Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Even Conservatively Speaking, Colin Craig is a Disappointment.

I think Craig is a moral conservative only, not remotely an economic or political conservative, and a vote for the Conservative Party will be a vote for even more authoritarian statism than under National. And that’s a disaster for those of us who believe in the small state, laissez faire, and are moral liberals, some of whom will be tempted to vote tactically for the Conservative Party. Plus it’s a devil’s choice for National as a coalition partner.

On last week’s NBR Ask Colin Craig (Conservative Party) Anything, I asked how his promise to forcibly purchase land from developers he deemed weren’t building fast enough reconciled with those two basic tenets of conservatism: sacrosanct property rights, and the small state. This was his reply:

Other reforms such as land zoning (free up existing land use restrictions) and RMA (exempt residential housing and improvements) need to happen first. Also Govt needs to lead by example and better utilise it's large land holdings.

If the above fails then writing to a few land bankers (not developers with relatively small holdings) is a valid step toward solving the housing crisis. Interesting to see the UK Conservatives have had to do similar.

I don't see this as a breach of Conservative principles, legislation does empower government intervention, I consider it a last resort but better to use it than have a dysfunctional market like we have now.

No. His conservatism, proper, ended at ‘If the above fails …’ I wrote the below retort, but sent it over the weekend, and with NBR’s nanny moderation policy, with no one working on Saturday, it either was lost in their barb wired, or … whatever:

Colin, you can scope legislation to have the Fortress of Legislation intervene and interfere  in any areas of our lives politicians want it to: doesn't make it right; worse, that is the problem with the Big State you should be standing against as an upholder of small state conservative principles. Further, markets become dysfunctional precisely when the government intervenes.

Untrammeled property rights should have been your line in the sand, but you're not even bringing it to the negotiating table.

Disappointed. You never had my vote because of your moral, illiberal conservationism, and the liberal in classical liberal is important to me,  though I realise you have made a statement that you were never trying to get the Libertarianz vote: it’s just that I don't see how you can get even the true conservative vote with this answer, other than those, of course, voting tactically.

I should have added to the above that land-banking is only made profitable by state regulation that limits the supply of land. The fact that Colin understands this in his answer, yet still threatens to impugn property rights, regardless, shows him as, already, another populist prepared to lose what should be the abiding principles of a conservative movement, for a vote. Although I've never understood the contradiction of a conservative movement that believes in the small state, yet will use that state to check an individual's rights on grounds of - bigoted - moral conservatism.

Worse have been Craig's successive appearances:

In a further NBR piece he excuses state ownership and thus sees a place for it.

On The Nation last weekend he reminded me he is an economic xenophobe, wanting regulation around foreign ownership (which means limiting foreign investment).

Then last night on Campbell Live the unforgivable that lost him the vote of Mrs H he almost certainly had: he wants to double alcohol excise tax. At the time we looked at each other over our wine bottle – the couple who drinks together, sits (within arms length of the bottle) together – and were in unison: ‘He’s a bloody prohibitionist.’

So yet another wowser, state bully enters the pantheon of New Zealand Big State politics. No party that believes in the small state believes it can tell me what to do with my body. Craig has shown he will not hesitate to have the state bully on property and civil rights from a developer’s land ownership, to my martini intake. Get between the Hubbards’ and a martini, you’re yesterday’s story, Colin.

Add his already infamous quotes against the gay community and equal marriage, I can guess where he stands on legalisation of cannabis (NO), legalise euthanasia (NO), freedom of the individual to do as they like so long as they harm no one (NO).

The fact that Craig came into politics on the back of the leaky buildings issue, probably tells free, voluntary society voters everything they needed to know about him: for Craig, the state is the answer, not the problem. And that’s the problem with every party likely to make it back into the Fortress of Legislation 2014.

I think Craig is a moral conservative only, not remotely an economic or political conservative, and a vote for the Conservative Party will be a vote for even more authoritarian statism than under National. And that’s a disaster for those of us who believe in the small state, laissez faire, and are moral liberals, some of whom will be tempted to vote tactically for the Conservative Party. Plus it’s a devil’s choice for National as a coalition partner.

I continue giving my vote to Libertarianz, the only political party in New Zealand that will deliver unfettered, un-muddied property rights, and that will not compromise its principles for the evil that is pragmatism. I realise that society it traveling the opposite direction to the voluntary society, although perhaps from Liam Dann’s final tweet below, there is just this tiny squidgeon of hope:


  1. We have to smash the socialists in Labour and the Unuons and the communists in Greens and Mana.

    Given Key's cowardice to move on the franchise or to return NZ to democracy - a vote for the Leftertarians is a vote for Communism.

    If you're not a Communist the only rational vote is National in the seat and Consetvative on the List.

    At least the Conservatives won't pussyfoot around unions (Right to Work!), criminals (Arm the Police), and they hate bludgers.

    Sounds pretty damn good to me!

    1. I will never again vote pragmatically/tactically: I won't vote for statism. To be honest, one of the most important policies for me long term is legalised euthanasia: Labour will give me that under Maryan Street, I'll never see that with Craig.

      Worse, 6.00pm martini/wine time is an institution in this house that is of immense value to our lives: we love a drink. Craig is yet another wowser who would prohibit that. He can go to hell.

      Thanks for commenting :)

    2. It's pretty clear - when you disregard the rhetoric from each side - that the Key government has actually governed significantly to the left of Clark on almost every policy that matters.

      Even on "Nanny State" what's more important to Kiwis: lightbulbs or booze?

      And when it comes to key fiscal policies like superannuation and corporate incentives - even Cunliffe's official policies are to the right of what Key's actually done.

    3. May be a little hard on Key :) But I agree, they've squandered the potential they had coming in on the GFC to slash the size of the state. We'll regret they didn't if we have Labour/Greens next year, as at least that would've slowed them up a bit.

  2. Mark

    I have to confess that Colin's attitude towards private property rights is a signficant dissapointment. Not simply that he appears willing to trample them, but that he appears unable to grasp the wider implications of the thinking that drives that action.

    I'm reluctantly forced to agree with your assessment.


    1. Many of the problems the West now has are down to political pragmatism at the voting booth, and in the 'make-up' of politicians.

  3. Unfortunately democratic elections are now decided by the disinterested 'know nothing' small group in the middle who cast their vote based upon who looks the best and sounds least scary regardless of policy, ideology, rational thought etc.

    Politicians on all sides know this and pander to them.

    The democratic system is broken, but what to replace it with? Personally I believe we need to re-visit the franchise, and restrict it to those who are net tax payers. It won't solve the problem entirely, but it would be the end of socialism as a political force.

    1. That's why I'm a minarchist: why do we need elections per se to a parliament? Just need a constitution implementing the rule of law, or protecting an individual's property rights and the non-initiation of force or fraud principle, then a police force, army, criminal and civil legal system which could be voluntarily funded.

      No politicians. Do as you want. Think what you want. So long as you harm no one, and acknowledging minors are under the protection of their parents to exercise rights on their behalf until they have the judgement to do so.

    2. @Brendan, When the only way you can win politically is dis-enfranchisement, it just goes to show you have completely lost the political discourse.

      Not that disenfranchisement is happening in NZ, ever... On the basis of which I suggest its a very important topic of political discussion, and you should spend a lot of time on it.

    3. Hi Nic

      You are correct; the present system of bread and circuses is working just fine.

      It's not losing the political discourse that bothers me, I have been on the wrong side of cultural change now for decades; it's the loss of our historic liberties to the dead hand of State tyranny, facilitated by the ballot box that is my primary concern.

    4. You simply don't get it do you. If you are proffering liberties and that's not selling then there is only one answer. Either you are explaining yourself badly, or you have a very perverse definition of liberty on your hands. Both naturally result in loss of the political discourse.

      I give Mark, and others ample opportunity to explain themselves better, but am yet to see anything but a very perverse definition of liberty as a result. To put it in more concrete terms, Ha-Joon Chang (a Korean economist) likes to point out there is no such thing as a free-market. Every market has rules, and so the meaning of the term free-market is arbitrary, including ad-hoc value judgements of the listener and speaker. People made arguments that child labour laws were in-consistent with free-market principals (and they were right) but of course nobody seriously thinks that children should be subjected to a working week during their juvenile stage, and if you want to take that on keep in mind that property laws are equally as arbitrary.

      A free-market is at its core an arbitrary notion so nobody takes any concrete meaning from it, then when its applied selectively they will and do figure this is an exercise in deceit and marketing. People see the agenda because they don't apply the same values to a particular issue as the author so they can see the distinction (even when the author doesn't).

      Mark made an analogy to a chess match in a recent post, and it was a good one. It was particularly brilliant because he complained that he didn't understand the rules of the game his opponent played to, and that's correct, he doesn't understand that people can see through arbitrary judgements and make their own mind up. As I said it was a brilliant analogy, particularly brilliant because the same thing happens in chess when you don't understand the opponents strategy, in this case it appears as if your opponent has more pieces, though the moves are all legal you simply can't control the game. Your opponents pieces appear all powerful while your own pieces appear impotent.

      Speaking more recently, and also more concretely, Mark seeks to defend limited liability. The only classical liberals I know of were against limited liability (actually a lot seemed to be against Capitalism but that's another story), and one of the main proponents was Karl Marx. Since Mark has not explained, or attempted to explain, why Adam Smith (for example) would have had a change of heart at this point then I remain convinced that this is simply selective judgement being applied once again.

      I only expect more tantrums, and demands that nobody understands, or everybody is too stupid to understand, or everybody is to corrupt to understand and that its all just bread and circuses. We can look forward to you being on the wrong side of cultural change in the future too. Its a sign of progress as I see it.

    5. Brendan most likely hasn't been following you on other threads, Nic, so hasn't learned that your main point is Nic, and you'll drop any amount of context to get to Nic. The contradiction being I have no idea what you actually believe in.

      I've not got time to canvas all this post, you'll note my postings have almost stopped as my workload has piled on an that will be the case to the new year, but regarding your points on limited liability, the AnCap's are against corporations, yes. I believe a company (it's balance sheet) and especially directors, are liable for the actions of the company, but if you make shareholders who have little to no control over the affairs of a company liable outside of their capital contribution, then there won't be an investment market.

      I note you didn't answer to my last point on the Pike River thread Nic?

    6. Just in case I didn't explain that well: I'm saying limited liability of shareholders is consistent with classical liberalism, because an individual can't be responsible for that over which they do not have control, unlike the directors of a company. Hence, the only loss a shareholder should have is their capital, when the firm is negligent.

    7. I didn't answer that question, because its irrelevant, the government is in all probability correct that they have no legal responsibility. Several people, including David Cunliffe have all pointed this out.

      I don't see you applying the principal described in your final sentence to the Pike River case. What you seem to be saying is they ought to get all the profits (and their capital), despite the company having been found negligent. In any case I don't believe David Cunliffe actually suggested a violation of limited liability anywhere so this is irrelevant as I see it.

      The classical liberals were concerned about limited liability companies causing people to behave in immoral ways (ways in which they would not have behaved in an unlimited liability company), as their liability was limited. That appears to have happened to some extent as this venture which was wound up in order to limit the damage to the shareholders, it may also have had something to do with the selection of directors which were allowed to run it and have influenced the amount of insurance they had (which was vastly insufficient, and therefore cheaper and more profitable). That's the argument you need to tackle, your insistence that shareholders have no input is factually incorrect (its relying on the limited liability to position itself), a company with unlimited liability in the same situation would have insured its owners against liability better.

    8. A brief discussion on one point Mark,

      "regarding your points on limited liability, the AnCap's are against corporations, yes."

      That's true, but I wasn't discussing this, I was discussing the classical liberal arguments against limited liability corporations. There were prior to and following this time other forms of corporations which the classical liberals were at least willing to accept. I was not referring to Anarco-Capitalist objections to corporations per-say, though I think they have a point.

    9. Nic, I'm not that well versed on other corporate forms that classical liberals historically favoured over limited liability. Perhaps you can supply a 'succinct' link.

      Outside of that I'm broadly classical liberal/Libertarian but you will know from reading my blog I'm not orthodox. My stance on animal welfare, for instance, puts me well out of the fold and I can live with that contradiction.

      I am still comfortable with limited liability company, and without same, investment in the West, the West itself, would be way behind where we are now.

      To reiterate my position, before connecting back to your statement about shareholder input:

      First and foremost the directors' are responsible for company operations and direction. If there is negligence it is proper they be held to account for the decisions they have made, noting they can insure against this.

      Of course the company must make restitution for the negligence of directors or or employees. That's a given.

      But, not shareholders: for them to invest there has to be liability limited to only the capital they put in, otherwise, there will be no investment. Individuals must be responsible for the decisions they make and their actions, for there to be the free society, it is that fact, chiefly, the welfare state has short circuited and we are all starting to pay the price (particularly beneficiary families that now live on inter-generational benefits). However, in the typical investment situation, me investing in Telecom, I have no level of input that would put me on the hook of liability outside my capital, and significantly I can't insure against such unlimited liability. To be responsible I would have to know which directors I'm voting for are likely to be negligent or dishonest: I cannot be party to such information. Further, on such a vote you're also saying I'm therefore responsible for winning directors I don't vote for: that is as ludicrous as saying I'll be responsible for Cunliffe destroying the economy if he wins the election next year, even though I won't be voting for him. Same goes for my vote on director remuneration.

      Simply put, I am barely responsible for the make-up of directors on a board, and after that I bare no responsibility for what those directors then do because I have no control over them, nor am I in the boardroom to know the decisions being made.

      Finally, if I am risking my house and personal assets on those directors, then I'm not investing in Telecom or any firm. That risk is way too high. And there's the death of private capital raising. Where are we then?


      I think this succinctly summarises the classical liberal approach to corporations, by contrast. The main contrast of the day being the co-partnership model, where the owners were unlimitedly liable for the companies governance (and of course typically are its governors).

      "Of course the company must make restitution for the negligence of directors or of employees. That's a given." Unfortunately talking about the particular case, your given has failed. The company has been made bankrupt and either could not, or decided not to, pay for its negligence.

      Another thing which is also clear is that there has been a successful court case against the company which was negligent, and just under 3.5 million in damages were awarded. Despite this fact and the fact that the convicted company has avoided paying these damages to the victims, either because it was bankrupt or (and this looks extremely likely) because it was a shell used to extract maximum profits while protecting against liability, you demand that the case should have been handled through suit for damages. The (preposterous) implication is that such a suite would be more likely to be successful *and* would some how not have equally found a bankrupt shell company unable (or more likely willing) to pay its damages at the other end. This is absurd.

      Never the less you have from this absurd notion fabricated an attack on David Cunliffe, based on some made up implications for limited liability. I say made up because David Cunliffe has not implied an attack on limited liability (e.g beyond the funds invested) in any of his statements, you simply fabricated your case from your own wild imagination (which is a repeating motif of this blog). In addition you have equally ignored all the multiple ways the government is very directly responsible for this mining disaster.

    11. It appears obvious from contrast of two statements that this is based on a very simple double standard.

      "This includes the range of planning from prudent family size, through to sitting down with a broker once a year to construct an appropriate insurance package to deal with changed circumstances such as death of a breadwinner."

      So, the working class are broadly speaking to be held highly responsible for their actions. This includes of course the unforeseeable consequences, such as their future career prospects (and prospects to afford a family), as well as their likely hood to be made redundant, or in this case killed in an industrial accident (with a large degree of government negligence involved). For the working class, yes they are responsible for all that, especially the consequences which fall directly on them.

      On the other hand, if you are comparatively wealthy and have surplus income to invest in shares then,
      "To be responsible I would have to know which directors I'm voting for are likely to be negligent or dishonest: I cannot be party to such information." So regardless of your decisions you must not in any circumstances be held responsible, especially for the comparatively benign consequences which fall directly on you. This is regardless of the fact that investing in the share market is a voluntary undertaking. It is also beside the point to say that the distinction is based on the foreseeable consequences of your investment decisions, because the working class are no better able to foresee the future than the wealthy probably less so, and consequences tend naturally to fall onto the victims quite directly. It is plain as day the double standard which applies.

      This whole attempt to justify your own double standard(s) makes a mockery of the simple notion of responsibility, which I will now explain.

      'A person is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions'

      The only caveat which applies is responsibility is proportional to the part played in each case. So if you are part of the Government, and you de-regulated the mining sector and slashed regulatory funding in this area, and people said that this would foresee ably lead to accidents, and then you noticed companies were violating even the existing regulations, and then you choose not to shut them down while checking they were up to code, then you are highly morally responsible for the consequences of this. And you Mark, and me and every other voting citizen in NZ are responsible for our own tiny insignificant part in allowing the country to be run in such a manner.

      Some how you draw a conclusion that the National Government was not responsible for the very clear and tangible consequences of their actions (which you ignored), while David Cunliffe is responsible for the intangible consequences of your imagination. Since your argument violates such basic ethical propositions we should be far from impressed by the partisan nonsense ethical conclusions drawn.

    12. I've come back from four glorious days away from Internet to find you taking - from my scant reading of your comments - my last position out of context as per usual.

  4. You elected to have this discussion in this thread Mark. That was your choice, you are responsible for it.

  5. You always post in bad faith, Nic. For that reason I barely read past the first paragraphs of your posts anymore.

    1. You have charged me quite a number of time of this 'posting in bad faith' but unfortunately I have absolutely no idea what you mean. It appears you mean by 'posting in bad faith' that I take your words out of context. This I find only the more confusing, the first time you levelled that particular charge at me I was 'taking your words out of context' while replying in the same thread that the words were originally posted, quoting the statements to make it clear what was being juxtaposed together. This seems to be an uncalled for indictment of your audience ability to read more than one paragraph of comments.

    2. It's your language, tone and manner, across all threads. I tend to unfortunately respond to people in kind: so people who are open and friendly, get that in return. You've got this vicious, pedantic and agenda pushing aspect about you that turns me off. I get enough of that in my work day dealing with government departments. People such as yourself are not people I would associate with face to face socially, and I find I can't be bothered here either.

      I'll never not put you comments up, but while you remained closed and mean, don't expect me to read or respond to them.

    3. Never the less maybe its worth discussing the context of the particular statements which were juxtaposed.

      "This includes the range of planning from prudent family size, through to sitting down with a broker once a year to construct an appropriate insurance package to deal with changed circumstances such as death of a breadwinner."

      The context in which this phrase appears, is that 29 miners were killed in an industrial accident. It appears that the government could have prevented the accident by simply prosecuting the mine which was below code, and which the government were aware was below code, never the less they failed to do so. Following the accident, there was a successful court case against the company, where the judge and other members of the political class judged that the company had sufficient funds to pay 3.46 million dollars in reparations to the victims and their families. The company at fault however was a shell company, was vastly under-insured, and has been wound up, most of the directors have absconded, and is now claiming to have only half a million still owed to creditors.

      Into this context you decided to insert what may to you appear to be the pertinent question of the miners (and their families). Why of earth didn't you see this coming and take suitable financial precautions? And what are you doing asking for a hand out from the state? You also draw the conclusion that the very statement that the state might be responsible in some way, immoral, based on the tremendous financial burden that paying 3.46 million would place on a state which can not become insolvent.

    4. On the other hand the statement,

      "To be responsible I would have to know which directors I'm voting for are likely to be negligent or dishonest: I cannot be party to such information."

      Comes from the context of the very same post and discussion. The leader of the opposition has stated that his government would seek to pay the court awarded reparations, and would then in turn seek to some how use its influence to get this out of existing shareholders of the bankrupted corporate. You have at this point invented an argument that this somehow is an attack on limited liability (which it doesn't appear can be substantiated from the comments actually made, making it a figment of your imagination). Never the less in the context of defending limited liability you assert that any extension of responsibility for the manner in which profits are extracted is untenable, on the basis that a shareholder can not possibly foresee any of the consequences, and you actually go on to say that they can't insure against them. Of course you completely ignore the context that investing in a company is entirely voluntary in this context.

      So, I contrasted these two statements together, and on balance it does not look good. It appears that the shareholders must be protected against the corporate negligence, regardless of the extremely limited and purely financial re-percussions (of their voluntary actions, there is a wealth of investment options) which mostly do not fall on them, meanwhile the workers are fully responsible for the much more severe re-percussions (of their far less voluntary actions, there is a dearth of available jobs) which mostly fall directly on their families and them, and are in no way consistent with just financial harm. Its certainly not pretty.

    5. "It's your language, tone and manner, across all threads."

      This appears to be an admission that context never had anything to do with it.

    6. :) You are proving my point Nic. Part of your 'manner' is this obsessive pin-pricking and context dropping.

      I've not read your above posts before the last, simply because I've not got time, apart from anything else. I've had four days off, I've lots to catch up on, I won't be replying to any comments before at least this weekend, and then I'll be catching up with Carrie's on the anarshism thread first.