Economic Freedom

How restricted trade hurts people

Trade is the great bringer of peace. Frederic Bastiat once said that “If goods don’t cross borders, armies will”. Restricting trade is one of the greatest acts of self-harm the state inflicts on its people.

The nature of trade is often misunderstood. Nations don’t trade with other nations. Rather, individuals in some nations trade with individuals in other nations. It may seem trifling, but it makes great deal of difference to who bears the cost of damaging trade policies.

There are many ways in which governments all over the world restrict free trade between their citizens and those of foreign countries. Most obvious is tariff barriers. These are portrayed as forcing foreign suppliers to pay a premium to supply goods locally, which consequently makes the foreign supplier more uncompetitive in the local market, saving local jobs. But this could not be further from the truth. The cost of the tariff … Read the rest


High tobacco taxes linked to crime spike

Another convenience store worker has been attacked in what has become an increasingly common occurrence. Criminals, lured by the sky-high value of cigarettes due to the government’s Tobacco Excise, are robbing local shops to get their hands on them. It has become “tobacco first then cash” according to Jeff Rogut, chief executive of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores. Tobacconists in Queensland have also expressed concerns for the safety of themselves and their stores, with one man’s shop being hit twice in a week by thieves targeting cigarettes. New Zealand has faced the same crisis, with aggravated robberies soaring by 87% between 2016 and 2017 and then-acting Prime Minister Winston Peters criticising high tobacco taxes in his country for much of that rise.

This hardly comes as a shock. History shows that aggressively taxing a product is a surefire way to create a black market and contribute to increased … Read the rest


Are Trump’s tax cuts working?

Better economic performance is the most important reason to adopt pro-growth reforms such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Even small increases in economic growth – especially if sustained over time – can translate into meaningful improvements in living standards.

But there are several reasons why it won’t be easy to “prove” that last year’s tax reform boosted the economy.

And there are probably other factors to mention as well.

The takeaway is that the nation will enjoy good results from the 2017 tax changes, but I fully expect that the class-warfare crowd will claim that any good news is for reasons other than tax reform. And … Read the rest


Regulated public utility monopolies are not ‘natural’

Editor: A version of this article by LibertyWorks’ advisory board member Darren Brady Nelson, was published by Master Resource, July 2 2015. It has been updated to be applicable to an Australian audience as well as with more recent data on the US public utility prices.


Every Australian business and household is directly and indirectly impacted by the seemingly never-ending rise in public utility prices (including airports, electricity, gas, post, public transport, rail, seaports, telecommunications, and water & sewerage). State and federal regulation of these so called natural monopolies (very worryingly, now including the Internet) in fact virtually “locks in” such an upward trajectory.

Consequently, consumers are paying a pseudo-tax that is hidden from plain sight. This is in great part due to, as pointed out by economist Ludwig von Mises, that:

No alleged “fact finding” and no armchair speculation can discover another price at which demand and

Read the rest

Why capitalism trumps socialism

Sadly, the argument that capitalism is superior to socialism is one that has to be repeatedly made. Despite the evidence of history, socialism is still touted as a viable economic system by idealists and the naive.

Socialists probably have good intentions. They want to make the world a better place. They see inequalities and injustice and seek to alleviate these things using the most straightforward path possible. According to socialists, society needs to be reformed, people need to change, the rich need to share their wealth, things need to be made more fair. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and measures designed to make the world a fairer place, often have the opposite effect.

Socialism requires that everyone must agree to operate within it, or be forced to. Administering collective ownership of the means of production, requires administrators. People who must make decisions on the behalf Read the rest


Why Stan Grant is wrong about Hayek and the ball tampering saga

Recently Stan Grant wrote to tell us that F.A. Hayek — of all people — not only founded the global order we have today, but gave us a set of ideas that lead directly to ball tampering in cricket! It was another one of those cliched “other people consider mere economics but ‘I’ consider higher ideals” articles. The bogeyman of “Neoliberalism” strikes again, we are told.

The message of Grant’s article is that economics is pretty much the science of greed. He complains of the “reduction of all human motivation to the one-dimensional rational self-interest of Homo-economicus”. The concept of homo-economicus was constructed by the early classical economists because homo-real-life didn’t fit their mathematical models. But anybody familiar with economic history would know that Hayek was from the Austrian school, which robustly rejected this approach.

The Austrian method starts with humans as they actually are – purposeful, choosing, acting beings, … Read the rest


Changing the world, one block at a time

With all the hype – and subsequent bad press – Bitcoin has been receiving the past few months, it’s easy to overlook the most fundamental and game changing aspect; the blockchain technology.

Cryptocurrency Is Not The Only Game In Town
As we all have probably heard by now (and if not, start here), Bitcoin is a decentralised alternative to fiat currency. It is currently receiving a lot of attention due to its dizzying returns as an investment product. The trouble with this is that everyday investors are going into cryptocurrency with the same principle as any investment, which is to say, they see money instead of the technology. This blockchain technology enables private and centralised (read: non-governmental or corporate) record keeping on asset transfers, and has the potential for a new concept known as “smart contracts”.

The blockchain principle that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is based upon, Read the rest


Freedom to discriminate

Now that the country has been surveyed on the question of same-sex marriage, it’s time to turn our attention to the details of the same-sex marriage bill that is before parliament. Religious freedom to dissociate from same-sex weddings will be at the forefront of the minds of many Christians and Muslims who do not support same-sex marriage. Before and during the postal survey, assurances were given, by the Prime Minister no less, that ‘religious freedom…will be protected in any bill that comes before this parliament.’

The Constitution of Australia makes provision for limited religious freedoms protections in s116 which states that ‘The Commonwealth shall not make any law… prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.’ However, this has been narrowly interpreted in the past to apply only to laws, the express purpose of which is to prohibit the free exercise of religion, not as an unforeseen consequence of anti-discrimination laws. … Read the rest


Everyman’s home is not his castle

We all know that with any land we ‘own’, there are rules and regulations over exactly what we can do with it. Some of these rules make sense such as a ban on burning off during the summer months; while others seem less useful and border on the pedantic. For instance, in my own suburb, we cannot fence in our front yards with walls any higher than 1.2m. The purpose, one assumes, is to ensure our streets maintain a certain look, to the benefit of all the residents.

If you think the rules and regulations governing how people make use of their own property is restricted to the cities and surrounding suburbs, think again. A WA man living on his own patch of paradise in the outback, has accumulated almost $5000 in court costs and fines for ‘camping’ on his own property in the middle of nowhere.

Roland Gopel, an Read the rest