Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free trade raises the standard of living

Free trade is a general concept where people are free to perform voluntary exchanges, transactions and decisions. Nothing more or nothing less. It intuitively sounds like a healthy idea, like a great way for people to pursue happiness and what they value.

No doubt that some people make mistakes. Some people make bad decisions. Some people take actions and make decisions that have a negative impact on their health, or happiness, or opportunities. No system of government can ever change that. Individual decision making, on a large scale, is what forms an economy.

Millions of people make billions of decisions a day. Some are simple but some are complex.

People deciding where to eat, whether to walk or drive, where to work, how to unwind and what to do with their leisure time, whether to study, read a book or watch a movie, whether to turn on the heating, how much exercise they do, whether to smoke or drink alcohol, whether to pay for education or child care. These are all decisions.

And who is best equipped to make the informed decision - the state or the individual ?

Could the state decide for each individual ? Certainly not. Everyone is different, has different needs and valuations, goals and desires, resources, time and priorities.

Some people make bad decisions, like smoking excessively. It's pretty clear that it harms your health. Millions of people are deciding not to smoke based on the adverse consequences. But why tax cigarettes so heavily ? Is it the role of the state to discourage harmful behaviour ? Doesn't a person have a right to do what they want with their body ? Don't 2 parties, (tobacco companies + a smoker) have the right to exchange money for goods without government intervening and imposing a hefty tax on the goods ? Doesn't an automobile owner have the right to purchase 50 litres of petrol from a station without paying 40-50% tax on top of that ?

The core idea is: So long as 2 willing parties are voluntarily engaging in a transaction, what business is it of anybody else ?

All of a sudden, the tax has distorted behaviour and decision making. Cigarette smokers now try to purchase goods from overseas or via duty free to avoid the oppressive taxes. Domestic tobacco companies have to fire workers and scale back production if their sales are harmed. Local stores sell less of the item and their profits are harmed. As for smokers themselves, on top of the adverse health consequences, they are hurt financially.

The bottom line is: Imposing a new set of consequences on an action/decision will then change the decision making patterns of people.

Ok, so whats the problem then with free trade, it certainly has merits. Why doesn't it naturally appeal to all thinkers ? Easy answer - it would mean drastic change from the status quo.

All economies trust the state to efficiently allocate resources to health, education and roads. Most also have the state managing and regulating the media, the arts, sports, cultural events, technology, roads, transport, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, medication.

How can one monolithic body (a government) allocate resources as effectively as the millions of individual agents who go about their lives making billions of informed decisions as to whats best for them ?

There is a line of thinking that says "We should expect people in a rich/lucky country to be able to have their needs met". Today in 20o6, these thinkers suggest those needs include drinking water, housing, clothing, basic medicine, education, roads, sanitation, food and drink. The argument is that the state should guarantee these "needs" to all people. The concern is that without this guarantee, without state provision, some people would not have their needs met. The implication is that it has to be done through some pretty heavy taxation.

Where was this line of thinking 20 years ago ? 50 years ago ? 600 years ago ? Wouldn't you sound foolish advocating free health care for all citizens even 100 years ago in England ? The only kind of health care that 19th century England might provide is a few potions or ointments, and to saw off broken limbs. What about education ? Perhaps only 10% of the population could read or write. How could you suggest a 19th century society should give everyone a good education (by today's standards) ?

Before the industrial revolution, only a king or emperor would have all these things. And yet still not as good as the average working person has them today.

Why is that ? Why can we now think in terms of "needs" that would have been luxurious extravagances in the past ? Why perhaps, would our standards of living in another 100 years time be so much better, that there will be a new range of "needs" that today are considered extravagant luxuries ?

It is because our economies have developed enormously. We have built up masses of wealth, of savings, of innovations. Opportunities abound, more than ever. Anyone willing to work can earn enough to pay for shelter, health, sanitation, books, heating, water, electricity, televisions, radios, toasters, ovens, microwaves, clothing and footwear. And on top of that, they only have to work 8 hours a day, and the rest is leisure. And then on top of that, weekends are free !

Talk about productivity! Human societies have learnt to allocate resources where most valued. Farmers no longer use the ox and back breaking labour, but instead, the tractor. 500 farmers with modern technology, can harvest what 50,000 farmers used to harvest. Previously, a housewife might have spent the best part of their life performing back-breaking labour for 16 hours a day. Now, for the cost of several thousand dollars (which can be earnt in the space of months), appliances can be bought which can avoid the lifetime of hardship. A washing machine, dishwasher, oven, heater, kettle and toaster and microwave - these save hours of labour each day. People no longer need to chop firewood, heat a pot over a fireplace, just to make coffee or tea.

You would have had to work 30 hours in a day only 50 years ago to earn these things. Yet there were no governments telling people "a standard working day cannot be more than 8 hours labour". 95% of people had to struggle to save and get by, to chop firewood, to buy meat and vegetables, just to meet their "needs". Yet they were still better off than our cavemen ancestors.

The reason we individuals perceive that an entire society "can guarantee/expect a range of needs to be met" is because we are surrounded by an abundance of wealth. By building wealth, as our parents and ancestors did, we have more opportunities today than they could have imagined. We can exchange our labour in so many different tasks, we can utilise our time in so many different ways, we can so easily afford needs, comforts, luxuries, leisure, transport, travel and entertainment.

So how do you build wealth ? Well our society would be 50% - 60% wealthier if government stayed out of our private lives, and kept to its key roles of police, law and order. Once government stops intruding into commerce, people are free to allocate resources, time and labour, money and savings into activities that will benefit them the most.

Now if so many people value health and education, imagine how many new innovations and breakthroughs would occur if government stopped confiscating tax, regulating and funding it. Well the point is that you couldn't imagine, that the whole point of free markets. 100 years ago, people could never have imagined what we have available. But once Western society put in place the key ingredients to building wealth - property rights and freedom - humans have improved their circumstances incredibly, and now the spread of prosperity extends to historically poor countries through trade and interaction.

In a free and open market, hundreds of enterprising individuals would compete to provide people with what they value, and people would have more savings to direct to these things that they value. These indicators are the key to wealth. Prices are signals. They signal very important information between all the agents in an economy. Between businesses and consumers. Let them allocate their resources to build a better future.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Left wing ideology is blind

Hypocrisy is when you hold one party to a high set of standards, but other parties do not need to comply. In liberal democracies, nearly every left wing argument fails the litmus test of being fairly applied to all parties.

Leftists are guilty of hand-wringing, self-doubt and self-criticism. In Australia, we are repeatedly reminded that we are racist, that we are war-mongers and that war is bad, that we are harming the environment, that we shouldn't have nuclear weapons or pursue nuclear energy, that homosexuals and minorities deserve more rights/benefits.

But when it comes to non liberal democracies of the world, their attitude is "Whoah, lets not judge them too quickly. Its their culture, we should respect it".

But when it comes to judging a dictatorship, socialist tyranny, ethnic groups eternally warring over land, aggressive theocracies... no criticism can be heard. Nearly every Arab government and society in the middle east oppress women and homosexuals. Iran and Hezbollah pursue nuclear weapons. North Korea threatens nuclear annihilation against Japan or America. China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria oppress political dissidents and curb freedom of speech. The government of Zimbabwe steals land from white farmers and systematically starves and punishes ethnic groups. Sudan is a place where religious and ethnic violence murders millions. These countries receive not a single mention from the leftists.

In Australia, there was a recent debate about using nuclear energy for the future electricity supply. The Greens fiercely opposed it, as they oppose all Uranium mining and nuclear technology. But.. lets see if they criticise Iran for silencing voices who stand for the same cause:

Habibi, Tavancheh and four others posted letters on their blogs in April calling for a national dialogue on Iran's nuclear energy program, which the West fears could be cover for atomic weapons development. The letter raised questions about the diplomatic risks from Iran's standoff with the West and the ecological consequences of nuclear waste disposal.

"Then (Tavancheh) was arrested. So was another of the students who signed the letter," said Habibi. "I think I will be next."

Habibi updates his site — — with news about Tavancheh's case and other bloggers facing trial.

"We will not go away quietly," said Habibi.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Letter to the federal Liberal Party

I am writing to express my disappointment at the announced proposals to subsidise fuel efficient cars. Not only is this a harmful idea, but it is totally contrary to Liberal principles and an unnecessary regulation.

The Liberal party platform claims to stand for economic freedom and growth. But increasingly, Liberal leaders have been bending to media lobbying and populist rhetoric and have been increasing the scope and size of government relentlessly, all along claiming it has been in the "national interest". And of course all other political parties stand for economic regulation and authoritarian government so they have been giving the current Liberal party a free pass and not defending the principles of freedom and enterprise.

It is not part of Liberal principles to redistribute wealth, regulate commerce and industry, subsidise lifestyles and subsidise feelgood environmental policies. All of these increase taxes and use coercion and regulation, instead of allowing a free market to determine outcomes, improve living standards and grow the economy.

Never before in history have hard working individuals been punished so much for productive behaviour. Never before in history have individuals been rewarded so much for need, failure and bad decisions. This government interferes in private relationships and families by massively subidising families who reproduce, subsidising farmers who choose to maintain their lifestyle, subsidising unemployed and students, whilst punishing individuals that work hard, those that are productive and those who direct their skills towards labour that is highly valued by the market.

Not only that, but this government is socially authoritarian, telling people what substances they may consume, which relationships are eligible for preferential treatment, that cigarettes and alcohol products must be excessively taxed, and that import tariffs must exist to protect inefficient Australian producers. Most outrageous is petrol taxes. When the PM was questioned about reducing the petrol excise by 10c, he arrogantly defended the status quo by simply stating "That would cost the government $3bil, where would we get the revenue from ?".

And to add insult to injury, a gem of Keynesian economic illiteracy was put forth, suggesting that tax cuts would be inflationary and would be a bad thing. Heaven forbid that you actually allow individuals to keep their money that is rightfully their property !

I hope that there is a dramatic shift in the Liberal Party towards its core values, and away from the ALP and Green's socialist ideals. I owe the Liberal Party no loyality, and at any given election, my vote will go to the party that best represents freedom.

Best Regards,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AP has no journalistic integrity

The Arab world and European media are always hungry for selective photographic images, showing carnage and devastation caused by Israel. They try to conjur up anti-Israel rage and shock by presenting images of wholesale slaughter and reckless destruction. News services worldwide were scrambling to report 50-60 civilian deaths due to an Israeli airstrike on a residential building. Images of dead children and babies were on the front page of newspapers worldwide. The damage to Israel's standing and justification of its counter-terrorism measures has taken a crippling blow. There is now a pile of evidence that the Qana was an engineered tragedy - only 27 bodies have been recovered, so why the initial reports of 56 dead? Also, the fact that Israel claims it had not struck the building destroyed is extremely worrying. Israel had dropped leaflets days before warning residents to evacuate, and had already fired upon Hezbollah positions in Qana. Some have speculated that the dead bodies recovered were dead well before the attack. It's looking more and more like either a terrible accident or Hezbollah engineered the tragedy out of nowhere to evoke worldwide rage at Israeli actions and increased demands for a ceasefire.

This letter, from Associated Press management to its' staff, shows how AP scrambled many photographers to snap shocking and emotional pictures when the residential building collapsed in Qana, supposedly due to an Israeli air-strike. Read it, and see how AP are no better than media prostitutes eager for a quick buck and sensational newsflashes.

Dear Staffers:

Last Sunday proved to be one of the most dramatic days in the war between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. AP’s extensive photo team produced a stunning series of images that day that beat the competition and scored huge play worldwide.

Rumors surfaced early Sunday morning that an Israeli airstrike had flattened a house in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. The number of deaths wasn’t immediately known, but the seriousness of the incident was clear. Beirut-based photographer Hussein Malla immediately called AP photographers Nasser Nasser, Lefteris Pitarakis and stringer Mohammed Zaatari and advised them to rush to the scene. Nasser arrived as the bodies of many civilians — including numerous children — were being pulled from the rubble. Lefteris later took over, enabling Nasser to get his pictures swiftly onto the wire. Kevin Frayer was dispatched from Beirut to boost AP’s presence. Throughout the morning, AP’s team filed a steady stream of powerful images.

Meanwhile, in Beirut, a small Hezbollah demonstration exploded into violence at word of the Qana attack. Hezbollah supporters stormed the nearby United Nations building, scaling walls and smashing their way past bulletproof glass barriers to enter the building itself. Photographers Hussein Malla, Kevork Djansezian and Ben Curtis were all there to capture the rioting. Beirut-based photo editor Dalia Khamissy coordinated with photographers in the field and handled a steady stream of stringer photos. All day long, AP photographers relayed what they were seeing to AP reporters for print stories.

Nasser’s most haunting image showed a man emerging from the rubble carrying the lifeless and dust-covered body of a child. Calm, morning light shone down on man and child, highlighting them against an almost monochrome background of pure rubble. ... Nasser’s image ran on the front pages of at least 33 newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Post. It also won a double-page center spread in The Guardian of London. Lefteris’s image of a resident weeping next to a row of bodies made the front of The Washington Post, among many others. Hussein, Kevork and Ben’s images of the storming of the UN building easily beat those of the competition.

For a day of outstanding a memorable photos, taken in conditions of substantial danger, the Lebanon photo team of Nasser Nasser, Lefteris Pitarakis, Kevin Frayer, Mohammed Zaatari, Ben Curtis, Hussein Malla, Kevork Djansezian and Dalia Khamissy shares this week’s $500 Beat of the Week award.

Dictionary for the middle east conflict

Via Atheist Jew , an online glossary of terms the mainstream media use when covering the mid-east conflict:

Al Jazeera: The only unbiased newspaper in the world.

Anti-semite: 1. Someone who hates Arabs. 2. Not Mel Gibson.

Appeasement: A chance to show the world that Arab assmonkeys are good guys and mean no harm.

Arab Land: Every inch of land in the middle east, including part of Africa and probably Spain.

Arab victory: 1. Whenever a suicide bomb successfully goes off; 9/11. 2. Whenever an Arab civilian, used as a human shield, is killed by the IDF. 3. Turning a gesture of peace by Israel into a better opportunity to drive Jews into the sea (see land withdrawal).

Cease fire: An opportunity for Arabs to replenish weapons.

Civilian: 1. Any Arab in civilian clothes. 2. Any Arab who was killed when used as a human shield.

Colonialism: 1. The migration of a non Muslim to the middle east; also, a Jew who moves from a Muslim majority state in the middle east to Israel. Note: Muslims can move in large numbers to anywhere in the West. This is known as the MUSLIM LAW OF NON RECIPROCITY.

Comprehensive Solution: It has to be decided which Jews get to live and which Jews get to be Dhimmis, on an individual basis, once Israel becomes Arab land.

Defending their country: Shooting missiles from civilian zones at civilians.

Disproportionate response: Anything a Jew does to strike out at a terrorist.

Ethnic Cleansing or Genocide: 1. The phenomenon that explains the policy that Arab migration to Israel is frowned upon because Israelis don't like getting blown up in pizzerias or while standing in line at discos. 2. Anytime a terrorist assmonkey is killed.

Expansionism: The justification Arab assmonkeys use for terrorist acts against a country that withdraws from land for peace.

Freedom fighter: An Arab assmonkey terrorist, brainwashed to hate by an intolerant culture of hate.

Green Line: The border that Jews must retreat to even though it wasn't good enough for the Arab assmonkeys prior to 1967, the Arabs will magically accept this and live in peace even though their elected representatives state it will not be good enough.

Good Jew or Real Jew: A Jew who thinks Israel has no right to exist.

Holocaust: 1. Any war started by Arabs in which more than 10 Arabs were killed. 2. Something Jews are supposed to forget about. 3. Something that never happened, yet Jews have manipulated the "theft" of "Arab land" by conning the world into believing it did happen.

Human Shield: The reason that Jews are not allowed to try to eliminate terrorists.

Israeli Aggression: Any attempt by Jews to prevent or stop a terrorist act by an Arab assmonkey or assmonkeys.

Jihad: Meaningless Zionist propoganda term, which tries to paint the true spiritual struggle by the Religion of Peace as a bad thing.

Journalist: Anyone who writes anything as long it is Pro-Arab, Pro-Islam, Pro-Muslim or Pro-Jihad.

Just or Lasting Peace: Lots of dead Jews and no Israel.

Land Grab: Anything Israel does to defend itself.

Land Withdrawal: A perfect opportunity to fire missiles into Israel from a closer proximity.

Legitimate Resistance: 1. Resistance of acknowledging Israel's right to exist. Used mainly to give as an excuse for Arab assmonkey terrorism, especially against civilians, and especially to rationalize suicide bombings. It is actually the Arab assmonkey's resistance in using their brain. 2. Killing any Jew.

Martyr: Usually a teenager who is brainwashed to blow up in front of innocent Jews by older assmonkey Arabs who are hiding miles away next to a bunch of Palestinian children.

Massacre: When Israel responds to a terrorist attack and kills 3 Palestinians, but the Palestinians wind up reporting over 40 deaths.

Militant: Code word for Arab assmonkey terrorist, often used by AP and Al Reuters.

Military target: Any Israeli or Jew.

My Tax Dollars: The $6.34 that comes out of the total taxes an American pays each year, that goes to Israel so that they are forced to keep the Palestinian Arabs alive. Because without US aid, Israel would be forced to be more frugal in their way of dealing with Palestinian assmonkey terrorism.

Muslim land: Any land on this planet that lies between any two Muslims on this planet in every direction.

Negotiations: Talks where Israel is supposed to make all the concessions.

Neocon: 1. Code word for Jew 2. Code word for Zionist. 3. Anyone in the Bush administration because Aipac got Bush elected.

962 Gazillion billion trillion dollars: The amount of aid the US gives Israel every year.

Occupied territories: The West Bank even though it is really disputed territory that Jordan didn't want anymore and is therefore now up for negotiations. Not to be confused with "Occupied Palestine," which just means all of Israel.

Oppression: It is Israel's faut that low IQ hate filled blood lusting assmonkeys turned into low IQ hate filled blood lusting assmonkeys.

Palestinian Aid: Money that could be used for food, clothing, medicine, and education, but serves the Arab assmonkeys better if used for suicide bomb belts.

Palestinian struggle: 1. For 58 years they have struggled to make one right decision, and still haven't. 2. Arab whining, because in over 58 years and 5 wars they have always got their asses kicked while trying to throw the Jews into the sea.

Palicaust: The phenomenon that explains how just over 1 million Palestinians in 1948 have today turned into 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza alone, and another 3-5 million more in the rest of the world.

Peace Process: This has been ongoing for 58 years and has always been screwed up by the Israelis who refuse to be driven into the sea.

Propogandist(s): 1. An individual(s) who finds fault with anything Arabs or Muslims do. 2. Anyone who thinks Israel has the right to exist.

Regime: Civilized democracy.

Right of Return: The Trojan Horse parked outside the gates of Israel that Israelis won't wheel inside. If granted, the Arabs will have a chance to show that they are not the same Arabs who left in 1948 because they didn't want to live in a Jewish majority state.

Right to Exist: Israel has a right to exist only if it is an Arab state.

Stolen Land: 1. Any land in the middle east that has a Jew on it. 2. Land in Israel that was either bought legally by a Jew or land that was never owned before a Jew took it over.

Terror: Anything a Jew does to defend himself.

Terrorist: An Arab assmonkey driven to do an inhumane act, because of Jews, of course.

UN Resolutions: International laws, carved in stone, that Israel always ignores.

Zionazi: A Jew that supports Israel's right to exist and defend herself.

Zionist: 1. A Jew that supports Israel's right to exist and defend herself. Also true of non Jews who support the same. 2. Anyone who isn't sufficiently suffused with pure hatred towards Israel and Jews.