Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Rod Donald's Chinese trade deficits

Rod Donald is bitching about a free trade deal with China, and sadly he is demonstrating he knows nothing about the free trade of which he complains.

Writing in today's 'Press' Donald argues, "I believe we will be better off if we don't lock ourselves into a free-trade deal with China."

Why? "We are already too dependent on China as a source of imported goods," he says. "In less than 12 months [China] is set to eclipse the US and Japan to become our second-largest supplier, behind Australia, but China remains well behind Japan, the US and Australia on the export side of our ledger."

'So,' you might well ask? What's the problem with that? The problem, says Rod, is [cue scary music] those nasty trade deficits! "While New Zealand's exports to China have grown more than 350 per cent since 1992," notes Rod, "we have had a trade deficit ever since then... For the year to March our $1851 million trade deficit with China was more than the value of our exports. In other words, we imported twice what we exported, and have now done so for seven years in a row."

And the problem with this is is what exactly? Are 'trade deficits' actually a problem? Only to a politician. Or a child.

Rod Donald has a child's view of how trade works. As economist Walter Williams explains:
I buy more from my grocer than he buys from me, and I bet it's the same with you and your grocer. That means we have a trade deficit with our grocers. Does our perpetual grocer trade deficit portend doom? If we heeded some pundits and politicians who are talking about our national trade deficit, we might think so. But do we have a trade deficit in the first place? Let's look at it. ...
You can look at it, right here. Send a copy on to Rod when you're done.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim

Can you see Hubbard and Hucker's Planning Advisory Taskforce approving this?

Consider the trees

Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy of The Free Radical.

The Greens who cried wolf

"A different sort of green literature has developed in the past few years - and it is not the sort the Green Party will happily hand out at its conference this weekend," says Colin James in today's Herald. [Hat tip DPF.]

Essentially, as Robert Bidinotto summarises the position, "A self-admitted former 'environmental groupie' within the mainstream media now contends that the environmentalist movement has lost credibility because of its scaremongering," and much debate has ensued. Essentially, there is a split between the traditional greens and those environmentalists that, as James describes it, are "not sceptical about pollution, biodiversity, climate change and so on but [are sceptical] about alarmist proclamations and using regulation to change behaviour."

I talked about this phenomenon here last month.

Now, we all know the Greens like scaremongering. We all know they dislike the idea of property rights and are in favour of central planning. We all know too that they like the word 'ban' -- 606 uses of the word on the Greens' site, and counting. Despite what we do know, however, the
Green's Frog Blog has weighed in, denying they're "instinctively in favour of regulation and against market mechanisms," but agreeing they are having this debate. Says the Frog:
One of the most lively debates on the Green Party members’ forums in recent months has centered around two pieces of environmental movement navel-gazing emanating from the United States: the first called “The Death of Environmentalism” and the second called “The Soul of Environmentalism”.
Bidinotto maintains in any case that the recent navel-gazing undertaken by environmentalists is misguided : "The underlying problem for environmentalists is not that they typically engage in factual distortions and scaremongering for a good cause. The problem is that their cause isn't good."

I commented on this debate briefly a few weeks ago here, mentioning "Robert Bidinotto, who argues that Environmentalism as a movement is dying under the weight of its irrationalism and its constant crying 'wolf'. Read the 'Death of Environmentalism' here, and its companion piece 'Death by Environmentalism' here. Both are linked from his website, Econot.com."

Enjoying life is good for you

As a TV piece* last night argued, being fat, French and forty is mostly an oxymoron despite the fats, cream, oil and drinking so prevalent in their diet.

So why dont' they get fat, and why are their hearts so healthy? As the healthy hearts of Frenchmen and a recent book 'French Women Don't Get Fat' both suggest, a lifestyle that sucks the marrow out of life is good for you.

France might be one of the most heavily-regulated countries in the world -- on paper -- but, far from taking seriously all the anti-fun killjoys as we do down here in the South Pacific, when it comes to personal freedoms Frenchmen and women ignore the wowsers and get on with enjoying their pleasures, and they do it with gusto.

And it turns out it's good for them. Here's a case where 50 million Frenchmen actually can't be wrong.
* I think the piece was on TV3's 'Sixty Minutes,' but I can't remember for sure.

Mediocrity and meddling announced by Hubbard and Co.

Authoritianism and mediocrity go hand in hand. So how to judge Dick Hubbard's announcement of a 'scorecard to halt ugly buildings' and an 'urban design taskforce' to vet new buildings except as a whole-hearted embracing of both. Herald story here.

Giving council's pimply planners and the designers of the beyond-bland Aotea Centre carte blanche to decide what they think is attractive and to reject the rest is like giving Dick Hubbard aesthetic control over Peter Jackson's films, or allowing Bruce Hucker to vet Karen Walker's spring collection. It's a recipe for blandness and mediocrity, and for the establishing in the Queen City of a closed-shop 'design establishment' to which everyone must pay obeisance no matter the merits of the members.

Frank Lloyd Wright had to fight for sixteen years and through eight different designs in order to get his final design for New York's Guggenheim Museum past New York's planning establishment, even as the planners enthusiastically embraced the concrete-box public-housing disasters that within a decade became the slums of the sixties. Frank wasn't part of the 'establishment.' His innovations weren't welcome, and would be unlikely to score highly on Hubbard's scorecard either.

"A member of the taskforce who did not want to be named, told the Herald last week that most developers would welcome the stricter rules 'but some of the development community is going to be upset'." What the Herald doesn't say is that, due to recent regulatory and statutory impositions from government both central and local many members of the 'development community' are already former members of that 'community'.

Expect to see more designers and developers retiring from the business as the stranglehold of mediocrity and meddling takes over in Auckland City.

Carlos showing the form Lions haven't

Good to see that Carlos Spencer has travelled well to England, and along with Bruce Reihana and Mark Robinson has starred in the Barbarians thrashing of England's 'third' team. Obviously still short of running rugby in the Northern Hemisphere, The 'Times' liked what they saw -- report here.

The 'Times' also enjoys the predictions of former All Black coaches Mitch and Mains, as did I. These are “the worst Lions . . . that I can remember,” says Lozzer. Read more here.

Don't you love all this psyching out before big games. All the talk; the screens around grounds to suggest you've got something to hide? The psyching-out didn't work for Waratah's coach Ewen McKenzie did it? Who's the choker now, Ewen?

Rodney Wriggles for Epsom

I sense desperation. Rodney Hide is boasting on his blog that:

a) Willie Jackson has endorsed him for Epsom.

That should help.

b) The National Business review "on their blog" have "predicted" he will win Epsom.

Well, no it didn't (see for yourself here), and NBR's blog is not NBR. And as one commenter said there, the blog's assumption is incorrect anyway.

c) "my rival Dr Richard Worth [has] endorsed me.

Well, no he hasn't.

This is all pretty poor stuff even by Rodney's latest standards, as the bickering from ACT supporters in the comments section below his boasts seems to sense. 'Extreme right'? 'Liberal'? 'Neo-conservative'? 'Dry'? 'Wet'? Whatever sort of principles or values ACT represent, it's clear that ten years of parliamentary representation hasn' t expanded the market for them, and even their supporters seem unclear on what they are. There you go.

And in other Epsom news ... the poll to decide whether I'll stand in Epsom for Libertarianz is nearing a decision, with the 'Yes! Stand!' vote having just pulled ahead of the 'No! Don't' total for the first time. First to 250 wins the race, as I explain here. Vote early and vote often, right over there on the right sidebar.

Beauty pageant

Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy of The Free Radical.

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Constitution

As James Madison said, “If men were angels no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. This in a nutshell is the essential argument against anarchy, and for a constitutional republic. Men are not angels, and government needs to be controlled

Government in essence is like a guard dog: it is there to protect us from being done over by others. However, if that dog is badly trained and it gets off the chain, we can be badly savaged -- more than we would have been without the dog.

A constitution is our means of chaining up the government and training it to act only in our protection.

As I’ve said already, the task of government is to protect us against physical coercion and its derivative, fraud. Good government is the means by which retaliatory force is brought under objective control. A good constitution, properly written, brings the government itself under objective control.

Such a constitution was the intent of America’s Founding Fathers, but after nearly two-hundred years the success has been only partial. Building on the success of the US Constitution and seeking to close the loopholes exploited since its introduction, New Zealand libertarians have written a Constitution for New Freeland which sums up what TFR thinks a constitution should look like, and why:

· The job of government is to protect our rights – a ‘Bill of Rights’ clearly outlines the rights to be protected.

· The job of government is not to infringe the liberties of its own citizens without due process of law – a ‘Bill of Due Process’ clearly outlines under what circumstances and in what manner those liberties may be breached, and for what purpose.

· The US Constitution has suffered from interpretations that have often been at odds with the declared intentions of the Constitution’s authors – the Constitution for New Freeland puts the intentions of its authors on the record in the ‘Notes on the Bills of Rights and Due Process.’

Every good constitution relies on two further important restraints on the growth of Omnipotent Government:

1) significant public understanding and support for the constitution and its protections, without which politicians and advocates of a ‘living constitution’ can pervert the constitutional protections as easily as the simple agreements given in the Treaty of Waitangi have been perverted;

2) government’s powers are separated, so that each of government’s three branches – legislature, judiciary and executive -- has some specified veto power over the others. The imperfect separation of powers in our present NZ constitutional arrangements shows the dangers of being without these essential checks and balances on political power.

The task of constitutional law is to delineate the legal structure of a country’s law; it must therefore be superior to all other laws, and law stepping outside the bounds of what is declared unconstitutional must be able to be struck down – an accessible Constitutional Court makes this possible.

The superiority of a constitution to all other law is both a good thing and a bad thing. What’s good is that once a watertight constitution properly protecting individual rights is in place, it acts to chain up the guard dog and to keep it on its leash for good. What’s bad is that once in place, a poor or anti-freedom constitution is very difficult to get rid of.

As history demonstrates -- and the constitutional conference of 2000 and the current Select Committee review of NZ’s constitutional arrangements foreshadow – a bad constitution poorly written can give the erstwhile guard dog control of the back yard and the house, and rather than protecting us it then has no impediment to doing us over.
Liberty, as Thomas Jefferson suggested, requires eternal vigilance.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Bill of Rights.'

Monday, 30 May 2005

Exporting the Enlightenment to the Middle East

Some people objecting to my comments linked from this article protested that Islam as a religion is not necessarily opposed to freedom. Crap. The very values of Islam are fundamentally opposed to freedom, and virulently opposed to the 'apostasy' of non-belief.

Islam once harboured the philosophy that engendered the Western Enlightenment, but it never embraced it; it did however embrace authoritarianism and theocracy because these are both fundamental to Islam, as Azam Kamguian says over at Butterflies and Wheels:
Non-believers - atheists under Islam do not have "the right to life ". They are to be killed. According to Islamic culture, sins are divided into great sins and little sins. Among the seventeen great sins, unbelief is the greatest, more heinous than murder, theft, adultery and so on... In a feeble attempt to disguise the Islamic attitude to apostasy, apologists often quote the Koranic verse: “There shall be no compulsion in religion”. For a Muslim wishing to leave Islam this is simply not true. In Yemen it’s punishable by death as it is in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under the Taliban and other Islamic states.
Islam needs the Enlightenment as badly as did the West, and Azam is optimistic about its embrace in Iran.

And I am delighted to say that hopes continue coming from Iran where the society has changed dramatically and deeply since 1979. The movement for secularism and atheism, for modern ideas and culture, for individual freedom, for women's freedom and civil liberties is widespread. Contempt for religion and the backward ruling culture is deep. Women and the youth are the champions of this battle; a battle that threatens the foundation of the Islamic system. Any change in Iran will not only affect the lives of people living in Iran, but will have a significant impact on the region and worldwide.

Therefore, we must fight the battle for Enlightenment in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks.]

55 million dead and still counting ...

If mass murder is your standard of out-and-out uncontestable evil, then how does 55 million dead rate? "In purely numerical terms, it was the worst crime of the 20th century. It took place in the USA in 1972...."

What was it. Read on here and be surprised.

And then tell the Frog about this man's idiocy.

European superstate temporarily derailed

Now this is just funny (from the Herald): "France overwhelmingly rejected the European Union's constitution in a referendum today, plunging the EU into crisis." The Times reports here that the UK will not even bother to vote if France's 'Non!' vote is confirmed.

The European super-bureaucracy might be temporarily derailed and Chirac humiliated, but have no fear several hundred-thousand bureacurats won't be off the rails for long.

We can at least laugh while they are.

First the good news: Lebanon goes to the elections

Lebanon's 'Cedar Revolution' and the subsequent elections being held today are still cause for celebration, but there is still concern that the 'unity of purpose' brought about by combined opposition to Syrian rule will collapse back into sectarian conflict after the election, no matter who wins.

Despite the problems, Publius Pundit at least is still optimistic:
In the very least, there is at least one thing to remember which should evoke hope in this process. After this election, there will undoubtedly be a new election law. And most importantly, the Lebanese elections will be free of Syrian influence. This means that the politicians who will be running the country will no longer have to pander to the Syrian regime, but instead to the people of Lebanon. Because of this, I believe that despite the current disillusionment with the various parties and Hizb’allah’s arms problem, Lebanon has already well begun its trek toward a healthy political environment.
Read his observations on the elections here.

Nats rejecting further ''malinvestment' in ACT

Sniping erupts after Nats snub ACT” says the 'Dom' headline this morning, after National Party president Judy Kirk unequivocally rejected yesterday the possibility of a last-minute deal giving ACT a leg-up into Parliament.”

“Privately, says the 'Dom,' “many National MPs are writing off ACT's chances of surviving the next election. And any remaining goodwill is quickly evaporating amid disagreement over strategy.”

I’m not sure why Act supporters should be either surprised or disappointed at this outcome. On current polling and as the story says “ACT faces a big task dragging itself above the 5 per cent threshold for winning seats in Parliament” (and with ACT’s present parliamentary strategy of mud-slinging and scalp-hunting that task is surely made even harder), so it is no surprise that National Party luminaries should be looking at the ACT party as a sunk cost representing what Hayek called significant ‘malinvestment,’ and needing to be quickly written off as all such malinvestment should be.

As every good Hayekian knows -– and ACT is nothing if not full of Hayekians – malinvestment is a misallocation of resources following a period of either artificially cheap credit or a cluster of poor decisions caused by fads, natural disasters, cultural change and the like.

The number of new political parties blazing across the New Zealand political firmament since 1995 has been a sort of ‘political dot.com boom’ caused largely by the political ‘credit expansion’ of MMP, and as Judy Kirk has undoubtedly recognised, some of that malinvestment needs to be recognised and expunged for the long-term political health of the country.

As every good economist would agree – and ACT is nothing if not full of economists -- the best thing when malinvestment is identified to write it off as soon as possible. This is the ‘creative destruction’ of capitalism that Schumpeter wrote about, and ACT party thinkers support. But not when it’s happening to them.

Rather than bemoaning their fate as the Dom headline suggests, ACT supporters should take off their rose-tinted glasses and instead put on their economists’ hats. If they do, they’ll understand what’s going on here: Judy Kirk’s dismissal of investing any further in ACT is recognition that ‘creative destruction’ is a necessary component of long-term growth, and that the ACT party now are nothing but fertiliser for that growth.

A party of economists should surely recognise the value of her observation. I’m sure Don Brash does.

A low point even for rugby league

A low point even for rugby league this morning.

Out-and-out thug and former Warrior's- prodigy Shaun Metcalf and his two teenage friends tried to kick to death Metcalf's unborn child two years ago by viciously assaulting his pregnant girlfriend in a Mangere carpark. They served an eighteen month jail sentence for the assault, and now have been handed a ticket back to rugby league.

An NZPA report says this morning:
The New Zealand Rugby League board has decided the three Auckland 17-year-olds, suspended for assaulting the teenage girl in a suburban reserve nearly two years ago, can rejoin the code.
Who on earth would look forward to cheering any sporting achievement by these guys?

Remember just a few years ago when the Springboks fielded in their front row a convicted murderer, jailed for beating to death a black farm labourer? It was a low point even for the Springbok jersey, and yesterday's decision leaves a similar taste in the mouth.

You can be banned from rugby league for life for punching a referee, but these guys who only through good fortune failed to kick to death an unborn child somehow deserved a chance to 'rehabilitate themselves.' This is a low point even for rugby league.

Nats should have given Frat Pack an unlisted number

Personally, I find it hard to get excited at a National Party list that includes the so-called ‘brat pack’ of congenital political losers. Remember how the electorate rejected them last time? As a reward, the Nats have given them all top places at the table this time.

Remember boyish Bill English asking why Helen Clark “didn’t burn the corn” when most reasonable people were thinking that not burning the corn was perhaps the one reasonable thing that she had done in her time as PM; remember Nick Smith calling the loathsome RMA “far-sighted environmental legislation”; remember Vile Ryall promising to end the presumption of innocence as a Minister of Justice; remember then-Education Minister Lockwood Smith introducing the appallingly politically-correct NCEA?

I do. The electorate does. These are men with few ideas, and all of them bad.

Rather than giving these soft-shelled political liabilities a list placing – all of them in the top ten -- isn’t it time instead to give all of the ‘Frat Pack’ an unlisted number? In my view, until the Nats purge themselves of these gentlemen and of colleagues such as Murray McCully – strategist soon for three election defeats in a row – the party’s days are numbered.

Sunday, 29 May 2005

Bali: No Smoking

Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy The Free Radical.

Top ten best things about Winston Peters

Winston's latest immigration grandstanding gives him headlines, hatred and polling increases, showing you can never underestimate the market for bare-faced, scaremongering xenophobia. But there are good things about Winston Peters

Here's the top ten best things about Winston Peters:

  1. He's a perfect litmus test. You know immediately that when you meet someone wearing a NZ First rosette that you won't want them as a dinner companion. This immediately rules out 13% of the population, making the organization of dinner engagements so much easier.
  2. Sartorial elegance. As David Lange famously observed when Winston was late for a meeting, “I expect he’s been detained by a full-length mirror.” His focus on sartorial elegance over political substance at once raises the dress-sense of parliament, and ensures little of substance is discussed there.

  3. Unemployment. Winston has over the years offered benevolent assistance with unemployment for the otherwise unemployable. Who else for example would offer employment to the dozens of tailors’ dummies that occupy the other seats in the NZ First caucus?
  4. The Perfect Politician. Winston is incurably lazy, possibly the laziest man in Parliament. In a politician, this is a good thing – a very, very good thing. The lazier they are, the less trouble they pose to us. As Winston showed when he was Treasurer, he doesn't want to work like a cabinet minister; he just wants a big office with his name on the door. This isn't entirely a bad thing: As Mark Twain observed, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session" -- with more politicians in the legislature with Winston's work ethic, parliamentary activity would soon slow to a satisfactorily safe stupor.
  5. Shamelessness. Winston offers willing students a master-class in grandstanding, something Rodney for example still needs help with. Winston doesn't care whether the mud he's throwing is based on fact (as it was with Peron) or on fiction (remember the grounding of the Cook Strait ferry?), but just by pure chance some of the mud that needs to be thrown and wouldn't otherwise be chucked gets an airing that it wouldn't otherwise get – such as the disgraceful corruption surrounding the Berryman affair.

  6. Winston keeps the country safer. The moonbat bigot constituency on which Winston has a stranglehold has been captured in other countries by thugs that are serious about the hatred they’re whipping up. The likes of Ian Paisley, Le Pen and Slobodan Milosevic believe in the hatred themselves; they take the xenophobic bigotry seriously and do serious damage with it. Winston doesn't believe a word of it; he whips it up only so that he can be kept in a nice office and new Italian suits. As long as Winston is there, there’s no future for the National Front, and no likelihood of civil war.

  7. He’s not a professional Maori. Unlike countless others of rich beige hue who make a career out of that one attribute, Winston has eschewed that easy road to sucking off the state tit … and found another.

  8. Entertainment value. In a sea of grey, bland parliamentary conformity Winston stands out – and that’s just in the NZ First caucus room. When Winston wakes up every three years, whatever else you might think he does at least makes the news worth watching again.

  9. He likes a drink. That’s a good thing in and of itself in my book. As long as he’s buying.

  10. No government. Having Winston as a cabinet minister is certainly like having no government, but there’s even more to excite a libertarian! Remember the extended negotiations of 1996 when for several exciting weeks the country didn’t have a government (prompting The Independent to write: "The Libertarianz were right all along” as people noticed the sky wasn’t falling in.) As long as Winston is still in with a shout, we have the exciting prospect every three years of an extended period in which we actually no government at all. If only that happy state of affairs could be replicated more often.

Gangsters Pass 18th Amendment

October 29, 1919. Mob takes over liquor industry. Courtesy, 'The Onion.'

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Drugs

Current laws against the use of various substances are a prime example of how an illegitimate concept of the role of government, i.e. that it may forcibly try to save us from ourselves, can be self-defeating and positively harmful in practice. The prohibition of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, speed, etc, has exacerbated every problem it was designed to overcome, just as the prohibition of alcohol did in America between 1919 and 1933.

The advent of organised crime, the artificially inflated black market value of drugs, the huge increase in drug-related burglaries and murders, the dramatic rise in the level of addiction, are all consequences of prohibition.

Prohibition also diverts significant police resources that ought to be focused on crimes with victims – murderers, thieves, rapists and the like.

Policemen who should be protecting rights end up violating them, and their corruption is encouraged. Former head of Scotland Yard’s Drug Squad Eddie Ellison used to tell new recruits they should expect to see their colleagues become corrupt within two years. He now sees legalisation as “practical policing” and the best way to reduce serious crime.

Manpower and money are seriously wasted in tortuous efforts to uncover marijuana crops and meth labs, to round up users and suppliers (in violation of the rights to property and liberty), to confiscate farms and smallholdings if cannabis seedlings are found on one’s property, to criminalise otherwise innocent people -- and all to ensure that inflated profits and the control of drug quality stay in the hands of criminals and corrupt police.

The recent sentencing of young Schapelle Corby highlights the absurdity of the War on Drugs™: jailed for twenty years for importing 4kg of marijuana – a crime without any victim – when the same justice system had sentenced the organiser of the Bali bombing that killed over 200 people to just thirty months. Schapelle Corby is a martyr to an absurdity; in protecting us from ourselves and criminalising people such as Corby the government does more damage than does the alleged problem they purport to be fixing.

In short, prohibition begins as a violation of rights in principle -- a violation of the right to live one’s life as one sees fit -- and ends as a massive violation of rights in practice.

Libertarianism advocates complete decriminalisation of all proscribed substances.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Constitution.'

Saturday, 28 May 2005

Separation of State and School

I'm just listening to a fascinating online interview on The Moral and Practical case for Completely Private Education here at Prodos.Com. (You'll need Real Player to listen.) Much better than listening to the bland conformity of, for example, New Zealand State Radio while drinking your coffee on a Saturday afternoon.

From Prodos' site, topics covered include the following (and a number of strange diversions on catholicism and history!):
  • Why do most people assume the solution to education should be government based?
  • Where in the world are most people rejecting government involvement in education?
  • Margaret Thatcher’s reaction when Marshall Fritz asked her what she thought about getting rid of government schooling.
  • Public education as a monopoly.
  • The problem with “common schooling" and the lowest common denominator, blandness, conformity, relativism, and “going on feelings”.
  • The aim of government education as breeding conformity, obedience, dependence.
  • Government schooling as a state jobs program for teachers.
  • Who makes the decisions in a government system as to which of the many possible approaches to education the state system will use?
  • What about parents who are irresponsible? Who won’t educate their kids?
  • In a totally private, free school market will schools likely be larger or smaller?
  • The three stages of radical change.
I've got my own ideas about radical change here, and my own arguments about education that you may want to check out here. (And do check out Ludwig von Mises' book 'The Anti-Capitalist Mentality' recommended on the show, online here.)

Schapelle Corby is the collateral damage of war

“Went through my bags like McCartney in Japan
I didn't have a thing so I didn't give a damn
You can't trick me
'Cause I've been to Bali too.”

The trial and conviction and the public responses (many representative responses here) to the twenty-year sentence of Schapelle Corby have shone a light on some of the interesting hypocrisies of our modern world.

First off: Innocent or guilty? It seems fantastic that
Corby wouldn't have noticed someone having slipped a pillow-sized 4.1kg bag of electric puha into her slim, light boogie board bag. And if the weight of Corby's bags at either her Brisbane check-in or Sydney transfer did show a 4kg discrepancy with their weight at Denpasar her defence team would be supremely incompetent not to have raised that, wouldn't they?

Since bag and board were there in the courtroom it didn’t matter that they hadn’t been weighed when the drugs were found, they could have been weighed in court. That her defence didn't raise the weight discrepancy suggests there wasn't one. Guilty? Seems likely.

Second: Innocent or guilty of what exactly? Of smuggling some recreational hash? Should that actually be a crime? Who exactly is the victim here? If users weren’t criminalised what exactly would the ‘drug problem’ be – that some people like to get high and others object to that? So what? I like to get drunk and fall over; doesn’t hurt anyone except myself. Robert Downey Jr never had a problem at work, expect that he kept getting arrested for buying drugs.

The real ‘drug problem’ is not that some people take drugs, it is that the busybody Puritanism of The War on Drugs has made drugs criminally expensive, put drug profits and control of drug quality into the hands of criminals and corrupt policemen, and has criminalised people like Shapelle Corby. Read here for example. As H.L Mencken said of such people, "A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time."

Is that really sufficient motivation to criminalise those guilty of nothing except pleasing themselves?

Third: The twenty-year sentence: There’s been a lot of justified bitching at the length of Schapelle Corby’s sentence for smuggling marijuana. Twenty years in a Bali jail for smuggling marijuana attracts comments from like this from ‘Bart’: “Finally, justice has been served. She got what she deserved. You smuggle drugs, you pay the price, it's that simple.” Bart is an idiot. The scum responsible for killing 202 people in the Bali bombing received a sentence of just thirty months, story here. No Indonesian hypocrisy here. None at all. Indonesian justice appears to be an oxymoron.

Fourth: The ‘It’s their country’ argument: ‘Need to respect the law of the land’ screams a Daily Telegraph headline. “It really doesn't matter what you think is fair or what I think is fair. It's THEIR country and THEIR rules,” says another idiot at a Free Corby Petition site. “Indonesians do get executed for similar crimes (why aren't you crying for them?), so why should the westerners be treated any differently?” continues the idiot.

Bollocks, says me. Frankly, you’re free to criticise anything as an outrage wherever it occurs and no matter the ‘culture,’ and this is an outrage. You can say she’s stupid for smuggling drugs to a country in which the stuff is cheaper than it is back home and for which a death penalty is in operation, but your main criticism should be directed at the laws that criminalise such stupidity.

It’s not an outrage that she’s been found guilty -- she probably is – it’s an outrage that the War on Drugs has found another victim. Australians and New Zealanders who have responded to the injustice they see in the Corby trial should reflect that it is an injustice they and their governments support. It’s time people question that support, and if Corby’s plight helps people do that it might just serve a useful purpose.

The Sydney Morning Herald editorialised today,

...long before the sentence was handed down many concerned Australians had elevated Corby to martyr status. But a martyr to what cause? There are 155 Australians in foreign jails on drugs charges, two facing the death penalty. However, their stories of personal tragedy, stupidity and brazen greed fail to move us, while Corby touches strangers: "If eyes are the windows to the soul, I see a soft kindness shining through," wrote one supporter.

If you are a stranger who was touched by Corby’s plight, then why not be moved to make her a martyr to a worthy cause – not whether or not she is innocent or guilty; not the state of Indonesian justice; but the abject bloody hypocrisy of the War on Drugs that makes martyrs of such as she.

12 Angry Books #2: 'A Clockwork Orange'

Today, the second of my 'twelve influential books.' But first, a message from our sponsor ...

... check out this reading/listening list of "Books, movies and music that nourish body and soul." With just four exceptions (and a number of additions) I'd recommend them all ...

.. and now back to our main programme:

When still a callow schoolboy, a teacher noticed my reading material and suggested I'd enjoy The Fountainhead and Darkness at Noon. I did enjoy both very much as it happens, but not until a few years later when I'd tracked them down. What did grab me immediately was another of his recommendations: Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, another dystopic literary gem examining the nature of free will: there is no morality, it concludes, unless we can make the choice to be good.

If there is no choice open to us, there can be no morality and no humanity - we are just the clockwork orange of the title, "“someone who has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State.”

Burgess doesn't make it easy for the reader to accept this conclusion. As the prison chaplain puts it to Alex, the 'head droog,' "Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?" Alex is bad -- through and through bad -- a youth keen on rape, ultra-violence and Beethoveen. Bad, but as the last chapter portends not entirely without hope, as he is by then still able to choose the good organically, ie., from within himself.

Said Burgess later:
It is not, in my view, a very good novel, but it sincerely presented my abhorrence of the view that some people were criminal and others not. A denial of the universal inheritance of sin is characteristic of Pelagian societies like that of Britain, and it was in Britain, about 1960, that respectable people began to murmur about the growth of juvenile delinquency and suggest [that the young criminals] were a somehow inhuman breed and required inhuman treatment... There were irresponsible people who spoke of aversion therapy... Society, as ever, was put first.
The book bowled me over, and the film (which I saw much later) repelled me. Kubrick 's style-without-substance approach concentrated on the rape, the ultra-violence and the Beethoven and eschewed all else, including that crucial central theme. I re-read the book recently after the excellent and intelligent local production of the play based on the book. It still repays re-reading, but I've seen the question put so much better since by other authors. Like Victor Hugo.

The first of my twelve books is here. The brief introduction to why I'm bothering is here.

Daily Dave added to the blogroll

I first came across the wite and wisdom of David M. Brown when he ran a daily site called 'The Daily Objectivist,' now unfortunately offline so I can't quote you some of his pearls.

But it turns out that unbeknownst to me he hasn't been idle since the site folded. He edits the weekly Book Beat for ISIL, "A weekly column by David M. Brown on books, ideas and liberty," he's a contributor at Daily Pundit, and he also runs the daily blog of "the world's largest selection of books on liberty," Laissez Faire Books.

Today at LFB blog he's defending 'Star Trek.' I guess someone has to.

Singing the Blues

I been listening to Robert Johnson all mornin' after reading this here guide to the Blues. Doubled over laughing first.

The guide to getting a blues name reminded me of the way to get your porn star name. Girls: your first name is the name of your family's cat when you were a kid; guys: use the family dog's name. Your surname is the street you live now.

Thus, my porn star name is Nero Castle.

Friday, 27 May 2005

A big welcome to the Lions

At least you might win the drinking.

Orauta school facing court action over independent stand

As the Government continues to try and close the Orauta School against the will of the school trustees and parents, summonses for court appearances are being issued by the Ministry of Education for "allegedy running an unregistered school."

"Bring it on," says courageous trustees chairman Ken Brown. Latest story here. My first analysis of Orauta's stand here.

Northland Libertarianz candidate Julian Pistorius has been keeping track of the whole story, both at his own site here and the site he shares here with Libz Whangarei candidate Helen Hughes.

Orauta parents and trustees just want to keep open their school. It's on their own land, it's their children being educated there, they're paying all the bills and they want to be independent of the state. Which part do you think most offends the Government?

The demographics of libertarians

About this time in the electoral cycle (the time comparable, that is, to the time in the life cycle of the male praying mantis just before he mates, and following which he has his head chewed off by his partner), about this time in the cycle we libertarians receive an influx of advice and offers from well-meaning supporters -- offers ranging from the bloody useful to the bizarre.

One regular offer from those enthusiastic about such things is to determine the ‘demographic’ of our supporters so that better ‘targeting’ can be done with our advertising and party promotional material. This offer fits somewhere between ‘bizarre’ and ‘bloody useful’ into a particular category called 'irrelevant.'

Here’s the problem. Libertarians don’t have a demographic. I know, we’ve looked.

Being a libertarian isn’t about income or wealth: there are some who drive Mercedes Kompressors and Dodge Vipers (and who are suitably benevolent in whom they take for a spin: me for example), but at least one other who lives in a one-room shack and gets around on a bicycle -- without a helmet, of course.

Nor is it about ‘educational attainment’: there are plenty of smart libertarians, but there’s nothing especially ‘modal’ about their qualifications. PhDs and truck-drivers have equal speaking time at Libz events, which is usually too generous to the PhDs.

Employment? Not all libertarians are self-employed, and there are some – including the Libz president himself – who are (gasp) bureaucrats. Disgusting but true. Ethnicity? We’re colour-blind. Family structure? Don’t make me laugh. Areas in which we all live? You’re dreaming

How about age? Well, we have noticed that those over forty often recognise what we’re losing –- property rights, rule of law, respect for others – but there are plenty of eager youngsters who understand these things too.

Recreational drug use? While all libertarians support the right of people to smoke, snort, inhale, inject or otherwise ingest what the hell they like, not many libertarians actually engage in this kind of things themselves. No hope there then. We don’t even have many Libz who smoke, for Galt’s sake! Or who shoot guns – although there are more than a few who do.

There is one exception however, that is almost without fail common to all libertarians: We like a drink. Or two. And we like to argue, and to make up our own minds on issues. Ask two libertarians to speak their mind and you’ll have four different opinions. Especially after a few drinks.

It makes for interesting and entertaining evenings together, but can you build a campaign on that? I doubt it, and I’ve had demographic experts advising me.

Look, here’s one now ...

Councils to builders "More red tape please."

It's a truism that when the papers catch up with something it's often no longer news -- and ironically the people involved in the news don 't really believe it's happening until they see it in print, or watch it on TV.

So it is with a story in the 'Central Leader' sent to me by a client this morning that bemoans the long waits in getting a building consent. [Hat-tip to Aaron Bhatnagar for seeing the story online]. "Have you seen this?" said my client. I hadn't, but it wasn't news.

"Builders are frustrated at being forced to wait while red tape holds back construction," says the story. I know how they feel; I have a number of consents being processed at the moment by various councils, all held up by red tape and stupidity. It continues, "A lot of spec home builders who buy sites and develop them are sitting at home unemployed, waiting for permits. It can take two weeks to get a building inspector out. I have friends," says one builder in the story, "who took six months to get a consent to build a carport." Six months - luxury!

The problem is both the new Building Act and the old, and the notion that councils must take responsibility for every piece of paper that passes their desk -- indeed, the problem is the notion that councils need to be involved at all, and that they even need all those pieces of paper passing across their desk.

Ninety percent of New Zealand's homes were built with at the most a sheet or two of drawings on A1 paper, and a sheet or two of specifications on A4 paper. Not any more. A consent application for a bedroom extension I recently submitted to Franklin District Council had fifteen A1 pages, and a whole book of Specs to accompany those. Before granting consent, Council want at least two more A1 pages of drawings and answers to questions like 'Please describe the method of fixing stair balusters.'

The situation is insane, and home-owners and prospective home-owners are paying the price. As I've said here before, who'd be a builder?

Auckland heart surgeons still doing good

The Herald reports this morning on a new surgical technique called 'kissing balloons' that adds further sophistication to heart surgery that even ten years ago just wasn't even possible, but is now almost routine.

"The proving and enhancing of the technique build on the work of the former Green Lane Hospital's cardiac team - now in Auckland City Hospital - in heart surgery on babies and valve replacement." That team are truly world-class, as I can attest myself from seeing them in action four years ago -- and about which I reflected here on Scoop.

The piece generated quite some controversy, as I recall: here -- to which I replied here -- and then here, which I think I'd already answered.

Here's my conclusion to that original piece:

...we in the West should not thank God for our expectations of living to a ripe old age, we should instead thank the thinkers who liberated our thought from religion -- thinkers like Aquinas and his mentor Aristotle -- thinkers who said that life is for living; that this earth is where that living should be done; and that with the use of reason we can become competent to provide for and to plan our own living.

Those thinkers who liberated us from the dirt-poor existence we might otherwise have faced empowered Western peoples to seek knowledge and happiness in this world, and to value life and living rather than death and destruction. The scientists and producers and technologists that they liberated have been furiously increasing the length and quality and comfort of our lives ever since, and we should all be very grateful for that. We, the people of the West, are in their debt, and so too is any refugee from Islam who has embraced these western values.

Owing the largest debt, perhaps, is anyone who is over forty - anyone who in a lesser culture may not be alive to be able to offer their thanks. In fact, - as I sat in a darkened, air-conditioned room watching my mother's weak and irregular heart-beat flicker on a brand new twelve-lead ECG monitor - I reflected that anyone who has ever had a life-saving operation, or been saved by the early attentions of a paramedic - even just spent a night in a hospital or taken a course of tablets - has very good reason to thank them.

On behalf of them all, and in particular on behalf of my Mum, let me say it for you all now: "Thank you!"

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Common law

Common law arose in England almost by accident, but much of the English-speaking world has benefited from its property-rights based solutions to otherwise complex problems.

What began in the late twelfth-century as a formalisation of existing customary law, was to become a century later under the reign of Edward Longshanks -- King Edward I -- a way of dealing in an ordered, uncomplicated way with the legitimate concerns of his subjects.

Traditionally, subjects would petition the king in person; Edward, known as The Hammer of the Scots, preferred to be up north hammering Scots rather than sitting at home surrounded by his subject’s chickens, about which an inordinate number of complaints were commonly raised.

Edward reasoned that a system of courts common throughout the land could easily sort such complaints using principles of customary law common to them all. For instance, the easiest way to resolve disputes about neighbours’ chickens damaging a plaintiff’s vegetable garden was to determine 1) whose chickens; 3) whose garden; and 3) what damage.

Thus common law became property-based, and was focussed on specific harm or damages – it focussed on determining the rights in a property, and on finding remedies to damage caused by specific nuisance or trespass. Common law held that those who had rights in property were entitled to the quiet enjoyment of that property; that a man’s land and his house were his castle, and that protecting it from harm was his right. Common law was case-based rather than statute-based, and was tied by precedent: decisions made in cases using these guiding principles were made common to all similar cases by the principle of stare decisis, so that decisions were consistent across the country, and over time.

Common law was simple enough that the principles determined in these cases were quickly codified by writs that allowed property-owners easy access to the protection of law for common causes of action. By the eighteenth-century the laws of nuisance and trespass were already highly sophisticated, and were to become more so as the industrial revolution and the railway age took shape. Rights to light, to air, and to support were widely recognised as being a part of the peaceful enjoyment of land; rights associated with water and protections against noise, smell and other pollution were clear and in place; remedies for trespass and nuisance were well-known and based on the principle that a defendant should acquire no value thereby.

The principle of ‘coming to the nuisance’ was established (and then sadly in some jurisdictions dis-established); as was the principle of a ‘bundle of rights’ being associated with land, and some of those rights being acquired over time by ‘prescription.’

Easements over land and voluntary restrictive covenants that attach to land in favour of particular neighbours were recognised; these are registered with title, and can be traded and removed. You might for instance agree to protect a neighbours’ view over your land (a ‘view easement’) in return for the neighbour keeping a large tree on his that you like (by either a restrictive covenant or ‘conservation easement’). In this way a ‘net’ of rights is voluntarily built up reflecting the values of the right-holders rather than that of the legislators.

Much of the apparent confusion in the common law was made simple by eighteenth-century legal scholar William Blackstone, who with a few simple principles explained “the mass of medieval law” in England. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England were to become the bible of English-speaking law for more than a century – a young circuit lawyer in rural Illinois called Abraham Lincoln would carry a copy in his saddlebag as the only legal text he needed.

Many aspects of common law are now regularised as a part of Tort law, but the explosion of statute law in the last fifty years has meant that duties imposed by statute now encumber and complicate what was once the simple but remarkably sophisticated realm of common law.

Common law is not just simpler than statute law, it is also immune to political hijack – one particular reason for its popularity with libertarians and its unpopularity with big government advocates. Rights are protected in practice, not just proclaimed on parchment or ignored altogether.

Further, unlike statute law, common law always has a plaintiff or victim – there are no ‘victimless crimes’ under common law. Finally, it is the pre-eminent law to protect both environment and property, and unlike zoning laws, anti-pollution statutes and the Resource Management Act it has over seven-hundred years of sophistication in actually doing so.

English common law brought real property rights into the world and made all Englishmen equal before the law – in doing both it helped make England and her colonies wealthy and free. Noted Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations: “The security of the tenant is equal to that of the proprietor.” He concluded that “Those laws and customs [of the common law], so favourable to the yeomanry, have perhaps contributed more to the present grandeur of England than all their boasted regulations of commerce taken together.”

Unfortunately the “boasted regulations” of today have turned Smith’s insight on its head, and removed many of the rights that common law once protected.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Drugs.'

Thursday, 26 May 2005

The Death of Socrates

Jacques-Louis David: 'The Death of Socrates.' A martyr to democracy.

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Democracy

Democracy = Mob rule, be it an outright majority or mere plurality – not to be confused with freedom.

Historically, democracy has often coexisted with a relative flourishing of individual rights (see especially the work of 'democide' researcher R.J. Rummell in this regard) but has inexorably and over time led to the subversion of rights, since it has made them subordinate to the vote. Socrates for example allowed his right to life to be violated because a majority had voted that he should be put to death; Germans waived their rights to liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness when a plurality voted the Nazis into power; the right to property is routinely violated in all democracies because envy-driven mobs regularly vote themselves the “right” to someone else’s earnings.

The world’s foremost democracy, the United States, began, not as a democracy, but a constitutional republic, with specific mechanisms designed to protect the individual’s “inalienable rights” from unlimited majority rule. A consitutional republic of the American form recognises that some things must be put beyond the vote -- 'these things' to be beyond any vote are the lives and liberties of the citizens, as protected by the Bill of Rights and teh checks and balances against tyrannical government. These precautions, alas, proved inadequate, and British historian Thomas Macaulay’s famous warning of 1857 proved to be prophetic:

The day will come when a multitude of people will choose the legislature. Is it possible to doubt what sort of a legislature will be chosen? On one side is a statesman preaching patience, respect for rights, strict observance of public faith. On the other is a demagogue ranting about the tyranny of capitalism and usurers, asking why anybody should be permitted to drink champagne and to ride in a carriage while thousands of people are in want of necessaries… When society has entered on this downward progress… your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire in the fifth, with this difference: the Huns and vandals who ravaged the Roman Empire came from without; your Huns and vandals will have been engendered within your own country, by your own institutions.

Here in New Zealand we frequently hear the call for 'binding referenda,' as if the will of the majority were always right beyond question. Without the protection of right, such unlimited majority rule is as dangerous as outright tyranny -- it is just that the minority is done over by the mob instead of the government. The result for the minority is sadly the same either way however.

Contrary to the assumptions of democracy, truth and right do not lie in numbers; as New Zealand Objectivist Bill Weddell once said, simple democracy " is the counting of heads regardless of content," and not something principled libertarians would advocate.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Drugs.'

Why conservatives suck

Two posts that explain why 'centre-right' conservatives suck, conveniently located on the one blog here and here . I couldn't have explained it better myself.

Show me the money ...

When complaining here yesterday about Queenstown's meddling arseholes rebuffing Shania Twain's proposed house, I paraphrased Ayn Rand's observation that when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive arseholes in order to produce, then you know your culture is stuffed. I said something similar in a press release here.

I had a few requests for the exact source of the Rand quotation, which is the 'Money Speech' from Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. You can find the speech online here.

Here's how the speech starts (no baloney here):
So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil? [Read on here.]

ACT losing the flat tax mojo - Greens

You know you're in trouble when the Greens are attacking you for abandoning your principles, especially when the Greens are right.

The Greens' FrogBlog attacks ACT's flagship tax policy here: "Act (values not politics!) has released its tax policy and it is, well, remarkable only for its lack of audacity... Act has met Mr Pragmatism and Mrs Compromise."Sighs the Frog, "Oh, for the days when Act was doggedly ideological."

Laugh?. I nearly cried.

Cullen still attacking judiciary

Our new Attorney-General seems as ignorant about the independence of the courts as the last. Michael Cullen -- yes, him again -- was telling judges yesterday that Parliament is supreme. Chief Justice Sian Elias had properly taken issue with that notion last year; chief historian Michael Cullen still disagrees. Herald story here.

Delivering a speech to the Legal Research Foundation Cullen restates his objection to judicial activism, but shows his confusion when he equates judicial activism with judicial independence, and demonstrates too that he knows little about how such judicial activism became so common.

When Geoffrey Palmer was having legislation drafted back in the eighties, his intention with the law being drafted was to ensure 'flexibility.' Whereas in the past good law would be clear and unambiguous, and consequently what was legal and illegal known for sure in advance, Jellyfish Geoffrey wanted instead to make the language of legislation vague, ambiguous and unclear -- all the better for it to be flexible, you see. Palmer purposely put vague undefined terms into legislation in the expectation that the courts themselves would explain what the hell the law meant by means of the cases in front of them.

Not so good for the people whose cases are in front of the courts, but who don't know what the law actually allows in advance.

Concepts such as 'kaitiakitanga' from the RMA are still awaiting 'clarification,' as are the 'principles of the Treaty' clause which infests nearly everything written since the State-Owned Enterprises Act of 1986.  Until they are clarified, law that contains phrases such as these are just so much dangerous mush, with no-one knowing precisely what is and isn't legally permitted.

This is idiocy, and Cullen has his erstwhile parliamentary colleague to blame for it. He certainly shouldn't be blaming the judiciary who have to ask themselves when dealing with such vague law 'what was in the mind of the parliamentarians when they write this.'  The answer is in most cases: Nothing.

Midgets v Lion

From the just-opened 'Only in Cambodia File' comes the unlikely tale of 42 midgets who didn't have the brains they were born with.

Members of the Cambodian Midget Fighting League obviously have hearts as big as a lion, but have brains only the size of a very small pea. That should read 'had.' Boasting recently they could "take on anything; man, beast, or machine," a fan set them up with a fight against an African lion.

Result: Lion, 28; Cambodian Midget Fighting League, 0.

These guys would surely have to be heavy contenders for this decade's Darwin Awards. When you're thinking about people 'dumber than a bagful of marbles' the late members of the Cambodian Midget Fighting League are people that should spring immediately to mind. There could however be other contenders ... check here for details ...

Websites that make me say 'No!'

There's some discussion at butterpaper about architectural websites, and it threw up two examples here and here of exactly the kind of web sites for which I desperately hunt for the 'Back' button -- sites which for me are the electronic equivalent of Te Papa. When entering either a website or a building, I like to find where it leads me; sites like these two and buildings like Te Papa lead me straight in, and then straight back outside again.

No disrespect to either architect or model-maker, who for all I know may be great, but their sites don't make me want to stick around to find out. Sites like these two are very common amongst architects, perhaps part of the reason why my own site is so defiantly low-tech.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Zero waste

Don't you love government propaganda, even the stuff of imagination. This from Jeanette Fitzsimon's new Sustainable Energy Commission

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Conservatism

Literally, the doctrine of conserving the status quo because it is the status quo – hence the bestowing of this appellation on such seemingly unlikely bedfellows as Ronald Reagan and hardline Communists in China.

More commonly, the term applies to those who defend capitalism on religious/ altruistic grounds – i.e. they say it promotes the general welfare ahead of individual self-enrichment in accordance with godly ethics – and confine their advocacy of freedom to the economic realm. Conservatives typically favour the criminalising of drugs, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, etc. Laws that still exist in some parts of the United States against oral sex are favoured by conservatives who happily defend the free market in economics, and are completely oblivious to the inconsistency. Margaret Thatcher did much to free up the British economy while introducing repressive censorship laws.
In the battle for freedom, conservatives at best provide a breathing space, a slowing of the momentum of the statist advance, to the extent that they de-regulate economies and revitalise government’s legitimate defence function – at worst, they are positive impediments, since their bottom line is still that one’s life belongs to God and/or society, and they are in that sense indistinguishable from freedom’s enemies.
Conservatives too, as Ayn Rand pointed out,
have a disposition towards compromise that delivers more to freedom's enemies than they could otherwise hope to expect from their own efforts alone..

Libertarians are not conservatives – they are
radicals for freedom.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Democracy.'