Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Libertarians" is an anagram of "rats rain bile"

I used to have some sympathy with libertarians. I thought we might stand shoulder-to-shoulder against state intrusion into private lives. We agree that laws are made for the people, that the role of government should be limited.

But I didn't allow for one thing: the libertarian movement is governed by fundamentalists, who rule with an ironically iron fist. "Pragmatism" is a dirty word to them, along with "compromise" and "consensus". You can see the fruits of this wingnuttery over at the excellent Libertarianz blog, Not PC.

Most recently, these loons have been ranting about local governments' tendency to blow ratepayers' money on stupid pet projects. The current local government minister, Rodney "Quasimodo" Hide, wants councils to hold a binding referendum before they do any such thing - itself as dumb an idea as I've heard in a month of by-election politics. But, fume the wingnuts, "just because a majority votes to attack the wallets of a minority, it still doesn’t make it right".

(That, of course, is an all-purpose argument against any taxation of any kind anywhere ever. It'd make sense coming from an avowed anarchist, but from people who pretend to be joining in the democratic process, it seems a little odd.)

The loons have their own prescription to curb local government extravagance. "Anything here you'd object to?", they ask, listing their 12-point reform plan.

Well, since you ask...
  • Eliminate the ability of non-ratepayers to vote in all local body elections;
  • Reintroduce non-resident ratepayer vote;
  • W00t, just what our neighbourhood needs - a new disenfranchised underclass! Seriously, isn't that what we've all been craving since 1867 - reintroduce the wealth qualification to vote?

  • An immediate and permanent cap on the ratings levels of councils at existing monetary levels;
  • Seems libertarians are not immune to the visceral appeal of the "myth of stability".

  • Require that the 25% of councils each year that tax ratepayers at the highest level per ratepayer be required to reduce rates to the level of the lowest council;
  • Why only those councils? Surely all councils should be required to reduce rates to the lowest level. Because obviously the best way to decide a local area's needs is to assume they're the same as those of a completely unrelated area.
    Seems now you're not so much the spiritual descendents of the Dissenters as the spiritual descendents of Roderick Spode.

  • Require the abolition of all general rates differentials (e.g. higher rates for commercial properties vs. residential), with the current lowest general rating category applying across the board;
  • Eliminate targeted rates in favour of direct user charges;
  • Oh sure, because Ayn Rand forbid a democratic body of some sort should be able to influence the economic flavour or form of an area. That's just distorting the free market, right?

  • Eliminate local authority petrol and diesel tax;
  • Erm - what? Of all the things you've listed, this is the closest yet to a truly voluntary tax. You don't have to fill up your car in the council area - after all, the whole point of a car is that it's - well - mobile.

  • Immediately prohibit all councils entering into any new commercial or non-commercial venture of any kind, and require that all existing trading activities of councils (including roads) be transferred to Local Authority Trading Enterprises;
  • Yeah, because nothing guarantees "efficiency" better than setting up a whole new body every time you want to hold a raffle.

  • Prohibit ratepayer funding for any activities of any Local Authority Trading Enterprise;
  • Does this come back to the general opposition to any kind of taxes at all? I just wish you'd come out and say so honestly, then we can have that debate on its own merits.

  • Prohibit new council borrowing. Existing debt repayments will only be able to be made from existing revenue sources, including privatisation;
  • What "existing revenue sources"? If councils aren't allowed to trade, and they're not allowed to tax, then what exactly are they supposed to do with their existing debt? Go into liquidation?

  • Prohibit councils making bylaws that interfere with individual freedoms and private property rights;
  • So let's get this straight... If I don't want my neighbour to build a 15-storey block on his section, I should damn' well have the guts to drum up my own militia and remove him by force, not run whining to some kind of "local authority"? Yeah, that's a country I want to live in.

  • Require that all councils when acting under their statutory obligations under the Resource Management Act, fully respect all private property rights;
  • Translation: when enforcing the law of the land, make sure you don't stop me from doing whatever the hell I want.

The World's Smallest Political Quiz, which you guys link to, correctly pegs me as a liberal, leaning towards the libertarian cause. But I'm here to tell you, if this is your idea of sensible policy making, I'll side with big-government statists against you any day of the week.


Xigent said...

One always has the option of looking on the brighter side when vetting anagrams for Libertarians, does one not? Do you not worry that "rats rain bile" might offend civic-minded liberal and conservative rodents?

As you demonstrate here, the planks in the Libertarian platform are so brittle that, were they ever to be subjected to messy everyday political realities, they'd snap and fail in short order.

And then, rather than drenching us in verminous bile, these inherently cuddly theoretical empiricists would soon sheepishly profess to be "trainable, sir".

H. L. Mencken reportedly found still another anagram for Libertarians (I haven't checked this out myself, mind you): "I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time."

(Odd that a Libertarian-sponsored World's Smallest Political Quiz functions under IE but not the more philosophically kindred Firefox. I smell a rat.)

vet said...

Xigent, I feel sure that civic-minded rodents would join me in dropping bodily humours on any Libertarians who were foolish enough to pass beneath.

The political quiz worked in Firefox for me. Perhaps you have to enable Javascript, or something.

Timotiis said...

As far as political quizzes go, I've always preferred the Political Compass --

For some reason, the idea of being scored and given my results by a group which is pretty explicitly biased towards a certain position doesn't fill me with great confidence in the accuracy.

vet said...

Tim - yeah, I know what you mean, the questions are pretty well loaded. But the loading is aimed at Americans - mostly Republicans, I think - so questions that probably seemed unthinkable to them ("do you want higher taxes?"), I have no difficulty with answering "Yes! Tax me more! The govt isn't taking nearly enough of my money!"

I'm a sucker for all kinds of online self-analysis/classification quizzes. I remember Political Compass - it's good for Brits, but I don't know how well it works for 'Murricans. (I just took it again, and apparently I'm now politically identical to the Dalai Lama.) But however you look at it, there's no getting away from the fact that it takes quite a lot longer than the "World's Smallest"...

Timotiis said...

Oh yes, it's designed to give a particular group of people a particular result. The flaw, really, comes from being only two questions -- consider the following etremely short political quiz:

"Should the government fund a large, well equipped military?" Yes - Maybe - No

"Should same-sex marriage be permitted?" Yes - Maybe - No

As "Yes" on the first question indicates lots of government spending and tax, put that left wing. As "No" on the second option indicates interference in private lives of citizens, put that right wing.

Then if you apply it to the same sort of audience, you'll see the right-wing 'libertarians' end up pegged as authoritarian communists, and vice versa. Which is, I must admit, an amusing result.

This is why the Compass is good -- it has enough questions to iron out most bias, although it still isn't perfect.