Archive for the ‘politics’ Category
With thanks to Wicklowwolf over at Freedom Ireland.
Vincent Browne’s latest article created a bit of a stir online. The headline, “Technocratic, unelected governments are the ideal”, was always bound to attract attention. His core proposal is as follows:
If parliament was where policies were decided and a technocratic executive arm were directed to execute those policies and be held entirely accountable for doing that, then we might have democratic politics and accountable politics.
I would have thought that we already had a substantial technocracy in the form of the full-time employees of each government department: the ones who remain employed regardless of which government reaches power. It seems that this proposal would like to take things a step further so that the Ministers themselves, the chief executives of each department, were also unelected.
Voters would lose control over these appointments; they may be appointed in a similar fashion to the European Commission. Would this reduce corruption and improve accountability? Something tells me that it would not. Those who reached executive power would undoubtedly be friends and allies of politicians, except one stage further removed from voters. Wouldn’t we rather have the messiness of democracy than surrender to even greater bureacratic control? Even better, we could abandon the notion that government can produce a perfect society. Let’s discuss the alternative.
Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose was one of the first books on libertarian political philosophy and market economics that I ever read. It’s an excellent chronicling of the economic and social decline of the United States (which has unsurprisingly run parallel to its embracing of ever more socialist policies). Here are two videos doing the rounds at the moment that go into some basic Friedmanite concepts.
I can’t be everywhere at once. This means I can’t refute every fallacious argument out there in cyberspace. But once in a while, one person manages to collate several spurious arguments and create a video out of them. Consider amhemsley‘s “Don’t want to pay taxes? Then stop stealing from those who do”.
The video is little more than a tissue of trite arguments; tax resisters are thieves, the government provides us with services, if you don’t love it you can leave it, and so on. Here’s a brief discussion of why the guy in the video is wrong.
State = Society?
One common tool used by the anti-capitalists is the equivocation of fairly distinct and unambiguous terms. State, society, law, order, protection and peace are all mixed together. In amhemsley’s mind, anyone who is against the State is against society, and subsequetly for lawlessness, poverty and chaos.
It is important to challenge this simpleminded view. Stateless socities have existed in the past, even for centuries. Parallel to the history of State-made legislation runs the history of private law provision. Society is nothing more than the lose web of interaction among people who share a common heritage. The State is a territorial monopolist of lawmaking and taxation. Society typically uses ostracism and exclusion to punish those who engage in unlawful or distasteful activities. But society will find it difficult to legitimately use force against you, which is precisely the point of the State.
From about 5:00:
“You know, all the guys watching this program will know people who are in debt. You know, they have got five credit cards. They have overspent on them. And what would be the advice that you would give to somebody in that situation? You would say, curtail your spending. You know, try and live within your means. Keep your budget down.
But, when it is a government, the advice is, no! Spend more! There’s this brilliant magic wand called Keynes. And it means that, the more you spend, the more you borrow, the better you’re going to actually make the economy.
Well, you have to be either a banker or a politician to think that way.”
Here is Jill Kirby on Morning Ireland discussing the Austrian approach to handling business cycles.
Here is Karl Whelan of irisheconomy.ie on the matter. It appears he posted the link so everyone could get “some entertainment” from the clip. I’ve made a few comments below Whelan’s piece.
Note: RTE requires RealPlayer.
*Edit: Ok, after listening to the clip a couple of times I noticed a couple of things. First off, I noticed that the presenter placed a large amount of emphasis on “suffering” through the recession. This is sneaking in morality tales in by the back door. It’s not unusual to criticise the Austrian response to recessions this way. For instance see Krugman: Read the rest of this entry »
George Bush, speaking at the APEC conference in Peru argued that the free-market could resolve the current economic crisis while global protectionism could only worsen the situation.
Mr Bush spoke passionately about his belief in the free market despite the recent world economic downturn.
He called for an Asia-Pacific region of “free markets, free trade and free people”.
“It is also essential that governments resist the temptation to overcorrect by imposing regulations that would stifle innovation and strangle growth.
Considering the intensely anti-free market policies recently implemented in the USA, the UK, the EU, Ireland, as well as on a global level, one wonders what other so-called “free market” solutions we have in store.