Wednesday, 14 April 2010

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Meths, death & forgiving a dead Beatle

_richardmcgrath Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Meths ban mooted, Wellington ratepayers hammered, and a dead Beatle forgiven.

1. “Meths drinking on the increase – What a surprise. Did the politicians, who regularly increase the taxes on booze and cigarettes, and the wowsers who celebrate hysterically every time they do so, really think there would be no consequences in this?
    If you price something off the market, people will look for cheaper alternatives. Such as methylated spirits instead of ethanol-containing beverages. Of course, when there is an unintended side effect to sin taxes, the knee-jerk reaction is to reduce the availability of whatever has sprung up in place of the taxed commodity. But people never learn. Wayne Temple, from the National Poisons Centre at Otago University, now wants to ban methylated spirits. Does he really think that will be the end of the matter and that no-one will poison themselves with intoxicating alcoholic compounds?
    How about a new approach to the problem of health problems related to the use of intoxicatants? Why doesn’t the government just assume for a moment that adults should be permitted the freedom to put whatever they like into their bodies, as long as they remain financially and legally responsible for their actions before and afterward? People would not turn to crap such as meths if it were cheaper to purchase less harmful alternatives. Have the wise heads forgotten (or never learned) the Iron Law of Prohibition?   

2. “Wellington City Council convicted over driver’s death – Can you imagine what would happen if a truck driver working for a private firm died in a crash at work? The directors and shareholders of the company would suffer significant financial penalty, someone would probably wind up behind bars, and Matt McCarten and the authors of The Sub-Standard would demand all CEOs be hanged. But when a city council employee dies, the council receives a fine less than a quarter of the maximum, CEO Gary Poole announces that managers will receive extra training, and it’s back to business as usual. And of course Wellington ratepayers will pay that fine, thank you very much. Looks like the Council’s roading engineers failed to adhere to guidelines on the recommended gradient for the road, allowing drivers to take trucks down a wet 42 degree slope. Yet no-one is held responsible, and the CEO doesn’t have the integrity to sack those responsible for placing council employees at risk of death - and then offer his resignation, as he should.
    Why should Wellington ratepayers have to keep funding a bureaucratic empire that is so blasé about killing its employees? At the very least, property owners should have the option of using other companies for their roading maintenance, rubbish collection, water supply and other utilities, instead of having to use the Wellington City Council.

3. “Vatican forgives John Lennon – How gracious of them. Only took 44 years, after initially condemning Lennon for his observation that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” and for claiming that Christianity will “vanish and shrink.” Turns out of course that Lennon was right on both counts--perhaps that’s why he was forgiven! Congregations have been shrinking for decades as the left-wing political tendencies of the churches become more apparent and churches continues their absurd attacks on the wrong people--such as a Catholic archbishop’s decision to excommunicate doctors who performed an abortion on a nine year old girl who was fifteen weeks pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. Was the stepfather excommunicated? Apparently not. Neither have priests in the Catholic church who have been systematically raping children entrusted to their pastoral care for decades.
    The perpetrators of these sex crimes should be brought to justice, and those who have covered up their activities and given them opportunity to re-offend should be exposed. The decision to forgive John Lennon for voicing an opinion which today seems quite reasonable, but which was controversial at the time, is a bizarre distraction from the huge task the Catholic Church must confront--rooting out the paedophiles that lurk within its ranks and assisting in their prosecution under common law.

“When the people fear the government, there is
tyranny - when the government fear the people, there is liberty.”
- Thomas Jefferson  


  1. People would not turn to crap such as meths if it were cheaper to purchase less harmful alternatives.

    What would your more ideal situation provide in terms of options for an alcohol addict who needs a 100% alcohol concoction like meths to get a buzz?

  2. " . . . as long as they remain financially and legally responsible for their actions before and afterward?"

    This is an example of where the progressive Utopian thinking of Libertarians display their naivete about the range and perversity of human desires that they propose to unleash.

    They can imagine nothing more threatening than a bit of Sunday-afternoon sadomasochism, followed by some recreational drug use and work on Monday - they assume that people will gravitate towards essentially bourgeois lives.

    They forget that for much of the population, preaching maximum freedom merely results in drunkenness, drugs, failure to hold a job, and pregnancy out of wedlock. Society is dependent upon inculcated self-restraint if it is not to slide into barbarism, and libertarians attack this self-restraint. Ironically, this often results in internal restraints being replaced by the external restraints of police and prison, resulting in less freedom, not more.

  3. Richard McGrath14 Apr 2010, 15:14:00

    @Stephen - In my 15 years working at an alcohol and drug clinic, I have yet to meet anyone who "needs" pure alcohol.

    I don't pretend I can solve the problems of people who overindulge in substance use. That is for the person concerned to solve for themselves.

    But I don't think people should be held financially responsible for lifestyle choices made by other people, over which they have little or no control.

    @Anon - I'm not proposing to build a Utopia, a perfect society. That is the stuff of control freaks. I'm proposing a hands-off approach.

    The drunkenness, drugs, unemployment, etc., that you lament is happening in a society where individual freedom is being squashed, not one in which liberty is flowering.

    I think you've lost the plot a bit. Libertarians propose individual restraint as the means to a civilised society.

    What libertarians propose is that adults be allowed to act in furtherance of their own happiness with minimal interference from the government. There should however be laws to protect and compensate innocent people who come to harm through the deliberate or careless actions of others.

    Libertarians do not propose anarchy. Anarchy is not freedom; in fact it's total war, as there is no protection of individual rights (which is the proper function of government).

  4. Ok 'need' is not correct, but the individual seems to treat it as a need. I acknowledge that you don't think you've got all the answers, but in this case what would 'cheaper, less harmful alternatives' give access to? Surely you have something in mind like I don't know, pharmaceutical companies making new products?

  5. Richard said...
    In my 15 years working at an alcohol and drug clinic, I have yet to meet anyone who "needs" pure alcohol.

    During my varsity days, I used to take the remaining ethanol that every Chemistry student was provided with for use in the lab after every lab-session and mixed it with fanta and always had a good drink with my mates at Albert park band-house.

    Every Friday afternoon, when my lectures finished at 2pm, I would go to Albert Park band-house and waited there till my Tongan mates from the Arts Faculty turn up with the fanta bottles. We always had ethanol party at Albert Park before we went up to Shadows bar to just buy a beer or two, because there was no need for more drinks since we were already wasted, but just hang out at Shadows to listen to music.

    The Chemistry lab technician had always requested that I should have used the provided ethanol with care such as not to waste too much of it in my experiments, because I was the only one in my lab-stream, he noted that he always had to refill the 1 litre bottle in my locker with ethanol which was always empty. The lab technician didn't know that I had always been very careful on not wasting too much ethanol in the lab, because I wanted some left-over from the 1 litre ethanol bottle we were provided with after each lab session, so that I could take to Albert Park.

    So, when someone is poor they will go looking for something stronger such as pure alcohol, either ethanol or the dangerous meth.

  6. This is an example of where the progressive Utopian thinking of Libertarians display their naivete about the range and perversity of human desires that they propose to unleash...


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