies can work hard to figure out how to get a proportion of their work performed by these disadvantaged types. To employ these people might be a great big hassle at first.  But it will likely get to be less of a hassle as time goes on.

 

Well I’ll round it off here. But the main point of the story is that some evils are made less evil if they are 95% only theoretical considerations.

The evil of welfare dependence is not so evil if the welfare is there in backup and almost no-one is relying on it. The evil of the company tax on profits is not quite so evil if almost no-one ever has to pay this tax. That Centrelink has not been burnt to the ground would not be that intolerable an evil if almost no-one had to deal with Centrelink.

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Responses

  1. Good opening, Graeme.

  2. hey Bird, have you been advising Rudd? Isn’t this how you want taxeaters to be treated?

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/rudd-kept-defence-chief-waiting-hours/2008/06/21/1214009142028.html

    There is growing disquiet in the public service about the Prime Minister’s attitude towards the bureaucracy.

    A newspaper report said Mr Rudd recently kept two of the nation’s most senior officials waiting outside his office for hours.

    Australian Defence Force chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs Michael L’estrange were shabbily treated in being left to wander the corridors for so many hours missing important appointments.

    News Ltd said the PM’s also recently accused the public service of leaking information and not working hard enough.

  3. No thats a latte-drinkers attitude to the armed forces. These Rudd types always treat them with contempt. As if it is the armed forces that are useless and not the latte-drinking left.

    From a defense point of view Rudd would be of the implicit opinion that he can always offer some sort of sellout or Danegeld. So in his mind “what are the armed forces for”? Mostly for diplomatic acts of national sacrifice he would imagine. Rudds a dangerous narcissistic loon. He ought never have been allowed in Canberra. Let alone given the top job.

  4. what about the bit about Rudd accusing public servants not working hard enough? what if they’re non military? surely you approve of that?

  5. Of course not. I approve of them getting a tax exemption in lieu of redundancy and then going to work in the private sector. Why would I be hassling these people for and getting them up at nights? Making them wait? Whats this all in aid of?

    Rudd is simply abusing people needlessly in order to get them to do terrible things that will impose costs on the rest of us.

    Is he getting people to lose sleep over fuelwatch-bloody-fuelwatch? He’s surely not making them lose sleep over bringing people back from Afghanistan. Or for a diplomatic mission to obtain nuclear subs and the Raptor.

    The guys an idiot. He’s sending all the wrong signals abroad. No-ones minding the store.

  6. yeah, check this out

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23814142-662,00.html

    OPPOSITION MPs have ridiculed the need for federal public servants to work 35 hours straight to draft the Government’s FuelWatch legislation.

    The Rudd government today used its numbers in parliament to prevent the opposition censuring Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen over the rushed preparation of the legislation.

    Three Federal Treasury officials laboured for two days, working through the night on a bill introduced to parliament last week.

    The Opposition accused Mr Bowen of misleading parliament as it tried to move a censure motion in parliament this morning.

    Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey called for Mr Bowen to explain why he misled parliament during yesterday’s question time.

    Mr Bowen, in answer to an opposition question, had denied Treasury officials had worked through the night of May 28 to prepare the legislation, Mr Hockey said.

    But a senior treasury official told a Senate estimates hearing later yesterday that she had worked 35 hours straight until after the FuelWatch legislation was introduced in parliament the following day about 6pm.

  7. So you see there that he’s getting them to work hard to produce BAD THINGS. Not “goods” but “bads.” Anything worthwhile doing is something you have to get right. So if you are putting together a diplomatic program to get hold of the Raptor this is something that you can’t do a 35 hour cramming session over. They have got to succeed. So they cannot show up exhausted and in a situation where they may make a mistake. But if they are making bad things it doesn’t matter. They can make these people work all night because you don’t have to get it right, its not something you can get right, its not meant to be a good thing and its only going to hurt people anyway. So why get it right? Why not try and turn it into a cramming session?

    Can you tell me anything GOOD that Rudd is abusing people over? None of it. Its all bad. And meanwhile we have him stealing money and just handing it out like its his money. Not getting people out of Afghanistan. Not getting anything done at all thats worthy.

  8. Very interesting, Bird. I read the whole thing – even though I’m an economics illiterate, as you know. Your Brian case study and humane outlook (excepting for Canberra taxeaters) indicate a drift towards some kind of Catholic libertarianism. You’re right too about Centrelink – as Jason is. They could probably be bulldozed tomorrow throughout the country and it wouldn’t make any difference. Would save lots of dosh, though.

    As for Rudd, I think he could have been a passable finance minister, you know. He hates his colleagues anyway and couldn’t care less about their pleading. He’s always looking to distinguish himself with some new innovation – which, on a smaller one-portfolio scale, he might even be able to bring to fruition every so often. He accidentally became prime minister, alas.

  9. Yeah I don’t know who to blame for foisting Rudd onto us. So I’ll blame Philip Adams. He was boosting him constantly from years back. Hopefully the people who run the morning show wouldn’t have given him air time if they knew they would be helping launch him to the top job.

    Its the diplomatic signals he sends that are most troubling to me. I think of diplomacy as like an email. You have the sender, the receiver, but you have the CC line. But you don’t spell things out literally in the CC line. You are sending messages in the CC line to third parties. The message that Rudd is sending is always that we are incredibly weak and unserious.

  10. “Your Brian case study and humane outlook (excepting for Canberra taxeaters) indicate a drift towards some kind of Catholic libertarianism.”

    A DRIFT?

    I thought my communication skills were pretty good. These days I’m finding thats not the case.

    Libertarianism is the DIRECTION we must aim policy in. Its the DIRECTION. But its JUST the direction.
    This doesn’t mean that on the road to lesser compulsion, waste and abuse, we can ignore these other vital matters that hold a humane and civilized society together. Those invisible strings that hold the whole deal together. Many of these intangibles cascading down from the one who separated the perogatives of Ceasar from higher obligations.

    If it is thought that the family farm is important to the vitality of the federation, and the rationality of the culture, then we can support that with policy and if we are libertarians we don’t need to be ashamed about it. But we have to move away from supporting it with tariffs, bailouts, zoning and spending programs. We might resort to these in the very near term.

    But tax exemptions and the structuring of the land tax to the big corporations ought to be enough in the long run.

    If it is thought that surplus balances of payments in peacetime, are a strategic asset for the maintenance of sovereignty……. than a good libertarian will advise an authentic patriot how this might be achieved without certain self-defeating abuses to the free market.

    We can have a society of such loyalty and cohesion that only a madman would attack. That the tyrant-wannabe, if he has an atlas in his office, has it oddly turned down so that Australia is not showing, for the fear that its very shape causes in his gut, when that shape ismingled with his over-reaching ambition. We can have it that such a person would rather have his teeth pulled out than cross us by hurting our civilians.

    In principle I am one with your man Santamaria. And always have been. And never was not that way. Its no drift.

    We can maintain our sovereignty, our values, and our righteous Athenian/Christian civilization. And still live a little more free every year.

    I have a problem with a lot of alleged libertarians on the basis that they have no “CULTURE”. They mean well for the most part but they are uncultured. And I don’t mean that in any small way.

    You are used to libertarianism being used as some sort of cultural-erasure-machine. Well thats KIDS for you.

    I used to be a drifter. But when it comes to these ideas I aint drifting nowhere.

  11. Yeah I don’t know who to blame for foisting Rudd onto us.

    About 51% of the Australian electorate.

  12. In principle I am one with your man Santamaria. And always have been. And never was not that way. Its no drift.

    Yeah, drift was not the best word as you were always appreciative of his worldview – the compatibility of which vis-a-vis libertarianism you describe eloquently; viz:

    This doesn’t mean that on the road to lesser compulsion, waste and abuse, we can ignore these other vital matters that hold a humane and civilized society together. Those invisible strings that hold the whole deal together. Many of these intangibles cascading down from the one who separated the perogatives of Ceasar from higher obligations.

    Insofar as the protection and defence of, you know, liberty is the soul of libertarianism, it could be argued that Santamaria did more for liberty-arianism than all of the libertarians put together. Many of whom, I suspect, were happy to smooch up with the leftist wreckers Santamaria was opposing in the unions and the universities lest they be thought to be frightfully right-wing at dinner parties, in the faculty lounge or on the shop floor. Culturally AWOL many of them were.

    I have a problem with a lot of alleged libertarians on the basis that they have no “CULTURE”. They mean well for the most part but they are uncultured. And I don’t mean that in any small way.

    Essentially nihilists, they know the price of everything but the value of nothing. Not all of them. The great shame about libertarian incompetence in the real-world political arena is that their ideas on fiscal restraint, trade and other matters are not being given a sufficiently resounding voice in the major parties. If you think of what the Drys achieved in the 70s by introducing more disciplined policy ideas into the Federal arena, you can see that even a few well organised actual or semi economic libertarians can make a difference. As I was saying, not all libertarians are nihilists and utilitarian barbarians. Just the ultra-beancounter wing who aren’t especially interested in wider, more complex questions. Ken Parish once called them the “I’malrightJacksoeveryoneelsecangoandgetstuffedians.” There was a lot of truth in that, even if Ken’s motivation was less than pure at the time. (He does love the attention that assailing libertarians brings his blog).

  13. “As I was saying, not all libertarians are nihilists and utilitarian barbarians. Just the ultra-beancounter wing who aren’t especially interested in wider, more complex questions. ”

    No one is a nihlist. Very difficult questions involving public finance or welfare reform for example range from highly theoretical discussion to empirical slugfests. Generally the more laissez faire models have better outcomes.

    Topics such as privatising lighthouses or implementing a NIT and labour market deregulation hardly have the strawman attitude Ken cooks up every three months or so when the NT News gets a bit thin.

  14. I didn’t think libertarians had an official view on culture. Nor should we C.L. Live and let live is as dogmatic as it gets. Be your own conscience. You might call it the “John Proctor” view of human relations.

  15. Well Mark, I was going to add above that culture and libertarianism are problematic because libertarians tend to subscribe to the Humphrey Appleby “no policy policy” on such things – believing that people can and will do what they wish without any cultural direction from the State. I am sympathetic to that view. However…

    There are policy arenas where the state will have to make choices that are inherently values driven and cultural. For example, in relation to the relative importance of border protection and the status of illegals in the United States. Another: deciding on a response to an AIDS-like crisis – weighing up the efficacy of quarantine with an openness to a more liberal/humane approach. These decisions make up a lot of what governance is all about – not least in the arcane and inherently subjective areas of foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, trade vis-a-vis human rights (qua China) etc. Libertarians cannot realistically advocate straight laissez-faire as a non-culture culture for governance. (What I’ve described as nihilistic – perhaps simplistically). It simply doesn’t work that way in the real world. By all means, advocate the withdrawal of government from such things as sports institutes, ballet, the arts, films etc. Yes.

    But ultimately, libertarian praxis has to proceed from a more holistic worldview.

    I remember seeing an interview with Santamaria in which he pointed out that he wasn’t an Irish Catholic – as most Australian Catholics are, culturally. He was an Italian Catholic. The difference was that Irish Catholicism was very canonical and puritanical (it was also influenced to some extent by Jansenism). Italian Catholicism, though, was “more airy”, Santamaria said – a more happily synthesised coupling of striving and pragmatism. Similarly, in much libertarianism we see a Jansenist model of scientistic, quantitative theorising and puritanism but too little Italian smarts for lived realities. I think a synthesis is possible and I doubt the Libertarianism Party will achieve much until it acts accordingly.

  16. I meant the Libertarian Party .

  17. Two lies in five words Hill. Go away Mark. What I cannot stand is a liar.

  18. I don’t pretend to be a libertarian per se, by the way. (I did read Hayek as a student and felt drawn to the elegance of the Austrian School). But I have come to respect the views on good governance of libertarians.

  19. I don’t know CL?

    How we going to hold this thing together? I just never have seen the general tenor of public debate quite as mindless as it appears to me now. A sort of corrupt FAMILISM that we might expect from Africans or Corsicans, creeping onto our politics.

    The good intellectual work is out there as never before. But its like the public discussion-methodology strikes me as dark-agers or precursor-dark ages level.

  20. Five words? No one is a nihlist, I suppose.

    Show me the doomsday libertarians Bird. I don’t think they exist. It is a movement that whinges but it is also a very optimistic movement.

  21. What the hell are you on about now. I suppose if you explained yourself it would be just more lies.

  22. I don’t victimize Mark Jason. I point out that he keeps lying. Your post is a lie and so therefore cannot stay on this forum.

  23. Italian Catholicism, though, was “more airy”,

    Don’t be stupid Currency Lad (what am I saying) Italian Catholocism is a pagan ritual involving fabulous orgies you’re never invited to. Only bog Irish clowns like yourself take it seriously. Those of us Gaels unfortunate enough to be exposed to Holy Motherfucking bastards Church who don’t interbreed with the livestock give it the boot asap.

    But feel free being a slave to Constantine. It’s for the best, weak mind n’ all.

  24. Mark –

    Be your own conscience.

    Egad man! Look who yer talkin’ tae. He cannae do that anymore’n he can open his own can of Meaty Bites. He needs Caiaphus for both jobs.

    You might call it the “John Proctor” view of human relations.

    Whereas CL’s view of human relations is Proctology Johns. 🙂

  25. Mmm. According to Mini-Mickey only Irishmen take Italian Catholicism seriously (?) and he – a skip who once insisted he was a Catholic (?) – now despises Catholics and regards himself as a Gael, which group came from Ireland – a bog he despises. (?)

    “IIB or not IIB, that is the question,” said Adrien’s honours examiner.

  26. a Gael, which group came from Ireland – a bog he despises.

    Actually Central Asia originally so ’tis reckoned; the lingo(s) survives in six ‘nations’ only one of which is Ireland.
    .
    Only bog Irishmen take going to Church seriously, the rest of us walk right on past it and straight to the pub. ‘S where we’re goin’ anyways right?


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