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Neo-liberal Libertarian holds up Victorian England as “model for success”

30 September 2012 21 comments

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As the sun slowly sets on the political tragi-farce that was the rich man’s parliamentary vehicle – the ACT Party – it’s core supporters are desperate to find a new Party to call home.

Colin Craig’s  Party is most likely anathema to  socially-liberal and fiscally neo-liberal ACT-types and Libertarians – they would view the Conservatives as another ‘false god‘, to be studiously avoided.

Libertarians are of a strange species who hold ideological views diametrically opposed to socialists/marxists/social democrats – and even National Party policies.

For Libertrarians, the State is something to be cut back and allowed to wither away.

Which, strangely enough, is what Marxist/Leninists also propose in their vision of  a communistic society, where the State “withers away”.

The difference, of course, is that in a Libertarian world (which I shan’t call a “society” as societies do not exist in an individualistic, Libertarian model) property is individually owned and protected by all means, including use of deadly force.

In a communistic society, the same property is collectively managed, though again deadly force is used to prevent counter-revolution taking place…

It’s interesting to note that whilst marxist/socialist/communist regimes have existed in various forms, throughout the world – not one single modern nation has ever existed using  a Libertarian model.

In some ways, Somalia came close, with two out of three Libertarian tenets in play; minimal government and no taxation. The third tenet, a strict rule of law to protect private property rarely exist – though property rights were often enforced by force of private militias.

Indeed, the use of private militias to protect one’s own property is naked libertarianism at it’s  truest form. After all, if Libertarians argue that taxation is theft; that individuals should not contribute to  the education of everyone’s children – then it stands to reason that one should not have to pay for a Police Force to protect someone elses’ property.

When Richard McGrath was asked on TV3’s “The Nation”  about the implementation of libertarianism in any country, his response was eye-opening,

THE NATION: ‘Is there anywhere in the world that’s  a model for how you think?”

RICHARD McGRATH: “Well though it sounds strange, Victorian England actually had a lot of institutions that really looked after people in need, the friendly societies, and those sorts of voluntary organisations. And a lot of that’s gone now because the government’s moved in, muscled in, and taken it over.”

See: Is John Banks causing ACT’s demise?

Victorian England“?!

Is that the model of a Libertarian nation? A society that was class-ridden; poverty-stricken; poorly-educated; rampant with disease and crime; and where factories were free to dispense massive pollution into the air (causing the infamous London “fog”) and Thames River,  turning it into an open-air sewarage channel?

Is McGrath holding up, as the ideal Libertarian model, a society where mentally ill were incarcerated as criminals; ill treated; and poorly fed? Where children worked as slaves in vast factories? Where, if a husband deserted his wife and children, she’d be forced into prostitution to survive?

McGrath refers to the charity work of  “ friendly societies, and those sorts of voluntary organisations ” – which was indeed the case. There was no organised State social welfare, healthcare, or superannuation for pensioners.

Whilst factory owners made vast sums of profits on the backs of lowly-paid, over-worked, and mis-treated workers – those without work; the sick; the infirm; and other unfortunates survived on the meager handouts from charities that relied solely on the generosity of  some benefactors.

Oliver Twist‘ was not some fanciful tale of a dark Fantasy World. It was a slice of life from our nasty, brutish past.

A nasty, brutish past that Libertarians want to bring back?

To show how utterly mad these people are, and how disconnected they are from the real world, I refer the reader to another Libertarian, Peter Cresswell.

In the same programme, on Christchurch’s rebuild,  Peter Cresswell suggested,

” You could say, no taxes; get rid of the RMA;   so for 3 or 4 years or 5 years you’ve got complete freedom for people to do what they wish with what little they have left.”

See: Ibid

Complete freedom for people to do what they wish“?!

What – like rebuild on the same fault-lines where previous buildings crashed into piles of rubble on 22 February, last year? Or re-build using techniques , designs, and material that would be wholly inappropriate and dangerous to occupants?

Perhaps build a fifty story high-rise in the same manner as the ill-fated CTV Building?!

It is little wonder that in last year’s general election, the Libertarianz Party won only 1,595 votes (See: 2011 general election official results).

Very few people would want to live in a Libertarian nirvana that replicated Victorian England. It might be a fine thing if you’re a rich Estate holder, Industrialist, or Merchant.

But it’d be Hell to be working in one of their factories.

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Don – stop smoking that ‘Kronic’!!

21 August 2011 1 comment
Don Brash, Leader of ACT Party

Don Brash, on Q+A today (21 August),

“Nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do. There is no logic at all for Governments to continue to own them.”

Really, Don?

Let’s do a Fact Check on your claim that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”.

Case # 1: Air New Zealand.

In April 1989 the airline was privatised by Roger Douglas with a sale to a consortium consisting of;  Brierley Investments Ltd(65%), Qantas (19.9%), Japan Air Lines Ltd (7.5%), and American Airlines Ltd (7.5%) .

The owners were a fairly high-powered, supposedly commercially-saavy, group of corporations.

Sources:

Treasury 1

Treasury 2

The sale went through, earning the State $660 million.

In 2000, Air New Zealand entered into a commercial deal to buy 100% Ansett Airlines, for  $A680 million, from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Ltd. This deal went sour and Ansett Australia was placed into liquidation by September 2000.  Air New Zealand subsequently announced a $NZ1.425 billion operating loss .

By  October 2001, Air New Zealand was itself in imminent danger of collapsing and  was re-nationalised by the then Clark-led Labour government under a  NZ$885 million bail-out. The government ended up with a 76.5% stake.

So much for private ownership.

Case #2: NZ Rail

In September 1993, NZ Rail was privatised and sold for $400 million (less debt)  to a consortium consisting of Wisconsin Central (40%), Berkshire Partners III L.P. (20%), and Fay & Richwhite (40%). NZ rail then had a succession of owners, culminating in heavy losses, with a $346 million loss for the half-year ended December 2003.

In May 2008 the Labour Government agreed to buy Toll NZ Ltd (less its trucking and distribution operations) for $665 million.

This experiment in privatisation was also a spectacular failure. No private owner could make a profit, even with the government agreeing in  2003 to spend $200 million over the following five years, upgrading the track via the new SOE, Ontrack.

The rail network had been badly run down through lack of investment in new rolling stock and lack of basic maintenance. And one of it’s first private owners, David Richwhite were investigated late 2004, by the NZ Securities Commission, regarding alleged insider trading. In June 2007 Richwhite  agreed to pay NZ$20 million, but did not admit liability.

Another “Tui time” for private ownership of state assets.

Case #3: Finance Companies.

It might be worthwhile reminding Don that the recent chain of collapse of finance companies in this country cost investors  $6 – $8 billion dollars in losses . Many of these  are the real “Mums and Dads” investors that National speaks  lovingly when mooting asset sales.

So Don, spare us the rhetoric that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”. Because as many will confirm – that’s bullshit.

The question I ask myself is; Don, do you really believe that fantasy or not. If you do, you are deluded. If you don’t, you are  deliberately mis-representing the truth.

Either way – not a good look, mate.