Libertarians are idiots, #1
One of the quirks of the Australian electoral system is the profusion of minor and single issue parties; in the past we've seen such gems as the Hydroponic Tomato Party and What's Doing, a party solely comprised of the hosts of a boofhead late night football show. The AEC has cracked down on these in recent years, but there still exists such venerable defenders of the Westminster System as the Non Custodial Parents Party, the Motoring Enthusiasts Party (who through the Byzantine labyrinth of the Senate preferencing system, recently had a senator elected to federal parliament on a minuscule percentage of the vote), and the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens).
Whilst tackling such matters of national import as deregulating paintball and allowing people to keep native animals as pets, their primary focus is a libertarian economic policy, including unrestrained mining, and removing all limits to access to national parks. This, they say, will allow them free access for four wheel driving, camping and fishing, rather than locking up national parks for a privileged few, as they put it.
Well, morons. Let me tell you what happens when companies are allowed unrestricted access to national parks for logging and mining. Do you think they say to recreational 4WD users "hey, come in to our part of the forests and see what we're up to?" Horse poop. They lock up their part of the forest and leave it irreparably damaged when they're done.
The ORP states one of their aims is to ensure they can take their children freely into wilderness areas, as they themselves were taken as children. Well, one of the things I'm most looking forward to when I get my driver's licence is taking my family to visit Mt Sugarloaf, that icon of Newcastle you can spy from all parts of the city and which offers spectacular views across the lower Hunter. But I might not be able to. The mountain has been catastrophically damaged by mining in recent years, and there is talk that public access may have to be banned, for perhaps 50 or 100 years, because of the damage and the danger to the public.
Access to the mountain blocked because of mining. The sort of unrestrained, unregulated mining the Greens are trying to control. The sort of mining the ORP believes is a good, free and fair thing. This is because libertarians are idiots.
Libertarians are idiots, #2
Inevitably, there is an Australian branch of the Tea Party. They launched in 2010, and if you've not heard of them until now, that speaks to the utter lack of direct impact they've had on Australian politics. But their indirect impact has been more subtle and successful; under the influence of such Liberal MPs as Tea Party plant Cory Bernardi, they've moved the Australian Liberal Party away from the classical conservatism of Menzies to a hawkish neocon economic stance which, if it were not unpopular enough to send the Abbott government to its inevitable demise, would lay the nation to ruin.
That's because, for all the "grassroots" Tea Party supporters who feel the government messes around too much in their lives and simply want to pay less tax, neocon policies do not work. They work for big business, sure; even if neoliberal economic policies cause recession, that suits big business just fine, pushing wages and bargaining power of employees down (note how the rich got richer even through the GFC). But for your average wage earner? Forget it. In a truly unregulated free market economy, someone willing to work for $5 an hour will take your job. Then there's the question of smaller government. Which services would they be willing to do without - healthcare, education, law enforcement, roads? You think you and the market are in a better place to decide what services are provided and what you should pay for them without government interference? Yeah, good luck with that, with minimum wages abolished and no workplace protections. There are of course nations with low taxes and very few government services. They're pretty much all in the third world. Maybe that would be more to a libertarian's taste. Because libertarians are idiots.
There is hope, or not really. Perhaps our international laughing stock of a Prime Minister will take note of the fact that a key adviser to the Pope has stated that libertarian views are incompatible with Catholicism. Unfortunately Abbott has missed the other bits about charity and compassion, so I'm betting this will sail right by as well.
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