Friday, October 19, 2007

Why You Should Support The LDP

Comments on the recent LDP posts here have descended into pitched battles on the pros and cons of legalising drugs. This is not a core issue for the party. Unlike the ideological purity of blogging, politics is about compromise. The more votes you target the more conventional your views must be. No-one will like all of the LDP's policies (i certainly don't). However, does anyone here like everything Howard or Rudd or The Greens have to say?

I joined the LDP earlier this year because i was attracted to its two principle messages. If you agree with these two points, then go out and vote for the LDP next month.

1. You are better able to decide how to run your life than the government.
There has been a concerning shift in the attitude of both the major parties in recent times from advising its citizens to ordering them around. Yesterday John Howard referred to the 1 in 4 Australians who enjoy a smoke as 'pariahs'. My local council in Manly wants to ban smokers from lighting up outdoors.

The role of government is to advise its people of the potential harm of certain activities when the science is proven. For instance smoking, skiing, super-sizing your diet, scuba diving and drinking alcohol are all potential killers. They are all also legal activities. Labeling cereals as high in sugar or sticking warning messages on a pack of ciggies is fine. Ordering people not to smoke or to eat junk food is not. The LDP believes that people make better decisions about how to live their lives than the government. It also believes that once you start treating adults like children, they will start behaving like children.

The flipside of greater choice is more responsibility. If you go skiing, or take part in the Sydney-Hobarth yacht race, you are advised to take out insurance. If you, like me, are rather partial to a flame-grilled Whopper, then skip desert. Or exercise. If you want to mix beer and ecstasy, don't go surfing at Bondi or swim with crocodiles after 'half a slab'.

Contrary to a report yesterday that 'individuals can no longer be held responsible for obesity', the LDP believes that individuals must be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

As left-wing UK blogger Chris Dillow writes yesterday,

'It's obvious that the collectivization of responsibility leads to statism, to the view that we should all be treated as children. But the really nasty thing here - which should worry the left as much as right libertarians - is that it disempowers individuals. It's a cliche that, if something is owned by everyone it is in effect owned by none. And this is true of actions as much as anything else. In denying a role for individual responsibility, the statists deny the possibility that "ordinary" people are capable of improving their own lives, and instead invite them to look to their rulers for leadership.'

2. You pay too much tax
The State is a poor planner and manager. Nationalised businesses consistently underperform those in the private sector; micro-managed economies consistently underperform those allowed to develop ad hoc; countries with more economic freedom consistently outperform those with less. The principal roles of government are to enforce our property rights and to protect us from violence. It is not to plan or to manage. We all know what happens to 'Five Year Plans' and 'Great Leaps Forward' .

The LDP believes that the state is too big and that we pay too much tax. Each Australian is on average paying 34% more tax since John Howard came to power - despite an eleven year economic boom! This is a disgraceful and truly unbelievable state of affairs. The recent announcement to hand back $34bn of our money is a step in the right direction and is to be welcomed.

The LDP also believes that the current tax and welfare system does not encourage people to find work, discriminates against the poor and encourages our brightest graduates to seek their fortunes in low tax countries such as Hong Kong (top rate 15%) and Singapore (20%). Our solution is the neat '30/30' policy. You get to keep the first $30,000 of earnings tax-free and pay a flat rate of tax at 30% thereafter. Additionally, welfare is largely replaced by a negative income tax (similar to a Citizen's Basic Income).