Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm off on holiday till end of November

I'll be back in time for the election. Till then, blogging will be suspended.

Good luck to the LDP ! Don't let the other parties try to bid for your vote. Spread the message and the ideas of liberty to everyone you know. Keep insisting that you'd rather have government do less for you, and let you manage your own affairs. We need less meddling, not more promises and commitments to meddle further.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Age says you have no property rights

The socialists down in Spencer St have unveiled their latest election stunt - the pork-o-meter:

Supposedly, it charts and lists all the "pork" and spending promises made by both parties in the election campaign.

Have a look and see how it breaks the pork down into categories such as health, education, farmers, security, environment and even tax.

What the ?! Tax !??!

How on earth is giving tax cuts considered a form of pork ?

Its quite one thing to use tax revenues to buy votes in the health sector, or in the environment sector. That could be considered a form of pork barreling. But giving tax back to the people who earned it is considered a form of bribery or vote buying by the socialists at The Age.

How sickening the socialist mindset is. When the government gives you some of your property back, it is considered a favor, instead of a restoration of justice and property rights.

Heck, why stop at listing the $34 billion tax cut as a form of pork ? Why not just say the government, by letting us keep 60% or 70% of our incomes in the first place, is giving us hundreds of billions in pork ?

Those nasty capitalists with their property rights.. they let us own our homes and cars !! Thats a form of pork and vote buying !

You see under social democracy, and its ultimate end, socialism, you do not have the right to own property. Your body, your house, your speech, your income and your wealth all belong to the state, and whatever benefits and freedoms you get to do with those things is only because the state and society grants you that privilege.

Government planning ! Its all you need for failure !

China should know better than most countries about how planning often causes problems. The very concept of planning is one that is based on a whole lot of risks, unknowns and assumptions. But it seems the Chinese communist regime has just announced this:

CHINA'S President Hu Jintao yesterday announced the leaders to see the country through the next 15 years.

The five-yearly party congress that ended on Sunday consolidated Mr Hu's own control of key policies and people until 2012.

Then comes the turn of the "two quite young comrades" whom Mr Hu yesterday asked to step forward from the traditional beauty parade-style line-up of the new Politburo standing committee: Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.

Aged 54 and 52 respectively, the party secretaries of Shanghai and of Liaoning, they are both reform-minded, English-speaking administrators liked by foreign business leaders.

Ahh yes, forget elections, forget letting the people or the circumstances decide on who should lead the country. Just write down a plan in paper and sit back, and watch the mayhem unfold ! Planning should be considered a dirty word when uttered by public servants. They don't mean planning in the intelligent sense. They mean writing down their job conditions for the next few years with no need to respond, adapt or change no matter what else changes around them.

China had 5 year plans for food which resulted in famine. Soviet Russia also had agricultural plans which resulted in shortages and famine. Perhaps they should have listened more carefully to some free market wisdom, like von Mises, Ricardo, de Tocqueville or Schumpeter, instead of following Marx to the letter of the law.

You can't plan what you will wear in 2 weeks time without knowing the weather, the conditions, and in fact, what activity you will be doing.

So when a massive institutional government bureaucracy suggests it needs to formulate a plan, beware !

Now this doesn't mean I believe that people should ignore the future because it is entirely random and unpredictable. Quite to the contrary. People can in fact prepare for the future. They can plan for certain contingencies and risks. They can think of strategies and tactics that help them. The difference being that people do not have to write their 5 year plans on paper and follow them through to the letter of the law.

Individuals are excellent decision making units. We are flexible, adaptive and respond to new information. We change our plans that we carry in our head, the minute we hear a weather forecast, or a financial outlook, or other relevant bits of data.

Every day we decide what to wear, what to eat, what to purchase, what to do with our leisure time and hundreds more countless decisions. We decide how much education or medical services we need as well.

No bureaucrat or public servant is needed to tell us what to do or what we need. They will try to put a positive spin 5 year plans for the hospitals or for public transport, telling us they will use lots of feedback, KPIs, metrics, review procesdures and a transparent process to make the whole thing smooth and accountable.

When you hear them talk about central planning, tell them its destined to fail.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On 2nd thoughts, the Liberal's tax cuts are moderate

On closer inspection, I'm a bit disappointed to read the fine print on yesterday's news story about the Liberal's proposed tax cuts.

To begin with, the LDP have correctly pointed out that the tax free threshold isn't actually being raised one cent. Instead, the Low Income Tax Offset is being raised so that people who will earn $14,000 will get a tax rebate to cover any tax debt, so they owe nothing.

And this is a form of churning, one of the biggest problems with the status quo, something which CIS researcher Peter Saunders has identified in several pieces. Churn is as simple as it sounds. .. .governments take more taxes than they should in the first place, churn it around, throw it in the air, and hand bits of it back to the people who paid it in the first place via welfare payments, baby bonuses, tax credits, co-contributions etc etc.

As the LDP describe it:

Churning exists when money is recycled from taxpayer to bureaucracy and then back to the same taxpayer. Not only does it waste significant amounts of money on administration and compliance costs but it contributes to high effective marginal tax rates and undermines the incentive to work.

"The Liberals have no plan to reform the welfare system. As a result, people on low incomes receiving welfare payments will continue to lose a substantial part of any money they earn. It is a terrible disincentive to join the workforce.

Still.. its better than anything Labor will offer.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A vote for Labor is a vote for..

Kevin Rudd seems like a top bloke. A real nice guy. But lets see what a vote for him means. The kind folks at A Western Heart have compiled the following future ALP cabinet, and its not very reassuring:

Prime Minister: Kevin Rudd
Deputy prime Minister and Minister for Industrial relations: Julia Gillard, former student radical and AUS president
Treasurer: Wayne Swan, former ALP state secretary
Attorney general: Joe Ludwig, former AWU official
Minister for Homeland security: Arch Bevis, former organiser Queensland teachers’ Union
Minister for Trade: Simon Crean, former president, ACTU
Minister for Transport and Tourism: Martin Ferguson, former president, ACTU
Minister for Finance: Lindsay Tanner, former state secretary, Federated Clerk’s Union
Minister for Environment and the Arts: Peter Garrett, lifelong anti-American activist
Minister for Infrastructure and Water: Anthony Albanese. former assistant general secretary, NSW ALP
Minister for Human Services: Tanya Plibersek, former student union official, UTS
Minister for Immigration: Tony Burke, former official Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union
Minister for Resources: Chris Evans, former official Miscellaneous Workers’ Union
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs: Alan Griffin, former official federated Clerks Union
Minister for Primary Industry: Kerry O’Brien, former official Miscellaneous Workers’ Union
Minister for Superannuation: Nick Sherry, former state secretary, Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Union
Minister for Sport: Kate Lundy, former official CFMEU.
Further to that, there are these guys, all ready to step up to the plate:
Greg Combet, candidate for Charlton and former ACTU president
Doug Cameron, NSW Senate candidate and secretary of Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
Bill Shorten: candidate for Maribyrnong and national secretary, Australian Workers’ Union
Richard Marles: candidate for Corio and former assistant secretary, Transport Workers Union.

The 2007 election is on. .The Liberals finally offer tax cuts !

The Liberals have finally come about their senses and planned for some decent tax cutting ! Its about bloody time they put this issue on the radar. Forget their past mistakes, we all know Liberals have failed to deliver much in terms of tax cuts, and tax revenues have continued to climb to record highs under Howard's leadership.

But now that tax is a major election issue, it will force Rudd to deal with it and either offer his own set of substantial tax cuts or admit that he is a thieving, tax hungry socialist.

Past tax cuts have ranged from negligible to decent, but this is some solid change coming up, and worthy of celebration. I'd call it a big deal. Of course, it doesn't go as far as I'd like, but reducing the 2 top tax rates is a good start. Lets hope they no longer exist and everybody fits into the 30c rate, or lower.

For the kind of basic functions I think government should perform (police, courts, defence and some infrastructure/roads), we could afford all these things without an income tax at all !

But enough of my ranting for now, here are the details:

Mr Costello said in 2010 a coalition government would increase the effective tax free threshold again to $16,000.

The 15 per cent threshold would be taken up to $37,000, he said, and the top and second top tax rates would each be cut by one cent in the dollar.

"This plan is all to work towards the goal of tax reform which we now set ourselves," the treasurer said.

"Within five years - by 2012/13 - (we'll have) four tax rates - 15, 30, 35 and 40 (cents in the dollar).

"That's why we keep reducing those top two tax rates."

Mr Costello said the tax restructure would help grow Australia's economy by encouraging more people into work.

"The reason we are doing this is to encourage more people to join the workforce and to boost the capacity of the Australian economy," he said.

"This is part of our 'go for growth' strategy."

Treasury modelling showed federal government tax reforms since 2000 had boosted the number of people in the workforce by 300,000.

"The changes which we announce today will boost the estimated workforce by around 65,000 people," Mr Costello said.

"Encouraging more people into the workforce, particularly by reducing their effective tax-free threshold and particularly by lifting the threshold up until which you pay 15 cents in the dollar, is boosting the number of people joining Australia's workforce."

Mr Costello said in percentage terms, low income earners had experienced the highest tax cuts over the past five years.

"For people on $15,000 we will cut it out entirely," Mr Costello said.

"For people on $50,000 they will have a net tax cut that will reduce their tax paid from around $11,380 to $7,850.

"These tax cuts which began with the new tax system in 2000 have continued through our last five budgets."

Mr Costello said if re-elected, the coalition would next financial year lift the tax-free threshold for low income earners from $11,000 to $14,000.

The 15 per cent tax rate would kick in at $34,000, instead of $30,000.

Mr Costello said taxpayers would pay 30 cents in the dollar once they earn $80,000 a year and 40 cents at $180,000.

Lower those rates, Mr Treasurer !!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The LDP needs candidates for the Australian election

I won't be standing as a candidate for the LDP at the next election, but if any readers out there feel inclined to do so, please lend a hand, join the LDP, and if you have already joined, then stand as a candidate. It is rare to see an organised pro-liberty movement in this country, and it deserves as much support as possible.

Lets get government out of our lives, and out of our pockets, and then sit back and enjoy our liberty !

(I personally have no interest in being involved in politics, and I will probably be overseas at the upcoming election, seeing as we haven't set the date yet)

The war on drugs in 30 seconds

Watch this Penn and Teller clip to get the true meaning of the war on drugs:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Some interesting links

Thoughts on Freedom has a couple of new posts. One is a fascinating transcript showing a debate with a communist on Usenet.

Fran: To do that seriously, you must devise ways of working out how to reconcile your own needs and wants with the needs and wants of others.

Tex: Simple. I want to buy something, someone else wants to sell it to me, we agree on a price (or not).

Fran: You must distinguish out who is likely to collaborate with you (and for how long and on what basis) from those likely to compete with you.

Also up is a post about how minimum wage laws specifically harm the poor.

And here is a short article by the CTO of a technology startup, about how the Ron Paul revolution being the first truly digital movement.
The organization of the Ron Paul campaign is demonstrating that the corporate and government monopoly on, well, corporatism and governance, is weakening. The general population has just now been armed with digital weapons that allow them to challenge anointed power structures and the Ron Paul campaign is evidence that they aren't wasting any time getting to work.

$5 million in fund raising for the last quarter is quite an accomplishment. The seeds of liberty are planted and spreading.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Australian constitution is useless

Really, what is so useful about a document that tells us how many members of parliament, the levels of government, the numbers of senators, the election terms and the role of the queen and governor general ?

Its all just formality and ceremony. Is there much in there to limit the powers of government ? Unfortunately not.

....the Australian Constitution, was to list the powers given to the Commonwealth and otherwise leave the powers of the States unspecified and unrestricted.

Some powers are given exclusively to the Commonwealth, but with others overlap is allowed, with a provision (Section 109) to decide which legislation prevails if there is conflict. There is also provision to give new powers to the Commonwealth, either by the consent of State Governments
There are no clauses that seem to limit the power of the government, and no bill of rights. No guarantee on the right to bear arms, no clauses about freedom of speech, or about government having no power to tax commerce, and no mention of life, liberty and property.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Won't somebody think of the trees !

Oh the humanity. Oh the cruelty of it all !! Somebody think of the trees and animals !
Finally, and thankfully, Gunn's Pulp Mill has the go ahead from the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Heres the upside:

The project in Tasmania's north-east will be the island state's largest-ever private sector investment. Gunns, the company behind the mill, says it will provide up to 2,000 long-term jobs and add $6.7 billion to Tasmania's economic output over the next 25 years.

Well, lets see. Gunns bought the land, planned how to operate their business, raised capital, did their research, checked what other competitors they are up against, researched the technology of production and distribution, and expect to hire 2000 staff full-time. Running a simple business, let alone a full scale industrial plant, is pretty complex to manage. But I bet there was one risk that has cost Gunn's, one factor beyond their control, but one that can spell doom for their plans before they even get started.

The risk of political interference and meddling. Which has come about through:
  • A massive media scare campaign.
  • Dozens of angry environmental protestors outraged at Gunn's and deciding government should stop them.
  • Self righteous celebrities like Cate Blanchett with her eco-mansion, joining the cause to ban the pulp mill.
  • Political lobby groups and opposition parties getting massive headlines in newspapers, TV and radio playing partisan games and attacking the idea of letting Gunn's do what they want with the land that they purchased and hold the title too.
  • The issue becoming a political football in the run-up to a federal election

Malcolm Turnbull deserves credit for doing something unusual for a politician - nothing ! He didn't meddle, interfere, regulate or even threaten to monitor the project. And the only other political party that deserves credit is the LDP, who also have a candidate running for the seat of Wentworth and agreed to direct their preferences to Turnbull if he gave the go-ahead for the pulp-mill. The LDP said the following:
"We consider the Gunns pulp mill to be a test of whether Australia is open for business", said LDP Secretary David Leyonhjelm.

"The mill will be built on land zoned heavy industrial, next to an existing woodchip mill and just down the road from an aluminium smelter. It will use existing transport infrastructure and wood supplies.

"It was designed by a world-leading Finnish company and will utilise the world's best technology. It could not be built to a higher standard, and will be far superior to Australia's other pulp mill at Maryvale in Victoria.

"If the mill is prevented from proceeding despite all that, it means Australia is off-limits to paper production. We will be permanently dependant on imported paper, possibly made from our own wood chips.

"We expect extreme environmental groups such as the Greens to oppose the pulp mill, as they always oppose industrial development except when it requires taxpayers funds. What we didn't expect was that Malcolm Turnbull would be personally targeted by wealthy anti-business elements that have lost touch with reality.

"Government policy should not be determined by city-based romantics.

"Our candidate for Wentworth will be arguing for the pulp mill to proceed on the basis that the government has set the rules and the pulp mill meets them. Australia needs private sector investment of this kind if it is to maintain its economic progress.

"We believe we will appeal to voters who support our position on low taxes, small government and individual responsibility, but who are not inclined to vote Liberal because of its record of big government or intrusion into our personal lives", Mr Leyonhjelm said.

The LDP expects to announce its candidate for Wentworth within the next week.

So there are actual reasons to support the Gunn's Pulp Mill on environmental grounds. Its cleaner than the plant in Maryvale !

Lets take a look at how the tree-huggers down at the Spencer Street Soviet reacted to this:

It would appear that Mr Lennon has won the battle. He can now retire knowing that he has absolutely stuffed Tasmania as a clean green isle. I wonder where his children will go in the world to find somewhere like tassy is at this time.

  • Posted by: Peter Dodson on October 4, 2007 11:52 AM

What, was a nuclear bomb just dropped on tasmania ? The idea that our children won't recognise Tasmania is such hyperbole and exaggeration. But thats something that tree huggers use all the time.

I agree with Lainey - what a sad day. The impact may not be seen immediately, but I have no doubt that the consequences will make us regret the action.

  • Posted by: siobhan on October 4, 2007 11:55 AM

They can all see into the future ! No doubts, just have faith. That should be the mantra of the environmental movement.

This decision was based on Economics and bad economics alone!

again the Howard government has proved they are not interested in sustainability, only enhancing close relationships with big buyssiness that is over exploiting our natural resources, to the detriment of your children. we can only hope that mr Rudd and Labour would have any more foresight.

god bless Tasmania

  • Posted by: Jai Allison on October 4, 2007 11:57 AM

Ahh sustainability.. that magic word that suits the left's agenda so well. It can't be defined exactly, but whenever the left don't like some kind of change or development, they are quick to announce its not "sustainable". And when they propose all kinds of ridiculous, inefficient, unreliable ideas like wind power or alternative fuels, they are the wise overseers who can apply the "sustainable" label to it. In the free market, something is referred to as profitable if both parties gain from the exchange.

But in the crazed environmentalists world, there is always this magical 3rd party in every exchange called "the environment" who decides if it is sustainable or not. Of course, the planet doesn't have a voice, but somehow, these greenies and socialists can channel the planet's thoughts and speak on her behalf !!!

A sad day. How can the concern for the environment STILL be so low on the list of priorities? There are no jobs on a dead planet.

  • Posted by: meg streiff on October 4, 2007 12:03 PM

Because the whole point of a free economy is to kill the planet, and doom the rest of us !of course !!

A company like Gunns comes to dominate the entire social, political and economic framework of a state. Why?

I have never seen the sense in ripping up our forests in order to have jobs for morons whose only lifeskill is the ability to use a chainsaw. If these lazy dumb clowns were simply left on welfare we'd all be better off.

  • Posted by: Adrian on October 4, 2007 12:04 PM

Wow.. Gunn's collects taxes, runs the councils, courts, police, parliament.. they pay for roads, infrastructure. They operate hospitals and clinics, and schools, and universities. Damn those big companies and their power !! And the 2nd part of his rant is equally amusing. Look at his scorn and derision for the proleteriat. The moron who only knows how to use a chainsaw doesn't deserve a job !

When will humankind learn to just leave. Stuff. Alone?

  • Posted by: James Wall on October 4, 2007 12:20 PM

James. When will humankind learn to leave each other alone ? Gunn's bought the land, leave them alone ! The whole proposal and plan is based on thousands of voluntary trahsactions and exchanges. The labour hired, the land purchased, the skills and training and equipment. Nobody was coerced by Gunn's ! You should be happy James.

How can they get away with it?
How can they get away with any of the
rape and pillage of the environment
in Tas and elsewhere?


  • Posted by: Paul on October 4, 2007 12:36 PM

Thanks Paul. I'm weeping for you.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A letter of complaint - to Port Phillip Council

I am absolutely sick of the parking restrictions in that hell-hole, its well beyond oppressive, and totally inefficient. I wrote the following letter of complaint.

I am writing to express my frustration and anger at the current state of parking signs and restrictions in St Kilda, especially around the commercial areas of Fitzroy Street and Acland Street.

The status quo is absolutely unbearable for motorists. The amount of stress it causes myself, and at least a dozen others who live in the area, is significant. And the benefits of having such draconian and severe parking restrictions are simply non-existent. There is indeed a benefit to the council in terms of revenue, but it is not the role of the local council to impose blanket parking fees across the vast majority of the road system at all hours of the day.

There is no justification for the current levelof parking restrictions in terms of traffic management. The restrictions apply all year round, all days of the week and all times of the day. They even apply to areas well beyond the busy commercial strips.

The costs with parking tickets is astronomical, and I go to great lengths to avoid paying close to $3 per hour to park my car in a busy street. If it means walking half an hour, so be it. This Sunday evening, the St Kilda foreshore was almost completely devoid of cars. At least 90% of parking spaces were available, so there should be no need to operate ticket machines and charge people for a service that is abundant in supply at a time when demand is so low.

But even more dissapointing is the time restrictions placed in Fitzroy Street. What kind of justification is there for having 15 minute, or 30 minute parking spaces ? The current signs do a terrible job at allocating parking spaces to people.

What you seem to be forgetting is that people do not have a valid reason to over-stay and park. They go about their business, eat out, go out to nightspots or shops, and then they go home. Why should they be forced to stress over whether their car has been in a spot for 31 minutes ?

I hope you will see reason and stop oppressing motorists. After all, they are the ones who live and visit your area, and support the businesses and live in the homes that pay so much through council rates. In terms of emissions and fuel consumption, a great deal of driving time is wasted by motorists looking for spots. This trend is significant, I often spend 5 or 10 minutes driving to St Kilda and then 15 minutes trying to park, whilst competing with many other drivers.

Port Phillip council has a reputation as the most over-regulated and socialised council in Melbourne. They are becoming too authoritarian, deciding on how every inch of land should be used and even how people's private property must be used. There is not an inch of freedom or breathing space for people, and it seems a whole range of actions is either forbidden or heavily taxed.

All parking restrictions should be removed. But it would be a good start to remove them outside of working hours, reduce the fees, and increase the time limits.

Please take this seriously, I visit the area several times each week, and it would be a good sign that you are concerned with giving freedom to individuals and businesses, and not to filling your own coffers.


Central banks screwing things up

The Mises blog has a great post that summarises how central bankers interfere and meddle with the supply of money, which causes distortions and economic imbalances that manifest themselves in bubbles and busts.

Read below, and decide for yourself if fractional reserve banking sounds like it is good accounting and sound practices, or if it is just creating money out of thin air ?

Fractional reserve banking is the system in America, Australia, Canada, Britain, Japan and dozens of other economies. Of course it could be worse - refer to Cuba, Venezuela or Zimbabwe for examples.

Very briefly: the Fed can control the quantity of reserves held by banks, and thus indirectly can control the price the banks charge each other for lending out reserves. If the Fed thinks banks are charging each other too much for reserves — in other words, if the actual fed funds rate is higher than the target — then the Fed will engage in an "open market operation," buying assets such as US Treasury bonds from banks. The Fed pays for these purchases by adding numbers to the accounts the selling banks have with the Fed.

This is the precise point of entry for the new money that the Fed creates out of thin air. To repeat: When the Fed buys (say) $1 million in bonds from Bank XYZ, Bank XYZ surrenders ownership of the bonds but sees that its deposits of reserves at the Fed go up by $1 million. But the Fed didn't transfer this money from some other account. No, it simply increased the electronic entry representing Bank XYZ's total reserves on deposit. There is no offsetting debit anywhere in the banking system. Bank XYZ now has $1 million more in reserves, while no other bank has less. Bank XYZ is now free to go out and loan more reserves to other banks, or to make loans to its own customers. (In fact, due to the fractional-reserve system, the bank could make up to $10 million in new loans to customers.) The money supply has increased, putting upward pressure on prices measured in dollars.

But back to our original theme, the injection of reserves obviously increases their supply and thus (other things equal) pushes down the rate Bank XYZ will charge other banks who might want to borrow reserves from it. The open market operation has thus achieved the Fed's goal of pushing the actual fed funds rate down to the desired target. Of course, going the opposite way, if the actual fed funds rate were too low, the Fed would sell assets to the banks, thereby destroying some of the total reserves in the system.

Read the full article to see the Austrian analysis of this phenomenon, and if the empirical evidence shows this mechanism in action over the past decades.

Hero of Denmark

This man has courage. He was willing to exercise his freedom of speech, even if it would offend millions and make him the target of assassination. He offended millions of Presbyterians Muslims when he put published those dreaded cartoons of blasphemy, that actually depicted Mohammed, would ya believe it ?!

Reason Magazine
has a fascinating interview with Flemming Rose.

reason: Did your time in Russia and as Berlingske Tidende correspondent in the Soviet Union inform your ideas of free speech and political freedom?

Flemming Rose:
Yes. I am going to write a book about the cartoon crisis and I am going to compare the experience of the dissidents in the Soviet Union to what has happened to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji... I am very much informed by my contact with [Soviet dissidents] and I'm close to the Sakharov camp—people like Natan Sharansky and Sergei Kovalev... The dissidents were split between what I would I would call the nationalist camp and the human rights movement. And I would say that I identified more with the human rights movement, although I am a big admirer of Solzhenitsyn, of course, because of what he accomplished. But today he is, in fact, supporting Putin and he believes that he's conducting a very wise foreign policy program. I don't think Sakharov would have subscribed to this view.

Were you surprised by the reaction of those who argued not for unfettered free speech, but "responsible speech?"

Well, no. I think many people betrayed their own ideals. The history of the left, for instance, is a history of confronting authority—be it religious or political authority—and always challenging religious symbols and figures. In this case, they failed miserably. I think the left is in a deep crisis in Europe because of their lack of willingness to confront the racist ideology of Islamism. They somehow view the Koran as a new version of Das Kapital and are willing to ignore everything else, as long of they continue to see the Muslims of Europe as a new proletariat.

Like during the Cold War, there is a willingness to establish a false equivalence between democracy and oppression—between a totalitarian ideology and a liberal ideology. When I look back at my own behavior during the "cartoon crisis," it was very much informed by my experience with Soviet Union because I saw the same kind of behavior both inside the Soviet Union and those dealing with the Soviet Union in the West.

At the height of the "cartoon crisis," were you surprised to turn the television on to images of people in Lahore burning Danish flags, mobs attacking Scandinavian embassies? Did anyone at the paper anticipate such a response?

Not at all. No one expected this kind of reaction. Last year, I visited Bernard Lewis at Princeton and he told me: "Your case in unique in a historical sense. Never before in modern times, on such a scale, have Muslims insisted upon applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non-Muslim country. It has never happened before. And you can't really compare the Rushdie affair, because he was perceived to be an apostate." And as he told me, there is a long tradition of offending the Prophet in history. In the St. Petronio church in Bologna there is, on the ceiling, a painting of Mohammad in hell, based Dürer's paintings of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Kevin Rudd - old fashioned authoritarian

I am not a partisan person when it comes to politics. I owe no party any loyalty, and would just as soon vote for the ALP if they understood economics and showed an appreciation of free markets as the only reason prosperity and wealth have grown.

Kevin Rudd is campaigning on the slogan "Fresh Thinking". If he is actually thinking of ideas, then they certainly aren't fresh. Lets get one thing straight. Kevin Rudd may win based on his fresh "face" and being different to Howard. But the ideas and policies he supports are old fashioned central planning that see a greater role of government meddling in the free market.

He has pledged to establish, literally, dozens of new bureacracies and departments, to spend $4.7billion of public funds on broadband, to continue with tariffs on clothing imports, to regulate and investigate prices on groceries and petrol, to increase the regulation on workplaces, and last but not least, regulate every single household and business to reduce their C02 output and levy taxes on emissions.

These ideas are not fresh. They have been tried countless times in recent history, by people far more charismatic, powerful, intelligent and articulate than Kevin Rudd. From Stalin, Mao, Castro and other rulers in the communist block, to today's socialist world leaders such as Tony Blair followed by Gordon Brown in the UK, Sarkozy in France, Zapatero in Spain and other European leaders, but even conservative world leaders such as George Bush, Stephen Harper and John Howard all dabble in central planning and heavy regulation of the economy, and an increasing amount of tax and property collected by the state.

These policies cause havoc. They have nothing to do with the man behind the wheel. Kevin Rudd may be a nice guy, but his ideas are doomed to fail, hurt people and destroy wealth.

The Daily Reckoning summarizes it succinctly:

Last week, China signaled that it wanted to control inflation in the worst way possible. Then, it announced: Henceforth essential prices will be set by party officials, rather than the marketplace. In effect, China is bailing out its economy in the worst possible way. Price controls are used by desperate governments from time to time. From Emperor Diocletian to Richard Nixon to Robert Mugabe, politicians have succumbed to temptation; rather than listen to the market, they decided to do the talking. In every instance, the results were the same – the economy was twisted in a painful and grotesque way. Typically, prices were held down to artificially low levels, in order to appease political groups. Supplies disappeared – blackmarkets, hoarding, market disruptions… one absurdity followed another.

Price controls don’t work – as the Soviet Union discovered – because they mislead people. Producers over-produce… or produce too much of the wrong thing and too little of the right thing. Consumers over-consume; investors put their money into the wrong places… at the wrong time.