Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Three paths to your political beliefs.

Whilst there are undoubtedly diverse, complex and unique political views out there amongst the population, by looking at the core beliefs about how society should be organised, each person can be placed in one of three baskets.

So which paragraph below sounds like the best description to you regarding the nature of society and how people should be organised ?
1/ The most important thing is that people are all equal and treated fairly. In order to accomplish this, government should pass laws that seek to address inequality and actively assist the poor, the disadvantaged and the struggling. If society were left uncontrolled, then it would be a cruel dog eat dog world, with the poor people struggling to survive and being exploited whilst a few wealthy individuals and large corporations would hold most of the power. Government needs to continually and dynamically change what it does and pass new laws to address these issues and eliminate poverty. Addressing these issues are far more important than people's desire to keep their property and their incomes.

2/ The most important thing is law and order, and moral values. We need a stable and moral society. Government should be responsible for upholding good and traditional Western values and punishing criminals. This means that government should go out of its way to support and subsidise lifestyles that fit traditional values, like marriage, raising children, celebrating national and religious holidays. It should also punish what is non-traditional behaviour, like drugs, homosexuality, censoring pornographic offensive and violent media. When it comes to law and order, its important that the police have lots of powers to fight criminals. Its also important to have a strong military and support our troops when they go to war.

3/ The most important thing is maximising human freedom and core human rights. This means that people have the right to keep their property, and the right to be free from coercion and violence, and to pursue happiness as they see it. To acheive this, government need only exist to stop people from using violence and coercion against each other. Any efforts by government to destroy inequality will also drag down the wealth of a society. Poverty has been massively reduced and living standards have skyrocketed due to human enterprise, creativity and free trade. The reason Western society is so prosperous is because of dynamic and unpredictable innovations that evolved because of complex interactions between individual people, who signal information to each other and act on that information. Government has absolutely no business telling people what they can do with their bodies, their property, their speech, and what personal relationships they may form. Freedom of association and freedom of religion are protected rights, so long as a person's lifestyle or religion isn't enforced on others.


If you believe in 1 you are a socialist.
If you believe in 2 you are a conservative

If you believe in 3 you are a classic liberal. Also known as Libertarian. But definately not the same as the Australian Liberal party, who are more aligned with 2 then 3.

Australia is currently a mix of 1 and 2. Government has a whole raft of welfare policies from 1, that seek to help the poor and disadvantaged. Public schooling and public health are also intended to stamp out issues of inequality. But having a conservative political party means that a lot of welfare goes towards traditional behaviour patterns, like families and the baby bonus. And it also means that more tax subsidies go towards private schools which tend to teach conservative values.

However.. this is not a communist country. Even though government has been spending and intervening and regulating our lives in an ever increasing manner, (to acheive the goals of 1 and 2), it has also respected individual rights and common law to a degree that allows the mechanisms described in 3 to emerge.

The real irony is .. Without a central government to recognise this or set goals towards this, Australia is prosperous and has improved much over the past century because of the goals and mechanisms described in 3. Standards of living have improved by allowing a certain amount of freedom, trade and commerce in Western countries.

My message to people who identify with 1 (socialism):

Your key objectives are to reduce poverty and eliminate inequality and end exploitation. Please read your history books.

Poverty: Please see 3. Poverty is usually defined as being below a certain level when it comes to health, life expectancy, wealth and education. These are subjective and keep changing. By the standards of European society during the black plague, no Australian person is poor. As economies grow, wealth tends to spread, the success of capitalism and free trade is contrasted against the abysmal failure of communism to build up industries, trade and profit.

Inequality: Having a central authority (government) fight inequality has only, and can only work one way. By making everyone equally poor. By punishing and taxing the succesful and dragging them down. Government can not grow an economy and improve the opportunities and productivity of the poor and disadvantaged. It cannot create meaningful employment for the poor to enjoy for the rest of their lives. It cannot create things out of thin air, it can only transfer wealth from those who earn it to those who have the most needs.

Exploitation: Please check the dictionary. I do not agree with your definition of exploitation. If 2 consenting parties form a voluntary agreement, without coercion or violence being used, then exploitation does not occur. If I hire an elderly grandmother to do the most degrading task for 10 cents per hour, and she accepts of her own free will, then unfortunately it still isn't exploitation. So once society protects rights and protects people from coercion and violence, exploitation is a thing of the past. What business would government have telling the 2 of us what kind of labour exchange is permitted ?

My message to people who identify with 2 (conservatism):

Your most important values are family, perhaps religion, and traditional social structures. But what business is it of yours to tell other people what they can say or do ? If my neighbour chooses to consume large amounts of drugs, it is their decision, and they should be allowed to follow it and face the consequences. If a couple of the same gender wish to form a committed partnership, what business is it of the society to oppress them and tell them what they can or can't do ? When it comes to children eating junk food, or watching violence or sex on television, shouldn't parents be educating children about how to deal with these things rather than shutting them out ? As the parents, they have the option of monitoring and advising their children on what to do. When it comes to religion, and religious holidays, you are free to celebrate it as you wish, but this doesn't mean that everybody in society has to do likewise. Not every is observant, and many follow other religions. Why should all groups be lobbying government to enforce a certain lifestyle, religion or culture over others ? Perhaps they should all spend more time following these things in their private lives and within their families.

History shows conclusively that 3 is the way to go.

Alas, government consists only of politicians and bureaucrats who would soon be out of a job if they acknowledged that although life his improved, it hasn't been because of them.