Economics

Was Jesus Christ a communist?

This article is an adaption based on a talk given by James at LibertyFest Brisbane 2018. 

Definitions are important. A quick dictionary definition of communism tells us that it’s a theory or system of social organisation in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs. We’ve all heard that before.

It’s not a bad idea in theory, but of course, we know that in practice every manifestation of communism in the world has ended in a bloodbath. So I’m dubious that Jesus was a communist. He might have agreed in theory with the idea, but in practice we see that communism does not live up to its altruistic ideals.

The devil is always in the detail, and the words “system of social organisation,” are the danger. With any system of social organisation, the essential question is: can I Read the rest


What’s wrong with super?

In 1992 in an effort to pre-emptively deal with the challenges of an aging population, superannuation was made compulsory in Australia. While our super system may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t function as it should. Nor will it be able to, unless there are some major policy changes.

Recently, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, the man responsible for compulsory super, called for a “national insurance” scheme to support the elderly in retirement. He claimed that only the government had the ability to insure “across the generations”, and that super wouldn’t be enough to support retirees as they now live far longer than they did, on average, in the early 90s.

Keating is wrong for a number of reasons. Firstly, given the attention span of governments, which peculiarly correlates with the electoral cycle, they should not be trusted to develop sustainable long-term policies. This is evidenced by the fact Read the rest


Blame the government for high fuel pump prices

Australians are becoming increasingly frustrated with the ever-rising cost of living. This, combined with a stagnant wage environment has led to some becoming more vocal in their anger, as seen in the recent calls to boycott fuel stations. Australians are angry, and rightly so.

The call for a nationwide boycott of petrol stations on October 26 has come about as a result of outrage over the excessive price of petrol and the seemingly lucrative profits shareholders and owners are making. While it’s positive to see people wanting to take action, their anger is misdirected.

What some may not consider is how much of this cost can be blamed on the government, and while the original call to action focused on the role of taxes, many are now calling for price ceilings to be imposed, or for fuel companies to be taxed more heavily. This is the wrong way to deal … Read the rest


The liberation of the Chinese woman

How the free market freed women and entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.

The visitor to Hong Kong today sees a bustling hive of energy where even the New Yorker is a slowpoke. It’s a place where people of all races and cultures live and work in harmony. It’s also a place where, long before the change of sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997, the gweilos [“long-nosed barbarians”] were being displaced in all spheres of human action by locals. [Under British rule, only the government lagged behind — only there could the criterion of race override the criterion of ability.]

Hong Kong is one of the most successful multi-racial societies in the world. But this is a relatively recent development.

The major difference between Hong Kong and other peaceful multi-racial/multi-ethnic societies like Australia (and the US) is that in Australia minorities, over time, lose their separate tribal identities and become members … Read the rest


Haque’s critique of capitalism would send us all to Venezuela

So, just what is wrong with Umair Haque’s article If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism?

Well there is a lot wrong with it from start to finish.

In Haque’s description of the capitalist world, people’s objectives are couched purely in materialist terms – “the worker is trying to become a manager. The manager is trying to become a capitalist.” Haque seems oblivious to the notion that capitalist societies already allow people to live on hippy communes if they wish whereas socialist societies do not allow people to opt out of the commune.

His description of capitalism as being “like a pyramid, which we’re all climbing” is mistaken.  So is his example of capitalism in its purist form, in which he labels the slave owner as the purest capitalist of all.  But what he is describing is actually a form of feudal … Read the rest


Intervention will NOT solve our energy crisis

The Liberal cabinet have officially dumped the contentious National Energy Guarantee (NEG), but Scott Morrison and new Energy Minister Angus Taylor are now faced with a policy vacuum which they urgently need to address.

The combination of modest wages growth and higher electricity prices are hurting Australian households, who have been forced to endure a 56 per cent increase in real terms on their electricity bills over the last decade. The NEG, formulated to address the “energy trilemma” of security, reliability and affordability on a national scale (excluding WA and the NT), was the Turnbull government’s answer to the crisis, but ultimately sparked  its demise.

In their rejection of the defunct NEG, the new Ministry stressed that emissions reductions have been stripped away from the energy portfolio. Taylor instead has revealed a renewed focus on affordability for households and businesses, and hopes to be recognised as “the Minister for reducing Read the rest


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


Price controls could leave airport users stranded on the tarmac

An Australian Productivity Commission inquiry into the regulation of our country’s airports has raised prospects of price controls and other regulations in a bid to exert control and oversight across the industry. Although well-intentioned, these moves are likely to have unforeseen and undesirable consequences which must be considered prior to the inquiry’s completion and delivery of the Commission’s report to Treasury by June 2019.

Although the allure of regulations might seem appealing to self-professed “champions of the people”, what remains clearer is that optimum results for consumers are best achieved in an environment that promotes free and lively competition – not heavy-handed measures which could prove disastrous for the very people they are intended to benefit.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the aviation and airports industry is a constantly evolving one which is responsive and adaptive to market trends and consumer demand. It is doubtful that there is an imperative … Read the rest


WTO plain packaging verdict is an assault on liberty

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) recent decision to validate Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws is a colossal setback for liberty. The plain packaging laws which were implemented in 2012, ban logos, stylised images, brands and coloured cigarette packaging in favour of a generic packet with brand names printed in small standardised fonts. The WTO concluded, without considering significant evidence of their ineffectiveness, that Australia’s plain packaging law contributed to improving public health by reducing the use of and exposure to tobacco products and rejected claims that alternative measures would be equally useful. As a result, they declared that the law was still consistent with global trade rules.

The decision to uphold plain packaging laws is an assault on the principles of liberty. Free market capitalism, personal liberty, the ownership of private property and the enjoyment of limited government are being curtailed as a result of the panel’s decision. Strong and … Read the rest