Monday, 15 October 2007

election announced

The federal election was announced yesterday for the 24th of November. I followed the previous election reasonably closely, albeit from a great distance, and suspect I'll also be very interested throughout this one.

Some of my closest involvement has been through John and the party he has started, the Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP). They were previously known as the Liberal Democratic Party, but the AEC (effectively, as I understand it) ruled that the Liberal party had a monopoly on the term 'liberal', which is both ironic and wrong.

John has cast around at a couple of social gatherings recently for warm bodies to run in House races for the LDP, including asking me. I was pretty tempted, and haven't totally ruled out signing up for a run in Ryan, but I think I'm probably more interested in discussing policy than in a Quixotic candidature. I'm also not sure to what extent running lots of "token" candidates(with all due respect to those I know who are running) is a good idea for the LDP; they're up for $500 registration per candidate, with little likelihood in most cases of gathering enough votes to be reimbursed.

I have strange discussions with John about politics. I agree with most of the philosophies and principles of the LDP, but have trouble with some of their policies, in terms of where they have chosen to apply their principles (e.g. shooters' rights, smokers' rights) and the practicality of doing so (particularly regarding privatisation and deregulation). It certainly makes for interesting discussions, though.

I'd encourage anyone who is remotely interested in politics to seek out others who are or might be, and to engage them in discussions about what you think is important for this election. If you have been unimpressed by something your government or your representative has said or done, one of the reasons that happens is because people don't engage enough in the political process.


Keith Duddy said...

Hey Jim, I hope you read comments. Maybe you could drop me a line to say you've seen this.

I like some of the LDP's principles and policies too. In particular I like the sliding scale/negative tax instead of welfare with so many conditions attached.

However, I think there are some "big government" neccessities that defy the naiive libertarian approach. A carbon tax/trading scheme would be one of those. A well-funded higher education sector that's not beholden to corporations and/or foreign students is another. And I note that the LDP is pro Nuclear power, which I'll think you'll find is pretty universally funded by governments up front to some extent in order to be viable. (Not that I want any in Australia anyway.) There are others.

For me the Greens strike a better balance between social liberty and government solutions to social goods that aren't easily facilitated by the profit motive.

Jim said...

I read and love comments :)

I'll tell John that you like his tax plan - I think he was one of its main authors.

Nuclear energy is an interesting one. I'd agree with their position that we shouldn't ban it, but I think you're right in that the capital cost associated with building a reactor is going to prohibitive in an unsubsidized market, and thus by the libertarians' faith in the market, it won't happen. One thing that might change that a little is if the marginal cost on electricity is adjusted (upwards, in general) to better reflect the whole-of-life cost including emissions from extraction and production.

My biggest problem with the Greens is that I feel like a lot of them aren't a constructive force in parliament, as they focus more on activism and lobbying than on constructive policy improvement. (The same charge could be levelled at the LDP regarding some of their policies, I think). Also, the policies on their web site talk about a lot of expenditure (on "good" things, I will add) without much mention of how it can be afforded, which is a luxury of being a minor party, but also indicative of some of the concerns I have about them viz pragmatism.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed! I had obviously mis-interpreted your political standing based on some comments you'd previously left on my blog. Cool! I notice from Kerry's latest post she either misunderstands libertarianism, or the LDP is doing a bad job of explaining what libertarianism is, or they are not actually a libertarian party. This bears some investigation.

Sharmin (Tinni) Choudhury said...

As someone who believes in the old saying "Vos droits fin quand ils empiètent sur celles d'un autre" I cannot support a party such as the LDP. In fact, while visiting the LDP website and reading through their principles I was struck by the naivity of it all. So no, LDP are not getting my vote either.

Jim said...

Cute phrase, Tinni, albeit grammatically incorrect: "Vos droits finissent ... ceux d'un autre". I'm having trouble tracking down its provenance - do you have a reference for me?

I don't think the LDP would have any problem at all with that phrase; they are very interested in peoples' rights.

In what ways do you think the LDP's policies show naivety?

Sharmin (Tinni) Choudhury said...

It's the from the french revolution or rather, it was one of the governing principles that were suppose to be part of the french revolution (which is why I google languaged it into french). I can't remember where exactly I read it, only that it was in wikipedia among the many french revolution entries. Although I first heard the phase as one of those phases that get thrown around without anyone having any clue where it came from.

As for the LDP principles... let's go with the economic ones because they are easier for me to deal with. The central principle of economics states Ceteris paribus people will act in a manner that maximises their personal happiness. I.e. without consideration for others or externalities. However for LDP principles to work in a way that makes society a better place (or even keep it they way it is) people would have to not just think of themselves. That's the naivity. A truly free market, one without regulatory barriers to entry price ceilings and floors, are good idea on paper but disasterous in practice because a segment of the population and/or externalities such as the environment end up paying the price for it. People just aren't that... good. This might sound cynical but that has been my experience and that's why I think the LDP is being naive.

Anonymous said...

Agree with your thoughts, Jim. I like the principles of libertarianism but the LDP's chosen social targets are strange to the point of being perverse. Shall have to take it up with the John-ho sometime.

Anonymous said...

How cute... one of your friends wants to explain economics to me. :)

Strangely, he shows in his second sentence that he doesn't understand basic economics. There is nothing in economics that says that people won't consider others in their decisions. Indeed -- I would say it's quite self-evident that they do.

He then goes on to say that capitalism only works if people thing of others. Wrong. If people always think of others then communism will work fine. But in a world where people sometimes act out of charity and sometimes act in their own self-interest... only capitalism can harness the self-interest for the public good (ie invisible hand, ie economics 101).

And then he calls me naive!! Ironically... other do-gooder trendy statists say that we're wrong because we assume that people are selfish, but in reality people are altruistic! These trendies really need to get their story straight.

He then says that a free market is disasterous. I assume he's basing this on "the vibe" because nearly all evidence is to the contrary.

When theory, reality and history line up against the trendies... they always have LSD to fall back on. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh... I agree our target issues weren't the best. But these things are largely driven by who is willing to put in the hard work and which issues the media wants to cover.

The media generally likes issues that are controversial and outside the mainstream. They aren't interested in people explaining economics to an electorate that is fairly economically illiterate (as per tinni above).

Jim said...

John, you will find many worthier opponents than Tinni for political debate on your journey.

(Also, "he" is a "she").