Saturday, June 09, 2007

Why freedom?

I get asked from time to time why I am a libertarian, why I believe in a lot less government, why I criticise those who believe laws, subsidies and taxes are the answers to problems. Those on the left criticise that it is "uncaring", as if the only way to care is for the state to do it, those on the right criticise it as being "naive", as if you can't trust people to make the right decisions for themselves.
The simplest answer as to why I believe in freedom, is that I have a brain, a consciousness and the ability to make the best decisions for my body, life and property. I respect the rights of others to do the same, and I believe that is way everyone should be. I'm an adult, and I resent other adults thinking they know what is best for me.
So when the state takes between a third and a half of what I earn, I expect either what it does to be done to a high standard (after all I can't switch to a competitor easily, unless you mean other countries and most of them aren't much better). I expect the law enforcement system to work, to focus on people who do harm, keep them from doing harm to others, and ignore those that don't. I expect the services I am forced to pay for to be first class, and to meet my needs, otherwise why bother?
I do believe state welfare should be phased out, but that is hardly heartless. State welfare has provided a bridge for some, but for many it has sapped their will to do better. Worse, it has become a tool for electoral bribes, with Working for Families being the latest example of trying to bind most families to the state. It is far better for the state to not take any tax from those on low incomes and have a flat tax of every dollar earnt about a threshold of, say, $10000. Voluntary charity is far more caring, moral and effective. I don't believe there is a right to a living paid for by everyone else, what if everyone claimed that right?
I don't believe that the state does a good job as a health or education provider, or that all children should have similar education. Children are as diverse as their parents, and parents generally know best what education their kids should have, as most parents love their children more than anyone or anything. Education should truly impart a spectrum of philosophies, a respect and appreciation for success - something that our current youth culture appears to denigrate especially amongst boys, especially amongst Maori boys. It is a damning indictment on post-modernist education that schools look to accommodate the tall poppy syndrome by catering for the average, instead of nurturing the tall poppies. I'm not interested in the average, very little of the difference between life today and life one thousand years ago is because of people being average.
Health care is also diverse, and the system should incentivise people to live healthily, not through taxes or health campaigns that treat people like children.
Most of all I oppose people who think they have the right to the property of others, unearnt, without choice. It could be those calling for unbundling Telecom's local loop, or any lobbyist wanting money from the government for their pet project.
The fundamental measure of civilisation is the extent to which human beings are allowed to make choices, to use their minds to decide for themselves, on everything. As long as one human being does not initiate force against another, then they are civilised. Violence is the tool of the caveman. Using the state to apply the violence for you is no more civilised, it is the velvet glove over the fist. Ask yourself next time when you wish the government would do something (other than law and order and defence), whether you'd do it yourself, or whether you'd like the government to do it to you too.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Scott.

I especially find the "tax free threshold" telling.

If Labour was truly about helping poor people rather than keeping people dependant on voting Labour, they would enact this policy rather than piss-farting around with Welfare for Families and Kiwisaver.

See it does everything they claim to stand for:
~It's fair to everyone
~But it means more to the poor than the rich
~It eliminates the marginal tax rate (disincentive to get off welfare)
~It would result, long term, in real independance - truly good outcomes for those in need, not perpetual dependance.

Now witness Kiwisaver, with lots of idiots saying "It's great, before I just spent my money on my lifestyle, now I can save!" What financial/budgetary skills has that drongo leant? None. What financial skils will their kids learn? None.

So more dependance, less intelligence, less self reliance and a bigger drain on the state. In a vicious cycle downhill.

Anonymous said...

P.S. My new blog URL is

Anonymous said...

Good post and well said.I'm saving it for future reference.

Hans Versluys said...

Congratulations on getting the coveted "Blog of the Week" spot in the Herald on Sunday last weekend.

Libertyscott said...

Thank you Uroskin and thanks craig, I've updated my blogroll

Anonymous said...

I do have to agree with the welfare point to an extent. I believe I told you this at some point, but when we first had our firstborn I insisted we not go on any sort of assistance, despite making a very, very small amount. It wasn't until he was put on a very specialized formula (which cost 200-400 dollars a month) that we needed to go on WIC (Women, infant, and children) that supplied us with the formula. It was a very sad day when I walked into the clinic. However, I do agree that it was the best thing we could have done at that point. Now, I don't agree with staying on welfare of any sort for extended periods of time, but I am sure glad it was there when we needed it.