Friday, 22 July 2011

What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 1: Un-taxes

    Imagine a ‘Party X’ that was actually committed to opposing statism ,and to advocating for free enterprise. Imagine such a party had a cabinet committing to rolling back the state, and an environment minister brimming over with ideas to do that.
    Here, in several parts, are the sort of environmental policies such a party (and such a minister) could advocate. Seven simple policies using present-day political realities to roll back the state without introducing any new coercion along the way.
    This morning,

Every party in parliament wants subsidies for its favoured “outcomes,” and “resources” for their favourite pork barrels.  And every party is wont to waffle ad nauseum about “sustainability,” “renewable” energy, and other words they’re ill-prepared to define. Put the two together and you have a buggers muddle of bullshit and budgetary blowouts—of Eco Taxes, Eco Subsidies and Eco Grants—that’s unsustainable both for the taxpayers forced to pick up the tab, and producers trying to survive.

All parties blather on about the need for “grass roots” eco businesses and “sustainable” alternative technologies, yet between taxes, regulations and indecipherable rules about how to qualify for the various grants and subsidies they promote, they make it near impossible for alternative technologies and grass roots businesses to thrive.

All of them waffle on about subsidies for this and grants for that and assistance with the other, and at the same time they talk about “sin” taxes to discourage so-called “polluters” like the energy companies who produce the power that keeps our lights on.

I say that’s bullshit. I say the only thing that’s truly sustainable is stuff that stands on its own two feet, i.e., stuff that’s economically sustainable, i.e., that produces more resources than are consumed. I say if a profit can't be made on all these schemes for solar panels and wind farms and for turning banana skins into biofuel, then those schemes shouldn’t exist. If they can’t turn a profit, then they’re a waste of the resources that Russel Norman and Nick Smith insist are so scarce.

But what new business gets a chance to turn a profit when they’re buried under tax and compliance costs? We know that tax is theft. We know that how you run your company is your business. So why not let at least some companies in this country be free of the burden and show just how their profits rise when they’re not being taxed to hell and back—when they’re not burdened by paperwork, and weighed down by bureaucrats.

And why not let the current fad for “sustainable” this-that-and-the-other help drive this gradual unburdening, and let the eco warriors themselves learn at first hand that free trade and profits are always superior to subsidies and socialism.

What I suggest then is that eco industries, eco businesses and eco products be made totally tax free, and that all these eco industries be freed as much as possible from the regulations and compliance costs imposed by the likes of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Income Tax Act, of collecting and calculating GST, and comforming to minimum wage laws (what’s wrong with volunteers who freely volunteer?).

Let’s say for example you’re doing research and development on micro-power producers or wave turbines, or trying to erect and bring on small and economically viable hydro stations or domestic wind turbines. All of these are potentially viable and small alternatives to the Big Thinking state-owned and state-controlled power producers (the state always Things Big, doesn’t it), but not when burdened by Kafka-esque problems with resource consents (for which the large producers maintain a large staff to make opposing submissions), by the compliance costs that weigh down every business, and by taxes on research and development and production, and on any profits that might be made down the line.

I say let’s help out these smart small producers—not by laying out the fatted calf, but by not goring them with the state’s lumpen big bullocks. Let’s help out every business we can, starting with these ones.

Let’s free up “eco” businesses, and at once we liberate at least some businesses from the shackles of the grey ones (and perhaps help kick start some fashionable export industries selling to the gullible overseas, and initiate the partial removal of the RMA and other onerous laws and regulations here).

At the same time we demonstrate the power to produce when the shackles of statism are removed; and we lay down a serious challenge to the prophets of sustainability that requires them to objectively define what they mean by sustainability so that investors and the grey ones know clearly and in advance what an eco industry actually looks like.

Sure, this don’t give every business a break, but with eco un-taxes, at least there’s more freedom and no new coercion, and nothing here that the eco warriors shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to sign up to. It’s a start, right.

INTRO: 'What Would 'Party X' Do About the Environment?'
THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE: 'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number two: “The Overwhelming Importance of Damn Nuisance”

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“Shall we kill them in their beds?”–or, Transitions to Freedom: Good & Bad

A post from the archives offering advice for any putative Party X wanting to roll back the state.

Two bakers are talking politics. "How do you roll back the state?" asks the first. "One roll at a time," answers the second. A poor joke, but good advice. If you're serious about rolling back the state, then you set your compass in the direction of more freedom and less coercion, and you start hacking a path in that direction through the overgrown thickets of the overbearing state one hard-fought step after another.

You might start by preparing 'transitional policies' - policies that roll back the state and reduce coercion one machete stroke at at a time. Writing in The Intellectual Activist (July 1995), Robert Tracinski gives the necessary principle for formulating all such policies:

In judging a measure [advises Tracinski], one cannot hold it responsible for all aspects of a mixed economy - only for those aspects it changes. These changes can be evaluated by a straightforward application of the principle of individual rights: Does the reform remove some aspect of government control or does it add more control?... It is not a compromise to advocate reduced government control in one sphere even if controls in other spheres are left standing. It is a compromise, on the other hand, if one seeks to purchase increased freedom in one area at the price of increased control in another.

Ayn Rand explains the error of compromise:

When a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture. There can be no justification for choosing any part of that which one knows to be evil.

Clear enough then: Start with what you find, and design the means to work step by step towards your goal, without ever purchasing increased freedom at the expensed of increased coercion. This is what is meant by the phrase ‘ratchet for freedom.’ A principled opposition -- call them 'Party X' -- would promote such policies. Policies that implement more white, with no new black.

An intelligent opposition party committed to working for more freedom and less government would design such policies to be picked up and passed around.

And in order for them to be picked up and passed around (and to be worth passing around) the policy should pass The Test of the Three Ps: it should be Practical, Principled, and arse-grabbingly Provocative. Provocative enough to be noticed; Practical enough to be work; Principled enough to move the game in the right direction.

The principle with each policy must be clear and unequivocal: More freedom with no new coercion.

Below are some examples of some policies that pass the test, but first, here's four proposals that fail:

  • “Shall we kill them in their beds?” How about this: presently, a strong case can be made for the proposal to kill the entire front bench of Government in their beds, along with the Leaders of all Opposition Parties and all the various Human Wrongs Commissars. Practical, and easily done (although I'd expect difficulties coordinating the overabundance of volunteers.) Certainly provocative – and strongly based on the principle of self-defence. A proposal I’m sure we could all live with, so to speak. But as Tracinscki says, we activists must beware of purchasing freedom in one sphere at the expense of increased controls in another - the subsequent police crackdown on the assassins would undoubtedly remove all the freedoms gained by such a move, and for that reason it should be shunned -- and I say that with obvious sadness.
  • Flat Tax: Here’s another example of this same error. A “low flat tax” would reduce taxes for some, true, but this reduction would be purchased at the expense of increased sacrifice by those whose present tax rates are below the chosen flat rate. That means it’s a new coercion. Not good. Not good at all. Far preferable is the Libertarianz transitional proposal (and Green policy) to offer a threshold below which no tax at all is paid, along with the slow and gradual increase in the level of this threshold.
  • School Vouchers: The idea of school vouchers is popular, but so too is living at someone else’s expense. Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but only at the expense of either bringing private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early childhood sector now understands), or of throwing the taxpayer’s money away on bullshit ( Remember the Wananga debacle?). So school vouchers fail the test.  Best just to give the schools back and be done with it.
  • Cap & Trade & Fishing Quotas: For some reason these two are still fashionable with people who fancy themselves as free-marketeers (at least, that’s what it says on their lapel pins). But it doesn't take much examination to realise both measures purchase the very minimum of freedom, if at all (compared to the other measures designed to “fix” the alleged problems these are designed to meet), and do so at the expense of increased bureaucracy and the effective nationalisation of industry and of fish stocks respectively – and in the case of ‘cap and trade’ sets a finite limit on industrial production. Even carbon taxes would be better than this. Tax credits even better.

So those are some failures. By contrast, here’s two measures that do pass our test:

  • A Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would increase freedom and, far from requiring more controls and more regulation, would actively promote and engender their removal.
    Here's how it could work: The Conscientious Objection Tax Policy should allow an individual to opt out of paying for and using the government’s die-while-you-wait Health system, its factory schools, and its featherbedded welfare – to conscientiously object to the theft required to pay for these multiple disasters, to agree to make his own arrangements for these (thank you very much), and in return to pay only 10% income tax!
    What a deal.
    At a stroke the objector is better off (and with no new government controls introduced).
    Further, without the figleaf by which statists pretend big governments are there to “help” taxpayers, the advocates for taxing the hell out of you and I would be in the position of having to state clearly they are in favour of naked theft. 
    And like all good policies, the Conscientious Objection Tax Policy would have a flow-on effect, kick-starting an explosion of freedom in the currently stagnant Health, Education and Welfare pools—because how else are these dire disasters going to attract custom if they don’t wake their ideas up?
  • Here’s another intelligent transitional measure, the Transitional Drugs Policy proposed by my colleague Dr Richard Goode. Why not make drug law both more rational and more free by legalising all drugs less harmful to health than tobacco and alcohol? Who could object, right? Even Jim Anderton and Jacqui Dean don’t want to ban alcohol. Yet. (Although Jacqui wasn't too sure about water). According to Britain’s widely respected Lancet journal of medicine, under this standard we could immediately legalise for recreational use (in decreasing order of harm): Buprenoprhine, Cannabis, Solvents, LSD, Methylphenidate, Anabolic steroids, GHB, Ecstacy, Alkyl Nitrites, Khat, and di-hydrogen monoxide. On what rational basis could anybody object? More freedom, less government, safer drugs, less money going into gang leaders’ pockets – and the apostles of moral panic challenged to explain the rational basis of their War on Drugs. Everybody except Jim Anderton and Jacqui Dean kicks a goal.

There you have it. Two measures that will advance freedom without introducing any new coercion.

What other ideas can you come up with?

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Great Britain, 100 Years Ago:

Guest post by Jeff Perren

From English History, 1914-1945 by A. J. P. Taylor:

Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card.

He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit.

He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police.

Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence.

Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so.

The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8 per cent. of the national income. … broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves.

It left the adult citizen alone.

No doubt it wasn't perfect, but it's amazing how far western civilization has fallen in just 100 years.

[Hat tip: Daniel Pipes, writing at NRO.]

P.S. Queue the "Yes, but..." cynics in 3, 2, 1...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

What would Party X do about the environment?

INTRODUCTION: How to roll back the state using environmental judo

When New Zealand first announced it had made up the new position of Minister for the Environment, his professor at UC Berkeley told him, “If New Zealand now has a Minister for the Environment then eventually he must be Minister of Everything.”
Socialist_WildlifeThis is true.
But the position could be used for good as well as bad. Using his position, and making the best use of present-day political pressures, a smart environment minister (were such a thing to exist) should be able to devise several cunning plans to roll back the state. 
Clearly, however, the current incumbents have no such interest.
So starting this morning, I’m offering up seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state. (The vigilant reader will notice they might have read them before in my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' that you can download in the sidebar.)
This morning, the introduction…

Wouldn’t it be good if there were a real opposition party, one that really represented genuine opposition to today’s malaise? Thinking of Phil Goof’s Labour Party in that manner stretches the imagination a bit too far--and Russel Norman’s Greens are no more interested in rolling back the state than flying to the moon. And ACT? Well, pardon me for being an unbeliever on that score.

But how about a “Party X” that genuinely did fit that bill? What exactly could they do? Ayn Rand offers the prescription for such a party:

Party X would oppose statism and would advocate free enterprise. But it would know that one cannot win anybody’s support by repeating that slogan until it turns into a stale, hypocritical platitude—while simultaneously accepting and endorsing every step in the growth of government controls.

Party X would know that opposition does not consist of declaring to the voters: “The Administration plans to tighten the leash around your throats until you choke—but we’re lovers of freedom and we’re opposed to it, so we’ll tighten it only a couple of inches.”

Party X would not act as Exhibit A for its enemies, when they charge that it is passive, stagnant, “me-tooing” and has no solutions for the country’s problems.

It would offer the voters concrete solutions and specific proposals, based on the principles of free enterprise. The opportunities to do so are countless, and Party X would not miss them.

As New Zealand opposition parties are slowly recognising, a local Party X would need to recognise the MMP environment – but that’s no reason to withdraw from a commitment to removing the leash from around our throats. Quite the opposite in fact, as it offers opportunities to use other party’s strengths in the same way that a judo master recognises opportunity in the strength of his adversary: a way to use his opponent’s strength against them.

Let’s suppose then that you wished to formulate concrete solutions and specific proposals to deregulate the environment along the principles of free enterprise — an area which I’m sure many regular readers will agree is one of increasing urgency. Let’s suppose you wish to ensure (as you should) that the leash is loosened without introducing any further tightening; to achieve specific and concrete gains in freedom, with no new elements of coercion.

Any party claiming to value freedom and enterprise should be simply brimming with cunning plans to get the state’s boot off our throats. Indeed,  can suggest at least seven specific proposals that will fit this very principled Bill. For instance . . . Eco Untaxes, about which I’ll talk more tomorrow.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

GUEST POST: The crab-bucket mentality

imageAnother guest post from the archives of The Free Radical, this time from tennis ace and all-round fine bloke Chris Lewis, on the sort of envy that’s stifling. And everywhere.
A post so relevant, it could have been written this morning …

Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is.

Take what is commonly called "The Tall Poppy Syndrome." This is where anyone who is brazen enough to strive for success — or, god forbid, to achieve it — immediately becomes a target for the "crab bucket mentalities" who, rather than strive for success themselves, derive enormous pleasure from attempting to cut the tall poppy back down.

As a tennis coach running a comprehensive junior & senior development programme for Auckland Tennis Inc., it is my job to produce future tennis champions. Among other things, this involves demanding the maximum amount of effort from every player with whom I work. If a player is to become the best he can be, he must dedicate himself from a relatively early age to the single-minded pursuit of his tennis career. Along the way many obstacles & barriers will be put in his path. One such obstacle, which brings me to the point of my article, is the tremendous amount of negative peer pressure that is brought to bear on anyone who attempts to climb life's peaks by those who have defaulted on the climb.

And whether those peaks represent success on the sporting field, in the business world, in the academic arena, or in any other realm of life, including life itself, there will always be those who give up on their quest to climb life's mountains, and instead choose to remain at the bottom of life's bucket — which would be fine, as long as they didn't then devote their destructive efforts, like the crabs, to pulling the climbers back down.

Consider for a moment the following three scenarios, & ask yourself how you would react in each situation. Then ask yourself if each situation has a ring of familiarity to it.

  1. You attempt to do well in exams; however, one of your low-achieving peers tells you not to study but to enjoy yourself. Do you continue to bury your head in the books? Or do you get mindlessly drunk at that night's party?
  2. You have done really well in your exams, but another one of your less successful peers accuses you of being a "try-hard" — the implication being that effort is bad & non-effort is good. Do you ignore him? Or, next time, do you take pains to show him that you do not try hard?
  3. You conclude that taking drugs is harmful — anti-life — but your friends tell you that to refrain from smoking dope is incredibly "uncool." Do you light up? Or do you keep your own company until you find some new friends?

When these three typical teenage scenarios & their accompanying questions are reduced to a single philosophical question — a question of principle — it should become clear to you that your answer has serious implications for the way you choose to conduct your life.

That question is: in the face of pressure from your peers, do you act to pursue your chosen values? Or do you reject them & embrace the non- or anti-values that others have prescribed in their place? In other words, do you run your own life by selecting, then scaling, your own mountain peaks? Or, by letting others run your life for you, do you default on the climb?

Did Christopher Columbus listen when everyone told him he would sail over the edge of the earth? Did Henry Ford listen when everyone told him that attempting to replace the horse & cart with the automobile was a futility? Did the Wright Brothers listen when everyone told them that building a "flying machine" was impossible? No, they did not. They did not — because they refused to consider the opinions of others above the conclusions they had reached with their own minds — conclusions they were not prepared to sacrifice in order to satisfy the mediocrities who exhorted them to give up.

It is heroic role models like these who have demonstrated that no matter what obstacles are put in your path, whether those obstacles be the exertion of negative peer pressure designed to drag you down or the masses telling you that attempting to build a "flying machine" is absurd, achieving your goals is possible.

And in a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.

The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."

At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.

For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.

Chris Lewis

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Monday, 18 July 2011

Tax, tax, tax, tax …

Let’s just say I work hard and plan for my future. (Yes, there are still some folk around naive enough to think like that.)

I go to work. I get paid … and I pay tax on every dollar I earn at the current rate of Envy Tax Income Tax.

I’ve got a few dollars left after the grey ones have finished goosing my pockets.  So I save some and I spend some.

And I pay tax on every dollar I spend, at the current rate of Grab, Snatch and Take. And I pay tax on every dollar of interest I earn on the savings which have taken me so long to build up.

So far, so unfair.

Now let’s just say I’ve got a few dollars of capital left after the grey ones have taken their income tax, their GST , their withholding tax and whatever else those gorgeous bastards dream up. So let’s just say I keep building up that capital with my savings (which takes more time than it would if I didn’t have the grey ones in my pocket) and I eventually have enough capital to put towards starting a new business.

Naturally, the grey ones want a cut of every dollar of profit I make. And they put their hand in my till for ACC levies and for the PAYE on every dollar I pay my employees. So with the capital built up over many year, and the earnings I’ve got left after the grey ones have taken what they call their “fair share,” I navigate my way for many years through the govt’s rules, regulations and “guidelines”—and I do this for so many years I lose count, until eventually I decide to sell the business.

And then the Labour Fucking Party want to put their hand in my pocket again because, they say, I haven’t been taxed enough.

Well, phuck you again, Phil. Fuck you David.

You pair of thieving rat-faced bastards.

You are so bad, you make Smile and Wave & Sir Double Dipton electable.

And if any of you think the the answer to fixing New Zealand is more frigging taxes, then you sure as hell don’t even know the right questions to ask.


DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Who Pays The Tax? [update 2]

_richardmcgrathLibertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath invites you to come on down to his surgery for an inoculation against this week’s stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Who Pays The Tax?

Someone posted this to me recently, so I have to acknowledge the work of David Farrar in getting this information out first. However, Bill English’s comments merit further comment, which is why I reproduce much of what has been posted already on Farrar’s Kiwiblog.

First, a table which apparently comes from Bill English’s office (so take that for what it’s worth), followed by the Minister’s answer to a question about who pays most of the tax collected by government (as opposed to tax collected by gangs and various other extortion rackets outside of the IRD):


Hon [sic] BILL ENGLISH: Our tax and transfer system is highly redistributive, and the number of people paying income tax is surprisingly small. The lowest-income 43 percent of households currently receive more in income support than they pay in income tax. The 1.3 million households with incomes under $110,000 a year collectively pay no net tax—that is, their total income support payments match their combined income tax. The top 10 percent of households contribute over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers—over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers. This system is highly redistributive and we believe it is fair. (My emphasis in bold).

So there you have it. On average you have to earn over $110,000 a year before you pay any net tax, even though you start paying net tax on income bands above $50k. That makes nearly 79 per cent of New Zealand households net welfare beneficiaries, supported by the other 21% and by the $380 million Bill English borrows every week.

So most of the country are moochers.

And the 10% of households who have visible earnings over $150k pay 70% of the tax collected.

Bill English admits this system is highly redistributive and he believes it to be “fair.” Fair? It’s outrageous. It’s so biased against success that it almost makes a person want to give up. Or emigrate. Or vote Libertarianz. Be advised: if you dare to work hard, or innovate, or invent; if you are an entrepreneur, if you succeed (or even if you fail) you will be punished!

Now be advised too that this is the system presently in place—even before David Cunliffe gets his hands on your wallet, your business and your art collection. Even under the system as administered by Sire Double Dipton, you will not be given an opportunity to employ others or to use your profits as capital investment. Instead, you will hand most of it over to the government as income tax, GST, ACC levies, consent fees, permit costs, etc.

Mr English believes that’s fair, because Mr English is in every way that matters  an old-fashioned redistributive Marxist. Mr English is a man who believes in the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” (And as we know, Mr English and his family are very needy.)

That approach is fine when the community is a voluntary co-operative, where people can come and go of their own volition. That does not apply in New Zealand. We can’t opt out of paying tax, which of course is filtered through government departments before it reaches those to whom it is officially destined.      

Greece… Ireland… Italy… Spain… Portugal… New Zealand. We live in interesting times.

And still 53% of people support that nice Mr Key and good old Bill English. No wonder Labour are faring so poorly in the polls. They and National are fighting over the same group of voters: those who want to live at the expense of everyone else.

There are only two political parties that want to abandon this self-destructive Marxian death cult. One is led by Don Brash, the other by me. Both our parties are “lunatic fringe” extremists. Both parties are “right wing”, and “racist”—or so the media would like you to believe.

Neither party appears likely to play any meaningful role in government of this country in the near future, for the simple reason (as a much wiser head than mine once opined) that there hasn’t been a revolution in people’s heads. And because 10% of the country are paying for the other 90%, and none of those turkeys will be voting for Thanksgiving any time soon.  Frankly, things haven’t moved on since 1990; we’ve been in a time lock through the eras of Prime Minister Spud, Headmistress Shipley, the long decade of rule by Clarkistan, and what now looks to be six and possibly nine years of the Smiling Assassin and his sidekick Billy Bob.

Do New Zealanders really want to change? Or do they value the equal destitution of a collectivist state above the uncertainties of freedom and the accompanying obligation to think and act and experience consequences? Looks like that crab bucket mentality that tennis ace Chris Lewis wrote about all those years ago is still thriving. It’s so damned hard to shift people away from a mindset of utter denial about where our economy is headed. Perhaps the future is too scary to face.

And that’s the thing about the Libertarianz and ACT parties. They scare people, because people will do anything to evade reality.

See ya next week!
Doc McGrath

UPDATE 1: Rob Salmond takes issue with the Farrar/English figures, saying the rich are not paying so much as they say—and then argues govt should get out there and soak the rich anyway. Read: Tax Burdens: Some Facts (For a Change).

UPDATE 2: And David Farrar responds, saying Rob Salmond can’t count.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Comte on Altruism

Guest post by Jeff Perren

Anyone still muddled over the actual nature of altruism would do well to read the man who coined the term.

Here, August Comte makes it completely clear that when he talks about the duty to sacrifice self for the sake of others, he really means it. It's also clear, even from this brief passage, that it is incompatible with liberty.

“[The] social point of view . . . cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries.

After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service. . . . Any human right is therefore as absurd as [it is] immoral.

This [to live for others], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] humanity, whose we are entirely.”

[Catéchisme Positivist, 1852]